Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Upholstery and Speed Dating

My aunt had a bench, it was spray painted sometime in the early 1990s a dusty gold color and upholstered with cream, green and blue floral. I believe it was a hand me down bench from one of her neighbors who passed away years ago. That’s what happens to things in Penn South, they get passed around from apartment to apartment as people move on, literally and figuratively. This bench isn’t special by any means but I’ve always loved it and felt my aunt under-used it. It was usually a resting place for stacks of crossword puzzle books and building-wide newsletters. Needless to say, I’m keeping the bench.

But I don’t want this old raggedy looking bench in my new apartment so I decided to use some of my free time constructively and take on a redecorating project. I would re-paint and reupholster the bench. How hard could it be? Well, actually the reupholstering parting wasn’t that hard, nothing a flathead screwdriver and a staple gun couldn’t handle. What was hard was selecting the fabric.

With the support of a dear friend and her little dog, I went to a Project Runway approved fabric store with 3 floors of cotton, and linen, and tweed, and organza and… more fabrics that one could imagine exist. There really wasn’t any time restriction, other than their business hours, but you feel the pressure as you walk the aisles piled to the ceiling of fabric in every hue. Obviously, I was looking for something in blue. But how do you choose?  The light one with shapes? The darker one with block print? The brocade? The soft and fuzzy one, the blue one? It took me awhile to decide, I even took swatches home and let the colors simmer in my mind.

I tell you this story, because it did not escape me that there was a metaphor somewhere here. As it so happened, I had just gone speed dating for the first time the night before. Suddenly, all those men where fabric swatches I had to choose from, if you choose the wrong one – lets say at $40/yard – you have to love it, you have to upholster your bench with it and live with it, at least for a little while…

Or maybe you can just reupholster it again.

Last Friday I woke and felt a mad need to find a mate. The holidays are coming! I’m not a desperate woman but I do live life with a sense of urgency about almost everything. It’s just the kind of person I am, right or wrong, I like to work towards having the things that I want, when I want them, like right now! I haven’t had much luck on the dating front recently as I, um, haven’t actually been dating…

I received a coupon for $5 off a Speed dating event, I thought, “oooh! A date and a deal!” who doesn’t like a discount? Somehow I wrangled the courage, put on a dress (blue) and showed up at a bar on the east side I would never in a million years walk into on my own. There were 15 chairs and I was directed to one. The way this works is every 5 minutes they ring a bell and the men rotate clockwise until everyone has met. Before the first bell, the biggest black guy from the Bronx comes and sits across from me. It’s a pheromone I must give off that always attracts guys from the Bronx the size of basketball players (I wonder if that would work for the NBA…). This guy began speaking to me, starting with “you look beautiful tonight” and continuing with “you are the only woman here who doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable considering this is speed dating…” I thought he seemed nice. We chatted for 15 minutes before they rang the first bell.

“Hello! My name is… , I live in Brooklyn, I like pizza, I work in the movie biz, how about you?”
“My name is…, I live in Queens, I like whatever you like, I do something blah blah and I want to know –“ BELL!

That was how it went for the next hour and change. Pretty much the furthest one could get into a conversation was “What do you do?” A few of the fast talkers made it to, “where are you from originally? Or how do you feel about this speed dati- BELL!!”

At the end of the evening, everyone is given a list of the people they have met. Each person is supposed to circle the names of the people they found interesting, then you hand in your paper, the company takes a tally.  The next day, they email you your results – that is if someone circled you on their list and you circled them on yours, you have a match! I figured, how can you really know if you want to know someone after only 5 minutes! I circled 5 people I would like to meet again. Surprisingly enough, 4 of them circled me (of course not the hot one though… I’m sure he went for the blond.)

Since the guy from the Bronx was sweet and funny, I figured I go out with him first – he actually was the first of my matches to ask me so points for that. He also broke the ice with a joke:

Why did everyone want to invite the mushroom to the party?
Because he was a Fun-guy!

He took me to Grimaldis (since I opened my 5-minute pitch with “I like pizza”). We were both on time-ish but he didn’t wait for me at the restaurant which I thought was strange. He texted me just before I arrived saying he would wait in the Duane Reade across the street. I sat down alone and ended up waiting on him. He was super nervous and very well dressed. I had put no effort into my appearance other than eye-liner and a tinted chap stick – that might have been a subconscious choice regarding how I actually felt (feel) about dating in my current state.

We ordered pizza and root beers as if we were 15 and going to A&W at the mall. (He didn’t know what A&W was…) Then we talked about our weekends, about movies (He’s never seen The Goonies!!) and his hopes to attend law school but in all of 10 minutes we have run out of things to talk and then he tells me he’s saving up for a new video game. Oy vey. I ask him, politely, how old he is…. He says “23” (!!!!!!) but he “likes older more mature women” (The speed dating was supposed to be a 25-35 age group but they don’t tell you ages upfront, that’s rude). Um, do I look old!? I get carded all the time! And he looked a lot older than 23… but ewwwww. Not that there is anything wrong with a 23 year old finding me attractive but I can’t date someone the same age as my little brother – I mean, I changed his diapers! (I am laughing about this now).

The rest of our dinner conversation involved me gently putting the guy down – stroking his young ego and telling him how sweet he is and how flattered I am. How he has all the time in the world to find someone and I’m not it. I let him walk me to the train in the rain and watch him pout off into the darkness.

Then I think, what the hell am I trying to rush for too? Sure, my biological clock is ticking (and loudly) but I have time just like that kid does. I know there is at least one man left, in his 30s!, waiting for me too.

Just because I ended up with the first swatch of fabric I fell in love with at the store, doesn’t mean it has anything at all to do with dating. Upholstery is not a metaphor for love, though love can change and be changed over time too…

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