I was floored! How absolutely flattering!
Also... see, here's the thing. Having this blog is both exhilarating and scary. The "How-do-I-tell-him-about-this-thing?" question is always lurking in the dark corners of my mind whenever I meet a guy with whom I hit it off. And more than that, the even scarier "Will-he-be-able-to-accept-me-and-it?" question is not far behind.
I'd like to believe that most people would be able to see beyond the surface of all of this, to view this as a much-needed expression of creativity, to see how good I am at this and learn to love it as a part of me, much like they would learn to love an obnoxious laugh or a tendency to micromanage.1 However, I realize that for many that's a tall order.
In any case, the Australian knew about the blog and asked me out anyway. I cannot tell you what a relief it was to not have to worry about it being a deal-breaker.
And speaking of things that might have been considered deal-breakers -- when the Australian had e-mailed me to begin with, he'd been honest about something sort of crucial: his age. At 46, he expressed worry that he'd be too old for me. But I'm still trying to approach this whole dating thing with an open mind and get over things that I might at one time have thought were worthy of rejection. Age is one of those things, and given my current mindset, I wasn't immediately put off by the nearly-20-year gap.
We exchanged e-mails for a few days, then based on recommendations I got from people on Yelp, we agreed to meet at Belga Cafe on Barracks Row near the Eastern Market Metro station.
Now, the Australian and I had been in the same room at the theater at one point in time, but he hadn't come over to me after the show to introduce himself, so I didn't know what he looked like. This was a truly blind date for me.
I was a tad late, so I walked in cautiously and peered at every patron in the joint. Everyone was in pairs, save for a lone gentleman at the bar. Bingo. I walked over and said hi.
Indeed, it was the Australian, and he had just the cute accent I was hoping for. I sat down, ordered a beer, and we started chatting.
We had a few fits and starts to begin with, but it was a good conversation! He works in IT for a program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but we didn't really talk about that much.
Rather, we talked about how long he'd been in D.C. (three years), and the extensive traveling he's done in his life. The Australian is interesting in that he was born in Germany, moved to Australia, moved all around in Australia, and has traveled all over Europe. He was talking about being in Egypt and Paris, and I felt extremely jealous at the comparative lack of travel on my resume.
Additionally, he takes an interest in both the outdoors and theater, which is something I have a hard time finding in guys for some reason -- usually it's one or the other. They're either artsy fartsy and waaaaay too high-brow for me, or they only want to play sports and get dirty outside. I do both, and it's nice to meet someone who does both, too. The Australian and I talked about how he bikes all the local bike trails, and he sheepishly admitted that yes, when he's out he wears full-on Tour-de-France-like bike gear.
The age thing wasn't an issue, but for me at least, it made its presence known in various subtle ways, like a soft hum of static from a forgotten radio station. His hair is gray, he had to wear reading glasses at various points -- these sorts of things. It wasn't awkward... until he admitted he had a niece my age.
But we didn't dwell on that. Instead, we ordered dinner,2 and skipped right back on to more talk of travel and other activities.
And again... like static on a radio dial, except this time growing ever louder and louder: We.
The Australian kept saying "we" when he was talking about his travels. We did this in Paris; we did that in London... etc. And I did it too -- when talking about the traveling I did in Guatemala last year, I we'ed the trip, of course in reference to Ex-BF v. 2.0, who I'd gone with. But I switched over to the defiantly individual "I" when I mentioned the two weeks I spent in Mexico in October, a trip I'd taken post-breakup. The Australian, on the other hand, never dropped the we.
Finally, I had to ask: "So... have you been married before?"
"Yes," he admitted.
"For how long?" I asked.
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I asked that, but I don't think I was expecting him to say what he said next.
... it's moments like these that I feel it's truly remiss that my life does not have a soundtrack. I could have used a record scratch. Eighteen years?! That is a long-ass time!!!!
"So how long ago did it end?"
"Two-and-a-half years ago."
So that means when he moved to D.C., he was still married. Hmm. Again, trying to be open-minded, but... yeah. That's a tough one.
Anyway, we finished up dinner, and it was getting late so I needed to walk to the Metro and get home. The Australian held my hand to the Metro, which was cute. We got on the first train that came to deliver us in the direction of L'Enfant Plaza, which is where I needed to get off to transfer to the Yellow Line. We hugged and made promises to meet up again.
Earlier in the day, Megan K. had called me and asked if I wanted to hang out in the afternoon. I told her I would stop by on my way to my date, but I needed to nap and do a few things first. I ended up sleeping so soundly that I ran out of time and had to just get going to my date and not stop over for a visit. So on my way home from the Metro, I decided to drop by the Brick Mansion to chat.
Megan K. wasn't home. But a decidedly exhausted Allison, fresh off two days of back-breaking shifts (she worked until 10 p.m. Monday night and had to be right back to work at 5 a.m. Tuesday -- sucky by anyone's standards), was chilling on the couch in front of what appeared to be DVR'd episodes of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Even in her over-tired state, she seemed overjoyed to see me, to vent a little panic about the invites for her upcoming nuptials, and to listen to me talk about my date.
I started telling her what a nice time I'd had, but Al, even in her somewhat delirious mental state, could sniff out that I was withholding something.
Eventually, I came out with it: "Well, he's a little... older."
Al pulls no punches.
"Something like... 46."
Al pursed her lips, stuck out her tongue, and blew a gigantic raspberry: "No. Does he have kids?!"
"No," I said, hesitating before adding: "But he did say he has a niece my age..."
Al blew another raspberry. "You've got readers in Australia, Katie; she could be reading your blog! And do you really want to socialize with his siblings, who are probably in their 50s? No!"
At that point, I came out with the rest of the dirty laundry: "He was also married before..."
Al blew the biggest raspberry yet. "Katie, you are this man's mid-life crisis!"
"He was really nice, though!" I started. "And we had a lot in common!"
"What are you going to do when you're a 40-year-old mom and he's 60? What are you going to do when you're 60 and he's dead... or in a home somewhere?" Al continued. "Going on another date with him would be the second-worst idea you've ever had!"3
Sigh. I was crestfallen. I had had a good time, but Al, ever my wise friend, has a point. Particularly on the marriage issue -- I'm at the point in my life where I'm ready to find my special someone, settle down and start working on popping out the next president of the United States, you know? And is someone who has, though admittedly it's been a few years, just gotten out of a seriously long-term relationship ready for the same thing?
I believe that to be a valid question, and one only the Australian can answer (and probably will now, because I know he's going to read this).
So, I guess we'll find out sooner or later.
1. Of all people, John got it. He once said something to me like "You write for the same reason Picasso paints." While I personally would never compare my writing to Picasso's paintings... yeah. I do do it for the same reason. I think that right there is the sole reason it's taken me so long to get over him. He got it. He got me.
2. I had the Gebraisseerde Ribbetjes. I don't speak Belgian (is that even its own language?), but I have to assume that is Belgian for INSTANT HAPPINESS. Holy shit, the meat melted in my mouth! IT MELTED IN MY MOUTH, PEOPLE. I don't know if you understand the magnitude of this, but you need to. Additionally, the Australian and I shared a trio of chocolate mousses for dessert... DIVINE.
3. What's the first-worst (or I suppose, just the "worst") idea I've ever had? Not telling, but I hinted at it in this entry.