Another dating story that never saw the light. Introducing rendezvous number two of my single life in Santa Barbara.
As I fumbled for my key to unlock the shop I worked in at the time, an envelope wedged between the door and door frame caught my eye. To Elizabeth. I plucked it free, opened the door, and went inside to settle in and read the message. It was a card with the word INVITATION written in silver letters. I turned it over and along with sweet words noting our brief encounter, it read:
Date: With me!
Time: You name it!Place: Your choice!
Hosted by: David Hill
RSVP: (805) 867-5309
He was a customer who came in the day before and apparently a clever one at that – a party invite to ask me out was first. I dug his creativity. Then I began to wonder if my work environment resembled some sort of fresh meat locker for hungry older men in Montecito, as he was the second customer to ask me out in two weeks.
Regardless, I was flattered, and after years of dating the wrong guys and not knowing what my “type” was anymore, I made a vow to be open-minded. Even if the men happened to be a bit my senior.
I RSVP’d that evening. On the phone, he sounded energetic and wanted to know more about me. Sounded promising. We agreed to meet at Cava in Montecito the next evening after I got off work. The following day, after a long day of retailing, I drove to Cava, parked, and took a moment to myself before heading in. If the date was awkward, I could always use the “I have a deadline” excuse. Worked last time.
As I walked into the restaurant, I spotted him immediately. It was hard not to because he had written my name with a purple crayon in big cursive letters on the paper table cover. He must have grabbed a crayon from the collection at the hostess stand next to the children’s menus.
He stood up and shook my hand. “Hi Elizabeth! Great to see you and thank you so much for coming!” His gray-blue eyes sparkled, and his smile was warm and unthreatening. I could tell he was one of the “good guys.” He pulled out a chair and I sat. Seconds later, appetizers arrived, and my hungry belly and I thanked him for taking initiative.
After putting in an order of spicy margaritas and shrimp fajitas, I learned he lived in San Louis Obispo and passed through Santa Barbara often for work. He divorced years ago, amicably, and was a single parent to two girls, the oldest heading to Yale in the fall. He was an advocate for Planned Parenthood and had worked with the organization spanning two decades, because he believes in a woman’s right to choose. I listened to him pour his heart out about his work, his daughters, and his sentiment was genuine. He was girl’s guy, you could say and a man who put women’s needs before his own.
But I couldn’t help but feel a little “parented” by his supportive and encouraging words throughout our date, no fault of his own. His daughters were blessed to have a father like him, but the thought of us being intimate made the relationship feel like I was dating a version of my dad. Too creepy. Three hours went by before we checked the time. “Wow, Elizabeth! It really says a lot when two people can talk like this so easily!” I nodded and smiled in response, feeling the friend vibe and nothing more.
A week later, I flew home to visit my family for the holidays. David and I kept in brief contact via text, and on Christmas Day he sent me a photo of his family in front of their tree. I looked at the photo and as nice as he was, there was even less attraction when I saw him in full dad mode, Santa hat and all.
I called a few days later. Worried I’d hurt his feelings, I nervously said I did not see a romantic relationship between us. He understood, thanked me for being honest, and told me how proud he was that I had handled this in such a mature way. The dad in him couldn’t help it.