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The Next Mr. Right

It was mid-October and I found this message in my OKC inbox:

      Hi, I’m Jimmy,
I’m new to NYC and OKC. I am easy going. I like movies, dinners, traveling, music, shows, and many other things. I would like to get to know you. I am seeking someone to hang out with, go on date nights, and just take it easy. I would love for me to get to know you better and vice versa. If you are interested, hit me back.

One week later, my response:

Hey you,
I’m Choo Choo. Well, I’m not new to NY, and yes, new to OKC… This was more like a curiosity and see what the hype is lol… What are you in NY for, and how do you like it?

From there, we hit it off, virtually.  Like an exothermic reaction.

okcupid-logoAnd yes, I was on a messaging spree with several guys at a time.  No real harm in playful chatting, right?  This multitasking game of finding friendship and love is a thrilling ride.  The key is to strike a balance and be efficient.  It’s a skill that suits me for Emergency Medicine, similarly a continuous and simultaneous game of meeting patients, obtaining histories and records, figuring out what’s wrong and what to do next, talking to more people, and simply getting things done.  I also happen to have a short attention span with tendencies toward ADHD, so I fit snugly into both the OKC and Emergency Medicine world.

Quickly enough, by mid-November, he was like, “Cool, hey wanna meet up sometime?”

We started the back-and-forth fun and flirty texting game.  Right after things fizzled out with Kevo, I picked things up with this new guy.  What was special about this new guy?

To start off, he’s a Brooklynite working on his plastic surgery residency at a major city hospital.  Again, there was that immediate bond by default of our respective paths in medicine.  I could relate to his life as a surgeon, after barely surviving 2 months of rolling into the hospital at 5AM and enduring retractor duties.  And I’m sure he could relate to my current status as a 4th year medical student with interviews, travels and … freedom!  And like every other guy on the Internet trying to win a girl’s heart, he was super enthusiastic for Asian food and coffee, both of which are the bane of my physical existence.

However, here’s an interesting situation. I mentioned this guy to two of my good friends, both of whom had essentially the same response:  “Hmmmmm, noo00OO00oo” and “Ooohhh, that’s dangerous territory” [shakes head side to side].  Historically, surgeons have this tough-guy, ass-hole persona.  Little pleases them and more pisses them in the face.  When they’re happy or mad, their mouths dispense brusque profanities like a child playing with a Pez toy.  When they get moody in the operating room, do take cover.  The last thing you want to do is incur their wrath or become the object of their projected displeasure.

So I was forewarned about potentially dating a surgeon, let alone a plastic surgeon. Unexplainable, yet understandable. I was curious about this guy who so captured me with his charm and enthusiasm, how could I resist? I was atop an emotional high, mixed with anxiety and anticipation, even more so than the last one. And the lure of a plastic surgeon, the doctors often delineated as tall, smart, handsome and charismatic, an all-around lady’s man. I must admit, I’m a victim to such men; easy to like, or even fall in love, but also easy to fall down hard and break into pieces.

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heart latte  It was Wednesday, November 13:

     Me: “I’ll actually be in Manhattan for interview stuff this week!”

     Jim: “I am around =) Let me take you out.”

Man, this guy was fast.  Happy face and all.  A coffee date was set for that Sunday.

In the meantime, he sent me his picture one day out of the blue.  I had no idea it was him, so I freaked out.  The balding man in scrubs smiling and sitting casually at the cafeteria table … was HIM.  At least he had the decency to update me on his current appearance, which only meant his profile picture on OKC was a dramatic blast from the past.  On OKC, he looked like a happy boy at a party, probably high given the cloudiness of the picture; in the new picture, he was still happy and somewhat young, but clearly a resident who has become victim to sleepless nights and endless days.  I say “aged” judging by the receding hairline and premature balding pattern.

Yes, even Prince William is not immune to the biological tick

Yes, even Prince William is not immune to the biological tick

The aftershock of the surprise lasted briefly.  I was not going to let appearance dictate the beginnings with a guy, as his personality was shining through.  During that week, he’d initiate the morning texts, asking what I was up to and how my day was going.

For a surgery resident, man did he have time to text!  Which goes to prove, if a guy is sincerely and seriously interested in a girl, he’d text and talk, in typhoon and turmoil, no matter how busy the workday gets, even in the hospital.  Seriously, doctors text all the time.  I’ve seen it … and done it myself.

