Toronto Star

Arianne and Randy

Online, Randy looked like a lumberjack. In person, it was more of a homeless look


Arianne is a 35-year-old meteorolog­ist who lives in Parkdale. She says, “My style is casual, relaxed, laid-back. I put as little energy as possible into fashion, and try to focus on my inner life.” Arianne describes herself as “quiet” and says “I enjoy one-on-one interactio­ns more than I like big groups. I hate attracting attention on to myself.” She likes hiking, reading, writing, travel and making jewelry and mosaics.

I was reluctantl­y trying online dating when one profile photo caught my eye. The guy was cute and rugged-looking, with tousled hair, wearing a wool sweater. There was even a shimmering lake in the background. I immediatel­y pictured romantic weekends at the cottage.

Randy had a gorgeous voice and I swooned a little when we talked on the phone the first time.

It was like warm caramel sauce over lava cake. We talked somewhat awkwardly about the weather and our respective neighbourh­oods in Toronto, never really finding the rhythm. But listening to him, I imagined walking in the woods with a lumberjack beau, who also hap- pened to be a writer and artist.

I was anxious about the date, a little scared, for my first online date. I knew that I should meet new people in public, neutral territory for safety, and was glad we had planned to meet for a casual coffee. I was, however, mostly excited. Already in my mind, Randy was at least my boyfriend. Or, depending on how deep my fantasy went at a given moment, we were already madly in love, engaged and I was telling my friends and family I’d met the One.

I arrived early to our coffee-shop date after much preening. While I waited, I checked myself in the washroom three different times. Randy found me at our table, eventually, and made his apologies for being half an hour late. I felt an unpleasant shock of recognitio­n. He looked somewhat like his photo, but he was terribly dressed and groomed, with messy hair, wearing a rumpled shirt and khakis. I detected BO. It appeared he had just rolled out of bed, had not showered and put on whatever clothes he’d found on the floor. The thought that my date might be a homeless man occurred to me then. Alittle different than the lumberjack I’d had in mind.

My heart sank a little. Randy went straight to the counter and came back with one coffee, which he was sipping. “Did you want a coffee?” he asked, in a rhetorical tone. I told him I was fine. He explained that he’d been up very late the night before working on a new piece of art. He went on to tell me about his creative work. I could tell he was trying to impress me, but it felt like he was talking down to me. I tried to focus on his beautiful voice. He was talking a lot, with me mostly nodding along. Soon, he got up and came back with some food, and started eating it while still telling me all about his work, which resulted in crumbs flying in my direction. He eventually asked me if I’d like any, and while I was too put off by him to agree, I gave him points for asking.

I couldn’t take the coffee shop for much longer, so I suggested we go for a walk. He agreed. More points for being gentlemanl­y. At this point, I was starting to feel like a jaded teacher, doling out marks for minimal effort on an assignment. Finally, Randy asked a few questions about me, my family, my education and my job. However, as soon as I mentioned anything he found interestin­g, he launched into another story about himself. My presence, and the date itself, seemed incidental to him. I gave up after a while, and devised a strategy to make my exit.

We returned to where I had parked my bike, and Randy looked at me hopefully, with remnants of coffeeshop food still in the corners of his mouth. I noticed sweat stains growing under his arms, creating dark patches on his wrinkled shirt. He looked kind of innocent and I felt a pang of sympathy. He asked for another date, nervously. Instead of thanking him and wishing him well, I told him to text me to set it up. I was relieved when I never heard from him again. Arianne rates her date (out of 10): 3 The Dating Diaries are readers’ accounts of their best, worst and weirdest dates as-told-to the Star. Want to be a dating diarist? Email datingdiar­

 ?? TANNIS TOOHEY/PHOTO ILLUSTRATI­ON ?? It didn’t take long before Arianne started to feel like a jaded teacher, doling out marks for minimal effort on an assignment.
TANNIS TOOHEY/PHOTO ILLUSTRATI­ON It didn’t take long before Arianne started to feel like a jaded teacher, doling out marks for minimal effort on an assignment.

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