The Non-Starter Relationship

The Non-Starter Relationship


He calls and leaves a message, you call back and leave one too — and on and on it goes until the initial attraction becomes a distraction.


arekmalang / 123RF Photo

We met at a networking event. It was a semi-set-up by a friend who mentioned him a few months back. All I remembered was her saying that he lived in the suburbs. That’s a thing for me – the suburbs. Ever heard the phrase “geographically undesirable”? I lived in a suburb once, for seven months. I gained 15 pounds.

Anyway, he knew I would be there, and decided to come. His reasons are his own although it’s nice to know I was one of them. What neither of us knew until that night was that we had a lot in common. Like our entire childhoods.

When we were kids, our parents’ houses were within walking distance of each other, or at least they were when walking was a common mode of transportation. Families only needed one car in those days. We went to gender-segregated Catholic high schools. He was a Crusader and I was a Bambi at our so-called brother-sister schools that were three miles apart – sufficient distance between the genders to receive Church approval. We were delinquent in the same juvenile hang-outs. We probably went parking in the same park though, thank Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we didn’t discuss in detail the raging hormones of our teenage years.

What goes better with Catholic than Irish, right? Normally I don’t date men with Ould Sod ancestry. I’m related to a bunch of them so I know what they’re like. Family-arity breeds concern if not contempt. But when you grow up in the same census tracts, you speak the same language. Conversation clicks, whether the two of you do or not.

Perhaps the most unusual trait we shared was that neither one of us had ever been married – we’ve both been forever single. Imagine my relief to discover our mutual “nothing ventured, nothing to explain” status.

We quickly decided to get together sometime and went off to chat with a number of other guests. Then, I realized I forgot to give him my number. He, however, made sure to pass his card to our mutual friend and semi-matchmaker who passed it on to me.

Two days later, on Friday at 5:30, I emailed the Irishman. I’d like to tell you I waited the nun-approved amount of time to contact him, but the truth is, I was blogging for Single and the Sweet Side of 40 and forgot.

My email said I hoped to see him soon.

Four days later, he emailed that he would call.

The day after that, I emailed my mobile number “in case texting is easier.”

He called, but I was out on my weekly playdate with a college roommate.

He called back the next day and left a message.

I called back the day after that, and left him a message.

You’ve probably noticed the dearth of actual conversation and might be wondering why this story is worth telling. Hold, please.

Personally, I wasn’t discouraged or disappointed by the lack of live, voice-to-voice contact. People are busy with jobs and siblings and parents and plans. Meeting a person you want to see again is rare. We don’t leave “in case” slots in our calendars. All of which makes synching schedules a dating adult’s nightmare. Add summer vacations and it turns into “maybe I’ll see you in September.”

Still, playing phone, text and email tag gets boring and misinterpreted, so grown-ups usually quit. The ego can only handle being “it” for about a week before it packs up its toys and goes home — alone.

Since a pal played a part, I decided to be “it” again, in case the short messages I’d sent were mixed. In fact, I upped my game and emailed the Irishman to ask him if would like to go with me to see the Oddball Comedy Tour.

He emailed that he would call.

He called and left messages, twice.

I called back and left a message for him.

Did I mention he has a very pleasant voice-mail voice?

A non-starter relationship is always a disappointment, for a minute. Then you remember your life is pretty great and you have other friends to call.

If I never see him again, oh well. No hurt feelings, no hard feelings. If I do see him again, I’ll be delighted, whether it’s a date or a drive by. Connecting with cool people is, well, cool. I’ve stopped taking missed matches to heart. My loves-me-loves-me-not stories taught me that time is a much bigger obstacle than my personality. Simply put, sometimes it just doesn’t happen and no one is to blame.

Update: I ended up taking my married-sister-who-never-gets-out to the comedy show and we had a blast. The Irishman and I are having dinner Friday, three weeks and 2 days after meeting. Maybe the non-starter will start after all.

Copyright © Beth O’Donnell/2014 Singular Communications, LLC.

Beth O’Donnell“I am single because I was born that way,” says Mae West, and author Beth O’Donnell. Beth currently resides in her native Philadelphia, after lengthy stays in Delaware, DC and Chicago. She is self-employed as a telecommunications consultant, though she also claims expertise in broken hearts and Boxer dogs. She is a Philly Sports Fan, a reluctant exerciser, a TV binger, a daughter, sister, aunt, neighbor and friend. Beth blogs at Single and the Sweet Side of 40 where, “Life waits for no man. Everyone else is waiting for you. Go out and play with yourself.” 
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