The Last Man on the Plan(et)

“Do I have to go?” I plaintively ask.

“Yes,” Colleen, my life coach, says. “You have to give him a chance.”

“Him” is “Don” — the last man on my six man plan with DCSingles.

My matchmaker, Kelly gives me a heads up.

“He didn’t go to college.”

“That’s okay,” I say. “I like a man who works with his hands.”

“For politics he checked ‘other'”.

“‘Other’ indicates an open mind,” I opine.

“But just beware,” Kelly warns me. “He’s just a tad overly enthusiastic.”

“Okay, what the hey! I am game.”

Bring him on!

First phone call, Don describes in great detail his bout with the flu. So totally whoa is he, his world is just a nose blow away from coming to an end. Recovering in his recliner, he binge watches game shows in his basement.

(Hmmmm, not exactly intellectually curious, is he? But I do confess I have a Hulu binge habit myself.)

And so whiny. Why are men so whiny when they are sick? A doctor’s daughter, I have zero desire to play nursemaid to this guy.

Second phone call goes to message. I call him back. Not there to answer, his recording plays: Big Bad John possibly from an old eight track tape.

Sort of humorous, right?

Feeling better, his voice brighter, he asks me out to brunch. Maybe a walk in the city?

That’s better, right?

Okay. Sunday next. 2:00 PM, we will meet in the middle at the Eastern Market LPQ.

Saturday I text: “I’ll be wearing red glasses. And my hand is decorated! Will explain tomorrow.” Against the rules, I send him my red spectacled, right handed henna selfie — so he will recognize me.

“Such pretty red nails,” he texts back. “All the better to scratch my back” to which I have no response.

The Last Man on Earth movie poster

Creepy, right?

Unsolicited he sends me his: a framed photo of half a dozen clowns.

“Hysterical! Will you be the one with the red rubber nose?” I kid him, thinking this is a joke.

“Would you like me to wear my clown suit?

OMG, he is serious.  This clown really is a real live clown!

“Uh, no,” I reply.

“Funny, right? I am funny, right?”

“Uh, no. Not funny,” I reply silently to myself.

Weird, but harmless. Right?

guess I will still go. So I text simply: “See you at two at LPQ.”

But then it gets weirder still.

Out of the blue, a late night text: “Take a bubble bath. Have a glass of wine. Put on your PJ’s. Relax.”

Ew, right?

I make an emergency call to my life coach, Colleen. She puts me on speaker phone along with housemate and assistant coach Katie.

“Hmmmm, yes, that does sound inappropriate,” the two concur.  “But maybe just out of practice? You should give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s just brunch, right?”

“Okay, I’ll go.”

So today, up at sunrise, Sunday came. After a Holy Eucharist or two, I plopped myself down in the rector’s office: exhausted, hungry, and caffeine deprived. I was feeling nothing but dread for the date ahead.

Chuck, my colleague, listened to my litany of complaints: “He’s whiny. He’s goofy. A bit creepy. And quite literally, he’s a clown.”

“Hmmmm,” Chuck says. “Sounds like you don’t want to go.”

“NOOOOOOO, I don’t want to go.”

“Listen to your gut,” Chuck says.

“YES, my gut screams NO.”

Sorry, Don,

Last Man on the Plan,

I text:

“I am canceling.

I can’t go out with you.”

And even if Don were the Last Man on the Plan(et), I still would not want to go.

I far prefer my own company and conversation, the comforts of my sacred space and the singular luxury of the time I call my own.

It’s really quite splendid, you see.

But I am still quite open to find just the right man who might like to share this with me.

So stay tuned to S&TSV! Maybe crowd sourcing next? We’ll see!

Singularly  yours:

The Rev: Joani

 

The Man on the Plan & The Uber Driver

DCSingles.

Six man plan.

Expensive.

Man #5.

Mark with a “k”, not to be confused with Marc with a “c” – who was Man #4.

Confusing, I know. As texts for coffee flew back and forth, I nearly blew off the fifth before I had even met him.

“Ooooooooo! January Mark with a ‘k’. Sorry, I got you mixed up with December Marc with a ‘c’ — a Debbie Downer, who I had decided, did not merit date #2.

(Date #2 is a planet, I have yet to visit.)

Now here is the wisdom of DCSingles  — for a woman of my alluring demographic.

