When human communication becomes bound by the size of a phone screen and the number of keys that your finger can zap in one second, relationships can take some pretty windy detours. Especially in the already-mysterious dating scene, I often find myself gazing clueless at that little notepad, wishing for a good interpreter.
“Hey, Voicemail full? Ms. Popular! I like the efficiency of texts better myself.”
Wait, who wrote that? Oh yes, this guy from last night. What did he say his name was? Starts with a K …
“I enjoyed meeting you.”
That’s nice to know; I have to tell you that I ran into K for a brief moment, by total chance and when I was not available, or at least I thought I wasn’t … So when this message shower began it found me unprepared and trying hard to recall our apparently exciting meeting.
It was a farewell dinner for a good friend who was leaving to India. Accidentally, my ex-boyfriend was hanging with his Harbin Watsu buddies at the table right next to us so I chatted with them a bit. I had just started dating someone new who was with me that night, and between him and my ex I wasn’t really paying much attention to other men. One Watsu buddy, K, was cool to talk to though, so a couple of hours later when we ran into them again at an afro funk show, I agreed to give him my number. Just because.
Pretty soon I got into this textual ping-pong match with him. As it turns out, this was his favorite turn on.
“Unforgettable eyes, would like to talk again.”
During the next month he followed up with his well-versed means of delivering intellectual and emotional essence and I had the joy of finding very friendly phrases on my private little screen.
“I want to get to know you more and we’ve not had the chance yet.”
That’s right, no chance; I was way too busy. I went to LA for a conference and took my secret little pocket-size friend with me. “Where are the hot spots for clubbing?” I ask my new pen-pal, and he promptly responds: “Sunset boulevard, Venice, some parts of Santa Monica, I want a full travel report when you get back …” Cool, this is fun; let’s see … “Hey, I am driving back up the coast and like to visit some hot springs on the way.” “No problem” he types, and within minutes sends me a website with details, community talk, skinny-dipping options. The guy is literally, and quite impressively, “dialed in.”
What can I say? It sure looked good on text, and it was getting better and more ardent by the cellular minute. My favorite was: “I am still curious about that deep glow and intensity in your eyes.” That’s quite unusual, I thought, and it makes me curious too … What made me even more curious was that by then I could not even remember what he looked like. He kept texting and insisting and so on one gorgeous day in Pacifica, I invited K to have a quiet picnic with me on the beach. Two humans, one ocean, a stretch of sand, and four bare feet. No phones or any other electronic devices. My hope was that for this brief moment in time, the only screen between us would be sunscreen.
When we finally met, I was totally captivated by our magical and intense interaction. The entire afternoon flew by with an immediate sense of comfort, flowing conversation, erotic playfulness, and lots of affection. His skillful, typing fingertips could tell wonderful stories also to the back of my neck. I was so pleasantly surprised and beaming with delight.
We said a sweet goodbye and before I knew it, we were back to the digital realm of romance: “Hey, what are you wearing?” asks the nonchalant king of SMS. He really has his way with those texts, huh? My mind starts racing—it’s like one of those riddles that you just have to win because if you get the answer wrong, then you lose your chance forever. “Hmmm …” I type back, trying to buy time, the pressure is rising. Finally, I’m gambling on the truth: “Water. I’m just stepping into the shower.” He replies with “Yumm,” and I’m so relieved. Thank goodness, looks like I got this one right and the avatar might actually take human form again.
Sure enough, he buzzed two days later to tell me he happens to be in my hood. I spontaneously invited him to join a pedicure get together with a girlfriend—not your typical date invite, I know, but I just couldn’t pass an opportunity for a bite of real life, as I was leaving town before the end of the week and we’d be back in cyberspace for quite a good stretch of time.
When everything flows like a chain of miracles, some people say it can’t be true; for me, that’s when I know it may be real! We arrived to our meeting spot at exactly the same moment and while I was parking my “chick car,” as he calls it. I could see K’s reflection through the mirror, getting off his big bike right behind me. Butterflies. I step out of the car and the first kiss happens, right there on the sidewalk. He actually wants to get a pedicure and joins us to my amusement. Stretching his toes, he even seems to enjoy the fancy unexpected treatment. Again there’s magic and humor in the air, and a precious sense of ease, and I’m phasing in and out what feels like a fuzzy dream.
