I read this story on Jezebel yesterday (which happened to be World Autism Day), and it warmed my heart in the absolute hugest way. Here’s the story: A 36-year old man from Long Island applied to take part in the New York Post‘s ‘Meet Market’ dating column – Jozen Cummings, who is in charge of ‘Meet Market’ was really touched by Dan and his story, and wrote about it on his personal site ‘Until I Get Married’. This is what he wrote:
Everyone Deserves A Date, Including a Guy Named Dan
Last week, I received an email at work about my Meet Market column from a man named Dan. Here is what he sent me:
I am a reader of The New York Post and enjoy your Meet Market page. I noticed it says I can email you if I would be interested in winning a date. I would be interested in participating in this and would enjoy the opportunity of meeting a woman with your help. Kindly let me know how to proceed. Thank you.
I get this type of email from readers about once or twice a week, usually on Mondays, the day after the column has appeared in the paper. They always make me happier because they make my job easier; one more person for the column, one less person I have to coerce into participating.
I asked Dan if he was over 21 and lived in either NYC or the immediate area outside of NYC, as I do all people who reach out with interest. He replied he was 36-years-old and lived in Long Island. So I told him to fill out the questionnaire and to come in as soon as he could for the picture he has to take for the column. He said he would get started on the questionnaire and could come in the next day for the photo.
Dan arrived at the time he said he would, and I greeted him downstairs to take him up to our studio.
Most of the people who sign up for Meet Market reach out through email, so I meet them for the first time in person at that downstairs greeting. I never know what they look like or how they are going to be. Usually they are excited to take their photo, shy or busy and want to get it over with.
Dan was none of these things. I could tell he was different than anyone else I met.
He was nerd-ish, badly dressed, with thick, black-rimmed eye glasses. He looked like a shorter version of Adam Levine if Adam Levine had a Forrest Gump-like haircut. None of this seemed out of the ordinary. What did seem peculiar was his slow, very slow, walk. I never waited so long for someone to get through the security gate. I felt rude for walking at a normal pace.
After the photo was done, I explained how Meet Market worked. He seemed to understand, so I asked him if he had any questions for me.
“Well, actually, I need to tell you something,” he said.
“Okay,” I said. “What’s that?”
“I have OCD and Asperger’s Syndrome.”
I didn’t flinch at what he said. If anything, I appreciated his candor, and I just made a mental note of his condition, saying to myself he will be a little harder to send out on a date. I told him I understood and I thanked him for the heads up while walking him back downstairs.
Down in the lobby, Dan shook my hand but then said he had more to tell me:
“I don’t know how you usually set people up, and I’m going to fill out your questionnaire you gave me, but one thing I want to explain is I need a woman who doesn’t mind being in control, doesn’t mind taking charge. My condition makes it really hard for me to make even the easiest decisions. And I know some women are dominant, but they still want a man who takes charge. I’m not that kind of guy. It takes me forever to make a decision.
“I wanted to sign up for this because it’s pretty hard for me to meet women the normal way,” he continued. “I don’t like clubs or places with loud music and approaching a girl doesn’t work too well for me either. I will try to say this in the questionnaire, but I want you to tell whoever you set me up with about my condition. Oh, and I haven’t been in a relationship since I was 19.”
Look, I can’t make my job too personal. I treat everyone professionally and as sensitive as I am to all the people who participate, my heart can’t get in the way of my deadlines. Do I want the people I send out on blind dates to report back that they found the love of their life? Of course, but I learned very quickly that’s not my job. I am not a match maker, nor am I trying to be. I just want to help people go out on memorable dates and share a good story about it in the paper.
Dan is different.
After he left, it was hard for me to shake the look on his face when he was telling me about all the problems he’s had with dating and meeting women. He told me everything without a trace of self-pity, in a very-matter-of-fact tone, and the more I thought about his story the more I wanted to help him. Here was a guy who knew he had real mental challenges, but no longer wanted to be imprisoned by them.
I have talked to Dan several times since our first encounter and also received his questionnaire. I am pleased to report that with the exception of his conditions, he is a very like-able guy who any woman would be lucky to have. He holds a Master’s in Education and has a certification to teach Social Studies. Currently, he is part of an agency that sends tutors to students who need individual attention in particular subjects.
But, more importantly than his resume, in all of our conversations Dan wants one thing: Love and to his credit, he has put a lot of thought into the type of woman he wants.
“I know I’m 36-years-old, but I might need someone who is around 23,” he told me. “My therapist says since I have such inexperience with love and relationships, a woman that age might be better suited for me.”
About wanting a woman who doesn’t mind being in control, Dan is adamant she be okay with this. “More than someone being okay with my condition,” Dan said. “I think my desire for a dominant woman has been the hardest thing for me to find.”
