April 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
Recently, I joined eharmony, you know, the site for people who are “serious” about dating. Thus far, I have been on a single date with man who did not have a full time job, in fact, who in all of his time working had never worked full time, who, on the first date, asked me how many children I wanted and then told me over text message that he didn’t want to see me again but that I should enjoy the movie we were supposed to go to, and then wished me “Good luck on my search. “ You know, I think the smilely face emoticon made all the more classy. But I am not here this evening with my glass of pinot grigio to bitch about that man-perhaps, if you are very lucky, I will blog about him later. I am here to comment on and otherwise complain about the profiles I have read on Eharmony. And I have read a lot of them, because I am highly compatible with what would literally be binders full of men. Binders full of them.
After a while, profiles of highly compatible matches all seem the same to me. And last night, it occurred to me why-It reminded me of last easter dinner. Over lamb, my cousin told a story about being trapped on an Island with elks in fog- unable to kayak over the bay and he wasn’t sure how they would be get back and it was a pretty dramatic story, in which sally tried to jump of the boat and my cousin had to beat her back with his oar, lest she be eaten by sharks, and for long time, I was confused, I wasn’t sure if he was talking about his dog, or his new girlfriend. In fact, they were both in the boat( the dog and the girlfriend), and it was never clear which one he was talking about( I could go on and on about my pet peeve about people who say “female” rather than woman-doesn’t that strike you as creepy? It’s like something that guy in silence of the lambs would say before he lowered the lotion down in the basket). Anyhoo, while looking at profiles- divorced men with children, divorced men without children, never before married men who work in finance etc-I realized the sections entitled “What is the most important thing you are looking for” were all eerily similar-that is they all want someone who is “Loyal” “Warm” and “Affectionate” then go on in the next paragraphs about their busy lives and how they don’t have a lot of time, and are tired of “drama” etc. You know, because why should you expect your boyfriend to see you more than once a week? Or really, expect anything from him at all?
It was then that I realized that most of my highly compatible matches would be much better off getting a dog rather than a girlfriend. I mean, I don’t get the whole loyalty thing-as my friend pointed out, you don’t have to actually LIKE someone to be loyal to them. But a dog would not be drama-they’d be happy with anything, they’re super affectionate and extremely warm. In fact, the whole thing would be totally uncomplicated-you’d feed them, take them on a couple of walks and throw a ball around once in a while. You’d have companionship when you want it, and wouldn’t have to deal with pesky things like needs and feelings and compromise…. And ulimately, a dog would be much cheaper than dating.
Also, they’d totally fit into your outdoor life in which you go climb half dome every weekend.
March 31, 2013 § 3 Comments
One of the most annoying phrases introduced to the dating lexicon in the last 8 years is: “He’s just not that into you”. Here is a phrase that is simultaneously trite and dehumanizing, while also managing to be both shallow and demoralizing. Having spent time googling various issues, it’s a phrase that comes up for a surprising number of relationship problems. Are you dating someone who prefers to text? He’s just not that into you. Your boyfriend is spending a lot of time at work? He’s just not that into you. Did she say she was just going to go out for a gallon of milk and then never returned, then when you filed a police report because you believed she was kidnapped, you find out she’s living three states away with a new man? She’s just not that into you.
I don’t like this phrase because, first, it’s a way to shirk off one’s responsibility to be caring and compassionate to those that you are romantically involved with-my puritanical DNA abhors such carelessness. If you’re feelings about someone change, than it’s really up to you to let them know that-in a nice way-preferably, not over a text message.
