I’m dating ten guys. Whenever I tell people I’m dating ten guys, there’s always a moment of silence. Really, it’s a moment of shock, confusion. “How can you date ten guys?” As if it’s impossible. They’re right to be confused. Until recently, I would have been confused as well. I’ve never dated more than a few guys at one time. But I’ve now come to the conclusion that it’s about volume. Just like the book Around the World in 80 Dates. Previously, I was that girl who stuck by her man–one at a time. After I had invested all this time and energy into the relationship, in the end, I felt burned and angry when it didn’t work out. Now, when it doesn’t work out (for example, Bill), I can move on after shedding a few tears in the bathroom. Done and done. Next! And while ten does seem overwhelming, it actually works fine if you know how to manage and schedule your time efficiently. Usually, a few guys will be out of town at any given moment for work, a bachelor party, a wedding, a Yankees baseball game, a camping trip. Also, ten is a fluid number. Some drop off, some come on. It hasn’t been the same ten guys, and the ten fluctuates to plus or minus two.
Since there are so many of them, I’m not going to talk about them in any particular order. I’ll just talk about whoever I feel like at the moment. The guy I feel like talking about tonight is Eli. I don’t even know his last name. That’s how much I know about the guy. I could very well be his mistress.
I met Eli on Match. Yes, I’ve decided to get back online. My high-end matchmaker isn’t moving quick enough for my baby timeframe. I figured I’d double up on my avenues for finding my soul mate. Half of the ten are from Match. I didn’t think I’d find many guys who meet my criteria, but they’re out there. Eli is the fourth guy I have met up with from the online thing.
His profile name was BestofBay with a fairly generic description about how he had a successful career, had travelled around the world and lived in Europe prior to moving back to San Francisco. His two pictures were enticing. There was one of him from many years back, suggesting he may have modeled in his youth. It looked like a Ralph Lauren cologne ad with his blonde hair swept back and his bright blue eyes staring deeply into the camera. I was intrigued. I don’t like pretty boys, I think of Dorian Gray and reading that narcissistic novel in high school, The Picture of Dorian Gray. That’s what came to mind. Blonde, blue-eyed boy in love with himself. But what fascinated me was the next picture. A black and white profile of him–the ones executives take for their company’s web site. He looked like Richard Gere. I had to have him.
His introductory email to me was short. “We should meet up sometime. I think we have a lot in common.” We set a date that he eventually had to cancel because of a last minute trip to Las Vegas. When he returned, he called. “I got back early. Would love to meet up with you this weekend. Let me know when you’re free.”
We chit-chatted on the phone. I was disappointed to find out he didn’t live in San Francisco like his profile had said, but in Marin–Tiburon to be exact. I sighed. I like the guys I date to live a few miles away from me. He insisted the commute to San Francisco from his home was 15 minutes tops.
He said he’d meet me at Pres a Vi at the Letterman Arts Center in the Presidio. I was early. I prefer to be the first one. It gives me time to get situated and relax with a drink before meeting a complete stranger. I’m always frazzled to see my date sitting there at the bar before me.
I could sense someone walk behind me. I knew it was him, but pretended not to notice. He touched me on the shoulder and said my name. I smiled and gave him a hug. He pulled a bar stool close to me. He was an attractive guy with an abundance of confidence. I could tell he was attracted to me, too. He managed to maneuver his legs right below mine so my patent red heels were propped up on his ankles. And when he talked, he motioned with his hands with an occasional touch to my lap or elbow to stress the point he was making. He spoke with a lot of bravado and gumption. But when I spoke, he deferred to me and smiled. We were realizing we had a lot in common.
We hadn’t spoken for long on the phone. We really knew nothing about each other. But we’d both gone to great schools, ending up with MBAs from the same city.
“Did you get your MBA in Chicago?” He asked when I told him I’d gone to grad school there. “So did I. Which one? I went to Kellogg.”
“I went to University of Chicago. What year did you graduate?”
“OmiGod, that’s when I graduated from high school.”
We were getting along and I couldn’t help but ask. “Why do you have a wedding ring on?”
“Oh, so this is a funny story. I was dating someone and it was going really well. We were together for a couple years. She wanted to get married, but I said I wasn’t ready, I liked things the way they were. So she proposed to me and gave me this ring. I said no, but I’ve just kept it on this whole time.”
I rolled my eyes. What else could I say? Did I have a right to tell him to take it off? I was meeting him for the first time.
When we met up again this weekend, sparks flew. I took advantage of his offer to order whatever I wanted on the menu at 1300 Fillmore. I helped myself to several glasses of the Meritage, sliders, crab cakes, french fries, grits. Mid-chew, he leaned over, “Kiss me. I have to have you. Come here, give me a kiss.” I gulped down the other half of a slider and kissed him half-heartedly; I was still engrossed in all the good soul food. I hoped that would suffice, but he had his arms gripped around me and pulled me close. We were clearly into each other. The attraction was there. I could have cared less about the rest of the appetizers sitting on our table.
One of the waiters came over and tapped us on the shoulder, “Can you two tone it down?”
I was mortified. I propped myself back up on the couch and looked down at the floor. I was so embarrassed. What was I thinking? What were we doing? At that moment, I felt guilty and ashamed. I’m in my mid-thirties making out with some guy at a swanky restaurant. I’m a spokesperson for a Fortune 500 company. And him! He founded several companies and headed up a venture capital firm. We’re adults. Have some self control.
Surrounded by guilt, I decided to lay it all out. “Eli, what are we doing? Are you married? Tell me the truth. You’re married, aren’t you?”
“What?!?! Catherine. Catherine, come on. I wanted to hang out with you yesterday. You were busy. What’s today? It’s a Saturday. Do you think a married man would spend his Saturday night with someone, cavorting around the city like this? I’m not really dating anyone else. I like you. I’m spending time with you. I’ve told you I want to put an end to the other guys you’re dating. And have you seen me on Match? That’s right. I took my profile down. Come on, Catherine.”
It was a nice comeback, but not altogether reassuring. Why the fuck is some guy wearing a wedding ring? And that’s why…he is one of ten.