Two weeks after Rich and I broke up, I joined a dating website.
I wasn’t trying to find true love or even a short-term boyfriend. What I needed was a quick and dirty ego boost. I know, it’s a terrible reason to join, but I had a sneaking suspicion that it might work. I can’t remember having left a relationship feeling as broken and unattractive as after breaking up with Rich and having been a bona fide psychology professional once upon a time, joining the website was an attempt to use my coping skills.
Surround myself with positive people? YES!
Blog/write cathartically about my ex’s innate evilness? YES!
Make myself feel beautiful and awesome every single day? Hmm...
Besides, what was the worst that could happen? I meet an awesome, cute man to have dinner with? Not exactly something to lament over.
So, I filled out my profile on an Adventist dating website, put a picture up, and waited to see what would happen. My friends congratulated me with a rousing, “Good for you!” and “You go girl!” And, within a day or so, the emails were pouring in. From forty and fifty year old men. Adventist dating websites haven’t exactly perfected their screening tools.
Still, a nice Filipino divorcee in his early 30’s responded to me. His name was Derrick. He lived in the DC area, was cute, and worked in healthcare. We had a lot to talk about and the emailing began. A month later, I met him at an Indian restaurant in the next town over.
Derrick was sweet and kind, but I wasn’t interested in that way. I’m not sure if he was, but he was understanding about my busy medical school schedule, and further communication between us became relegated to occasional text messages and emails.
Until, this weekend.
I was supposed to meet Derrick for dinner about a month ago, but things were busy with medical school. By “medical school,” of course, I mean that there’s a possibility that my schedule had already been booked by Neighbor Guy. I honestly can’t remember.
When he emailed two weeks ago to ask about my schedule, I mentioned an upcoming religious event that was happening this weekend—and of which I would have a central part of. His response was simple text saying, “I’ll keep that weekend open.”
So, yesterday, when I saw Derrick waiting outside of the church, I greeted him with a hug and told him I was glad to see him. We chit-chatted about what had transpired in the two months or so that we had seen each other and took our seats next to each other in the sanctuary. Still, I was one of the hostesses of the event and I had to leave him alone several times to consult with my team, to get up front to welcome the audience, or to slip out to set up for the next event.
It was during one of these times—when I left the service to change into jeans and set up for lunch—that we separated.
For this weekend’s event, I had been assigned to a hospitality team headed by a hot, thirty-something year old man named Charlie. I was supposed to help him greet guests, organize the food purchases, and keep the tables flowing with vegetarian cuisine throughout the weekend.
I met Charlie the same weekend of my verbal run-in with Rich and first date with Neighbor Guy (clearly, it was a busy weekend). I had slept in late after my unfortunate Friday night screaming fit with Rich and woke up the next day only in time to attend a Sabbath planning lunch at a pastor's house in Maryland.
I first noticed Charlie when he was sitting relatively close to me during lunch and then later, when he interrupted my ongoing conversation with another girl. Twice. As mentioned, though, he was attractive. He was also a great conversationalist and I sort of liked that he kept jumping into my conversations. When we became Facebook friends the next day, the smack talk began nearly instantaneously. It was he who sent the first teasing sentiment, to which I instantly responded. Before day’s end, we had exchanged ten or so messages.
Still, I was busy with exams and a certain Neighbor, so our communication ceased to progress further than Facebook.
When I saw him on Friday night, it was the first time I had seen him since our initial meeting. I was aware of his recent travels, courtesy of our constant Facebook communication, and was pleased to have been assigned to the same team with him. It meant that I’d be talking to him for the duration of the event, after all. Again, not the worst thing to ever happen to me.
So, after leaving Derrick in the sanctuary during the morning service on Sabbath, I quickly joined Charlie setting out dishes of pasta and crispy garlic bread.
The next time I saw Derrick, he was eating chocolate cake in the lobby. I was plating the dessert, a few feet away from Charlie when he appeared.
“There you are,” Derrick said. “I lost you for a while, so I went and ate lunch in another room.”
“Oh sorry,” I apologized. “I was helping to set up the food.”
“It’s OK,” he said. “I found my old friend from high school! I haven’t seen him in years!”
“Oh really? Who’s your friend?,” I asked.
It was at that precise moment that Charlie returned to my side, bearing a newly refilled container of lemonade. Time stood still in a moment of curiosity and dread as I feared the impending answer from Derrick. It couldn’t be possible that the one man I met on a dating website is the childhood BFF of the one gorgeous, interesting man I met at the church hosting this event, right?
“Charlie is my friend,” he said, turning towards him.
And instantly, it was clear that the three of us were unknowingly entwined in a triangle of Adventist dating incest and awkwardness.
I made a flippant joke to diffuse the situation, in which I stated something about how sorry I was that Derrick had to endure a childhood riddled with memories of Charlie. It did not work.
“Where do you guys know each other from?,” Charlie immediately asked.
I looked at Derrick surreptitiously, hoping to win his secret alliance. He was too engrossed in his chocolate cake, though, and missed my signal. Had I not been reeling with surprise, I could have easily covered my tracks with a simple,
“Oh, you know how it is in the Adventist community…we all know each other!”
Before I knew it, I was mumbling something about “meeting online,” and honestly thinking that such a statement would conceal the true origins of our meeting. This is why I am no longer a relationship advice columnist.
“Oh, I get it,” Charlie said, winking at me.
Twenty minutes later, as Derrick and I were sitting alone at a table in the fellowship hall, Charlie bounded up—wearing a huge grin. As he plopped himself down across from us, he started with,
“So, was it eHarmony?”
Derrick and I shared a subtle, restrained laugh in which we stated simply that no, it was not in fact eHarmony. I then began to tell more dating stories—about grimy, retired men who still send me messages via that site—to diffuse the situation. No, I did not remember my failed efforts from a mere twenty minutes earlier, if you are wondering.
Perhaps it was his own attempt at amelioration, but Charlie started talking about his dating life. Specifically, he said had a date that night with none other than a woman who had also attended the event. There is a second woman whom he is apparently also involved with. She was yet another attendee of the weekend's event. If you are curious, no, this weekend's event was shockingly not an Adventist singles mixer.
Suddenly, we were all telling inappropriate dating stories and mention of Neighbor Guy was flowing out of my mouth in yet another display of awkwardness and poor judgment.
I sent Charlie a Facebook message today, trying to return some normality to what used to be a fun, relaxed friendship. Since Derrick also friended me on Facebook last night and our “mutual friend” is one none other than CHARLIE, though, my expectations for continued flirtation can only go so far.
As if the three-hour post-lunch expose of our complicated dating lives couldn't get worse yesterday, I may have also mentioned that I write a dating blog, in which I discuss all of these situations for my friends to read. Derrick was horrified. Charlie probably hasn't replied to my Facebook message yet because all of his bandwith is being consumed by trying to find this site.