Katrina was a divorced 40-year old pharmacy technician who was born with no front teeth in West Virginia.
Let me start over.
“Katrina is interested in you!” began the email from Chemistry.com on Friday, July 16th, 2010. I followed the link to her profile and saw a pretty redhead with green eyes. She was 40, which was at the highest point of my age threshold.
When I first started dating, I thought that I would only be interested in women who were at my age or younger. I’m young at heart, I have a lot of younger interests, and I can legitimately see myself having a lot in common with someone who was as young as 22 or 23. As it is, I do have several female friends who are that age and I feel completely at ease with them and capable of talking for hours.
Over the course of the last several months, though, I have learned two important nuggets of information. First, women over the age of 35 are in their sexual peak. I mention this not to presume that I will have sex with any woman that I date; however, sexual compatibility is an extremely important factor for me, on the same level as intellectual equality and emotional resonance. And an older woman who is in her sexual peak is more likely to appreciate passion and sex in a way that a younger woman would not, more likely to be more comfortable in her own skin (notice I say more comfortable – I’m fully aware that plenty of women, and men for that matter, will always have some issues of self esteem and never be completely comfortable), and more likely to view sex as beneficial to her and for her own enjoyment instead of providing it as a service to someone that she likes.
The second nugget I learned is that most women in their early twenties think it’s pretty fucking creepy if a man in his mid-thirties hits on them. Last week, I was visiting the parents’ house of a friend from high school who was in town. She and I were at the kitchen counter, drinking and talking, when her 22-year old sister walked in. “Flo,” the vodka prodded it out of me, “let me ask you a serious question.”
Flo looked at me with her head cocked. I’d known her since she was four years old and I rarely had anything to say to her that wasn’t silly, ridiculous, or obnoxious. “Do any of your friends date guys in their early 30s? Would they? What do you think about it?”
Her eyes sparkled a little and she did this little half-laugh. “Well, in college, Nancy, one of my four roommates, dated a guy who was 32, but that was really creepy. He came to visit one time and stayed with us – we were all weirded out.”
I pushed. “What’s creepy about it?”
“Well,” she thought for a second and I could see the lawyer-in-training looming behind her eyes, “here we are, starting out on our own, finding our way and figuring out what we want to do and who we want to be. And here he is, hopefully having figured most of that out already, so why does he want to spend time with us? What could he possibly have in common with my friend Nancy? The only reason that he might want to date someone that young is for sex, and that just makes it creepy.”
“At what age does it stop being creepy?”
“How old are you? 33? Personally, I think anyone younger than 26-27 would be weird.”
“So I guess that means that you won’t set me up with any of your friends?”
It was nice to see that she had perfected the cold stare that her mother had used on me many times as a teen. And an adolescent. And last year. “No.”
I filed this information away in my “Dating by Committee” mental folder, where I keep all of the advice that I solicit, and decided that maybe it would be a better use of my time and energy to focus on women my own age and older. If I encountered someone young who was mature and to whom I could relate, maybe I’d pursue it, but it wouldn’t be my primary focus.
40-year old Katrina was waiting for me, so I continued to read her profile. “Vivacious redhead seeking adventurous male!” exclaimed her headline. “I’m kind of an adventurous male,” I thought. “I like redheads,” I thought. “I don’t even know what vivacious really means but I like the sound of it,” I thought.
Without reading further, I replied to the icebreaker that she sent to me. Chemistry.com has these icebreakers called “chemistry starters”, designed to help facilitate conversation between two single people. You can sort your top five pet peeves or fears, or you can choose from a list discussing your dealbreakers and essentials for a successful relationship, or do one of several other activities that are relatively inane.
Less than ten minutes went by before she replied with another chemistry starter. I responded, and within thirty minutes, I had an email from her:
“Hey there. If you would like to get to know each other even better, my cell is ###-###-####. My parents and brothers live in your area. 🙂 Nice place, but craaaazzzyy drivers. lol. I have unlimited texting and minutes. I am late for work now. So, text or call me and I will respond. It has been fun getting to know you on here. Would like to meet you for coffee or icecream. Katrina”
We texted back and forth throughout the day, and as the late afternoon approached, I broached the subject of meeting for ice cream. She responded immediately with a suggestion of a location and time to meet that same evening. I didn’t have plans, so we set a date.
