I am currently living a Shakespearian comedy. Tangled webs, intersecting characters, and love–well, the lesser degrees of it.
This is unusual. My life usually resembles a chick flick, eliciting much eye-rolling and face-palming, but somehow my dating life turned into a multilayered farce over the last few weeks. Just like Shakespeare’s characters, I have no idea what I am doing.
SIR GALAHAD, a former friend from BYU days and fellow stake member
LUMIETTE, newest ward friend and confidante
LEONARD, ride home after Thursday night class
NACHO, Uber co-rider
WESLEY, institute attendee, fellow GMU student
A few weeks ago, I received an unexpected confession of admiration. I briefly mentioned “Sir Galahad” a post or two back; he’s a friend I met in my BYU days. We went on a few dates a couple of months ago and then I didn’t hear from him. I ran into him at an event, made quick small talk, and then left. Before I even reached the metro I was reading how he wanted to officially date me but had given up because he didn’t feel enough encouragement on my part. (Not surprising. I don’t think I have ever been able to clearly encourage a suitor.) He mentioned that it was nice to see me and that he felt he should let me know he cared about me.
This bold confession came right at the peak of my school stress. I can’t blame him of course, but that text just about sent me over the edge. Now I can say I have officially experienced one of those “I need to sit down” moments. I responded with full honesty–basically that I didn’t feel the same way but that maybe more time would help. So we agreed to back off the official dates and just hang out. Yes, that is backwards but for us the dating was too formal and set us (me) on edge.
“Lumiette” is a relatively new friend of mine in the ward. (Picture Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast as a female. She is incredibly warm, welcoming, and can entertain a crowd.) When we made our friendship official on Facebook over a month ago, we started going though our mutual friends and sharing how we each knew them. Sir Galahad was one. She technically met him at BYU but did not get to know him until she moved out here a few months ago. I could hear a hint of interest in the way she talked about him.
Sir Galahad doesn’t actually know that Lumiette and I are friends. I didn’t bother telling Lumiette about our dates because they had happened before we met and it didn’t look like it was going anywhere. You can see where I am going with this…
A few days after the big text from Sir Galahad, Lumiette and I were sitting in her car when she told me that Sir Galahad had taken her out a week previous. After hearing all the details I asked if she would want a second date? My fears were confirmed when she said yes. I sunk into my guilt as I decided that there was no way I could tell her about my interchange with him just two days earlier. It would be fine. I wasn’t interested in the guy anyway, right? Give it a week or two and our little thing would blow over and he would be back to taking her out. Right?
Sir Galahad conveniently left town the day after texting me so I was left to stew on the whole situation for a couple of weeks.
Rewind to the event where I ran into Sir Galahad the day he texted. I had to take an Uber there and another passenger happened to be picked up at my same location. I smiled politely and said hi. Immediately the guy asked me if I attended institute? Well that is an odd question from a stranger. What crazy odds. He said he had seen me there a few times. I felt terrible, I did not recognize him. Before we parted ways he had asked me for my number and said we should hang out sometime. I am going to call him “Nacho” because he is about as forward–and as well-meaning–as Nacho Libre.
Two days later–the day Lumiette revealed her date with Sir Galahad–I was at institute. There were a few specific people I wanted to meet and I was worried about Nacho showing up. During the mingling after class I spotted Nacho across the room but he surprised me by staying there. Maybe he had changed his mind? I calmed myself down and talked with friends. When we had had our fill of socializing, Lumiette and I left the room and headed toward the building exit. That’s when I heard,
I turned. There was Nacho at the other end of the hallway. We had a friendly chat as Lumiette patiently waited for me near the door. It only took a few minutes before she ran interference. She played her part perfectly but I was too slow to take the opportunity. Nacho asked me if I’d like to do brunch with him on Saturday. I deflected with an excuse. Let it be known that nothing is wrong with Nacho. He is very friendly. I just didn’t feel comfortable spending one-on-one time with someone I had barely met in a car. I also got the feeling from our conversation that we would not work out anyway.
Nacho ended up being the only concern that night but I had prepared to run into another. I met “Leonard” (please see tv show Big Bang Theory) at institute a couple of months ago and I think it was actually a tender mercy. We learned we both attend the same school and have a class on the same day at the same campus. He jokingly said he would say hi if he saw me but we both knew that was unlikely. The campus is huge. Surprise, surprise, we ran into each other.
It happened two days after we met. I was studying in the student center and he walked by. We ended up chatting for a couple of hours. Despite the odds, our classes were in the same building at the same time. He asked if I would like a ride home? This is the class that gets out at 10pm and takes me two hours to get back via public transportation–I definitely accepted that offer. He has driven me home each week since.
Leonard is not aggressive in his pursuit but I am guessing that his multiple suggestions to hang out, have a game night, or join his family for Thansgiving means something. He is a nice enough guy but slightly awkward, a realist, and feels responsible for his roommates. I don’t necessarily hope he will ask me out but I wouldn’t mind becoming solid friends.
The same night I met Leonard at institute, I also met “Wesley” (The Princess Bride). He is studying law, also at George Mason University. He and I share the same satellite campus in Arlington. When he introduced himself I thought his name sounded familiar. It wasn’t until he mentioned our university that it clicked. My old roommate, Jane, had moved to Virginia and met this guy first. She had given him my phone number and said he should contact me. She gave me the heads up but he never reached out so I forgot about it. Of course I didn’t mention that but he had to have had the same realization when he met me, right? I mean how many LDS redheads study at the same campus he does?
