Looking Under the Hood

I’ve been going over in my head the dilemma of how I should approach these online dating blog posts with humor and witty banter while not being mean or judgmental. And then I decided that that can’t be done. So let’s just have a little good-natured fun with my massive superiority complex firmly in check, shall we?

I think my favorite aspect of online dating is the profiles written by women who are truly delusional about the whole thing. Take, for example, the women who say they “won’t settle” this time right in their headline. Please. They might as well put on the their headline “I’ve been screwed over by men many times in my life to the point where I’ve decided to set quite unreasonably high expectations for my perfect man and will probably be alone the rest of my adult life.”

This mode of thinking takes many manifestations. Take this for example:

“don’t waste my time. make me laugh. speak intelligently. have a passion for something. be a culinary adventurer. know something about music. enjoy looking at art. need to be alone sometimes. live life.”

This is clearly either a woman who has done this a few times and is frustrated with the process, or is a dominatrix that likes to round out the evening of Biaggi’s and a chick flick with a little S & M.

One might gather that another of these profiles belongs to a woman who has been through the online dating ringer too. Or she’s just a really high-powered professional very focused on her career. That, or she really has a bone to pick with, um, well, people in general.

“I am a professional, career-minded woman with a great sense of humor; a good mix of serious and goofy, compassionate and caring, loyal and respectful, open-minded, independent and a resourceful person. I have been in serious relationships but have never married. I don’t have kids, other than my furkids, which I love very much. Whoever I end up with must love dogs, as they will always be a big part of my life.”

Starts out promising, but anybody who refers to their dogs as their “furkids” just plummeted in my “I take you seriously”-o-meter.

“I have focused so much of my life on my career that now I want to be able to travel and enjoy my freedom. I enjoy being the fun Aunt that gets to spoil the kids and then go home to my own life at the end of the day. I just turned 39 but look younger than my age.”

Hm. I turn 39 in December. And though I suffer brief spats of self-consciousness, I look like, well, like I will turn 39 in December. As King George Carlin said “People always say ‘I’m getting older.’ Bullshit. I’m getting old and that’s okay!” I mean, the statement starts out promising, hard-working woman makes good on her commitments and deserves the fruits of her labor. But the whole “gets to spoil kids and then go home” thing? Well, I’ve have heard people say that. People who are grandparents. And being my age, whenever I start complaining about how hard I’m working this week, people with children get this look in their eyes like “Screw you buddy, you get to go home at the end of the day. I’m in this shit for life.” Thus, no matter how hard I am working and how strung out I may feel, I’ve learned to check my bitching at the door. Because people with kids always have it worse. Always.

Someone with a terrific sense of humor (I love to laugh)”

We’ve talked about this, right?

“Someone that has their own interests but can also share in some of mine.”

Notice she says nothing about her participating in her mate’s interests. Error of omission, but still there. But the following is the meat of the profile right here. I kind of just want to pull her aside and tell her she’s talking about what she desires in a potential man. She’s not detailing a car.

“Here is a list of things that turn me off: *smoking (nonnegotiable) *multiple tattoos (especially ones that can’t be covered up) *facial hair (a little is ok, but I really don’t like full beards and mustaches) *conceited or arrogant people *pushy or overly aggressive *men just looking for a quick hook-up (barking up wrong tree here, so if this is you, move on) Also, if it looks like you could be mistaken for my father, I am not interested. I’d prefer to stay within 5-7 years of my age range as I feel like I have the most in common with this group. There are always outliers, but this is a strong preference.”

And here’s the kicker.

“I’ve written novels on here before but most people don’t really read them, so if you want to know more about me and what I’m looking for, please send an email. If I think we have something in common and have mutual interest, I’ll email back. It may take me a few days to write back, as I am very busy at work right now.”

Okay, first, maybe they do really read them and that’s why you’re still searching. And of course, there is the requisite “Just ask!” invitation because most guys don’t have much better to do than worm their way through the labyrinth of meeting your criteria. And if they do, well, you’re just gonna have to wait it out, buster. Because she’s busy, got it?

