Modern Romance, Part 2

I was going to title this post “Modern Romance” with due homage to the band The Yeah Yeah Yeahs for their song of the same name. Then I went to YouTube and listened to the song and good god its depressing, not to mention incredibly pessimistic. Hence, Part 2.

Several months ago, my roommate told me about his girlfriend’s best friend who had said that she was eager to get back into the dating game. She’d read a lot of my blog posts and was duly impressed and wanted to meet me. So she came over one night and I made her dinner (that’s right ladies, nearly 2 decades of being single with no children has led to an acquired and cultivated ability to cook. At this point, I’ve been doing it long enough that I really only use recipes half the time and even then, it’s merely a guideline. The rest of the time, I just wing it and it comes out pretty well. I mean, I’m not Emeril material, but I could cook Rachel Ray under the table. I mean really, the woman adds garlic to everything and gets a standing ovation for it. Get real sister. You’re not supposed to add garlic to ice cream. Of course, I may have a bad taste in my mouth for Ms. Ray because my ex-girlfriend was one of those people who spent hours upon hours watching the show and never actually, y’know, cooked anything. That factoid isn’t on the laundry list of reasons I don’t talk to her anymore, but it deserves honorable mention.)

Anyway, me and Michelle (She was in the Program, but the name “Mitchelle” doesn’t sound right. Then again, when it comes to names anymore, who cares how you spell a name or even if it’s a semi-conventional name? My buddy’s son’s name is Dax and another woman I know named her son Jax. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if I was out walking my pet-sitting client Lucky and met a guy who introduced me to his son Multilax and did so with a straight face) dated for a little while but it was completely on her terms, which weren’t really her terms at all but those of her sponsor. That’s a relationship some people have with their sponsor, that of “What my sponsor says goes.” I do not have such a relationship with my sponsor, or anyone really. I went to breakfast after a meeting with my sponsor yesterday and, unbeknownst to me, he left while I was in the bathroom and I didn’t buckle over in tears or wander around the parking lot wailing and screaming like a lost child. I waited for him outside the restaurant and when he didn’t show, I left too. Anyway, after we had been seeing each other for a few weeks, it just got bizarre when Facebook Messenger suggested her as a friend. This really freaked me out because how did Messenger even know about Michelle? I mean, this falls into the “the computers are learning and we’re all doomed” War Games come The Terminator scenario many of us fear. But I ran it past her and she approved.

We only dated for a short time and I experienced a new social paradigm when she “unfriended” me. I didn’t really know to react. Part of me had a sort of “How dare she!” reaction before the smarter angels of my nature took over with “Oh Jesus dude, get over it already. If unfriending you and ghosting you has replaced keying your car or an all-out chastising for your ill-thought misdeeds, you got off light.” So I let it go.

Somewhere along the way, the whole online dating world ballooned into online dating for professionals at one web site, online dating for women looking for a baby daddy at another, interracial online dating, online hook-up sites for swingers and even online hook-up sites for those who want to cheat on their spouses. (I’m serious about this, I even have one friend who was knee deep in some of those sites. That’s part of the reason we gave him the name “Philthy”) Anyway, I recently subscribed to one of these sites called Pile of Fish and met a woman who, as far as I can tell so far, is very cool. A couple weeks ago, we removed the site from our stream of communication and exchanged numbers. After I entered her name into the Contacts app on my phone, the FB messenger app cross-referenced her number with “friend” suggestions and her full name and photos of her popped up. Good things about this include the fact that I saw more than just the one photo she has sent me of her (she’s gorgeous) and a little more of a window into her life that I have already from talking to her on the phone and, as of yesterday, in person.

Bad things about this include “WTF!?” I mean, I didn’t have that reaction as severely as I did when FB talked to my phone the first time and told me about Michelle. But it still creeped me out that Facebook and my smartphone are apparently having conversations behind my back and planning my possible futures. I really had to take a step back from the whole thing to realize that this is a uniquely seminal moment in the world of romance. In the old days, it was Emily Bronte’s story about Heathcliff and Catherine and a tale of pining after your true love. Now, we find ourselves building on the list of questions of courtship progress by precluding issues from “Should I go right for dinner-and-a-show or start with the coffee date?” and “Is it too soon for me to suggest we go away together for a weekend since we don’t even have any toiletries in each other’s bathroom yet?” and the really sensitive question of “When is it a prudent time for me to meet her children?” with a much more ominous question …

Is it too soon for Facebook?


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.

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