Wednesday, April 13, 2005

RLDG Part I: Proximity

RealLife™ Dating Guidelines

Guideline #1: Proximity

The RealLife™ Dating Guidelines (RLDG) are much more complicated than the Internet Dating Guidelines because in RealLife™ a second date is much more likely to occur but getting to the first date is much more difficult. Even meeting can be a challenge.

But there is only one thing you need know about meeting new people: proximity.

Want to meet a guy at a party? At a bar? At the office? What should you do? Get next to him. Stand close. Make eye contact. Sit next to him. Don't be shy. Give him a chance to start a conversation with you by being there. If he's interested, and not deathly shy, he will talk to you. If necessary, you can say "hi." That's usually all it takes. You have to be willing to get near him, but if you can do that, you give him the opportunity to be "the guy."

Proximity. That's the name of the game.

Ever hear that saying, "50% of life is showing up"? Well, that is what I'm talking about. You have to really be there, be available, and be prepared to engage. You don't have to bat your eyes or have a clever line or be anything other than you. You just have to be there.

An example. Years ago, I was at the Frontier Room, a dive bar in Seattle that had become rather popular with the hip younger crowd (ahem, not to imply I was hip, but I was younger (22) and I still owned my '62 Vespa, though it didn't run). The Frontier Room is in the part of Seattle where all the Unions had their meeting halls and offices. I believe it has completely forsaken its divey roots, but it was still slightly edgy at the time. I was with my very good friends S & S, a couple (not married then, but living together), and another friend who was a recovering drug addict/alcoholic and generally a very troubled fellow. I think he liked me a little, but didn't have any illusions. There we were, in the Frontier Room, having a beer, and I was bored out of my mind. I'd been out with S & S just a couple weeks before and managed to pick up a super cute guy (claimed to have modeled for JCrew--I had doubts, but he looked good enough for it to have been true), but it had been a bust, and I was a bit at loose ends. (There was making out and a phone number exchange, but I never expected him to call. I did find a roll of film he dropped in my car and I called him to let him know I had it. Years later, due to a friend's curiosty, I had the film developed and it really was his. Very odd.)

We were sitting near the bar, in a booth, and there was no way to mingle. I was stuck and the troubled fellow was rambling on and I couldn't listen to him for one more minute. Even though the place was nearly empty, I kept scanning the room and I noticed a really cute guy sitting with his scary tattooed friend at the bar not far from us. He had thick dark hair and these big, dark, warm brown eyes and just the sweetest, kindest look about him. I wanted to talk to him, but I had no idea how. I knew I had to get out of that booth to make something happen so I got up and walked to the end of the bar--away from my party and away from the cute guy. I didn't really think about what I was doing, I just acted on my instincts. I did not have any specific plan of action in mind. There were some free papers at the end of the bar and I flipped through one of them (The Rocket, I believe--no longer published, I'm afraid), feigning interest. I started fiddling with some matches--a bad habit of mine. I lit a couple of the matches and let them burn down as far as possible (a trick I learned from my mother). I was moving closer to cute guy and his scary looking tattooed friend the entire time. I could tell they were watching me. I got within two bar stools of the scary tattooed friend when he asked me, "Are you a pyromaniac?" That was enough to get the ball rolling.

Guys: this is why you have a wingman. He is the facilitator. It really can work.

Scary tattooed guy told me that the cute guy was one of his best friends and that I should give him a chance. The three of us got to talking. Scary friend left. It got noisy and cute guy wanted to leave so we could keep talking and actually hear each other. I told my friends I was going, assured them everything was fine, and we took off to get some food. We were a little drunk and I remember walking unsteadily out of the bar, concentrating hard so I wouldn't bump into him. After eating, and sobering up, we took a cab to where I'd left my car (in S & S's neighborhood). I drove him home. He was worried about me driving the rest of the way at that hour (it must have been after 2am). We sat in front of his apartment building in my Golden colored '70 Chevy Malibu and I still remember his look: very intent, very concerned and very unbroken. I said, "I'll call you when I get home so you won't worry." He made me promise. I kissed him on the cheek and drove home. The kiss on the cheek was a conscious decision on my part. I found him incredibly attractive, but I wanted to do everything right. I knew I would see him again and I didn't want to rush. Thus, a kiss on the cheek. I think he was surprised that I kissed him at all. I called when I got home and we talked for hours.

We used to argue about who picked up whom. He said he picked me up because he had his friend talk to me. I usually let him win that argument, but I know what happened. Proximity. Who got up? Who made herself available? Who removed the distance?

We dated for six months and then I moved to NC for grad school. We broke up about two months after I moved. I still think he is the one who got away. That's another story, though. (This is ancient history, so you don't need to suggest that I get back in touch with him. A few years after we broke up, I did get in touch, we were friendly for a while, we vaguely almost got back together and then he stopped talking to me. I would happily talk to him again, but he is not available for that I and have had to accept it. Sigh.)

Proximity, my friends, it's as simple as that.

Grateful for: remembering the looks on the faces of my mom's friends when I told them I met my boyfriend at the Frontier Room. You could almost read their minds, "How could these really nice, clean-cut kids have met at...The Frontier Room?" The horror.

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