My first Match.com date came around (pardon the pun), and I tried to approach it all with an open mind. I was 40, after all, and I wasn’t imagining that wild, impulsive thrill of 20-year-old dating, but still… Turns out that Roy was one of those arrested development guys who was sophisticated when it came to cheese, but had some other less than ideal traits. Live and learn.
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Hey, good morning. Good morning. It’s Diana, and I’m so happy to be back with you guys. It is a misty, overcast morning in Greve in Chianti. I am in Italy, and woke up to country things, like roosters and budgies and mopeds and dogs and all kinds of interesting sounds. It’s lovely being in the country, and I’m really enjoying it so much.
Last night, we went to a very quaint, adorable celebration in the town square, because they’re having the 50th anniversary of this festival that celebrates the local wine Chianti, of course, Chianti Classico. There are so many vineyards on the mountains all around me, so next weekend, there’s gonna be a huge tasting and all of this stuff. But this weekend, they were having what they call the anticipation of the festival. It was so cute. Last night we heard some music in the square by this band called Duova, which I can only assume means ‘from the egg.’ I think it’s because the two lead singers, the two lead guys, said they had known each other since they were five. So I guess that makes sense. But they were kind of like pop-hit-old-men-rapper-wannabes, or something. They sang these very bizarre songs. One of them was about fava beans. And one of them was a love song to a vegan girl, but they prefaced it by going, “You know, the problem with vegans is that you can’t tell them from the rest of us.” So they were like, “Yeah, and you know, I’m trying to like impress this girl, and it turns out she’s vegan.” So the chorus kept saying, “You’re soooo pretty, but you’re vegan, so I can’t…” It was really weird. And then they saying a ballad to the bumblebees and told us all how we should, you know, plant some flowers on our balconies and give the bees a hand. And that was cute. They’re big hit was Estate in Toscana. That was fun, because it was very lively, and talking about how great it was to spend the summer in Tuscany. So those weird little songs were kind of going through my head this morning as I woke up. And it was a good bit of comic relief.
At the end of 2001, I was also ready for a little comic relief, as everybody was. So that guy I had been messaging with and who I’d had a little, you know, instant encounter with on the phone, he turned out to be some kind of morning news guy on a local channel in New Jersey. Now, you know, this was before the internet, so we couldn’t really look it up. So I just had to take his word on it. His name was Roy, and he had some very attractive pictures on his profile, which was one of the first things that drew me to him. Because it said he was 40 (and I was 40), and he just looked very attractive. So I was like, “Okay, let’s give this a try.” But it turns out that that was because those pictures had been taken by a professional photographer for his working life.
In those early days of Match there were no phones with cameras and fancy filters. No selfies to quickly upload and freshen up your profile anytime you had a new idea about who you wanted to be this week. You just had to go with whatever printed paper pictures you had of yourself, and most people didn’t have gorgeous retouched black and white photographs. Okay, so he looked good on paper.
I finally met him in person because I agreed to go to his place in Hoboken, which was my old stomping grounds. I mean, if the date was a bust, I could just stroll down memory lane as it were. Well, turns out his place was in a house that was more on the suburb fringes of Hoboken, but whatever. He asked me whether I like cheese. Ha! Does the pope poo in the woods? He claimed to be a cheese connoisseur. This was getting better with every conversation. And he invited me over for a cheese tasting. Now that’s my kind of foreplay!
In anticipation of having sex (speaking of foreplay), I decided that I wouldn’t eat before I went because I didn’t like the idea of being full of cheese and whatever else and then engaging in rousing physical activity. Even though Mammy always said to Scarlett, “You can always tell a lady by the way she eats in front of folks like a bird,” I was still loathe to be, you know, accidentally farting in the middle of intercourse – at least not on a second date. Yes, I was nervous about making a good first impression after coming off (pardon the pun), like a slut during our first encounter.
Now, let me just interject here that I needn’t have worried – not only for his sake, but in general. I mean, we all have things that we want to hide or downplay, but that is not going to get us started off on the right foot with anyone new. Embrace your healthy appetite, or your nerdy preference for watching Harry Potter movies multiple times, or whatever your wacky little weirdness might be. I mean, you’re not going to go into a first date saying, “Hey, let’s go kill some small forest creatures and mount their heads on spikes in my backyard.” But you know, anything that’s on this side of that insanity is probably not as bad as you think.
