Baby Talk

By Joe Daly

Humor

I ran into her at a fundraiser a couple months after the date.  The date had ended with an assurance that a phone call would be forthcoming.  This promise remained unfulfilled.

It was a black tie fundraiser on the night before Easter and the cavernous ballroom was still only half full.  The price that I paid for arriving on time was that I was by myself.  Well, not including the stuffed bunny I held under my arm.  And thank God for him.

The friends I was meeting had opted for a very liberal interpretation of timeliness, and so I found myself in my rarely-used tux, pretending as if I were on my way to or from a boisterous group of friends.  I wore the face that said that I had just caught someone’s eye and repeatedly wove figure eights throughout the room, occasionally cutting across the dance floor as if I needed a shortcut to reach my non-existent destination.

I ran into her on the dance floor, our paths intersecting smack dab in the middle.  By the plural number of empty glasses in her hands, I deduced that she was 1) with at least one other person; and 2) on her way to the bar.

The encounter was so abrupt that I did not recognize her at first, and her blank stare indicated that she too was unsure of my identity.  Then her eyes squinted ever so slightly as she made a valiant, though unsuccessful attempt at masking her disdain.

Being both a guy and a people pleaser, I acted as if I expected her to be as pleased to see me as I was pretending to be pleased to see her.

“Hey there!” I said with an optimism entirely unjustified by the circumstances.

(furtively looking away, as if for an exit) “Oh, uh, hey.”

“What’s happening?”

(Ever so slightly annoyed) “Um…  just getting a drink.”

“Oh.  Yeah.  Cool.  So um, how’s everything?”

“Good.  Um, how’s everything with you?”  The inflection she chose for the last word, along with the look on her face indicated that both her patience and the conversation were about to reach a rather colorful end.

“Good, good.  Well, um… yeah, having a good time tonight?”  Dammit.  I remember thinking I had asked one question too many.

“I gotta run.  My friends are back at the table.”

“Great seeing you.”  I started to back off.

“Bye.”

Phew.  Thank God for that fucking bunny.


***

I was pretty new to online dating and still a little gun shy on the whole process.   My last coffee date had been with a woman who resembled the pictures in her online profile much in the same way that Flavor Flav might be said to resemble John McCain.  After that experience, I prepared to cancel my subscription, but then I received an email that made me reconsider.

The author of the email looked and sounded refreshingly down to earth and her profile was almost too good to be true.  She was a couple years older than I and if her pictures were accurate, stunningly put together for someone her age.  Hell, she was stunningly put together for someone of any age.  In the unlikely event that someone might examine her profile and remain unconvinced of her hotness, she chose the screen name of “HARDBODY_(her name).”  To be sure, she was a woman of tremendous literal capacity.

Through some introductory emails, we discovered that we shared some sizable plots of common ground.  We had lived in some of the same cities, worked in similar professions at one time or another, and had moved to San Diego at approximately the same time.  The kicker was when realized that we both shared an oxymoronic passion for both fitness and appallingly poor nutrition.  We were both running freaks and pizza fiends.

We decided to meet.  So convinced was I that we would hit it off, I suggested we make our first date a night on the town.  I had learned the hard way that in the world of internet dating, first dates should involve little more than coffee, drinks, or something quick, early, and public to mitigate any unexpected unpleasantness.  In hindsight, a deeper examination of our dimensions of compatibility was most certainly warranted for breaking this tradition, but at the time, an evening date made sense.

I suggested a funky little spot in scenic La Jolla.  It was central to both of us and if things went well, we could have some appetizers or dinner and then hit one of the neighborhood clubs or cafes afterward.  She arrived right on time, tastefully dressed and looking every bit the looker in her profile photos.

Phew!

Now, I don’t think I’m any more or less shallow than most men or women- looks are certainly important, but a relationship based on looks has the shelf life of a honeydew melon.  I’ll take a pretty face and a great personality over an intolerable hardbody any day of the week.  My relief at seeing my date wasn’t because she was attractive, but rather because she did not look like she had just emerged from Middle Earth.

We chatted easily and for about ten minutes the date was shaping up to be pleasant, normal, and quite fun.  Then my bubble burst.

Apparently she was gassy.

We were talking about our respective health clubs when she offered that one of the things she particularly enjoyed about her club was that it was spacious enough so that when she needed to fart, she could escape to a corner and release her gaseous payload without alerting other members.  She boasted that  while diminutive in stature, she could most assuredly “clear out a room” if and when she decided to break wind.  She speculated that this ability was likely due to the prodigious amount of dairy in her diet.

