TEN GREAT FIRST DATES: SOMETIMES YOU NEED A STIFF DRINK

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I met Andrew at The Whiskey Café. I walked in the half empty bar and saw him sitting there watching me as I approached him. He was a lot better looking than his photo. He rose when I arrived and we shook hands and then I sat across from him.

He was already drinking a scotch and when the waiter came I ordered a glass of Italian white wine.

We chatted a bit, about his two boys and how every year for their birthdays he took them on a trip. His oldest son’s birthday was coming up and he was taking him to London, England.

“You always do that?” I asked him.

“Yes. Every birthday I take them to a different place.”

Hmm. I liked that about him.  I asked him about his work.

“I work in environmental waste.”

I also liked that about him.

“I travel a lot,” he said. “Sometimes I’m gone for four or five days. Sometimes a bit longer.”

He took a sip of his scotch. “You’re very lovely,” he said. “Are you an independent woman,” he asked me.

I found his question odd. “In which way?”

“I’m looking for a woman who is available to accompany me on my business trips.”

Sounds too good to be true? Well, of course, it was.

I wasn’t attached at the time. I had a job that I could leave when I wanted to. There was some kind of chemistry going on between us.  Plus, he was really the kind of man I’d been looking for –  minus the married part.

“Does your wife know about you wanting to have a mistress?”I asked him.

He took a sip of scotch and then shook his head.

“Do you think it would hurt her if she found out?”

“Probably,” he said. Then he added, “Would you be available to go away on a last minute’s notice?” He talked about his business trips to Boston. New York. San Francisco. Chicago.  “Of course,” he said, “You’d be on your own during the day. But I’d take you to the best restaurants at night. We’d stay in five-star hotels.”

He ordered another scotch. “Bring the lady another glass of wine,” he told the waiter.

images 3“I still have half left in this one.” I said.

“White wine is to be drunk very cold,” he said.

After that first date, he kept sending me e-mails through the online dating site where we’d met, telling me how much he was attracted to me. To think about his offer.

I can’t say that I wasn’t tempted. But I was afraid to be hurt. What if I fell in love with him? And then all those family holidays I would have to spend alone knowing that he was with his wife. Maybe other women were able to do this but not me.                                                                               click here for source:

Andrew, ended up being another one of my characters, this time in a novel which I’m writing titled The Dating Club.

One often hears: write what you know and so I fictionalized my experience and gave it to Suzy Paradise, a fifty-ish woman in my book who would qualify for a graduate degree in online dating if there were such a thing. Here’s a short excerpt:

“I’m looking for much more than sex,” Suzy responded and wished him good luck although she wasn’t at all certain that she approved of what she was wishing him luck with.

“You don’t have to stop looking for a man for yourself,” Andrew wrote back. “When you find him I will respectfully fade away. Would that be acceptable? I want to be part of your life now.”

She wrote back: “What if I fell madly in love with you? Then I would be in real trouble. I don’t want to take that chance.” She clicked the send button and off it went to Andrew’s in box.

He wrote back almost immediately. “I might not be the man who breaks your heart. A man who is single is just as capable of doing that. I don’t want to let you go. Do you know how hard it is to find a wonderful woman?”

That evening when Suzy went to her yoga class she took a good look at all the women surrounding her.

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Thirty women of all ages and shapes and all wonderful in their own unique way depending from which angle you looked at them and how open your heart was. She rushed back from class, switched on her computer and wrote to Andrew, what are you talking about?  Wonderful women are not hard to find. They’re all over the place.

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She then called Missi and told her about Andrew.

“I hate men who are too much of a coward to take a position,” Missi said. “They’re not happy in their relationship and they’re too weak to get out of it.”

“At least,” Suzy came to his defense, “he was honest about it.”

