Monday, April 30, 2012

Over the hill

I went out with a guy last week who is a couple of years younger than me. A little ways into the conversation, I found out that he went to the same college as a few of my friends.

I threw some names his way. "Ms. B? Miami Nice? Ring any bells?"

"When did they graduate?"

I told him.

"No, they're too old. I might recognize them, but they were seniors when I was a freshman," he said.

"There is someone else I know, but she's really young," I said. "We're going to be in a canoe race together this weekend. But there's no way you'd know her." I told him her name. She's my childhood friend's younger sister.

"Yeah, we graduated together," he replied. Then he made a few jokes about the fact that I was born in the 1970s. Including one about the Civil Rights movement. It went something like this: "The Civil Rights movement happened not that long ago. It was just two decades before I was born. I guess it was in the decade before you were born." Snicker, snicker.

Quite the charmer. Still, I might go out with him again. After all, those of us who were born in the 70s can't be too picky. We're pretty old.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Taking our time to the finish line

I was in my first-ever race today. It was a canoe relay race. I roped a few people into doing it with me, including my sister.

As we waited for our canoe to come in from the first leg, we watched other teams' transitions. They were trying to go as fast as they could, rushing in and out of boats and getting wet in the process. "No need to hurry like that," we reminded each other. "We don't want to risk getting our feet wet. We'll just take our time."

"And also, no apologizing," I told my sister, reminding her of an article she read a while back that said women apologize too much. "If we screw up, we screw up. No need to be all apologetic about it. If we apologize by mistake, we have to follow it by saying 'I rock!'" (This is a technique a school is using to help girls feel less apologetic.)

"Let's not go crazy at the beginning," my sister added. "We have to go five miles. We should save our strength and take it nice and slow."

We followed all of our own advice. During our hour-plus canoe, we passed one boat. They had veered off course and got stuck in the bushes on the side of the river. A few minutes later, they passed us.

At the end of our leg, there was a bridge filled with people. I was getting tired, so I was glad there would be someone to cheer for us. But as we got closer, they kept quiet. "Hey, you guys are supposed to be cheering," I told them. They complied.

"We're going to run into the bridge," my sister said from behind me. "You're talking to them instead of following my instructions."

"Sorry," I replied. "I rock!"

I think my family is not very competitive.  Maybe we should stick to recreational paddling.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Growing a crop of men

Online dating is a lot like gardening. You start by planting your seedlings by writing messages to several men or responding to messages you've received. Some of them sprout, others never do, still others sprout a teeny-tiny little stem but then wither and flop over (this happens if you get a lame message in reply to your witty epistle, or if they suddenly stop replying). You correspond for a while with the ones that sprouted, and write off the others with a shrug. Eventually, the corresponding leads to some dates. Suddenly, you realize that a bunch of your seedlings are about to become real plants, and you need to stop planting more seeds or your garden will become overcrowded. So, you take a break and concentrate on fertilizing your existing plantlets rather than growing new ones. You meet the little plants; some of them seem promising and worthy of second and third dates, others you can tell are the kinds of plants that are just never going to produce, and you stop watering them. Sometimes you get really excited about a plant and think that someday, down the road, it just might give you a bunch of beautiful, juicy heirloom tomatoes. Others are kinda spindly, but you want to give them a chance, too. You keep hoping one of them will really take off, but often, you end up being back at square one, with an empty garden ready to be planted again.

Right now, in both my vegetable garden and my man garden, I am in the phase where I have a bunch of little seeds planted and am giving them all the love and nurturing and fertilizer I can in the hopes that my tiny little sprouts will grow big and strong one day. I got a hopeful sign from one of my seedlings yesterday, in the form of a message that contained the following: "I'm interested in educational policy, so I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on the state of education. Have you read anything by Diane Ravitch?"

This little sprout really knows how to make a teacher swoon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


As I mentioned in my last post, I was privy to some overly artsy, dramatic photos after the Hipster librarian added me as a friend on Facebook (even though I didn't accept; they're public). Many of the photographs have his ex girlfriend in them: black and white shots of her looking pensive and American Apparel-y, arm-length photos of the two of them cuddling, shots of old buildings in Eastern Europe with the side of her face or a few wisps of her hair in them, etc. Last night, at my friend M's house, someone asked about our breakup, and I ended up showing the photos while reading the captions in a sonorous, melodramatic voice. Examples: "Into the new empty," "We lived here very much," "Pale saint," "Schwester with other people's kinder," "Gabriel with the solace of jasmine."

