We’d been having this conversation (by which I mean Obnoxious Circular Argument) for about a year: to e-date, or not to e-date. According to Daron, the only men I would meet online were social pariahs whose fumbling interpersonal skills were only compounded by task-chair ass and disappointing junk.
Him: “What are you doing?! Meeting guys who, by the very nature of looking for a relationship online, can’t interact in the real world!”
Me: “But I’ve met some really nice guys!”
Him: “Oh yeah? YEAH?! What about Mr. Burning-Man-and-mandals?!”
Me: “That was one date! One short, awful date in which I did everything to jettison him short of speaking in tongues and setting up a ‘Free Blow Jobs’ booth in the Triangle Lounge men’s room!”
Him: “Or the ASSHOLE. What about the ASSHOLE?”
Me: “Now that’s just unfair — I could’ve met an asshole just as easily offline! And while we’re at it, Dr. Laura, when’s the last time you parted some steak drapes?”
But then came the met-online attorney who took me to Vancouver Island to meet his parents at Thanksgiving and then, the day after we returned, informed me (quite correctly) we were better as friends. Via. E-MAIL.
(Let us pause here. Even I need to take a moment to re-digest the irony.)
Daron was generous enough to spare me the I-told-you-sos. But he did make me spend Christmas morning by myself, and over our shared buffet-for-12 that night, uttered his vodka-limned prophecy: “You’re never going to meet a decent guy online. Never. You know how you’re gonna meet a decent guy? The old-fashioned way — IN A BAR.”
It just so happened that the day after Christmas was Sunday, and as we had since first meeting, we grabbed the New York Times Magazine and trundled off to our Sunday local. Molly Maguires wasn’t the nicest bar, but it was a short walk from his house, the food was serviceable and the pours generous, and if we could debate the Ethicist above the Sunday evening Renaissance Goddamne Faire fiddling and fifing in the corner booth, it was a reliable good time.
We’d been sitting at the bar an hour or three when Daron says, “So, what’s up with the guy who keeps staring at you?” And I’m all, “Seriously, what IS that staring guy all about?” when a few minutes later, Patrick (with whom we’re chatting) pulls Starey McGapesalot into the conversation. And he’s cute, and quick, and East-Coast-smart. And funny as all hell.
He steps away. I say, “Have you noticed how that guy looks at me?” and Daron’s, “It’s his eyes. It’s like… they’re sparkling.”
“For real, it’s like whenever he’s talking with me his eyes totally twinkle.”
“Also, I’m getting something a little… Jew-y.”
“Oooh, me too! Let him be a Jew!”
“Also? A little, ya know, gay.”
“Exactly! Just the itsiest skoshe gay!”
And whilst I toddle off to the ladies’, the deal, it seems, is sealed: Michael asks Daron if he’s my boyfriend, and Daron tells him he once was but is no more, and that Michael should ask me out. And by the time I return, my best friend has gone.
We talk — talk and laugh and laugh and talk — and we’ve somehow been ships passing in a parallel universe of progressive nonprofits, East Coast upbringings/West Coast leanings, pop-culture obsessions (he designs for IMDb — so in need of a designer!, I turn him onto Gawker and Defamer) and alternate nights at Molly’s (“You’re Sunday? I’m Thursday!”), and by the time he brings Don Hazen into the mix, my panties are EN FUEGO.
And we very drunkenly (and very hottly) make out at the bar before he defaces my Times Magazine cover with every possible bit of contact information (SSN, ACLU membership number, his parole officer’s pager), and I swan out of Molly’s with the taste of Michael on my smile.
Three Boxing Days and two babies later, we continue to celebrate that night with an annual obligatory visit to Molly Maguires, and I hope Molly’s lives long into our lives that our tradition becomes a lesson in love for the little ones: Ladies, you’ll meet him the old-fashioned way — IN A BAR.
(For the record, Mike’s a techie dork who ne’er scoured the online dating sites. Also, not a Jew, and, to date, incorrigibly hetero.)
Happy Anniversary, baby.