In my younger days, I was a complete social train wreck. I completely lacked the capacity to even bring myself to talk to women, let alone do anything that could possibly be considered romantic with one. What I mostly was looking for in a woman wasn't good looks -- I just wanted an intelligent woman to share aspects of my life with.

When I went to college, I forced myself to bite the bullet and actually attempt to seek out potentially interesting females and try to date them. For a period of time, I actually became rather successful at finding women who would be interesting to me, and I managed to stumble across a few techniques for opening the door of conversation that actually worked. Somehow, I had a knack for finding interesting geek girls; I'd meet one at the library or on a messageboard (or all sorts of places, as you'll find out) and we would agree to meet somewhere for a date.

Let there be no doubt: I was a pathetic dweeb then, and I've barely progressed beyond the word geek now. The vast majority of women in the world would likely not say three words to me, and that's just fine with me; I prefer the types of women who can string together a coherent sentence.

To make a long story short, I went on what seemed like a never-ending string of dates in 1996 and 1997. The dates were fantastic. I often hear about the mundane dating experiences that many people had during their college years, usually involving ridiculous amounts of alcohol and a fraternity or sorority house. Although sometimes alcohol or other things would be consumed on the date, it was usually in the context of doing something else interesting, even if it was something as silly as a debate on fundamental economic policy or as bizarre as attempting to tip a cow.

I never made it past the third date with any single female until I met my wife. As much fun as I would have on these dates and as many friendships I forged (I am still friends with many of these girls), I often found myself ending things well before they became serious because I would know in my heart that eventually things would create a rift between us.

What follows is a summary of the fourty four dates that I went on between November 1996 and April 1997 (ending with the first date with my future wife); I have pulled these summaries together from journal entries from those days. Note that I am excluding the numerous instances of rejection before even making it to the first date; these happened with regularity, but I am nothing if not stubborn. Don't be surprised if you at multiple times think: man, what a loser. I did while writing this. At the end of these descriptions are a handful of general tips that will hopefully help you find an interesting date.

Date #1 - Friday, November 1, 1996: Nicole was my first attempt at actually *gasp* asking a female out on a date, so I put a ridiculous amount of planning and scouting work into this date, making the period leading up to it seem like stalking. I spotted Nicole sitting on central campus one day reading Time Enough For Love by Robert Heinlein in a library-bound version, so I started hanging out in the science fiction related section of the library. The purpose here was twofold: first, I love reading science fiction and the library had pretty much every essential piece of the genre, and second, I thought there was a chance that Nicole might stop by there. I had no idea what I would say when she would come, but I wanted to see her again just the same.

Lo and behold, on the Monday before, she shows up in the science fiction section. I was sitting in a comfortable chair near the section, and the surprise of seeing her caused me to almost jump out of my chair. The unintended side effect of this was that I proceeded to spill most of a two liter bottle of Diet Coke all over my shirt and down the front of my jeans. Nicole noticed this and came over quickly, looking at me and asking if I was all right. The reason I made up was completely golden (and also true -- at least, partially true): I had been engrossed in Flowers for Algernon and had completely lost track of time and had missed a decent portion of my class.

She apparently had read the novel and, since I was near the end of it, we started to talk about the novel, and before long, the conversation drifted to our mutual interest in science fiction in general. It turned out that Nicole owned several of the Star Trek movies and, realizing that if I didn't say something anything to give this a chance, I suggested we watch Star Trek IV together on Friday evening. To my complete amazement, she stood there for a second and agreed.

Nicole came over that Friday evening and we watched Star Trek IV. I sat next to her on the couch in my dorm room and we laughed at the many corny aspects of the film. Afterwards, she browsed through my library of novels and asked to borrow a large handful of them; I accepted. It turned out that this meant she wanted an opportunity to see me again, and I would have more time with Nicole in the future, under more... interesting circumstances.

