Everyone who’s dating has his or her own No Can Do Items with a potential partner. Those things that are impossible to overlook. Sure, there are many less than desirable traits that one might be able to get beyond or work through, but I’m not talking about those. For instance, I am weird about shoes. I look at footwear on a first date. If a guy’s wearing Crocs, it might be a problem, but that’s easily remedied if the relationship continues. Unless he’s Mario Batali and if that’s the case I can disregard those orange plastic atrocities because he will feed me–in a way no man has ever done. Mario, Babbo, you and me? You have my soul.
BUT, I do have my deal breakers.
The things that I’m unwilling to compromise on, and here are mine.
1. Cheapness. Even a whiff of it and please don’t cover it up with terms like: frugal, thrifty, conservative, and my all time favorite–understated. People who are legitimately understated never mention it. You’re cheap. Own it.
2. A lack of grooming. If a guy has tufts of hair growing from his ears, I can’t do it.
3. Young children. I love children, but mine are raised. I was a good mother and gave it my all. I don’t have anything more to give in that area and it would be unfair to a potential partner to have zero interest in helping with his offspring. I couldn’t care less that your child lost his first tooth and the Tooth Fairy might visit that night. Should you rent ponies or the bouncy castle for a birthday party? Don’t ask me. I think attending kids’ birthday parties would be a bigger deterrent to crime than lethal injection. I know I’d think twice about murder if the punishment entailed attending a party each day for the rest of my life. If I had to help with a science fair project (shoot me now), or even look at a volcano in the works on my kitchen counter, I’d scream, “NOOOOOO.” This is a problem in Manhattan. Many guys my age waited until late in life to have babies. One can never assume it is Grandpa pushing a stroller even if he has a cane.
4. Separated, but not divorced. There’s a level of completely-screwed-up that accompanies all divorces. Just no getting around it. Even the most amicable dissolution creates a period of time where the person should be treated as if they spit when they speak.
Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out and am comfortable with the terms I’m willing to accept, the universe does what it will do, and a most awkward position is created: I might need to take out the chisel and make corrections to those items listed above that were whittled in rock.
Below is the email exchange that could potentially change my stance:
Apr 4, 2012 – 8:35am
So here’s my problem…not only are you absolutely gorgeous but you are smart and settled and evolved and all grown up in the ways that are a totally great thing…so what’s the problem? I can only suppose that you have been flooded with about a trillion messages from hopefuls…how to cut through the clutter? Well I’ve started with whimsical flattery (but absolute truth not mere flattery (more flattery?) (yikes my brackets are getting out of control)) In the hopes that might catch your eye…I’m a 49 Englishman long time in NYC, which I also adore (another point in my favor; please count!)…Two teen girls who I love to bits and am very involved with…my last hope is that my attached recent photo if not pleasing is at least not totally repellent! Hey gotta start somewhere! Fingers crossed I hear from you…Sebastian
Apr 7, 2012 – 10:36am
You caught my attention with the shameless flattery. Or maybe I’m the shameless one for liking it!
I read your profile and you seem very interesting. My problem is that you are separated and not divorced. When your divorce is final I hope you’ll contact me again. I liked your message very much.
Reminder: I use the spelling Melanie instead of Melani just in case my first name is Googled–as it was in my post, Busted.
Apr 7, 2012 – 3:37pm
Melanie (my favorite name in the whole world. Ok now I’m just making stuff up!). Glad my message caught your attention. Appropriately boundaried. But of course you are. It makes me like you more and more. So here’s my problem, with one daughter starting high school and one college in the fall although I’ve been separated for a couple of years, I have no plans to divorce at this time. Just because there’s no urgent need right now. So…(please picture me on both knees, hands together, begging) please don’t hold that against me. I’m the most fantastic catch (well I would say that wouldn’t I) and I feel that you owe it to yourself to have a beverage with me. How about it? Extremely pretty please…? Sebastian
Apr 9, 2012 – 12:06pm
Loved your email. Seriously, it was great. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I understand the reasoning behind being separated for two years without any plans to divorce. I’m not judging, but it just doesn’t work for me.
You seem delightful and I’m sure it’s my loss not to meet you, but there are deal breakers for me and dating someone who’s married (even separated) is one of them.