And on his mental challenges, Dan said, “I just want someone who isn’t going to run if they see me reacting to my OCD or the Asperger’s. I want someone who believes I can get better.”
On his questionnaire, Dan wrote, “I’m four-years away from being a real-life 40-year-old virgin.” But that is only a side-effect of what Dan really wants. He told me, “I see all these people get to experience love, and it’s like this chocolate bar, but I can’t have it. That’s why I need someone to help me meet someone.”
Dan’s story has affected me to the point where I’m bringing it over here and sharing it with you all. I need help finding Dan a date, and I know it won’t be easy finding compatible participants so if you’re reading this, I am hoping you can help me out.
I am looking for women, between the ages of 21-40 who live in NYC, and are interested in participating in Meet Market to possibly go out with Dan. For those who don’t understand how Meet Market works, each week, I give one guy or girl the opportunity to pick a person among three different people of the opposite sex. Dan has faced enough rejection in his lifetime, so I’m making him a guy who chooses instead of putting him in a group to get chosen.
If you don’t live in NYC but know someone who does and might be interested in giving this a chance, forward it to them. If you are in NYC and you yourself might be interested, please, email me at the address below:
Or you can click here to fill out this brief form.
All I said to Dan is I would help him get a date. I never promised to deliver him the love of his life; such a quest is far outside of my responsibilities and capabilities. But I can help him get off to a good start and give him what has eluded him for so very long. After all, it is my job, but Dan is a special case.
I want to help Dan go out on one date – just one free, nice, fun date. Certainly what happens after is entirely up to him, but the first date, I know I can do that with your help.
So please pass this along and help me find a date Dan, because everyone deserves a date, including people like him.
How do you feel about this story? I kind of love it. A LOT. I think that Dan is adorable, and I wish nothing but the world’s biggest happiness for him – finding love is hard, regardless of what challenges you may have (and every single one of us has challenges, whether you acknowledge that or not)…but for a gentleman like Dan who struggles perhaps more than some others, dating and building relationships is really hard. I think he sounds perfectly charming and sweet, and I hope that Mr. Cummings will keep us readers posted on how things are going for Dan – I’m interested in the outcome, aren’t you? 🙂
In the story, a questionnaire is mentioned (it’s the most important questions we all must ask someone we’re dating) – I found it posted on the site, and think it’s kind of GREAT! 🙂 Here it is (along with some of my answers, just for giggles):
1. Name: Leanna 🙂
2. Occupation (please list occupation as your title, NOT industry-e.g. “editor,” not “publishing”): Educator
3. Contact info:
a. Address: N/A
b: Phone: N/A
c. Email: N/A
d: Twitter handle: @leannaerin
4. D.O.B. April 10, 1974
5. Current age: 38
6. Where you’re originally from and how long have you been a New Yorker: I’m from Manitoba, Canada – I’ve lived in the US since 2003
7. Where you live now: San Antonio, Texas
8. Ethnicity: Scottish/Icelandic Canadian (and Casper pale!) (Don’t I sound hot??! Wowza.)
9. What’s the last book you read? Drinking With Men, by Rosie Schaap
10: What’s the last album you purchased/listened to? The 20/20 Experience, by Justin Timberlake and In Time, by The Mavericks
11. To what song do you know all the words? Just about every song I hear – but the last two songs I sang in their entirety in the car on the way to work this morning were “Joey” by Concrete Blonde and “Give Me A Reason” by Pink
12. What movie can you watch over and over again? “Legally Blonde”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Love Actually”, and “Silver Linings Playbook”
13. What shows are on your DVR or are can’t miss television? ‘How I Met Your Mother’, ‘Scandal’, ‘The Following’, ‘Homeland’, ‘Mad Men’
14. What’s your favorite sport to watch/to play (include teams if you’d like)? Hockey, Diving, Baseball
15. What’s your favorite ice cream? Bordeaux Cherry, Pralines and Cream, Birthday Cake
16. What card or board game are you the champion at? Trivial Pursuit, hands down! 🙂
17. Can you dance? I love dancing, but I’m not particularly good at it – however, I have no shame and don’t hesitate to make a fool out of myself, so…yaa me! 🙂 I want to learn, though! 🙂
18. On a Friday night with friends, I’d rather go to a: movie, concert, sporting event, dive bar, lounge, big dance club, karaoke bar, other (please explain): I’m down for movies, dive bars, and karaoke! 🙂 Always! 🙂
19. Where’s your favorite place (bar, park, neighborhood, museum etc) in NYC and why? Oh goodness…I could never pick! I love the Lower East Side, of course…but I’m happy anywhere! SoHo, Meatpacking District, under the Brooklyn Bridge, squatting in a cardboard box…bring it all on! 🙂
20. If you had to choose only one way to get around the city between walking/running, taxi, car, bus, or subway, which would you prefer and why? Walking…always walking. That way you won’t miss anything along the way! 🙂 Although, I am pretty crazy about the subway, too!!! 🙂
21. Why are you a catch? Impress me. Oh hell…I don’t think I’m a catch at all, so…I had best skip this question! 🙂
22. What turns you on? Brains and a sense of humor 🙂
23. What turns you off? Arrogance, stupidity, lack of oomph. 🙂
24. What is your biggest flaw (physical or otherwise)? My big arse, my never-ending chatter, my sarcasm, my broken up nose, and my brain that never stops thinking, regardless of how hard I try. 😦
25. With who, what, or when are you your happiest? My Wee One – she’s my greatest achievement and symbolizes all that is right in this world 🙂
26. Window seat or aisle seat? Window! 🙂
27. Describe your ideal date night or day (Where would you go, what would you do?): Day – brunch or picnic, walk, coffee and talking; Night – movie and dinner, bar for drinks, walk, and lots o’ talking 🙂
28. Biggest pet peeve: Ignorance, Arrogance, and Other Negative Qualities That End In -ance 😉
29. What’s something most people don’t know about you? I’m actually very shy in some situations, and I really don’t talk anywhere near as much as I used to!
30. Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse? (If you have to think about it, you’re probably not, so feel free to skip): Hell yes! 🙂 I’ve got my pantry stocked, I’m ready! 🙂
31. What’s your guilty pleasure (snack, TV show, music, clothing, etc.)? Shitty reality television, shopping, boy band music of the 90s (I hang my head in shame)
32. It’s silly, but I’m afraid of (explain)…driving my car into the oil change place – I think I’m going to drive it right into the hole in the floor! 😦
33. What drink do you always order first at a bar? Either beer or Rum and Diet Coke with Lime 🙂
34. If I were to raid your apartment right now, what’s the most embarrassing thing AND the coolest thing I’d find? Coolest – I have some nifty art work on my walls; Embarrassing – the amount of stuffed toys in the house borders on hoarding 😦
35. Best make-out music (or song): Anything Emeli Sandé or Marvin Gaye 🙂
36. What’s the nicest thing a non-family member has ever said to you? That I’m the smartest woman they’ve ever known. 🙂 They were probably lying, though.
7. Celebrity people say you resemble: I had a student once who thought I looked like Kate Winslet – I believe she was visually impaired, but I loved her nonetheless. 🙂
38. Who’s your celebrity crush? Liam Neeson, Johnny Depp, Vince Vaughn, Patrick Wilson, and Gerard Butler 🙂
39. Describe yourself (be as specific as possible, these are real blind dates, so this is your chance to talk yourself up to the person choosing):
Physically Dark blonde/light brown hair, blue eyes, straight-ish teeth (on the top anyway), pale skin, 5’7″, curvy with quite a rack, I have glasses but won’t wear them anywhere but at work or home *because I’m stubborn*
Personality I’m very friendly, I love going out and doing stuff, quite sociable, very nerdy about some things, very sensitive, rather thoughtful and introspective, adventurous and always up for anything, pretty easy-going, a planner
40. Describe the type of person you’re looking to date (physically AND personality-wise): N/A
41. In what ways do you want your date to be different from you? N/A
42. What or who makes you laugh (e.g. puns, a specific comedian)? Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Flight of the Conchords, Puns, Stupid Jokes
43. In what ways would you say you are very ‘New York’? I wish I was ‘New York’ – I would love to live there, and fit in there, and belong…but…alas, not at this time. 😦 Maybe someday! 🙂
44. Pets: Woof, Meow, Other/Neither, Allergic: I have a dog and two cats (but the cats are currently seeking a new home due to my Wee One’s horrific allergy situation)
45. Favorite kind of food (Italian, Mexican, Sushi, etc): Sushi! 🙂
46. Any dietary restrictions we should know about (Kosher, Vegetarian, Vegan, etc.): Nope
47. Are race, religion or age important factors regarding who you date? (This won’t be published, but is important so we know who you’re looking for) N/A
48. How would you describe what you are looking for with this experience? Just want to have a fun night? Looking for a repeat date? Someone for the long haul? N/A
49. Anything else we forgot to ask? I think you got it all! 🙂
50. After your date, is it ok if we contact you in the following months to follow up? N/A
Some of these questions are so great for getting to know people in general, regardless of whether there is a love connection or not – but others are rather dating-specific. It’s a fun questionnaire nonetheless, and guaranteed to help you get to know someone a whole lot better! 🙂 I would love to hear some of your answers!!! 🙂
PS: If you happen to be reading this, live in the NYC area and are single and looking for love – do reach out to Dan 🙂 I think he’d make a fantastic boyfriend for you 🙂 I love love 🙂