I knew when I started this that it was a very different world than when I tried online dating the first time. What I have to constantly remind myself than the online dating world is really no different than meeting people in other social spheres. 80% of the people I meet I just plain don’t click with for any number of reasons. That other 20% is the well I am drawing from and while I do have the benefit of selective reasoning in determining which of that 20% I may have potential with, that is still only an estimate and it behooves me to keep an open mind and remember this is love that I’m looking for and a few quirky differences is probably going to make for great conversation at least. I’m not reviewing consumer indexes or interviewing for a job.

But the “furbabies” thing is non-negotiable.

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Fun with Texting

I fought the temptation to get texting capacity on my phone for some time. I even explicitly told my phone company I didn’t want to be able to receive or send texts from anyone. Anywhere. At all. That was yet another foolhardy thing I was taking a stand on. I realized later that, like so many things, there was definite possibilities for humor in texting. And that makes it worth a look-see. Besides, once I admitted that text messages are no different than private messaging someone on Facebook, well, what was I objecting to exactly?

I have threads of texts with many people spanning months and even years, same as private messages. One of these is with my mother, a woman who I have a healthy amount irreverence for, especially when it comes to her aptitude with new technologies. I mean, I’m sorry, but sometimes she just sets herself up and I have no choice to mock her. This weekend was one of those times. I was trying to find out about a friend in town from Brooklyn whose parents live quite a little ways away.

 

Mom text1

So far so good. Knowing how important getting to my home group AA meeting is to me, she asked if I would be joining them for dinner the night I had my meeting …

 

Mom text 2

As you can see I just can’t let some details go, no matter how minute.

 

Mom text 3

It’s okay, I offered to do the dishes that night, so I think I’m back in the black.

Pals

This weekend, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a gathering at a place called Bedlam Farm. It consisted of a number of the members of the Open Group for Bedlam Farm, a Facebook group I belong and known alternately as a Ministry of Encouragement where a bunch of a creative types like myself gather at one of my favorite author’s farm in New York to meet each other and exchange ideas and merriment. It was the second year of the event and this time, I couldn’t go for a number of reasons, but namely because I had better things to do.

First thing on Saturday morning, I had breakfast with my brother, my Da, my niece and nephew and Brown a.k.a. Dr. Jimmy, who was my Godfather (a concept I really don’t understand. I mean, does that mean when I get to heaven and tell God I was actually a Buddhist, Dr. Jimmy has to do extra time in Pergatory to repent for my sins? Just askin’ over here.)

 

Me Dave Dad Brown and Kids

Dave see saw

After breakfast, I went for a walk with him and my niece and nephew to a school playground near my parents’ house. I pushed Jake and Izzy on this merry-go-round contraption (actually it looked more like a medieval torture apparatus than playground equipment) and took this photo of my brother on another see-saw-esque device that actually looked more like an elaborate sort of sex toy, but no matter. We played with his kids and joked about the teenagers engaged in some sort of thinly-veiled nefarious activity behind the school (Drug-free zone my ass). I love Jake and Izzy, although it was tough for me and Dave and my SIL to figure out where to tell the kids I’d been for 3 years. We decided that I had been doing missionary work in Africa. Which is kind of true. I mean, there was drying out involved.

The night before, I had traveled to a little village a fair piece south of Omaha. Hawaiian Village to be precise, where one of my best friend’s parents retired to. There I got together with my friends Dave and Aaron, both of whom I’ve known for more than 20 years. There’s just something so dignified about being able to say that. I took these pictures with them and their wives.

ME Luke and Aaron 2

 

That photo is alright, but I think this one gets more to the core of my relationship with these clowns …

 

Me Luke and Aaron BEst One

 

Me Heidi and Jen BEst

And it really reminded me of this thing I saw today (I know, pretty weird that something that happened on Saturday can remind me of something I read today, but there it is) about how with some people, you don’t see each other for 2 years and somehow, you pick up right where you left off the last time you saw them. I’m so incredibly lucky to count Aaron and Dave in the small group of my friends. And I got a picture with their beautiful wives as a gentle reminder of what lies waiting for me if I’m patient.

So while I wasn’t able to go to New York and frolic with the other people in the OGBF, share their work and kiss a donkey, I had my own little reunions to go to. I’ve been dragging ass all day today because of packed weekend with these guys. And I hope it all happens again soon.

