The men of Cincinnati (and I am generalizing here a bit) have very odd dating tendencies. To put it kindly.
When I moved to Cincinnati a few years go, I thought Philly, my hometown, was bad. Boy, was I not prepared for the lovely Midwestern surprise that welcomed me to the Queen city with its open, cow-tipping and bocce-playing arms.
Going from one unsuccessful date to another, I finally came to a conclusion that it would better for my sanity to never date anyone from Cincinnati again. It's not that guys here are absolutely insane - no, they make perfectly lovely friends, but when it comes to crossing that friendship line into the dating realm, the quirky tendencies slowly involve into creepy behavior and the weirdness just comes pouring out like that oil leak down in the Gulf Coast.
However, this self-imposed dating ban does not apply to people who were not originally born in Cincinnati. As long as the dudes were born, or grew up elsewhere, I found that I could get along with them more easily. We could more readily find subjects to talk about that did not involve the latest Over The Rhine (Harlem Lite, if you will) "hot spots" or going "four-wheeling" on Sunday afternoons.
So through my turmoil with Mr J, I continued to keep my options open, while being cautiously optimistic about the Cincinnati dating scene. And there were a few rays of hope in the sea of blandness. For example, when I met the Entrepreneur, who is originally from LA and is a bar owner and promoter, I found him to be refreshingly worldly and verbose without being pompous.
But is he living up to my expectations today, after four or five dates that I've been on with him thus far?
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with the man. I will stand by my initial assessment of him being charming and well-versed and quite cute, but I will also admit that something is just... not quite right.
Like the other night, he invited me to his bar opening in an unnamed Cincinnati suburb and made it sound like it was going to be a classy, top-of-the-world affair. I understood that a classy affair in Cincinnati wouldn't be quite up to the standards of most of the major US cities, but I was looking forward to a night out on a town, a couple of drinks and an engaging conversation with the Entrepreneur more than I was looking for anything over-the-top out of the bar itself.
"You're looking lovely, my love," he flashed his smile upon my arrival at the front door. I forced out a reciprocating gesture of acknowledgment and tried to ignore how many "loves" he used in a single sentence. After all, it was his night, his opening - I was a guest at his party and I intended to be nothing but gracious.
However, my graciousness quickly left the building as soon as I was seated at a rustic table in the dark corner of a poorly-lit outdoor patio. My good intentions were quickly replaced by the feelings of disappointment and resentment as the Entrepreneur excused himself from the table shortly after seating me to shake some hands of the new arrivals and check on the supplies of Absolut and Ciroc and the front bar.
I ordered a drink from a bored cocktail waitress and slammed a 5 dollar bill on a table. God forbid I get a one free drink after driving for almost thirty minutes to support Entrepreneur in his venture. I sat there, shivering from the frighteningly chilly wind gusts for a good number of minutes and by myself. The sparse crowds were not providing too much entertainment in terms of people-watching and I was quickly relegated to pulling out my phone and attempting to look busy fake-texting no one.
The Entrepreneur came back with one Diet Coke in his hand and plopped his ass next to me on a bench.
"How are you doing, love?", he asked, oblivious to my discontent.
"Oh fine, great, you know. Just glad it's Friday..." I pulled out my standard "Oh thank God it's Friday, this week's been hell" line that I usually use minutes before I politely duck out of a lame party early.
"Oh I understand completely. So when's your graduation?" he twirled the tiny straw in his glass, mixing the soda with the melting ice cubes.
"Next week," I answered absent-mindedly. I was completely done being charming for the night.
"That's great. You should be so proud of yourself. So do you think I can come to you graduation and meet the folks?"
Oh hell to the no. I was glad I wasn't sipping on any liquids at that moment 'cause, surely, they would have probably come out of my nostrils in the sheer impulse of shock and amusement.
"I... we only have a limited number of seating arrangements at the arena. I had to make reservations for my parents well in advance..."
Maybe he knew I was lying to him - I really could barely keep a straight face. Bringing a man to one of the most important events of my life is something that I would do only if I was involved in a serious relationship with him, certainly not after just four casual dates.
I left within an hour of arriving at the Entrepreneur's bar with a sour but familiar taste of disappointment in my mouth. The good thing was that he, too, felt that the chemistry between us fizzled out all in the sixty-minute time span.
Or so I thought.
At approximately 2am early in the morning, just around the time of the bar closing, I received a text message from the Entrepreneur, laying out his feelings on a table:
"I'm sorry if I seemed nervous. I suppose it's due to the level of infatuation I have for you."
I couldn't believe it. After such a lackluster night, I, somehow, managed to sweep the man off his feet, all while having no intentions of being flirtatious or charming or sweet. Perhaps, I've been approaching this dating game from a wrong angle but, as it stands right now, the next man I may or may not go on a date with will not be our Entrepreneur.
After all, Mr J is still very much on my mind, even if he is thousands of miles away.