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The Dating Project | ‘The Martian,’ Part I

I was in Hawaii covering a story. I went to a party for him and he was by my side all night, which was flattering but weird since he was the man of honor and I was the penny-a-line hack. The party lasted through the dawn. Before sunrise but long past midnight, he followed me into the bathroom and kissed me.

I pushed him away. I needed the bathroom for other things.

Me: You are ridiculous.
Martian: I have to come see you in New York.
Me: I’ll be back in Hawaii in January, you can see me then.
Martian: I think you’re so beautiful.

He went for another kiss and it was met with another shove. Call it professional honor, or a foreboding sense of doom, but it wasn’t a good moment for me to be knocking it out with the subject of my magazine feature.

When I returned to the party, the Martian’s arm was circling another woman’s waist. And other things. They disappeared together into one of the bedrooms. The countdown from rejection to rebound: three-minutes.

Days later, the Martian requested my virtual friendship on Facebook. He was posting pictures of his new sweetheart and their Hawaiian romp, on a boat, in a vacation house, playing with a dog and a kid. They looked like they were having a nice time, together. That could have been me if I had been the kind of person to make romantic decisions in a bathroom while drunk and on the job.

Flowers soon arrived. They were silly flowers. A smiley face mug with a giant afro of daisies. And a note:

You Make Me Smile
When I Think Of You
You’re Kinda Pretty N’Stuff ;)
The Martian

So that was flattering. We started to chat online. Could he come visit me in New York?

Me: What will your girlfriend think?
Martian: She’s not my girlfriend.
Me: Where will you sleep?
Martian: I’ll get a hotel.

It was agreed, he could visit a first date basis. He would take me to the opera. It was only totally weird, but he and the girlfriend were no longer in the same country, so how completely bananas could this be? Take a risk, Rose!

Martian: I’m thinking it might be fun for us to send each other questions each day so we can get to know each other.

I learned that he had just bought a sailboat to live on and wanted me to join him on a trip to Tahiti. He did not know how to sail. The boat would be his floating home in grad school. He had not yet been admitted to grad school. The boat cost $80,000.

He had volunteered to serve in Afghanistan though he hails from a tiny country with no standing army. He thought his personality was too soft, so he wanted war to toughen him. He killed the Taliban. I come from a long line of draft dodgers.

Every time I logged on to work, a chat window popped open and he was in it.

Martian: What you up to tonight? Now I’m all worried you will fall in love with some other guy before I get a chance to make you fall for me. So my plan is to distract you from going on any more dates until then, sound reasonable?

It sounded obsessive.

Martian: I dreamt of you again, we were kissing and holding each other in your place. It was really nice.

His trip was soon, and he still hadn’t sorted out that hotel room.

Martian: I can’t wait to come see you. I’m so looking forward to taking you out. I bet we have good banter together, ha. Honestly Sarah, I’m infatuated by you.

I had a business trip and returned home to find even more Martian flowers on my doorstep.

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