So my New Year's Resolution to never ghost anyone again lasted...two months? Almost?
But let me start at the beginning: Valentine's Day. I had some pretty epic romantic plans this year with my one true love, Cheese. (Shhhh. Don't tell Coffee. They can't know about each other.) I was on 24-hour call for my job, so even if I had wanted to go out, had a date, or indeed, someone to celebrate Love & Chocolate Day with, I wouldn't have been able to. But I had plans, let me tell you. They involved a Captain America movie marathon, Julia Child's recipe for cheese souffle, and (if work would have released me early) a bottle of chardonnay. I was stoked.
As it would happen, fate (or should I say Crew Scheduling?) had other plans. The souffle turned out lovely, but I was not meant to enjoy it. Just a couple of minutes before I was meant to pull it out of the oven, work called and informed me that I would be spending a night in Detroit. Lovely.
So there I was in a hotel in Detroit, when I got to my room--starving from a lack of cheese souffle--and discovered that my room key card wouldn't work. Off I went back to the lobby to rectify the situation, delaying my plans for ordering room service that I can't afford.
And there in the lobby of a hotel in Detroit, stood Mr. Mature.
My first thought was Damn that is one sharp-dressed man. What can I say? I've always appreciated a clean-cut guy who puts a little effort into his appearance, but I was especially susceptible after the events of Mr. Comfortable & the Uncomfortable Second Date. Mr. Mature, dressed in a well-tailored navy blue suit, looked hella good. And he made a little light small talk with me while the Concierge helped him out (delaying my ability to get my room key fixed). Mr. Mature, apparently, had forgotten to pack his running shoes, and had ordered a second pair from the nearest sports store, which they had been kind enough to deliver to the hotel for him.
Well dressed and has fitness ethic. Nice.
Well, that would have been the last of it, except that by the time I finally got into my room, it was fifteen minutes too late to order room service. So I ended up down at the bar, ordering a glass of wine while I waited on them to fix my over-priced and ultimately disappointing dinner to-go.
Someone came along and sat next to me, and all of a sudden I realized it was the sharply attired man from earlier, who had changed clothes. Upon closer inspection I realized he was...older. But I couldn't tell how much older than me. He engaged me in conversation, which I found myself enjoying, particularly as his job required him to travel, so we had similar work-lives. Sort of. He claimed to be with the secret service team escorting Senator Sanders on his presidential campaign.
Yeah, yeah, trust me: I know. Now, I don't actually think he was lying, but I'd only rate my B.S. radar a solid 80-85% accurate. There's a fair chance I'm wrong. I did however think that this was exactly the sort of job a man would claim to have if he were lying about it. Secret Service, indeed.
But who cared? I was talking to some random guy in Detroit who apparently lived in Texas when he wasn't on the road. Let him lie. Whatever. He carried on an interesting conversation and he wasn't unattractive. Not someone I was swooning over, but definitely decent-looking. And quality conversation goes a long way.
Well, two glasses of wine later (and twice as long as the bartender had said it would take) my chicken came out of the kitchen and I said goodnight. Undoubtedly under the influence of a little alcohol buzz, I gave him my card and said to give me a call if he were ever in Chicago. What the hell? I figured. I could always form a more firm opinion of him later, and my iPhone has finally given me the ability to block numbers of those who turn out to be creepers or harrassers. (Really, thank God for that feature. It has enabled a very cautious woman such as myself to be a little bolder when it comes to giving men a chance.) I decided I would rather give him my number than not do so and potentially regret it later.
The next morning, just as I was about to place my phone in airplane mode for the rest of the morning, I received a text from Mr. Mature about how nice it was to meet me and that he hoped I made it back to my room all right.
Huh. No butterflies. No excitement. Only a nagging feeling about why on earth I would think it was a good idea to give my number to a guy who lives in Texas?
Long distance relationships can work, but I had no interest in starting something with someone who lived somewhere I did not want to live, or to be put in the position of pressuring someone to move to my fair city. (Been there, done that, bought the ugly souvenir T-shirt. It didn't fit.)
And then there was the fact that I'd never really established exactly how much older he was than I am. I had a sinking feeling it was a significant amount. Age difference is mostly a matter of personal preference--though I maintain that in some cases it is borderline creepy. For me personally, I definitely find it to be a bit of an obstacle. A few years older than me is fine--great, even--but 10? Potentially even 20? I have a hard time imagining that working out for me.
So I stared at the message and placed my phone in airplane mode without replying. I'll decide what to say later, I thought. Except that I couldn't think of anything I wanted to say, or muster up a desire to reply at all, for that matter. And the longer it went on, hours then days, the more bizarre and awkward it would have been had I replied out of the blue.
So I never responded at all. And I felt sufficiently guilty about it, considering the aforementioned New Year's Resolution. But I told myself, "Well, I said he should call me if he were in my town. He's not. And his message doesn't necessarily require a reply. If I hear from him again, then I'll reply."
Except a few days later, while visiting my mother in South Carolina, I did hear from him again.
Howdy Rachel. I'm finally back in [Home City, TX] for a bit. How are you? Hope all is well. --Mr. Mature
Another sinking feeling in my stomach. I didn't want to engage in regular conversation with this guy. I did not want to get involved in something that could only be complicated or meaningless. There would be no in between. New Year's Resolution now being tossed ruthlessly out the window, I decided not to reply.
My mother was disappointed and wanted to know why on earth not. Ironic, as her encouraging remarks when I told her about him previously had been "He's probably married," and "I bet he was lying about his job." (Now you all know where I get my indecisiveness from.)
But my mother and later my mother's friend, who had us over to dinner where my mom told her the whole story, both pointed out the glaring mistake I had made. Yes, I had enjoyed a bit of conversation with this man--probably in part because of the age difference--but I had completely failed to ask any of the important questions. Like "So do you have a family in Texas?" i.e. Are you married with children? or "So exactly how many years ago did you get out of the army?" i.e. Let me do some mental math and calculate your age by adding that number to 6 years of service and the college degree you said you have.
The fact of the matter is that even if he weren't significantly older than I am, a few of these background questions are necessary. It took me a few years to start training myself to look for a wedding ring, but that's not enough. I need to start finding out the important things about men like Mr. Mature or I'll always end up in the position of wondering "What do I really know about this guy?" I hesitate to make someone feel like they're being interrogated, but I can and deserve to get the important information from them. I like to think I've been blessed with decent enough social skills to accomplish that much.
So much for Mr. Mature. Maybe I should text him to let him know it's not him, it's my failure to obtain any essential information about him?