Saturday, April 14, 2012

Me & OKC (Part Three): In Which I Learn a Valuable Lesson About Dating Historians


Confession One: I may be a nerd at heart, and I may be dating a nerd, and I may sometimes exhibit an intellectual elitism, BUT. This story goes to show that intelligence is not everything. Not even close.

Confession Two: I don't have much dating experience. At all. Not including dates with the boyfriend, I have been on three official dates. This story is about my second date.

It wasn't supposed to be a date.

I had agreed to hanging out, not going out. Huge difference in the connotation between those two very similar expressions.

John* was living outside of Paris at the time, doing research at the National Archives. He was a grad student from Yale (working on his Ph.D. in history), skinny, bespectacled—my kind of guy, right? He contacted me on okcupid a week or two before my winter break,** during which I had plans to travel to Toulouse, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Nice, Paris, and Saint Germain-en-laye. His opening message referred to my admiration for George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and linked to one of Orwell's essays. After a few brief exchanges, John told me that if I were ever in Paris, I should let him know so we could meet up. I was a little paranoid about meeting up with a guy so shortly after initial contact, but I didn't know when I would next be in Paris, so I agreed to meet him during my vacation.

So, I have since deleted our initial exchange that took place via okcupid, but we very quickly moved to gmail. Thus I can share with y'all this little gem.

Also, there is a marvelous little bookstore right across the Rue des Archives. I'm not suggesting going there, because girls tend to look at me funny when I suggest a bookstore as an appropriate venue for a first date, but a much, much nerdier person than I am might conceivably have visited the one-euro book box on the sidewalk outside every day for the past eight months while trying to gather his courage to confront the slightly terrifying person who runs the place for long enough to find out where the cash register is.”

1) This is when John elevated our meeting to a date. 2) How could I demote our first encounter after he so cutely suggested we visit a bookstore?***

I know at this point he sounds like the man of my dreams. And yet...

Things started off very awkwardly.

I held out my hand to shake hands when we finally met in person... but he took my hand and kissed it. I'm sure some girls would find this very charming, but I did not.

The conversation would have been fine, I guess, if he had been capable of discussing anything other than history. That was it. Maybe a few anecdotes from undergrad or childhood, but otherwise, it was nonstop history the entire time.

My degree is in history. I love history. I want to be an archivist or teach high school/university history. I will talk your ear off about history when given the chance.

But I do not want to spend three or so hours on a first date discussing history.

Like this, but with history. And with one reluctant participant.

Especially with an arrogant know-it-all who completely dismissed all my thoughts on applying to grad school, continuously acted surprised at my genuine passion and knowledge of history, and yet looked at me with condescension that I hadn't learned more or written even longer papers during undergrad. He had studied at Oxford during undergrad. The European system of higher education is very different than the American one. Jerk.

I mean, he was funny, and he was smart. He answered all my questions about applying to grad school, and when offering to pay for my lunch, he did qualify it with “Unless that offends you as a feminist,” which was sweet.

But.

Ugh.

That's not enough. I kept zoning out. There was no spark. I gave him a very intentional one-armed hug so he wouldn't try to kiss me. Buh-bye.

Except...

Hello again! I had a great time on Friday, and was wondering if you might care to watch a movie with me via Skype later this week? An American in Paris, perhaps?”

Oh.

No.

We went on one date. C'├ętait tout. And he suggested watching a movie together via skype? C'├ętait trop!

Two days later, I politely but vaguely replied.

I had a nice time as well. That sounds interesting in theory, but not really practical in practice. How would that work? Anyway, this week I'm prepping for an interview. Hardly the most riveting of activities, but it's taking up most of my free time.”

He got the hint. That was that.

Thus ends not my chronicles in online dating, but at least the French chapter of my adventures. When we next meet our heroine, she'll be interning in Cool City, The Midwest and making poor romantic decisions after first Mark* tells her he only loves her as a friend and then Ron* tells her he's not in a good place to be in a relationship.

*Fake names yada yada yada
**Teach English in France for seven months? Receive seven and a half weeks paid vacation. 
***Going to a bookstore will always be a perfect date for me.

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