Secondly,I don’t like it because it takes away agency from one of the relationship partners. This phrase is mostly said to women, appearing first on a Sex and the city episode, where it was meant to be this tremendously empowering concept about not wasting one’s emotional energy on someone who is not awesome. Or whatever. Yet, what it really means is that if this guy doesn’t do this or that, than he’s not into you. Which may be true. Or he could be out of town. Or he could sociopath , or he could be recently divorced and unable to give anything to anyone at all, or he could be a dick-my point is that it’s the woman waiting around for the guy to do something, something that she can judge or react to, but not actually being proactive herself. It’s seems like if you’re waiting around for someone else to do something, than are you actually an active participant? Are you a copilot? Also, on a personal note, I hate being tested by people. If you’re testing someone to see how much they like you-you probably don’t trust them or like them that much.
Thirdly, I don’ t like it because it says that this person who treated you badly, might have been nicer to you if you were worth it to them. Like the phrase isn’t “he’s just not into dating” or “He’s just not into relationships” or “He’s just not into treating women like they’re human beings” -it’s he’s not into YOU. Yes, You. Like there’s something wrong with You. I beg to differ. If someone treats you like shit, it means they probably treat a lot of people like shit-this really has nothing to do with the “You” aspect of it. I dont’ like this phrase because it saying that if only You were more deserving in some way or better or prettier, than he wouldn’t treat you like shit. It’s asking the wrong question. Instead, the question should be “what do I want in a relationship?” or “How would I like to be treated?” If there’s one thing I’ve heard from friends, and the learned the hard way from dating, is that if you’re asking yourself if the guy likes you( and not that in that cute way where you know he does) you have it ass backwards. You should be asking yourself, “Am I happy?” That’s the most productive question.
Finally, what the hell? Is there a way that you could sweep away all the grace, beauty, and really, anything compelling about romantic relationships any faster than with “he’s just not that into you.” Yo, people are complicated. Believe me, I’m not making excuses for anyone. We all know the end of relationships are totally personal-there’s some fatal flaw or compatibility issue. It’s very sad. Recently, I’ve dealt with not having closure-the burnt popcorn man-that was, actually, the last thing he ever said to me. So THAT obviously ended badly. I have this thing against Star Wars and microwave popcorn that I’m trying to work through. Anyway, so during the time we were together- I learned a lot, I won’t bore you with all the details-and I had a great time, you know, until he stomped on my heart. But I also made mistakes that I won’t make again.
My point is this, there’s no pat answer for anything-there’s no fast way to sum up intimacy and disappointment and hope and dread and all of the little things that brought you together and the big things that pulled you apart. Don’t I sound melodramatic? That’s because it is melodramatic. You know, because you cared. “He’s just not that into you” might be a kind of strangely clinical incantation to tie up all the loose ends.The thing is you’re not going to know what you took away from it until much later. Or maybe it will never make sense. What do I know? But what I do know is that “He’s just not that into you” doesn’t apply to 3 dimensional adults.
January 31, 2013 § 2 Comments
Dear Recently Divorced Man,
Congratulations/So Sorry to hear about your recent divorce. I know it has been many years since you’ve dated, and as you embark on this new adventure/midlife crisis you must be overjoyed/terrified. Thank you so much for inviting me out to dinner, even though I am not your ex wife. As you begin your quest for a new relationship/rebound, it’s important to remember that honesty/telling women what they want to hear is best. It’s great that we share so much in common. I can see this working out for the foreseeable future/until your ex calls. As we build our romantic connection/hook up, I’m really looking forward to getting to know you better/reading the cryptic text messages you send me because you can’t call when your kids are around-perhaps we might even fall in love/wallow in guilt and confusion. It’s great that you’re so open/closed to new experiences in your life. And you’re so great at sharing your feelings/pretending that you don’t have any, and of course, so interested in/scared of how I feel as well. As we move forward/step back, I am confident that you will make room for me/treat me like a ghost in your life. You seem so considerate/dismissive of my feelings, I think this dinner is going to go really well!
January 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
It was only after I hung up that I realized I would probably never hear from him again, and that our last words were, ” I have to go downstairs, someone is burning popcorn. “
October 20, 2012 § 1 Comment
The only thing you really need to know about my date with Paul is that it ended, not with an awkward kiss, nor a plan to hang out again, nor a handshake, nor a shoulder pat, nor a high five-but with him opening his trunk so that I could see there wasn’t a dead body inside.
