Taking on Project Hold Hands

Well, I guess it was bound to happen..."It" being an end to my run of positive dating experiences. Sometime last week after successful date #2 with guy #8, I was thinking to myself, "Gee, I've been really lucky with this whole dating thing. Only 2.5 months after getting out of a 9+ year-long relationship (and 2 months after joining a dating website), I've gone out with 7-8 guys (yep, I've actually lost track!), gone out with 3 of them more than once. And all 7-8 of them, even the ones where we didn't necessarily"hit it off," were positive experiences.  I was even starting to think that being single was better than being in a relationship - I met new and different types of people, explored new neighborhoods, got taken out for free meals, shows, drinks, etc., learned a lot about myself (what I want and don't want, need and don't need), and overall turned into Me 2.0.

Well, I've hit the wall.

It all began on a Thursday in June . I started talking to a new guy online who I'll refer to us "Dentist Guy."  Dentist Guy wasted no time with messaging on the website and pretty much jumped into asking me out directly.  While I do prefer some messaging prior to meeting, I can appreciate just, "cutting to the chase," and my new philosophy has been to try to be as open as possible, so I decided to forego the pre-meeting back-and-forth and agreed to meet him out.

Dentist Guy and I exchanged cell numbers and moved directly to text to arrange the date.  My initial thought based upon his limited messages and few texts was "either this guy hardly knows English, or he's a really lazy texter/messager," and since I figured this guy was successful enough to be practicing dentistry in NYC, I decided he could speak English and was just a lazy texter/messager, you know, because he was so busy with all his dental clients.  He also asked me for drinks and a movie.  I thought a movie was a bit strange since spending 2 hours in silence with a complete stranger seems to defeat the purpose of trying to get to know each other.  So, I responded, "let's just get drinks and see how it goes from there." OK, done.

So Monday late morning, I text Dentist Guy to confirm we're still on for the night.  We had previously agreed on 8 at Union Square for Friday night, and I wanted to stick with that plan so I would have time to get home after work, and change out of my very corporate-y work outfit I was wearing and into my  2.0 clothes.  Here is what I remember of our exchange:

Me:  Hey there! ("hey there" is apparently my go-to dating text lingo I use with all the guys I date) We still on for 8 tonight at Union Square?

Dentist Guy:  How's 5?

Me (Thinking: Um, don't you know people usually work until 5? And in New York people usually work later?  : I could do 6. Where in Union Square?

Dentist Guy:  Union Square.

Me (Thinking: Uh, yeah, dumbass, I just said that, Union Square's big): Yes, Union Square is big. Where exactly?

Dentist Guy: University Place and Tenth Street.

Me (Thinking: That's not even Union Square. Yes, only a few blocks away, but technically not Union Square!): OK, see you at 6 at 10th and University.

So, I leave work around 5:10pm and decide to walk there from work (even though it's over a mile and I'm in my work shoes) since it's pretty nice out and I have the time.  Well, despite the fact that the man's 6'3", I smell him before I see him. SOOOOOOOO much cologne!  Oh, and my profile lists my "first-date turn-off" as: "Too much cologne!!!!!!"  Strike one.  But, he's nice enough looking despite the fact that not only is he wearing too much cologne, I don't even like that scent and it smells cheap.  He's also wearing a royal blue blazer.  I don't even notice whatever else he's wearing because the bright blue blazer is too distracting. Who wears that?! So we get gelato (ok, points there for gelato) and sit to "talk."  Talk in quotes because I realize he hardly does speak any English!  His accent is so strong and on top of it he spoke so softly I could hardly hear him, neve rmind understand what he was saying.  He gave short answers to my questions and just asked me the same questions back without adding anything of his own. After what felt like FOREVER, I realize only 20 minutes had gone by and I'm ready to die.  Strike two.

And, I can't even say I have somewhere else to be because (1) I had already asked him to meet at 8, implying I had no later plans, and (2) who makes a date when they have to leave after 20 minutes?  So, he asks if I want to see a movie.  After agreeing on a comedy, we decide on Hangover 3.  So, we get into the the theater, which had maybe 4 other people in there, and he chooses the last row of the theater.  Since the theater was so small, I didn't think much of it, plus I was wondering whether he was doing it to be polite since he's so tall and didn't want to block people's views.

Well, MAYBE 5 minutes into the movie he asks "Holds hands?" (not even a full sentence, just "hold hands"! - oh, and "hands"was pronounced like a German "Hanz") Poor-little-awkward-not-wanting-to-hurt-anyone-else's-feelings me, says "Yes."  So, now he's holding my hand resting it on his crossed leg and slowly caressing my arm up and down like we're totally in love and watching "The Notebook."  Meanwhile, if he looked over at my face he would've seen a mixture of shock, disgust, and discomfort, with a bit of humor about the whole situation thrown in for good measure.  So, for the next 10 minutes all I'm thinking about is how weird this whole thing is, not only because we knew each other for only 20 minutes, but we didn't even have real conversation within that 20 minutes, and how the hell do I get out of it?   I do what anyone would do: I fake an itch I can't get to with my left hand, requiring me to free my right hand from his grip to scratch my itch. So then I put my hands in my lap and adjust my body more or less away from his. So then he tries in the dark to "find my hand" accidentally/on purpose rubbing my bare leg in the meantime.  He finds my hand again asking "hold hands?"  and I don't think I actually spoke any English but tried to mumble out a "Uh, no, that's OK." Strike three.  Now I'm just thinking about how I'm gonna make it through the rest of the movie and that I just want to run away.

Well, little did I know!....About 10-15 minutes after the hand-holding "rejection," he checks his phone a few times, leans over, rubs my arm, and says "Well, I have to go!," gets up and leaves! Leaves ME! I wasn't even mad, just relieved. I couldn't handle the smell of the cologne or the discomfort of having to sit next to him. That was the funniest part of the entire movie. After sticking around to watch another 10 minutes of the movie, I left and walked the 4.5 miles home through the grimy summer streets of NYC unable to get the smell of his cologne off my hand or out of my nose!

A few weeks later, I'm working on a project in Houston with a few new work colleagues, and what better first impression can I make than to share this story with them? Clearly, they found as much amusement in it as I did because every once in a while someone would all of a sudden say "Hold hands?" Months later, I still get emails or instant messages with nothing more than "Hold hands?" We also think the conference room we were working in was bugged, so I imagine a bunch of Texans running around Houston saying "Hold hands?" with a southern drawl. Since every project at my company gets an official code name in our system (because of privacy issues, we can't refer to the actual client names even within the company, so each client project gets a code name), we of course just had to name this project "Project Holds Hands." So now, there's an official project named "Hold Hands." Later, my boss was explaining he had to call our company help line with an issue on the project and was laughing telling the help line guy, "I'm calling about Project Hold Hands. That's right, Hold Hands." If I leave no other mark on my company, my contribution of naming "Project Hold Hands" made it all worth it.