After a heart shattering break-up, I swore off dating forever. But then I put down my Ben & Jerry's and leapt back into the dating pool. It's a daunting game out there, and I say it all comes down to chemistry.
Or does it? Maybe we have hang-ups or maybe we're just too picky. In 100 dates, I hope to figure out what it is that makes me - and you - 'click.'

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Day #12: Dinner on a bridge

A couple of months into living in Amsterdam, I was unemployed, bored and poor. Like all bums with nothing better to do, I decided to go to the park with my BFF to drink cheap wine and enjoy a rare sighting of the sun. It was that day in Vondelpark that I met T.

He first approached me to ask to borrow my lighter. After some chit chat, he and his friend invited us out. Although I wasn't initially attracted to T. ( he was shorter than me, and I’m pretty pint sized), he was showing some interest. So, I observed him quietly throughout the night. He was outgoing, spontaneous and seemed to be pretty genuine.

The next morning I woke up to a text message - T. had found my wallet on the pavement. Just as we had parted ways that night, I had dropped my handbag outside the bar. He wanted to meet so he could return it.

I met T. that evening at his house and the whole time we were talking on his doorstep, I wasn’t really sure if I felt anything about him. But he was clearly not feeling the same way. I decided to give it some more time as I was feeling at ease with him. I found out that he had lived around the world and spoke four different languages fluently. Intriguing, I thought.

We went for a walk and found ourselves at a small and simple restaurant near his house. He turned to me and said, “I have a great idea. It’s a nice night and since summer is almost over, I thought we could get dinner and go to this great spot I know. Up for it?”

Keeping in mind I had just met this guy yesterday, I wasn’t sure what I was going to be in for. But going off of my intuition, I trusted T. and he was proving to be good-natured and sweet.

“We’re going to have to bring a few things from my house though.”

When we went back to his house with the food in takeaway containers, I thought we would be picking up some paper plates. What we ended up doing is balancing his dining table, two wooden chairs and a backpack containing two wine glasses, plates, knives and forks on the back of his bike.

The whole time I was walking alongside this boy and his bicycle piled with furniture I was half amused and half confused. I had no idea where I was being led, but the element of surprise was kind of endearing and romantic. At the same time, I was slightly embarrassed as curious eyes followed us.

After ten minutes of walking, T. grinned widely as he stopped me to reveal where we were we were going to be eating dinner that night. I looked around in disbelief. Surely he was kidding?

We were standing on a large bridge that was also a major arterial road, where two tram lines crossed over at ten minute intervals. Commuters were making their way home from work in peak rush hour car and bike traffic.

I gulped. I mean, a little romance was nice, but we had just met twenty four hours ago. I was completely overwhelmed. Was he planning on asking me to marry him?!?

As we ate dinner, I noticed the look in his eyes turn from one of friendliness to adoration as the sun set behind me. All the while I felt uncomfortable and exposed. Joggers literally slowed to a standstill as they approached us and faces pressed themselves against tram windows as people awoke from their post work stupor at the sight of us. A passing tourist used us as subjects for a half an hour photo shoot.

It was all a bit too much for me. Still reeling from the whole experience on the walk back to his house, we parted ways awkwardly exactly where the date had started - on his doorstep.

After that night I kept a friendly but safe distance from T., but he eventually moved away overseas a few month later for work.

I found out recently that T. got married not long after he moved. I wonder if he proposed to her on a bridge.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Day #11: Burger guy

If you know Amsterdam well, you know where to get a damn good burger. Burger Bar. It's the best. One day I was feeling really hung-over and just had to grab a burger. I'm waiting in line, impatiently, behind a guy dressed head to toe in black (and it's winter so we're sporting many layers).

Me and guy in black start chatting it up, and he's actually really funny. And also, I'm a solo chick in line for my burger fix...I'm feeling a little out of place. He was nice and we were laughing. Then, my burger was ready. I swear there was this one second reaction from both of us, like we knew that was it. Goodbye stranger. I grabbed my burger, smiled and took off.

Then a day later I get an email forwarded to me from the info department at my work. This guy, M., remembered where I work and explained “To Whom It May Concern” that he needed to get in touch with me. It was cute. A little effort always is.

So I emailed M. back and before you know it we'd made a date. At Burger Bar. I mean, it seems fitting. We both like burgers, its where we met. Okay.

