She was more beautiful in person than in her profile picture. Vanity knows no age, I suppose, and I could tell that she had filtered out lines that betrayed her fifty-three years, but to me proved that she laughed more than frowned. She gave me a sincere hug, then we took a seat in a small booth in the loud anonymity of a downtown wine bar.
We looked at the wine list and she said, “So, you’re a wine guy, which of these would you order?” (Note to self. You are apparently a one-dimension being: Wine Guy).
“Well,” I said, studying the list, “I usually start by trying to find something different and obscure and fun. Then I look to see if there’s a value on the list; something cool that the somm has too much of and is trying to move out the door at an awesome price.” I smiled at her. “Then I take all of that and throw it out the window and ask my date what she wants.”
She laughed. “You’re charming. You want to go back to my place?”
I’m not an idiot. I know exactly what “do you want to go back to my place” means. On the other hand, I’m a complete idiot and what came out of my face hole was, “you mean, now?”
She smiled at me that way a first grade teacher smiles at a child who’s trying to wrap his head around subtraction. “Look,” she said. “I’m employee number four at a major, major tech company. I work fourteen hours a day, pretty much every day of the week. But tonight is Sex Night, and you were the top candidate. If you don’t want the position, so to speak, I get it, but let me know now because there are two other candidates in line.”
So that was it, huh? I was Sex Candidate Number One, and had apparently aced my interview in the first thirty seconds. What did she think? That I was just going to jump on her job offer? That I was going to throw my self-respect out the window, hail a Lyft and surrender myself as the Man Meat du Jour in her Carnal Conference Room?
Oh, hell yes.
I half-expected there to be a White Board in her bedroom, with a Meeting Agenda and Project Flow Chart detailing every position we’d be utilizing. She turned me into the human Value Proposition, and she leveraged Action Items into concrete Deliverables with the efficiency of a Deloitte consultant. It was all about recognizing the Bottom Line and increasing Shareholder Value, if in fact, Shareholder Value was a wide assortment of bodily fluids.
Early the next morning, I did my Walk of Shame out of her apartment and directly to the closest Starbucks. Sensitive Man Bun Guy behind the counter took one look at my disheveled form and upgraded my Tall to a Grande with a knowing smirk. Two days later, I got a text from the 53-year-old that read: You’re a nice guy 🙂 I never heard from her again.
The number one comment I’ve received from this series so far is a variation of the following three words: “OMG dating sucks.” However, I don’t get this comment from men. Most guys pull me aside and whisper, as though they’re being surveilled by the Department of Homeland Security, “dude, this dating shit is weird.” Many point to the proliferation of dating apps and social media as the reason for this weirdness, but those things are symptoms and not the disease itself. No, dating as a man is hard because dating as a woman has never been harder.
Though there’s still room for improvement, feminism has given women in America an unprecedented level of opportunity. The opportunity to pursue any career, to dream any dream, to aspire to any level. A result of this opportunity isn’t so much role reversal as it is role inclusion: women get to experience things that were once reserved exclusively for men. Awesome things, like working 14 hours a day in a cubicle, being responsible for the livelihoods of 800 people and having a DefCon 5 Midlife Crisis.
So, what does that mean for dating, love, sex and partnership? What happens when a woman doesn’t need a man to survive, doesn’t need to be taken care of, doesn’t need to have children? What does marriage mean when we no longer need or want the social institutions or norms that were developed for and favored by a patriarchal society?
Fuck if I know. The way I see it, we’re at the part where someone has rolled an alligator into the middle of the dance floor, and all these sweaty, hormonal, confused bodies are screaming for the exits. It’s a rather awkward time to turn to that person running next to you and say, “hey, you wanna go out?” But until Animal Control gets here, that’s just where we’re at.
Trying To Fall In Love And Create A Partnership While A Metaphorical Alligator Is Eating The Social Norms Around You Pairs With: 2014 Chateau de Mercues Malbec de Cahors ($23, Total Wine & More). Most of you know I don’t spend a lot of time on a wine’s color, but holy cow, this wine makes Petite Sirah look like strawberry Kool Aid. Wines from the Cahors region, which is about 100 miles east of Bordeaux, are known this quality, but this is seriously some of the most dark purple wine I have ever encountered.
The Malbec de Cahors has all the elements of a great Bordeaux but is not a Bordeaux. It’s 85% Malbec and 15% Merlot. Malbec is said to originally come from Bordeaux, but it probably started in Cahors and came westward. The nose has all the barnyard funk and dirty sock characters of Bordeaux, but the native terroir is 100 miles further from the Atlantic…and closer to the Mediterranean. This is not your Argentine grandmother or Chilean grandfather’s Malbec. Cahors has been growing Malbec for 2,000 years, so one could say this is the truest expression of the varietal and all that South American spice and fruit is not what a real Malbec is supposed to be.
Or one could find the rule book thrown out the window, as happens sometimes.