Can I Paint You?

I’ve kept quiet about this story up until now because I felt sort of weird about it for a while and didn’t feel like sharing, but what the hell, it’s Friday afternoon, the sun is sort of shining (which only guarantees there will be a blizzard tomorrow on the way to my barbecue), and I am in a mood to publicly humiliate myself. So here goes, a real single-girl-lifestyle story for your edification and schadenfreude.

Now, before I get started, I have to tell you that a couple of months ago, when I had this weird case of spring fever I told you about, I decided…and I’m still a little embarrassed about this, but whatever…to put up an online personal. Yes! I was all, “Hey, I’m single and fabulous and I spend all my time online anyway! Clearly I need something to stress over and obsess over! Why the hell not?” In fact I know several people who have met awesome boyfriends and girlfriends from online, and it was spring, and I was feeling better than I had for a long time, and…just…I don’t know. I think I wanted to see if I could be popular, or if people would think I was pretty…or something. I think I sort of wanted to prove that I could be attractive to someone…and all my friends are married or partnered, and I hang out with almost all women anyway, and so…right. Total strangers, please validate me!

I did enjoy the shopping aspect of the whole thing, I have to say. I found it oddly satisfying to be click through the, uh, offerings and go “No…no…wearing a backwards baseball cap, no…misspelled ‘spontaneous,’ no…too many teeth, no…dude, said he’s looking for a girl who can ‘is as comfortable in hiking boots as she is in a cocktail dress,” like, what even is a cocktail dress? NO…” It was sort of a new experience for me to be the person who was doing the rejecting, even if the rejectees never knew about it. I know it makes me a terrible person, but still, very satisfying. Anyway, I shopped for a long time before I put up my own personal and the first time I finally did…after spending literally weeks on it, and you’d think that writing something about myself to put online would be something I’d be relatively comfortable with, wouldn’t you…and I didn’t last for twenty-four hours. I like to be the one doing the judging, thanks very much, and I chickened out almost immediately.

But my spring fever continued unabated and I was still thinking about boys all the time and so I decided I’d leave the profile up for a whole week and see what happened. And what happened was that I got a bunch of email from various people, and that I deleted a lot of it (“Dude, what is with all these Hitchhiker’s Guide quotes?”) and somehow or another it ended up that I had three coffee dates booked for the same week, and I couldn’t even believe it. I knew on one level that it was just coffee dates with TOTAL STRANGERS and that it didn’t really mean anything, but on the other hand I thought it was a pretty big deal, too. I don’t think you have to have been reading this journal for very long to understand that my dating life has been sort of…spotty. I mean, I have never really dated anyone, and I don’t even really know anyone who has dated, either. The way it’s been for me and pretty much everyone I know is that you go to college, and you see a cute boy, and you start hanging out all the time and then he invites you over to his dorm room with his friends to hang out and hey, it’s getting kind of late, want to sleep over? And you make out and then you don’t talk about the fact that you made out and then you hang out some more and then you’re sort of together in the sense that you make out in his dorm room a lot and occasionally hold hands in public when you think no one is watching. I don’t really know what you do to “meet people,” as the odious phrase has it, once you’re no longer in college. I guess you meet someone at a party or through your friends or at the octopus tank at the aquarium or something. Or you suck it up and put the personal on up there and sort of hope for the best, even if you’re not really sure what the best is.

I was just sort of impressed with myself for having the three coffee dates in the one week, actually. So I went on them, and I wasn’t all that nervous even, because at least I was going to get a cupcake or a hot chocolate out of the deal. The first and third coffee dates were, respectively, really boring and really fun. The second, though, is the one I have been gearing up to tell you all this time and the one that convinced me that, whatever else the online personals may be, they are definitely not for me for the simple reason that people are crazy.

So I was supposed to meet this guy at Bauhaus in Capitol Hill and I kind of wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t want to cancel but I’d got this weird feeling from his email that started when he told me he thought I should get his name tattooed on my butt. “Hmm,” I thought. “Merry prankster, perhaps.” I knew things were going to go ill with me and that the hour I’d allotted to this so-called date was going to be a loooooong one when “United States Of Whatever” came on as I was ordering my hot chocolate. “Oh, man,” I said to the very friendly gay coffee-puller at the counter. “I love that you’re playing this song.” The coffee guy agreed that it’s an awesome song and it was with a spring in my step and a happy heart that I sat down with my would-be swain, fifty-six minutes to go.

Chiara: I love this song. Liam Lynch is totally my boyfriend.

Swain: You’re dating a singer?

Chiara: No, it’s…ha, it’s just that this song, I really like it, and…

Swain: You have a boyfriend?

Chiara: It’s just I really like the song, and he wrote it, and…

Swain: So, wait, you are already dating someone?

Chiara [makes Save Me eyes at nice and funny gay barista]

Nice And Funny Gay Barista: [simultaneously rolling his eyes and shaking his head sadly]

It just got worse from there. At one point, after telling me what a bitch his ex-wife was, and how when he goes to Burning Man he likes to do a lot of shrooms, man, (unlike me), he started telling me all about how his swanky programming job is something he just does for the tall dollars, that it’s not his passion or anything. His passion, now that I’ve asked, is in fact art and painting.

Chiara: [eyeing the clock, twenty minutes to go] Yeah? What do you paint?

Swain: Oh, you know. Sometimes landscapes. Sometimes nudes. In fact…I could see…painting…YOU. Would that be all right? Could I one day…paint you?

Chiara: WELL LOOK AT THE TIME.

Can he…paint me? Is he Toulouse Lautrec up in here? Did have, like, etchings he like to show me up in his room or something? Save me. I took down my profile that night, figuring I’d had my full quota of awkward and embarrasing for the time being. He emailed me a couple times over the next couple of days asking if I wanted to go out again, and I made the amateur mistake of going “Uh, yeah, can’t make it dude, sorry,” instead of just giving him the boot right away.

A couple days later I get another email from him going “Are you ever going to email me again, Chiara? Is this IT?” I’d consulted with my (sadly former) roommates, both of whom were well versed in the tricky arts of online dating, and was ready for him this time, telling him that yes, this was it, have a great life. “Whew!” I said to the roommates. “That was really weird! Dating sucks.” And there was another email, right away.

He was pretty piqued, it seemed, especially since he’d felt there was such a connection between us. Such a connection, in fact, that he’d been feeling a little freaked out. And then…then, my beloved readers, you know this is the only reason I am telling you this story…then he appended a bullet-pointed list of these extremely compelling indicators of compatibility. Here is what they were:

1) I have an Italian last name. He has an Italian last name.

2) I lived in Green Lake at the time. He used to live in Green Lake.

3) I was a psych major in college. He was a psych major in college.

4) I love eighties’s stuff. He loves eighties stuff. The reason he knows of my deep love of the eighties’ is, apparently, because I’d mentioned watching Family Ties as a kid.

Y’all, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. My devotion to a one-person heart has never been stronger or more complete.

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