Letters from the Lunar Outpost

If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.
- Hermann Hesse, German Novelist and Poet (1877-1962)


The last time I was single was about eight years ago, and in that time, online dating had evolved from a strange and somewhat freakish curiosity to a widespread phenomenon. All the while, I was on the outside, just watching the television commercials.

I can remember way back when, being single, all the nights going to bars and clubs . . . on a good night, you’d get one or two or, if you were really lucky, maybe three phone numbers, but more often than not, I remember going home with nothing but a hollow feeling and the need for a cold shower . . .

So on my newfound status as a single man, I figured, hey, it’s time to check out this world of online dating and all the eHarmony’s and match.com’s. Well hot damn, I have to tell you, I absolutely love this online dating thing! In a matter of days, I’m swimming in contacts with nice-looking girls and I’m having so much fun with so many nice phone calls from the women I’ve met having joined a couple of these websites.

One of the websites I signed up at is arablounge.com. Yeah, as crazy as my ex was, I have to admit that she really piqued my appetite for Middle Eastern cuisine.

I guess the thought of a white guy who really digs on Middle Eastern women must be intriguing, because not only am I sending out “flirts” with quite a few women, but quite a few are seeking me out from my profile as well. After a few phone calls, I’m feeling really comfortable with one woman in particular there, so we agree to meet down in El Cajon at the transit center where they have a trolley there that cruises around downtown San Deigo.

I spotted her in the parking lot from what seemed like half-a-mile away, with those big gorgeous blonde and brunette curls of hers.


Yes, she looks so sad, doesn’t she? I vowed that I would do whatever it takes to put a smile on her face.

So we meet in the parking lot, I’m thinking we’re going to hop on a trolley and cruise downtown and see the sights play it by ear, but she says, “Hey, here’s the bus to Barona Casino, why don’t we go?” We were both hungry and she said, “They have a really nice buffet there.”

So I say, “Sure, I’ve never been to Barona. Yeah, let’s go check it out.”

So we’re sitting on the bus, and her first words to me are, “Do you like me?”

I’m thinking, what the fuck? But I say, “Yeah sure, I like you. Do you like me?”

“Ah . . . you’re okay.”

What the FUCK?

So right off the bat, this is going kind of badly, and after that first exchange, she starts proving herself to be the kind of woman whose favorite topic is herself. I try to get a word in edgewise and she’s just steamrolling me, so after a while of this, I ask her if all she wants to do is hear herself talk, or if she might want to listen just a little bit too, so we could actually have a conversation. And to my surprise, she heard what I was saying and we started having a little bit more give and take in the conversation from that point.

As badly as it started, after the 40 minute bus ride to the casino, there were some smiles and laughter and I was starting to feel maybe once you crack through the self-absorption and too cool for you veneer, there’s a woman worth getting to know underneath.

So we roll into the casino, and at the very sound of DING, DING, DING, DING, DING, and the coins falling into the hopper, I look in her eyes and they’re as big as saucers! She’s a fucking woman possessed! The next hour is spent with her explaining to me the strategies of playing the slots (as if there is such a thing) and her telling me that when she first came to Barona, she won a thousand dollars and a couple thousand more the second time but ever since then, she’d lost tens of thousands because they only let you win the first couple times and then you’re on surveillance (or the machines know you, depending on which version she was telling) and that she can’t win there any more. (In other words, she’s a full subscriber to the conspiracy theory side of the typical beginner’s luck tale.) And once again, I’m thinking, “Ah, this date is taking a turn for the worse.”

So we both lose $20 to the slots fairly quickly and I’m already over it, but now she wants me to play her $20, and lo and behold, I crank that thing up to $140 and at this point, I’m completely over the slots and so I say let’s cash out and get some food, but she’s all, “No, no, keep playing. It’s your first time here. You’re going to win the big jackpot!”

I say okay, but let’s set a limit, we’re already up from to $140 from $20, if we slip back down to $100, let’s cash out and have some fun.

Well, she vetoed that idea (it was her $20 after all) and she kept telling me “play, play, play” and next thing you know the money’s gone and I turn around and there she is playing on another machine!

Great, my first post-marriage date, first woman besides my wife that I’ve been out with in eight years and I hook up with a straight up gamble-aholic. I practically had to drag her out of the casino, so on the one hand, I’m thinking, two compulsive people, this must be a match made in hell, but on the other hand, I’m thinking, you know, I’ve had my own problems with moderation, so how can I hold it against her?

But after I had her safely out of the casino, once again we’re enjoying each other’s company and we’re really hitting it off even more.

How strange it is to be dating again. When was the last time I felt my heart pounding in my chest like that as I leaned over to give my date a kiss for the first time? (Probably eight years ago.) No knock against the married life, not at all, something deeper and lasting is infinitely more profound than the first kiss on a first date . . . but to have been hopeless for so long, it was great to know that there’s still happiness out there in this world for me to pursue.

So to cut to the ending, after a couple more stops and another bus ride round-trip to yet another casino (yeah, she talked me into it again, but she wasn’t as compulsive this time) we disembark and head back to where she’s parked and I mention how it’s been a long night (it was about 3 am at this point) and I’m dreading that hour and a half drive back to my place, and I tell her I’m going to get a hotel room and as improbable as it was, as much of a sweet, sincere, honest Chaldean woman as she is (Iraqi Christian with the most old-world chastity you can imagine) somehow I convince her that I’m such a nice guy, that I’m so much not the kind of guy to force myself on anyone, that she says okay, and we get a hotel room! YEAH, BABY! First date after the marriage and I get this beautiful Iraqi girl into a hotel room with me! SCORE! *


* Yeah okay, the asterisk is there because I should qualify that “SCORE” with the fact that I was only able to get the hotel room on her insistence that it be a double and not a single! LOL! Okay, so I didn’t totally score, in fact, I respect her all the more so because of it, but it was so much fun. I’d come over to her bed, we’d make out a little bit, my hands would get a little too frisky, and she’d tell me it was time for me to go over to my bed. Okay, okay, okay . . . This happened a couple of times and it was light-hearted and fun and we ended up having another hour in our seperate beds having the kind of soul-sharing conversation that only happens when the room is pitch black and you’re staring up into the fathomless depths of the ceiling. It was a wonderful evening, all in all.

And I realized how good it is to be alive and have another chance at love.

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Currently Listening To:

Team of Rivals
Doris Kearns Goodwin