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The big Sunday afternoon, November 17:  Before my social gathering out in Manhattan, Jimmy and I grabbed coffee in Park Slope.  The anticipation escalated the entire train ride into Brooklyn and I was practically popping with nerves as I waited at the street corner.  There were 4 possible corners to meet this guy.  The weather was also not helping, gray clouds looming ominously overhead.

Gloomy NYCThen I got his text.  I looked up and there he was, across the street on the other side.  We crossed paths and walked to a nearby coffee shop.  Based on first impressions, he was not bad at all.  He was definitely more put-together than the last weirdo, dressed in a black shirt and pants topped with a dark blazer.  Nice, a guy with simple style.

Sitting together in a cozy little corner by the front window, we talked in ease and breeze.  Here was a cool, hip and chill Asian guy who has trotted the world.  An ethnic Vietnamese, he lived in Hong Kong for part of his childhood, then moved to the middle of nowhere in Ohio, until medical school where he transplanted to San Francisco, California, and eventually to Brooklyn now by default of his career calling.

Fun times for kids ... and budding surgeons!

Fun times for kids … and budding surgeons!

We hit it off, more so in person.  It was a much more smooth and casual meeting.  Of course we had to bring medicine somewhere into our conversation, given it was the initial glue and catalyst to our budding connection.  I was super interested in how he chose to become a surgeon.  It was a laugh hearing about the horror stories of his residency interviews, like playing Operation while sweating balls and getting pimped on tough questions.  Despite living the burdensome life of a surgery resident, he was still enjoying his life, like making the time to meet me.

Unfortunately, duty called.  The afternoon had to be cut short.  He was on-call, requiring him to be nearby in case stuff hits the fan, and he had to tend to some work at the hospital.  And I had to tend to my social business back out in Manhattan.  At the subway station prior to parting ways, he gave me a solid hug and said, “Well it was nice meeting you today.  I guess we’ll text?” [fingers twiddling in texting fashion].

What did I like about him?  Well, someone in medicine is always a plus.  Then there’s the ambient air of comfort, the initial connection and the subsequent conversation flow.

I was most attracted to his bad boy persona. He fit the party boy profile, based on his stories throughout college and medical school of boozing and “baking.” After spending time in California, what more do you expect? Man, did I find him gravitating. He had this charisma and humor, a particular ease in smooth talking and layering the mood and just being real and open.

Bad BoyWhat was not so hot?  I know better than to judge a guy by his looks and height, but sometimes the difference is tangible. This guy was small and short, perhaps skinnier than I am, if not the same height.  As stated in my previous post, I have particular checkpoints in relation to physical features.  However, if the personality clicks, I would be willing to move ahead to the next step.

I followed up with him that evening on my way to Manhattan:

     Me:     “Nice meeting ya today, thanks a bunch for the coffee time!”

     Him:    “It was nice meeting you too, I’m surprised an awesome girl like you is on the market :)“

Awwwwwww … I was flying on clouds that night.  Darn the dark, cumulonimbus clouds.  Still, I was bouncing in bliss.

Floating in Clouds

Finding Mr. Wrong

Remember my previous post with my first OK Cupid man, Kevo?

Well, this blog post should be titled:  7 Ways For a “Date” To Hit Southbound  

  1. Style your attire:  First impressions DO matter. Sporting a brand name outfit from head to toe is one thing (maybe even earning a few brownie points in my lookbook), but dressing like a haggardly hobo is a flat-out disappointment.  Just as a simple guy expects a girl to look nice and natural on the first encounter, a simple girl also expects the guy to make an effort on the fashion front.
Oh the suspense!

Oh the suspense!

I was in Newark for a residency interview, so my attire was business-fancy.  Here I was after a long interview day, ready to meet my first online man.  Even when I dressed down my bright green blouse with a pair of black straight-leg pants, I still looked at the very least … presentable.

I was both excited and nervous, getting ready to meet a stranger for the first time, despite getting to know each other only after a month.  Will he like me?  Will I like him?  Will I live up to his expectations, physically and personally?  Am I too bright and dressy?  Darn, does my breath smell like tomato sauce and garlic from the Italian lunch buffet?

There I sat at the run-down hospital lobby, my mind racing with scenarios on what to say and do and the anxiety building up like a towering game of Jenga.

“Hey … Connie?” speaks a young lad.  I looked up to find him standing there.