Date #2 - Saturday, November 9, 1996: Tessa was in my introductory chemistry course and it was again her reading that caught my eye. I would observe her in class alternating between reading The Selfish Gene and, later, The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins and a plain-bound book. She spent most of the time in lecture lounged in her chair, reading through both books seemingly at the same time. This intrigued me, so the Monday after my success with Nicole, I decided to give it another try. I intentionally sat next to Tessa and watched her bring out both books. I turned to her and said that I had noticed her reading both books last time and my book curiosity insisted that I find out what the unbound book was. It turned out it was a Bible. I asked her a few questions about the connection, and the conversation continued on a piece of paper during the lecture.

When the lecture ended, I wandered through campus with her, talking about science versus religion, our differing takes on religion (I was agnostic at the time; she was a practicing Lutheran), and so forth. I told her that, quite honestly, I knew very little about Christianity in general, other than the general offensive stereotypes, and that thankfully she didn't seem to fulfill them. She grinned and just barely blushed, so I took another chance that paid off and just asked her if she'd like to talk some more about it on Saturday. She accepted.

I met her on Saturday afternoon and we literally spent the next eighteen hours talking, starting in her dormitory room, out to dinner at Taco Time, on a lengthy walk to a bookstore (which was closed) and back to Taco Time for several hours (it was open all night). At about seven in the morning, she asked me if I'd be interested in attending a Lutheran service; I said sure, so the two of us went to church together that morning. On the way out of church, we walked back to her dorm room; she reached over and grabbed my hand and held it as we walked, and I almost jumped out of my skin.

Date #3 - Friday, November 15, 1996: Nicole called me Thursday evening to ask if she could come over on Friday to return the books, so when she arrived that evening, I was expecting her. What I wasn't expecting was that she would be dressed to the absolute nines, wearing a stunning dress, her hair done, and a full coat of makeup on. She wanted to go out to dinner at a "nice" place, so she insisted I put on some good clothes. I was completely taken aback by this, so I went along with it.

We went out to a very expensive restaurant that evening; she had made reservations for us. We ate a nice dinner and although I felt obligated to pay the check, she apparently had arranged something so that a bill never reached the table. This all struck me as a little odd; what was even odder was that she kept wanting to discuss the general theme of taking chances in literature. I should have known where this was going.

After the dinner, we went back to her dorm room and she attempted to seduce me. To put this into context, you have to remember that the Nicole I had seen before didn't wear any makeup and seemed very comfortable in denim jeans, a t-shirt, and a flannel long sleeved shirt over the top of that, with her hair hanging on her head, disheveled. She looked absolutely stunning when she was made up, but I was completely not ready for such an encounter. Yep, believe it or not, I was a college male who didn't just want sex on a date.

She proceeds to start kissing me quite aggressively, and I go along with it for a while. Then, she pushes me onto her bed (which was a lower bunk, mind you) and begins to take off her dress, revealing that she wasn't wearing a bra. To put this experience into context, I had kissed a girl once before -- in eighth grade. I went into borderline shock as she started to unzip and un-button my pants rapidly.

I looked at her and I finally realized what was happening; somehow, the explanation clicked in my head. She had, in her mind, decided that this was a way to make me stay interested in her. I put my hand on her cheek and said, "Let's not do this right now," and she started to cry, and how the tears did fall. I didn't know what to do, so I just sat there for a moment as she sunk to the floor crying; after a bit, I decided to put my hand on her shoulder.

She eventually stopped crying and covered herself with her dress. We sat there looking at the wall for a while, and then I asked her if she wanted to go take a walk together. She looked at me and said that she wanted some time alone, so I left. This was the last time I saw Nicole; she left a message on my answering machine a few days later saying that she didn't think it would be good for us to see each other again.

Date #4 - Saturday, November 16, 1996: Dawn was a cashier at Round Table Books, a local independent bookstore; she had an encyclopedic knowledge of books that was absolutely astounding to me. She dressed in a slightly goth fashion that accented her black hair with dark earth tones, and her whole appearance and intelligence was ridiculously intriguing to me. I was completely flushed with how well things were going with my "experiment" in dating that I decided that I would simply ask her out on a date. I walked into the store one day while she was working, and I simply told her that I had seen her in here many times and that I simply wanted to get to know her better and would she go to dinner with me on Saturday?

She said no.

This was my first failure, and since I had been expecting things to be completely disastrous from day one, I took it really well; I even went ahead and bought a book. She didn't really say much to me after the rejection.

