Saturday, October 9, 2010

No Victories with V

I decided to wait a proper amount of time until I declared V a dead letter. I did hear from him one more time after he reappeared in email form, asking to put off our meeting, as the second week of classes was also proving hectic. How about next week? he wrote. Having learned my lesson, I was cheerful, casual and cooperative about this: Sure, I said (I believe that was my actual word), no problem. I'm busy too. Here are the days I'm usually free, and let me know what works for you.

The next week I heard nothing. So I dug up the cell phone number I'd extracted from V when we were about to meet for lunch (always get a phone number when you're meeting a stranger!) and called one evening. No answer, so I left a lovely, friendly, non-pressured and -pressuring message: Hey, I'm calling to say hello and see if arranging to meet (the meeting YOU asked for, remember??, I did not add) might be easier on the phone.

That was four weeks ago. I'm sure V is busy. I'm positive he's a bit uncomfy with the phone. Or email. Or, for that matter, humans. But this is surely Meaningful. And I have entirely lost any desire to see V, since about the last thing I want from dating is a man who can't or doesn't want to communicate. Who basically doesn't show up. Ugh. You have to be dyn-o-mite to be forgiven for this. And V was not that.

I wish I knew why this happened, though. Not from disappointed hope, but more intellectual curiosity: here I was energetically trying to find the good in V, someone I secretly thought other women would not want. Now it's entirely plausible that V found someone he liked more than me -- but what will have to remain one of the mysteries of the universe is whether she actually liked him back? I could sooner believe that my constant self-sacrifice and virtue will propel me up to Heaven, but you never know, I suppose.

In any case, that's it. Way too busy with grown-up matters like work to do more of this form of play, and weary to death of it, so for the time being I will have to settle for getting to spend Saturday nights the way I want to.

V is Victorious over me, yet I don't consider myself defeated, not yet. Someone may pop up on my path, or I may -- probably will -- decide to start at Square One with another him A-2..and follow the yellow brick path down another round of the alphabet. I'm looking into becoming a lesbian. And you, dear readers, will be in the loop. V was hard to find, but you were there for me all along, if only in my own imagination. Thank you for that.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Return of V

Hmmm. V has reappeared, at least metaphorically -- that is, he sent a short email today saying he's "back" (from where I do not know) and after this week of madness (first week of classes) he will get in touch.

I'm glad, though cautiously so. What do I know about V or how I will survive Second Date Shock? What about the big Kiss Taste Test?

And what about his obvious reluctance to stay in touch? I'm not getting strong pursuit vibes, but that may be a personality quirk. I knew he liked me.

Well, tune in. I've slowed down, but apparently not done yet.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Everyone and Everything is Far Away

Back from the beach (babies, kids) but not yet back in the normal swings and measures of life.

What I'm not thinking of at the moment: males, men, dating, love, sex, romance, and V. All seem far, far away. Actually V is away (he said till September 1st). What I long for is not V or any of the above, but privacy and freedom -- to work, to fix things that need attention, to please myself.

Because on family vacations everyone takes photos of each other, I've had the dubious pleasure of seeing a few pictures of myself. Here's what I thought at this unattractive sight: why am I even thinking of, never mind longing for, the youth's game of romance? Isn't this unseemly? I'm inclined (right now) not to take this seriously any longer. Love is rarely bestowed on the wrinkled and baggy, unless by long habit.

Anyway, we'll see what happens when V comes back. La la la, don't much care. Good position to be in.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

V for Victory

Well, not really -- I just liked the title. But in fact V was not a total loss. I had thought little about it beforehand, so jaded have I become, but I enjoyed our little lunch. V is a very pleasant and unassuming fellow, a computer geek and professor who talks and laughs easily. He isn't a narcissist, though he clearly has had little connection with women and doesn't particularly care for children or even animals, which means he's unconnected to a big part of my life.

It's intriguing to me why I feel okay about seeing and even touching V, whereas Q was so unappealing. Is it because I'd given it all up and therefore little seems to be riding on it? There are no fantasies involved...I don't anticipate coupledom or great emotional needs fulfilled, just a casual relationship with a very nice man at best. As for the erotic part of it, on the surface, Q is probably more conventionally attractive than V, yet V fits with a certain type that often appeals to me, which you can call the sweet, modest nerd. This is a much older version of some of the semi-romantic heroes who appear in various teenage movies, though this is a new phenomenon: there weren't geeks as romantic heroes anywhere when I was young, unless you count Holden Caulfield as a kind of nerd.

Did I turn V's crank? The anwer is an unequivocal: oh, yeah. That was plain, though he was respectful about it, sneaking looks at relevant body parts rather than staring.

So I'm betting I will see V again when I come back from a much-needed vacation at the beach. And I may or may not tell you about it, those of you still attending. I thank you for listening all this time: it's not an exaggeration to say that you made my summer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oy V

I have a lunch date with V on Wed. The suspense is not killing me, o me of little faith. Still, curious to see. Will post for sure.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

U Turn

Letter V, a professor at a large university in the city, has come back from his trip out of town and asked me to lunch. I know almost nothing about him -- tra la la, here we go again. I'm violating my no-lunch rule for first date, but he wants to meet in the Village, and I'm a sucker for a nice lunch in the Village.

Date to be determined. Will let you know.

Oh V in the Village -- you're the last one on my list! That's it for the summer.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Empty Nest, Empty Net, Full Heart

I have not heard a word from Q since our Friday date, and I'm quite certain I won't. My guess is that if I'd gone to bed with him, I'd hear from him once in a while. But something didn't take, and whether I "drove" him away (see Advisory Board) or there wasn't the "connection" that daters famously hope to make, my relief is palpable that I don't have to hear those whistling teeth again or feel that little slippery tongue between my lips.

Looking back, I am rethinking my eruption of self-loathing in the last post. Yes, I do agree with the argument that one should take it a step at a time and not think about larger issues at first; that it's silly to expect levels of attraction and passion at my age that I've had with others; that I should enjoy someone's company and "have fun" and rather than rate them in my head. But fun, like happiness, isn't something that can be manufactured ready-made by intention. "Should" is a word that has little place in the kind of relationship I'm willing to sacrifice my free time for. I either enjoy being with someone or not, and except for the first dinner, I didn't enjoy Q enough.

In the spirit of this-is-almost-over, I actually violated my no-phone rule and spoke to two more fish who swam into my net while it was lying idle in the water (that is, not to force the metaphor, they contacted me, which always tugs at my heart). T, from Brooklyn, was lively but had little to say. U, from Westchester, is retired from teaching grade school and now plays golf. He is upset that he has to sell his large house now that he's divorced. I found myself telling him about Buddhism and loss and being attached to material things, though I am not a Buddhist. This was odd of me, but then we've established that I'm odd. When someone bores me, I tend to talk to entertain myself. He was not interested, and I won't hear from T or U again.

V, a professor at a nearby school in a subject very different from mine, wrote to say he would call me when he returned from a trip this week, but I know almost nothing about him beyond his profession. He may or may not call. Since I am no longer on Match, V may be the last, unfortunately: it would have been nice to make it to the end of the alphabet. Now that's my idea of fun.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Good Advice

Honestly, I think I don't deserve to have a real boyfriend. I tried SO hard, I really did, to follow what the Advisory Board told me to do with Q last night: just relax, have fun, go for the kissing and the sex, and shut my brain down, not necessarily in that order. And it was a total bust. I'm beginning to buy that the problem is that there's Something Wrong With Me.

First, I didn't hear from Q until Friday morning, when he emailed that he had to cancel the movie but could meet me for a drink at 9 pm, since he's busy the whole weekend. The reason was plausible: he had to babysit for his grandchild while his son and daughter-in-law were working. I emailed that was fine, and we met for the drink on a lovely night. I had really wanted to break out of the sit-and-talk-while we eat/drink mode of meeting, followed by walking me to my apartment, where I would have to decide whether to invite him up or not, but there it was...again. The second time a plan that would have had us do something different was changed.

The troubles began, as Art Spiegelmann said in his cartoon book Maus, when I saw him as he walked down the street. It flashed on me that while he's not unattractive for a man his age(near 70), he's not exactly attractive (to me) either. Then came the drinks (2 for him, one for me) and conversation (again) for an hour and a half. It was very similar to -- actually at some points an exact repetition of -- the last two times we met, and it bored me a bit. Not unpleasant, really, but not the fun I was supposed to be having either. He's a bit deaf and the place was ridiculously loud for 9 pm, so there was a lot of "What?". Plus I don't think I've mentioned yet that he has a habit of making an odd whistling sound between his teeth while he talks. I found that annoying from the beginning, but hey, it's a tiny thing, right? Yet to my dismay, it annoyed me more than ever. Get over it, I told myself. Relax. Empty your brain. Drink. Enjoy yourself.

Worse than any of the above, he just doesn't seem to have a shred of humor, and in fact spent the evening unsmiling, and facing a quarter turn away from me. Was it hostile or rude of me to ask him, at one point, whether something was wrong because he didn't seem to smile much? Because the member of my Advisory Board I told this to gasped, "You mean you SAID that?" So I'm gathering that was a no-no. And in fact he seemed defensive, and said a bit testily he was in a good mood, actually. Oh.

Yes, reader, he walked me home. And I had already decided that I would kiss him if he was aggressive about it but I just couldn't, couldn't invite him up for more. But I was hoping he wouldn't try to kiss me. And he didn't -- we hugged as if we were casual friends and he left. This followed an hour and a half of looking at my cleavage with a stare so hard it could have opened the Red Sea. He has certainly seemed physically attracted. So the only explanation I can think of is that he was displeased with my remark or got the message that I wasn't responding the way I ought to. Talk about convoluted and absurd feelings.

Q may be done, I don't know. Though I would be relieved, I also feel that it's all my fault, and if I don't enjoy being with him I deserve to be alone all my life and never go to Italy with anyone, and that if Q is in fact not done and pursues me, I should humbly give it more tries and chances, and force myself to deal with his larval tongue. Because he is such a nice guy and good family man and so well-educated and emotionally mature and stuff. He should be a bargain for a neurotic episodically-lonely Older Woman like me.

