The Real Joe

by Jessica Clarke
Let me just state for the record that I hate online dating. I do, I hate it. Well, hate is strong word you might say and to that I would whole-heartedly disagree. I don’t care for eggplant, I don’t understand why people poison themselveswith black licorice and I don’t want to ever play another game of Cataan (you won Lisa, AGAIN!) but I don’t hate any of those things the way I hate online dating.
Perhaps once you hear my story you will agree with me. First, I will admit to doing a thoroughly dumb thing. I went on a first date with someone who only posted pictures of abstract items; picture of his dog,picture of his feet at the beach, picture of his bike, and a picture of the back of his head while he top rope climbed. These are all things I enjoy, and I appreciated the artistic photos if not his obvious desire to remain a bit private in this not so privateworld.
His name was Joe (not really, but it will work for this story as I doubt the real ‘Joe’ would appreciate me using his name. Don’t worry Joe, your secrets are safe with me). Joe not only was a very outgoing andoutdoorsy type, he also understood the film industry. We clicked via text right away and I felt that it was a great match for an in-person date. Luckily, he agreed too.
We decided to meet at an Italian restaurant. One that isn’t overly flamboyant but equal parts relaxed and vibrant, meaning the food is good and the ambiance is not overtly romantic. I wasn’t technically lookingfor ‘the one’ but I wouldn’t have minded finding a great right now.
I text him when I arrived at the restaurant and he said he was running a bit late but would be there shortly. He was wearing a blue coat and would come find me. I told him I was sitting alone in the back of therestaurant.
In less time than I thought a man approached me, a very attractive man and introduced himself. He said, “I think you might be holding this seat for me.”
I looked up at this man’s beautiful face and slightly curling brown hair and smiled without even trying to. “And you are?” I asked hoping with all hope that this was indeed Joe.
“Joe, your date!” He smiled and laughed and so did I. I invited him to sit and the conversation ran on from there. It never stopped. We moved from one topic to the next, discussed all sorts of things and I didn’tthink too much about it when he said he didn’t have a dog. I could have sworn his picture was with a dog. I didn’t stop to think about why he would post that picture if he didn’t indeed have a dog. Men do strange things to lure a woman’s attentions. I asked him about his outdoorsy life and he said he loved to skate and snowboard but his work kept him indoors more than he would like. I mentioned rock climbing and he gave me a funny lookand said, “No, I don’t rock climb.”
At this point my phone was going off like a bomb, buzzing every couple of minutes with miss texts and phone calls. I was trying so hard not to be rude but I couldn’t ignore this niggling feeling that somethingwas wrong. I picked up the phone and looked at the screen and saw fifteen text messages and a missed call from Joe….my date.
I looked up at the man across from me and asked him, “I’m so sorry but do you by chance remember my name?”
He laughed and then looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Funny Jennifer, yes of course I know your name.” I didn’t smile back and he balked at my widening eyes.
“I’m not Jennifer,” I said. “I’m Jessie.”
We stared at each other and then both picked up our phones. I dialed Joe right away and he answered on the first ring. “I’m so sorry I am really. I didn’t mean to be late I totally understand if you don’t wantto actually meet me but….,” the real Joe rambled.
“No no, I’ll be right out. I am the one that is sorry. I’ll explain it in a bit.”
Fake Joe and I walked outside to find two strangers standing side by side glaring at their phones as though it were a lifeline. The real Joe wearing a blue coat and several inches shorter than fake Joe glancedup smiled at me. “Jessie?”
I nodded, apologized to fake Joe and his apparent date Jennifer. She didn’t look as forgiving as real Joe. I honestly felt a bid bad for fake Joe.
Having already ordered a drink and an appetizer, it felt a bit weird to sit back down but real Joe held it together. It took me all of ten minutes to realize three very important things; real Joe was not at allmy type, he was one of those vegan people that makes you feel like blotch on society for eating any sort of animal products, and the fake Joe was far more interesting to talk to. Worst of all I didn’t get fake Joe’s number.
Did I mention I don’t like online dating?