L.A. Affairs is our weekly column about the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles -- and finding romance in a wired world. If you've got a story to tell, we want to hear it. We pay $300 per published column. Past columns and submission guidelines are at latimes.com/laaffairs
I probably shouldn't have been online that night. It was about 2 a.m., and I had just returned home from another disappointing date.
My search for love had become obsessive, but not desperate. I wasn't just accepting the first person who would come along. I was looking for the right person. That meant I was going on multiple first dates a week, blasting through every match that was 80% or higher. (If I'm being honest, I was pretty flexible on that percentage.)
After seeing the same digital images over and over again, the faces of people I'd already made up my mind about, I was ready to log off — perhaps for an undetermined length of time.
But then someone caught my eye.
He had glasses on. The plastic kind that scream, "Nerd alert!"
I swooned and then clicked on his screen name to read on.
His profile said he was a librarian and played bass, but what really got me was the book list. The kind of list that let me know that he's had the kind of love affair with books that can lead to the most magical of three-ways: me, him and Vonnegut.
As much as I liked what I was reading, there was one thing that bothered me. He said in his profile that he didn't know if he was looking for a relationship right now because he was considering moving back to Pennsylvania.
This tidbit gave me pause, but not for long. The guy wore glasses and liked books. I had to talk to him.
I asked him why he listed "Lolita" as one of his favorite books, because why not open things up with the unsavory topic of pedophilia?
His answer came the next day. A thoughtful discussion of Nabokov's controversial novel led to talking shop about our library jobs and continued until we touched on all the quirky things in our profiles that made us interesting to each other. Soon there were long phone conversations that lasted until 3 in the morning.
After two weeks, he said we should hang out in person. I said yes, but inside I kept reminding myself not to get too invested in a guy who might pick up and move one day.
We decided to meet at the Museum of Jurassic Technology on Venice Boulevard. When we reached the room with the cat's cradles, he brought up Vonnegut and I knew I would be really sad if he ever left.
We finished touring the museum and decided that it wasn't time to say goodbye just yet, so we walked to the nearby Starbucks. He talked about Werner Herzog's documentaries. We should watch one sometime, he said. I said it sounded like a good idea.
We finished our coffee, but it still wasn't time to say goodbye. We somehow ended up at a fast-food chain.
We finished our burgers — but this couldn't end with bad burgers. I suggested we go to my favorite bar.
I was really enjoying hanging out with this guy. Still, there was one thing bothering me, and a lull in the conversation gave me an opportunity to put my concerns to rest.
"I know this is going to be a weird question, but … is this a date?" I asked.
He seemed genuinely horrified. "That's a question?" he asked.
"Well, you said you didn't know if you were really looking for a relationship and that you might move back to Pennsylvania. Then you really didn't say the word 'date' when we were making plans. But this definitely feels like a date. Is it?"
"I guess I could see where you would be confused."
I tried to give the impression that I didn't care what his response would be, but I definitely cared.
"We're having a good time, and I like you," he said finally. "I'd like for this to be a date. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear before."
"OK. Sounds good to me."
When we got to Alex's Bar in Long Beach, we discovered that there was a Beatles-themed, live-band karaoke thing happening. Neither of us sang on stage, but we got closer. We let our hands and bodies intertwine.
We probably could have stayed out forever except we had to get back before the parking lot closed. I moved my car and then got out to give him a hug. Twelve hours later, this was the end. But not before the most epic, rom-com kiss that ever happened in real life transpired between the two of us. Soft, gentle and brimming with feeling.
A week later, we went on another marathon date. Not long after that, he wasn't thinking about moving anymore. Last April, a little over three years after our first date, he said we should get married.
Sounds good to me.
Lauren Candia is a Los Angeles-based writer and curator of the Shades & Shadows Reading Series.