Man up! (or the Musings of a Former Delinquent)

My buddy Mitch (different Mitch) has lot to say about this journey of sobriety. In meetings and around the poker table, he frequently espouses on how me and the other guys in my group are really just a bunch of middle-aged guys trying to figure out how to grow up. At the meeting I chair, he’ll frequently preface what he says with “It’s a good topic, Andy,” before he starts explaining what he got out of it. Although, he does say that every time I introduce a topic, much the same way that after anybody tells you how long they have been sober, whether it’s five days, five months or five years, you are kind of obligated to say “That’s a long time.” But here’s the thing: with alcoholics and addicts, any amount of time spent sober is a long time, relative to how you live that time. I mean, I remember after I achieved one year sober, my friend Mitch (no, not that Mitch, the other Mitch) said “Congratulations. Now the real work begins.” Then he said the same thing a couple months later when somebody announced they had three years sober. “Now the real work begins.” Really, it’s all just an elaborate code for the intricacies and pit falls only alcoholics and addicts relate to. Anyway, back to Mitch.

He’s the same Mitch that said the thing I quote very often about “how long did it take you to throw your life away? It’s gonna take that long …” But the things about growing up he couldn’t have been more right about. And I didn’t really know that what that meant, what everybody in my life wants from me, is to stop dwelling on the things I did that led up to the fall and, as Morgan Freeman put it, get busy living. I’ll give you an example.

This last weekend, I gave my father a card for Father’s Day. It had all the requirements of a holiday card from me: It was quippy, heartfelt and it had a dog theme. This one was no different. And I bracketed a section of the card that enunciated my remorse for past wrongs as his son. And you know what he did? Just shrugged it off. I mean, he appreciated the card, but I could tell in his demeanor that he had grown tired of my trying to say, in cards and actions and good deeds, how sorry I was for everything I had done to him and my Mom. Which is a lot.

Put another way, I recently tallied all the people that I had screwed over in my addictions, multiplied that number by the amount of substances I was imbibing over the years, divided that number by the square root of the side effects of my addiction, (lethargy, indifference, being an all-around jerkweed) and took that number to the Nth power and realized … it doesn’t matter. Not one bit.

See, if I am serious about sobriety, and I most certainly am, then the time has come for me to stop with the first stage of my penance (guilt over past wrong-doing) and graduate to the next level, taking all that I have learned in these first stages and putting them into practice. I mean, I believe those close to me are elated that I have seen the errors of my ways and am making good on them. But they kind of want me to shut up about it already. Proof is in the pudding and all that. Same thing with my job. I recently sent Thank-you notes to the pertinent people about my gratitude for them taking me back at the Human Society. But that’s kind of where it ended. And that’s where it should end. I’ve entered the longer, more tedious stage of sobriety, the “Show me the Money” stage. I think those I love and care about are happy that I seem sincere about this new phase of my life.

Now they just want me to man up and start living the sincerity.

Fair enough. I can do that.

Him (Can you take it?)

“Ahh, poor little guy. Shall I get you a tissue?”

I lifted my head from my hands and looked at him. He lay in the hospital bed. Above him, monitors blipped, then blipped again. And again. I dried my face with the bed sheets and continued to stare at him. The man laying before me slept in a drug-induced coma. He would wake from that coma a few days later agitated and confused. His parents would try to calm him. They would call for the nurses. Eventually he would fall back to sleep. And they would continue to wait. To see what he would become. I broke down crying again.

“I’ll say this. You gave it a good run, this sobriety thing,” He said, looking at the man in the bed over my shoulder. “And you may last a little longer. But you will come back. And the reason I know this is because you are not strong enough.” He bent over and whispered in my ear. “Do you hear me? You aren’t strong enough to live with the fact that the stuttering, simpleton idiot that is going to get off that bed is never going to be smart enough to handle a job that pays well. And you know and I know that money makes the world go round.” He began pacing behind me as a fresh wave of despair sent me sobbing again. He chuckled at this.

“You did give it a valiant effort with the veterinary technician thing. Of course, you failed miserably because your transmission only guns to maybe 3rd gear now. I mean yeah, you use to fire on all cylinders, but you squandered it. All this Buddhist “live in the moment” bullshit probably comes in handy now that you have no choice but to live with the fact that you have limited potential. And in this workaday culture you live in, limited potential means what?”