The funny thing about Paul was that I had already gone out with him twelve years before, back when I was young and my cynicism was really an act-brought about by my desire to be taken seriously as a philosopher and sort of undergraduate dilettante who had witty and insightful things to say about life-and bands. I just spent a semester abroad, In Europe, and I was fond of comparing things in my small valley town to how things were in London. Nothing escaped my critical eye-everything seemed so banal and commercial by comparison-I missed the music and how people seemed to even do their laundry with more authenticity In Europe. I don’t think he stood a chance back then. Mostly, because he had never read Calvino and he didn’t have an accent. He is also short.
I don’t remember how I met him-only that we had a mutual friend and our first date was ok, and then after I had promptly forgotten him. Twelve years later, I met him again on an internet dating site. At first I had no idea who I was talking to-he was just some guy who was really into Twin Peaks and ordered coffee beans from David Lynch’s roasting company. I didn’t know it that was charming or weird-but over email, he was funny. We progressed to exchanging our real emails-and then I recognized his name.
Most people would have stopped there. But not me, I felt I had reached a critical age, being 33 and still “single”. I am not single in that kind of way that people are sometimes single in between relationships-you know, right before they meet someone else. Out of no where, one of my colleagues announced that my ovaries were shriveling up and dying and that she could smell the stench of my rotting eggs from way over on the other side of the room. It was like hearing the voice of the oracle, over my high school cafeteria lunch. All of this has lead to some soul searching. Is there something wrong with me? Am I the girl in the forest looking for sticks, throwing away perfectly good ones and ending up with nothing?
I thought maybe Paul deserved a second chance. I mean-he went college and didn’t work at a record store anymore, and who cares if he’s short? It also seemed like a truly romantic situation, I could see us ten years into the future at a dinner party. We’d laugh about how we met and I rejected him. I could see Paul holding my hand and beginning the next part with “And twelve years later…I set up a coffee date.” I talked to my friends about when or if I should remind him that we had gone out before. I did my hair and used my expensive department store makeup. I even shaved my legs. I was the first one there and set myself up at a table outside and pretended to read a book so I didn’t look as nervous.
Then Paul arrived-he was handsomer than I remembered him, and also bald. He was solid looking, somewhat fashionable still, and wore black framed plastic glasses. He also carried a novel. Honestly, it was refreshing, here was a guy in his late 30s that hadn’t given up on life yet, that wasn’t going to talk about how much they enjoyed rock climbing or reading the De Vinci Code. It looked like he still went out places and would never wear shorts with knee high socks and sandals. It seemed promising. Our eyes met and I couldn’t help blurting out,
“I know you”.
“I was wondering if that was you.” He smiled and sat down.
“Yeah, I was wondering if it was you too.” I took a sip of coffee so I would have time to think of something to say that was memorable and witty, only he said:
“How about that friend ours, Pat? Isn’t it crazy?”
“ What’s crazy? I haven’t talked to him in a while.”
“There he is all married with children-that would never be me. Makes me want to vomit. It’s Insanity.” He reached out and touched my knee. I adjusted my expectations-I mean, alright; maybe it won’t last very long, but why not have some fun?
I asked him about his art projects and he talked about them for about forty minutes or so. I was somewhat interested-even if it was a podcast radio detective story. He asked me some cursory questions about my life, but I could tell he wasn’t really interested. Still, he laughed at my jokes, and frequently touched my arm or leg. I was thinking that maybe we’d get dinner.
