An excerpt from “InvestiDate: How to Investigate Your Date” by Maria Coder
From time to time, there is an elephant in the room. Have you ever felt tense in a situation knowing full well you weren’t the only one to sense it? Sometimes the most telling information is what’s unsaid. Listen carefully to the gaps in the story – what’s been skirted, purposely avoided, or masked using clever innuendo. Then figure out why — silently, of course.
Take Sharon; for instance. The 33 year-old accountant met Angelo, a very well-dressed, extremely sexy Italian professor at a friend’s birthday party.
“He’s off the boat,” a friend whispers into Sharon’s ear. “Literally, he just got to New York City two-weeks ago, Steve says he’s the most popular professor on campus,” she says as she winks then walks away. Within minutes, Sharon’s friend has grabbed Angelo by the arm and personally introduced him to her.
A few days later Sharon called her friend to fill her in on her first date.
“I still can’t believe my luck. Angelo is incredible; so charming and animated. He chose the Metropolitan Museum of Art for our first date! He chose it! I can’t believe it. He actually knew about the painters, the sculptors, and the history of the museum. You’d think he studied art history, not science. I absolutely loved his accent – I mean, half the time I didn’t quite understand what he was saying but ha! That’s the best part! I feel kinda bad for his pre-med students though. Anyway, we’re going out again next week. Some foreign film, then dinner.”
Sharon is elated. What luck – she’s found this great guy, her first date went better than expected and she already has plans for a second date. Things are progressing nicely. Then on date number two she notices how chatty Angelo is with the male waiter and bus boy. At first, she thinks he’s being his usual, friendly, Italian-self. Then she notices the waiter rubs his hand on Angelo’s shoulder- twice. While the gesture catches Sharon off-guard, Angelo doesn’t flinch. Could her sexy Italian be gay? Perplexed, she calls her friend to tiptoe around the issue.
“So last night at dinner the waiter put his hand on Angelo’s shoulder twice,” says Sharon.
“Who cares? It’s not like he initiated it. Go somewhere else next time,” says her friend.
“No, no, not the waitress,” explains Sharon. “The WAITER.”
“Oh, well, so what?”
“I think that Angelo liked it. He didn’t flinch. He seemed totally comfortable,” says Sharon.
“Well, you know Italians. They talk with their hands. He probably didn’t think anything of it. Do you?”
“Um, yeah. I mean, OK, it could be an Italian thing but the boy can dress. He wears skinny jeans, he knows the Met inside-out, he picks cultural activities on dates… and now that I think of it, he spent a lot of time talking with a man at the museum gift shop.”
Sharon’s friend interrupts: “Wait. You think he’s gay?”
“I don’t know. What do you think?” asks Sharon.
“I don’t think so but who knows, you know? Maybe he’s just European. They tend to be way more cultured and dress different, better,” says her friend. “Has he made a move yet?”
“He’s kissed me many times. He tried to invite himself up the other night but it felt too soon, so I stalled.”
“Maybe you should let him up to find out,” jokes her friend.
“Maybe,” says Sharon, a huge knot forming in her stomach.
Feeling uneasy, Sharon decides to call Angelo and invite him out for coffee. Maybe seeing him again will make her feel better and answer some lingering questions. Her cell reception lousy at home, she looks up the number and calls Angelo from her landline. He answers but this time his accent is mysteriously missing.
“Angelo?” asks Sharon.
“Yeah, you got him” he says.
“Hi. This is Sharon.” The silence that follows is stifling.
“Hi Sharon,” says Angelo, his accent suddenly resurfacing, “How are you bella?”
“I’m fine. I was thinking about you and hoping you were free later. Want to meet for coffee?”
Angelo agrees and the date’s set for that evening but Sharon can’t believe what’s just happened. Did she imagine it? Did he not recognize her phone number and answer without an accent? Weren’t accents permanent? God knows, the French man three cubicles down at work had been attending accent reduction classes for at least 5-months with little improvement.