How I wish a big scroll would descend from heaven and tell me what the right thing is to do here. Because I'm feeling somewhere between idiot and fool.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Random fish float by

I'm not sure if Q hasn't been calling me because I mentioned my Phone Hangup (not that I hang up the phone, but that forced conversation on the phone to strangers annoys me) or because he's just not that into me, as the best-selling book title goes. Since I asked Q out on a date the other day, and he agreed to go to a movie with me tomorrow (Friday), there's been no communication, even by email. Is it kosher to ask him about this when we meet, or will it sound needy? Without the benefit of my Board of Advisors, who at this point are probably more bored than board, I'm going to guess the latter. I should try for once not to go to the bad place, which is where I ask for reassurance that someone is interested. Because that always winds up making me look -- not to mention feel -- needy. I DID learn something from The Philosopher after all.

Meanwhile, two other fish swam into my now very shallow waters. The first, R, a lawyer from my home state of Brooklyn, is a loving grandfather, but gave me pause when he said by email that I'm probably smarter than he is. We talked on the phone, and sure enough, IQ aside (and irrelevant), he was lovely but much too reminiscent of my hometown, a part of Brooklyn that I don't remember fondly. I don't think he felt much about it either, as he hasn't contacted me, letting me off the hook, so to speak.

Then S emailed me, handsome and tall in his photo, conveniently close by in locale, and retired from a semi-interesting job. Something was familiar about his face, so I inquired if we'd met before. Yes, we had, he figured about eight years ago. "Did I reject you, or did you reject me?" I wanted to ask, but it didn't seem polite. I think I agreed to lunch today just out of curiosity.

Sure enough, before we even made it through the restaurant door, I knew. Yes, as handsome and tall as the photo, smart and sweet, but something hard to place that just felt wrong. He has never been married or (I think) in a serious relationship, and I can see why. There is an awkwardness and disconnection that feels deeply rooted to me, and though I feel bad, it also makes it impossible to think of spending more time with him than the hour we were together at lunch. It was a pleasant hour, but I would have been just as happy to read The New York Times.

Actually I had more fun on the bus ride to Philly last weekend, where a gorgeous young woman named Yasmin sat next to me and asked me to talk to her because bus rides make her anxious. She turned out to be a teacher at a charter school in Los Angeles, and her dedication, passionate denunciations of California politics and school system, and all-around liveliness and intellectual curiosity made the tedious bus ride go like lightning, and left me wishing I could be a hot young bisexual instead of a doddering 60-something looking for a staid relationship with men like Q or R or S.

S was sweet, though, and it made me a bit sad that he obviously liked me. He claimed that I have a lovely speaking voice, which is news to me and probably to my students as well.

My subscription to Match expires today, and they actually seem to have processed the cancellation this time, so now it's down to Q alone. And if that's all me, I suppose. But, as they say in AA, one day (or date) at a time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Dinner with Q

I promised I'd fill you in on last Friday with Q, the all-important second date. I'd told Q that I didn't want to have another dinner-and-conversation...Let's go to a performance of something, anything, rather than one of those awkward, what-shall-we-say-now dinners. He agreed, and proposed that we put off choosing where we'd go until the Friday Weekend section of The NY Times came out. But when Friday came I was completely fried from a long week of heat and caring for children (as opposed to the previous week, when I was fried from a long week of heat and working on my book). Plus in practice it didn't seem so easy to find a performance to go to at the last minute. So I suggested by email that we chuck that idea and go for a walk along the river. But then he was completely exhausted from playing tennis in the extreme heat, so in the end...we met for dinner, quite late. Sigh.

He's a good conversationalist...not (yet) amusing, but mature and informed. Topics: politics and places we have been to in Europe or would like to go. Good enough, in other words. Did the trick. Afterward he walked me to my building, and I could see The Kiss was coming when he slipped his hand around my waist and pulled in. The Kiss came and went. I said I couldn't invite him up right then because...I just couldn't. Finally I muttered something about being around next weekend and he left. Is the man physically attracted to me? Yes, he is, which is nice. But we already knew that, because he'd made it very clear: remember "and you're distinctly sexually attractive" after the very first date? Which I thought was a bit too explicit of him? He's ready to go, all guns cocked, so to speak.

That's fine. The problem isn't Q, but me and my kiss hang-up. This is not peculiar to Q: it's true that his tongue felt something like a baby slug gently sliding its way into my mouth, but I'm pretty sure that's not very different from the feelings I've had after kissing most men for the first time -- and that includes those I have lived to kiss later on. (Though Q was very tentative, many other first kissers really go for it, so it's less like a slug and more like a baby otter taking a dive in the pool.) Maybe the Kiss Hangup is a symbol in my dreaded unconscious for my ambivalence (fear, doubt, resentment/longing, hope, desire) about being physically intimate with a man I don't actually love. Yet this used to bother me not at all some time ago, so it isn't as easy to frame so simply: fear of intimacy! fear of commitment! Uh huh..and no. Who doesn't have those when it comes to someone you're not sure you really like?

My advisory board tells me in no uncertain terms that I've got to stop this nonsense immediately: get over it. Now. Think of it as fun, or better yet, don't think of it at all. Why are you dwelling on commitment when you barely know this person? Just enjoy that slug in your mouth!

What the hell AM I afraid of, after all? I've had a couple of un-freaking-believably painful rejections and abandonments, so you'd think it would be fear of that, but I'm quite sure that's not it. Unfortunately, I'm all too likely to dive in nose-first (like the otter) where I'm strongly attracted, emotionally speaking, whether or not the signs are there that this romantic feeling is mutual. Instead, I believe it has something to do with a morbid fear of getting stuck with expectations that I don't want to fulfill. After the kiss comes going upstairs, and then comes bed. Pretty soon it's a routine...dinner (again), then we go to your place or mine. I had a 6 week relationship like that about 8 or so years ago; he'd call with nothing to say (or at least worth hearing) and murmur that he "just wanted to hear the sound of my voice." But I would have been fine not hearing the sound of his voice. That's exactly what I mean by stuck. He was flabbergasted when I broke it off, had not suspected that I was bored out of my mind.

Well, one or two other fishies have swum in with the tide, though I've abandoned the Match site altogether and the subscription is over in a few days. I may or may not talk to these new ones. And Q has not called me since the Friday dinner/kiss, so I may not get the chance to see if the kissing improves.

The beat goes on. For now.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Dreaded Second Date

Second dates are peculiar animals, very low on my list of fun things to cuddle up to. You like the man well enough to see him again, and presumably he feels the same: well and good. You'd think it would be like getting to the second level of the video game (a simile I'd better drop before I make a fool of myself, since I don't play video games): hooray, onward and upward! Instead, second dates are usually downers. If people are even a tiny bit interesting, you have built-in conversation for the first date, that is, the basic facts --- birthplace, schooling, marriage(s), child(ren), divorce/widowhood/trials-of-being-single, etc. You scout each other's political opinions (cautiously) and help each other frame a proto-story about your life history. Conversation rarely flags.

The second time around, you're in the no-man's-zone between the life story and an actual relationship. In a friendship or a romantic relation, you are always checking in with ongoing developments and (hopefully) problems -- I say problems because relationships work on the meat and drink of complaining and problem-solving and unexpected turns and twists. But if you're not hooked in to the plot, the new developments don't mean much, and you don't yet care. So second dates tend to have dreaded silences into which you must throw your metaphorical body at high energy. They're tiring and often tiresome. Also, there's the question of the kiss.

No one really kisses at the first date. There may be a flash-hug, or the kind of quick peck you'd give your great-aunt, but it would be rude to stick your tongue in someone's mouth when you can barely remember their name. By the second date, this is now up for grabs, and so awkwardness ensues. Will he or won't he go there? Do you or don't you want to? It can be difficult to tell, not only all through the date, but even five seconds before it might happen. Some would consider this part of the excitement of courtship. I consider it a pain in the ass. I like to know if I want to kiss someone.

All this is by way of leading up to my second meeting with Q, an event that was scheduled a week ago, and occurred last night. How did it go? I think I will take advantage of the storyteller's trick and leave you wondering till the next post. This is partly because I have a mean streak, and partly because I have to catch a bus out of town to visit my children for the weekend. There will be no blogging at my kid's house, you can be sure, so...tune into the same station, though not at the same time, and you shall see.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Q Pops the Question

No, not THAT question, which I don't care about anyway; rather, Q and I have agreed that we like each other, and he asked if he could see me again for a second date. Unlike The Philosopher, he does not need further thought about this, which is attractive.

We are "doing something" on Friday evening. No, we're not doing THAT -- I just proposed that instead of the usual eat-and-talk, we might go to see someone performing something..You'll hear about this, for sure.

Monday, July 19, 2010


When I last wrote here, I vowed to phone P, a somewhat younger man from Riverdale who had contacted me. I knew almost nothing about him, but called him anyway, in a sort of last-ditch spirit, a ditch-the-Match spirit. Or maybe it was because the last time a man six whole years younger contacted me was so long ago I felt ungrateful not to follow up. P was pleasant, a smooth-voiced guy who makes his living being upbeat and "positive"; turns out he is a Leader and Trainer for corporations, basically a cheerleader instilling motivation in workers or executives, not sure which. So we had a pleasant, upbeat and positive motivational conversation (which, you won't be shocked to hear, I tired of before he did). For instance, I confessed that I was weary of the dating scene, because of its highs (hopes) and lows (reality). Not at all, he said: the thing to do is take it as wonderful experience, neither very important nor unimportant. Or something like that. He also said we should all smile and laugh more. I'm sure he'd be good for overly-intense me (though I already smile and laugh plenty). But I just can't see it happening. So bye-bye P.