So we arrive, and settle into the indoor part of the take-away restaurant. We sit down and M. says, “I got you a present.”

Okayyyy, I'm thinking. And he gives me a fancy, paisley box with a pen inside. A pen with my name written on it. “You said you're a writer, right?”

I did, and I say something like yea this is great. I'm thinking the gesture is sweet, if random. He takes off his coat, and reveals he's actually quite a small guy. I'm a tall girl, but he was a few inches shorter, and even skinnier. But sweet eyes and definitely a sexy smile.

We get food, chat between bites, and soon we get to talking. He's telling me about his work in Amsterdam, in the weed industry. Then he starts wooing me with his “hook-up” and carrying case of full-on joint rolling equipment. I'm a little surprised at all of this, he definitely didn't come off as such a hippie.

And then M. starts telling me about his new meditation obsession. Which is interesting, because at the moment, I'm also through a meditation kick.

He explains that just yesterday, he was at a meditation session. “It was really surreal,” he says, “I was sitting in lotus position, in space and looking down on the world.”

I'm like, Okay.

“And then I shot down from space back into my body and I was knocked out,” he says.

Wow. Seriously. He's actually so serious about this, it's rather funny. And I'm laughing, which I think he thinks is a good sign. I don't think it is.

Anyway, we leave Burger Bar, and I'm sort of ready to head home. But maybe its worth getting a drink somewhere? He looks at me and says, “I don't drink, I only smoke weed.”

I don't know. I don't mind a man that smokes pot, but something about this guy is telling me he smokes A LOT of pot. I'm just not interested in that vibe.

So we say our goodbyes, the typical Dutch three-kisses, and I'm off. So glad my bike is nearby.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Day #10: The one from the Outback

One typical Friday night, my best friend and I went to our favourite bar for a catch up to shoot the breeze about nothing, whatever, and everything in between.

Not long after arriving, a tipsy French guy starts talking to my BFF so I take this opportunity to leave my drink with her and duck off to the toilet.

Upon my swift return, I found three people occupying the little area: BFF, Frenchie and a tall, dark unknown male. Tall, Dark and Unknown turned out to be S., a colleague of the now drunk Frenchie.

Chit chatting with S., I found that he was reasonably fresh off a KLM flight to Amsterdam, having been here for only six months. I would later find out he was an environmental specialist with a penchant for acoustic guitar, the great outdoors and rugby union.

Incidentally, the boy was gorgeous. He had the tall height of a dutchie, the physique of a surfer and the smile of George Clooney. He looked far older than the young 26 years he claimed to be. With a deeper voice and little creases near his eyes that became apparent when he flashed a winning smile at me, S. looked to be in his early thirties.

The three of us hung out the whole night. By the end, both of us being suitably drunk, S. successfully insisted on cycling with me home.

Before we parted ways BFF quietly turned to me declaring, “He’s hot. Go forth.”

Like every red-blooded, twenty-something euro gal used to things like snow, sophistication and aloof-yet-cordial flirtations, my BFF was won over by S.’s rugged and sun-kissed physique and his tales of living in the outback delivered in a strong Aussie twang. Every girl within a five metre radius of where we were was no doubt suffering from self-induced whiplash trying to get a second glance at him. He was causing quite the estrogen commotion.

I shrugged.

S. was probably one of the best looking guys I had ever come across in my life, let alone that had ever looked twice at me, but there were a couple of things I wasn't sure about. Like his age (younger). And that even though we were from the same country, we had absolutely nothing in common (Soft rock annoys me, nature gives me a rash and rugby is for meatheads) .

More importantly, wasn’t I on the other side of the world to meet the quintessentially poised European types of guys that held galleries, fine cuisine and tailored suits close to their hearts? Guys like S. are looking for cricket bats, meat pies and Akubra hats!

“He’s alright, I guess,” I thought, wondering if my judgments of him were too harsh.

At this point in the evening, I was tired and ready to get into bed, albeit, alone. We cycled back to my house and upon me making motions to lock up my bike and head inside, S. pulled his phone from his jacket pocket.

“So, can I have your number? I was thinking about grabbing some pizza tomorrow and maybe watching a movie. You should join me. I would like that.”