 

Jenga fail and fall

Jenga fail and fall

Someone pulls out that ill-fated piece and the Jenga tower implodes. Oh the numbing feeling of defeat … and disappointment.  This guy was utterly unimpressionable:  plain white tee over an old, washed-out pair of blue jeans with a red windbreaker and dirty white sneakers.  His hair was unkempt.  His face was popping pimples.  Not as fresh-faced as I imagined.

Plus, he was shamingly skinnier compared to my physique; I am neither Hong Kong beauty Angelababy nor Little Miss Piggy, but I felt the difference.  He missed the mark he made with his profile picture and statistics, even the video images.  Indeed, the camera and Internet do wonders for a person’s height and features.

Let’s be real, it’s hard not to judge a person based on appearance.  Physical attraction matters and is what triggers the initial connection and contact; it’s a hit or a miss, and this was a miss.  Of course, I was not going to let physicality be the end-all-be-all; he had opportunities to let his personality shine.

 

 

 

 

2.  Take care of your car:  Personal hygiene is reflected in the most minor acts and belongings, including your prized vehicle.  I have minimal expectations for what a guy drives to shuttle me around the neighborhood, but the hypersensitive OCD-side of me shivers to strange smells and stains.

So yes, there was an old car/old man smell that tickled my olfactory cells.  He drove a pretty battered dark green sedan from the Stone Age.  Seriously, who still drives a car with a cassette player anymore?  Well, this guy.

What did we listen to as he drove me through a tour of the ghetto?  None other than Korean pop, something we bonded over from the beginning.  Except, the cutesy squeals of Girls Generation was less than high definition.

Green Corvette versus ...

Green Corvette versus …

... Old Green Car still alive from the 1980s

… Old Green Car still alive from the 1980s

  1. Dine together, not solo, even if it’s frozen yogurt: We made it to Maplewood, his neck of the woods, safely. Whew!  No bullets, knives or machetes came for my blood.
... Barely Any That Night

… Barely Any That Night

He suggested his favorite pizza hotspot, Arturo’s.  Before the pizza place opened at 5pm, we went to eat frozen yogurt nearby.  He was ahead of me, while I took my time deciding my flavor and toppings.  He got his yogurt, paid and sat down at a table … and started eating.  I was not even done filling my cup and paying!!

Come on dude, no girl left behind!!!

  1. Dining etiquette, pretty please:  Even if you and I are casually chatting at a frozen yogurt joint, please guys, be mindful of dinner table manners.  That should include chewing with your mouth closed and not sitting back in your chair, arms folded behind your head, one leg up over the other.  It makes you appear sloppy and unimpressive, like you do not care about yourself or me.
  1. Deep in the cheap:  I’ll give him props for taking the lead to find an authentic, fancy and pleasant Italian restaurant,  Arturo'sArturo’s Osteria & Pizzeria, and explore his favorite pizza dishes.  One large pie was split between the Margherita (very popular selection with handmade mozzarella, tomato sauce, Oregon sea salt, fresh basil and EVOO from California baby) and the Montagna (tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella, parmigiano, arugula and smoked prosciutto).

Needless to say, the pizza was truly phenomenal, particularly the Montagna with the perfectly sliced and flavored prosciutto.  I have the guts to say that Grimaldi’s Pizzeria has a competitor.

MontagnaI was not hungry, given I was still well satiated from the vibrant pasta lunch and I had just gobbled down a cup of frozen yogurt covered in fruits and mochi.  I ate two slices, one of each specialty kind. Let me rave about it again for a brief moment before I get fired up for the next paragraph.  Visit Arturo’s, with locations in NYC as well, and prepare for a trip to heaven with the Montagna.

Now back to the regularly scheduled blog post:  At dinner’s end, there was a third of the pie left. He asked me, “Wanna take the rest home?” Out of courtesy, I responded, “Oh no no, you take it home.  Share some with your parents for dinner or something!”

Without hesitation, he took it all.  Add to that, I offered to split the tab with him (again, out of courtesy) and ended up paying $12 for a couple slices of pizza.  And he was perfectly okay with this picture … not even so much as a gentlemanly, “No no girl, I got it.”  So I was not even that hungry, ate two slices of pizza and split the bill with him … while he took practically the whole pie back home.  How ridiculous is this picture?

  1. Again, no girl left behindDude, what are you doing, racing me?  At the beginning and near the end of the night, this guy was always 5 steps ahead of me, from the hospital to the medical school side and parking lot to the restaurant and train station.  What happened to walking side-by-side, getting to know the girl like an equal?  Must he make me sweat to play catch-up?  Why yes he did, otherwise I wouldn’t be complaining about power walking that eventfully cold night.

