When we were single and in our 20s, my friends and I would create lists of automatic no's for men: no rappers, no drug addicts, no Republicans, etc. When I became single again at 42, the list of no's had changed little, but my focus was more on what I wanted: someone my age or older, who had been through a marriage (or serious longterm committed relationship) and perhaps had kids.
Then I met the man who was perfect on paper: 6'4", handsome, immaculately dressed, well traveled, confident, etc. My friend said "he should play the Prince of Egypt in the live action adaptation of the movie." I spotted him standing alone at the bar in a Jean Georges eatery and followed him outside where he took a call. When he was done I introduced myself and he said "It's nice to meet you, Sophia. I was just wondering where all the sexy bald women are." And he liked women with no hair. Good start.
We went on a date a couple nights later. It was gorgeously romantic: a walk on the Upper West Side, sitting in the newly developed outdoor seating area at Lincoln Center, talking for hours, and ending up at a local diner. A couple nights later he cooked dinner for me. The food was tasty and he had bought a bottle of Riesling, which I had mentioned offhand as my wine of choice when we first met; he had even created a playlist for the occasion and called it "Sophia." It was a lovely night--you know there's a but coming--when it came to the goodnight kiss, it was a disaster. He had his tongue so far down my throat I felt like I was getting a tonsillectomy. Most women I know agree that a good kisser is a deal breaker because we believe it to be a harbinger of what the bedroom performance will be like.
So I called Joan and she said maybe I could coach him. Shit. How does a man get to 50 and not know how to kiss? But I thought I'd give it another try. We saw each other again a couple nights later and he said he wanted to stop seeing the 35 year old yoga instructor he was dating to see me. Now, I wasn't looking for a man at this point, so I wasn't down. However, had he been extraordinary, I probably would have been open to exploration.
As flattering as it was, my issue was he was so certain that I was the one. Look, I know I'm the baddest bitch on the planet, but how could he possibly know that after less than a week? It felt like he was looking for something and was ready to project it onto a woman the second he thought he'd found it. That kind of desperation, in addition to the bad kissing, sealed the deal and I learned that being perfect on paper is a far cry from even being good in practice.