So there I sat at Alameda’s Java Rama on Park Street a year ago. The phone chat was quite pleasant. I liked what I learned: Harold’s an accomplished writer, well traveled, financially secure and seemingly capable of two-way discourse. The basics were covered.
Studying his Internet photo a week prior, I was able to convince myself that looks aren’t everything. In fact, they’re not even important. No, looks don’t matter at all. Besides, some people don’t photograph well. I’d surely be captivated by his charming personality. Plus, everything and everyone is beautiful this time of year.
As I leaned back in my chair, I saw Harold approach the café door. I knew it immediately. I was certain. Yep, looks are certainly not important. He offered a cordial handshake, as I flashed my authentically fraudulent smile.
“What would you like to drink? Harold immediately inquired, flaunting his generous offer to purchase my beverage. These are together,” he announced with pride as the cashier placed both our drinks on the counter. He then dug into his wallet and whipped out some frequent coffee card or coupon-like thing. (I don’t know what it was; I was too embarrassed to look.) Generosity had reached a degrading low.
As we began talking, he impressed me. Within the next year, or maybe it was only 90 minutes, he displayed a substantial number of items on my checklist (of red flags). Here’s a synopsis:
1) He discussed the ex in excess. It was “Marcia this, Marcia that. Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!”
2) Infidelity - He informed, “I only cheated once, with my first girlfriend...It was horrible for the relationship. I’ll never do it again.”
3) Issues with boundaries. See disclosure in #2.
4) Talker's Syndrome. He kept talking and talking in one long winded never-ending run on sentence kind of like this one but it was a lot longer and a lot more boring and spewed in a completely monotone and stoic manner with no break between words or sentences.
Actually, it was nice to have time to glare at my watch, finish my tea, jog around the block, and check out the movie listings at the theatre around the corner.
5) Self indulgence. Harold reached into his brief case, pulling out each and every travel book he’s contributed to, showing me each and every table of contents, his favorite pictures in each and every series, with explanation as to why the pictures didn’t turn out better when Marcia (back to “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!”) was behind the camera.
6) Bigotry. “I only tell racial jokes around my friends,” Harold disclosed. “They know I'm kidding. I’m not prejudiced.”
Of course not, and you’re not homophobic either. After all, I'm sure you occasionally watch “How I Met Your Mother” starring Neil Patrick Harris. Right?
7) Anger issues. “I have a sharp tongue,” he added. “I’ve had many friends turned enemies because of it.”
You ain’t seen nothing yet dude. Oh, I’m sorry, did I just spill the rest of my hot tea on your lap?
Alas, the date began closing. Without missing a beat, he stated “I’ve had a nice time. Would you like to get together again?”
Any way I did the math, the points did not add up in his favor. “It feels like this was just a friendly connection,” I replied.
Dejected, Harold hung his head low and began shoving the many publications back into his briefcase.
Okay, this is a bit awkward. Do I say something more? Do I plant a big wet one on his cheek as a “no hard feelings” gesture? Do I go back to the counter for a chocolate chip cookie?
I eyed the door and started to dart the hell out of there. Aah, spring had sprung and so had this Robyn.