I met Jeff, the machinist, about a month ago. It was completely spontaneous—we happened to be in the same place at the same time, and he caught my eye. After studying him for a few minutes, I approached him and introduced myself. He was receptive, and seemed to be a little surprised at my initiative, which I found endearing. Men almost always look startled when I ask them out, which amuses me—they look as if I’d suggested something bizarre and random, like “Hi there, can I spill my hot coffee on your lap?” or “Do you have any idea where I could buy an autographed photo of Vladimir Putin?” It takes a few seconds to compute.
We shared a meal together and I liked him right away. I talked quite a bit, which is unusual for me on the first date—I usually encourage the other person to do most of the talking, so that I can learn about them. Jeff was very easy to talk to. I felt comfortable with him. Warmth came naturally. He was polite, unaffected, knowledgeable. He made sense to me. I felt like I understood his disposition, his temperament. I enjoyed watching him—his gestures, the way he ate his food, the way he carried himself. And I liked the way he treated me. Present and engaging, without radiating expectation. After we left the restaurant, I told him that I found him attractive and I would like to see him again (again, that look of pleased surprise!). I was confident that he would like to meet me again; I knew intuitively that I had charmed him.
“I’m very frank,” I explained, standing in the bright winter sunshine.
“I see that,” he said. Long pause. Then: “I’m glad to know that you had a good time. I did, too.”
I assured him that if I did not like him, I would already have excused myself and beaten a hasty retreat. It’s true, too—I’ve done enough dating over the last five years to know that there is nothing to be gained by enduring bad, or even mediocre company.
A few days later, I took the train to visit him in New Jersey.
I’ve seen him about twice a week for four weeks now. It’s been nice. Jeff is definitely relationship material. I appreciate the way he’s put together—he’s serious-minded, logical, patient, and calm. He’s fastidious and detail-oriented. He has moral values that he does not talk about but which are expressed through his choices and behavior—he hardly eats meat, he builds furniture, and when his toaster broke, he took it apart and fixed it himself instead of throwing it out and buying a new one. He has not said one bad thing about his ex. His apartment is clean and organized (although, like a typical male, he has fancy electronics and zero decoration—why o why do men never hang pictures on the wall or have houseplants? WHY?). He has a gigantic cabinet full of tools and machines, and he knows how they work and uses them. I had a million questions about them, and he could answer them all.
And he’s kind and affectionate. He likes to cuddle and hold hands. Basically, he is an emotionally evolved human being. In fact, I think that he is probably way more evolved than I am. I could learn and thing or two from him.
Which brings me to my current dilemma: I cannot have my life the way it is now just add Jeff to it. At this time, there is not a Jeff-sized hole in my life. In order to make a Jeff-sized hole, I’ve have make room by getting rid of some other stuff. The last time I tried to just add a healthy, normal adult male homo sapian to my life was a year and a half ago. His name was Steven. It didn’t work out. I confused the shit out of him and he dumped me—he never gave me an clear reason why, probably because he couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but that’s all right. I knew the reason why Steven had to get out, even if he didn’t.
We didn’t have a falling out, or any sort of conflict or character clash. He didn’t leave because he felt taken for granted, or because I was unkind or hostile to him. He was impressed with my beauty and education. He thought I was funny. The problem was…I just wasn’t there, not entirely. I wouldn’t let him get too close. I never shared my problems, even the trivial ones, the daily frustrations of life. I supported him through the death of a relative and a cancer scare, but he never saw me angry, or scared, or sad. I never asked him for a favor. And he never knew what was really going on with me—the entire picture of my life. I only gave him pieces. Pieces of Margo.
I will not repeat that dynamic in a relationship. It’s just not right.
It’s still early with Jeff—I have a little more time before I have to make any big decisions.
Part of me is furious, just furious with myself for meeting this man. How dare I subject this decent individual to myself, knowing myself as I do?