After not hearing back from O, the sweet guy from Brooklyn I saw last week who sensed at the end of our date that I wasn't going to be his next girlfriend, I decided to write to him and put things clearly. (I'm all for clarity, unless it's intended to hurt someone.) I explained that I liked him better than anyone so far, but not romantically, for lack of a better word. So could we keep in touch, email and maybe see each other as friends? Up to him. He wrote back that he'd had a crush on me before he saw me, and in person I was even better than he hoped. Sweet, just as he had been before I rejected him. You gotta love a guy like that (the man I dated longest on Match, a number of years ago, grew angry and mean when I ended things after five or six weeks of utter boredom, so I appreciate O's decency). Being friends may not work under these circumstances, but I'd like to give it a try. It's a pity I can't give O what he wants, but I just can't...I don't know if you've ever tried to make yourself feel something you should, but it seems beyond me.

Here's the surprise: after a long day in the library on Saturday, six hours to be exact, I was contacted by someone new: this would be Q, who is a writer and a retired editor of a journal, a few years older than I am, and quite decent-looking. He proposed dinner that night. Now this usually is a terrible idea: how many dinners have I suffered through with complete strangers about whom I know next to nothing? But because he lives in my neighborhood, and I was exhausted, and he proposed a Japanese restaurant which brought to mind a glass of ice-cold sake, I impulsively said yes.

And unexpectedly, I enjoyed the dinner (especially the sake) and I enjoyed him. He's smart, Harvard educated, gentle, a good conversationalist, and helps care for his one grandchild, who is disabled. My brain was too fried to worry about impressing him or whether he was someone I could like, so I just drank and relaxed. The next morning he sent an email saying he found me "fun, bright, interesting, and distinctly appealing sexually. Not a bad quartet on a summer evening." The reference to sexual appeal seemed a bit forward considering we've met once (what DOES this man have on his mind, I wonder?), but there's no question that the interest is more mutual than I've experienced in the past. Yet I don't feel at all neurotic about it: if I never saw him again, I'd be peachy. Even upbeat, positive, and motivated. Smile.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Dinner with O

One thing I've taken away from this summer dating project is a real sense of how much fantasy we project onto others with very little actual information. Especially in the absence of experience, desire fills the gaps of a picture, so it's hard to shake, even when you know better. I suppose that's why I cringe when an actress like Gwyneth Paltrow plays a character like Emma, or almost any fiction is embodied on the screen, with its (fake) real-life details. Don't mess with my vision of this story!

The above meditation comes from My Dinner with O, no relation to The Story of O, last night. I felt in the days leading up to this, even with emails exchanged over details about where and when, that I had little invested in it, pretty much knew it wouldn't be something to get worked up about, and so was protected from the overly reactive disappointment I felt with The Philosopher. There was Picture Shock, it's true, at least for me -- as for him, he thinks I'm lovely, just terrific. That's really sweet, and I so wish I felt the same about him (or me). Of course he also described his last girlfriend, who left him last year for another guy, as gorgeous, so that tells you something. It's possible that I could work up more enthusiasm with time if something else were there to motivate me, though.

Was there? I actually liked him and enjoyed the dinner. He's not a conversation-monopolizer, he has good politics (Red Diaper baby, interesting), and I admire that he's a self-educated working class guy, one who reads and thinks about the world. He worked for many years as a parole officer, not a job he much enjoyed, after early marriage and babies forced him to drop out of the first year of law school. At one point I asked him to tell me about the most dangerous moment he'd had on the job: I love when people tell me stories, if they're good ones. It was a harrowing tale about chasing a parolee who stole his gun and shot at him twice from down the street. He's not a macho-man, though, but a sweet guy who adores his grandchildren. It was clear that his heart was broken by the long-term girlfriend above who last year reconnected with a male high school friend on Facebook, broke up with him suddenly, and was engaged to the friend within a few months. I can imagine how that felt. He's trying hard to replace her now.

After dinner he looked sad; I asked what he was thinking. He said, "I'm thinking I really like you, but I don't think you feel that way." I told him I would see him again if he liked, and we'll see how it goes. But I feel I'm in the position of The Philosopher I so resented -- I'm being persuaded to go out with him by his enthusiasm, not mine. I don't envision wanting to kiss him, and that's the acid test of attraction for me (kisses come easily to some, but for me, they're more intimate than sex. I only want to kiss children and men I can love).

We'll see what happens. I feel kind of guilty and bad that I was disappointed after meeting such a nice guy who actually likes me.

Someone else wrote me last night, coincidentally, just when I thought it was safe to open my email. I don't remember a thing about him except that he's six years younger than I am (extremely unusual) and lives in Riverdale. But since he went to this rare trouble, I said I'd call him. One more can't hurt.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The News

Today I had my meeting/date with M, the tall Brooklyn ex-producer of cable news shows. I liked him and the conversation was the most enjoyable one I've had since starting this. But that was probably because I was very curious about and interested in his former profession. I've always loved backstage stories, so I plied him with questions. It was really fascinating to listen to his assessments of shows I sometimes watch, the news analysis shows on MSNBC. I asked him to take me through his typical day as a producer, and he gave me the run-down so I could see exactly what he did (story meeting at 10 am, etc.). I suppose in a way this date was like the one with the guy who used to run a comedy club, but to his credit, M was a more interactive conversationalist.

What he was not was personal; aside from a few facts he volunteered and some factual questions for me about where I live and the ages of my children, he seemed disinclined to offer anything about himself other than his professional information and political opinions. But he may be the sort of guy who doesn't go in for a lot of self-disclosure until he's more comfortable (on the other hand, he might not be a self-discloser at all). I don't doubt there's a lot more there: he joined a seminary when he was young in hopes of being a priest, and I think is still a believer. He is also trying to write a memoir based on his seminary experiences.

When the check came he wanted to pay for me, and seemed taken aback that I insisted on paying for myself (as I almost always do, unless the fellow seems filthy rich and really wants to pay)(which I must say rarely happens; the very few who want to pay are almost never well-off, and the rich ones almost never want to pay). He pretty much wouldn't let me, so we compromised -- I threw some money in the pot, and we were both okay with that.

He's nice, but here's the funny thing: I have less desire to date right at this moment than at any time I can remember. I can't say for sure what's happened, but I'm not lonely, or needy, or pining for the usual stuff that goes with having a relationship -- even help with opening jars or reaching objects on high shelves. My focus is laser-sharp right now (on writing and children, mostly), and I don't want to make room in my life for the plans and times and meals and dressing to please and...yes, especially...the talks on the phone. (Although I love talking to people I love -- it's just getting to that stage that I dread.) So I really must stop this dating scene.

However, I have one more big fish coming up: on Friday I'm meeting O, the retired parole officer who is an easy conversationalist and really likes me (sight unseen). We'll see if he can turn me around. It would take a lot, frankly. But we survived the Phone Test, so I'm curious if we make it through Picture Shock and Meeting Shock. Talk to you then.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Short Scientist

First, O is not really 80 - whew. He was kidding, apparently, which isn't always easy to detect by email. I'm meeting him next week, and sort of looking forward to it for once, even though on paper he is wrong, wrong, wrong: retired parole officer (class and educational difference), his location in Brooklyn (too close to my childhood home, an area I despise). But he seems to appreciate me so much, proving I'm basically a compliment whore. I mentioned that I have a three week old grandchild, and his reply was, "Oh, a three week old? You are so hot!" (He meant because he loves children). I mentioned that I probably don't look like my picture; he responded: "If you're half as pretty as you are in the picture, you're out of my league." How can you not like a guy like this? But before I get carried away, my guess is that he tends by nature to gush and idealize. We'll see if there's Meeting Shock.

Today had coffee with N, the Short Scientist who has large blue eyes but an extremely pointy face and a set of the juggiest ears I've ever seen. It was one of those "dates" that make me want to slap myself for arranging it. An hour and ten minutes out of my life! Think what I could do in that time: exercise, write to my brother, cook a meal. And because it interrupted the day, I basically lost the afternoon block of work time.

However, there was an interesting side to the meeting. It wasn't a conversation, because it was almost entirely one-sided (his), but what a character this fellow is! He is no longer interested in his past profession of physics because he has an avocation that absorbs all his time (and conversation): he has discovered the key to reading the Torah, which he has been studying for the last 13 years (in ancient Hebrew, which he reads fluently). Has he published his results? No, because "only two or three people in the entire world could possibly understand" and he is, again in his words, "the only one in the history of the world who has ever approached the Bible this way." Yes, he explained what he does with numerous abstruse examples, but it mostly seemed to be tracking every single reference to a name or word or incident and then "connecting" them, by twisting himself into knots, with his own interpretation of their similar meaning. When I asked how this helped to understand these stories, he dismissed my question with a wave before I finished asking: this is the work of a lifetime; already he has five thousand pages of exegesis and will have to get to the ultimate meaning at a future point -- though he assured me that ultimately, he will have uncovered that the meaning of the Torah is exactly the opposite of what everyone thinks it is.

For example, everyone thinks that God is against homosexuality --- because it says so. But the ancient Hebrew uses an emphatic form in the sentence, translated as "surely homosexual behavior is disgusting to God." The surely is an exaggeration meant to imply a minimization, according to him: "It's like in Shakespeare, where the lady protests too much. No one understands this but me," he said proudly. So it turns out that God is fine with gayness. I would be proud of God if I found this at all convincing: what an ironist!

I could go on, but then you'd basically be sitting through this date, as I had to, and I'm too kind to make you do that. When I called for the check -- as soon as I thought it was not too rude to get away -- and we stood to go, there was the full eye-sweep of my body. He apparently liked what he saw, because he grinned for the first time (until then he was far too absorbed in explaining his theory to smile or even notice me) and said expectantly, "Well?"

Well? Lovely man, though: I really wish I could find a suitable partner for him. Has he tried J-Date?

Monday is M, the Tall Brooklynite who used to be a producer of cable news but is now writing his memoir. Stay tuned. All is not lost: he lives in Brooklyn Heights, where I've always wanted an excuse to hang out.