The night was downhill from the first moment’s glance.  After leaving the restaurant, I insisted I can make it to the train station right behind the place just fine.  He was nice enough to say he’ll walk me to the station, despite being consistently 5 steps in front of me on that walk.

  1. Shrug the hug:  At this point, I wanted the night to end and go home to my apartment on Long Island.  I had a long trip ahead of me from Jersey.  I wanted to be out and away from this guy.

The farewell could not have been more awkward.  He opened his arms, weak and wide, feet planted there at the platform, with minimal eye contact and looking off into the pitch-black distance, and waited for me to fall into his embrace.  Even then, it was not the warm and commanding embrace; instead, it was wimpy, yet wooden.  Wimpy because his arms created a flabby hold and wooden because his body was stiff, his feet cemented in place.  An epic awkward hug …

Manatee hug —————————————————————

One week after that epic encounter, we were supposed to meet up to have lunch at Wafel’s and Dinge’s and see a WongFu show at Columbia University.  It was prematurely planned in October, before we met.  The thought of meeting him again made me cringe.  Needless to say, after my interview at Mount Sinai that Saturday, I was ready to cancel and peace on this guy.  And he sounded pretty okay with it too, judging from his nonchalance via texting.

Finding Mr. Right

In October, I met Kevo on OKC, short for the popular NYC dating website OK Cupid.  He was the first “normal” guy I responded to, and I message very selectively. Soon enough, an “online relationship” began to blossom.  The connection was almost immediate.  To start off, we were both Asian American kids with a rekindled appreciation for our Asian food, culture and language.  Apparently, we both enjoyed karaoke jams to Asian songs.  Who goes to karaoke to sing Chinese songs anymore?  Well, he and I still do!  As an added bonus, we were both medical students!  He was planning to do family medicine and I was applying for emergency medicine.  Personally, there is little else more comforting than to find companionship with someone in your field.  Some people want partners who are far away from medicine, so when they come home, couples can unwind and talk about other stuff.  Medicine is taxing on the mind and body, yet exhilarating to experience.  To find someone with the same background and fund of knowledge to share my experiences with is liberating and relaxing.

Scaredy cat when it comes to online dating?

Scaredy cat when it comes to online dating?

For nearly a month, we talked by text, Google chat and even video chat.  Not like I had anything to hide, but the concept of remotely chatting by virtual means was foreign and strange, especially for the first time. It reminded me of the MTV show Catfish, where shady strangers in these “online relationships” try to hide for months to years, always with an excuse and never the time.  Check the show out, it’s shocking, yet entertaining.  You’ll understand why I (and perhaps you) tread cautiously on the World Wide Web.

Twice, we video chatted at nighttime, but not without technical difficulties on Skype or Google Hangout.  Hey, at least I made the effort!  A few instances I got nervous during the call and my camera would drift to my forehead. He’d say, “Uh, could you move your camera down a little? I only see your forehead now?”

I found him decent-looking and fresh-faced.  He seemed like an honest, smart and nice guy, your typical Asian with boyish features and characteristics, even playful.  One time we were talking about our love for WongFu productions, the Asian American trio based in California who make videos poking fun and sending positive messages about the Asian American culture.  He took his Toon Spencer plush toy and played with it, putting it on his head.  That was also his profile picture, him with the Spencer bear atop his head.

 

What a cutie bear!  Meet Spencer!

What a cutie bear! Meet Spencer!

I liked Kevo and there was nothing to strike me as odd about this lad.  I’m sure I struck him as more odd, given that I told him how I’m a blubbering, bawling fool when it comes to sappy Asian love songs, music videos, dramas and movies.  He must think I’m a histrionic, emotional wreck with chronic wet-eye syndrome and tissues within arms reach to last a lifetime.

Tell me you will not cry a waterfall after watching “童話/Tong Hua” (Fairy Tale) by 光良 Guang Liang.  This was memorably the first Chinese song I ever listened to back in 2008, and what jumpstarted my iTunes playlist, Asian Addiction.

Tell me you will not feel a pang to your heart (and eyes) when you watch this love song, “Because I’m a Girl” by the 90s’ Korean girl group, Kiss.

Tell me you will not need a tissue with this Chinese classic, “老鼠愛大米/Lao Shu Ai Da Mi” (Mouse Loves Rice) by 王啟文 Wang Qi Wen.  This song has been so popular, it has been remade twice since the original release, one by 香香 (Xiang Xiang) and Cantonese duo, Twins.