“Limited possibilities,” I said and snatched the handkerchief He offered me. I wiped the fresh tears from my face, then saw the embroidered image of a number. There was five digits, and the first one was a 3.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“That’s the biggest income you can ever hope to make if you stay with this animal care pipe dream,” He said. He sat in a chair on the other side of the bed and pulled a silver flask from His pocket. “And maybe you’ll string together 5 or 6 years sober. But then your parents will die or you will get laid off from that non-profit you work at, part-time I might add, or you will somehow find a woman that miraculously accepts you for who you are but is really tired of picking up all the tabs. I mean really, you can name the tragedy. And you will come back to it. Back to the bottle. Back to me.” He drank long and full from the flask and burped with satisfaction.

“Why don’t you just stop with the delusional bullshit and submit a resume for a job at your buddy’s insurance company. Hell, you could even apply for a job at Kong or Science Diet or Purina or something and try to fool yourself into thinking you really do love the dogs but you like to be able to pay all your bills too. I mean admit it, with your Dad retiring and telling you this is the last time he can help you with a “new” cars, that scared the shit out of you right? So just cow, you’ll be so much happier. You’ll move to Ohio or Kansas or something chasing a job and a paycheck and you’ll become a functioning alcoholic like the rest of the country. Seriously, just knock off all this healthy eating and healthy living nonsense and get with the program kid.” He stood up and looked out the window at the setting sun. “I mean shit, at least you’ll have stopped kidding yourself.”

“That’s not true,” I said, fighting back another round of tears and only half-believing what I was saying. “I’m not kidding myself. This is going to be hard, harder than almost everybody I know. But I can –“

He wheeled around and threw his flask. It hit me squarely in the forehead. Blood ran down my face and on to the bed. I was now wincing and crying tears of pain and depression. That didn’t stop Him. He walked around the foot of the bed. I sat hunched over on the edge of the chair. Just enough for Him to kick me in the crotch and send me to a full collapse on the floor. He brought His knee up into my nose. I fell back on the floor and covered up as He kicked me over and over. He then knelt down and put his face right in mine.

“Get this straight, asshole,” He said. “You will never be anything if you continue with this animal thing and besides, either way I will win. You either stick with it, have no money and drink because you’re a failure and you know it or you give it up and get a nice cushy job you hate and drink because you have no purpose other than working to live. Whatever happens, I come out of smiling. ‘Kay? So what’s it gonna be?”

words, Exclamation Points and Laughing Out Loud Part 2

Okay, this is what I’m talking about. Just read this profile and I want to strangle her. Or stab her. With a dull knife. A butter knife. A rusty butter knife.

And being animal lover, I got real excited when I first start reading the post.  At the very first. Then I started getting all stab-y:

 

“I Love animals, especially dogs!! I guess my friends always describe me as a very soft hearted person! I love to laugh and have fun! Life is too short for drama & negativity! Absolutely love stock car racing, grew up watching them! I’m looking for someone that is not a liar or a cheat!

I love spending time w/ friends & family! Playing games, watching movies! Fourth of July is my favorite holiday! I’m in “Awe” when it comes to fireworks ( ya kinda weird I know ;)!Hanging out with friends drinking by a fire is my idea of a great time

I absolutely love stock car racing, sprint cars, anything to do with racing! I love camping, sitting by a campfire,just talkin, having a great time! I’m very outgoing & can pretty much strike up a conversation with anyone! I live to make others laugh.

  I don’t like to read 😉 well I take that back,I read my 4 year old books ;)”

And that last line. Oh man. Makes me think of reading in an article in Mother Jones years ago. It was like a survey questionnaire thing and it had different categories of what people were reading these days. The first category was “Don’t read. Hurts ma brain.” Yeah, that.

Man, this one is just teeming with jokes. But I’ll close with the last joke and call it a day. That “anything to do with racing” line. My friend Dan once said “I’m leery of anyone who’s idea of a good time is watching people turn left for three hours.”

Words, Exclamation Points and Laughing Out Loud

You’ll forgive my rancor, but I got problems.

I got problems with the way American English is being abused, brutalized and otherwise mistreated. I don’t say the “English language” because American English is a whole different animal than proper English. I’m talking about the Americanized bastardization which many people think is their birthright and the errant, willy-nilly, “I talk/write like how I talk/write and that’s just how I talk/write so get used to it” manner in which people treat the language with an utter lack of respect.

