Body type? Assuming scoliosis is not the “curvy” that guys are after, and noting that “cyborg” is not an option, that leaves “about average. ” Can you drive? Um, sure, since I was four. Longest relationship? One date. Thanks for rubbing it in.
Encouraged by a friend, I recently decided to create an online dating profile. My expectations were low. Three months on a paid website in law school resulted in only two dates; one was with a guy who talked incessantly about Frank Sinatra, and the other was with a creeper who wore a lab coat despite neither working in a lab nor knowing anyone who did. Ironically, neither of them called me back!
These dates, coupled with the many men who stopped conversing with me as soon as they realized I use a wheelchair, only further diminished my confidence. Understand that I was so terrified of approaching guys in high school that one semester I opted to leave anonymous love poems on a crush’s lunch table. Somehow, the whole Cyrano thing just isn’t as romantic in these modern times of sexual harassment laws and restraining orders.
Nevertheless, my friend’s promise of insta-compliments lured me in. Sure enough, messages started to fill my inbox. Guys said I had lovely eyes, that at just over 5 feet tall I was the perfect size, and most frequently, asked if I liked to cuddle. Wait, what?! Maybe those restraining orders are a good thing after all.
At the prodding of another friend, who reminded me that no expense (i.e., my feelings) should be spared for love, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I messaged a few guys and seemed to click with one I’ll call Jay. Not only could he respond in complete, well-composed sentences, but he also knew my favorite of Schubert’s Lieder! As conversation drifted toward politics and universal health care, I quickly mentioned that I use a wheelchair and hoped he didn’t mind.
Jay said he didn’t but asked questions. I was nervous, but also a bit impressed that he didn’t make any assumptions. Shortly thereafter, Jay gave me his number. The first call elicited more terror. I have phone phobia, a self-diagnosed type of crazy stemming from the facts that I’m soft-spoken, tend to enunciate poorly when I get excited and constantly told by the Comcast people that I’m incomprehensible. Eventually, I just stopped thinking and hit “send.”
Maybe I’m magically more intelligible when not complaining about my wireless router, but Jay understood me. We talked about old law professors, reality TV chefs and our routine affairs. When I brought up a contentious issue discussed during one of my disability advocacy activities, Jay didn’t shy away from the topic but asked to hear more. I was having fun, and self-consciousness was the farthest thing from my mind.
Whereas in the past I might have uncapped my fountain pen, deliberated over a rhyme scheme and started idolizing Jay, this time I did the unthinkable. I asked him out for coffee. After a few minutes of timidity, we began a comfortable repartee. Any damage done by the fact that he publicly wore Crocs with socks was counterbalanced with the discovery that we share the same favorite German word. Three hours later, my tea took its toll and I had to go.
Recently, I just had my second date with Jay, a weird milestone to admit to reaching in one’s late 20s. While this time there was some awkwardness, it had nothing to do with my disability. He kindly offered to cut my food and packed my doggie bags without hesitation. Rather than worrying about the superficial, we can now decide whether we enjoy spending time with each other and go from there. I look forward to it.
Even if Jay is not “The One,” he is the one who taught me that it’s possible for me to date and take pleasure in doing so. As worried and self-conscious as I might get, it’s worth it. Good guys do exist. These realizations, my friend, are ausgezeichnet.