I silenced the rapid fire analysis in my head, and taking his phone, punched my number in. With a smile and nod of his head, he took the phone from me and put it back in his jacket pocket. He gave me a peck on the cheek and cycled off into the distance.

Once inside my apartment, my phone announced a new message. “I’m glad we met tonight. Sleep well, speak tomorrow. S.”

I smile. Never say never. I have been known to be wrong about first impressions.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Lucky #9

It's been a year since I updated this blog and I must admit, I feel kind of guilty. For a roller coaster of nine dates, you readers have been a part of my life. It is only fair that you should know what I'm up to now - and who I'm up to it with.

Basically, it all comes down to the fella from date #9. When I met him, I met someone special. True, I did go on a few dates after our brief encounter (he lives in London after all), but no one compared to L.

I've been dating him long distance for over a year now, and despite the not-living-in-the-same-city problem, it has been great. We have amazing chemistry and a fantastic time whenever we're together.

He is that pinch yourself, it can't be true kind of guy. Even today, I can hardly believe I've found someone like him - I'm talking borderline Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire. This one's a keeper.

And I owe a lot to this blog. Opening myself up to all the men who asked me out - and writing about it - helped me gain perspective. Even on a mere nine dates, I learned a lot about who I am and what it is that I really want in a relationship.
Now, number 9 is my lucky number. I ask you - what is yours?

From here on, this blog is open to all the women out there willing to share their tumultuous dating experiences.

You - stop calling your bff and unloading the deets of your last awful/amazing date and share it here, with our eager readers.

We want in on your experience because, in some small way, they will help explain what it is that makes us 'click.'

Interested? Message me.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Day 9: Out of towners

A good girlfriend of mine was raving all week about the trio of boys coming to visit her boyfriend - a pack of Londonners that she insisted I'd love. I'm not one for the English type, so I wasn't getting my hopes up, but I played along.

After an unusually busy day at work, I met this infamous crew for a beer in the Leidseplein sunshine. I show up overloaded with gear, to be greeted by a trio of some of the finest looking gentlemen I have seen in a while. These guys are British I thought? Damn.

We all ordered pints and fell into easy conversation. My friend and I are pretty outgoing women, and these guys were on par, trading stories about crazy travel adventures and describing their hometown in South Africa (They only just moved to London. Whew.)

I'm not going to deny that the South Africa thing made these boys a bit more attractive in some way - I do love a good foreigner. And as I gave them each the once over, there was one of them that caught my eye. Tall, curly auburn hair and lots of personality, L. We were in a pretty big group though, so getting any one on one time with him was hard and before we knew it, it was time to take the party elsewhere.

Because this was the boys' first time to Amsterdam, we decided to hit the Red Light District. At a seedy little bar with the best view of the street happenings, L and I fell into some solo conversation. The more we talked, the more things we discovered in common. He was cute, that's for sure, but there was something else about this guy. He's smart, funny, has a good job, some amazing life experiences and he actually seems genuine. Quite a package.

As the night went on, so did our adventure. Bar hopping on bikes, we tour the city from a strip club to a falafal joint, to a smoky bar in a dark ally – it was a long night.

It's not the best atmopshere to 'meet a man' I know, but this is the kind of adventure I love, and it seems like this guy feels the same way. He's spontaneous, outgoing and just fun to be around.

The night was over before we knew it, and we all ended up at my house to crash. With a couch bed and extra blankets, everyone camped out in the living room. Everyone but L and me.

Now I can't really say how it all happened, but I ended up in bed with L. We cuddled up together, and spent nearly the whole night talking between kisses. There was no funny business, if you know what I mean, but it was one of the most intimate moments I've had. Everything about it was so comfortable, in fact, everything about this guy seems familiar. I don't know when we finally fell asleep, but his arms were still around me when we woke up to his alarm. 7am - they had to catch their plane.

Everyone sleepily gathered up their things and a cab pulls up outside. They all file out with goodbye hugs and kisses, and L is last. He gives me a long, slow kiss. “It was awesome to meet you.”

Calm, casual, he shuts the door behind him. But I can't turn away so fast. Some guy from London saunters into town and gives me butterflies? This isn't like me. But I like it, and I definitely like L. London's not so far away, right?

