Friday, May 13, 2005

Pure dating

Today I was talking to my work friend, MB, and she asked if I'm going to "Calvin Dane's" housewarming party on Friday. I said I hadn't been invited. She was shocked. I was shocked. MB wanted to hear the entire history of my dating experiences with Calvin Dane to see if there was a reason I hadn't been invited. After starting the run down, I said, "I think it may be the only pure dating relationship I've ever had."

"What do you mean?"

"We never got past dating," I explained. We never kissed. We didn't get on the friendship track or on the romance track. It was just--dating."

"But that's not because of anything you did--he just has a problem putting the moves on."

"Maybe, but maybe neither of us had strong enough feelings for anything more. We were attracted to each other, but it was neither here nor there. I didn't do anything wrong, but he didn't either. I don't even know if I wanted him to pull the trigger. I could never figure out how interested I was."

Calvin and I work in the same Federal Department, though not in the same office. A few years ago, he asked me to lunch. (I know it's odd that I'm using his full name, but I have always called him by his full name if I'm talking about him to anyone--my co-workers, Princess, Mom--he is "Calvin Dane.") Calvin is smart, good-looking and generally desirable. We're the same age. Our first "date" or "friendly outing," if you prefer, involved looking at furniture because Calvin had recently bought a house. Since he was asking my opinion, I was never sure if it was a romantic situation, but I didn't mind. We had a fourth date to see a play, but we missed the curtain and we didn't go out again for a long time after that. That night, he half kissed my mouth as I got on the bus, and I was annoyed. I thought, "If I'm annoyed at him for trying to kiss me, I probably don't want to date him. I should be happy that he wants to kiss me." After that, when I'd run into him at work we'd usually chat pleasantly and I'd wonder what the deal was.

At least a year after our last date, I ran into him at Tryst (the coffee shop for cool kids in Adams Morgan) the day after Halloween (2003) and our talk was more revealing than other conversations we'd had. There had just been a death in his family and we talked about it for a long time. He invited me to a party that night and I went. It was fine, but nothing came from it--not friendship or romance.

Then, I did something a little odd. It was the 4th of July 2004. I love fireworks. I even biked down to the mall on my own to see them my first year in DC. But I didn't want to be alone last year and every single person I knew (Princess, CK, CN, MB, TR…) was out of town. I woke up that morning and I thought, "I'll call Calvin Dane. Maybe he can include me in whatever plans he has." He was surprised to hear from me and perhaps even more surprised when I said, "I got nothing. Can you help me out?" He had a plan for seeing the fireworks which he couldn't include me in, but he was going to a barbecue earlier in the day and asked me if I were interested in that. I said yes and I thanked him. Then he said, "Have you eaten yet? Want to get brunch?" So we got brunch.

Calvin and I had an intimate conversation at brunch. He told me a lot about his family and I felt closer to him than I ever had before. He has a very slick surface and it was the first time I saw underneath it. I started to like him again and wonder if there was a possibility of anything there. He was so kind to me that day and I was grateful. I thought I'd certainly like to be friends.

We got to the barbecue early and were roped into helping set up. I stuck with Calvin until he left for his other party. After he left, I talked to lots of people, and, if they asked, I got a perverse pleasure out of explaining how I came to be there. "My friend Calvin brought me. But he left. He had something better to do." That got a blank stare, but, hey, sometimes it's fun to play the "poor me" card, especially when you're not actually feeling sorry for yourself. A friend of Calvin's gave me a ride home. We met up with Calvin later that night for dancing and it was fun. But Calvin was a little standoffish.

There was some email after that. I thanked him for taking pity on me. He was amused. I asked him to a movie. He declined, but expressed interest in watching a certain DVD that he owned with me. And, in September, we scheduled what seemed like a romantic date.

He came to my house and brought Thai food, a bottle of wine and the movie. We ate, we drank, we watched. I thought I knew the score. I'd gone over it in my head and I would have bet good money that someone was gonna get kissed before the night was over (and I only bet on sure things). Technically, I would win that bet, because Calvin did kiss me on the cheek as he rushed out the door 20 minutes after the movie was over.

This was a frustrating and perplexing turn of events. I tried to send him the go-ahead signals, something I had never done with Calvin before. I was nervous in that I'm-laughing-because-I-can't-find-the-right-words way not in the I-don't-like-you-please-leave-immediately way. Yet, I don't think I've ever had a guy bolt that quickly. If he's not that interested, he usually won't come in in the first place. And, if I'm just watching a movie with friend, that friend would usually stick around to chat for a bit afterwards.

I talked to him on the phone a week later about "us." It was one of those painful circuitous conversations where you can't come out and say what you mean because it would leave you too exposed. I didn't want to do it, but I was torturing myself, so I called. I said, "You're not mad at me or anything, right?"

"No. Of course not. Why would I be mad at you?"

"I dunno, just wondering, because I haven't heard from you. I didn't know if maybe you wanted to get together again sometime." I said.

"I do, but, you know, I'm so busy. I have to travel next week, and I'm still working on the house. But, don't worry. There's nothing wrong." Yeah, right. (After reading this, I think it's clear he wasn't interested in romance. Too bad I didn't have my guidelines better organized back then.)

It wasn't on, and I did get it, but you can imagine how I felt when, two weeks after that date, MB tells me that Calvin Dane asked her to dinner (to celebrate her official hiring). "But I just had a date with him!" I said. She was appalled. Then I got my shit together, calmed down and told her she should go out with him and, if she liked him, she should pursue it. She had dinner with him, but hasn't seen him alone since then.

Back to today--Calvin has been talking about his housewarming party for years and he told me he would invite me. When I had my birthday party in February, I invited him (he couldn't make it). It's true that at MB's birthday dinner in December, Calvin and I bickered like an old married couple, but I'm over that now. I've run into him a few times in the last month on Saturday, on my way home from seeing the Spanish kids, and I get a big hug, a kiss on the cheek (!) and lot of friendly chatting. What is up with Calvin Dane? Princess reminds me that it is a bad idea to date Calvin Dane. I could write a whole post about "Why I shouldn't date Calvin Dane." Wait, I think I just did.

Recently, though, I was thinking about that little book I read that inspired this entry. The author recommended telling everyone you know that you are looking for a serious relationship, including people you work with. I wouldn't mind at all if people in my office tried to set me up. But, some of the people in my office are nuts and others are not exactly friends, and I don't feel like revealing that much of myself to them. My other friends know I'm on the look-out, but I suppose I could make the case to them more forcefully. Then I thought of Calvin Dane. He knows tons of people, we're not enemies, we're not going to have a romance, so why can't he introduce me to some eligible men? But how do I get him to do that? Even Princess thinks it's a good idea. I mentioned this to MB and she said, "Just email him and say, 'When's the next time you're going to take me to a party--I need to meet some of your single friends.' That way he knows you're not interested and you can be friends--and maybe he will take you out. If he is interested, then he'll step up."

"I don't know if I want him to step up--and I don't think he's interested." I said. "But you're right, it's a good approach. Not too serious. And I won't be any worse off. But I can't send a message now--he'll think it means I know about his party on Friday."

MB laughed and agreed. "So send it in a couple of weeks."

"Anyway, I'm sure the non-invite is just an oversight. There's no way he's angry at me. I haven't done anything."

And you know, even if the non-invite wasn't an oversight, I still want him to set me up with his friends. Calvin Dane, what have you done for me lately?

Grateful for: knowing it's a bad idea to date Calvin Dane.

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