A couple of days later, I was following Tessa's suggestion (although there had been no second date, we spent a lot of time talking) and buying a copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and so I went back to Round Table, where Dawn was still working. I said hello to her and wandered off to the religion section. As I looked for the book, Dawn walked up to me and told me that she had changed her mind and actually wanted to have dinner with me.

I wanted to try something interesting, so we went to a sushi bar and each of us tried a sampler. She told me during the meal that she changed her mind because I didn't turn tail and run at her immediate rejection. I asked her if her earlier "no" then was some sort of test, and she grinned and said, "Yeah."

Unfortunately, this was the death knell for what was otherwise a very interesting woman; the concept of such gamesmanship in human relations is a major turn-off for me. We took a stroll along the main block of town and then I elected to end things kind of early. She was OK with that. I kept shopping at Round Table Books and we would talk casually, but we never dated again.

Date #5 - Friday, November 22, 1996: Tessa again. I had taken to sitting next to Tessa in our chemistry class, and we'd usually waste the period writing back and forth to each other on a notepad as to not disturb the class. I asked her when she was leaving for Thanksgiving break, and she said "tomorrow," so I asked her if she wanted to go bowling and eat some cake. This was part of a running joke that had developed between us. She said sure.

So, that's exactly what we did. We went bowling for a couple of hours, then we went to a restaurant and ate some cake. It was late in the evening, and we were sitting there talking about what our respective families did as a Thanksgiving "tradition," when she suddenly said, "I really like you." I was pretty happy about that, and responded likewise.

Date #6 - Wednesday, December 4, 1996: Kyrie and I met when I decided that I would attempt to make absinthe in my dorm room. I'm not the type of person who drinks very much now (outside of a nice glass of wine on occasion), and I certainly wasn't then; I had just read a biography of Oscar Wilde and the fact that absinthe wasn't sold in the United States made me very curious about it. Kyrie worked at the local plant store and thus I met her when I went there and asked if they sold wormwood. She gave me an extremely odd look and said that they did not, and then she got a sly grin on her face and asked me what I wanted it for. A pesticice? Nope. Tea? Nope. I told her I wanted to make some absinthe, and she thought that was pretty much the best idea she had heard in a long while. I asked her if she could get me some wormwood and she said that she could procure the seeds and would get some started for me, and that she'd give me a call when some was ready.

Sure enough, right when I got back from Thanksgiving break, there was a message from Kyrie on my answering machine telling me to pick up my order on Wednesday morning. I stopped by and she was working there, and thus we had a nice chat that culminated in an invitation to her to help me make absinthe, and then maybe go out for some dinner afterwards. She accepted.

She came over that evening and we mixed together the appropriate herbs into a large jar of vodka; she crushed most of the wormwood while I located and added things to the jar. When it was ready, I put it away in the closet, as it needed to stew for ten days by the recipe I had.

We went out to dinner after that; it turned out she was vegetarian, so she insisted that I try a vegetarian place in town. We went there and ate and had a great conversation about drug laws in America; it turned out that we were both pretty libertarian in that regard and on a lot of other things as well. I walked with her back to her place, and the date ended with a pretty nice kiss and a promise to try out the absinthe together in ten days, which would be a Saturday night.

Date #7 - Saturday, December 7, 1996: Tessa and I went out on our third date that weekend, and I thought for most of the date that it went very well. The art house was showing Fargo, so we decided to go see it, and after that we practically ran down the block (Iowa winters are cold!) to a coffee shop, where we sat and sipped and had some nice conversation.

After that, I walked with her back to her room. She held my hand the whole way, and I realized that I was actually starting to really like her. She invited me in and then she seemed to get sort of nervous and she paced around some. Suddenly, out of the blue, she walked over, sat down next to me, kissed me -- and burst into tears. She told me that she wanted so much for us to have a relationship, but that she was really just confused. We talked about it for a bit, and she revealed to me that she thought she might be a lesbian, and she seemed to be scared to death of the possibility. The whole time we talked, I held her hand.

At the end, I told her that I was perfectly happy being her friend, and that in fact I wanted to be. She seemed incredibly relieved at this, and in fact, we went on to become very good friends.

Date #8 - Saturday, December 14, 1996: Kyrie came over and the absinthe was ready. I strained it out and we drank a shot of it in the "proper" fashion with plenty of sugar, and I quite liked it! She apparently did, too, so we started drinking absinthe shots. This turned out to be a pretty awful mistake; we both got pretty messed up and we started kissing each other a lot. We drank a couple more shots and after that I don't remember a whole lot. I do remember falling down on my dorm room floor and Kyrie laughing over and over and over again about something that I wasn't understanding. When I woke up the next day around noon, she wasn't there and I had several scratches on my forehead.

I called her up and she said that she didn't like losing control of her faculties like that and said that although she liked me, the whole thing made her kind of uncomfortable and she didn't want to see me again. This was OK, I guess; I wasn't feeling a real spark with her like I had been starting to feel with Tessa.

Date #9 - Wednesday, December 18, 1996: Lana lived in the same dorm as I did, but she had started at the university a year earlier than I had. She needed desperately to pass calculus or else she was going to fall off of scholarship and have to leave the university, so needless to say, she was in pretty dire straits. She asked around on our floor to see if anyone understood calculus and I happened the be the first one to agree to help her with the class, so we got into a pretty regular routine throughout the semester, where she would ask me all sorts of questions about integrals and derivatives and so forth.

She actually did pretty well on the final exam, so in a fit of jubilation she came to my room, hugged me tightly, and announced that we were going out right now, no questions asked. I have to admit that I was about to ask the same thing; any woman who spends her spare time listening to records, reading James Joyce, and decorating her room with self-made collages is an interesting woman to me.

She told me that her "daddy" was going to pick up this date, so we went to a rather nice restaurant together, where we ate pasta and had some ridiculously rich chocolate cake for dessert. After that, we went to her room where we drank some herbal tea and had what I guess would be called a kissing session (that's about as far as things went).

She asked me when I would be coming back from winter break, and we decided to go out again on the first Monday of the semester.

Date #10 - Monday, January 13, 1997: Lana and I got together and decided to make kahlua brownies on a pair of hot plates, so we went to the store to get ingredients. The difficult part was acquiring the kahlua, as we were both underage, but I have a lot of German blood in me and had been growing a beard for a while, so when I attempted to buy kahlua, they didn't even check for the ID.

Anyway, we went back to her dorm room and made the brownies, and while they were cooking, we got back into kissing again. This time it went a fair bit further and she eventually said, "We should stop." Unfortunately, while we were distracted, the bottom of the brownies got too hot and thus our brownies had a distinctly burnt edge on the bottom.

I asked her if she'd be up for going to dinner and to the taping of a local television show on Wednesday and she said sure.

Date #11 - Wednesday, January 15, 1997: Lana and I ate at a local pizza-by-the-slice place and went to the television taping, which was a local public access sketch comedy show that some of my friends were involved with. They were trying too hard to be like Mr. Show (of which I had the first season on dubbed tape from the summer before) and I commented as such to Lana, who then wanted to watch my tape of it.

I stopped by my room to get the tape, and then we went to her room and started watching. Unsurprisingly, we started to go at it again, and like before we went just a little bit further than the last time before she wanted to stop.

We sat there watching Mr. Show for a while, when she then decided to ask me a couple of questions about her calculus, of which she was taking a second semester. I helped her through it, but it didn't go very easy; we kept taking all sorts of pauses of a lustful nature.

After we got through the problems, I told her that we could either keep dating and so forth, or I could help her with her calculus, but both would be kind of a problem. She decided to think about it, and then gave me a pretty deep kiss as I left.

I didn't see her for a week, and then she stopped by and asked me some questions about her calculus. Just like that, whatever spark had been started was snuffed out, and we went back to the friends/tutoring situation we had before our dates.

Date #12 - Friday, January 24, 1997: Carole is perhaps the most bizarre of the women that I dated. I met her via an online BBS and we agreed to meet when she said that she had a dream in which she made over a man. I told her I'd give it a shot as long as nothing permanent was done and that we'd go out to eat afterwards, and so we agreed to meet.

The first thing she did was look me over, and then asked if she could shave off my beard, which I was OK with. So, I sat in a chair in her room while she ever so slowly and carefully shaved off my beard, while we conversed. Although she wasn't really dressed in such a way (she had red hair and was dressed in dark earth tones), her entire room was decorated in a goth fashion and she apparently was very much into Vampire: the Masquerade based upon the books and other items strewn about.

So she finishes this makeover, and I turn around and look in the mirror. She has transformed my head into the love child of Edward Scissorhands and Robert Smith of The Cure. I'm serious; my hair is almost black and highlighted with red streaks (which she claims she can get out) and my face is sort of powdery white with black lines all over the place.

I then go out to eat with her, although I'm feeling massively self-conscious wearing my hair and face like this. Things then actually got weirder; while we were eating, several people dressed up in goth clothes come over to the table and one attempts to bite my neck. Needless to say, I'm not really "into" people I don't know trying to bite my neck. I had the presence of mind to handle things coolly and managed to exit myself from the situation without too much additional weirdness. I wonder if perhaps this individual scored some experience points in a massive game of Vampire: the Masquerade because of this.

Needless to say, I didn't see Carole again.

Date #13 - Friday, January 31, 1997: Erica is probably the most competitive person I've ever met; her desire to simply win is just amazing. Unfortunately for her, she had broken her ankle in high school pretty badly and didn't get it treated properly, so she walked with a bit of a limp and athletic endeavors became impossible for her. At that point, she turned her attention to other interests.

I had to play against Erica in the finals of an intramural Trivial Pursuit tournament; the on-campus houses were having a series of competitive tournaments to win $1000 for their house to hold a big party. This tiny, friendly woman sits down across from me and proceeds to get five pieces of the pie on her first turn. I figured I was about to be completely crushed, but on a handful of subsequent turns, I figured out that her weakness was sports trivia, and thus she had a very hard time getting the sixth piece of the pie. Somehow, I managed to come back from a huge deficit and pull the game out. She was literally fuming that she had lost, but we had had a lot of friendly banter during the game and she was clearly an intelligent woman, so I made her an offer: if she would let me take her to dinner that Friday, I would give her a rematch. She accepted this deal.

So, our date consisted of a dinner at Applebee's (where we discussed the odd trend that movies people seem to identify as great -- like The Shawshank Redemption and Citizen Kane -- didn't do well at the box office upon release), followed by another game of Trivial Pursuit. This time, she completely annihilated me, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself doing it. I was amused by this and by her, so I offered to play her again, the next night, as a tiebreaker, and the winner gets to choose what we do on a date afterwards. She agreed to this.

Date #14 - Saturday, February 1, 1997: Erica and I spent the afternoon playing our third game of Trivial Pursuit in a week, and it went much like the first one: Erica blazed out to a huge lead, but stumbled on sports questions. Meanwhile, I quickly caught up and managed to win the game before she acquired her sports pie piece.

She did not take this well at all, and she threw a bit of a temper tantrum. I waited for her to cool down a bit, but her anger kept building on itself until she was screaming about losing. I left for a while.

She came over to my room and asked where we were going on our date, and so I suggested going miniature golfing and maybe eating afterwards. We played our round and ate, but she was clearly still really agitated about losing. At the end, she apologized to me for being so upset, but I broke things off there: I said that I can't really deal with someone who can get that angry over such minor things.

Date #15 - Saturday, February 8, 1997: Amy and I met in perhaps the most generic way possible: we literally ran into each other and her books went flying all over the sidewalk. I picked them up for her and looked at her, and she looked positively enthralled that I would bother to do this. Amy looked like the textbook stereotype of the geeky wallflower girl who spent all of her time reading in a corner somewhere, from her mish-mash wardrobe to the thick-rimmed glasses perched on her nose.

Nothing would have come of this, except I accidentally left my day planner mixed in with her books, and I didn't even realize it was missing when she had arrived at my door to return it that evening. I invited her in and she immediately seemed to fall in love with my things, from my collages (I had started making these because of Lana, I suppose) to my music collection, but she especially adored my bookshelf. We wound up having a lengthy conversation about libertarian ideals in Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand which wound up continuing through dinner in food service. She needed to return to get some work done, but she seemed reluctant to leave, so I asked her if she'd be interested in doing something Saturday evening and she practically flipped.

We went to a poetry slam; we'd never been to one before and were curious as to what one would be all about. It was pretty entertaining; some of the people seemed to be significantly better at it than others. Afterwards, we were walking back to her place when we spontaneously started dumpster diving; she managed to find a big stack of old magazines to use in collages, and thus I used them to make a collage for her.

Date #16 - Wednesday, February 12, 1997: Fiona was the most blunt person I've ever met; she was the type of woman who would simply say exactly what she had on her mind, damn the consequences. She also had the mouth of a sailor, and was one of the most frighteningly intelligent people I've ever met. Needless to say, I liked her immediately.

Fiona was in my Survey of Western Civilization class, and she was constantly asking questions attempting to relate the ancient Greeks to modern times, to the point of greatly annoying the befuddled graduate student who handled the discussion session. We were reading The Republic in the class and she insisted on discussing how Plato's concept of government differed from modern democracy when the aggravated grad student told her to "please be quiet" and went on. Given that I was apparently the only other student in the room interested in Fiona's discussion, I raised my hand and when the instructor nodded my way, I turned to Fiona and directly responded to her last point. Needless to say, this didn't exactly endear me to the recitator.

We started to stick close to each other during both the lectures and discussions for the class, and after one of the Wednesday discussions, Fiona tells me, "You're all right. Do you wanna go do something this evening?" I didn't really construe this as a date right then, but I accepted.

A date it became, though. We went to some random film -- I think it was Fierce Creatures -- and during the movie, she actually grabbed my arm and put it around her. I rather like brashness in women most of the time, so that was quite all right with me. Afterwards, she told me that she thought most men were whores and thus she had little use for most men. Apparently, I didn't fall into that category; I had passed some sort of test.

Date #17 - Friday, February 14, 1997: Amy called me early that week and said she wanted to go on another date. I was pretty surprised by this, because she came off as being somewhat shy during our first date, but I accepted anyway. She said that she wanted to cook me dinner; since she lived in an apartment near campus, she had a full kitchen, and she also suggested that I bring along a couple of books that we had discussed.

I went to her apartment and she was there alone; she apparently had made her roommates leave for the evening. Thankfully, she didn't have things set up for some sort of "romantic" dinner, which is what I was worried that she might do. She made some sort of cheese and grape leaf rolls along with some Chinese food; it was delicious. Over dinner, we talked about books and after dinner we sat next to each other on the couch. She had me get out one of the books I had brought, a short story collection, and when I began to point out a short story I found poignant, she asked me to read it aloud to her. I did so, and during the reading, she rested her head on my shoulder. Later, she read one to me as well.

At the end of the evening, as I got ready to leave, she walked to the door with me. I looked at her for a bit and went to kiss her; she got very tense, but we exchanged a very small, very odd kiss. She turned bright red and told me that that was the first time she had been kissed. I said that maybe we'd get to do it again sometime, and left her with her cheeks nearly crimson.

Date #18 - Saturday, February 15, 1997: Jessica and I met when we were both waiting for the city bus to take us back to campus after Round Table Books closed one night. We had a nice conversation about our book purchases, and went our separate ways. What was odd is that the exact same thing happened nine days later; Jessica and I both left Round Table Books at closing time and wound up sitting at a bus stop and we got into another conversation about our book purchases.

This time, we kept talking on the bus, and when I went to get off at my stop, she got off there too and said she'd walk home. I was desperately busy that evening as I had a paper due at 8 AM the next morning that I hadn't started on yet, so I simply told her that and asked her if she'd want to go out for dinner on Saturday. She accepted.

Jessica was one of those women who somehow could look well-dressed no matter what she wore, so I actually thought she had overly dressed for our date when I picked her up in the Oldsmobile of death. Interestingly, she wanted to go to the biggest dive restaurant in town, one that was actually a truck stop. The two of us went there and had a ham'n'egg dinner special, and we wound up spending the whole time talking about eggs. Afterwards, to settle a discussion, we bought a dozen eggs and proceeded to each eat an egg directly by cracking it into our mouth.

It turned out Jessica was a small town girl, so we wound up driving around out in the middle of the country outside of town. At one point, we stopped near a barn where we saw a cow, and we decided to go see whether or not cow tipping was actually a myth or something that realistically happened. We didn't tip the cow, but we came to the conclusion that it could actually be done by a strong person or two.

I dropped her off near her dorm room just as the eastern sky started to get light; it was a fun night.

Date #19 - Wednesday, February 19, 1997: Fiona and I went out on a second date a week after our first. This one was definitely most notable for the conversation; we actually spent the entire "date" either eating pizza together or walking around.

Our conversation almost exclusively revolved around sex, which actually came out of our Western Civ class. What causes human attraction? Why would one be a homosexual if it serves no purpose? What is the purpose of abstinence? Of marriage? Of oral sex or masturbation or other such things that causes an orgasm but doesn't result in a chance of procreation?

The conversation of course came around to talking about our own perspectives on sex, and our perspectives were rather similar. Neither one of us felt deeply compelled to wait for marriage per se, but we both wanted to wait until we found the right person to have sex with for the first time.

At the end of the date, Fiona turns to me, says, "Well, I'm turned on," and proceeds to give me a very long, deep kiss. Then, just as quickly she goes into her room.

Date #20 - Monday, February 24, 1997: Bea and I ... well, let me just tell you about our two dates. Bea lived just down the hall and around the corner from me, actually very close to Fiona. One day, I was letting myself into my room and she comes walking by and goes, "Can we talk?" I'm okay with that, so I invite her in for a conversation.

She proceeds to come into my dorm room and tell me that she's had a crush on me for a long time, and that she felt like she had to tell me this before even another day went by. I basically said that I didn't know anything about her, but that I'd be glad to go on a date with her if she wanted. She asked me if Monday would work and I was OK with that.

She made us a picnic, because Monday was an unusually warm day for February in Iowa. We ate out in the grass and watched the sun go down, then we walked to a coffee shop and had a nice latte. Since I knew next to nothing about Bea, I asked her a lot of questions and it seemed as though she was an interesting person. She was interested in food science and actually wanted to go to the Culinary Institute of America, which was rather interesting to me, as culinary artistry is one of my hobbies.

Things got pretty bizarre, though, when we went back to her dorm room. She had three pictures of the same guy on her desk, which seemed kind of odd to me. I asked her about them, and she wouldn't say anything about who it was at all. This struck me as extremely weird, so I more or less made a graceful exit.

Date #21 - Wednesday, February 26, 1997: Fiona called me up in the evening and asked if I was doing anything, then asked me to come over to her place in her typical blunt fashion. I go over there to her place and for the first little while, everything is normal; we sat on her couch bouncing a ball off of the wall and playing a variety of word games off of the top of her head.

Out of nowhere, she turns to me and says something unbelievable: "I like you; you're not a normal guy. I've never done it before, but I want to suck you off. What do you say?" I said sure, and so she immediately started to nibble on my ear and she started rubbing me through my pants. Almost immediately, I was as hard as a rock, so she unzipped me, reached inside, and pulled it out. She got down on her knees in front of me and started rubbing it a bit and I was about ready to explode right there, but then she looked up at me and said, "I really want to fuck you right now."

Something about all of this just clicked in my head, and I saw Nicole taking off her dress and got this borderline panicked feeling again, and from somewhere inside of me, unbelievably, I declined. She seemed really, really hurt by this, and she stood up and walked around, almost dazed. I tried to talk to her about it, but she did something that I would hope that any mature, intelligent woman would be able to do at this point. She sat down next to me, looked at me, and said, "I fucked this up, didn't I?" I nodded. She shook her head and we sat there for a bit. She told me that I was the first guy who had come along who she had really liked, but we more or less agreed not to see each other again, at least in a romantic fashion.

The real reason I didn't have sex with Fiona that night was that I didn't know her well enough at that point. Outside of two dates and seeing each other in Western Civ, I knew nothing about her, and although I was somewhat attracted to her, I didn't feel even as much of a spark with her as I did with Nicole or some of the other women I had already dated. It just wasn't meant to be.

The remainder of the dates appear in another node

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