A week or so ago Wesley came into the library while I was studying. I was wrapped up in my paper when he came over to say hi. He asked for my name one more time and shook my hand. I thought he would make small talk for a minute because that is what people usually do, but he didn’t. He promptly turned around and walked to another table.
He may be studying law but he doesn’t look like the other lawyers I have met. He is a tall, cute farm boy from Idaho. He is very nice, and though it isn’t love at first sight I wouldn’t mind getting to know him better.
All of this was just the rising action. The climax of this narrative occurred just this last weekend. Sir Galahad was finally back in town and set on “hanging out” Sunday. I had also agreed to do a game night with Leonard on Sunday. But before we get to Sunday, let me tell you about Saturday.
Saturday was our ward Thanksgiving dinner and I was chatting it up with my #girlsquad having a lot of fun. One girl told us that she was getting pretty serious with this guy she met on Mutual (the LDS dating app). After getting all giggly and girly about it, our conversation turned to dating apps in general. Pretty much somebody figured out all of my biggest insecurities and turned them into an app. As soon as Lumiette heard this she demanded to see my phone and created a profile for me. She started swiping. I have never seen someone’s fingers move so fast!
Apparently matches started happening right away. She would tell me each time I got one but wouldn’t show me. She just kept swiping. Then she started messaging. She came up with a little either/or question and sent it to each of the guys. Once she got the virtual me knee-deep in men and poised for conversations, she handed my phone back. If you had told me that the next 24 hours would be filled with constant matching and texting, I would have called you crazy to your face.
Lumiette is some kind of fairy godmother. She somehow got me to ignore years of insecurities and keep me from taking it too seriously. One amazing paradigm shift later, I have more men to keep track of than Taylor Swift. A corporate lawyer asked for my number, an ophthalmologist hinted at going on a date, a California bro called me cute, a jazz pianist loves my red hair, a fellow Utahn and I seem to have a lot in common, and the conversations are continuing with a Canadian and a European. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
A lot of guys are ones that I probably wouldn’t have picked for myself, but it has been fun to talk to them. Some are kind of weird, some are super sweet, some have made me laugh, and some have been a little too forward. I don’t actually expect anything to go anywhere with any of them–after all, I did not ever plan on downloading a dating app. But it is a great way to face your fears.
Fun fact: one of the guys I have been talking to most happens to be friends (at least on Facebook) with Sir Galahad. It felt weird to be messaging the one as I was on my way to meet the other.
Before I get to that story though, we have to bring Lumiette back on stage for a second. Sunday came and we had a ‘Mix and Mingle’ after church. I was watching the clock to make sure I left in time to meet Sir Galahad at the National Mall. Lumiette had a cousin coming into town at any moment so I asked her about her plans.
“Oh I will probably take him around the Mall to look at the monuments and stuff.”
“Oh fun! When are you going to do that?”
“Probably 3 or 4pm today?”
Of course. The same time Sir Galahad and I were planning on taking our stroll around the monuments. Awesome. The National Mall may be big but it is not big enough for the both of us. If we ran into each other and she saw me with Sir Galahad she would be so hurt! I didn’t want to do that to her! But I didn’t want to come clean either. (Hey, it probably won’t go anywhere and Sir Galahad will be back to his dating around in no time!) I had to do some fast thinking.
I texted Galahad and used the crazy wind to convince him to let us hang out at his place. Even though he had complained about the cold earlier on, he weirdly insisted on making the Mall work. Well, shoot.
I campaigned for the National Gallery of Art next. Still on the Mall but out of the wind. He agreed. Miracles.
I was simultaneously texting Leonard to figure out game night details. The friends I had invited needed to know where they were going. Galahad texted me and said he was running behind. I texted Leonard to push back the games a half hour. Trying to manipulate the evening so that I would have enough time with Galahad and still start game night at a decent hour was like playing time Jenga.
The evening with Galahad went better than expected. (Crap.) Although, when I asked him who his roommates were he named off a name that sounded familiar. Hmm… Wesley LastName, Wesley LastName… Oh! Wesley!
You have got to be kidding me. I guess it is good we didn’t go to his apartment then.
After a quick dash home, wardrobe change, and Uber trip, I was in Virginia introducing my group of 8 to Leonard and his roommate. Originally I was only going to bring one person and he had made it sound like all his roommates would be there. When I learned so many of my friends were coming I offered my apartment instead, but he insisted on his. I found out why upon arrival.
The place was immaculate. The smell of brownies wafted from the kitchen and hot chocolate was warming in a crock pot. A stack of games sat on the coffee table. He had invested in this.
So far I had only known Leonard in a one-on-one context. I wasn’t sure how he’d be with a group, let alone a group of strangers. I will admit that I was impressed with how he started the introductions and tried to learn everyone’s names. My friends actually arrived in two shifts. When the second one arrived I excused myself to go find them and lead them to the correct house. It was not a complicated path but Leonard offered to come with me to make sure I knew the way. It was sweet, I’ll give him that.
Our random group turned out to be a lot of fun. We were joined by a puppy corgi and the roof just about came off the house. At the end of the night, Leonard offered to drive me and my roommate home. Once home, I opened my phone to a post-hang out text from Galahad, a text from Corporate Lawyer Match, and a handful of other messages on the Mutual app. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
What separates my little drama from one of Shakespeare’s is the plot twist.
I feel a little ungrateful. I should be happy with any of these good guys, but my sight is on another man not in our list of characters. Not just any other, but one whose attention I cannot seem to get.
Maybe it’s the challenge. Maybe it is just wanting what you can’t have. I don’t know what it is, except that he is the white whale and I am Captain Ahab. (How is that for drama?)
*This post is dedicated to my mother.*