And then it all started going to shit. First it was some joke he made about Gary Coleman-then it was another joke about getting so angry with people he just wants to strangle them and bury them in a shallow grave. Only this is how he ended so many of his statements. “God, Sherry was so difficult to direct, I just wanted to strangle her,” He grimaced and put out his hands to choke an imaginary Sherry, “and then dump her body by the freeway.” -Or- “Yeah, I hate it when they mess up your order so bad. I wish I could just reach across the counter and fucking strangle them and then bury them like a serial killer would bury a prostitute out in the woods.”
He would then laugh maniacally, and say, “you know I don’t really strangle people, right?”
Paul then tells me about this adventure he had the week before. This story about how he wanted to go swimming at one of the pools in his apartment complex. He couldn’t go in the one closest to his apartment because there were children swimming in it and he didn’t want anyone to think he was a child molester. So he went to the pool further away. There were drunken people there, who looked like junkies. He told me they were his kind of people, because he knew they would entertain him. There was a man, a toddler and three women. The toddler was crying and the man asked him if he had seen Crystal around anywhere. Paul told him that he hadn’t. He drank some schnapps with them. The mother and the daughter began hitting on him. Then Crystal showed up with her phone. She was sobbing because the man had kidnapped her child. She ripped the toddler away and called the police. Paul, the other man, and the three women booked it back to the stranger’s apartment. I asked Paul why he just didn’t go home at this point. Paul told me because it was just getting good that I wouldn’t believe what happened next, because it was just hilarious. I sat back and waited.
Paul goes back to the apartment. He finds out that the other man-has three balls, something that Paul has never seen before. The story gets murky here, the two girls go off to hook up in the girl’s bedroom-which left the mother, Paul and the man with three balls. The mother and the man go off to the mother’s bedroom. Paul claims that he stayed behind to check out their DVD collection. At some point the girl who didn’t live in the apartment came running out of the girl’s bedroom and left. His curiosity piqued, Paul went to the bathroom, he noticed that the woman’s daughter was passed out in a pool of her own vomit on the floor. When Paul tried to open the door he hit her head. At this point, Paul is laughing. I asked Paul why it was funny, it seemed really sad to me. He said, no it gets better, that it wasn’t sad at all. He calls out to the man with the three balls. The man with the three balls leaves the mother’s bedroom naked, his dick erect and wet. He tells Paul not to worry about the girl passed out in the bathroom, that she does this all the time. Paul tells him that he’s going to leave, that he has stuff to do at home. The naked three-balled man hugs him goodbye, and then goes back to the bedroom. Paul is on his way out the door when he becomes curious. He wants to know why the other girl ran out of the apartment like that. So he goes to the other girl’s bedroom.
“Can you guess what I saw?” He asks me excitedly.
“Do you want to?”
Paul is undeterred, “I’m going to show you.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his phone. “This shit is insane, you’d never guess anyway.” He finds what he’s looking for and hands me his phone. At first, I have no idea what I am looking at, there’s a heart-shaped rainbow throw rug and…
“Do you see that?”
I look again; there on the heart shaped rug is human feces.
“That girl was so drunk she shit on herself. That’s why the other girl left.” He laughs.
On a truly bad date, there is always point when you realize that not only will you never go out with this person again or sleep with them if they were the last man earth (I had passed both these milestones before the picture) but that you actually hate them.
“I can’t believe you just showed me a picture of someone’s shit.”
“I know, nobody wants to be friends with me.”
Here’s what Paul and I have in common-the ability to have a truly awful and sad experience, yet think of it as some sort of performance art. I suppose I could have left then-but I didn’t. Paul starts telling me about how nobody wants to be his friend because he makes the same stupid jokes at restaurants:
“Every time they ask me what I want to drink, I say ‘I’ll take a ripple please.’ That look you have on your face, that’s the look they always give me.”
“What’s a ripple?” I ask him.
“It’s a drink from the 70’s-like cheap liquor. They drank it all the time on Sanford and Sons.”
“Does anyone ever get that joke?” Paul doesn’t know it-but I’ve gone into my teacher mode. I am asking him questions in the same patient, yet resigned tone I would use with a fifteen year old who has accused me of violating his first amendment rights by not letting him swear in class.
