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Is the Dating Pool Really That Small?

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I was drinking sangria at the bar of Cascal, a local tapas restaurant, when an attractive woman and her date sat down beside me. It took a moment to catch her eye, at which point I couldn’t help but flash a wry smile. No, I wasn’t hitting on her, trying to flirt when her date wasn’t looking.

I’d already bought her drinks the night before.

Nothing like seeing a blind date again. Which makes me wonder – is the dating pool really that small?

Elisabeth and I met on Loveawake, that place you go for concert tickets without having to pay an eBay or StubHub surcharge. Unlike other dating sites where you post a profile containing your photo and an essay about you and your ideal match, along with checkboxed lists of traits you possess and are seeking, craigslist posts are more often short, free-form requests for companionship. Who wants to join me at the Giants game this weekend? Who wants to meet for coffee tomorrow afternoon? Who wants to be my friend with benefits? Or in the case of my post the previous night, Who wants to meet for a drink, flirt and see what happens?

A handful of women responded, but Elisabeth sounded by far the most interesting to me. College educated, slender yoga figure, mid-thirties, strawberry blonde, career in marketing, family in the area. She lived in Los Gatos, just twenty minutes away. I emailed her about me: educated, fit from cycling, early forties, dark blonde, successful engineer turned writer, single dad with two kids. We swapped photos and agreed to meet at Steamers, a restaurant bar in her town.

The date was a lot of fun. We quickly found out we had opposite tastes in wine – I like big bold reds, she loves Chardonnay. Drinks in hand, we got to know each other. She was pretty, articulate, well traveled; we shared similar interests in movies and books, sushi and pasta, vacation dreams of Greece; she laughed at my jokes, enjoyed my wit; she twirled her hair and touched my arm and showed plenty of other body language signs of attraction. There was sexual energy and genuine chemistry between us. I was entertaining thoughts of third date sex and a healthy future of mornings waking up together.

“David, I like you a lot,” she said. “But I can’t get over the kid thing.”
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“I hate ruling you out so completely, but I don’t want to date a single dad.”

Say what? She knew I had kids, before we met.

“You’re right, I knew,” she said. “And you sound like a great dad. I hear your enthusiasm when you talk about your children. You really light up. But I don’t want an instant family. I want to start my own from scratch.”
“Why did you meet me, then?” I asked.
“A drink sounded fun. And honestly, I wasn’t sure how I felt about dating a man with kids. Now I know.”

Huh. Well, glad to help her figure that out about herself. I guess.

When I suggested we hang out as friends, she said she worked too many hours, and needed to focus her remaining time on the search for a suitable mate.

In Cascal, she looked warily at me, perhaps fearful I might spill the beans to her date. He was the opposite of me in many respects – longer hair, hipper clothes, younger, presumably childless. I watched as he fumbled through the wine list, overwhelmed by its scope.
“Boy, there’s a lot to choose from,” he said. “Do you like reds or whites?”
“I’m partial to whites,” she said.

I chuckled. I’d been there just last night. I was tempted to lean over and tell him to get her a Chardonnay. Unless he had kids, of course, in which case he might as well end the date now.

I called to the bartender and asked for my check.