Early in November, I was in Montréal on business for two days. While doing some market research at the mall near our head office, I received a POF message from a guy I had added to my favourites list, and we began to chat.
He was my age, 5’10”, had a full head of dark hair, a beard, and was covered in tattoos. In other words: exactly my type. He was new to the online dating world, and found it sketchy and unnatural. I called him newbie, and he called me veteran.
I discovered that he was in Ottawa for work, and when I questioned his “government” job, he told me it would be best to explain in person, and asked if I would be interested in meeting up that weekend, as we would both be back in Toronto.
Saturday morning, he texted to check if we were still on, and we made plans to meet at the Starbucks in my neighbourhood that evening.
I stood in the misty rain under my umbrella, praying for a good hair night, when I saw him crossing the road. He caught sight of me and grinned, spun around once, then enveloped me in a huge bear hug that made me laugh. I felt at ease immediately.
“I need to eat, like now,” he said.
“Oh, shit! I didn’t know you wanted food. I ate.”
“No, it’s cool. I was running late, so I didn’t have time to eat anything. Walk or drive?”
“Walk?” I replied, “There are a bunch of places to eat west of here.”
We walked and talked until we found a sketchy little pub, where we grabbed a table, and he made his way to the washroom to “take a piss”.
Upon his return, we ordered poutine and a couple of beers, and I asked him to explain his job to me. I was surprised to find out that he worked for the Canadian military, in the special forces. His job took him all over the world, kicking down doors, shooting guns, jumping from airplanes…and he had actually killed people in Afghanistan.
He looked at me, wary, and said, “Are you freaked out?”
“Not at all. I’m a realist. I don’t pretend that bad things don’t happen in the world. We need people like you who can do what you do. My brother is in the military. I get it.”
He seemed to exhale, and told me he had experienced some very terrible things…friends dying right before his very eyes. Kill or be killed situations. Pretty heavy shit. However, he explained that he was moving on in the near future. His time in the military was nearly up, and he had already lined up a job with CN Rail.
“They said I’ll have to work my way up the ranks there, but I’m excited to play with trains!” He laughed.
We talked about our passions and our hobbies.
“So, you’ve been skydiving?” he asked.
“Yep, just the once,” I replied.
“And your primary parachute had a hole in it?”
“Sure did! My instructor had to cut-away and pull the reserve,” I said, and told him the whole story, with emphatic gestures and amusing facial expressions.
“And you would go again? After THAT?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I shrugged, “Why not? I want to pull and steer the chute next time, instead of trying not to die.”
“Wow. You are fucking NUTS!” he said, and we laughed.
I realized that I liked this guy. A lot. He could be harsh and abrasive, but then again, so could I. And contrary to nearly every other first date I’d had in my life, I had not “reset”; he was the same person I’d been texting with over the past few days, and I didn’t feel like I was starting over again with a new person.
It was Coors Light night at the pub, and these over-enthusiastic young blondes with bad extensions and tight t-shirts came over to our table and offered us each a free beer.
He smirked and declined, while I accepted. Hey, free beer, right?
I opened the can and took a swig, then wrinkled my nose in disgust. He laughed and said, “That’s exactly why I said no. Coors is shit. And shouldn’t they pick girls who are, oh I don’t know…attractive?”
I laughed and told him I’d been thinking the exact same thing.
“Yeah, but the difference is that I said it out loud. I need to get used to living in the real world again. I often say things I shouldn’t. I don’t have a filter.”
His honesty was like a breath of fresh air.
We talked about online dating, and I told him about a few of my experiences. I explained that I found most people to be playing the “trade-up game”, where they were always looking for something better. He wondered if a lot of people pretend to be someone they are not, because they are aware of the game.
Online dating is a messy, complicated, and often hurtful world, and I really liked the fact that he came with little experience.
At the end of the night, he wouldn’t allow me to pay for anything, and we made our way back to the end of my street, where he told me he’d had a really good time, and wrapped me in another giant hug.
“We’ll do this again, right?” he asked.
“I’d like that,” I told him.
“Let me know when you’re home okay,” he said, and I started to make my way up my street.
“Hey!” he yelled, and I turned around, “Don’t trade up on me!”
I laughed and yelled, “I won’t!”
Back in my apartment, I sent him a text:
Redhead: I’m home. And thank you, I had a really great time :)
G.I. Joe: Me too! We’ll do that again right?
G.I. Joe: Fantastic. So I did good right?
Redhead: Haha, you did very good, newbie!
We texted back and forth over the next few days, and I came to find out he was headed to Ottawa again, and then off to Texas for work training…for a MONTH, which came as a complete surprise.
G.I. Joe: So I’m thinking, I kinda like you. I mean I don’t really know you but still.
Redhead: That’s good, because I kinda like you back.
G.I. Joe: Perfect! Now I just gotta get my ass home for good right!
Redhead: I get that you’re in a unique situation. We’ll figure it out.
G.I. Joe: Indeed we will. Thanks for being understanding and willing to stick around and figure it out. Top notch of you! I think I like you a little more now ;)
Redhead: When are you back?