“Well, this one time someone did-Sherry, that’s how I cast her in my project.”
“So, like one person, out of how many?”
“So… why do you tell a joke that nobody laughs at?”
“Oh, you know, servers, their work is so boring and mundane.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I’ve worked in customer service before, when I ask them for a ripple, I shake them out of their routine.”
“What are you? Some sort of one man flash mob doing the world a favor by pulling them out of their mundane existence?”
Paul stares at me, “People who do flash mobs are douches.”
“You said it, not me.”
For the first time all night, Paul looks chagrinned. He laughs and then looks uncomfortable. “Maybe you’re right.”
“Yeah, you should find some new jokes.”
It’s been two hours. I tell Paul I have to go. He walks me to my car; luckily he’s parked right in front of me. We both have parking tickets; essentially, I’ve paid fifty dollars to look at someone’s shit. At this point Paul seems dejected and is babbling. I don’t know what to say to him-‘I had a great time, sorry that you’re a douche’ seems rude somehow.
Paul makes a joke about how this is his getaway car for when he strangles people. I just shake my head and look embarrassed for him.
“Oh my god, really”, He tells me, “I’m not a serial killer. No really, I’ll open my Trunk, See! It’s empty. Empty”
“Oh Paul, those are words no one ever wants to hear on a date.” I begin edging away from his car, lest his push me in and drive off. I say, “So it’s been really good seeing you again, after all that time…”
“Yeah, maybe in another twelve years.”
“Yeah” I say, “Great. I’ll see you then. Have a good night.”
October 15, 2012 § 1 Comment
Things to do:
1. Cry on the phone: Why? I don’t know why, because you’re being dumped and you’re crying, only you’re talking to someone who you really liked only moments before, and still like. Someone who you, perhaps, had you actually had a working relationship, would have sought comfort from. As you cry, and cry and cry and cry, at some point the irony of being broken up with for being “emotionally unavailable” is acute. Which really makes you even cry more. It’s like I always tell my students, nobody appreciates the irony of anything being point out to them when they’re having an awful experience.
Thing to take away:
Isn’t it nice to know that even after years of horrible dating one can actually still develop real feelings for someone? It’s best not to dwell on the point that they didn’t develop feelings for you, as there’s no accounting for taste.
2. Sit on your stoop in your bathrobe chain smoking. Sure I quit smoking two years ago, but hey, when was the last time I got dumped? I mean, really, what better way to ruminate over everything that went wrong? And I tell you what, there’s nothing comforting in your house. As, who wants to listen to music or watch tv, or read or do anything when you feel that awful. If you really want to make a dramatic statement, I suggest adding cold chinese food to the mix at 1 am.
Things to take away:
You know, one learns a lot while dating, sometimes about things you have done to other people who liked you before and then, in this instance, they were done to you. Being on the other side of it makes you realize how much that sucks, how it made you feel full of anxiety. That getting to know someone is awkward and hard enough without hurdles being put up. As whoever you are dating, should just be good enough in the moment, because they’re there with you, sharing the experience. That’s enough. On the plus side, you can revel in the weight loss that accompanies misery and anxiety.
3. Talk to the person one last time. I don’t know how it is for anyone else, but my first instinct was the belief that it was all a misunderstanding. I think when people dump you, they want to give you the feeling that it wasn’t you, when it was. They just didn’t like you enough. So rather than say something like that-which probably seems mean at the time, you know, because you’re crying on the phone, they’ll try to give a dumb reason, like you’re emotionally unavailable or you didn’t say this one thing or whatever. And of course, when you think about it later(perhaps on your stoop in your bathrobe), you want to point out the fact that you were so emotionally involved and available, you want to explain your reasons for things. The problem is, it doesn’t matter. I keep thinking about that Emily Dickinson poem about the feathered thing. Feelings are intangible, sometimes fleeting. People are either in things or not. Anyway, my point is this: if you talk to them one last time, you’ll realize that they didn’t care about you in the same way that you cared about them. Again, no accounting for stupidity or taste.
