Greetings from St. Louis! I landed a much better gig than the one I did last summer in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and without the threat of wildfires or bears. I wanted to get a feel for the basic reception towards swirling in this part of the Midwest; so while I no longer pay for a subscription that allows me contact members on Match.com, I have been checking my daily matches anyway. To my surprise, of the eight white males selected for me one day, none of them chose Black/African-American as a possible ethnic preference and only one of them chose the anything but Black/African-American option. The rest were quite clear their only preferable choice was White/Caucasian. What is up with that? I’ve seen quite a few BM/WW couples downtown, but so far no WM/BW anywhere. Geez, being this close to the Ozarks makes the small town in Georgia where I lived for years feel like San Francisco. I’ve never felt so much like “one of them God-damn liberal Yankees” in all my life.
Nevertheless, I figured I’d try out some flirting techniques from Matthew Hussey’s Get the Guy as I was stocking up on groceries for the week. An attractive employee at Trader Joe’s asked me if I needed some help, so I pounced on the opportunity. However, when I asked him to recommend a salad mix to go with my grilled chicken he unpredictably pawned me off on another employee who suggested a boring bag of iceberg. According to GTG, I should have retorted with something like “Iceberg? This would never work out between us,” but I didn’t want to waste my line on this guy’s minion. When I returned a few days later, the same attractive employee was now working behind the register. To show him I was an Earth-friendly, responsible citizen of the world I purchased a recyclable bag with my groceries. He then fortuitously asked me if I’d like to fill out an entry to win free groceries. “Oh sure,” I responded playfully, “that’s just your clever way of asking for my name and number,” and I gave him my best cheeky smile. Completely oblivious to my abundant charms, he simply recounted an instance when a customer’s boyfriend genuinely questioned his intent and then casually dropped my card into the entry box with all the others. Not the reaction I was hoping for, but I simply chalked it up to good practice. Hussey made one of his clients approach at least 10 different guys in one outing and she supposedly managed to elicit two dates and four phone numbers. Clearly, I had a lot more work to do.
I then returned to the Catholic School down the street where I am being housed. I live in a suite of rooms referred to as “pods” that share bathrooms, a kitchen and a lounge with some of the other out-of-town production staff. Normally a co-ed living situation like this would seem promising romantically, but technical theater tends to breed its own special kind of strange. “Techies,” as they are called in the business, are the skilled labor hired to execute the design and they typically disport a somewhat radical amalgamation of fat, hairy, disgusting, weird and/or nerdy. Some of them even enjoy sporting utility kilts, but no one has any desire to find out what they wear underneath them. Male or female, techies are generally a collection of misfit toys. I just hope I get to be Dolly because I can’t figure out how I ended up on this island with the rest of these oddballs.
An additional painter moved into our pod over the Memorial Day Weekend. The new guy was a husky fellow with dark, unkempt hair I couldn’t tell if he was wearing his work clothes or if his entire wardrobe looked like it came from the Goodwill. As expected, when The Dark Night came on TV later that evening he proudly announced that he possessed almost every superhero movie on DVD and had read all the corresponding comic books as well. I made my polite exit before he started analyzing the movie for inconsistencies or spouting useless trivia he learned on his last trip to Comic-Con. He wasn’t all that bad, but this entire living situation had already made me uncharacteristically anti-social. Because I didn’t own a cat, watch Downton Abbey or Dr. Who, I hadn’t much in common with the women in the costume shop either. I had been exploring the city on my own or keeping to my room where I could try to combat the sub-zero temperatures from the air conditioning with the small ceramic heater I had to buy at Wal-Mart. No one had made plans for the holiday, so on Sunday I had decided to check out a blues festival where I could sit in the sunshine, enjoy the music and have a few drinks. I was headed for the door when I saw the new guy sitting all by himself in the lounge. I guess I was just too softhearted to leave him there feeling like an outcast myself. Well . . . truthfully what I said was, “I don’t know who is playing, where I’m going exactly or what to expect when I get there, but you need cash to buy beer if you want to come along.”
I don’t know why he decided to accept my warm and generous invitation, but I sure was glad that he did. It turned out he actually knew something about the blues and we discovered some really surprising things we had in common. His best friend was the son of the chair of the department where I used to teach in Georgia. We also agreed that Rolling Rock was an acceptable cheap beer, but were both too discerning to shell out $7 for a Budweiser at the festival. Best of all, the St. Louis trivia cards at the restaurant where we stopped for brunch revealed my random knowledge about pop-culture including Nelly, Ghostbusters, Vincent Price and the Rockettes- he had exposed my own inner geek! In fact, now that he was more relaxed and cleaned up, I could see that he was really quite intelligent with a quick wit, pretty green eyes and a nice smile. I’m fairly sure he’s in his mid-twenties, almost half my age, but I enjoyed spending the afternoon with him nonetheless. On the way home I asked if he would mind stopping at Trader Joe’s so I could pick up some coffee, not even thinking about the worker who snubbed me in his check-out line the week before. “No problem,” he said, “you’re fun.”
Lesson learned. Don’t judge a book by its cover- even if it’s a comic book being held by someone who looks like they belong on The Big Bang Theory. You just never know.
So, how do you feel about nerds? Do you think our age difference will pose a big problem?