Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holiday Romance, Part 2

I was reminded the other day that my rant about how hard it is to buy gifts early in a relationship was actually in one of my books. So, now you know where that part came from. Read Damsel Under Stress again, and you'll have a whole new set of mental images to go with that part.

But I didn't learn my lesson about trying to start a new relationship during the holiday season. Fortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), this turned out to not be a problem. The holidays only really came into play because I think that helped send my imagination into overdrive.

My long-term, pre-publication friends may recognize this story, as I posted it at the time under a friends lock. One of the issues of being a semi-public person with a blog is that it's way too easy to look me up and get the whole scoop, which means it's very hard to write about things like dating. If it was a horrible date, unless that was because he was criminally creepy rather than just not right for me, I wouldn't want to post something he might see (the lingerie thing might have been grounds for posting) because I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings. On the other hand, if I really, really like the guy, I wouldn't want to say too much and show all my cards at a point where it might scare him off. But I think that this story is now well beyond the statute of limitations. If this guy is still reading here three years later and has said nothing, then he deserves to see what he sees. And really, this one is mostly about how silly I was (he did get his own silliness later, but that's another story).

Anyway, someone I'm in an organization with approached me at a meeting and asked if I was seeing someone, then said there was someone she might want to introduce me to. I'm still not sure where I got this impression, since I don't remember the whole conversation in detail, but I came away with the idea that it was someone who worked with her husband (she may have referred to her husband, or I may have just imagined it entirely). Her husband had an important, rather glamorous corporate job, and I think my brain went into overdrive. That's one of the occupational hazards of writers. We have very vivid imaginations, so just give us a tiny fragment of an idea, and next thing you know, we've created a character, complete with backstory, and have written an entire story arc about how things will go. So I had a vivid mental image of some dashing young executive on the rise. In my head, he looked a lot like Owen, but maybe a bit taller.

Months later, it was early December, and this same person came up to me at a meeting and said, "The corporate party fell through, so I'm having a casual get-together at my house tonight, and John* would love to meet you."

(*not his real name)

The way my brain interpreted this was that her husband's company's office party had fallen through, since that was happening a lot that year, with potlucks at the boss's house replacing the big hotel shindig with open bar, so she was just having the office over to her house. I would apparently be the "date" for this John* guy. I was a little worried about feeling like an outsider, but the mental image of this fabulous character I'd created won out, and I agreed to go. I got there, and John* was already there. This woman's adult daughter was the only other person there. I figured the daughter was helping set up, and John* was there early to get to know me a little before the rest of the staff got there. John* seemed to know my friend and her daughter pretty well. Then the daughter's husband and their little girl showed up, and the little girl ran to hug John*. I was thinking that he really must be employee of the month, since he knew the family so well. The daughter even asked him to go with her to her office holiday party, since her husband couldn't be there. Some more people showed up and they were neighbors. I was still waiting for the rest of the office staff to show up, but my friend invited everyone to get a plate and start serving themselves.

It was nearly an hour into the evening before I realized that John* was my friend's son and that the whole thing had nothing to do with her husband's office, that this was just a friends and family event. It turned out that the corporate party she referred to was one she was supposed to have hosted for some visiting executive, but that fell through, and since she already had the food and had the house decorated, she invited friends and family to eat the food. I guess I got the story wrong. I ended up having a good time and seemed to hit it off with the whole group, with the possible exception of the guy I'd been set up with. We just didn't seem to click.

Fortunately, I kept my mouth shut until I knew what the situation really was. The whole thing had the makings of a major disaster. Just imagine if I'd said something like, "Wow, you must be employee of the month! You're practically a member of the family!" or if I'd asked when the rest of the office would get there.

For funnier dating stories, I found this blog about a London woman's dating quest (it trails off, but I heard she got a book deal, so maybe she's saving it for the book). It's very Bridget Jones-like. I find it interesting that she ran into similar problems in the ways she tried to meet men that I've found, so I guess things are the same all over the world. Even if I started dating again, I probably couldn't write that kind of thing without running into that semi-public figure issue, unless I started a separate anonymous blog about it that wasn't readily linked to me by Google, but then how could I let the people I wanted to read it find out about it? What would I do if I actually met my anchorman? I couldn't exactly post something like, "I finally met that anchorman I've had a crush on for five years" without him then immediately finding out about the long-term crush and dismissing me as a scary stalker. Since there are thousands of people who know me through my books and only a few people I might date, it would almost be easier to start dating under an assumed, non-Googleable name, and then only reveal my true identity when I'm more sure of a man and don't mind him researching me. As it is, I just go by the six-month statute of limitations -- if it was a disaster and we've had no contact for six months, if he's still reading he deserves what he sees, and if it went well, by six months I shouldn't mind him knowing my first impression of him. It would be so much easier if I could filter out one or two specific people. It's almost an unfair advantage on a man's part, since I've got all this info out there on me, unless he's equally public and I can find out about him (no, the anchorman doesn't seem to have a blog, unless he's set it up to be non-Googleable or private).

I'm going to attempt to get into the swing of Christmas today by hitting the mall to do my shopping and then going to the holiday open house at Borders. They're supposedly going to have live music, and I can sign the books they ordered for the store (and then maybe if the people there for the holiday open house see me signing books, they might be curious enough to buy one).

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