Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It's those damn little things...

So to understand the inspiration for this post you must first read the most recent post on Dooce.com (click it -- it does tricks!) Go ahead and read it, I'll wait... (and now I'm humming and checking my cuticles for hangnails.)

See, now I couldn't have agreed more with her husband's take on the importance of petting the dog. It may seem like such a small thing, but those small things are the kinds of signs I think everyone should be on the look out for. Here are some others that, to me, seem like important red flags:

  • being rude to the serving staff at the restaurant
  • laughing at the misfortune of others
  • accusing complete strangers of low character
  • gloom-and-doom-sayers
  • love-at-first-sighters
  • loaning or borrowing money right away

I had a guy I dated for far, FAR too long and I remember that I was completely oblivious to many of these kinds of warning signals. That's probably the only thing I regret or am embarrassed about from that train wreck of a relationship. I tell stories to friends of things that he said or did and I can see them looking at me and thinking "how the hell did you continue to date this schmuck for 2 more years???" Once they hear them it makes it really hard to convince them to loan me their car or let me care for their children.

Best example story I have of this: Having lunch with the guy (whom we will henceforth call Irish Boy, though that's not any slam on the Irish. He was just a terrible representative for them) and with my parents. He's telling a story about a time he played some vicious trick on a close friend in the Air force, and he's laughing and laughing (and I'm trying to crawl, head-first, in between my shoulders and disappear entirely.) Finally he finishes his story (completely oblivious to the fact that he's the ONLY person laughing) and my Dad says to him an old family phrase: "It's easy to fool someone who trusts you."

Irish Boy's response? "yeah, isn't it great?!"

And yet, 2+ more years until I finally figured out how much of a mistake the whole thing was. I stopped telling that story to friends who generally think well of me, because I always had to follow it up with "I swear, I'm really not stupid. I think maybe I was distracted by something shiny that day?"

Anyway, this time I'm determined to pay much more attention! And at the same time I'm hoping that anyone who tunes into this blog (where are you guys anyway? anyone? anyone?) will chime in if you see me missing a big ol' red flag. Send up smoke signals, use semaphore, or hey, anybody else notice that comments thing down there? Cool!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Was it something I never got a chance to say?

Here's a very new twist on rejection: I got matched and rejected before I even got to work on Thursday. No, really. I got an email saying "hey, we gots us another matchy-poo for you! Come and see!" so I went and see'd. But what I see'd was that McSecondy (I'd make a better nickname, but come on -- he ditched me!) had send me this warm, tender message:

"Based on statements in their profile, I'm not interested in this match."

Aaaawww, and I didn't get you anything...

As much as I know the rational way to respond to this is "whatever..." and move on quickly, I had to take a peek at my profile to see if I could figure out what it was that sent McSecondy fleeing. I think I finally figured it out when I reviewed his profile. One item read:

"You have to be with people. This extends into the need to gain popularity, achieve social recognition and influence those people around you. The "bottom-line" is a strong people orientation."

See, one of the things I've been kind of stressing about what I'll respond to from someone else is that they don't need to be with people. You don't spend most of 36 years as a solo-player (sorry, I meant to say "playa!") without developing an appreciation for private time. So I guess I'm seeing this as a good thing: if he's ever so clingy as that kind of indicates I'd rather he went away rather than my having to beg him to go away.

Moving on, there's a new match as of today. Apparently I attract vampires, because this guy also has no pictures. I don't know if there's truly no picture available for both of these matches or if they've decided they don't want to share that information until after the connection has been made. But frankly either way it gives a person pause. I mean I'm no cover girl or pin-up model, but I made the point of taking a couple of pictures of myself so as to have them out there. When someone doesn't provide a picture you can't help but worry that their single status may have something to do with their looks. (Like they have Michael Jackson's nose or Marty Feldman's baby blues.) I've already mentioned that this is pretty shallow, but it's also pretty dang honest. And in all the time we've known each other have I ever lied to you yet?

Still, until I get corroboration of this possibility (like finally getting a visual for one of these matches and realizing that Quazi Modo did, in fact, have kids) I'm not going to close a possible connection simply for lack of a photo. After all, that may be what put of McSecondy, right? And I don't want to be that guy. Not quite yet.