G.I. Joe: At the latest dec 12 I think! Really though it’s only a month, and in the grand scheme of things that’s not so long.
G.I. Joe and I texted each other on a regular basis over the next few weeks. His “good morning pretty lady!” messages always made me smile, and I dared to have a tiny bit of hope that I had stumbled upon a decent guy. Apprehensively, I told my brothers and a handful of close friends about him, always ending with my fear of things going south. I was so scared to be excited about anyone, and I was constantly fighting my trust issues.
They all admonished me for being negative, for considering myself cursed and unlucky, and for being so convinced I would get fucked over. They told me that I would have to let my walls down eventually, because there were still good guys left in this world.
G.I. Joe: Is it crazy to say I kinda miss you even though we’ve only had one date?
Redhead: Not crazy. I feel the same way!
It’s always been hard for me to express my emotions, and I’m not the most romantic person in the world, but I felt that this guy was really worth an effort.
Redhead: You make me smile, and I’m really looking forward to seeing you again. Thought you should know that. Hope you’re having a good week! xo.
G. I. Joe: Hey there, thanks for that! Made my day!! The feeling is very mutual. I truly look forward to a progression with you as you are an amazing woman!
I hadn’t logged on to POF since we met, but I wanted to look at his profile again, so I typed in his username from outside the site. To my surprise, all his pictures were gone, his status had been changed to “not single, not looking”, and in the about me section, it said “sometimes you get lucky”.
I felt sick. I hadn’t heard from him in a few days. Had he found someone else?
Whoa. Wait. …was it about ME?
In a panic, I called Stef, stuttering and stammering over how to tell her what I had discovered. When I finally got the words out, she asked what my gut was telling me.
“Do you think it’s about you?”
“Yes,” I paused, scared to say the words, “I think so?”
“He’s in Texas. You’ve been talking the whole time he’s been gone. He did not meet anyone else. I’m sure everything is fine.”
“But we’ve only been on one date. Isn’t that a little…crazy?” I asked.
“Maybe it’s his idea of a grand gesture?” she said.
G.I. Joe: Hey good looking! How was your weekend?
Redhead: Hey! Good weekend. How was yours?
G.I. Joe: Same old really, working away. Finishing up and preparing to come home soon. Which is very exciting but I hear it’s really cold.
Redhead: Oh no…you have to come back to the cold and suffer like the rest of us. I feel so terrible for you.
G.I. Joe: Lol well as much as I appreciate your sarcasm, I don’t want to come back to the cold and snow. However, I DO want to come back to you. I actually ask myself if I am crazy for feeling this way after one meeting.
Redhead: To be completely honest, I haven’t bothered with POF since I met you. I’d like to see where this goes.
G. I. Joe: Well as you’re my one and only I figured I’d do the same. I logged in and took all my stuff down as I couldn’t figure out how to delete it. Definitely want to see where it goes. Since we waited so long we should make our first “real date” special. Saying that, I haven’t been on a real date in forever so I really don’t know what that even means.
Redhead: Haha, I don’t know either, but I’m sure we can come up with something :)
After what seemed like both no time at all AND forever, it was December 12, and G.I. Joe was making his way back to Canada in a military helicopter. He was texting me during fuel stops, and we talked about going skating for our first real date. I hadn’t been skating in years, so I ran out and got myself a brand new pair of figure skates from Canadian Tire.
We made plans to meet up on Sunday, but that morning it was -20 °C with the wind chill, and we decided to postpone any outdoor activities.
G.I. Joe: I can’t take this cold!
Redhead: Man up!
G.I. Joe: Haha easy for you to say miss climatized
Redhead: Truth be told, I could use a vacation somewhere warm right about now.
G.I. Joe: So let’s find something last minute and go sit on a beach for a week.
Redhead: Don’t even tempt me!
G.I. Joe: Cuba is like 600 bucks. Let’s go!!!
Redhead: I can’t miss Christmas!
G.I. Joe: Leave tomorrow or Monday! Back well in time for Christmas!
Redhead: Crunch time at work. Drowning. There’s no chance.
G.I. Joe: Excuses excuses
We decided to hang out at my place for a bit, and then go out for dinner. When he arrived, I met him in the parking lot, and gave him a giant hug.
“Hi!” I said.
“Hi!” he said back, grinning.
Inside, we sat on the couch, and my cat came to check him out. “Who is this?” he asked, an edge of disdain to his voice.
“Is she a good cat?”
I laughed and said, “Sometimes?”
“Does she piss outside?”
“Then she’s not a good cat. I don’t like cats. I’m a dog guy.”
As if on cue, Willow gave G.I. Joe her seal of approval, and decided to smother him with her love. For someone who doesn’t like cats, he spent a lot of time petting her and rubbing her belly.
Again he brought up a last minute vacation, and I buried my face in my hands in frustration.
“G.I. Joe, I just CAN’T go right now. This is the worst possible time for me at work.”
“Come on. What will they do? Fire you?”
