At the beginning of summer, one of my married friends set me up. Not the everyday setup, this one had been in the works for eight months. Yup, that long. It was hard to say no, despite my previous assertions, though mostly because I had practically said yes already several months beforehand. The short version of the story is that the lovely woman and I were alternately too busy or seeing someone else. The sheer persistence of my friend allowed the pairing to come together as the spring semester ended, both for me as a student and her as a teacher. I haven't experienced it often, but on rare occasion someone gets an idea into their head and simply will not let go of it. I have to say, half the time it's flattering and the other half annoying. This time it was more flattering, or maybe that was when it finally worked out after hearing about it every five weeks.
It was a pleasant first date at a coffee shop, which has quickly become the bread-and-butter of my first date experiences (cue sidebar). Aside from the ease in planning, and the flexibility for length of date depending on how it's going, it requires less thought and investment but can be creative. In short, it's the quickest, simplest, on-the-fly date I can plan with a creative twist if I want to bring board-games or other tabletop activities with locations everywhere. I've been known to shoehorn the coffee first date into an impromptu park walk or parlay into another date-like activity when it was going very well, and finish my drink faster to end it within an hour when it's not.
Rant aside, I enjoyed the date. I found her bright, opinionated, accepting, passionate about her career, and we connected in our mutual interest and joy in working with children. It was, however, short lived. One and done, as she didn't see our personalities meshing. I was impressed and found myself thinking that she's fantastic, despite my limited experience with her. I had hoped to get to know her better. Oh well.
Then the chain began. She set me up with a friend of hers, and I do sincerely believe that someone I've been on a date with knows me better than a Shadchan would, at least in the realm of experiencing me. Since I'm not much for categories I thought I'd give it a whirl. Another coffee date. Another one and done. She set me up with a friend of hers too. It all began to feel a bit like I was getting passed around a group of friends -all of whom let me down easy (read: guiltily -though it made me curious as to why is it that these wonderful women felt so bad about not being interested?), said I'm a great guy, and set me up with a friend in turn. At least the last one had a bit more substance -intellectual conversations over art, talk about emotions and matters of the heart, getting deeper into our personal stories -the kind that are milestones and shape who we are.
As an aside, I joked with my sister that I was being handed off. Then she told me that she recently did the same thing with a number of men she'd dated over the summer as well! Of course I heard stories and connections that were made about the personalities, interests, and wants of these men and what inspired the idea. It was eye opening to see that from the other side.
Ultimately, the dating chain ended. As it turns out, I still prefer the flexible, potentially spontaneous, straightforward coffee first date. I also had a light bulb moment after my summer dating stint. Dating is a huge pain, right up until the moment you find someone you like (and who likes you back). Then it is the simple thrilling joy of discovering that person (and, incidentally yourself).
But that's another story for another time. Soon.