I feel my scope is narrowing rapidly, though. I don't think I can bear many more meetings like the one today, though I now know a few more stories from the Bible than I did before (did you know that God specifically forbids contact with both male and female prostitutes? Who knew? Or that it's displeasing to God if you exchange your dog for a kosher cow to sacrifice to Him? That's not because He wants you to keep your dog but because dogs are not sacred like the kosher cow, so it's an insult to buy the cow with the dog, if you followed this). Also, I had a lovely rum punch, which I don't often get to do. So all was not in vain after all.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Eighty? Really?

I was exhausted, hot, and very cranky when I called M, tall guy from Brooklyn last night. In fact I was grumbling (silently) so much you'd think I was taking out the trash rather than calling the potential love of my life. However, M wasn't home, so I left a message saying I'd call again tonight.

Then I mustered my last ounce of energy and sanity and called O, the other Brooklyn guy whose profile sounded quirky and sweet. He was on the phone but said to call back in 15 minutes. I knew instantly he was on the phone with a date, and he later volunteered that he was, which he probably shouldn't do. The nice part was that the conversation was like him, quirky and sweet. He said he loved my picture.

Me: I've been told twice that I don't look at all like my picture, so be prepared for Picture Shock.
Him: I also loved your profile. I really like you much better than anyone, and that includes the one I was just talking to.
Me: Well, that sets me up for Meeting Shock.

He laughed. Today I got two emails from him. He doesn't want to be a stalker, but he "just wanted to say that I was enchanted by you, the humor and lightness in your conversation, and your voice itself." How nice IS that? Disconcerting: He added that I made him feel half his age, and since his age is eighty, that means he felt 40. Now, was he kidding (his listed age is 68) or did he lie about his age in the profile? Hmmm. Hard to tell by email.

Also mildly disconcerting: I asked what profession he retired from. He was a parole officer for many years. Me and a parole officer? There's an odd, not-good-on-paper combination. In spite of both of us liking Death Cab for Cutie, there may not be a whole lot in common, as they say. Plus he lives way out in the horrible hinterlands of Brooklyn, not far from where I grew up, which I consider toxic nuclear waste area. It seems unlikely at best. But I agreed to see him next week. And I'm having coffee with Short Scientist, N, tomorrow. And calling tall M tonight. So many men, so little time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You Will See a Stranger

Ah, the gods are "havin' a laugh", as Ricky Gervais' character says. After much mix-up having to do with my phone not working (thank you, Time-Warner), so that M, the tall guy from Brooklyn, couldn't get hold of me, plus his omission of one digit from his phone number so I couldn't call him, we settled this at last and I am due to call M tonight.

And then I spoke to a very short retired scientist, N, who wants to meet me this Friday. His main priority seems to be a woman who is, in his word, "intelligent." His username includes the word "brainy," and his profile says he is "intellectually oriented." Is there a theme here? I have a strong feeling he's encountered some dummies along the dating way. I may qualify for the more intelligent variety, but I can't say the phone conversation rang my bell. (On the other hand, when do they ever?) Be patient, says my friend DK, I go, the new patient me.

But amazingly, someone else has popped up -- O, who also lives in Brooklyn (near where I grew up, which could be a huge indicator of poor taste). I contacted O because his interests and preferences are similar to mine -- so much so that I offered to marry him on the spot. Fortunately he's not a big fan of marriage and neither am I. I think I agreed to call him tonight too. I'm getting them mixed up, which I guess is one of the hazards of dating while over sixty.

Dating Lesson One: when you're cool, that's when it gets hot. Lesson Two: fish swim in schools rather than singly, so when you hit a dry spot (so to speak), a little group of them could swim by five minutes later. Just sit and wait. Coolly.

Monday, July 5, 2010

LIfe's Little Laughs

Armed with sincere intentions, I went to call M, the interesting tall guy from Brooklyn who works in cable news. Then I discovered that the number he provided for me to call is missing a digit. (Is that like shaking a hand that's missing a finger? Not really. Sorry, I'm writing hastily, on my way to dinner with daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old and newborn, who is now 3 weeks old, healthy and ready to eat in restaurants.)

Foiled again! Naturally I sent off an email telling him what's missing, and haven't yet heard back. But I am so, so, way cool about all this....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thing With Feathers Lands Again

Does Hope have the last laugh? An unexpected response from someone landed in my mailbox this morning. This is one of the Match profiles (not yet an actual person) who most interested me, though he lives in Brooklyn, which is barely forgivable. I intend to call him and not mention how much I hate these little chats.

Actually I'm going to try and apply all the life lessons I've been given by helpful friends and commentators: de-intensify, not be so vulnerable, but also not so cynical. Uh-huh. Not one of these commentators has actually dated online or dated as an older woman, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. Worth a try, since what I was doing was not exactly stunningly successful.

I'm cool. Promise to let you know.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Life's Little Lessons

I've been told that I'm approaching this project all wrong. We already know I'm too picky, but I'm also too intense. Rome wasn't built in a month's subscription. You can't expect speed or perfection. Instead of Broadening the Scope, narrow it. Vet the comers more carefully before you meet them, even if that means more of the dreaded phone calls. Do your searching more casually and light-heartedly, not caring if men like The Philosopher like you or not. Just take a few minutes out from your busy day to check out what's on offer, then go about your business of having a life alone.

Okay, I'm convinced. But no sooner did I decide to continue this project (and this blog) than I discovered that Match not only didn't give me the discount, they cut me off. More corporate high-jinks, but this time it was caused by inefficiency rather than venality. Note to companies: efficiency is better in business than in romance.

One phone call to Match (after twenty minutes trying to locate the number on the website) later, I am now re-upped properly, avec discount, or at least so they assure me. "We just want you to be happy!" sang the nice young woman on the phone. I'm not making this up. She was so sincere, I wanted to cry. From corporate happiness.

Alas, a new search turned up the same old fellows, including the famous psychology professor whose work I'd been referring to in class for ages, and whom I dated exactly twice before he cut me off by never returning my call or email, no explanation. Nice. Never heard from him again, and there he still is on the site. He was no fun anyway. No one else new. So I can't say that this will go anywhere, 30% discount or not.

If it doesn't, what have we learned? For one thing, you CAN judge a book by its cover. Except when you can't. And it's damned hard to tell which is which.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Now Pronounce You a Failure at Dating

I'm embarrassed to say that the last fishie who swam near my hook, Funny Hat Man, is not working out well. The embarrassment comes from my failure to call him, as I told him I would, three nights in a row. Some of that time I was unexpectedly busy (last night on the phone with the cable company all evening), but mostly it was my deviant subconscious.

I have an unfortunate subconscious which has gotten me into trouble many times. There have been words that pop out that I mean but should not say, behavior that is driven by emotions I'm not entirely aware of, memories that are suppressed for reasons of Darwinian survival. The utter repression of my intention of calling Funny Hat Man may fall under that latter category. It's clear to me now that I just don't want to do it.

I did call him, however,at almost 10 pm last night. This was after the last attempt to find out why the cable guy never showed up, though I had arranged the whole day so I'd be home between 5 and 8 pm. My phone call to Funny Hat went right to voicemail. His voice on the machine, plus my joy at not having to talk to him, were both ridiculous. This just isn't good. Dating isn't supposed to be this much fun.

And no sooner did I take the deal to re-up with for another month at 30% off than I lost all desire to slog on with this. Sorry, blog, and blog readers, if anyone out there is reading. I don't know if I'll be posting again, though I intend to check the offerings on Match frequently, since I've already paid for it. My sainted parents would never forgive me if they knew I'd bought something and never used it. So you may or may not hear from me again. You never know.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dating Under Capitalism

Yesterday I was mad enough to talk to a human being at, the company. This was because they didn't register that I had resigned my subscription and automatically renewed me for another month with a charge to my credit card. I wanted to bite someone, and I don't mean erotically. My mood was not improved by having spent a very long time the day before trying to find out why XM Radio put a $211 charge on my American Express card when I don't have an account there and have never used XM Radio. Three times I called, waited long periods for a human, and was disconnected as soon as the human put me on hold to investigate. Can you take my number and call me back if we're disconnected? I asked the third time. No, they don't do that, sorry.

Now, Match did not fight my accusation that they hadn't processed my cancellation; on the contrary, the human was all good cheer, chirped out a casual apology, and immediately offered me a 30% discount if I'd extend the sub another month. It was clear they do this all the time, which makes me wonder if they are just as casual about processing the cancellations -- how many subscribers don't call to fight it and just pony up?

I accepted the discount, so now I am officially dating another month. Why did I accept? Because it was a good deal (30% off!), and some primitive cluster of cells in my amygdala gets pleasantly agitated and salivates when I think I'm getting a good deal. So now I'm dating the capitalist way: the company is making money on me for another month that I didn't intend for them, and in return I'm getting a product I'd decided I didn't want, which will be of dubious value when I get it. Hooray!

But at least they're not polluting the ocean or ripping off homebuyers. And I don't have to decide what to do about dating for another month.

I was so taken up with this that I completely forgot to call man-with-funny-hat until it was too late. So that's tonight for sure, unless I need to spend my evening wrestling with another corporation.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Everything's Coming Up...Dandelions

The above phrase is from a letter I received yesterday from a dear friend, so apologies to H., but it resonates, so I had to steal it. There is no dating news except that I'm scheduled tonight for still one more..(sigh) call to a man whose picture shows him wearing a really odd hat. I'm sorry to say that I don't remember another thing about him, and I might just be too unmotivated to re-look up the pathetically few facts (that is, clues) that his profile provides before the call.

Then too, I did find a couple of interesting fellows online and wrote to them, with no results at all so far. That's it.

This leads to the existential question, Do I want to go on with this? Most people who date online are clear about what they want in general: someone they can love, or at least like, to travel with and sleep with and go places about town with. Share the wonders of life with, and so on. A relationship. They don't need to ask why they want that; it's a universal desire, almost an entitlement. Or at least a prize they feel they deserve, and can earn, by being themselves...or maybe a somewhat more pleasing presentation of themselves. And since so many want it, and are looking for each other, it should be easy.