So, Roy showed his little oddities right up front, and I looked past them to see if this new thing might last more than a couple of dates. If you call phone sex a date, that is. He welcomed me into his nice clean living room, where we chuckled about that icebreaker date, and I sat on the couch while he went into the little kitchen to bring forth the cheese tasting delights. He brought out a plate with a circle of six tiny pieces of cheese, each no more than an inch square, cut meticulously and placed in a clock formation with some kind of garnish in the middle. Nice presentation! Thinking this was my plate, and that he was going into the kitchen for his, I waited, remarking about the variety or something. He returned with a bottle of red wine and two glasses and seated himself beside me. My stomach growled in resentment as I realized that we were going to be sharing six tiny pieces of cheese. I picked up a knife and was going to cut into the closest one, at which point I also realized that they hadn’t brought out any bread or crackers. I turned expectantly. And he said, “Oh, yes, allow me.” He took the knife from me and started to cut in to the first chunk, and he cut it into like four miniscule slices, saying, “Now this is a cow’s milk Emmentaler, similar to Gruyere, but not quite as robust…” With each diminutive tasting, he expounded on the flavors, describing the cheese making process and asking if I could taste the slight aroma of walnuts or some other fanciful side note. After an hour of this, I was starving and more than willing to move on to sex so as to be distracted from my churning stomach. We started making out on the couch, but then he led me to the bedroom, which it turned out had an enormous floor to ceiling mirror, catty corner to the bed. And I was like, “Whoa, this is a little too much right out of the gate,” because I hadn’t stripped naked in front of anyone in a very long time. Yeah, long story short, we ended up doing it doggy-style, so that he could watch the two of us in the mirror. At which point I also had to watch myself, with my breasts bouncing and him looking at us. That didn’t quite do it for me. And so you know, I said, “Oh, yeah, that was great. I probably need to go soon, because I gotta get home, getting up early…” And he was like, “Yeah, that’s probably good because my housemates prefer if I’m quiet by 11:00.” And I was like, oh, okay.
Not wanting to make snap judgments, I talked to him on the phone the next day, and I thanked him for a nice evening. He was very enthusiastic, and we set up another daytime date for a couple of days later – perhaps a little afternoon delight and then a walk in the park. I had suggested that he come to my place, but he said his mom couldn’t let him borrow the car during the day. Turns out that his housemates were also called his parents. He was 40 years old and basically living at home. Yes, that should have been a red flag, but then again there was that promise of sex, and it had been too long and I felt sure that it would get better.
The night before our date, he called with some very specific instructions. He said that he would be sleeping because he had to be working in the wee hours of the morning. But he was imagining how romantic it would be to wake up to my sweet face. I indulged him. He told me where to find the key and how get into his apartment. I said I’d be there around 12:30, but that I had to leave by 2:00 to pick up my kids from the bus stop. Just as well. This would leave no time for long lectures about cheese.
I arrived at his place and let myself in. I crept upstairs, well aware that his parents were somewhere in that apartment below. I quietly opened the bedroom door and was greeted by the sound of water. Some kind of ocean waves soundtrack was playing and I saw that it was coming from some kind of white-noise machine. The blinds were all drawn almost to the bottom, so only a sliver of light showed through to illuminate the room. I looked down at the bed. Roy was sleeping on his back, his head on a big fluffy pillow, with one arm flung out to the side. The sheets were gray. The bed covers were gray, and he wore a silver eye cover mask like some kind of aging diva still in bed at noon. In the crack of sunlight I could see the wrinkles on his face that I hadn’t seen the last time in the evening glow. He was softly snoring with his mouth hanging open and a small trail of drool running down the side of one cheek. I glanced at him for a few seconds more and then, moving very slowly, I quietly backed away towards the door. I shut it behind me as quietly as I could and tiptoed out of that apartment. I quickly locked the front door and sped off toward my parked car, lest he should wake and arrest my flight somehow. I just couldn’t do it. It was too much reality. Perhaps if I had come upon that scene, 10 years into a loving partnership, I would have smiled fondly down at my precious boy and excused all his oddities because I was already used to them. But to be presented with that whole picture at once, in the very dawn of our relationship when it was supposed to be romantic, and ideal, and young was way too much. Yes, I was 40 and he was 40, but I didn’t want to think now about what we would look like sleeping and snoring and drooling as we aged beside one another. I wanted romance and passion, at least for a little while. I guess I would have to find it elsewhere.
So that was one of my first match.com experiences. More to come. Lots more comic relief on the way. Thanks for being here. And I’ll see you then.