Things to take away:
I’m pretty sure magazine articles will disagree with the above advice. But you know what? I think it’s totally worth doing. It’s not just so you find out that they don’t like you in that way-I think you have to do it for yourself. I don’t think feelings should be bound up in pride. Better to have it all out there-even awkwardly so, then wonder if they really did dump you for the stupid reasons they cited. If you feel something is worth fighting for, it is. It’s really beyond some stupid pithy saying like “He’s just not that into you”. That’s just bullshit so you don’t do what you want. You have to feel it. I think the only way you can feel is to show them your heart and then ultimately have your heart rejected. Sure it’s sad. But at least you will never ever have to wonder.
4. It doesn’t mean it was all shit. I had the profound insight of realizing that they experienced things in a completely different way than I did, meaning negatively. It was really hard to hear. Again, you’ll probably want to point out to them why they misinterpreted things, but that probably won’t come off well, maybe like you’re attacking them or trying to make them feel guilty. When you realize this, you’ll feel really stupid for ever feeling comfortable for even a moment. Even though you basically spent a month of your life at same theater watching a different movie, the movie you saw really wasn’t that bad.
Things to take away
Shit is fucking real. Seriously, you know what I learned? If you’re dating someone and something happens that you feel weird about, don’t wait to talk about it. Don’t think to yourself, oh it will freak him out if I call him right now on the drive home and ask him what the fuck just happened? Or oh, I don’t want to pick up phone because I’m crying and I need to figure out why I’m upset. Or oh, it’s impolite to call after eleven or oh, I think he just needs space right now or I’ll seem really needy that I think this is weird or some other dumb shit. You know what? people are needy and easily confused. I realized I didn’t say some of these things because I don’t like being a needy person and also because I didn’t trust him not to reject me. But really, who isn’t a pit of need for reassurance? What may seem like a minor communication issue will blow up into this horrible distance between you. The next thing you know, you’re both analyzing the placement of emoticons and every word that you say to each other and all those good things that brought you together will buried under asinine assumptions and meaningless psychoanalysis. Then you don’t really know each other at all. You just know the person you imagine the other person to be, which given the filters and baggage that accompanies anyone over the age of 25, is someone bordering on a sociopath. What you don’t say is left to the imagination, and what they imagine is like a hundred times worse than anything you’ll say. Like an Albatross, communication is awkward and beautiful.
5. Go out. Have a good time.
Things to take away:
You know, what I realized is that even though one person didn’t like me, I have a whole lot of people who love me already- a lot. Which is great.
March 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
If you’ve ever heard that song about that girl who is in between the ages of 20 and 30-you’ll understand why 2007 is the last time I got hit by a much older man. That’s when I was 30. Now that I am 34, no older man ever hits on me, which is too bad, because at this point, I’d probably date them-you know, if they were under 50. I never went on a date with the pub man, so this will be a short entry. I just met him and hung out with him in the back of the pub. He was a genius-for real-and was actually a rocket scientist. Of course he was really weird. One night, I think he made a pass at me, it went something like this:
HIm: Are you driving all the way home tonight?
You know, you could crash at my house.
Thanks. I think I’ll be ok.
You know staying at my house would be better than driving all the way home.
It was funnier when he said it. Eventually, he kind of propositioned me-like I don’t even know how it even came up-but he sort offered to be my sugar daddy and laid out how nice it would be because he would pay for my cable and you know, take care of me while I was in teaching school. What was really weird about the whole thing-was that we never exchanged numbers, and it’s not like he ever invited me out for like dinner or coffee or drinks. I guess this level of awkwardness is what occurs when you put an emotional retard with a man with aspergers.