So I guess I'd better go check out the new guy, give him a nickname and decide if I want to start communicating, eh?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

And away we go!...

Well, now I've done it. I've actually provided a credit card number to the beast. I'm an official member of an online dating site. I don't want to give the name of the site (for OH so many reasons) so we're gonna call my online match-making website "Wove.com" Anyway, Wove.com is now charged with findin' me a man.

I pulled the trigger last night, and this morning I found an email hopping around in my inbox like a new puppy and saying "looky, looky at what we finded!" I lookied and what they found sounds promising (as I'm sure they all will -- everyone looks good on paper when given the right boxes to check!) but has one knock against him right away: no picture. Am I shallow enough to reject someone purely on the basis of no looks? Yeah, I probably am.

Let me explain how this particular site works. It's not like a guy grocery store, where I can browse leisurely through the aisles of men, reading their nutritional and ingredient lists or being attracted (or repelled) by their marketing slogans. No, this is more like a fancy gourmet market, where you go to the nattily-dressed concierge and tell him what you're looking for ("Yeah, do you guys have any white dudes who have a job, treat women with respect and can make me laugh, in stock?") and they check their inventory and bring you anything matching your request ("Hmmm, nothing on the shelves right now, but I think we got a shipment last night so let me check in the back.") In other, very different word: now that I'm officially playing the game I have to sit here and wait for the dungeon master to tell me that it's my turn again.

And so far they've rewarded me with one match. This, my first possible twoo wove, deserves a name. Actually, he has a name but I'm not gonna use it here. Firstly, it's a name that isn't uncommon and therefore if another fellow w/ this name comes along it could get confusing. Secondly, I'm protecting the innocent here, as well as the potentially innocent and even the not-at-all innocent (heck, I'm protecting my own name and lord knows you can't use that word to describe me w/out getting struck by lightening!) and so he gets a nickname.

(also I just love having constant opportunities to come up with nicknames. Winky face!)

And therefore, because I don't know much about him and in honor of a tradition started on Grey's Anatomy, I hereby dub this first dude McFirsty!

Now I gotta decide what to do next. Here are the options open to me:
  • Put him on hold, which I guess means I don't reject him, but I don't communicate either. Why is that a good thing?
  • Close the match, which essentially means "ew, I think you have e-cooties!"
  • Request "FastTrack." This would bypass the in-between steps and go straight to open communication. I'm gonna reject this option just because it uses the phrase "FastTrack." How would that sound in the story for the grandkids? "Gramma was so desperate she rushed to jump Grampa's bones right quick! Another cookie?"
  • Start communicating, which seems to consist of sending him 5 questions, selected from a list of 57 questions, through the site. Apparently these questions are designed to let him woo me with his answers. Here are a few possible questions I could select to find out more about this twoo wove:

"Which of the following indoor activities sounds like the most fun to you?" Sadly, naked Twister or cruelly mocking reality shows were not listed, so how is this a helpful question? Next!

"Your idea of adventure is:" I have no idea what I would want someone to say in response to this question. Sounds like a dangerous road, so I'm skipping it. Still 55 more to choose from!

"What kind of exercise do you prefer?" Too much to hope that one option would just be a picture of the guy laughing...

"Which of the following quirks would bother you most about your partner?" OK, a good question in theory, but since none of the options are "when she is so stubborn that she lets me fall off a cliff rather than admit that she was wrong" it falls short of the warning I'm looking for. For HIM.

...many more options to choose and some of them are potentially helpful. But it feels really odd to be "meeting" someone this way. I think this is how the Terminator and Battlestar Galactica really started -- the machines started with fixing us up and soon they controlled the world!

And I still have to decide if I'm going to reject him outright for having no picture...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"I don't take good pictures...

...'cuz I have the kind of beauty that moves." as Ani DiFranco was smart enough to once say.

Yeah, I'm not a member of the photogenic club. And therefore I hate having to produce pictures of myself. I set up a Myspace.com page once, and chose a lovely shot of a favorite Muppet as my icon rather than throw up my own mug.

Of course if I say this to anyone they'll always assure me that I'm very attractive, which is very nice (and that's exactly why they say it) but it's not the point. I'm totally fine w/ my level of attractiveness, but it's my photogenicness (it's a word now!) that I'm not cool with. For years I've countered this problem by being the one with the camera all the time. But now I'm sitting here w/ the dang thing in my hands having to take my own picture.

