Tuesday, December 26

Kristen's Story : Part Three

That Thursday, I had put on my favorite black cashmere sweater, the jeans that made my ass look best, and perfect red lipstick. (Despite my "just friends!" proclamation - I still wanted to look good.)

Because I knew I'd be early, I brought a paperback novel (by Larry Niven, to show off my nerdy sci-fi side) and I also figured the book would give me something to do other than glance around the coffee shop anxiously. I grabbed a table facing the door so I could see who was coming in and out over the top of my book, although in truth, I only looked at the book without reading anything and turned pages at appropriate intervals.

I had only a vague idea of whom I should be looking for, and someone who might have been him seem to pause at my table for a second before heading over the counter. Moments after that (while I was still struggling to get my heart rate somewhere below "chest-crushing") the same person stopped at my table and asked, "Kristen?"

Let me interrupt my story with a bit of a sidebar: When I was growing up, I lived across the street from Alex Tsouvalas, whom I had an enormous crush on. He was tall and somewhat thin, rather pale, with dark hair and dark eyes behind glasses. I thought he was the living end. It wasn't until I ran into him again as an adult that I suddenly realized he had unknowingly formed what my friends refer to as "Kristen's Type." Back to our story...

The man in front of me can be described as follows: tall, thin, pale, dark hair, dark eyes, glasses. It was like hitting the cute guy lottery.

He sat down and asked me about my day, which I had been complaining about via email earlier. Behind us, rather than the usual display of garish paintings by local artists, there were photographs by a wedding photographer, and our conversation veered into talk of overpriced weddings and the archaic institute of marriage as a whole. I think we each tried to out-do each other with our deep-rooted feminist beliefs (although while my mouth was saying "I don't see why women change their names," my mind was thinking, "Man, I would unload my last name in a second.")

All intellectual posturing aside, the more he talked, the more enraptured I became with him. A film degree from NYU, in the middle of writing a novel, had a record out on a small indie label, he was funny and smart and he laughed at all my jokes AND got all my obscure little references (and, as I said, looking like the quintessential stereotype of what I find attractive).

When the coffee shop closed, I asked if he'd like to walk to the video store with me because I had movies to return. (Actually, it was my way of testing if he liked me enough to still hang out with me now that he had a perfect time to leave.) He tagged along and we went thought the science fiction section, pointing out what we'd seen, realizing between the two of us we had watched nearly the entire section of the store.

Now the video store was closing as well, and although we talked for while outside my car, it was just too damned cold, and we said goodnight with vague plans to do something over the weekend. I drove back to my apartment in a haze, silently kicking myself for that "just friends" email.

(continued part four)
Kristen's Story : Part Two

Within a week, I was flooded by answers... all of them from various manifestations of the rollerblading baseball cap guy I mentioned. Replies came in with typos, grammatical errors - one guy even tried to tell me the word “urbane” had a negative connotation and I probably meant to use “urban” instead. (When I emailed him a dictionary definition of the word, he replied apologetically, and then launched into telling me about the head injury he sustained in a car accident and the side effects he’s suffered from it. Honest to god, he really did.)

By the middle of November, I had found a job and the replies were still dribbling in, more of an annoyance by now than anything else. I still read them, though... and deleted them at the first typo/grammar error I found. My last shred of hope was wearing thin when one day I got a reply that was, in a word, perfect.

I kept reading it over and over. It was grammatically perfect, not a typo to be found... and more than that - it was funny, it was well-written, and it closed with “Now, let’s see some of that Dorothy Parker-like wit in action.”

Good gods, he knows who Dorothy Parker is, I kept thinking. I just couldn’t get over that. I cobbled together what I hoped was a witty enough reply and sent it back. He replied again and I started to get nervous. I mean, technically, I was still with someone. I hastily sent off an email essentially saying, “Uhh, well, I’m really looking for someone to hang out with, if that’s okay with you. Can we just be friends?” Fortunately, he agreed and we decided to meet in person - December 2, 1999.

(continued in part three)

Thursday, November 9

Kristen's Story : Part One

In October of 1999, I was unemployed and in a habit of surfing from link to link aimlessly all night, killing time until I was ready to stagger into bed. One night, I ended up in AOL's personal ads, and overwhelmed by curiosity, I started to look around. At the time, I was stuck in the endgame of a relationship that we both knew was going nowhere, so although I was curious to rediscover what was waiting for me in the dating world, I wasn't all particularly eager to charge back in.

I clicked through ad after ad after ad, and it didn't take long for them to all started to blend into one guy that I would never date: aged about 28, goes rollerblading and/or camping, enjoys sports, usually pictured in baseball cap and shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch. Yuck.

Suddenly, I was struck by inspiration. What the hell - why not put up my own ad? (Maybe it was more of a whim, but at least it was an inspired whim.) I filled out the questionnaire truthfully and not without bits of my own odd humor peppered in (with answers like, "Interests: You can go rollerblading all damned day you like, but I'll be on the couch with a soy latte, watching the entire Star Wars trilogy.")

Titling it "Urbane Geek Girl," I sent my creation out into the dating world as my proxy and waited.