And lastly, but not the least, Hins Cheung, Hong Kong’s prince of ballads. We went off on a long discussion about his music and videos. I just started listening to his music, thanks to Spotify. Now, thanks to Kevo, I was on a marathon of his sappy music videos and performances.

Up Next:  A surprise for you … and me!

The Dating Diaries

Welcome to my new series, Conchibi’s Dating Diaries, a new blog column entertaining you with my personal adventures in the world of online dating.  Life as a single Asian girl in medical school gets rather monotonous and boring.  Seriously, studying all the time in coffee shops or libraries and roaming the hospital floors like a friendly ghost … how is a girl living such a depressingly nerdy life to find her Prince Charming, especially when there is an ocean of eligibly hunky bachelors in a distant land called NYC?

Curiosity struck the cat.  I never imagined myself diving into the stream of modern love hopefuls, but I did.  Call it a spontaneous move, a purposeful accident.  While on the interview trail for residency programs, why not make a few detours and enjoy some dates?  Interviewing and dating run parallel routes.  Finding the perfect fit job is a long-term commitment and requires looking and acting your sharpest.  And on emergency medicine residency interviews, it’s like speed-dating for 3 hours, if not longer.  Likewise, dating is about finding Mr. Right.  Whether it’s a nighttime stroll or candlelight dinner, the mutual Q&A is like an interview process, with moderately high stakes because first impressions count and the chemistry lab is brewing; hopefully, the night is a success and a second date ensues.

I am young, but the years are rapidly ticking by.  I’ve recently passed the quarter-century mark, luckily unscathed by a major crisis!  I am also your average Asian girl:  petite, modest, caring and fun, with a deep appreciation for food, flavor and fashion.  Of course, I must be fierce too, given I was raised by a Tiger Mom who whipped me into the multi-talented, straight-A doctor I will soon become.  That’s just a snippet of my personality posted to the virtual world.  If you get far enough to meet me in person over coffee or dinner, I will entertain you with my boring upbringing on Long Island to my crazy uprooting to Manhattan as well as my humor, antics, complaints, interests and earthly travels.

Before we venture forward, let’s begin with a picture of my ideal man, Dr. McDreamy.  As you read through my blogs, take note of how far off I have been in successfully nailing my dream man.

McDreamy1. He’s a doctor:  I’m going to be a doctor, so it’s only natural I’ll find myself a doctor hubby, right?  Smart, educated, professional, well-dressed, healthy and dashingly fit… a stunningly perfect species of men.

2. He’s tall, dark and handsome:  I think this cliched statement speaks for itself.  Any lady would agree to this.  I need to look up to my man, not down.  And I like an air of mystery from the shadows.

3. He’s Asian:  Preferably Korean, but can be Taiwanese, Chinese or Japanese too.  Korean guys have the perfect physique:  tall, fit, light-skinned.  It’s also an added plus they dance well, know how to dress like it’s Fashion Week anyday, and smile devilishly like it’s their weapon.

I feel like I connect better with a guy from a similar traditional and cultural background.  It’s a case-by-case assessment, so not all white guys are out of the picture.  But after watching Seeking Asian Female and perusing creepywhiteguys.tumblr.com, my perspective of white guys on the Internet are unfavorably and horrifically skewed.

Seeking Asian Female

From his MV, "愛錯" (Wrongly Loved)... look at the irresistible muscle meat

From his MV, “愛錯” (Wrongly Loved)… look at the irresistible muscle meat

4. He’s got muscles of mass destruction:  Who wants to be hugged by skinny chicken wings?

The closest man who fits my ideal (and I’m speaking on behalf of the entire continent of Asia) is Taiwanese singer-songwriter, actor and producer, Wang Lee Hom 王力宏.  A musical genius (he plays the piano, violin, guitar, drums and… THE ERHU) with a weakness for romance and knack for creativity, art and languages.  This guy was set to pursue medicine at Ivy League schools, but chose to attend the liberal arts school, Williams College, to pursue music and Asian studies.  Soon enough, he learned Mandarin, found and lost love, made it back to his motherland of Taiwan and became an international popstar, melting the hearts of millions of Asian chicks around the world.

Yes, it's Lee Hom again... the epitome of a Hot Asian Guy

Yes, it’s Lee Hom again… the epitome of a Hot Asian Guy