It is easy for some people. Of the handful of people I know who met their partners online, most did it rather quickly, for example the colleague who gave me the idea to Broaden my Scope. So what does it say about me that I've been practicing this (off and on) for years and have never actually met anyone I would remotely consider spending a lot of time with? You get a choice: A. I'm neurotic and unconsciously reject perfectly nice men because at heart I don't feel I deserve to be happy, or B. The pickings are really, really slim by the time you get to my age, and I'm a woman of taste and distinction. If I choose B, I can hear the sneers -- oh sure. So let's try to put it another way.

Actually, I like most people. I can fall easily into conversation with random strangers at Starbucks, or the guy who fixes my cable (if you're my Facebook friend, you know what I mean), or the person sitting next to me on a committee. People and their unique ways of seeing and being in the world are interesting to me. On the other hand, the idea of spending most of my free time with someone, not to mention overnights with someone, ramps up the stakes so that your Perfectly Nice Man is not going to do it for me. If P.N.M. is going to take away my hard-won ability to be alone when I want to be, or do what I want to do, he'd better be giving back an awful lot in the way of emotional and/or other kinds of pleasure. There's got to be gold in them thar hills, or I'm not hiking up there. Show me a glint, at least.

Is this High Standards or is this Self-Defeating Behavior? I've been debating this amongst my selves for years. When I feel lonely, isolated and jealous of the benefits of companionship that others have (even though I would never choose their companions), I think the latter. But then I undertake the search and the needle sways toward the former. (See Choice A or B above).

Whichever it is, the fact is that I felt cut-off and left-out at the beginning of the summer, when I started this dating project. At this moment, for whatever reason, I no longer feel lonely, or needy, or hungry for a man in my life. This isn't because I'm content; I'm never content. But right now what I'm hungry for is more life, not a perfectly nice man-in-my-life.

All this is by way of trying to decide what to do next. So far, no clue.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Romantic Spontaneity

Well, so much for my romanticized sense that breaking the silly rules and rigid scripts of first dates would be fun and stimulating. Also so much for my brilliant idea that seeing a movie I want to see anyway would make a first meeting more efficient. (Romantic efficiency: how's that for an oxymoron?) The latter doesn't work because no one would meet you in the lobby and go right to the movie; no, you have to have coffee first, which means meeting an hour or more before the movie starts. The documentary started at 5:20, I met up with J/aka-L at 4:10, we sat down for coffee at 4:20, and by 4:30 I knew this was a mistake and I was stuck.

J/L greeted me with the non-encouraging words, "Hmm. You look very different from your picture."
Here's what followed:

Me: "Really? You're the second man to tell me that. This is so odd. What's different?"
Him: "Never mind."
Me: "No, I'm concerned, I want to know. You must mean I look older or fatter in real life? It's obviously not a difference that's flattering to me."
Him: "We shouldn't be discussing this. You're an attractive woman. Never mind. It was just one of the pictures, really."
Me: "Can you just tell me which of the three pictures I don't look like? So I can take that one down? Because I don't want men to think I'm deliberately deceiving them. I honestly thought they all looked like me."
Him: "We shouldn't discuss this."

Okay, probably true, but may I remind you (and him) that he brought it up, approximately .01 seconds after meeting me? This was not a good start.

I tried again: Let's discuss something else. It was attractive that he is a passionate environmentalist, organizes and does volunteer work (he's not employed at the moment, so has lots of time), and is knowledgeable and ethical about all this in ways that I am not. So I tried to get him to talk about that. BP? Nope. His vegetarianism? Nothing new or interesting there. Recycling plastic bottles? I recalled how I tried for years to be virtuous by reusing plastic bottles, only to learn that it's practically fatal to reuse plastic bottles. He was not amused. Then I attempted to engage him in an ethical argument about killing mice; is it right to put our own repugnance before mouse suffering? (I personally love that sort of thing.) He wouldn't discuss.

Finally, finally, it was time to see the movie, the documentary on the life of Joan Rivers, called A Piece of Work, which I enjoyed very much. I would have loved to talk about the interesting parts of the movie, e.g. the line between what's funny and what's off-limits to laughter and why, but let me tell you, that wasn't happening. Did you enjoy the movie? I asked. No, he said. That was it. Yet he wanted to extend the date, walk around the Village, and seemed let down when I said I had to go home. A different way than he was going.

A very sweet man, a nice man, but we live on different planets as far as sensibility goes. I sincerely hope he finds a fellow non-verbal environmentalist.

Here's another one of my dating ironies: he didn't look at all like his attractive picture either. And I think his listed height of 5'6" was a hopeful exaggeration. But unlike him and the first guy who told me I don't resemble my picture, I never would say so.

Ah, I resigned my membership in a fit of disgust about ten days ago. Yesterday I checked to see exactly when the subscription was up, and it seems they never processed my resignation, which means I will be automatically billed for another month. There goes the decision about whether to continue or not. I plan to protest, but if I have to stay, I think I'm going to be Narrowing the Scope from now on. To geniuses who are drop-dead gorgeous, and witty, and have British accents. But are not gay.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Comedy Tonight

I went into denial until a phone call at 9:15 pm reminded me that I'd promised to call L, aka J, last night. Didn't want to, of course, but it wasn't bad. I apologized for the late hour, and he was sweet about it. Said he was eating cole slaw; there's something so Brooklyn about that. I don't mean gentrified Brooklyn (which is in fact where he lives), but Old Brooklyn, where I grew up. His accent and mannerisms were familiar, but in a good way.

On the down side, he's very short and is unemployed, but he endeared himself to me by volunteering to go to the movies with me tonight even without the requisite first chat in person. So we're back to that plan, meeting in the Village to have coffee and see the new Joan Rivers documentary. I like documentaries and I like comedy, so I'm pleased. Secretly I'm even more pleased that I won't be wasting time, because I was going to see it anyway. There's nothing better than being efficient.

So, comedy tonight.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More On Gaydar

Just got an email from J/L, inviting me to call him tonight. I'd rather do a lot of things I can think of, but I'm going to force myself. Result will be posted tomorrow.

The subject of my bad gaydar reminds me of a time early in my acquaintance with my good friend G.R., many years ago when I began teaching. I didn't know him well but he'd graciously offered me a ride home from work with a colleague of ours. In the car, the colleague asked G.R. how Sylvia liked the new country house; G.R. replied that she liked it a lot, was having a great time in the country. It was actually quite a while before I discovered that Sylvia was not G.R.'s wife but his cat, and that in fact G.R.'s spouse was named Bill. That's how I am. No gaydar.

I lied when I said I'd make the decision about going on with this blog and dating online by the next post. Here it is and I haven't decided after all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The World Still Turns

Last post I wrote about my reaction to reading Harlequin-type romances, which I'm doing in preparation for a new chapter in my book on romance. My response to these novels involved a certain churning of the stomach at the narcissism of women who identify with a heroine so over-the-top in desirability, where love is a kind of hyperbole of language and image, a vision perfectly in harmony with the reader's innermost desire to be The One and meet The One. Ick.

But in fact this imaginary landscape is just a lamer, cheaper reflection of those other images of perfection we see everywhere around us in magazines and TV and movies, the whole media ball of wax. And who am I to be snooty about women's pleasure in these distilled fantasies of desirability when no one has loved and believed in romance more than I have? This makes me wonder (to go back to my friend DK's question) what I'm looking for in dating online, anyway. Is it a reasonable, workable companionship, something resembling a friendship with some good-enough sex thrown in? Or am I secretly hoping the emotional rush of romance will "happen", combining the two into a relationship that is romantic?

Apparently it won't, on Match. My last contact, now that my Match sub is almost run out, was L, who lives in Brooklyn and likes movies. ("L my name is Lover, and I live on Long Island, and I like Ladies"). I had admired L because he had responded so forthrightly when I contacted him, asking me to go to the movies with him. Not a conventional first date, and that's why I liked him (he's also pretty cute). But then this idea got postponed for one reason or another. The last two weeks were intense, what with the new baby, my youngest grandson, being overdue, and then born, and then in the NICU for three days. When it was all finally settled happily, I contacted L again and asked cheerfully if he were ready to go see that movie.

No, he thinks it's not a good idea to see a movie for a first date. In fact, we should talk on the phone before deciding to meet at all. Oh. Here we go again. And in fact, he's going away for a week and I can call him next weekend. And I will, but I confess to disappointment in L's sense of spontaneity and willingness to throw out the rulebook. Yes, yes, I know it's better this way. I once had a fix-up date with a fairly well-known writer that took place at a movie, and it was pretty weird. On the other hand, I think that was because we didn't much like each other (a couple of years later I saw an article about him in the New York Times that mentioned his recent marriage to a younger woman).

This week I went to a lecture on Tony Kushner for the hell of it -- since I teach his plays, it seemed good to hear more about him. Next to me sat a man not too different in age, and clearly alone, and quite attractive. We fell into conversation, and I perked up when I heard his Australian accent (I'm a sucker for the Brits and their colonies). Now, I've heard for decades that going places you're actually interested in and casually conversing with strangers is a far better way to meet men that the online dating show. So I put on my most beguiling smile and was prepared to be casual but interested when he said that as a gay man, he particularly appreciated Kushner's work. Yeah, well, great gaydar I do not have. I noticed afterward that there were an unusual number of men sitting by themselves. Duh.

Just noticed that Letter L above (fearless film lover from Brooklyn) was called J in an earlier post. So much for my alphabetical skills. But I like the jump-rope rhyme above, and probably no one is reading this anyway, and so to heck with it, J will now be called J/L.