At this point, I realized that I hadn’t actually read her profile past the headline and seeing her red hair. I’m not sure why, although I would imagine it stems from my mother being a very strong influence in my life and a redhead, but redheads are my biggest weakness. When I see an attractive redhead in public, my pulse quickens, my breathing gets shallower, and my nostrils flare as if trying to capture her scent. The paler the skin and the more freckles, the more likely I am to spontaneously propose.
Wondering if I had made a mistake, I started to review the rest of Katrina’s profile. For her description, she wrote:
“I am a vivacious, witty, fun loving, outgoing, adventurous, sexy, sensual, flirty, intelligent and honest female. I love meeting new people and watching action suspense movies. I read voraciously and love having deep intellectual conversations. I must be stimulated mentally to connect physically. Life should be all about fun and adventure. I enjoy riding on bike trails and exercising daily. I have tons of energy and love rollercoasters. I like going to rock concerts. Music is a huge part of my life. I want a man who can be my best friend and who can handle my energy level. One who dares to discover the inner me that no one else knows. Tap the desire that longs to be free! I am very uninhibited and do not drink or do drugs. I get high on life! I would love to meet a man who enjoys church and social activities such as Bible studies and Christian rock concerts too. 🙂 Not a perfect man, just one who love Jesus.”
Her profile also had this information:
“PROFESSION/ OCCUPATION: I am a Certified Pharmacy Technician.”
“A BOOK, MOVIE, CONCERT OR PLAY THAT SHE’S RECENTLY ENJOYED: I saw Wolverine last Saturday and it was non-stop action! it rocked! A must see movie.”
“POLITICAL OUTLOOK: Conservative”
Immediately a few warning bells went off.
1. Bible studies. I have a complicated belief system that does not conflict with Christianity in any way, but I don’t view church or Bible study classes as enjoyable activities. I consider the Bible to be flawed because even if you do believe that it started as a perfect writing directly from God, it has since been interpreted over and over again by man, and man is flawed. The general teachings of Christianity are excellent, and I subscribe to the concept of loving your fellow man and living a good life, but I consider most organized religions to have too much moral corruption to provide the right message. And Christian rock fucking sucks.
2. Does not drink or do drugs. I felt hypocritical viewing this as a warning sign, since from the ages of 21-32, I didn’t drink either, and the first time I smoked pot was in a Vegas hotel room in December of 2009. However, as someone who didn’t partake in those activities, I know that there are two types of non-drinkers – the ones like me who never begrudge someone else’s good time (and may even be a bit of an enabler) and the ones who judge anyone who drinks as inferior. In my experience, anyone who has to proclaim that they get high on life probably falls into the latter group.
3. Conservative. Could I be in a relationship with someone who calls themselves politically conservative? I don’t know, but I think it would be a struggle. Even among my friends, the few who consider themselves Republicans are actually very moderate. Instead of choosing “Moderate” or “Middle of the Road”, two other choices for that category, she selected “Conservative”. A conservative non-drinking Christian who likes Bible study. This did not bode well.
4. Liked Wolverine. Not even my man-crush on Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds could prevent me from seeing this movie for the absolute shitfest that it was.
I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. The point of dating is to be open to meeting a lot of people, to find people to whom I click, and, in the end, to find love, right? If I close every door before it even opens a little, I’d be doing myself a disservice. Plus, redhead!
Arriving early, I parked and waited. As the time of our date approached, my phone rang. It was Katrina. “Hi! Traffic is bad, so I’ll be a few minutes late. I just thought that we could talk while I drive and get to know each other a little better.” Her voice was perky and cute.
“Hi Katrina. I think that’s a good idea. Where are you coming from?”
“Oh, I’m from about twenty minutes away, so it’s not too bad. So, where are you originally from?”
“I was born in Boston, but grew up over on the beach. How about you?”
“I’ve been here for about twenty years, but I was born in West Virginia. It’s so funny, people always hear West Virginia and they think hillbillies and moonshine,” I was nodding my head, “but I grew up outside the biggest city of West Virginia and we had actual sidewalks.”
“Oh, well, sidewalks – you know that’s a sign of real civilization.”