This is something I can do. And it's my only good alternative, because I know how I'd like to look in a picture. Others will take a picture that they think looks fine, but we're all our own worst critics of our own pics, so I gotta be happy more than anyone else. So I'll get it done, I will.

Here, however, are some I felt I should reject...


Cheeky Monkey!

Slouchy hotness...?

...check out my profile for one of the keepers. Next step: I pull the trigger!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

In a word: Woah.

So I finally got through the profile on my online dating site of choice. The people who complained that the profile takes forever to get through? I'm sending them all cakes that say "understatement of the year." Several days, people! Now granted I couldn't just sit and do it (because then when would I have written my posts to you guys?) but even if I had done so we're talking over an hour easy. I was all cranky and bitter and "screw you guys, I'm goin' home!" when I was finished.

Then they said "OK, do you want to see info about who we think you're looking for?" Well hell, I'd taken the time so I might as well check out the results.

It's spooky! We're not talking "tall, blond, must like dogs, no creeps, must like color blue...," which is what I was expecting. These are detailed descriptions of all sorts of aspects of a person's personality and character, spelled out to the point that you're matching famous movie characters to each one! Here are some examples of the dude I'm apparently perfectly matched to:

Some important qualities that your ideal partner brings to the relationship are:
He has a great sense of humor.
His friends all appreciate his ability to make people laugh on occasion.
He is usually open-minded and flexible.
He is generally pretty happy about his life.

...all true. I mean if you asked me "what are you looking for in a guy?" I wouldn't have pulled on a cardigan sweater, grabbed my meerschaum pipe and said in a mock english accent "That he have a great sense of humor, have friends that appreciate his ability to make people laugh on occasion, is usually..." But I don't look at this list and say "this is totally not me." Another nugget:

Kindness: Your ideal mate is the kind of person who wants to
support you through life's ups and downs. He will be willing to be there for you emotionally, but he may not always know the best way how. You don't need the perfect man, but you will do best with someone who tries to be sensitive to your feelings, even if he isn't always perfectly attuned to your needs. You and your ideal mate will be mutually supportive, but won't demand more from each other than you are willing to give.

...also true! I especially appreciated the inclusion about being mutually supportive, but not demanding more that one could give.

I'm surfing through page after page of these determinations regarding both who I am and who I'm looking for and it's really familiar! Man, you gotta know I didn't want to give an ounce of merit to all the questions, questions, questions I had to wade through in the dang profile. But it's hard to argue with the end result.

I do think that the net they're casting is a bit wide. It reminds me of psychics in a nightclub act. They know how to throw out general enough "predictions" that they're bound to find someone who connects. After all, it's not like someone's ideal mate will be a person who has a bad sense of humor, or who doesn't want to support their mate. Still, we all know from worshipping at the idol Google that the way to improve your search results is to widen your parameters.

I now have to do the following few things:
-take a digital picture suitable for posting. (shudder.)
-decide if I'm going to sign up w/ this site and, if so, for how long.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Deal Breakers...

last time I was being all wise about how I know that the people I'm going to meet online will have their own baggage or challenges or whatever. And for the most part I'm OK with that. But obviously I'm gonna have some things I cannot deal with.

There's this other blog I like to read called Dooce (find the link over on the left. But don't click it yet! I still have wise things to say! It will be there when I'm done.) and she had this post once referring to a book w/ ideas of things to write in one's blog. The example that Dooce tried was this:

“What are your relationship deal breakers? Some folks are annoyed if a date shows up ten minutes late. Others look for something weightier, like a felony record. Have you ever rejected someone over something that seems insignificant to your friends? Or do you have selective blindness for red flags?”

