Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kissing Frogs

In her infinite maternal wisdom, my mom has counseled me and my sister that “In order to find a prince, you have to kiss a lot of frogs.” Even though this is contradicted by my mom's own experience – she got married at the ripe old age of 22-going-on-23, and I seriously doubt that she had the time to kiss many frogs before then – I am beginning to see her point. I met and began dating La Moustache six months (to the day, weirdly) after my breakup with l'Artista. When we met, I had been dating a man named Mr. White Pants for four months. Even though I knew that there were plenty of other men out there besides Mr. White Pants and La Moustache, it was hard not to feel like I had two choices before me, and one was very clearly superior to the other.

Mr. White Pants was a Southern gentleman, hailing from a tobacco city in North Carolina, the youngest of six or seven siblings. He was twelve years my senior, and I met him through his college roommate, who had been trying fruitlessly for some time to court me. In retrospect, it wasn't very nice of him to flirt with his friend's crush, but at the time I can't say I minded.

Mr. Pants worked for a bank and made a lot of money. He had gone to graduate school at Columbia, spoke fluent Russian, and lived for several years in Uzbekistan. He was on the board of a small theater company and invited me to the opera. Sometimes I thought that if he were a character on Sex and the City the ladies would think he was a really good catch. In the end, though, I'm not one of the Sex and the City ladies, and after a while I started to realize that despite his intelligence he was lacking in one very important area -- personality. Every time he talked to me about his work I was either bored stiff or horrified, like when he told me about financing open-top mines. He enjoyed tango dancing, but it seemed more like a hobby he had picked up to make himself seem interesting than a genuine passion.

And then there was the matter of the pants. He always dressed up for our dates, and frequently wore his favorite white pants. When I got to know him better, I found out that every time he wore the white pants he had to wear tighty whities to match them, because otherwise people could see his undergarments through the pants. I'm not saying I don't sometimes have to think about wearing underwear that you can't see through my clothes, but a man who matches his underpants and trousers was a turnoff, to say the least. In addition, one day my Wise Woman mentioned to me that when she was walking down the streets of Manhattan one day she passed a man who she wondered might be Mr. White Pants. When she described him to me, he sounded utterly ridiculous.

Just as I was starting to feel ready to move on, along came La Moustache. He was handsome, had an interesting job, he told me great stories about his recent trip to the West Bank to cover the war between Israel and Lebanon, he was funny, we were reading the same book when we met (Heat by Bill Buford, a great book), he loved the New Yorker like me, and I instantly felt more comfortable with him than I ever had with Mr. White Pants. But I wonder if, had I been dating other men, I would have thought more critically about him and kept my options open longer, rather than allowing myself to be convinced to jump headlong into a relationship as I did. Perhaps through the veneer of charm I would have discovered his underlying froggy qualities; or perhaps not, since (to give myself some credit) he was very good at hiding them.

In the interest of learning from my past mistakes, I have been working on meeting frogs. Here are some of my stats so far:

Frogs I've gone on dates with: 4
Frogs I've gone on second dates with: 2
Frogs kissed: 2 ½ (one was an awkward edge-of-the-mouth kiss that I was attempting to dodge)
Frogs kissed because my sister forced me to: 1
Second dates I've gone on because I had a bit too much to drink on the first date and got beer goggles: 1 (mental note: one drink maximum per date)
Very nice frogs I've gone out with: 3
Frogs who really liked me: 2
Frogs I found attractive: 0

Another piece of advice I received recently from my mother after I complained about the lack of attractiveness of my dates: “In the end, it's not really that important.” Again, this is contradicted by her own experience – my dad is very handsome, and even after nearly forty years of marriage Mom will occasionally pause when she sees him across the room and say, “He's really quite good-looking, don't you think?” This is one piece of advice I am ignoring: I want a hot boyfriend, and I think I deserve one.

Clearly, I have a ways to go. My sister went on dates with 26 men before she met her prince, the Sensitive Bostonian. And this time, I am determined not to be tricked by any frogs disguised as princes.

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