I’ve seen the book and I know the deal- “Everybody Poops.”  Maybe it’s just the old fashioned guy in me but my enthusiasm for farting discussions waned at around age twelve.

I looked at her and nodded empathetically as she recounted some of the highlights of her “Top Ten Gym Farts,” but it was as if I could see a giant red flag unfurled behind her, blowing in the wind she was undoubtedly releasing at that very moment.

What shook me was not that she experienced gassy moments, just like all other mammals;  rather, what shocked me was that out of all her first date selling points, the one she would choose to showcase was the supernatural pungency of her backdoor breeze.

We finished the appetizers and as we began to pursue non-digestive topics like work, music, and travel, I started to find myself minimizing the significance of our earlier topic.  She was energetic and had a playful sense of humor.  And she did have a great smile.

We decided to go to a piano bar.

I suggested that we take my car, and as we walked towards my parking spot, she slid her arm into mine.  She made an unintelligible purring sound, and rather than ask her to repeat what was surely a playful endearment, I smiled.  I opened the passenger side and she bounded in with unchecked perkiness.  I hopped into the driver’s seat and we headed to the bar.  That’s when it all went sideways.

And no, she did not fart.  Hell, by then I would have been almost disappointed if she didn’t fart around me.  No, what happened was nothing short of unnerving.

We were approaching an intersection and I began to ask her a question, when all of a sudden, I heard a squeaky, high-pitched sound, accompanied by clapping:

“Woobie!  Woobie!  Woobie!”

With acute horror and astonishment, I realized that this sound had come from INSIDE THE CAR.

Then it happened again:

“Woobie!  Woobie!  We go to pee-yan-no baaahhh!”

I slammed on the brakes and turned in horror to my date, who was smiling and bouncing in the passenger seat.

I don’t think I managed any sort of response before she pointed at the car radio and exclaimed:

“Woobie!  Woobie!  Wisten!  Dey pway ow-ah song!!”

She had begun to speak in baby talk.  Apparently “Woobie” was an interjection of intense excitement (as if one had just farted), and the other information she wanted to share was that the radio was apparently playing “our song.”

Because the car had stopped moving, she seized the opportunity to move to her knees in her seat and pushed her face straight into mine.  I dared not move.  Her eyes were wide, blue and crazy.  You could not have slid a piece of paper between our noses, and with unblinking eyes she then said:

“Gooo…  geee… Poo poo.”

I remember each syllable vividly.  By the way, it is instructive to note that this woman was a high-ranking corporate attorney.

So there I was, staring into the eyes of a crazy person, trapped in my own car, restrained by a seatbelt and being accosted by a gassy woman-baby at a busy La Jolla intersection on a Friday night.  Suddenly my last coffee date didn’t seem so bad.

I felt the color drain from my face as tsunamis of fear began pounding my nervous system.  I  managed to drive a bit further before it dawned on me that bringing a crazy woman-baby to an upscale piano bar might be a challenge beyond my emotional fitness.  Desperate and losing hope, the solution came to me in a flash.

“AAAA-CHOO!” I blurted.

“BWESS YOU!” she clapped and replied.

She bought it.

I closed my eyes and lifted my nose, as if trying to fight back a sneeze, and then exhaled, “AAAA-CHOOOO!” even more forcefully than before.

“Aww!  Sneezy sneezy!”

“Crap,” I said as if concerned, “Hey, did you say you had a cat?” (I vividly remembered her mentioning a cat).

“Um… yeah…  Why?”  The adult had returned.

“Crap.  AAAA-CHOO!”

“Oh no!  What’s the mattuh?” she asked, dipping slightly into baby voice, but still an adult.

“I’m allergic to cats.  You must have cat dander on your clothes.  Aw, dammit…” I feigned deep disappointment.

“I DO have cat all over my clothes!  He always sleeps on this coat.”

(Bingo!)

“That must be it, then.  That coat is really bringing up my allergies.”

I began rubbing my eyes in the hope that they would begin to water.  I fake sneezed again, and scratched my face.

“Take coat off?”  Baby was back.

“No, no… once I get going, that’s it.  I’m going to be like this for awhile until I get some fresh air.  Awww, I’m sooo sorry!”

“Wit’s ok…  Me unduhstand…” baby offered unconvincingly.

