In online dating, there were usually 2 kinds of guys you talked to: ones that lived close and you could realistically date, and those that lived farther away but you chatted with anyway.
JJ lived farther away.
He seemed like a nice enough fellow. He worked in data analysis, had pretty accurate spelling, and wasn’t one to ask for naughty pictures or cyber-talking. He had his own place, but lived farther away (about 4 hours one way).
I had been dating with no real connections, and JJ was always a welcome distraction. After what seemed like several months of casual chatting, JJ proposed that maybe we meet halfway for a movie and a bite to eat. It seemed like a reasonable request.
I was pretty sure he had said he was 5’9” when we first started chatting, but now his profile said 5’8.” (I’m almost 5’10” barefoot, and more like 6’2” in heels). I joked about this, and that’s when he admitted he was more like 5’7.” Not that I was going to cancel a date over height, but y’know.
He had picked out a Chinese sit-down restaurant near a movie theater, and given that our date was going to consist of mostly sitting, I took a chance and wore my knee-high black boots rather than my more height appropriate flats.
When I arrived, he was already seated, so we did the awkward half-standing hug and then I slid in to my seat. He was awkward also at small talk – something I hadn’t noticed much in our emailing or phone calls. Then again, I tend to be chatty enough by myself. When I asked about the movies, he suggested we go to the mall instead, so we could chat more and get to know each other better.
I am not a mall girl. But I tried to be a good sport, and so we rode in his car the 2 miles to the mall and began to walk around. At this point, a few things became clear: JJ may be 5’7”, but he had back problems and therefore stooped over making him more like 5’4” or 5’5”. So in my high-heeled boots I towered over him by 9-10 inches. Also, can I add – malls with slick marble floors? Not a fan.
So he shuffled and I skidded around the mall, not really stopping to look at anything. We might as well have been reprobate mall walkers. I suggested we sit and chat in one of the conversation areas set up around the mall – but again, he didn’t have a lot to say – he just smiled and stared at me a lot. Finally, I spotted a mall cafe and announced I was going to get a coffee. We sat down across from each other and he announced that he was going back to school in Oregon. To get his degree in fermentation science so he could open his own brewery. I recognize that college and beer go hand in hand, but had no idea you could study it. It was the most interesting part of the conversation. And then he just stared and smiled again.
Desperate, but not wanting to be rude, I finally confessed that I needed to get back home to read a book for the book club I ran. It was a lame excuse, but legitimate. He nodded and smiled and we walked back to his car.
He fiddled with his keys without putting them in the ignition and looked down at his lap. Then he looked up and smiled and said, “I had a great time” and leaned in for the kiss.
I admit, I melted a little inside. It was sweet. So I leaned in as well. And then . . .fish lips. Like a fish sucking for air at the top of the fish tank, JJ’s lips brushed against mine – ever moving, barely touching, just puckering and pursing against the air and my face.
And then the brain started going: How long do I have to stay like this? If I pull away too fast, he’ll feel rejected. If I stay too long, he’ll think I like it. How long is enough? It was so bizarre and weird, it was hard not to smile. I wanted to laugh, but it seemed cruel. I counted to 5 and then sat back.
The smile on my face must have made him think he’d done well. A part of me wondered if I should have told him or taught him something different. Should I do a favor for the next girl? But then again, if I tell him, would I just make it that much worse? I said nothing.
As he put the car in drive, it occurred to me – we still had to drive to my car and that meant another goodbye. How do I avoid another fishy encounter? I decided the best defense was a good offense, so when we arrived at my car, I swooped in with a kiss on the cheek, thanked him for everything, and bolted out of the car.
For an hour I drove south, that fishy feeling on my lips. I made an emergency stop at Rocker’s work.
“I need you to remind me what a good kiss feels like,” I explained. “His kiss cannot be the one left on my lips when I go to sleep.”
Thankfully, the doctor was in and soon my lips had happy memories of the day.
When I returned to dating a few months ago, JJ was on OKCupid again (still?). I didn’t contact him, he hasn’t contacted me. And I may always wonder – has he left his fishy ways? This blog may never know.