The first is near Lake Merritt in Oakland, which provides ample time to sniff each other out and offers enough café choices should we wish to postpone our good-byes. If not, we’ve gotten exercise, and for a short while, can pretend to be another couple around the lake, which brings to mind an impressionistic painting, possibly a Degas or maybe Renoir. Alternatively, we can meet at a mutually agreed upon coffee shop and get our fill of caffeine. The only downside is that many cafés are noisy with the hiss of latté machines and background conversation. A good choice is to find an establishment that caters primarily to the Wi-Fi crowd who sit stone-faced before the altar of their computers.
Preparation requires thought. I like to wear casual attire, no prom dresses. I never want to work hard to impress before I know whom I’m impressing. So a pair of jeans is a good start, assuming that they are clean and don’t have the rips and tears that seem to be fashionable. I can imagine my mother saying, “Women throwing away a hundred dollars on a pair of jeans that are ready for the Goodwill bag? Imagine.”
So a pair of intact jeans, thank you, coupled with an attractive top, which neither displays too much cleavage, but also doesn’t look like Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music, some middle ground that shows style. And even if I choose a simple fashion statement like jeans with a red ribbed top, there are accessories—shoes, rings and bracelets—which is the look I went for when I got ready for my online date at the Peet’s coffee outpost in Emeryville, California.
My prospective date had made a point of saying in his profile how he loved women and was a sensuous man.
He was only a few minutes late, not a biggie. By his profile picture, I recognized the man in the parking lot who had just pulled up on a Honda motorcycle. Tugging a khaki-looking shirt over his head and then shoving it into his saddlebag, he quickly donned a purple replacement. For a moment, I saw his exposed stomach, which was not stylish.
Coffee drinks in hand—his iced, mine a chai—we sat outside for the first chat, but I wouldn’t call it a chat. He talked, and I sat there listening, nodding my head or interjecting such astute comments as “Nice,” “Cool,” and “Really?” For the next hour he explained how he’d credited his friend’s death for missing a chance at opening his own business, and how all the women he meets are on drugs, high-blood pressure, cholesterol, and recreational of different kinds. Would he need to add my name to the list? There was a pause as he invited me to whisper the answer into his ear. But when he mentioned that he had no children because he was bald, and how different women who had passed through his life didn’t want to visit that genetic horror upon youngsters. I stopped listening. Truthfully, I had already rolled my eyes into the ozone about half an hour before. I had a hunch that it wasn’t his baldness that had deterred him from fatherhood.
I made quick escape. “I have to avoid commute traffic,” I told him.
Later, he sent a message saying how I was the love of his life and how he was attracted to my body, my hands, my face, even to my roots, which I wouldn’t have to worry about because he was ready to drive off with me on his motorcycle into the sunset, with or without a helmet. I told him as politely as I could that I wasn’t interested. He persisted, and urged me not to let “love fly away for I might never find it again.”
I thanked him. “I don’t feel the same attraction.”
Oh well. Sometimes an afternoon can become another lesson in the art of online dating, which makes me promise that I will never schedule another walk around the lake or coffee date unless battering myself with a hammer seems more appealing, but then there’s a hope that keeps me thinking. One of these days, I might be surprised.