A Mathematician, a Muppet, and a Curvy Girl walk into a store…

Weighing portions. Taking measurements. Tallying Points. Calculating gains and losses. All this math got me thinking about one thing. Flirting. Yes, you heard me right… flirting.

I don’t date much as a 50 year-old, single, curvy gal, and by ‘much’ I mean, never. After breaking up with my boyfriend 4 years ago, it took me a while to get back up on the proverbial stallion. I tried online dating for precisely one month and I met four interesting men. I didn’t hide my size, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked out. The Harlequin romance part of me was hoping to be swept away by a shirtless Fabio, but the plus-sized part wondered, what’s wrong with these guys?

Each date was over coffee at the local Starbucks, and before I finished my skinny-vanilla-latte with lactose-free milk, I was ready to pull my eyelashes out one by one. One guy was ready to pick out china patterns before I got halfway through my overly priced cup-a-joe and it freaked me out, so I closed my account that night, and made a list of pros and cons of being single:

Pros and Cons of being Single

About a year after my online dating fiasco, I needed to earn extra money for a family trip, so I took on a part-time job at Urban Barn, a contemporary furniture and home décor store, in addition to holding down my 9-5 at the office. I had a lot of fun working at the store – it allowed me to be creative and meet a lot of nice people. This was during my last hard-core effort at weight-loss and I was hovering around 180 lbs., so I was starting to feel better about myself physically – I stopped wearing the plus-sized gal’s uniform: black head-to-toe, and dared to wear a splash of colour… only from the waist up. Hey, it’s a start.

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I worked with a bunch of 20-somethings who were encouraging me to start dating again. Maxi dubbed it the “Get-Mare-A-Man-Plan.” They taught me the things to look for when a man walked in the store alone: (1) check for a wedding ring, (2) determine if he’s gay… most of our male customers were – they know fabulous décor when they see it!, and (3) ask subtle questions about the space he’s buying the furniture for to determine if he lives alone or not. Funny, my criteria had always been, (1) does he have a pulse. End of list.

During a busy Saturday shift just days before Christmas, I was on the floor schmoozing with a customer when Maxi came up and nudged me, “Silver fox at 3 o’clock”. I turned to 3… “Your other 3,” Maxi chimed as she turned me by the shoulders and pointed me in the direction of our accessory wall. I spotted a Clooney-esque gent wandering around the store looking a bit confused. Often husbands are dragged into the store by their wives and they’re left to roam, looking out of place.

“Remember what we told you,” Maxi whispered in my ear and launched me in his direction.

Ring. Gay. Size. Errr – size of living space. I rehearsed as I approached him. I’m sure glad I wore my leopard print top today – roar! I greeted him and asked if he needed any help. He said he was looking for Christmas gifts. I glanced down at his ring finger – nothing – good start, but sometimes men don’t wear them even though they’re married. So I deviated from the script a bit. I was about as subtle and stealthy as an ox in… well… a contemporary furniture and home décor store. “For your wife?” I asked.

“No. I’m not married,” he replied as he picked up one of our Dijon plaid throws.

“Girlfriend?”

“No. My parents,” he continued as he picked up our plush wine blanket.

Now to check to see if he was gay.

“Do these go together?” he asked.

Ding-ding-ding-ding! No gay man would pick out that hideous combination!

I’ll spare you my salesperson shtick and take you to the cash where I convinced him to buy a decorative bowl the size of a microwave. Maxi and the other girls were circling around speaking volumes with their glares. My manager was on cash ringing him through as I helped wrap the gift. He asked if we could box it up, but all we had appeared to be too small. He took a box and in a David Copperfield move managed to get the ginormous bowl in. I was impressed.

“You must be an engineer.” I said.

“Mathematician,” he replied.

My boss grinned and kicked me behind the counter. The girls on the floor circled in a bit closer to hear me ‘close the deal’. All of a sudden I started to feel self-conscious and when that happens, I do one of three things: (1) clam up completely, (2) start to babble senselessly, or (3) try to be funny. Guess what I went with?

Now, in all fairness, I can be really funny, but sometimes the jokes bomb… allow me to give you a play-by-play of one of my most humiliating flops:

As my boss rang up colour-blind Clooney, I carefully wrapped the mammoth helmet, and as I started putting the tissue in, I wanted to make a math joke. Instead of channelling someone like Newton, I tuned into someone more at my level… Count von Count from Sesame Street.

With each tissue I put in, I said: “One, ah-ah-ah! Two, ah-ah-ah! Three, ah-ah-ah!” He stared at me like I sprouted a nipple on my forehead. My boss stopped ringing in the purchase and stared at it too.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“It’s… the… Count,” I stammered, my eyes darting back and forth between them.

They continued to stare at my forehead nipple.

“Ahhh… forget it. It was a joke.”

“I don’t get it,” he said dryly.

“The Count… from Sesame Street.” I tried to dig myself out of my 180 lb hole.

I must have sprouted another nipple because he stared more intently.

“I was trying to make a math joke.” I explained.

The word ‘math’ broke his gaze and he started grinning. “I’ll tell you a math joke,” he exclaimed. “Descartes is on a plane.” He stops and looks me in the eyes this time. “You know who Descartes is, don’t you?” he asked.

Yikes! Time to redeem myself, “Ahhhhh… yeah – Old. Dead. French guy?” I replied, more of a question than an answer. Shut up, Mare! Stop talking!

“Mathematician…. I think, therefore I am,” he stated.

Now I was staring at his forehead nipple.

He started to get animated. Geesh, this guy gets turned on by numbers – I should have given him my weight in kilos and pounds – that might have closed the deal.

“So, Descartes is on a plane. The stewardess asks, ‘Do you want a drink?’ Descartes says, ‘I think not’, and poof, he vanished!”

Smarty-pants starts cracking up – I mean he loses it. Now I  wanted to vanish.

“Get it, I think not – and he vanishes!” he continued laughing.

My response?

“Four, ah-ah-ah,” as I added the last tissue in the box.

And that ladies and gentlemen was this curvy-girl’s last attempt at flirting.

Count von Count

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