Crazy Jae (meeting in the meat department)

Tonight I had planned on going to the beach in Belmar to see a guy who plays drums on the boardwalk every Saturday night. He would be the first guy I’d meet from this online dating site I just recently joined. Without much correspondence, he had informed me of the dates and times, and I said I would go out there when I could make it. The weather forecast, promising a thunderstorm tonight, caused me to change my plans. But the mid-August coolness in the weather has been alerting me to the fact that the summer is near its ending, and the prospect of time on the beach will soon be coming to an end as well. Of course it is a probability I will be spending time in New York in the Fall, and even on occasion take excursions to the Princeton campus to soak in the reverie of the incoming Freshman class, as I walk about, pretending to somehow belong there.

So I decided to postpone my trip to the evening beach side. But another meeting occurred which I had barely planned on. And its ending was better than I would have hoped for. Today being Saturday, I worked my normal 10 hour shift at the residence where I am a service coach to men and women who have mental health diagnoses. One of the consumers had decided to go shopping, and so we headed as we routinely do, to the local Walmart. During the ride I recalled that one of my new online acquaintances worked there.

Jae had been a little over excited to meet me. He showered me with compliments, saying I was beautiful, hot, and sexy; not adjectives a respectable lady would want used at the beginning of an actual relationship. And being that he claimed to work in the meat department at Walmart, I really didn’t see myself having a relationship with him. But it seemed harmless to consider simply stopping by to say “Hi,” since I shopped at that store so frequently. Anyway, I wanted to get the ball rolling. I wanted to meet at least one guy from the site, if only to prove to myself these guys were normal people just like me. As I began walking through the store, my consumer from work looked around for the items on her list. I approached the deli counter and asked if they knew who Jae was. At first the ladies seemed confused. Then one said, “Oh yeah, ‘Crazy Jae!’ He works in the meat department.” I asked whether the deli wasn’t the meat department, but was kindly redirected. Now knowing his coworkers called him “Crazy Jae” I really wondered what to expect.

As myself and my friend approached the actual meat department I looked around. There was a guy in a white coat. I said, “Are you Jae?” “Yes,” he responded positively. “My name is Kate” I said. He seemed so warm. I felt like he already liked me, as he looked at me and smiled. He did not seem at all like a letch who insisted I was hot, and said he wanted me, and had to meet me, which was the persona I had picked up from him online. In fact, if there hadn’t been something soft and kind looking in his online photos, I suppose I never would have given him a second thought. Jae said that I looked good, and that my online pictures didn’t do me justice. I immediately thought this must have been a line, because I was at work and not dressed fancy at all. And besides I had taken great care to make sure my very best pictures were up. How could I possibly look better in shorts and a tank top?

We didn’t have a very long conversation as he and I were both actually working and had other matters to attend to. But during our brief talk he kept a very kind and welcoming smile on his face, which was genuine and in no way forced. He was very attractive to me which I was surprised by. His teeth were uneven, but in a way you easily forgive someone when they are so friendly. He was extremely likable and hard to forget. He said something about singing to the ladies in the deli when they were having a bad day and that this made their day better. I immediately thought of karaoke. He said he never had tried it, but would be willing to. I told him of a place I knew in Hazlet that had karaoke on Wednesdays. He told me how he had places where he hung out with friends in the area, and how he liked to have fun. I would have given him my number if I hadn’t stopped myself; he made me feel so comfortable.

While we spoke briefly of our online experiences, he said he got more hits on his profile when he made overt sexual references, than when he was a “nice guy,” and this was surprising to his friends, so he showed them by switching up his profile once in a while. It occurred to me that Jae’s initial message to me may have come in that first night I joined while I had over 100 emails, some of which I didn’t even have chance to get to at the time. Perhaps hungry for attention, I had put up a slightly suggestive picture of myself. Reveling in the accolades from so many unknown men, and slightly overcome by the moment, I suppose I encouraged their bad behavior, and may have gotten a little carried away, later putting them in the dungeon, better known as the “permanently blocked” list, in order to avoid the innuendos, or more obvious suggestions later when I had come to my senses. I asked Jae if he saw the picture I had put up and he said “Yes!” I said “Wow, I can’t believe I’m talking with someone who saw that picture.” But what I really felt was trust. The possibility of having a friend who knew I was not a perfect shining example of a Christian lady, and yet accepted me anyway, was suddenly very attractive to me. While striving to present myself with integrity as I generally do, it was nice to consider having a friend who knew that women weren’t perfect angels, any more than men were really.

Jae was anything but the dangerous online fanatic people had warned me about. His kind puppy-like demeanor made him seem like someone I could just go out with in a group and have fun. He could be one of those types of friends who is in the audience watching me sing my favorite karaoke songs, surprised that I could sing so well, telling me I did great at the end, then trying it out himself and not afraid to fail. For a moment I envisioned myself having better friends on the Jersey Shore where I have regretfully failed to make a connection. Though our first chat offline was very brief, something about him lingered as I continued to shop for the next hour or so. Something inside me felt I needed him in my life. He wouldn’t be that new boyfriend I was looking for, but definitely a friend – a friend who could laugh with me at my momentary attempt to integrate with my new community, and not scold me for it, someone who I could talk to, someone who understood. I didn’t have to be a saint but hopefully he could also allow me to be the good person (who I am more likely to present), going forward.

I sent him a note on the site when I got home from work, telling him it was good to finally meet him, and how I was pleasantly surprised. To this he replied, “Thanks so much, I can see me having feelings for you. You are very good looking.”  As I read the note I realized this could mean trouble for me. I didn’t really know if a friendship could be possible now. I decided to just not respond for the time being. After all, there were a lot of other guys also grabbing my attention, which I will tell you more about very soon.

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Aside

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