Again, I thought your message was brilliant and I’m sure there are many women on this site who would be thrilled to have the pleasure of your company.
Apr 9, 2012 – 12:17pm
Hi Melanie: Got it. Divorced not separated. Please expect a large freezer arriving at your home shortly. I am arranging for you to be put on ice until my divorce is final. I will DVR anything good on TV while you’re on Pause.
Suggest you pre-pay your bills for three months and prepare yourself for a wonderful Fall with yours truly. Until then…Sebastian
Apr 9, 2012 – 2:04pm
Pay bills for 3 months–check
Notify doorman of freezer deliver–check
DVR-Real Housewives and Jersey Shore–check
Buy new Fall wardrobe since I’ll be extra svelte–check
OK, things are handled from my end. Bring it on.
Apr 9, 2012 – 7:23pm
First great great work there Melanie. Well handled.
Second great great news. I have an appointment tonight at Night Court.
“Night Court is an American television situation comedy that aired on NBC from January 4, 1984 to May 31, 1992. The setting was the night shift of a Manhattan court, presided over by the young, unorthodox Judge Harold T. “Harry” Stone (played by Harry Anderson). It was created by comedy writer Reinhold Weege, who had previously worked on Barney Miller in the 1970s and early 1980s.”
They are specially reconvening for me (I have that kind of pull). Fully expect my divorce to be finalized by the morning. However…
Do pay bills for 3 months…maybe we’ll run away to sea.
Do notify doorman of freezer delivery…your diet idea is a winner.
Do DVR those TV shows. I’ve never seen them. Just think how much fun it would be to introduce me to The Situation, Snooki et al.
Don’t buy new Fall wardrobe. Let’s shop together. Can I say Fashion Show.
Over to you…
Apr 10, 2012 – 11:25am
OK, I’ll stand by. I’ve handled all I can from my end. Let me know the results of your appearance in Night Court. If the divorce is final then I’ll forgo the freezer. If not, I’ll be climbing in today. What does one wear to be frozen for 3 months? Now that’s a tough fashion decision. I guess something that doesn’t wrinkle easily. Silk is out of the question.
Apr 10, 2012 – 2:06pm
Magnificent news! Twenty-two minutes. A few commercial breaks. Some laughs. But most importantly I got what I came for. Night Court divorce final.
The thought of you, teeth chattering, lips blue with cold, swathed in a down coat was more than I could bear. Keep the freezer. It’s built for two. Could come in handy if we ever decide to go on a joint diet (not that we need to but Hey You Never Know). Meet me this Thursday at 6 at the W Hotel at Union Square for a celebratory drink. Wear silk (because you can).
Apr 11, 2012 – 10:18am
Now you know I won’t be there on Thursday but I’ve enjoyed our banter. You also know the drill. If you get divorced and I’m still on this silly site, I hope you’ll look me up. You have made me laugh many times with your messages. I think we would enjoy each other.
To make the next message clear, he references parts of my profile where I’ve written about my love of the book “Say Her Name” and also my appalling iPod with everything from Classical to Notorious B.I.G.
Apr 11, 2012 – 10:08pm
Melanie: Banter aside.
I have obviously had to ask myself: Self Why Are You Pursuing A No? Are you doing that silly man thing of trying to attain the unattainable? I have searched my soul and believe the answer is no. Here’s why. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: you are absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful. And I sense you are that way inside and out. Banter. We connected. Smart. Funny. Sharp. Hard to find, don’t lose it when you do.
Say Her Name: there was a long piece in The New Yorker that I believe lead to the book, maybe the other way round. Although I’m not crazy about 47 year old man with 25 year old wife (pick on someone your own age), what a story.
Everyone’s IPOD is appalling. That’s the point. But you know that.
Finally you have lived here three years only. New friends are always a force for good. And if they have a little crush on you, there’s worse crimes.
So…Don’t Date Me (never thought I’d be writing that on this site!). Really. Don’t. Date. Me.
But don’t discard me either. Let’s stay in touch. Be friends. When the time is right, meet for some non-date friend activity. I want to be in your life.
Here is my email address: [redacted]
I hope to hear from you.