I drove her back to her car, alternately sneezing, scratching and apologizing while she switched back and forth between baby and adult dialogue.  The night ended with a goodbye peck on the cheek and lots of sneezes and scratches from me.  I promised I’d call her back.  She promised to brush her clothes the next time.

The date was over.

Phew.


***

I stuck with online dating for a few months after that, but my heart was no longer in it.  Like a pitcher who takes a fastball off the nose, I could never fully commit to the game after that.

I feel somewhat bad for the immature way I responded to the situation.  There are undoubtedly better ways of ending a date than faking a violent allergic reaction.  Maybe my buddy’s wife was right when she said that I was forty years old and still single because I’m selfish and unrealistic.  And maybe the night might have turned out great if I gave it a little more time.  But thankfully I’ll never know how close I might have came that night to having to change a diaper.

Dating’s a bitch.

And this is the time of year when it’s easier to plop in front of the TV with a bottle of Veuve and watch a House marathon rather than suffer through, as the only single person* in the room, the forced jollity of holiday events.  You start to miss the days when your mother pestered you about your dating life. Anymore, she just slaps on her Colorform smile, tells hyper-enthusiastic tales of others – who got married even older than you – and passes the twice-baked potatoes with a heavy sigh; resigned to the fact that the children born to your siblings are going to be the only grands she’s going to get.

(*For the record, no, my widowed grandmother does NOT count, thank you very much and besides, evenshe has a boyfriend, so suck it!)

But it hasn’t been easy. I’ve been “out there”.  I’ve tried.  Honest I have.  I’ve just gotten the fuzzy end of the lollipop more times than I care to count.

For example:

An Evangelical jazz drummer proposed marriage twice, only to break off the engagement. Twice. Both times as dictated by God who audibly spoke to him on the bank of a lake in Texas. A scientist told me the morning after our first night spent together, that, while I looked ‘just fine’, my BMI still indicated that I was technically obese. There was a chef who would only have outercourse, even though the relationship had progressed to the apartment-shopping phase. And let’s not forget the lawyer whose break-up speech proclaimed that I was comfortable to be around, and made every event an adventure, but I just wasn’t ‘thunderbolts and lightening’.

Ahem.

Despite all of that, I persist. I am a hopeful romantic. I cling desperately to the knowledge that, in the words of Fivel Mousekewitz, “Somewhere, out there … someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight”.

Bolstered by this ridiculous ongoing fantasy, I recently joined an internet dating website.

(I know… Please don’t judge me.)

Truth be told, however, that lawyer was wrong. am ‘thunderbolts and lightening’. I’m no gentle summer shower – I’m a torrential downpour.  I’m outspoken. Bossy. Tact isn’t always my forté. I’m a career gal. A broad. I’m definitely more Yentl and less Hadass.  Fanny Brice. K-k-k-k-k-katie. (Pick a Streisand character… any Streisand character…)

But knowing that Barbra, for all her chutzpah, is a certifiable bitch, I got to thinking maybe this time around, I should soften things a little.  Resolve to e-volve and use the internet for its Powers of Good: To help me finally find my Avigdor.

In order to do so though, I would need to get back to some basics. Take a refresher course and revisit some fundamental Junior League principles.  Try and be a lady

… for once.

So I turned to one of the classics:

Let’s see what advice Betty has that can help me in 2009…

1. Shut up and dance. Got it.  Moving on…

2. Note to self:  Wait 24 hours (or until sober) to e-mail, text or tweet.

3. The girl should make the move??? What??? Clearly Betty’s never read The Rules.

4. Good plan. Don’t let the guys know that you’re seeing more than one at a time. That’ll be our little secret…

5. If I don’t speak to men I’ve never met, how the hell is this internet dating thing going to work???  I think Betty needs to rethink things for the next edition.

6. Call me a cynic, but I think I’m going to be hard-pressed to find a Yankee who will perform his ‘manly chore’ for this nice Southern transplant…

7. So I suppose I shouldn’t keep ruling out those guys from Staten Island, eh?  You never know. Underneath those velour tracksuits, they might be swell.

8. Listen, Betty. If the guy doesn’t like me for who I am, then he can go fuc— (Deep breath…) Manners… manners…

9. Then how is he going to know I like him???

10. See #9.

Thank you for reading. I had a lovely time. So glad you came. I do hope you’ll call again soon!

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Images (used without permission) from Your Manners Are Showing © 1946