She then proceeded to get just short of 400 comments about people's deal breakers! What I learned from this list is that I don't have to mention the obvious ones here, such as rapist, murderer, alcoholic, abuser, etc... These go without saying, although I so wanted to go out and add my comment and say them anyway. So with that caveat already out there I bring you my deal-breakers:
  1. Smokers. There's just no way. I don't even know how they live around themselves.
  2. Excessive drinkers. I'm not saying alcoholic (although I know they would certainly fall into that category) but I'm pretty much a tea-totler (spelling help there anyone?) and anybody that has to have a few to relax wouldn't last with me.
  3. Excessive preachers/prayers. I'm sure I'm just about to alienate some readers (wow, only 4 posts. And I even refrained from dropping Mr. F-bomb!) but I'm not religious. Some would even call me anti-religion, at least in the organized way. Can't handle it and can't take people who do very seriously.
  4. They have to make me laugh, and I have to make them laugh. I learned the very hard way how crucial this is.
  5. They have to handle someone with a big, close family. 'Cause baby, that's me! Don't believe me? Ask my sister's husband. He's still in shock and it's been over 16 years.
  6. Can't be opposed to living with cats. Because I've had a cat in my house my entire life and if I gotta choose between my cat or a guy, Mr. Man is really, REALLY going to have to make a compelling argument! (The cat doesn't have to make their argument. Cats are inherently cool.)
  7. Physically? Though this may fall into the "goes without saying" category, they can't be horrifically obese or so covered in hair on all parts of the body as to resemble an angora rabbit. (shudder...)
I think that's it? I know I'll get an email from my best buddy with additions to this list so it might get an encore listing later. There's one more, but it's not so much a deal breaker as it is a warning for anyone interested in me: you'd better be able to handle a tremendously strong willed lady. Seriously. No, seriously. I'm hell on wheels when I get to rollin! (Again, my best bud will confirm this for anyone who needs it. I'll go into more info on her soon too.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

But I'm not the perfect me yet!

So as I mentioned before I spent some time reading all of these online review sites with people ranting and raving about what they hated (or loved, but mostly hated) about the particular online matchmaking site they tried. Many of them are very lame reviews, by people who either expected way too much from the experience ("why are all the people on these sites so average looking? Fix yourself up, people!") or are of the "when it goes wrong who can I blame other than myself" club.

I wanted to scoff at the people who complained about the pickings being slim. Could this be why you're still single -- because nobody is good enough for you? But it got me to thinking about one of my concerns about embarking on this... oh heck, let's call it an adventure. We'll call it that now, before I'm actually experiencing it and it has to be called something more ironic...

How do I put myself out there as (supposedly) a good catch when there are so many things about me that I'm not happy with? Physically I'd like to be more fit and slimmer, and smarts-wize I never did get a college degree. But the one that I really wish I could avoid telling people is the job thing. I have no career. I'm one of these folks who is stranded in a J-O-B so as to keep bringing in the money for rent and insurance and other necessities. I'd love (sorry, make that LOVE!!!) to be self-employed, but the skills I have acquired over my 20 years in the work force are not those that can be done freelance. ("What do you do for a living?" "I'm a freelance Office Manager. Need your office managed for a day or so?") So I'm stuck, and I therefore hate to answer that classic of ice-breaker questions, "so, what do you do?" Here are the answers I'm toying with:
  • "As little as possible!" - has the double-advantages of being both lame and cliche
  • "I'm retired -- I invented dice" - those of you who know this quote are automatically cool. Congrats. (the rest of you need to step it up, but I'm rooting for ya...)
  • "I'm a secret shopper. Actually, I'm secretly shopping right now!"
  • "What do YOU do?" - SunTzu once said, the best defense is a good offense!
As a chum of mine was first embarking on this very same "adventure" a while ago she would tell me about these people she'd found, and how sweet and cute and great and funny and etc., etc., etc., they all were. And I always asked her the same question: "So, what's wrong with them?" It's not that I'm bitter (generally) but more that if they were amazing catches they would probably not be looking for love online.

I'm not saying that everyone I'm gonna meet is an axe murderer or rapist or Republican. But they're all going to have the baggage that has tanked their pursuit of wove through traditional means. Maybe they're single parents who can't get out much? Or they work unbelievable hours, and therefore again can't get out much. Or they're shy, or they're not shy enough or they're chubby or anorexic or eat with their mouth open or WHATEVER! I'm not judging (yet) but I'm saying: don't go at this expecting that you'll find someone who is completely perfect. That's hard enough to find in the best of situations, and if you're surfing for wove you are not in the best of situations. Know that going in, right?

So what's wrong with me? We'll get there, don't worry.

(Have I signed up on a site yet? Nope -- haven't been able to get all the way through the frigging profile yet!)