Will I join another dating site, or say goodbye to my summer project before the summer is halfway done? I promise to decide by the next post.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

As the World Turns

Well, Mr. Cranky from NJ never returned my call, so apparently I annoyed him too. I'm not sorry; there's got to be more to life than putting up with someone's irritability. It's only in Harlequin romances (which I'm reading way, way too many of for a chapter in my book) that the hero's boorish, rude behavior signals that he is a softie underneath who is ripe for falling in love with just the right woman, namely the heroine, stand-in for the reader. It's amusing to read these books in quantities and see how preoccupied they are with the supposed mind of the hero as he is utterly captivated by our heroine...fighting her power over him with all his masculine bravado, but helpless before her incredible beauty, charm and yes, intelligence (we're told the heroine is intelligent, though what's obsessively described is physical beauty). Meanwhile the reader gets to gaze on the satisfying spectacle of the hot, powerful male reduced to jello, not just by her sexual appeal but her ability to permanently engage his emotions. That is clearly most of the pleasure of the text.

Except to me, wondering how I could be reading this stuff for what seems like eons, and still not even halfway through the slog. First, there's a degree of female narcissism in the above, a greedy need for attention and approval from the male, that turns my stomach, and second, nothing in my actual experience has ever matched up to this compelling motif. In real life, rude and dominating men turn out to guessed it, rude and dominating.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thinking Day

Today I'm thinking about the way my behavior in this dating game has been responsive to the inner tides of my psyche. First I surge with pent-up needs or resentments or fears, and then these recede, so that my initial reactions feel suspect and foreign to me. And then too my responses to men have been shaped by the opinions of others, and of course my expectations of what romance should be like, or the way I hope men will act.

For example, when I was told I was too narrow in my search, I started hopefully trying to find men in new places; when I talked to The Adventurer, I imagined what he wanted and decided I didn't fit that, and then switched gears and felt bad when I was told I was wrong to reject him; when I emailed with The Philosopher after meeting, I had in mind the romantic idea that he would like me equally from the get-go, and felt resentment that he didn't, spoiling that one. There is context upon context for every single interaction, from the first glimpse of someone's profile, to the email that follows, to the way a phone call or meeting is interpreted. It's all so multi-layered and complex that it's a wonder people ever get together with others at all, and nothing like seeing a stranger across a crowded room...and boom.

Ads for on TV loudly proclaim that nowadays, one in five relationships begin online. I suppose it could be true (I wonder how they know this?) -- maybe this is the New Normal. But if it is, it sure doesn't feel in the least romantic. My favorite sociologist, Eva Illouz, whose work I'm reading in preparation for the book I'm writing this summer, points out that we supposedly define romance by its spontaneity; we speak of romantic love as an "unexpected epiphany" having to do with recognition of the uniqueness of the mysterious Other. She says online dating is a significant break with this old definition, because it presents us with limited information from which we have to make an informed guess...similar to the way a consumer chooses to try a product after seeing advertising. It also supplies a formal script and a repetitive vocabulary for describing the self that's supposed to be unique. So in the end "love" (or rather, dating) is both rationalized and "instrumentalized", that is, people are super-aware of trying to get a good deal for themselves in a process that is supposed to be driven by "pure" and overwhelming emotion.

But Eva, how many actual "romances", especially those that lead to marriage, really ARE driven by that sort of passion? Isn't marriage subliminally based on our perception of a good deal in any case?

Another point of hers I think is brilliant is that we are hyper-conscious of our place in the online dating market because the most individualized feature -- sometimes the ONLY unique feature -- in these repetitive profiles is the picture, and we know our photo is being judged against thousands of others readily accessible by a click. Ouch. No wonder it's so stressful. She has a way of saying (in academese) exactly what I've been experiencing. I know a lot of people would be turned off by her sociolgical jargon, but I need that objectivity and intellectual structure to get past my emotionality on this subject. That's why when I feel low and blue about this process, thinking about it helps a lot. Let's hear it for thinking!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, I sent out a few more tentative hellos to guys here and there, and one who responded -- let's call him K -- was visiting the city today and suggested we meet. All I know about him is that he lives somewhere in New Jersey and is cranky. In fact, when I asked him for his cell phone so I could set up a time, he snapped (if you can snap by email) that he had already given it to me in a previous email. Well, excuse me. Then I called him to say I couldn't make it till later in the afternoon, and the conversation wasn't encouraging. He didn't seem glad to hear from me, and his impatient voice was off-putting. So here we go again. Am I making snap (not to pun) judgements again, based on almost no information, or am I right to behave intuitively? Do I need Mr. Cranky from Somewhere, NJ? I only reached out to him because I was told I hadn't been tolerant enough; now I wonder where to draw that line. The more I am aware of the layers of my decision-making, the more confused I get.

So much simpler to see the stranger across the room. Who conveniently falls for you too, in equal amounts, and is of course available. Or if you want to switch from song to story, you can add an obstacle or objection (mutual misunderstanding, engagement to the "wrong" person, pride or prejudice, etc.) that is overcome after some exciting tension is resolved.

And my month's sub at Match is coming to an end in a few days. I have to decide whether to renew for another month, or try somewhere else, or give up for the summer. Right at this moment, I can tell you that the Little Engine That Could is almost out of steam. I'm getting pretty cranky myself.

We'll see. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


The news about my newborn grandson has been good, while the action on Match has been ebbing. Right now I'm about to go visit my other children and grandchildren out of town for the weekend, so there will be no posts for a few days. I sent J, the Brooklyn movie-lover, a note telling him I'll be away and will get in touch next week -- no reply. And I reached out to a few new possibilities, but no response there either. Two of them looked vaguely familiar, which could mean that route has been traveled before to no avail.

But I've gotten interesting responses from others about my experiences with The Philosopher and The Adventurer (aka Letter-I, last post). Apparently I really blew it with The Philosopher, because I showed insecurity in my email -- by giving him, as one commentator put it, Too Much Information -- when I told him I "hadn't been sure he wanted to see me again" and so was pleased to hear from him. And then his lukewarm answer about "giving it another time or two" pressed my buttons, meaning dug at my fear of being in the one-down position of wanting what the guy doesn't. Voices of reason tell me that bringing up the topic is too much emotional pressure, too much sharing. Some men are reserved and don't want to be overwhelmed with a woman's need to be reassured. Plus I might have been so charming on Date #2 and #3 that he might have liked me better and I'd never have known about his doubts after Date #1. Or not. But that's the chance you take.

That makes sense, so I regret the way I handled it. My soft spots were showing like those slips women wore in the Fifties. As for The Adventurer, my good friend DK tells me it wouldn't have killed me to get my butt on one of those hikes that Letter-I likes to take, to give it the proverbial chance. And I agree, except...I just don't want to. It's not just my laziness and lack of time. Not only did Letter-I talk exclusively about himself, the usual turn-off (he was curious about me once, asking how much time I would have...for him), but he was just so clear that he had a strict agenda of his own, rigorous companionship in his daily travels.

So what do you want from this, if you're not going to give it a chance? asked DK reasonably. Good thing I have reasonable people in my life to ask me unanswerable rational questions. In the same way that I complain about the way this online dating process makes romance into work, complete with resumes and interviews, figuring out what I want in advance feels weird and unromantic. What DO I want? Love, liking, sex, company, pleasure, spontaneity, reliability....actually I'd take one or two of those. And it's truly amazing how difficult any of these desires is to fulfill.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It Takes All Kinds

You may have guessed from the title that this is about a character, one I have called I (that is, the letter I in my alphabetical series).

First, a digression, but an important one. Last Sunday my new grandson was born, unfortunately with breathing problems, and was promptly put in the NICU (that's Newborn Intensive Care Unit, for those of you lucky enough not to know). We were told it wasn't very serious, but he had wires and beeping things coming out from various parts of him, so it was stressful and scary. It really put the love-and-dating quest into perspective, and took away my appetite for anything but news about him. Now he's doing better and is scheduled to come home tomorrow, hopefully to lead a normal newborn life of nursing, crying and staring around blankly, so back to The Dating Game.

Letter-I had one of the longest and most detailed profiles I've ever seen. He's done a good deal of traveling, and he appears to have listed every place he's visited on the globe. Plus he just came from somewhere down South and has a tremendous lust for seeing the many sights of New York, all of which were also listed, and he is a marvel of athleticism in a variety of sports, which were listed too. It was exhausting to read, but he was dashingly handsome in his picture, sporting a bicycle helmet.

Still, I wasn't sure I wanted to contact him because in the picture he has a rough-hewn, super-masculine face, and I formed an image of him from the above facts and the picture that amounted to a macho, dominating guy. I am presently allergic to the same, but I put a toe in the water nevertheless. He responded right away, ready to have fun with me in exhaustive detail. It dawned on me that what he is dying for, being alone in a new city, is a companion in his hyper-energetic travels. He also said he doesn't read newspapers. All this led me to say that we might be very different people, but how about we talk. He replied immediately, sounding upset that I thought we were different: hadn't he described himself in detail? And I liked him enough to initiate contact, why did I think we were different now?

I usually avoid phone calls like the bubonic plague, as you know if you've been reading this blog, but I wanted to reassure him that I wasn't crticizing him, since he seemed so defensive. To my surprise, the vision I'd had of him as Macho Adventure Man didn't at all match his voice, which was soft, boyish and melodic. He was sweet, but it was clear to me that I was right, he wants a woman who will accompany him in his (apparently) 24 hour a day adventures. And that ain't me, babe. I explained carefully, so as not to bruise his feelings, that I actually prefer to sit around and read than bike the length of the Hudson or climb the Shawangunk Ridge. When I could get him off the phone, I suggested we think it over. I thought that was the end of it, because that's considered a graceful exit line.

But no. The next morning there was a two-sentence follow-up email from Letter-I, solemn and earnest: how much time did I devote to my job? Was I off for the summer? I felt like I was being interviewed for a position, those niggling last questions before you're made the offer or declined. I answered, out of politeness, but Letter-I then wrote a last regretful note: "I guess I have to accept the fact that I really want someone who has the time and freedom as I have to travel and just do things together. If I were a long-time resident here with an established group of friends, that could make a difference. but that is not the case. So I think we should just wish each other good luck with the search and move on." I had already moved on, but oddly, I think Letter-I and I might very well have had a ton of fun together. If I did not have to write a book on deadline this summer, and if I were not the lazy layabout that I am, that is.

