My second date began with a simple message from “Karen” that read “I keep coming back to your profile and you seem interesting” I looked at her profile: one kid, 50 years old, into outdoors shit, music… I had never dated anyone older than maybe three years older than me so 50 years old was a little out of my comfort zone. Dating itself is a little outside of my comfort zone though so why not? As with a number of profiles I have stumbled upon, Karen only had one photo, which leads me to believe…Well, I’m not that shallow. Or maybe I am. I think I might actually be kind of a jerk. I don’t think I did anything wrong with Karen. I don’t know if I deserved a passive aggressive final message from her that read “That’s ok. We just spent a long day together and then…silence. Good luck with your search” This in response to my “Sorry I didn’t feel anything romantic, sorry you thought I was hard to read”

So Karen and I wrote back and forth for a week or so. She seemed kind of boring, but nice. I’ve dated plenty of boring and nice women in my lifetime. I’ve also bored women to death throughout the years making them sit through concerts and films they didn’t want to, browsing bookstores and record stores but hey that one time I did go see the Sex in the City movie in the theater with my girlfriend. My life is pretty boring right now. I have a set routine that basically consists of me going to work on three or four hours of sleep, coming home and going out for a few hours to either write on my laptop in a chain coffee shop or grabbing dinner with a friend, going home and falling asleep ten minutes into a book/movie/tv show/donut. Adding dating into this mix is a little scary but it’s mixing things up for me and I like meeting people even if it’s only for one time, never to be heard from again.

Karen has a son who is 22, he lives in the living room of her apartment which is kind of a coincidence as I currently reside in the living room of my mother’s house as well, on a couch. Yes, I’ve resorted to that. It’s not really a long story, but it’s not very exciting and anyway it’s temporary. I told Karen this as well as my last date. Just in case it ever got to the point where we were going to “take it back to my place” they wouldn’t think I was married if I said “Oh, we cant do that” She mentions he has an actual bed set up in the living room and plays “his X Box”. For a brief moment I feel a little jealous of Karen’s son! I then remember I am practically twice his age and saw Kiss live in 1977, saw The Smiths live three times and was at the game when Nomar Garciaparra hit two Grand Slams and a home run (on his birthday) something he will never experience so fuck him and his bed and X-Box.

In trying to remember all the details of this date, which was way less eventful than my first one with the Kid Rock lady I have gone back to the text messages her and I were sending that week. On one particular evening she was on the deck at some bar and we had this brief exchange

“I am on the patio at Murphy’s listening to some acoustic music what are you up to! <Karen!>”

“I just bought a couple of Ozzy Osbourne CD’s, and a Twisted Sister one”

“Great! I am almost ready to leave. Waiting for a better song. Ugghh the doors. Used to like them. But then my ex listened to ONLY the Doors <Karen!>”

Normally this is where I would write something sarcastic like “wow, great story” but I didn’t. Over the week I noticed Karen would write “three days left”, “two days left”, etc. Also the last text message I have from her came at 1:26 PM, a half hour before I was supposed to meet her “Are you still coming? <Karen!>” I probably should have replied “not if you keep signing your fucking text messages like that!”

Karen lives in Manchester, NH and her name isn’t Karen. I was meeting her on Saturday at 2:00 PM, and again she wanted me to just come to her house, something I really think women should be more careful with.  Both women I’ve met said “I can tell you’re okay by talking to you on the phone” On Sunday I was going to meet some friends for an early lunch and walk in a nearby town in New Hampshire so I figured I’d make a day of it and book myself a room in Manchester. The older I get the less I like driving late at night and besides, any night I can get off the couch I take it. I love staying in motels and hotels.

I checked into my room early at 1:30 and called Karen. On my way to her place I took some mental notes of what was in the area for my inevitable late night disgusting meal. I briefly got lost on my way and when I called her and mentioned the rock I passed that read in bright orange spray paint ‘FLU SHOTS CAUSE AUTISM” she knew right where I was.

When I arrived at her place and she came outside my initial thought was “oh my”, but not a good “oh my” I shook her hand and we got in my car. I safely played the Rolling Stones (I don’t really like to play the Rolling Stones around women I am serious with or may get serious with just in case things go bad and I “ruin them” for me. I pretty much knew from the get go that this would be a friendship “date” so it was okay). She suggested we eat and said there was a good Chinese place down the street. We arrive at a strip mall and it looks like a ghost town, giant parking lot with a bunch of empty spaces, a Building 19 and this Chinese restaurant. I half expected tumbleweed to roll past us.

My first clue that this would not be a good Chinese restaurant was there were no Chinese people working here. My second was it was in a strip mall and my third was they brought us out a plate with two chicken wings when we sat down.  Who does this? If you ever want to feel awkward around a person you just met try eating chicken right off of the bone in front of them.  The food was disgusting and I have to say eating with a complete stranger less than an hour after meeting them is a little hard. She barely ate her food and I’m pretty sure she just ordered what she did to give to that little spoiled brat of hers in the living room with the bed and the X-Box. My fortune cookie asked “How can you have a beautiful ending  without making beautiful mistakes?”

