I walked with Lipton for over an hour that night, even though it was bitter cold. I remember crying at one point and yelling out loud, “God, don’t let me lose this one.”
Melodrama and Jack Daniels. Gotta love it.
When I got home, I fed Lipton her dinner and stalled for as long as I was able. Then, I found my phone—wedged in the couch cushions where I’d left it—and I checked my email.
I had a response from Jacques.
“Janice, this is very interesting,” he wrote. “But, I thought you didn’t want to hook up? What I’m really looking for is a relationship. Is that what you want?”
It was as if I’d scripted his answer. I celebrated by hooting and hollering and crying and laughing. In the morning, I responded that yes, I just wanted a normal dating relationship.
“I’m not in a rush to live with anyone, to get married,” I said. “I have a great living situation.”
Ten minutes later, Jacques texted me the smiling face emoji. All was righted. Jacques was back in my phone and in my world.
“The whole calling the police thing freaked me out,” he told me as we continued texting that day. “But I hear that, for you, it was funny. I get it.”
“You intrigue me, Jacques,” I said, “and I’m accustomed to getting what I want. At the moment, what I want is you.”
A week or so later, we had a third date at my house. We had a hearty steak dinner at my dining room table, and we had a good conversation about miscommunications, misunderstandings, and expectations.
He kissed me. Lipton barked, jealous.
The night after that, I finally met Troy, at Slainte, after six weeks of texting.
Troy was cuter in person than in his photos. Boyish with jeans, a pink Oxford shirt, and a blazer, and I had high hopes at first. But Troy was overbearing. I talked a bit about the Bumble scene, for instance, and he said, “But my lady isn’t dating.”
First of all, in person, the lord and lady thing did not work. And second, I most certainly was dating.
“Oh, I’m dating,” I told him. “I have even met someone I really like.”
First clue, right, that one should take a step back? Troy did not.
We got a tea after lunch and took a walk on the bike path. He talked about German tanks and the infrastructure he saw along the old railroad bed. I said things like, “Oh, I didn’t know that,” and “I’ve read a lot of books about World War II. But I can’t remember the titles right now. Or the names of the authors. But they were good.”
Somehow, Troy still liked me despite my insipidness. I had the sense that our text conversations had given him the impression we were in a serious relationship already, that he really felt like my lord.
I was uncomfortable and mentioned a second time that I had met someone else on Bumble who I felt a strong connection to, but Troy didn’t pick up on this cue.
I wasn’t able to muster the courage to tell Troy in person that I didn’t feel a connection to him. I did it via text the next morning. Immediately, he deleted me from Bumble. (I guess that’s a thing.)
So, I knew he knew I was moving on.
“He didn’t respond to me,” I told Craig later that morning. “I feel so bad.”
“Better that way,” Craig said. “You’re done with it.”
I also was done with Bumble, with swiping, with first dates. I did not want to let someone down again the way I felt I had let Troy down. I did not want to be in a position where I had to spend a few hours with someone after learning I didn’t want to spend another minute with him.
That night, I texted my daughter Molly. I asked her, “I know I was supposed to date a bunch of guys, but can’t I just date Jacques?”
“Mom,” Molly said. “You can do whatever you want.”
I decided to think on it.