Maybe next summer I'll look for Letter-I on the dating sites again.

Next up: J, from Brooklyn, fearless film lover extraordinaire.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Salmon Turns Out to Be Herring

I'm feeling better about The Philosopher, now that I have some perspective on it. I can't help suspecting the problem for him was physical attraction, possibly due to my age. My only evidence for the latter is that he listed women 35 and over in his search; this is a bit unusual for men of 65, because it implies they think women 30 years younger will respond to them. Twenty years younger is common as grass, but not 30. Now, I'm a bit spoiled in my dealings with men; in all modesty, they usually like me, unless it's obvious to both of us that it's not going to happen. The button that The Philosopher pushed is my fear that this appeal I've had for men is changing as I grow older. And I can't help noticing that I keep growing older.

But I was cheered by the thought that I had three more starters at the firing line coming up. That is, I had written to about six more gentlemen, and several who seemed promising answered. Today was H, a therapist who lives and works on the Upper East Side. Since he also has a Masters in literature, he had the commonality thing going for him again. We had made a date for coffee today by email before talking, and had only a brief conversation to confirm the time and place. But the brief conversation was disconcerting. He dithered, asked questions I had already answered, sounded aged and fragile. Oh dear. I wasn't looking forward to this, but it seemed rude to cancel, so I went. I was glad I had decided not to repeat the lunch syndrome, which was getting expensive and fattening.

It was actually worse than anticipated: I won't use the word "torture" out of respect for victims of war, but I will say that I kept wondering how soon I could escape without hurting his feelings. And he had walked all the way from the East Side to my own area on the West Side, so I felt I had to pay him back for his ergs of exercise. It started badly when I saw him -- his looks sort of matched his telephone voice. Then there was a lot of fussing about where we'd sit. It had to be the back of the cafe, there couldn't be noise, we had to locate where the music was coming from so we could avoid it. Except there was no music. When we finally sat I discovered the reason for all this: there was a hearing aid in one ear.

I felt bad that I had attributed the fussing to his personality instead of to a handicap (though it would have been better if he had simply told me about his deafness), but in fact it turned out that it wasn't just his condition. (I have noticed that life is often like this, haven't you?) He actually was an irritating person. It seemed to me that his deafness was both physical fact and apt metaphor. He spoke about uninteresting things in an uninteresting way, and I couldn't even get him to tell his life story, which usually keeps my attention as a last resort. For an hour he asked a zillion questions and then cut me off immediately every single time I tried to answer. I couldn't help wondering how he operates as a therapist. And obviously a successful one, as he supports an office in a wealthy area of the Upper East Side. I felt I was in a Woody Allen movie, like the one where Marshall McLuhan appears to explain the film Woody is waiting to see. I wanted Freud to materialize and tell me what exactly H's patients see in him.

Don't get me wrong, he was a nice guy. And I've rarely been so motivated to leave for the library to get to work, so I'll give him that. Plus the full-body eye-sweep he gave me at the farewell reminded me that The Philosopher had done nothing of the sort, either at meeting or parting, and that's more evidence for the latter's lack of physical attraction to me. I must remember to take that as a sign: look for the ever-common full-body eye-sweep, and if not there, do not push.

Next is the letter I, who seems to be quite a character, and J, from Brooklyn, who is more promising. But I'm starting to have serious doubts about the promises that dating profiles make. And profiles are all you have to go on before you sample the products, unfortunately. So they are pretty much in the same relation to what you are going to get as those greener-than-thou ads for British Petroleum are to what really happens in the ocean.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Interesting Stuff

Interesting: To my pleasant surprise, last night I received a follow-up email from The Philosopher. This just shows, I thought, that I was misinterpreting his reserve as reluctance. I wrote back in a jolly tone, mentioning (carefully) that I was pleased to hear from him, as I wasn't sure when we parted that he wanted to go further. "I can usually tell when a man likes me," I wrote, "But in your case, I really couldn't, for whatever reason." Again, the speech act: just one more reassurance, please. You do like me, right?

His rather stunning (to me) reply: "To tell the truth, I wasn't sure." He added that when I hugged him goodbye and joked that we really must meet again because of all we have in common, he then thought, okay, "taking another step or two would be fine." This set me back on my heels. So my intuition had been right after all.

I replied: "Ah, well, I thought I picked up a certain distance. I appreciate your honesty. And I'm a candid person, you can tell. So I'll tell you frankly: if you were not sure you wanted to see me again after we had lunch, that puts a different spin on it. I really don't want to see someone, even casually, who isn't into me, so to speak. Attraction has got to be mutual or it's not fun. Anyway, I'm the one now feeling ambivalent. I think that's called irony."

He answered right away: "So, are we done?"

I tried to explain: "No, I'm on the fence, but I don't want to court anyone who has a lukewarm response to me. I'm not likely to get any prettier or nicer the next time or two you see me."

I couldn't help hoping this would be one of those romantic narratives where the man realizes the value of the woman he has taken for granted, and pursues her after all. I always hope that, because I'm essentially a romantic, though a cynical one. And no, I haven't heard back. I suspect he's "done." No doubt this was too much for him, and you might think this was my fault. I might even agree.

Did I handle this well? I'm torn between feeling I'm right to be self-protective and accusing myself of overreacting. On the one hand, it doesn't augur well that someone gives me "a time or two" to evoke a more enthusiastic response from him. Something about the way he put this sounded like he was doing me a favor. Or is that my paranoia? Would a more rational woman have avoided these questions and just pursued the opportunity?

It's hard to be objective, as always. I know one thing for sure: I dread hoping for more with someone who essentially isn't attracted to me or is half-hearted about me -- been there, have seen the results. Having a good deal in common isn't necessary and it isn't enough. And when I think about that lunch with him, I have to ask myself whether I was really so attracted to him -- or just relieved to be lunching with a man who could hold an intelligent conversation and did not talk about himself exclusively (though mostly). He wasn't Adonis, he wasn't particularly interesting and he wasn't at all amusing. He was just eminently suitable.

Is it self-respect to want more, or am I neurotic for holding out for more in a very bad romantic market?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Date with a Philosopher

I had a date with someone I liked today: a philosopher who teaches at a university in the city. He was sane, smart, pleasant-looking, well-spoken, carried on a reasonably interactive conversation, lives in my general neighborhood, and had so much in common with me that it would be criminal not to pursue it. We are both writing books this summer, and talked about that. Yes, I could see myself doing more of this.

The downside: he didn't smile at my jokes or show much humor at all -- quite serious. You could say that comes from being a philosopher, but to the contrary, those I've known have been a laugh a minute, or at least appreciate the absurdities of life. At one point I asked if women make assumptions about him because he teaches philosophy, and told him that many men lamely joke, when they hear I teach English, that well, they'd better watch their grammar in front of me, apparently not realizing that 1,000 others have said the exact same thing. But he didn't give me the I-know-what-you-mean smile I can usually count on from other teachers. In general there was little affect. I don't know what this says about him, or his reaction to me.

Then too, when we parted there was no indication at all that he was flirting with me or wanted to go any further. Impulsively I said that we really should get together again, based on all our many commonalities, in my semi-ironic tone that is a cover for anxiety. He seemed distant, murmured something I didn't quite get. That made me fear I'd been pushy, so I added, "Um, I mean if you want to, I don't want to push you if you don't..." and he snipped, "It's okay, I can take care of myself". I suppose he meant that he won't go out with me if he doesn't want to. That's rational, but not what I wanted (or as a linguist would say, not what my speech act was really about). Of course I was looking for reassurance. Duh. And you'd think by now I'd have figured out that when I push for reassurance from men, I almost never get it.

So maybe I should have let him take the reins on suggesting we meet again. But then, why does it always have to be the man who must suggest this?

Well, he's not the only fish in the sea, apparently: there is a tentative date with another good-sized salmon lined up for Saturday, and two more in the pipeline. I notice I'm starting to put on pounds from all this date-eating. At the end of this blog I may wind up with no man and a thicker waistline.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Scope Narrows

Today I had lunch with B, who had beeen too busy to see me the last two weeks. He's the one whose wife is in a nursing home. A lovely man, unfortunately not in the physical sense. I'd forgotten that he's 75 years old, and he appeared even older to me.

We talked about politics, about which we mostly agree, but it was the usual: he was eager to tell me his opinions on current events, not to hear my own apercues. This doesn't bother me when someone knows more than I do, or has fascinating things to say, but alas, not in B's case. I'm quite sure that a single man will never read this blog, but if he did, I'd like to tell him that the secret to capturing a woman is to ask her questions and actually listen to the answers. It really isn't all that hard to do.

So then I asked about B's life (he was totally uninterested in mine). He's been married over 40 years, and his wife was an unusual woman. Though she didn't go to college, she rose from secretary to a high-level position at a financial firm, making tons of money before she became ill. I was way more interested in her than I was in B himself. He told me the wrenching story of her degenerative illness, and while I was touched, I did feel the randomness of it: I don't know this person and I'm hearing these intimate details -- why?

B seems well-off; he lives in a pricey zip code in Manhattan, and has a house in the most expensive part of the Hamptons. Yet he accepted my offer to pay for my lunch, which came to ten dollars (I had an appetizer). I know many men are sensitive about being exploited (see Rushed Lifestyle Man) and complain about women's expectations of being treated to meals, so I'm fine with any way of doing it. I always pay for myself unless someone insists, but with the house in the Hamptons, I confess I thought he'd insist. Oh well. I can afford ten dollars too.

One interesting moment in his tale: when he proposed marriage to his wife, she broke down and told him the awful truth that she was seven years older than he was. He emphasized this as though she had been withholding the news that she had infectious plague. He immediately withdrew the marriage proposal in the face of this horror: when I'm 43, he reported thinking, she'll be fifty! Of course this made me feel about 100. Some time later he realized he missed her and they did get married, but apparently her advanced age bothered him for decades. I pointed out that he is eleven years older than I am, did that bother him? No? Wasn't that a double standard? He looked mightily confused, but came back with: I just go by what pleases me. If a woman doesn't like my age, she's free to withdraw.