They match you with an actual man, who has an actual job, who has no actual felonies on his actual record, and he is actually the guy pictured on his actual driver’s license.

Background checked. Actually.

BUT, no photos, are exchanged, so we meet sight unseen for coffee after a friendly phone call and a text or two.

So Mark with a “k”, Man #5 on my six man plan: Funny. New Yorker. Proud father of three. Catholic. Volunteer. Top secret clearance. Homeland Security.

Did I mention funny?

What’s not to like?

Poor guy, his right hand is in a cast and being right handed, he tells me he is not able to drive.

“No problem,” I say, “I will come your way! It’s on my calendar for Sunday next.”

The night before, he confirms with a funny little text message about the dress code: “Casual/neat. I’ll be the one in the overalls with a straw hat. My goat will be parked out front.”

Double, double points for making me laugh.

Psyched, a little.  Decked out in adorable Anthropologie red, I Uber over, to the other side of town, for Sunday brunch. Twenty minutes early, I take a seat in a corner booth with a clear view of the front door. I order sparkling water and a cup of decaf coffee.

Waiting coquettishly for Man #5.

Please, please, please, be easy on my eyes!

Hmmmm…..

The hostess escorts Mark with a “k” to my table.

He’s short. He’s round. He’s bald.

Hmmmm…

But so was George Constanza on Seinfeld, I tell myself. And I LOVED George Constanza. So let the conversation begin.

Mark with a “k” settles into the booth, adjusting the table for his girth. For some bizarre reason, he unbuttons and buttons the middle button on his button down shirt — no undershirt — flashing his hairy, pink midriff.

Looking anywhere but there, I avert my eyes, as he tells me, he just came from working out at the gym.

Hmmmm. Really?  Yuck! Let’s move on.

“Walking is my exercise,” I tell him. “I’ve done a couple of half marathons. I am planning on signing up for another one soon.”

The waitress takes his drink order.

“I’ll have an Irish coffee with Jamison whiskey – the good stuff.” He pauses. “But maybe I shouldn’t?” he says.

“Well, you didn’t drive, so no problem, right?” I say.

“Well, I actually did,” he tells me. “So maybe just one.”

Hmmm. Okay. Fib number one.Let the small talk begin.

He tells me about his three children. I tell him about mine. Catholic, he tells me about his parish. Episcopal priest, I tell him about my job.

We order food: breakfast burrito for him, scrambled eggs for me.

He tells me about his ex: bipolar, alcoholic, a mess!

“I am really sorry to hear about that, I am. I know all about that. Because — surprise, surprise, I am bipolar too! The healthy, bouncy, balanced, and non-alcoholic kind.”

He orders his second Irish coffee with Jamison whisky.

The waitress tops off my decaf.

“Sooooo? Homeland Security? Top Secret clearance? I guess, you can’t tell me what you do? But with the Muslim ban and the craziness at the airports, it must be very challenging.”

“Well, I am in procurement,” he tells me.

So Mark with a “k” is not an actual spy or intelligence guy.

Sigh.

“So what about that award you received for your volunteer service? Wow! What an honor!”

Hmmmm….

Turns out he got an honorable mention in the company newsletter and a lapel pin for his lapel — later misplaced in a taxicab long ago.

Not exactly the august accolades he had boasted of. Fib number two.

My scrambled eggs have grown very cold. The hour is up. I pay my half of the check.

It is definitely time to go.

He wonders aloud if he can take his second Irish coffee, with Jamison whisky, with him in a to-go cup.

People don’t do that, do they? Take their leftover alcohol home with them? That’s not a thing, is it?

He sinks back into the booth to finish his drink.

It is definitely time to go.

I pull out my phone and tap on the app.

UBER DRIVER!

UBER DRIVER!

TAKE ME AWAY!

Four minutes later, I climb into the backseat of Alfredo’s Toyota.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

“Thank you for picking me up, Alfredo!  I just love Uber. You know actually  who is picking you up. You know actually who is getting in your car. And I have met so many interesting Uber drivers: artists, entrepreneurs, students.”

Buckling up in the back seat, I can see from the rear view mirror, that Alfredo is long and lean, bearded and distinguished.

Yes, Alfredo is easy on my eyes.

Let the conversation begin.

He tells me about his three children. I tell him about mine. All the same ages. What a surprise.