No. I won’t get used to it. Because you are mincing and shredding an otherwise beautiful classical language and I feel it is my responsibility to tell you so. This is not meant to criticize. It is not meant to make me appear lofty or learned. Consider it a public service announcement that if you are doing any of these things or anything like these things, you’re doing it wrong (See, I’m not adverse to the proper insertion of an Internet phrase if used correctly).

First, an old roommate of mine once used the word “Snidbit.” I responded by saying “’Snidbit’ is not a word. ‘Tidbit’ is a word. ‘Snippet’ is a word. ‘Snidbit’ is not a word.”

He replied, “Well, I say ‘snidbit’.”

Okay, not only are you using the wrong word, but you have enough self-importance to think that the rules of English somehow don’t apply to you and you can make up words as you see fit. You can’t, and doing so makes you seem ignorant. It’s a similar experience when I use a term or phrase and then I hear the person I said it to reuse it the next dear but do so incorrectly. For instance, I once used the phrase “rhyme or reason” and the next day, heard the woman I said that to use the same phrase, only she said “reason or rhyme.” Stop it. Stopitstopitstopit. If you don’t know how to use the word or phrase, do not use it. You will sound foolish.

Again, I’m not criticizing. I just feel the need to repeat that because I just tire of otherwise bright people sounding like children. And speaking of sounding like children, let’s switch gears to the overuse of the (!).

I’ve developed a reputation in a couple of Facebook groups I am in of abhorring the overuse of the (!). It’s gotten to the point where people use it to just to get my goat and really, it’s kind of endearing at this point. However, it doesn’t make it any less annoying. Take a moment, right now, and look at your keyboard. Do it. You see all those things above the numbers (if you are reading this on a smartphone, hit that “button” on the bottom left of the keypad.) By my count, there’s over 25 different punctuation marks you could be using, and they all mean something different. They are just as important in the writing of English as words and I love them. And yet it seems that people have fixated on using the one above the”1” and flood their writing with it. This is unnecessary, not to mention troubling as it makes your writing look like it was penned by a manic lunatic. And again, I believe this point is addressed at the online dating site. You can opt to send a V.I.P. email, in which case a small advice box will pop up next to your message and provide you with 5 Tips on sending a message to a prospective date. Know what one of the tips is? Don’t overuse (!) because you will sound like a manic lunatic.

Speaking of sounding like a manic lunatic, let’s talk about “LOL”. For the third time, I am not saying this to sound uppity. I am saying this because I am a purist and love writing and understand its power. So when you abuse the written word, I weep for lost opportunity. Using “LOL” all the time makes it impossible for me to take you seriously, not to mention nourishes a very unhealthy superiority complex on my part. You are not laughing out loud. You are not laughing out loud. You are not laughing out loud. And once again, this segues into how this use of “laughing out loud” translates into online dating. If you took all the profiles I read at face value, given the frequency and importance the women on this site give to laughter, taken collectively, they give the impression of a crowd of cackling hyenas in desperate need of freakin’ sedative. In their younger years, this would be the gaggle of women at the bar laughing at the most mundane and unamusing minutiae you can think of. Otherwise known as a bachelorette party. Also, even if used correctly, the overuse of “LOL” shrieks testimony about how important we think we are that if we laughed at something, we absolutely have to inform the person we found what they just said funny. I mean good God, if someone writes something that they feel is funny but is not but they use “LOL” anyway, the least the reader can do is just let them continue to believe that they are funny but not comment on it. And if you write something that you think is funny, but is not, and yet include “LOL”, you come off like a bully who is commanding the reader to laugh at something even if it is decidedly not worth even a chuckle. And again, given the rampant use of the “I love to laugh” phrase in online dating, you would get the impression that these are women who literally laugh all the time with the frequency implicitly suggested by Larry the Cable Guy and Adam Sandler movies.

Let me interject here, one more time, that I feel like I owe it to the reader to inform them of these things so as to create a more sound and thoughtful public. Hell, I can get down and write on the nasty with the best of them and I don’t think less of the writer, I just think less of the writing. For one one final time, I say none of this to nurture some feeling of “I’m right and you’re wrong,” though it could easily be construed that way. I merely am pointing out that what you say matters as much if not more than what you do. Take care to mean what you say, say what you mean, and say it correctly.