“For something like this? Yeah, maybe!”
“So, quit! You said yourself that you hate it there. Find something else when you get back!”
“I wish it were that easy. I’ve been job hunting for a couple YEARS. The market is terrible, and I’m not in a financial position to just walk away.”
“Lame,” he replied.
“Okay, let’s be serious for a minute. Our last date was more like a job interview, and right now, we’re on our first real date. Do you really think we’d be okay spending a week together so soon?” I asked.
“It’s a resort! If we hate each other, there are lots of other people there!”
I sighed, unsure of what to think about the whole idea. Fact of the matter was that I barely knew this guy, and a week is a long time to be trapped with someone I could potentially not like very much. On the other hand, I rarely did anything crazy and spontaneous in my life, and I so badly wanted to say fuck it, and just go.
After talking for a couple hours, we hopped into his car (opened the door for me—bonus points!) and drove up to Milestones for some food.
He and I flirted and joked around over dinner, and he continued to bug me about the vacation.
We talked about past relationships and what we wanted in the future. He mentioned that he wasn’t keen on the idea of marriage, and figured he would only have kids if it happened by accident.
When the bill came, he grabbed it, and I said, “Next time, dinner is on me.”
“What makes you think there’ll be a next time?” he said, and laughed when I narrowed my eyes at him.
He drove me back to my place, and came around the car to give me a big hug.
“We’ll hang out this week if I don’t go on vacation, or we’ll hang out when I get back if I do. I’ll let you know what I decide…but I’ll be honest, I’m probably going to go.”
“It’s okay, I don’t blame you. I just wish I could go!” I said, and gave him another hug.
“There’s still time to change your mind!” he said, then got in his car and drove away.
Inside my apartment, I sat down on my couch, a little confused. Why hadn’t he tried to kiss me? I felt like things had gone really well. Was he just being a real gentleman?
I thought about it, and decided to send him a text.
Redhead: Thanks for another great date! I have fun with you and I still like you after our first “real date” ;)
G.I. Joe: Indeed! Feeling is very mutual! Trip is booked!
Redhead: Good! I wasn’t sure…you’re a hard read! I’ll be honest: I’m pretty bummed that you’re leaving, and I can’t go with you.
G.I. Joe: I’m not a book :) and the choice was yours! Flight leaves at 2 tomorrow woohoo
And so, he left…and I was a mess. I couldn’t explain why, but I had a terrible feeling about the whole thing. People came to ask me how the date had gone, and I burst into tears more than once. For someone who has been accused of being unemotional and detached, I was being such a GIRL about the whole thing, and I hated it. I felt stupid, vulnerable, and irrational. My heart was so heavy, which my brain did not understand. I was angry at myself for not going to Cuba with him, even though I knew it just wasn’t possible.
I’ll be honest; it also hurt a little that he had turned around and left again, after I waited a month for him. I certainly didn’t blame him for taking a vacation when he could, as I knew his time was not his own until he was done with the military, but it still stung.
“He’ll probably meet some girl in Cuba, and I’ll never hear from him again,” I muttered at friends, and they again admonished me for being so negative and ridiculous.
I told myself repeatedly that I was being irrational, and decided that I would come back to Toronto a little early after Christmas to spend time with G.I. Joe before he had to report in Ottawa on the 6th of January.
My little brother flew in from the west coast, and we headed to London, Ontario for the holidays. We went out for sushi the day that I knew G.I Joe was coming back from Cuba, and I was on pins and needles all day. As the hours ticked by, I started to get a knot in my stomach, and finally couldn’t take it anymore.
Redhead: Not sure when you’re back, but I hope you had a good trip, and a safe flight home!
There had been a terrible ice storm in Toronto, and much of the city was still without power, so I took that into consideration.
Christmas day, I tried again.
Redhead: Merry Christmas! Hope you had a great day :)
To this day, I have not heard from him. I’m still so confused and hurt by the whole thing, and I don’t understand why someone who claimed to be honest and straightforward couldn’t just be upfront with me. If he met someone else, that’s fine, but he should have respected me enough to tell me. Disappearing acts are for cowards.
In most cases, when I see that a guy I’ve been out with is active on POF and obviously trolling for someone new, I know what the deal is. However, G.I. Joe’s profile is still empty and inactive. I have no answers, and nothing to go on.
Little brother said that some things don’t add up; people don’t just vanish, and why would the military be sending him on training missions in Texas if he was leaving in a few months? Maybe he was hiding something from me. Maybe he was hiding a lot of things from me. Maybe he was just a fucking asshole.
Truth be told, this one really hurt, and I’ve been in a pretty dark place since. It’s unfortunate that this guy had the ability to leave me feeling very shitty about myself, and wondering what I did wrong. I have a brain that never stops thinking or talking away at me, and it just keeps analyzing every aspect of this, trying to find explanation and reason. It’s been a good two years since I’ve met someone I really like, and I can’t believe the universe would really throw another Houdini at me, after the whole Lauder debacle. I feel like I can’t get excited about anyone, because it’s doomed to fail in the end.