Cornell? Yeah, You’ve Mentioned It:
I met a guy online who was an attorney.
This guy could not wait to meet in person, which I took as a good sign.
We texted quite a bit. Had a few brief phone calls. And then, about a month later, I had business in his town, so we arranged to meet for dinner.
Wait. Let me back up for a minute.
In our texting and phone calls, he made a note of mentioning that he went to Cornell University no less than 10,000 times.
Hey, I’m all for being proud of your alma mater, but this guy…he seriously worked the words “Cornell” into nearly every sentence he spoke.
That, and he talked nonstop about his ex-wife and how much she had screwed up his self esteem, and how much time he spent with his mother — as in, he was at her house every evening, and he took his mom with him on business trips, and they shared a room.
Whew! You’d think that those two little factoids would have been enough to send me running for the hills, but evidently, not so much.
Having previously worked in the court system, perhaps, I felt his profession was relatable.
Perhaps, I was just desperate for attention.
Anyway, I get to the town where he lived, check into my favorite hotel, and text him to let me know when he’s in the lobby, and I’ll meet him there.
He texts, I go down to the lobby, and he looks NOTHING like any of his profile photos.
Honestly, he looks like he’s 25 years older than his profile photos.
I tried to hide my astonishment and be polite, but damn. This guy is 25 years older than he said he was, and he said he was 56!
I’ll give you a second to do the math.
Yep. I’m 48 (at the time)…He looks like he’s in his 80’s.
This guy was old enough to have been God’s Sunday School Teacher!
He notices my confusion/surprise at his appearance, and he states in his best lawyer tone, “I wanted to wait to meet you until I lost some of the weight I’ve put on.”
In all honesty, it wasn’t his weight that surprised me – it was the extra 100,000 miles on his personal odometer.
As in, extra years – many, many additional years — that were deeply etched across his face.
I knew then that he was insecure in his appearance – and now, I also knew he was less than honest.
Did he think I wouldn’t notice?
By this point, I’d gone on several first dates with men I’d met on online dating sites, and I was about to tell him that this was not going to work.
He must have sensed that, and quickly said, “Have dinner with me. What could it hurt? And at least neither of us has to eat dinner alone this evening.”
I relented, and we walked a block down the street to one of the downtown restaurants.
Slowest. Walk. Ever.
We got a table and ordered some much-needed drinks – at least I needed a drink.
Immediately, he starts reminiscing about how this particular restaurant reminds him of a place that he frequented while he was at – you guessed it – Cornell.
Here we go.
It wasn’t long after that, he repeats his disdain for his ex-wife, by ending his Cornell story with a bitter conclusion of how she’d ruined that place for him in one way or another.
Honestly, I wasn’t paying attention – I’d already tuned him out.
His version of “conversation” was a never ending monologue with a chippy chorus of “Me, Me, Me!!!”
He just kept talking about his job and caseload, his car, his mother, his ex-wife, his office…
Followed by everybody’s least-favorite song of “My, Mine, I, and Me Again.”
I Was. Bored. To. Tears.
I wanted to scream at him:
“We’ve all had bad experiences!”
“We’ve all had our hearts broken!”
“HOWEVER, when you CHOOSE to not move on and remain bitter, then the only person you have left to blame is YOU!”
It didn’t matter what I had to say. Sir I’ll Blame Everyone Else For My Misery, droned on and on.
Cornell this…ex-wife that. Blah, blah, blah.
Occasionally, he’d thrown in stories about his mom, and how he had to support her, as well as his sister and brother-in-law. He didn’t delve too deeply into that – aside from saying that he was at his mom’s house most nights and weekends, which was another red flag for me.
“Martyr Party? Table for one? Your table is ready. Try not to fall on your sword before we seat you.”
In fact, I think the only speaking I did – during the entire dinner – was when I placed my order with our server…and ordered two more glasses of wine.
The beef stroganoff at this restaurant was phenomenal, though. It’s funny – the things that stand out to us – isn’t it?
As we finished dinner, I noticed that he tipped $10 on a $160 check. I quietly slid two $20 bills under my bread plate, so that he couldn’t see them, but our server would.
Oh, hell. Who am I kidding?
He was so old, his eyesight was probably shot from cataracts.
We walked back to the hotel…he probably told another Cornell story.
I honestly don’t know.
I was focused on getting into my pajamas and watching TV in bed, while I prepared for my morning meeting in town.
Turtles on Valium walked faster than this relic did.
Once in the lobby, this old fool decided to try and kiss me.
I dodged Father Time’s kiss, and told him that he and I were an absolute NO-GO.
I swear, on my mother’s grave, this grown-ass, past-retirement-age, lying-ass, ancient man completely burst into tears.
Right there in the lobby.
A very crowded lobby. With lots of people sitting by the fireplace, some folks were checking in, and a steady stream of people were coming and going from the main doors, since it was an upscale, downtown hotel with its own bar & restaurant.
Real tears were falling down his face and dripping onto his shirt.
And then – I think he realized that people were turning to look at the scene he was making, and it both embarrassed and enraged him.
He started to yell at me. In the lobby. In front of everyone within earshot.
“You are supposed to give me a chance!”
“I needed more time to lose this weight!”
“You told me that you were interested in me!”
Holy smokes. It was embarrassing.
I quietly walked over to the elevator and pushed the “Up” button, calling the elevator.
Of course, it was six floors up, so I had to wait for it while he continued to scream at me, in between sobs.
I do not recommend EVER ending a date like this nursing-home-drop-out did.
I never spoke a word.
The elevator arrived. The doors opened. I stepped onto the elevator and stood there looking at him. I could see glints of anger in his red eyes.
I stared at him and maintained eye contact, from inside the elevator car, and pushed the button for my floor.
As the doors started to close, in a calm, collected voice, I quietly asked him, “Where did I go to college?”
Right as the doors closed, I could see the recognition flash across his face.
The realization that – in all of the hours of conversation and texting and blabbering about himself, his job, his ex and his beloved Cornell University – he had never bothered to ask me where I’d gone to school.
The art of conversation is sometimes a fickle, little witch.
My takeaway from this brief encounter?
We should all listen, more than we speak.
If someone is genuinely interested in YOU, they will want to hear YOUR STORY.