Though I liked B, I can't see hanging out with him. And one reason is that he feels too old for me. Put that in your irony pipe and smoke it.

Coming up next: three big fish swim near my net; meeting one tomorrow, one Saturday, and one not yet pinned down. And these are salmon, not little herrings.

And I've made a new resolution: I am disavowing the Broad Scope Principle.

Though the fava bean tortellini appetizer at Nice Matin was fabulous.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Comedy Tonight

Well, I met the odd-sounding A, the man from Brooklyn who took my phone virginity when I started this weeks ago. I wasn't looking forward to it, you may remember, since we didn't exactly have crackling electricity on the phone. But to my surprise, I had a great time and found him fascinating. What a life! He's been a psychologist, antique dealer, and best of all, for a long time, comedy club owner. He seems to know or have opinions on everyone in the comedy business, and said interesting things about stand-up comedy and how it's done. This was unexpected, because it didn't appear in his profile (probably because he no longer has the club) and I so rarely meet anyone, much less date anyone, who shares this interest of mine in comedy and humor. He also loves movies and I do too. So I had a great time. And a nice guy.

The bad news: he said he's 68 but looks much older to me. He flunked the test of whether I'd sleep with him for cash. And though sweet, he was mostly encased in his own little world and made little attempt to enter mine. Not that he's unique in that respect. There's simply no way, alas.

Near the end of dinner (I paid for myself, to his obvious relief), he mentioned that he is forming a group of film lovers to watch old movies every other Friday evening in his screening room at home (he owns a building). I said I'd like to join, may I? He became frosty and said he was inviting only couples, no singles. I must have looked surprised, because he added that lots of single friends of friends want to come, and he doesn't want a bunch of new people in his house. We parted without the usual blather about getting in touch. Turn-off was mutual, I suppose. But fun, at least. I'm grateful for that.

More news: turns out that G, who blew me off with what I assumed was an excuse (hurt leg) on Sunday morning, wants to try again next week. Probably nice guy, but I think my zeal for the Broad Scope principle is diminishing. I don't think the men's clothing business is going to afford the same amusement that the comedy club stories did. Yes, I am aware how snobbish that sounds. But true.

However, I found more suckers, I mean possibilities, on Match today, and emailed about six of them. We'll see if any reply. I might do better hanging around hardware stores, as someone once seriously advised me (it's supposedly where the men are).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blown Off vs Blown Away

Somehow I managed to get myself committed to three dates in the next four days. This may sound exciting, except that I don't much want to see any of them, except maybe B, the guy from the Upper East Side whose wife is in a nursing home and is efficient on the phone. I'm beginning to appreciate that quality enormously.

Of the other two, tomorrow is A, the very first guy I spoke to, who sounded, if you remember, rather odd, and the remaining one is G, who contacted me recently. G has a pleasant face, sent a flattering email suggesting dinner at a place of my choice, and best of all, volunteered to come somewhere near my neighborhood, contrasting nicely with C, who clearly thought meeting me in Manhattan was an imposition. So in spite of misgivings, I impulsively set up a meet-and-greet for today.

The misgivings about G were based on his work history -- he's a businessman, has owned a men's suit store, and done other business-y things. I've never yet dated a businessman (or scientist, for that matter) who has the same sensibilities I do. But in the spirit of Broadening the Scope, I suspend my disbelief.

Except it turns out that G did not invite me to dinner. After numerous confusing emails involving a link I sent him to a cool restaurant where we could have a glass of wine and tapas, it turns out that wasn't what he meant at all. This was revealed when he asked "what kind of place" I had suggested, even though I'd sent him the website so he'd see the address. "It's a restaurant where can have a glass of wine and tapas," I wrote. He wrote back, "But I said I'd take you to a diner. I want to go to a diner." Had he said that? I found the email he'd sent, and sure enough, it said, "I'd like to meet you and take you to a dinner, you choose the place." Now, I did think that dinner at 2 pm (the time he wanted) was peculiar, but hey, what ISN'T peculiar about this whole process? Besides, I wasn't up for dinner with a complete stranger myself, so I didn't think about it. After we got past this misunderstanding, we agreed we'd just meet halfway and look for a place he considers sufficiently diner-like. That was yesterday.

This morning, bright and early, he called to say that he'd "hurt his leg somehow" and would remake the date next week. I can't say how glad I was.

I'm detailing this trivial event because it illustrates an important principle in this online dating business, if not in life. How do we come to judgements about people (not to mention situations) with little actual knowledge? It's becoming more and more clear to me that we pick out a few details with which we have associations or previously held opinions, and then put together an imaginary narrative in which these details are signs that it will all work out fine. Or else fill in the mostly blank parts by reading the little information we have as warnings of impending doom. Interestingly, there are two books on the New York Times bestseller list today that argue 1) we should go with our guts in making decisions, and 2) we should not go with our guts in making decisions. And they sell because this question is terribly confusing in real life. People want someone to tell them, once and for all: how do I know?

So with G, I see now that I said yes to the immediate date because his relatively pleasant looks compared well with the ugliness of most available men I've been seeing online, like, say, F; because G's willingness to travel from his neighborhood closer to mine contrasted nicely with the humiliating reluctance of C; and last, because of his flattery, evidence of good taste in women. But then the email exchange revealed that he can't spell, that he couldn't read a link to a restaurant, and that it's important to him to meet a woman in a diner (why? because women will expect him to pay for a meal in a restaurant? because it's too much a commitment of time?). All this adds up in my little mind to not-my-kind-of-guy. Plus, remembering that he sells men's clothing, my cultural snobbery takes over and kills it completely. Hey, I'm an educated, cultured, intellectual woman!

But is this a character defect of mine, or just pragmatism? You can't date everyone, even with the Broad Scope principle. The fact is that people, old, young, gay, straight, and everywhere, tend to couple with others just like them, except in the occasional movie. You don't want to keep correcting the spelling of d-i-n-e-r in your head when you do that for a living.

Except -- and in real life there's always an "except" -- one of those men previously referred to whom I truly loved was completely wrong on paper, had only a year of college, lived the kind of life I would never go near. Yes, in the end it probably did us in, but what a ride we had. He had other, wildly attractive qualities that 99%of the men whose resumes are compatible with mine don't have. So take that, rational decision-maker.

It's just that the above doesn't really help me to know what to do in this situation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Few Fishies Swim On By

Today I corresponded with two fellows in their mid-70's, ten years older than I am.

One -- I'll call him E -- lives far away in the wilds of the Jersey woodlands, or something like that. He reads sports magazines, considers himself pure country, and is looking for a "real lady." For some reason he decided I fit that bill, so he contacted me. I checked his profile: he's not bad-looking, but he seems to spend most of his time fishing and he hates the city. The truth is E could be fun, but I'm not going fishing with him anytime soon, and it sounds like coming to visit me would be torturous for him. So I said no. Too bad. It's one of those cases where in spite of nothing in common, we could have had a whale of a time for a while, to continue the fish metaphor. But I suspect this is mostly in my imagination, just as he had a fantasy of his own about me as a "real lady", based on no evidence at all.

The other fellow, F, looked almost as good as Rushed Lifestyle Man on paper, except older and less attractive than R.L.M, who was barely decent. In fact, if I am to be honest (as Simon Cowell used to say), F seems downright ugly and overweight in his profile picture. But the guy has the professions going for him: he's in psychology and teaches in grad school. So I wrote one of my come-hither letters, and he responded right away. Yes, I have an appealing profile, but he's "seeing someone more or less regularly. Good luck." That means Hasta la Vista.

This was food for another meditation about men and women and age and looks. Every man who has a high-status profession, no matter how repulsive or how old, seems to make out like a bandit, while high-status me, ten years younger than E and (excuse me for saying so) a lot better looking, lies gasping on the shore (to further squeeze the fishy metaphor). I'm not sure if this makes me hate men, or the women who choose them, or the whole sex-gender-age system. But damn, it's hard to hate a system: so abstract. Therefore -- irrationally, I admit -- I hate F instead. Don't worry, no actual men were harmed in the course of this emotion.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Short Updates, But No New Actual Dates

News of the Day:
1. Email from A, the somewhat odd-sounding first guy I talked to. I thought he'd gone into the ether (and I wasn't regretting it), but he has emerged to suggest we make a date for "a mixed drink or coffee." In the spirit of Widening My Scope, I agreed.

2. None of the six new guys I wrote to last week responded to me. Not one.

3. I changed my profile picture, because the first words out of C, the only one I've met so far, were that I don't look anything like my picture. Also, he claimed my face is too far away in the picture to get a good look. Since I haven't heard back from him either, I wonder if he was disappointed in my looks on meeting me. Providing more face on the profile could prevent that -- I'd rather have no date than one where I am a letdown. But it's sort of humiliating to do this. After all, though C was not bad-looking for age 66, he not a beauty either. Yet he could have high standards, since he told me that his most recent girlfriend was twenty years younger than he. This is what they call the double standard, folks, and there's nothing that makes me madder. And don't tell me about evolution and how men must have younger women to spread their genes. I don't care. Unearned privilege in general, any kind, makes me want to eat my arm.

4. An email from my alma mater advertised an alumni speed dating event, and I thought, "Well, why not? That might be interesting and fun." The link said, "Are you interested in meeting fellow alums for romance? Sign up for our speed-dating event, ages 20-40!" Sigh. Double sigh.

5. I had a session with a personal trainer yesterday (comes free with joining my gym for the summer) and after we talked about my "goals", he informed me that I'm "starting from a very good platform." I wasn't sure what he was saying, since I'd told him that I'm totally out of shape and have less muscle tone than a Cabbage Patch doll. It turned out he meant that I have a good body for my age, no big weight issues or horrid lumps in the wrong places. Well, a girl has to hang onto something while being battered by At least I have a good platform.