“I know, right?” She chirped. “Can I just say how much I like your voice?”
“Thank you. I have heard that I have a good phone voice.”
“You do, and I really like it that you enunciate and sound so articulate. I think that’s really important to me, because I went to a lot of speech therapy as a kid. See, I was born without any front teeth.”
Her words registered and I immediately pictured something out of Deliverance. One of the creepy little kids, dressed in rags, watching from the woods, toothless and grinning. She continued, “But I didn’t worry. I just prayed to Jesus to give me some teeth and once my adult teeth came in, I had all my front teeth. I knew God wouldn’t let me down!”
This is the point where I admit that I was almost a very shitty person. I almost hung up the phone, backed my car out of the parking spot, and drove home as if the devil herself was behind me. I seriously contemplated it. I may have even put the car in reverse and started to back out when I decided that I should still give her a chance. Also, I really wanted some ice cream.
Our conversation continued over the next twenty minutes, and I found out that she was very smart but people didn’t take her seriously and that she only says the word “fuck” in the bedroom. I learned that she’s been on many dates and while she liked the person in question, they had no interest in continuing, and she didn’t know why. She managed to sound simultaneously like a virgin who wanted nothing more to hold hands and a “firecracker in the sack” who would blow the mind of any man who welcomed into her bed. I know those aren’t usually mutually exclusive, but the way she talked, it was almost as if these were two separate individuals. Still, I persisted and waited for her.
When she arrived, I met her at her car. She looked mostly like her photos, although some of the vibrancy and sparkle that was evident in her profile photos was lacking here. As we got ice cream and walked around the shopping center, she kept up a constant dialogue. I interjected when appropriate and answered questions when I was asked, but she was clearly in charge of the conversation.
The warning bells that had been quietly going off from reading her profile clanged louder and louder as the conversation progressed:
- She had been separated for two years, but the divorce was not yet final. “It costs like $517,” she said, “and I’m waiting for him to pay his half. At some point, though, if I can save up that much, I’ll just pay the whole thing so it’s over with.”
- “I went on one date, and he had like three margaritas with dinner. We went to the beach after and I skinny dipped in the ocean, because I knew he wasn’t going to remember it the next day. He wanted to go out again, but I had no interest. Serves him right for getting drunk on our date! He got so mad!”
- At one point during our walk, she asked me how many dates I had been on. I told her, and she exclaimed, “Oh my God! You’re such a newb! Why do I always find the guys who have just started dating?” I asked her how many dates she’d been on in the last two years. Before she answered, I had always assumed that dating is something to be done leisurely and with a long-term goal in mind. However, according to her and her 250 dates in 24 months, it’s apparently a race, and I’m losing.
We arrived back at her car, empty ice cream cartons in hand. She continued to talk as we stood there. “One time I was on a date with this guy. He seemed really nice and I liked him, but he kept trying to look at his watch when he thought I wasn’t looking. Well, I’m really observant and I don’t beat around the bush so I asked him loudly ‘Do you have somewhere to be?’ and he gave me some excuse of needing to go feed his dog. Whatever. I don’t have time to waste on people who can’t be up front and just tell me they’re not interested.”
We continued to stand there at her car and I willed her car to be just like KITT from Knight Rider. I wanted it to open the door and start the engine, so she’d get the hint and drive away, but it didn’t happen. I considered looking at my watch, but I don’t have one, and then I considered just looking at my wrist where a watch would be. I even considered saying, “Speaking of dogs, mine must be starving!” I did none of these things, though, and she continued to talk, oblivious to the fact that our date was over. So I interjected instead. “Let’s call it a night.” The surprise was evident in her face, but after a quick hug, she got in her car, drove off, and I felt immediately like I just dodged a giant bullet.
An hour later, I received this text: “I had a great time with u & would love to get to know u better, but i had the feeling u want something else. I think i was not ur type.”
I replied with a very nice message agreeing with her conclusion and thanking her for her time, instead of replying the way that I really should have: “A 40-year old woman really should be able to write “you” and “your” when texting.” Maybe I should reconsider my age limits. At least if I dated 22-year olds instead, I’d expect that level of communication.
Originally published on my anonymous dating blog on August 31, 2010.