Apr 12, 2012 – 6:48pm
I’m thinking. Do you still have the conversation thread of our banter? I deleted it and would love to read it again.
The problem is I like you. I’m happy to see a new message. I don’t want to be with a married man. Even if he’s separated. The friendship thing was a brilliant try. I don’t buy it and neither do you. Sounded good though.
I need to think about this.
Apr 12, 2012 – 8:49pm
Melanie: There’s no fooling you is there? I appreciate you appreciating The Friendship Thing. Truth is I really believed it.
I saw me as the “gay” friend to you in that movie where the “gay” friend is English and funny and handsome…except I’m not gay of course.
I saw us in a bromance except I’m the bro and you’re the bra…
I swear Melanie I really meant it but you’re probably right;
just a brilliant try.
Think on…and while you think, please find our banter below.
Good thing one of us is not just going around throwing Delete Buttons
when they feel like it.
Apr 13, 2012 – 9:58am
I hope you won’t mind a few questions.
1. Do you live in a separate home from your wife?
2. Do your friends and family know you’re separated and dating?
3. Do your daughters know?
4. If yes on 3, have you ever introduced your daughters to someone you’re seeing?
5. Your friends?
6. Do you plan to divorce eventually? If yes, is there a specific event that you’re waiting for, i.e. your youngest daughter’s HS graduation?
7. Do you have an amicable relationship with your wife and does she realize that the marriage is over and you’ve moved on?
All this silly back and forth and in the end (if we meet) it could end up being one of those dates where we both feel no connection and quickly finish our drink while thinking, “I was giving my A-Game in those email exchanges for this?”
Apr 13, 2012 – 4:04pm
OMG Melanie. I was so thinking exactly what you said. What after all this we’re not fireworks but a damp squib?! All that great material for nada (I need some love for I’m A Bro You’re A Bra). I’m having the worst performance anxiety just thinking about meeting you at this point. If we ever do meet, we’ll have to incredibly low-key it. We are in danger of becoming that movie/book/restaurant everyone raves about that when you get to it you go What Was All The Fuss About?!
1 Yes. Separate homes.
2 Yes. Friends and family know.
3 Yes. Girls know separated. My dating not something I feel the need to discuss with them at this point.
4 and 5 answered in 2 and 3.
6 and 7 definitely plan to divorce. Sooner rather than later. Just getting to the end of junior/senior years HS and 7th/8th grades. Stressful years as you know. We have an amicable relationship as we have the girls’ best interests very much in mind. We both know and accept our marriage is over and have moved on.
Apr 13, 2012 – 4:19pm
I’ve been holding my breath today waiting for your response. Talk about showing my hand–but I had to tell you.
OK, let’s meet for a low key something or other. I promise to be entirely nonchalant and even yawn at least once during our time together. I’ve had my silver fillings from childhood replaced with white so it will be a pretty yawn.
I may even glance around the room distractedly, check my phone and call you the wrong name. I’ll become one of those typical New Yorkers who, no matter how spectacular something is, say, “That’s, um, nice I guess.”
I’m free any day next week except Tuesday or Thursday. Let me know. Unless you want to talk first and see if I have one of those squeaky or nasally voices? I will be scrutinizing yours as well and don’t try to work the sexy accent. I’m a sucker for those, but I’ve got my game face on.
Apr 13, 2012 – 4:39pm
Melanie: I’ve got to reveal my hand too. Your last was quite simply the best message I have received…Evah! I was bowled over by the sweetness of your holding your breath. Laughed so much at the rest. Hysterical. I am available to meet tonight, tomorrow night, the next night and the night after that. I would urge the sooner the better. I have no cable or Internet right now. It’s a measure of my enthusiasm that I have tapped out today’s missives on my Blackberry. [redacted cell number] is my number but let’s chat after Cable Guy departs. I’m going for Masterpiece Theatre (sic) not The Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Sebastian
Any one of the answers to my questions might’ve been a deal breaker. I was holding my breath. That sort of conversation, albeit electronic, doesn’t happen often. Actually it’s never happened to me. So, with that final exchange, I can easily write: to be continued…
What are your deal breakers? I’d love it if you’d share in the Comments section.
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“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.” George Bernard Shaw