“Honest in his deceit,” Missi said. Of course, Missi, who’d been cheated on by Max and had had that awful experience with a man who brought her for lunch to his ex-wife’s country home, would think like this. “Keep in mind, Suzy, that he’s a cheater. It’s not as if it has happened accidentally. He purposely went online searching for this. He’s not that great a guy. Keep looking elsewhere.”

I know this doesn’t sound like  a great first date but sometimes you learn things about yourself and how you’re proud of who are and that makes it a damn great date.

It’s not always about the man. It’s also about being true to yourself.

TEN GREAT FIRST DATES: I CAN READ YOU LIKE A BOOK

This post is about meeting a first date in a book store.

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This happened to me a few years ago. A book store seemed like a good place because if my date happened to be late (traffic, finding parking or whatever) I could browse around and I wouldn’t look conspicuous just waiting on some street corner like a hooker or in some cafe sipping a cup of coffee hoping that I won’t be stood up.

I had suggested meeting by the travel section on the second floor of a bookstore that was mid-way between where he lived and I did.

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I didn’t see him when I got there and so I took out a book on Nepal and looked at the pictures. Ten minutes, then fifteen minutes passed. Twenty minutes is usually my maximum before I leave.  Then, I spotted him at the pen section.

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As with many first dates, there is always that awkward moment before you acknowledge recognition of each other.

“Hi,” You must be Mead.

“Hi,” he said barely looking up from the collection of pens before him.

“I was waiting for you by the travel section. Isn’t that where we said we’d meet?”

He glanced across the room. “Just checking the prices,” he said. “These are way overpriced.”

I shrugged. I didn’t know much about the cost of pens. In retrospect, I should have paid more attention to that opening remark.

We roamed around the bookstore, looking at travel books and talking about places we’d been to or would like to go to, figuring out what kind of traveler each of us was. Most people put on their profiles (myself included) that they like to travel. But wanting to travel and actually doing it are two different things. Just as how you like to travel. I’m not much of a roughing it in the bush kind of traveler. Nor do I bend towards pre-packaged travelling.

After we’d discovered that we had “travel” in common, we went on to the fiction section of the book store. Mead liked to read detective stories. I told him that I wrote crime novels and we had a short conversation about that. When he learned that I’d still not been published (at least not in that area) he lost interest and went back to the outrageous prices of pens.

In spite of this, there were things I liked about him. At least enough to see him again for a second date which turned into a third until finally we were in some kind of nebulous “relationship”. In the end, things didn’t turn out so well between us and I ended up transforming him into a character in my book Missi’s  Dating Adventures.

Here’s a short passage from it:

He had this annoying habit of quoting prices of things he bought. His iPad and iPhone. Cheeses and bottles of olive oil.  Cleaning products for the bathroom and kitchen. Vacuum cleaner bags, candles, coupons for car washes, shoes, blankets. Armani towels. Fifteen dollars. On sale.  When he showed me his basement which was warehouse packed with so much stuff I didn’t dare comment on anything for fear that I might find myself having to listen to his rambling off on prices like an auctioneer.  In his den, off his bedroom, he showed off his new Apple TV. Ninety nine dollars. No tax. Bought in New Hampshire.

One thing Mead had was a great library filled with classical literature and some very good modern fiction. I do tend to have a soft spot for a man who likes to read.

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“Have you read all these?” I asked him.

“Not yet,” he said.

“None of them?”

“Actually, I do intend to get around to reading them.”

So, books for Mead were nothing more than decor. Or pretense.

“At least,” I said, “Books are tax-free.”

Of course the story doesn’t end here.  It is part of a collection titled Missi’s Dating Adventures.  You can read part 3 of the story by clicking here:  I Heard it Through the Tea Leaves

TEN GREAT FIRST DATES: SEEKING SANCTUARY

Warning: Just because you go somewhere spectacular on a first date don’t assume that the date will also be spectacular.