At coffee, Sharon asks more about Angelo’s work and his passion for science. She can tell he genuinely loves what he does; she just can’t tell if he’s genuine. Angelo mentions his visa and how he’s afraid it will expire soon.
“Soon?” asks Sharon. “I thought you recently arrived.”
At this, she notices Angelo’s expression changes. He takes a sip of his coffee then says “I know right? It shouldn’t be this way but Americans are so tough with their visa requirements. And P visas have all these rules.”
“P visas?” asks Sharon.
“Yes, professors get a P visa. So silly, P for professor equals P visa.”
At this Sharon laughs and thinks to herself, he really is charming, but then, about 30-minutes into the date she isn’t so charmed anymore.
“Sharon, I didn’t want to skip our meeting but I really have to go. I have to meet with a student in preparation for tomorrow,” says Angelo, standing up and giving her a perfunctory hug with a pat on the back.
Head down, shoes heavy, Sharon walks home upset, wondering what she did wrong. She thinks this is goodbye. It hasn’t occurred to her that Angelo is likely skipping out because of what she did right. He’s a con artist, but Sharon hasn’t quite connected the dots just yet.
First of all, there are more than 20 nonimmigrant visa types for people traveling to the United States on a temporary-basis. There are many more types of immigrant visas for people coming to live in the United States permanently. The type of visa you need is determined by the purpose of your travel. There is such a thing as a P visa but it’s not for professors, it’s for performing athletes, artists, and entertainers. For full information on visas, visit: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa. Here you may learn the different types of available visas, their requirements, and even how to accurately read visa documentation.
The one thing you won’t find out – if a person has a visa. Under U.S. law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 222(f), visa records are confidential.
If you want to know if a person is an illegal immigrant, you can only do so if you are verifying for employment purposes. Since U.S. law requires companies to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States, only U.S. citizens and foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization may legally work in America. As a result, E-Verify (www.dhs.gov/e-verify) allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. The online database is free for employers and non-profits.
In Sharon’s case, this won’t help but what will help is looking up the visa types and realizing that a P visa isn’t for professors. Since Angelo hammered home that P was for professors, it’s safe to say that he was lying – at the very least about his visa status.
But what about his mysteriously disappearing accent? Was Angelo really Italian? Yes and no. Turns out, Angelo was Italian-American. When Sharon later entered his name into Zabasearch.com she found a series of New York addresses. He was a life-long New Yorker who grew up in Little Italy and now lived nearby. His accent was convenient, he used it to seduce women, like Sharon, who instantly fell for his charm.
While Angelo was fluent in Italian, if she were unsure she could have called the LanguageLine.com at 1-800-752-6096. Here she’d be able to pay to have a phone conversation with the help of a language interpreter. This way she could verify Angelo truly spoke Italian and wasn’t merely whispering sweet nothings into her ear.
And what about his sexuality? Well, that’s a tad trickier to decipher.
“If somebody’s gay and wants to hide it it’s hard to tell,” explains Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm, a Los Angeles-based company that teaches men advanced social skills and dating science.
“You can look for stereotypical things like effeminate voice and mannerisms but those aren’t a tell-tale sign. There are guys that have religious or sheltered backgrounds and that’s just the way they are,” says Harbinger.
“Look for ambiguous signs of past relationships,” he says. Heterosexual and metrosexual men are still going to be touching [women] and taking things to the next level but most men are scared of rejection, which can affect how they act on a date.”
“It’s important to take the clues in combination,” reminds Harbinger, who runs a residential week-long training program that accepts six men at a time at a man pad in Hollywood, California. Five instructors take turns teaching the men about elements of body language, vocality, tonality, eye contact, confidence, and how to respond in high-pressure situations. For details check out TheArtOfCharm.com
In the end, whether Angelo was gay or straight, Italian or not, in the U.S. permanently or on a visa, he wasn’t the right match for Sharon. He was also dishonest and disingenuous. She may be disappointed today that things didn’t work out but in the long run it’s for the best.
What’s that Italian-American expression? Arrivederci sucker!