“That’s twice in a row now,” he texts later that evening. “Really, I’m easy. Either give me champagne on the beach or massage my feet and I’m in heaven.”
Sweet! I’m starting to like this guy, I thought, as I was strolling on the beach in Mexico, remembering our picnic and collecting sea shells. The flickering thoughts melted as I plunged into the ocean and floated carefree, embraced by this huge body of water and with a light smile in my heart.
I couldn’t wait to see him when I got back and as soon as I landed, he called: “I’m coming to visit tomorrow.” I replied: “The universe is on my side.” Blissed out from my trip, I was super open and welcoming. He showed up, Mr. Shiny Toes, at my place with some delicious fruit salad, sparkly Italian wine, and an important message in his back pocket. What a special time it was, all sweet and perfect until I paused for a moment, and asked K if he was single and what that message was that he’d brought with him. His deep voice was loud and clear: he was not involved with anyone else but had to be honest—he knows himself well and is not ready for a relationship. Wow. By the next heartbeat the magic was gone, and I was cooling off without a blink.
“Ok, we can be friends,” I said.
He thought for a minute, “I understand your dilemma.”
“I have no dilemma, buddy. I know what I want.” We part.
This was kind of surprising, given the textual enthusiasm, but I guess
what happens on text stays on text.
Three days of no communication go by. I do not know what’s up with these guys, but it seems like some people don’t need or want a real connection. In any case, it is what it is. Accepting his truth, I was actively letting go, and pretty loudly too! And, while I was kicking the sidewalk, fetching some juicy Arabic phrases and threatening to resign from ever dating again, “the SMS of the year” arrives:
”My entrepreneurial coach led me thru a meditation exercise today and it made me think of you and I felt very moved. Thanks.”
What?! What am I supposed to make of this? Girls? Help! I got a text message today from this guy; I’ll forward it to you tell me what you think:
The first friend, sweet and caring, found it perplexing and asked if I was gonna call him and find out what it meant. “I’d rather wait,” I said. If it means anything of consequence, he’ll find a way to tell me. Then my psychoanalyst friend said very scholarly: “I think K wants you to know that you have penetrated his subconscious and I find it intrusive.”
Really? I don’t know … my reaction was, “Oh please, this is way too northern California for me. My entrepreneurship coach? Meditation exercise? What the heck ? How new-agey, and even thanking me at the end? How am I even remotely related to this?
So I turned to my rational girlfriend, the wise one: “It’s a sweet and maybe even sincere sentiment,” she said, “but sometimes it seems like these classic Bay Area men are professional daters.” Professional dater? Is that what it is??
Last but not least, a sensitive guy friend added a chip to the cookie—“I think this is kind of a thank you/goodbye note.” Oh well, never mind. He wants no relationship and sends confusing messages, but still I thought he was an interesting character and surely a fun buddy to have.
“There is more to tell also, and I’m feeling the urge to communicate. Soon.”
Ok, soon. Two more days pass and I’m on the verge of losing interest and not sure I’d ever see this person again. Still, a trace of curiosity takes me to meet with K for dinner (when he asks me to eventually). It was a Friday afternoon in Palo Alto and, to uplift my spirit, I put on my favorite lacey neon blue panties. Always works.
We met and started chatting like old friends, more or less, and after a few sips of dark Jamaican rum cocktail, I gently probed: “So what’s the story with your business coach?” K looked straight into my eyes and said: “As soon as I entered the session, my coach noticed that I was off balance, so in the meditation he asked me what it was that I needed. This is when I thought about you, and the answer came to me, and it was very clear. So then I told my coach, ‘I need to tell that girl that I saw last Sunday that I want to love her.’”
I’m choked. Really? That’s what this message was about? It was sort of, how can I say … lost in transmission.
It took two days for it to sink in, and I responded with: “I need to tell that guy that I saw last Sunday, that I want to see him again.” Ok, where do we go from here? K is a busy man.
“If it works for you keep Saturday night free.” That’s almost a week from now but sure, honey—pencil me in.
You see girls? That’s what we’re dealing with here: The Digital Dater: Cryptic SMS notes and a packed electronic schedule. But don’t be discouraged sweethearts—if we managed to hack the love code, we can befriend his planner, too.