Parc des Rapides is one of my favorite places in Montreal. It’s a bird sanctuary. You will find it as a tourist attraction in Lonely Planet, Fodors, Tripadvisor, Tourism Montreal, Montreal sites and attractions and so forth. Yet, few Montrealers know about this wonderful wild and peaceful oasis along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

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What makes it unique is the contrast of the rapids churning on one side and the reservoir of calm water that flows through the dam built by Hydro Quebec on the other side.

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This park is one of my favorite meeting places with my friend and writing buddy, Thelma. Our walks usually end up with us chatting about our writing or the men we date. At the time I met Thelma, she was well into a paranormal romance novel, while I was writing a psychological crime novel. Our novels finished, drafted a zillion times and polished we are still looking for an agent or publisher and debate about going the self-publishing route. You have to understand that we do not embrace ebooks with the same enthusiasm as those in their twenties or thirties. We’re barely half way over the stigma hurdle of self-publishing.

Because Thelma was leaving for a trip to Italy in a few days, I asked her to join me at the park for my photographs of this post of great first dates.

“I’ve taken over a dozen men here on a first date,” she told me. “It’s a much more natural environment than having to sit across someone in a noisy coffee shop examining how his nose is too big,  his teeth too crooked, or OMG he put six packs of sugar in his coffee!”

As I clicked away, sorry that I didn’t have a powerful lens to photograph the huge turtles lying on a rock or the cormorants in the middle of the seaway, I listened to her first date tales.

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“Not one of them,” she claimed, “Turned into a second date.”

Click. Click.

I mentally made a list of reasons why she’d rejected them.

He threw his Kleenex on the ground. “Hey,” she told him, “You’re polluting my environment.” His reply: They’ve got somebody to pick it up.

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On another date, at dusk she and her date were walking along the rose-bush path. There was no one around when he told her, “You know I could take you right here.”

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Then she had the date where a flock of birds flew by and her date said “God, I wish I’d have brought along my gun. I love shooting birds for sport.”

  • There was the crazy man who at the end of their walk said, “So, what do you think? Do you want to see me again?” This is always a difficult situation to be in. Thelma said, “I just don’t think that there’s anything between us.” His response: “You’re the first woman to tell me that.” Really! She thought. Hard to believe. This is the same man who showed her his driver’s license to prove he was who he claimed to be, after asking if her teeth were REAL. “I felt like a horse at an auction,” she said.

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In spite of these first date disappointments, this park is a wonderful place to get to know someone. Is he a nature lover? Does the quietness bother him? You get to know someone much quicker by walking in nature than you do among a crowd coming and going talking on their cells. Not to say that being in nature is a guarantee that a fellow will turn off his cell phone. There’s nothing more annoying and disrespectful than having a date constantly pulling aside to take a call. Worse still, to make one.

Things like this, ladies, do happen.

It was late September and there weren’t any rafters, but if you go there in the summer time you’re likely to see this:

© Luc Girouard - Rafting - Jet Boating Montréal          image courtesy of http://www.tourisme-montreal.org

TEN GREAT FIRST DATES: GOING FOR ICE CREAM

Some of you might think that going for ice cream is not much different from going for coffee on a first date. After all, you’re meeting over some kind of food and there are lots of great coffee places where you can people watch.

But listen to this: According to a recent study by Baskin-Robins a person’s choice of ice cream flavor says something about his or her personality.

For example, if you order vanilla you’re more likely to be impulsive, easily suggestible and an idealist. (Oh, my, one of my favorite flavors ).

A chocolate lover suggests a dramatic, lively, charming, flirtatious, seductive and gullible person. My second favorite ice cream flavor is the six types of chocolate at Ripples. Does that mean I’ve six times more drama and charm?

My first job when I turned sixteen was working selling soft ice-cream in my father’s store, Louis Luncheonette.

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I loved that job. It was a place where I met all kinds of people and so it was only natural that my memory would have such positive connotations regarding ice-cream and that I would suggest it as a first date. Besides, who doesn’t like ice-cream?