We made our way down to a river and walked around an empty parking lot until I found a bench that wasn’t below a swarm of flies like the others. We talked for an hour or so and she treated me to some intense stories like the time her and her boyfriend at the time hitchhiked across country in 1980. While she was telling me some of these stories I was trying to do the math in my head of what a 50 year old person experienced: “could she have been at Woodstock?”, “was she a teenager during Vietnam?”, “Could black people vote when she was 20?” Apparently 50 years old isn’t that old, in fact it’s nine years older than me.

Her son works at a Dunkin Donuts and I suggested we stop and get a coffee and she said we should go to the one her son works at. She guided me to a drive through and after I made the transaction I asked if that was her son. It wasn’t. Apparently she was joking when she said we should visit him at work. Thank God as for the brief four-minute drive to Dunkin Donuts I thought I was going to have to meet the son of a woman I certainly wasn’t going to sleep with but who probably would have judged me somehow. “There’s mom bringing another bearded tattooed dude by the house again!”

Driving around New Hampshire (or New England in general) used to hold my attention for long stretches but lately it’s grown tired to me. We spent another couple hours or so driving around talking and I have to say I generally liked Karen but there was no attraction and her personality probably wouldn’t have worked in the long run. I need to feel like I can just be myself around someone before I can be myself in his or her presence. Holy shit, I think I just figured out how relationships work.

Karen suggested we go back to her place and figure out a plan for later. It was 7:30 PM and I was now thinking about how the Boston Bruins were about to play Game 2 of the Stanley Cup and I had a nice air-conditioned hotel room waiting for me up the road. Also, I was hungry.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the apartment was the smell. It smelled like a bed, a bed with sheets that hadn’t been washed in months. There it was in all its glory, the bed. A single.  Unmade, facing a small 20 something inch television unusually high and at an odd angle. There are stacks of X-Box games on a shelf next to the bed. Tons of them! On the floor leaning against the bed was a giant framed Simpsons poster, the frame was too big for the poster and I wondered if that’s why it was on the floor. Perhaps it fell, or Karen took it down knowing I might be coming over and it looked “trashy”. In her haste to get all dolled up for me though she forgot to move it creating an even more trashy looking atmosphere! Karen sat on the couch and I decided to sit on the slightly small (for me) wicker rocking chair. She was sitting to my left at ten o’clock, directly in front of me was a computer desk or what I liked to imagine “where the magic happened”. There was a big uncomfortable iron outdoor chair they evidently used as a computer chair.

She created a playlist on her computer  (and went on Facebook for a minute!) which I should have expected since earlier when I asked her what her favorite concert ever was she replied “Tool”. 50 years old and Tool was your favorite concert? There weren’t enough red flags in the world that could have gone up at that moment. She must have seen like one awesome Yes show in the 70’s or something, come on. Tool. I hate Tool. Fuck Tool. So the playlist comes on and we hear some kind of modern hard rock type stuff and then that “It’s been a while…” song comes on. Staind. I need to get out of here and soon! It’s probably 2nd period by now!  I wonder if there is a Taco Bell near the hotel, I certainly didn’t see one.

She informs me her son gets out of work at 10:00 PM and then rides his bike home; once we start getting over to the rock and roll side of 9:30 I start getting ready. At about 9:51 PM she suggests we go out to see an Allman Brothers cover band. I fucking love the Allman Brothers so this is tempting but then I remember it’s not the actual Allman Brothers so I say

“I should probably get back to my room as I am meeting my friends early tomorrow”

At exactly 10:00 PM just as Karen’s son is taking the last bag of trash out to the dumpster behind some random Dunkin Donuts in New Hampshire I stand up and let her know I’m going to leave. She walks me out to my car. She gives me a longer hug than I was ready for and then kind of stands waiting for a kiss. I walk away and say goodbye.

I’m again reminded, “flu shots cause autism”. I snake my slightly melancholy self back to the hotel through some dark winding roads I’ll most likely never see again. Karen was a nice woman but not for me.

Now, where the fuck is there a Taco Bell? I find a Dunkin Donuts and grab a cup of coffee. I pull up Google on my phone and find a Taco Bell, less than a mile away. I figure how much more depressing of a day can I have than eating Taco Bell in a hotel by myself on a Saturday night?

Well…I get back to my room just in time to discover the Bruins are about to go into overtime. I get settled at the little desk and open my first item of 8% meat wrapped in some sort of tortilla and game play begins!  Eleven seconds later the game is over. Ouch.

The next afternoon at my friends place I get a message from a new girl. It reads simply “You’re cute, how was your weekend?” I assume this is some sort of spam or joke but I write her anyway. We spend the rest of the day writing back and forth. Perhaps that fortune in the cookie was true.