His sweat smelled like Cheetos and he wore a kilt. Yes, my date on this balmy, humid, moisture dripping late July Sunday afternoon fancies himself a Scottish Viking plunked down in the middle of central Pennsylvania.
Lest anyone think I deem every date over 6’ as Viking in stature because of my previously recounted encounter with a certain Ginger Viking, I feel the need to clarify that this time it was the gentleman who described himself as “A Geek Brain in a Viking Frame” in the opening tag of his online profile. He even reinforced it with a photo of himself ensconced in a horned helmet. Be still my quivering loins! Actually, for a 5’2” sapiosexual this combination can be quite alluring.
I don’t have a physical type per se. I have dated men exactly the same height as me and men who top out at 6’6”. P.S. One of those did not give me a crick in the neck to kiss while standing. I’m sure all you smart folks can guess which one. They have been thin and meaty and every variety in between. However, there is a certain visceral appeal to tall, burly men for a sturdy farm girl like me. I might be pocket size in height but the rest of me is soft and fleshy, strong and sturdy, Rubenesque instead of waif. There is an instinctual tremble in my lower gut to men who look like they can toss me around my own bed with ease. And maybe with a growl……
And isn’t that the whole point of dating? To find someone enjoyable with whom to converse and then toss each other around naked?
A Geek Brain in a Viking Frame certainly sounds like someone who might understand my references to Sonic Screwdrivers, entertain a debate on how the zombie genre is actually intense social commentary with bonus special FX make-up AND be able to pick a farm girl up and throw her on the bed all manly, where’s my mead, I just sailed my longboat across the bitter Atlantic and conquered EVERYONE style. It always sounds good on paper. In theory, and internet dating algorithm magic, we should be a perfect union. OK Cupid said so, weighing in at a confident 99% match. The Interweb never lies, right?
To be fair, I knew about the kilt pre date. We had seen each other’s pictures but he also did the we-met-online real people version of “I’ll be wearing a red carnation in my lapel, meet at the top of the Empire State Building, life is a Nora Ephron movie” by telling me he would be the super tall one in the kilt by the picnic tables. We were meeting for a free concert in the park (no super awkward moments over who pays the check this time!) with some time before to take a walk and try out our conversational compatibility before it might be drowned out by the funky fresh beat of The Pimps of Joytime. No, no I did not make that up and it brings me great glee to say it even now. So much so I might just do it again. The Pimps of Joytime. Pimps, you are welcome for the free publicity….. Hmmmm, that didn’t come out right….. My original thought before being distracted by fun band names is that I am totally judgment free on the kilt. Be you, be free. However, being judgment free doesn’t mean the 12 year old boy in me isn’t currently karaoking a very inappropriate scrotal parody of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’.
Who am I to judge anyway? I’m a 36-yr-old showing up in Heidi Ann braids like I’m getting ready to climb up the mountain and milk a goat for my grandfather. The sturdy farm girl in me rears her head again! There’s no escaping one’s roots. Call me Swiss Miss Girl if you must but braids keep my neck cooler. A bun tends to make me look a bit Amish. This is central PA so it’s not that far-fetched. Please Google it up if you’re unaware of the religious sect that eschews modern convenience and made my learning to drive as a teenager a game of Frogger: Horse and Buggy Edition.
So, I knew there would be a kilt even though there isn’t any restaurant serving haggis around and the Renaissance Faire grounds are a good 20 minutes north. What I did not know is that his posted pictures were all fresh out of the Just For Men dye job box and it had been quite some time since a revisit to the Rite-Aid. Before the tsking starts about skipping my stones on the well, aren’t you shallow pond, I actually prefer salt and pepper, or straight up gray, and people who embrace aging instead of bowing to the oppressive cult of youth perpetrated by the commercialism juggernaut that permeates our culture these days. I’m also for doing things that make you feel better about yourself, so if it involves tinfoil and combing in some squid ink, comb away! What I don’t care for is a jarring discontinuity between what one puts forth as truth and what is actually truth. I try to be exceedingly honest these days before I meet a new man in person because life is too short for bullshit. If they don’t bolt or Casper, we’re already a leg up on someone being tied to a bedrail. Apparently, and unfortunately, not everyone shares this view. I really could have cared less about his gray beard and his bald head if I had known but all his pictures were of a hale and hearty raven haired Viking with a full and bountiful beard. I felt duped from 50 paces out. But I’m trying to be all 7-11 Open these days and I get the impetus to smudging the online truth to put yourself in the best light.