But which ice cream parlor to go to?

The Dairy Queen was out of the question simply because I save it as my personal ritual into spring. I always choose a beautiful, sunny spring afternoon for my first chocolate dipped cone. The first one of the season is always the best. Isn’t that always the case?

Also, I wanted this first date ice cream choice to have some class to it. In other words –home-made ice cream.

My choice dwindled down to three ice cream parlors in my area. The first one is in the east end of fashionable Laurier Avenue called Bo-Bec.

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Here’s what an article in The Gazette (2012), Montreal’s daily English newspaper had to say about Bo-Bec.

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Choice number two was Kem CoBa on Fairmount Avenue. A cute store front where you can watch the owners make their ice-cream right in front of you and sit on colorful benches along with other ice cream fans. They have original flavors such as salted butter and their own soft ice cream, a combination of ice cream and sorbet:  apple and cinnamon or sour cherry sorbet and Almond Milk soft ice cream. Flavors like that for the adventurous taste buds.

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My final choice was Ripples on Boulevard Saint Laurent. It is a hole in the wall kind of parlor.

You can’t sit inside Ripples but there’s a bench outside facing Swartz’, the famous smoke meat place where tourists line up for hours.

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I chose the French Vanilla and my date chose Rainbow Sherbet. I made a mental note to check what his personality profile meant when I got back home, but so far the prospects weren’t looking that favorable. For one thing, he was a lot better looking and younger on his photo. And the t-shirt he was wearing already had stains on it and not from Rainbow Sherbet. My bet was if there’d have been a beer flavored ice cream he’d have chosen that one.

“Vanilla’s always boring. Are you a vanilla girl in bed?”

I ignored him. “You know a person who chooses vanilla ice cream tends to be an idealist,” I told him giving him the once over.

As we sat on the bench watching the line up in front of Schwartz’s I said, “Have you ever been there?”

“No,” he said. “Too touristy.”

“Do they make tombstones at that place next door?” he asked about the yard next to Ripples.

“Yup,” I said.

“Creepy.”

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“I don’t know,” I said. I told him about an interview I’d recently heard with Samuel Beam.

“Never heard of him.”

“His band goes by the name Iron and Wine.”

“I only listen to old sixties music.”

“Anyway,” I said taking another lick of my ice cream. I was getting in a hurry to finish it. “He said that the only three things that matter to write about are love, death and God. What do you think about that?”

“I’m an atheist,” my date said.

Even before we’d finished our ice creams I needed to move and suggested that we walk along Saint Laurent. I pointed out the Veille Europe, told him that when I was a kid my parents would come here to get their kielbasa.

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He didn’t seem interested until he saw a bar and asked me if I felt like having a drink.

“Ice cream always makes me thirsty,” he said.

It was two-thirty in the afternoon. The sun was shining. A fabulous fall day. I didn’t much feel like wasting the remainder of my afternoon drinking beer in a dark bar, even less being with him.

“No,” I said. “But you go ahead. I think I’ll head back home.”

He didn’t argue and I watched him walk into the bar by himself. I kind of felt sorry for him. But then I walked to where I’d left my bike passing by some interesting architecture and landmarks.

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I stopped at Kem CoBa and bought a pint of Madagascar vanilla to take home. I wonder if the type of bean makes a difference to one’s personality.

So this first date wasn’t so great. But it wouldn’t have been great anywhere except maybe some drinking hole. Where he could have got drunk. You can’t win them all. My writer friend, Thelma claims that, “Maybe the whole point (of dating) is to stop looking for romance and to just enjoy where you are, with whoever you’re with.” Or just to enjoy the ice cream, in my case.

When I got home I went on the Baskin-Robbins study and found out that Rainbow Sherbet indicated a pessimistic person.

Lesson to learn: One should always ask what their favorite flavor of ice cream is before accepting a date.

I then listened to this and thought that in my case, ice cream was better. At least this time.