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.'

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.