Just three years in the States and from the Dominican Republic, his accented English is easy on my ears. I use the Spanish, I learned from three year olds, to flirt with him in his native tongue.

My life sounds almost exotic — described in a foreign language.

“Yo soy una sacerdote de la iglesia Episcopal.”

“Yo trabajo en Alexandria.”

“Me gusta leer libros.”

“Me gusta mucho bibliotecas.”

“Me gusta caminar en la ciudad.”

“Esta casado?”

“No.” he answers.

“Esta divorciado?”

“Si,” he answers.

“Yes! I say and in English he flirts in return.

Alfredo tells me, he is a retired engineer, a university professor in the DR, and a professional photographer, a reader, a tennis player, who loves the theater and drinking coffee.

What’s not to like?

(“What the hell!” I say silently to myself. “Go ahead and ask him out!)

“How about a cup of coffee with me sometime, Alfredo?”

I give him my card with my cell number scribbled on the back.

He gives me his, listing his website, email, and phone.

“Alfredo Marquez Rodriguez, Photographer.”

I like the sound of that.

So coffee, at Starbucks, this Friday, 10 o’clock sharp!

ALL — thanks to Uber —

the ride sharing,

friend making,

man locating,

latest, greatest,

dating app.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

Clueless

clue-game-cardsCatching my therapist up on my not so successful DCSingles dates, Sondra pauses and thoughtfully poses the obvious question:

“So, Joani, what do you want?”

“What do I want?”

Well, not Bernie Sanders. I already wrote about him.

And not the guy who is afraid of his own shadow — who I met for coffee on Friday — who has barely been out of his neighborhood for the past forty years.

And not the thrice married widower of just one year who I met last week. A sixty-eight year old guy who has no idea how to be on his own.

My social experiments — so far — are a net negative — negatively defining what I desire in a date.

I am not looking for Friday evenings at home in front of the TV.

I am not looking for someone to keep me company.

I am not hoping to set up house.

I am not looking to couple up monogamously  anytime soon.

I am just looking for someone who can keep up with me.

And there is nothing I find sexier and more attractive in a man  than the organ found between the ears.

So, let me describe an acceptable gentleman.

Intellectually curious, reads real books.

Forward looking, hope filled, expansive world view.

Funny, laughs freely, and delights in the absurd.

Earthy and unorthodox.

Open to surprise.

Hungry for life.

Someone who can light up all of my little gray cells,

and for whom I can do likewise,

like fireflies.

“Go on,” says my therapist.

Not a spouse.

Not a housemate.

Not a guy friend.

Not all the time.

Someone with their own house, their own life.

Happy and whole.

An intimate,

available for adventure,

available for dinner,

available for a weekend.

Someone who loves a good argument.

Someone who makes me very happy behind closed doors.

Someone who gets back in his car and goes home —

until I summon him back again.

Yes, that sounds heavenly.

“Hmmmm,” Sondra says. “Is that really possible? Most ‘older’ men are looking for something more comfy and conventional.”

“Well, someone younger then! But how crazy is that?”

Sondra is not telling me to settle but she does encourage me to think this through.

The depths of my desire add up to  having a mad affair — while dates in my demographic double down on domestic bliss.

Which leaves me feeling clueless, somewhat unsettled, and unsure of myself.

I definitely don’t want “that”.

Maybe I don’t want “this” at all.

And I will be damned — if I ever let some nonexistent man — make me second guess myself.

Matchmaking is madness!

It makes my manic mind spiral and spin, trying to puzzle this f*ing thing out.

The smartest girl in the class waves her hands in the air but she has no answers.

Navigating an ocean of emotion.

Unmoored.

Without a compass.

At sea.

And I guess for now, that is just how it has to be.

For now, I remain

incredibly

clueless.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

 

Dating Bernie Sanders

bernie sanders with champagne cartoon

First date advice from DCSingles:

Dress up. Keep it short. Don’t talk about politics, religion, or your ex.

Hmmm…not talking about politics is a bit of a challenge especially when you live inside the Beltway. And not talking about it in this Trumpian election cycle seems really hard. A political  junkie, with seven news apps on my iPhone, this is going to be almost impossible. But I will give it a try.

Hmmm…religion is off the table too. So what kind of kabuki theater will this single vicar have to perform to avoid this topic? Well, I will obviously have to state the obvious about my profession.  But I will try to table the religious debate as I am able.