I committed to an outing and I don’t flake. Even when my second impression via super-awkward first meeting hug is the wafting scent of stale corn chips leaking out his skin and directly into my nostrils. I wish I didn’t recognize that smell but I do. Years of a myriad of unwanted scents from working in healthcare tells me this is very much the aroma of unwashed men, with incredibly poor grooming habits, sweating profusely. At the hospital, they sweat from pain and fever. Here, it’s the late afternoon sun beating down. I use every ounce of will not to look at his toenails for fear I become the sturdy, white farm girl version of Usain Bolt and sprint the fuck out of here.
I take a deep breath (upwind), smile, and agree to drop our blankets in the concert area before setting out for our conversational constitutional. Yes, more sweat. Sure, great idea. The park has a large man made pond with ducks to feed and even a swan or two. A walking path encircles the whole she-bang and we set out to trek around it, mosquitos and West Nile be damned. The conversation is pleasant enough, if not a bit stifled and lacking a certain zest. His grown kids, him going back to school at 40-something. Plenty of geek related topics, touching on Game of Thrones and World War Z. The book, not the movie. Read. Please. Studies show readers tend to have more empathy and we sure could use that in our current cultural and political state…… but I’ll get back on topic before I start a tirade about joining the resistance and donning a pussy hat of my own. Back to July and pre-What the Fuck Did We Do Election. He likes going to goth dance nights in his kilts. I can only imagine the smell at 2 am after a night of glow sticks and Industrial music.
Here’s the thing though about walking with a man over a foot taller: My stubby legs literally can’t keep up unless I STRIDE. He’s STROLLING. I’m STRIDING. For every step he takes I must take two. My own sweat is gathering in the small of my back, rolling from the under swell of my breasts and down my sides. Thanks to the shower I took pre date, I’m pretty sure I smell like clean sweat and not stale corn chips but who knows at this point? It’s all mingling together with the pungent smell of duck shit. After our ten thousandth trip around I realize sandals may not have been the best choice. I dressed for a leisurely Sunday stroll and an open air concert enjoyed from a blanket with fireflies in the dusk and people watching, not a death march a la Stephen King as Richard Bachman Long Walk style. I can feel the blisters forming on the pads and arches of my feet. Cheeto Sweat is not worth band aids over bleeding blisters. Luckily, it’s almost show time for some Pimps. Oh, but I’m more than ready for a little Joytime.
The next few hours are quite joyful in music. I people watch and dog watch and kid watch. I often go to these summer concerts alone in this park, spreading my blanket out and watching the hipsters hula hoop, the dogs sniff each other, and the kids roll in the grass. The concerts themselves are always a great way to wrap up a weekend. The Scottish Viking and I talk some more but after a bit I lay back and stare at the trees above us, letting the music pound through my sternum and under my ribs. I let it wash over me. I bop my head against the blanket, against the earth below it, a tree root digging straight into my lower back. I let myself go and be here, in this moment. There is no date, no Scottish Viking reeking of stale snacks. Only me with the feel of the cooling grass under my bare toes flung over the edge of the blanket, only the beat bopping the braids right out of my hair. I open my eyes to the dimming sun, watching the bats swirl through the trees above now that the moon shines more brightly. The Scottish Viking, trying to assert his Grown Man Gothness and Look At Me Nonconformity remarks bats are among his favorite animals. I close my eyes so he can’t see me roll them in the remnants of light. Remark it’s time to pack it up.
Cheeto Sweat obliges and offers me a ride back to my car I left outside the park since his truck is close. I weigh my options of another long walk on my burgeoning blisters or another ten minutes with him in a more enclosed space. I choose a ride. At least he’s a touch self-aware enough to roll the windows down.
He drops me at my car and we don’t bother to pretend there will be a second date. It’s obvious there is no chemistry here. Maybe it was the off kilter pheromones. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was him. Most times it just isn’t there. The things I want at this stage in my life are pretty simple and deceptively hard to find. I’m certainly not looking for the love of my life. I don’t need someone to help me build a picket fence kind of life. I bought my own picket fence. I really am just looking for the elusive threefer. What’s that you may ask?
1) Someone I like to talk to.
2) Someone I like to get naked with.
3) Someone I like to wake up next to.
It seems so simple. But why is it so hard? Scottish Viking was maybe ¾ of #1. He never approached an orbit of testing #2 or #3. Turns out just calling yourself a Viking doesn’t really make you one. Perhaps I’m not done with Vikings but for now I’m done with men who refer to themselves as such.