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Day 8: Drinks with my dealer

I live in Amsterdam, and like many of those in the city, I entertain myself with a taste of the local herb every now and again. There's one particular shop where I get my green, and I've built a happy comradarie with the shopkeeper, A.

Today, I swing in for a purchase just when A.'s wrapping up his shift. He invites me to join him for a drink at the bar nearby, which just happens to be my favourite spot in the city so I happily agree.

A. is a Dutch guy about my height, with strong looking arms and a great smile. He's rocking a beret though, which is throwing off his game a little I think, but not by much.

We hang on the bar's terrace drinking La Chouffes and chatting about work. Then he whips out his iPhone to show me pictures of his recent vacation to Thailand. Most of the photos are gorgeous beach shots with him (shirtless) and friends. Bonus, I think. He looks good under that shirt.

We order a second round, but I'm starting to find it challenging to keep up conversation. Not that I have a hard time being social, but I just don't think A. and I have much in common. He is clearly an outgoing and adventurous sort of guy, which I totally dig. But on an intellectual level, I'm not sure if we're a match. Just imagine work-talk. How much is there really going on at the coffeeshop?

A. has to jet after our drinks, so we say our goodbyes. He gives me a kiss on the cheek, and tells me to swing by the shop again soon. He shoots me a smile and a wink and bikes off.

I'm curious as I watch him go. I like A., but yet again I have that 'something's missing' feeling. I'm starting to wonder if I'm being irrational - what's this something anyway? Maybe I'm being too picky. Maybe I'm just destined to be single. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Day 7: My dad sets me up

My dad knows I'm single. Out of four sisters, I'm the only one chronically solo and I think he worries. But imagine my surprise when he makes one of his rare calls only to chat about his colleague's son, who coincidentally lives in Amsterdam.

Now this could all be a nice, friendly 'networking' set-up, disguised as another American in the city needing a helping hand, or my dad is trying to hook me up across the ocean. I try to imagine the best intentions here and agree to reach out to the guy, S.

After a few casual email exchanges, S. and I decide to meet up one night. He has a 'local' on one of the more colourful streets in the city, but I agree to see him there after work.

I pull up on my Batavus and take stock of the 'local' - a well worn Irish bar crowded in front with teen tourists - and have the feeling this is going to be interesting. I take a breath, and set off inside when I pass a stocky guy exiting the bar. He gives me the full on 'up and down' leer and part of me has the sinking feeling this is the guy. I notice the baggy khakis and the wrinkled polo tee and feel even more assured.

"Are you S?" I ask him. "Hey, yea," he replies as if I'm just one of the many girls to ask him this. "I think we were supposed to meet," I explain. He quickly perks up in recognition and tells me that he's actually working as a promoter for the bar's pub crawl, which will be starting any minute. I don't know if any of you have been on a pub crawl, but I have and it is not meet and greet material.

Because it's still mellow at the bar, and I told my dad I'd say hi to this guy, I try to relax and S. takes care of ordering some drinks. A few minutes later he arrives with (surprise!) Irish coffees and I launch into friendly convo, asking how he ended up in Holland.

Through his very thick Philadelphia accent, S. proceeds to describe - or brag rather - of his adventures as a bookie, travelling across the US, making loads of cash, buying 'sick' cars and 'condos' then landing himself an arrest warrant.

I am beginning to wonder what kind of guy my dad just sent my way when S. goes on to descirbe how he apparently escaped to Costa Rica and fell in love with a Dutch girl. It didn't work out between them, but he decided to come to her hometown anyway and check it out.

As I listen to S. unfold this unbelievable tale, I can't help myself from thinking how far this guy is from my type. Everything from his silly boastful attitude and his (lack of) style to the overuse of cringe-worthy words like 'bro' and 'wudder' are just plain turn offs to me. Geez dad, do you think I moved all the way to Europe to meet a Philly boy?

Just as I'm clocking my romantic interests at nil, S. tells me about the career in professional straight razor shaving that he plans to harness here in Amsterdam. He seems genuinely passionate telling me about what I thought was a dead art, and giving high-end skilled shaves to men who appreciate the old school barbershop style. Definitely a break from the bookie days - I'm impressed.

I take another look at S., and come to an important (if obvious) observation about men. They come in all shapes and sizes, I will like some. I will dislike some. But they are all unique and each with special - even surprising talents.