The Story of the Man Behind the Flowers (Finally!)

Illustration of Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaub...

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About a week and a half ago, I woke up at 5:00am and found myself consumed—oddly enough—by both terror and hope.  Why?  Well, naturally, I blame  Two weeks ago, I received a message from a man who, at 13 years my senior, lie just beyond the realm of my “Kat, be sensible about older men!” resolution, and, to make matters worse, he mentioned that he was reading Madame Bovary.

(A note for those of you who don’t know me personally: older men have been my downfall since my senior year of college, and possibly even before then.  Despite my online persona, I’ve always been rather mature for my age, hence my complete and utter disinterest in boys who might, you know, actually understand my wanderlust, my post-college soul-searching or the fact that buying a house is the furthest thing from my mind right now.  But I don’t care, because boys my age are stupid.  And they have cooties.)

So the Bovary Reading Bachelor and I exchanged emails, then phone numbers and before I knew it, he was texting to ask my permission to call.

Obviously, I said yes.

What transpired was a record-breaking two and a half hour conversation during which we discussed everything from literature to philosophy to love.  Can you blame me for waking up at 5:00am the next morning and thinking, “Holy sh*t!  He might be The One?

Granted, our conversation reminded me of the conversations I used to have with a former flame during my year in Oxford (and the ensuing relationship that was easily the most toxic of my entire life) but because I equate rambling with romantic, I chose to ignore this fast.

So we continued corresponding and during the weekend of the Susie McSusie’s Dance Competition, I received an email from the Bovary Reading Bachelor.  It contents?  Well, here is where it gets interesting—and here perhaps is when I should have gone running in the opposite direction.

He’d written me a letter—an actual letter—in a pocket-sized notebook, which he then photographed, page by page, and emailed to me in a series of jpeg files.

It was, undoubtedly, the most romantic thing anyone has done for me since… well, since Date #17 bought me flowers on our third date back in November and a hand written letter trumps flowers any day in my book.

Naturally, I was blown away and given my penchant for drama, I responded in kind.  This, perhaps, was my first mistake.

By the time we finally met in person we were both so hyped up on the idea of falling in love that we’d skipped right past the process of actually getting to know one another.  There was no small talk, no laughter, no flirtation—none of the components that make a first date fun.

Unfortunately I didn’t realize this until after we’d gone to dinner, after his neighbors had “accidentally” dropped by to check me out and after we’d spent approximately four hour gazing into each other’s eyes like a pair of love sick teenagers, caressing each other’s fingers in the candlelight.  (What can I say?  Gotan Project was playing in the background and I always lose all sense of propriety when faced with sexy techno tango music.)

He escorted me home and kissed me on the front steps of my parents’ house before saying goodnight.  Not four hours later, I began to panic.

There was something about him that unsettled me.  A certain turn of phrase, a certain look in his eyes, an almost desperate hope that things would work out between us—and after several hours of trying to put my finger on it I realized that I’d been down this road before.

I’ve always said that I wish I could combine all of my ex-boyfriends into a single being: take one’s sensitivity, one’s good looks, one’s spontaneity with another’s sense of responsibility and so on and so forth.  But the Bovary Reading Bachelor was the exact opposite of my imaginary boyfriend: he was all that didn’t work with my ex-boyfriends rolled into one.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, he was already infatuated with me.

So I did what seemed (after much deliberation) the only sensible thing to do: I ended it.

It was all a bit more complicated than that (there were more phone calls, more emails and more letters but for the sake of his privacy and the fact that I still feel rather badly about the way everything played out, I’m not going to share their contents).

To add insult to injury, last week’s column was due before the aftershock of our first date had run its course.  As such, I wrote that I’d “definitely” be seeing him for a second date but given everything that transpired during our last conversation, I definitely will not.

And that folks is the unfortunate tale of the Bovary Reading Bachelor.  Remind me not to avoid men who idolize Flaubert in the future—for their sake and mine.

22 Responses to “The Story of the Man Behind the Flowers (Finally!)”

  1. Kara B

    Wow, I had envisioned this going rather differently! And when I got to the part about “waking up thinking holy crap he might be the One”, I was sure this story was going to be epic! Sorry to hear about the cinematic twist ending… but handwritten notes as jpeg files? Still rather cool 🙂

  2. Debbie

    As a fellow faller for the suave older gentlemen, I applaud your presence of mind to run! Although the boys with cooties are sometimes REALLY stupid, there are some good ones out there. I think I have decided on finding the happy medium. Not to much older…not to much younger. That’s the plan in my mind at least…until I fall for the next suave older gentleman who offers to fly me off to an exotic local on his nickel. HHHMMM…maybe I will have to call you so you can once again impart your very grown up dating suave older men wisdom…

  3. shreejacob

    Awww…I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I’ve always been particular about age – the guy *must* be at least 4 years older to me!!!!!
    You know what? In the end it really doesn’t matter. They might be as old as the mountains and still be immature and well…have cooties, while those who are your age OR even younger might surprise you with their wisdom! 😉

  4. Zak

    My only suggestion here would be to include some portion of what you just wrote in your City’s Best article. Even though it didn’t work out, I think it gets right to the point about online dating: stop trying to make the person you’re just meeting “the One.” Oh, and it builds continuity between your stories, which personally like.

    • Kat Richter

      Good point Zak! Thinking every one could be THE one isn’t the most sane approach to dating… thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  5. Carl

    As someone who is close to your age, I would like to say that I am not stupid, nor do I have cooties. 😛 In all seriousness, I am sorry that things did not work out between you and this older man. I am someone who believes that handwritten letters are a very “lost art” in modern society. I have one friend who I correspond with through written letters regularly, and it is a quite different and awesome experience. Handwritten letters have a personalized touch to then that no other form of written communication has. I unfortunately find few people who will correspond with me through handwritten letters currently. I have a somewhat idealistic hope that letter writing will come back into “vogue”, as it were. I find that letter writing is an exercise in discipline and thoughtfulness. When I am writing a letter I have to think out what I am going to write before I write it, and I make sure that the continuity and flow are working. Because I write in pen, I generally do not re-write any part of the letter, so I take time to think it out and figure out what I am going to say and how I want to say it. I have found that this has enabled me to more effectively communicate over written media with others.

    • Kat Richter

      Okay Carl, you are possibly an exception to the whole cooties thing 🙂 Hand written letters do rock; I’m glad there are some people out there who realize this.

  6. sarahnsh

    I gotta totally agree with you, I’ve always been one to fall for older guys. I dated one guy who was my age and he was so immature, and so not for me that at the end of the date I wanted to push him outside the door and make a run for it. I’ve definitely come to grips I just am attracted to older men, and my fiancee and I have quite a bit of an age difference, but he tends to act like the younger one than me.
    I’m glad you noticed the signs that he wasn’t for you and stopped it from going too far and going for too long. That takes a lot to recognize those qualities that won’t match up with you and that it won’t work and just to end it before you get in it too deep.

    • Kat Richter

      Yeah, it was tough decision but I figured that you’re supposed to learn from past mistakes and NOT make them again 😦

  7. Danae @ wink'd

    Have we dated the same guy? I had one who, after I met him once, sent me a proper letter. Handwritten. Then proceeded to buy me several DVDs for our first date, which wasn’t even a date.

    And wrote me a poem. Before any date.

    Goodness me. Why aren’t things simple? 😉

  8. Crapped Out | Slow Down, Son

    […] talked so much that I started thinking of the Bovary Reading Bachelor from Kat’s blog.  It just seems like she and I were getting along too well. Things took a turn for the worst in […]


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