Light the Match

I recently entered into a time-honored tradition in the brief history of the Internet: Online dating. This is a subject that is positively rife with material to spoof on. From Adult Friend Finder to EHarmony to Match to Plenty of Fish, this is a bottomless well for a jaded yet hopeful, sardonic yet sincere, hardened softy such as myself. Being a heterosexual male at the tail end of his youth, I find myself, more often than I’d care to admit, cursing this frustrating world of eternal hope.

Coming up with the material for the first post in this series took about 12 minutes. The online dating world is saturated with information, philosophies, aphorisms, admonishments and wisdom. And that’s just the women that I have, like, 76% in common with.

I only have a subscription to one online dating site, and yet I get emails seemingly every other day with my daily suggestions for long-term bliss. And it is long-term. These women’s musings about Life, this enigmatic concept on which at least half of the women on this site have a profound philosophy, range from the mundane (“Life is like a box of chocolates” [Okay, maybe this specific musing wasn’t quite so trite, but it might as well have been]) to the pragmatic (“live every day to its fullest!”) and everything in between. And, in case you were wondering, Life is also:

“… short ….”

“… not about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain … “

“… doesn’t always have to be an up hill climb [sic] …”

“… an adventure …”

[And something to …]

“… enjoy [life, that is]! Are you game? …”

Oy vay. Not at the moment, I’m not. I’m exhausted just from reading the headers. Then there was this one …

“… Life is not worth living if one can’t laugh …”

Nevermind the seemingly macabre undertones of this statement that seem to admonish the perspective suitor that if he is a generally somber person, for whatever reason, he should probably just eat a bullet. Anyway, more on that subject later. Oddly though, regardless of age, number of children, if they “never married” are “currently separated” or “divorced” (I won’t include “widowed”, that would just be callous) a helluva lot of them seemingly are ….

“… starting a new chapter in their life …”

And given their personal stories, many of them have chapters like a Vonnegut novel; with a single sentence. One woman boasted of having a very fulfilling career (I assume it was her career, she didn’t seem to have much else going on and her Occupation listing was “Other”) at hoola-hooping flaming rings in a rather lengthy list of geographic locales. And hey, I’m not saying anything derogatory about having a career as a flaming ring hoola-hooper, but I would think you would never be at a loss for interesting guys if you travel to Toledo and Hawaii and Denver and Phoenix and Hoboken and Mexico and Timbukfreakintu as this woman claimed to have done. But maybe that was her thing. She wanted Bob the insurance salesman to come home to after jet-setting with Jorge in Tijuana and Joshua in Telluride. Whatever. Godspeed.

And yet, with all this seeming depth regarding the intricacies of life come to by every type of woman from executives to servers to nannies to massage therapists, there seems to be a very common thread of reticence in volunteering any other information because a staggering amount of them cap off a 4-5 line profile with the statement that they are “not very good at talking about” themselves and if you want to know more “just ask!” Presumably these are the women who get the most “Your hot” and “Hi” messages sent to them.

But perhaps the most frustrating thing about the site I speak of is the fact that many women specify that they haven’t ponied up the cash to actually have a membership and thus can’t send or receive emails. Thus, if I do send someone an email, I believe all that happens is the site contacts them and tells them they have 74 unread emails and she needs to show them the duckets if she wants to see those emails so pay up. Which makes no sense to me because not only am I sending emails not knowing that it’s to a woman who can’t ever read it and but also I get the added bonus of thinking all the emails I sent out last night were for naught and I really am as undesirable as I thought I was when I was eating cookies and drinking milk out of the jug at 3 AM in front of an open fridge.

It’s tricky terrain I’m venturing out into with my gloves-off profile in which I quote many of my female friends about what a catch I am. Unlike many of the other guys who I’ve heard through the grapevine are nothing more than musclebound jerkoffs, I have a brilliant, if slightly damaged, mind and a soft heart to bring to the table along with my pretty beefcake physique.

Here’s hoping this works. And if it doesn’t, no worries. There’s always ChristianMingle.com