And not talk about my ex?  This one is way easy for me. William and I parted ways amicably more than a decade ago. Since then Joani has cherished her independence, loves being mistress of her own domain and master of her time and space. Joani also thoroughly enjoys her own company.

Only men of a similar ilk need apply.

This week, my DCSingles matchmaker matched me up with my very first match: a guy named Glenn.

5 foot 8 inches, dark brown hair, a retired environmentalist, Jewish, and age appropriate.

What’s not to like?

A quick conversation on the phone, we make a Starbucks date and to coffee we will go.

Guardedly optimistic and game for my new sport, I consult my fashionista- dating coach daughter Colleen. She passes muster on my chosen dress and flats.

“Necklace or no necklace?” I text her.

“Necklace.” she decrees.

I Uber downtown to case out the joint and grab a table near the door.  I try to look nonchalant as I read my book and also as attractive as I can. I sit and wait for this first blind date.

There is a Santa Claus looking guy checking his phone anxiously by the door. “Waiting for someone?”  I ask. “And you might be?” “Steve,” he says. And in my head I say, “Thank God, I thought that was him.”

And then right on time, in walks Glenn.

The date is blind. So sight unseen, I was not sure what to expect.

But I wasn’t expecting Bernie Sanders.

First impressions matter most they say.

Uh oh, so here we go.

I am pretty sure he slept in his clothes: grunge jeans, baggy shirt, shoes older than my children. He sported a fisherman’s cap and carried a grocery bag that looked like it had washed up on the beach. If he hadn’t been my date, I would have mistaken him for a homeless guy. To call him rumpled would have been a compliment.

“Okay, Joani,” I tell myself, “Bernie Sanders is awesome! Don’t judge the book by his cover. Maybe this guy is riveting. So yeah, let the conversation begin.”

An environmentalist, maybe his clothes are recycled? Hmmmm….no. Maybe he drives a Prius? Hmmmm….no. Solar power in his house? Hmmm…no. But he did once work on a solar project for water treatment plants. The globe is way too short of fresh water so this is a very good thing.

Do-gooders are definitely up my alley.

Okay, my turn.

“Well, I serve a local church,” I tell him. “It’s a happening, progressive parish.” Being a lady vicar is a tough sell, you know, so I give Bernie points for just showing up. His being Jewish though, I knew he would have questions. But I wasn’t expecting this.

“You know I am a biologist and we believe in evolution,” he says somewhat condescendingly.

“Well guess what? So do I. Episcopalians believe in science.”

Surprised by my answer, it seemed he had never met an enlightened Christian before. Possibly  he thought we were some rare species that had gone extinct.

Wow, Bernie, this is going great! Let’s move on.

“So now that you are retired, Bernie, what do you do?”

He leans forward in his chair smiling and definitely trying to impress.

“Well, I go the the gym twice a week and I swim half a mile, turn around and in an hour and a half I am back home!”

Satisfied with his answer, he leans back in his chair.

“Well, Bernie, I’ve walked two half marathons and am getting ready for my next at Nagshead in November.”

“You have to go out of town for those?” he asks.

“Yes, Bernie, I love going new places.”

“Hmmm, well, I don’t get much out of my neighborhood anymore.”

“Well, Bernie, good luck with that.”

I don’t want to belabor the point but  Bernie proved to be quite a suburban fellow for my urban tastes. He had never heard of Uber, SXSW, or the Rock n Roll Marathon. Though in his favor, I am pretty sure he did know how to use the Internet.

By this time, I am definitely eyeing the exit. Keep it short, remember?

Bernie slides his card across the table, not so subtly asking for a second date.

I in turn do not slide mine. Not so subtly telling him no.

“Thank you for the conversation,” I say shaking his hand. “Gotta go to meet my daughter Colleen.” (Yes, Colleen, you were my made up escape plan.)

Tucking out the door, I duck into the book store down the block. Ah, in here I can breathe. I order a latte at the coffee bar, sit down, and think.

If nothing else, it was interesting. A social experiment. A learning experience. A good first try.

But bye-bye, Bernie, you’re not getting my vote. You lost the primaries.

One candidate down. There’s five more in my plan.

Its still early in this election season.

Let’s see where it goes.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani