Talking to Strangers: San Jose, CA
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
by Grace Bello
What do you do?
I'm an entrepreneur in home technology.
Does that get you a lot of dates?
I haven't used it to try to get me dates. It definitely doesn't get me dates in the industry, that's for sure. Unfortunately.
Where do you typically meet people to go out with?
At bars in downtown Palo Alto.
How does that work out?
It works out horribly because I never meet anybody! Honestly, I'll meet some girl that I'm interested in pursuing maybe two or three times a year at a bar in downtown Palo Alto.
What have those girls been like?
They've been younger, very sweet, not very interesting. Smart, but... yeah, not interesting. That's an easy way to say it. Actually, there's a better word out there — not engaging. That's the problem, really. I don't meet anyone who's passionate. I meet people who are not interested in something.
What about in San Francisco?
No, it's the same in San Francisco. Palo Alto is just very goal-driven.
What do you think of the girls in San Jose?
Girls in San Jose are party animals. They party all the time. I'm not a very hard partying guy. Not now, in my old age.
What was your last serious relationship?
I met someone in high school, and it went great for two years. And then we broke up at the end of my junior year. That was it. That was my last relationship.
Are you consciously trying to get into a relationship? Or at this point do you not care?
I keep an eye out, and every now and again, I do get entangled with somebody, and I totally wish I hadn't even done it in the first place. It becomes a nasty — not a bad mess — but you know, not something that you want to go back through after six months or so. You finally get clear of it, and you make it a few more years, and then you make a few more rounds, and then you get back in again. And then hopefully someone who's around will be somebody interesting. That's my game plan.
Any nightmare date stories?
Luckily, no. I don't let it get to that. [laughs] I have to at least commend myself on being able to spot the nightmares from across the room.
No blind dates, ever?
Actually, yeah. I had one blind date that was a couple years ago. That was the first time I said, "All right, let's try this dating service thing." I walked in — we met in the entryway of the restaurant. She proposed going somewhere else, a different restaurant. I said, "Yeah, sure." We had to drive there; we had two separate cars. I just lost track of her, and I never saw her. We never made it to the next restaurant! [laughs]
Where was this?
This was in Los Gatos. But I think she was trying to lose me because she was like, "Yeah, you just go down the freeway, two exits, make a right, then your first left, your first right, and it's, like, the third Mexican food place on the left." Ha! She gave me a restaurant name I couldn't remember, you know what I mean? I was like, "Yeah, I'll follow you." And then I'm waiting in the parking lot for five minutes. I obviously wasn't very impressive.
What do you do?
I work as a hostess, and I work for an elderly lady, and I'm trying to be a writer. I'm writing a romance novel.
As a romance writer, what do you think is romantic?
When a guy courts me properly by asking me to go drink wine on the beach with him. I can't really sum it up in one sentence, but taking me out at least once a week and doing fun things with me.
Do you have a type?
I'm typically not attracted to American guys. They usually have to be from another country. I like Persian guys, guys from Iran. I meet a lot of guys from Iran around here. They're intelligent. They drive really fast, fun cars! They just know how to talk to a girl. They know how to romance a girl.
Any specific experiences?
Quite a few. I've become really good friends with a couple of people this year. This is my first time being single for one year. I'm usually in relationships, so it's kind of been an interesting year for romance. But in general, I've been let down. I think things will last longer than they do. I just ended a — not a relationship, but a dating cycle with a guy who I was really kind of falling in love with. And he was romancing me. He was using all the words that I liked. But it turned out, in a lot of ways, to just be talk. It wasn't what I wanted it to be.
My last one was kind of a dealbreaker, because the last guy — when he spoke to me, it seemed like we were exclusive, and when I asked later on if we were exclusive, he kind of said, "Well, in the beginning, I didn't fully trust you." That was definitely a dealbreaker for me. The way we had been going about our little dating "thing" — I wouldn't call it a relationship. But the way we were going about it, it seemed like we were exclusive, but we weren't.
Any crazy exes?
No. I broke my ex-boyfriend's heart when I broke up with him, but he definitely wasn't crazy afterwards.
Any nightmare dating experiences?
No, never. Actually, I've had really nice romances, just broken hearts. Not excessively broken-hearted, but a broken heart to the extent that it's just disappointment. There's always the utter disappointment in the end.
That's okay. Such is life. That's just a part of dating; you live and you learn. I think that the best thing that a girl can do is not have sex until three months into dating, because I feel like it — it doesn't ruin it, but it just makes it feel like the guy doesn't chase you as much after it happens. That's what I've noticed. They'll be really sweet beforehand, but after it happens, they're not as attentive. Now I'm just trying not to be played.
What do you do?
A few things. I'm a barista, I'm a graphic designer, and I'm also a co-founder of Zobingo Games, a video-game company.
Does that get you a lot of dates?
I'm married. We met at Starbucks, serendipitously. We had a mutual friend, and she was introduced. That was in 1999. Ten years married, dating for twelve years.
Before that, what was your dating experience like?
Man, that's ancient history! Sporadic. I guess I'd say I didn't really date per se. If someone was cool or interesting, we'd hang out. It all came down to personality. I didn't go after any specific attributes physically, I guess. If someone was interesting, I guess, we would hang out.
Did you have any nightmare dates?
No. I'm the kind of a guy who kept an arm's distance — I guess I played it kind of safe. I never went on any blind dates or anything. But I had plenty of adventures. I almost crashed my date's parents' car; my emergency brake on my 1983 Camaro wasn't working, and her driveway was on an incline, and I was rolling backwards, and I came within an inch of smashing her BMW. That was... fun.
Girls with psycho ex-boyfriends. Big dealbreaker. That did happen once. It was when I worked at Starbucks. I met this girl after she got off, and as she was getting in my car, her ex-boyfriend pulled up next to me in his car, and she was like, "Just go! Just go!" And I didn't want to cause any more drama. I said, "Well, you know, it looks like you've got something that you need to take care of." Maybe three months later, I saw her again, and I think she "switched teams" after that. No more guys.
Since you're successfully married, do you have any advice for people who are trying to make a long-term relationship last?
Yeah. Just roll with it. Don't try to change other people. The second you try changing someone else, the second they're going to resent you for it. Just let people be themselves, and if you don't like that, move on.