#10 – Ten Rauls A-Mystery-ing

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

10 Rauls A-Mystery-ing
9 Friends A-Tempting,
8 Cradles A-Robbing
7 Smoke’s A-Blowing
6 Skirts A-Dropping
Sca-ven-ger Huuuunt…
4 Snowboarding Yanks
3 Taco Bobs
2-Stepping Gent,
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Raul returns!

I told you that I’d feature different SORTS of dates in this series, and this was, as Raul kept calling it, a “Mystery Non-Date Date.”

For those of you just joining us, Raul is a friend of mine (who’s name is nothing remotely close to Raul, but chose that Nom de Guerre as a condition of me writing about him) who inspired a post about breaking things off, and later guest posted with advice on what to wear on a date.

Raul and I have become good friends, and we hang out quite often now.  So, when he said he wanted to take me out on a “mystery non-date date,” I knew I wanted to use that as one of my 12 – in part, to show how this whole online dating thing has a sweet secondary advantage while you wait for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect (for you) to come along… it’s a great vehicle for meeting/making new friends.  In fact, in just a couple of hours, I’ll be hosting a Christmas party for over 20 people, most of which I’ve become great friends with through online dating and the ripple effect/connections that’s afforded me!  So, if you’re feeling discouraged about not yet having found your prince/princess – at least you can enjoy the happy byproduct of the search…new friendships.

So, Raul didn’t want to tell me what we’d be doing or where we’d be going.  He just told me what HE would be wearing.

Then, a day or so before the non-date-date, he texted me to talk about dinner options – and he remembered me telling him the story of having gone out on a date with a guy I really liked, who honestly did leave his wallet at home (we’d worked all this out before the date, so it wasn’t some trick – he was a good guy) and I offered to pay for the date… which meant that when the time came to choose the spot to eat, I had this newfound sense of total freedom in deciding..because I was paying!  This is something guys don’t often consider, but as a woman, if we think there’s even the slightest chance that the man will offer to pay, then we have to be careful about the restaurants we choose… don’t choose something so expensive it makes you come across as greedy or a gold-digger, but also don’t go so cheap that it’s a place you won’t enjoy…

Anyway, Raul remembered me telling him that and so he told me to choose a restaurant that I would choose if I knew I’D be paying (even though I wouldn’t be.  Raul is a very generous and traditional man when it comes to taking care of the bill).
I just thought this was so sweet – mostly because it proved that he had been listening when I mentioned that story and he’d tucked it away.  That sort of thoughtfulness and attention to another person, is something Raul has in spades.

So, I threw out a few options, and we settled on Haven, the new culinary darling of the Houston scene (Raul’s words).
Traffic en route to the restaurant was crazy – Christmas season in Houston, I suppose.  So, we got there late and Raul was a little stressed about the time because we had SOMETHING to get to at 7:30.  But, the long ride to the restaurant also afforded us time to talk…and we had a great conversation about family traditions, holidays, …we even got into our parents’/grandparents’ love stories – which was a lot of fun.

Raul at Haven

Dinner at Haven was so yummy and our server was a total hoot – taking our picture, bantering about food and our evening schedule, and even at the end, running out to grab the car to give us an edge, timewise.


Crabcake Appetizer


Raul’s Quail


My Wild Shrimp with Butternut Squash Puree




Then, we drove like a bat out of Hades through downtown Houston to the Alley Theater, to see a delightfully funny and even briefly poignant show, “The SantaLand Diaries.”  This is a one-man show (a hilarious one man, I might add) about a man taking a job as one of Santa’s elves at Macy’s in NY.  It’s based on the work by David Sedaris, so you know it was hilarious.SantaLand Diaries 1

The reason why this was such a good choice, is that Raul chose something which matched my personality/interests perfectly – it’s Christmasy (and I am a total sucker for all things Christmas… I’m that girl who actually LIKES hearing “Jingle Bell Rock” playing over the mall speakers… because it means we’re in the Christmas season!!), AND it’s comedy (and I absolutely LOVE comedy… stand-up, improv, you name it).

santaland - the elf himself

We squeaked in JUST in time before they closed the doors and then proceeded to laugh our tooshies off for the duration of the show.

When it was done, as we were climbing into Raul’s car, he remarked on what a beautiful night it was and asked if I’d like to take a walk.  I, of course, agreed and he said he’d drive us to someplace suitable.  As we were driving, I kept thinking, “why doesn’t he just pull over here?  Or here?  Downtown is beautiful!?”
After a few minutes of driving, I finally asked, “Where are you going?”  He laughed and said, “I was wondering when you were gonna ask!  I thought we’d go check out the lights at the zoo.”

Now, for those of you who live in H-town, you already know this, but the Houston zoo puts up a million lights each year at Christmastime – “Zoo Lights” – and you can buy tickets to walk through the zoo at night while looking at the different themes and listening to the music they have playing… it’s quite beautiful.  So, that’s what we did!


In addition to the traditional lights, they also had several displays of neon-tubing that were quite mesmerizing



The main thoroughfare of the zoo – a canopy of lights

So, we walked around, talking, laughing and enjoying the beauty of the lights.  It was really nice.  I highly recommend this as part of a date in the winter, as it affords you space to talk, as well as something to look at or “do.”


Most of the animals were tucked back into their sleeping nooks, but we DID get to see the giraffes up close and personal, and we probably stood there for 10 minutes, just watching them, imagining what they were thinking, naming them (I wonder if between the two of us, we could remember all the names we gave them… I seem to remember Janet, Larry, Leslie, Barkley, Farkley and Markely (the triplets), …and there were more.  Fantastic creatures.

We finally left when the zoo closed down for the night and headed home.

The night was lovely – as I KNEW it would be – because I’ve come to know Raul pretty well and he’s always fun to spend time with.

But, not only do we enjoy each others’ company, he is an expert listener – always tucking away stories and thoughts I’ve said or told him about, that come up weeks later in conversation or – in this case – a date.  He knew how much I love Christmas and Christmas lights… and he chose the course of the date based on knowing me.  And it was perfect.

So, let this be a lesson – my testamonial, if you will – that the online dating thing has its privileges and perks, even if you haven’t yet found your great love story.  I would never have met or befriended Raul if it weren’t for being online, …and what  a loss that would’ve been, because he’s one of my best friends now.

So – if you’re wary about getting your profile out there – think of Janet and the triplets, think of lights and one-man shows, think of car-rides with great conversation – and go for it.  Maybe you’ll find a Raul too.

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