"She looks reaaaaallly young," everyone commented.

Indeed she did. When I got home, the photos were still open on my computer, and I clicked on her name to see if I could find out anything else about her. And I did find something: She's graduating from COLLEGE in 2013. Meaning that, when the photos were taken in 2009, she was still in high school or had maybe just graduated. It was hard to believe at first, so I Googled around a little bit and confirmed the facts. The Hipster Librarian, by the way, is 40.

Well. Now it makes sense that he contacted me, given that I wrote in my OkCupid profile that I'm often mistaken for a 16-year-old. Time to edit my profile, methinks.

And speaking of editing, perhaps I should change HL's blog name to "Humbert Humbert"?!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bad dates

When people ask about my bad dating experiences, I often wish I had better stories. I never went out with a sweaty, burpy guy, like my sister, or with a man who casually mentioned that he was planning to dabble in prostitution later that afternoon, like my friend M. My worst date was years ago, when I went out with a guy I met at a party in Williamsburg. He was from Maine, and an old friend of someone I met once or twice who seems like a decent person and is a bit of a celebrity in the progressive political world, plus I had beer goggles, so I thought he seemed great.

When we met a week later, though, I quickly realized my mistake. By the time we were ready to head out of my apartment for a walk, I was so horrified by the thought of spending an evening with him that I briefly contemplated putting his jacket in the hallway and locking my apartment door when he went to the bathroom (the bathroom was off a common hallway, tenement-style). As we walked next to the Gowanus Canal, he told me that he liked to hang out by the East River on Staten Island and throw tennis balls into the water. For fun.

He had just enough money in his bank account, he told me, to pay for movie tickets for both of us. But then he got hungry, so we had to stop at a store so he could buy chips. Then he only had enough money for one movie ticket, so I got my own. It was a long, painful evening.

I had a similar experience last week during my third and final date with the Hipster Librarian. He suggested a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a fine suggestion that showed sensitivity to my interests. However, once there a side to his personality came out that I had glimpsed once or twice before: He is an insufferable know-it-all, and he takes himself way too seriously. For instance, in front of a Sargent sketch: "Isn't it fascinating how the style is so different from his other works! I would hardly know it as a Sargent. It's positively Chavannes-esque." When we arrived at Rembrandt's self-portrait: "Ah, Rembrandt. Only 23 years old. At that age, he still may have had delusions of himself as a good-looking man, but not for much longer." I kid you not. Again, I had the urge to race out of the museum without looking back.

The next day, he added me as a friend on Facebook, and I looked through his photos and saw lots of artsy shots of himself looking pensive. And I knew I had to move on. So I sent him the Breakup Email and bid him adieu.

I think he'd appreciate the fact that I bid him adieu rather than just saying bye.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I have an alter ego on the Internet. Her name is Heathenisha.

Back when I was dating Dreamy, I still needed to maintain a presence on OkCupid to keep up with my friends' dates, check out profiles of guys they were going out with, recommend people for them in moments when they were feeling frustrated, etc. So, I created Heathenisha, a totally blank profile with my age, relationship status, astrological sign, etc. (Her name's not really Heathenisha. That's right, my fake profile has a fake blog name.)

Over time, I shared Heathenisha's username and password with friends. It started with Slinky, who by the time I was back on OkC was off, so I needed her to check out my dates. Next came Surfer Girl; we'd look up guys on our iPhones whose profiles we'd already looked at so many times we didn't want to seem like stalkers. Eventually, I gave her info to my entire dating support group.

Shortly thereafter, Heathenisha's personality started to take shape. Men are attracted to women who like red, and boy, does Heathenisha like red. She loves Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, as well as Little Red Riding Hood and Stendhal's Le Rouge et le Noir. She wears a lot of rubies, and usually steers clear of pink but is considering moving in that direction. She's a cat lady, and until the staff robots at OkC flagged and removed it, there was a lovely photo of a cat as her profile pic. She's tall and full-figured. Sorry, men whose favorite color is blue: she's not interested.

As to the men who are interested in Heathenisha, there are a surprising number. (My co-worker C complains that Heathenisha gets more messages than she does.) One came from a promising suitor living in England whose username was bored_hubby (sexy!). Another recent epistle started out, "You haven't been contacted in over a week!? I find that hard to believe. RED!" As I was writing this blog post, another one came in: "I've always wanted to date a 7'5" woman who keeps halal... it's been so hard to find her!" Who knew.

Over the past week, as I've been on hidatus, I've logged on to Heathenisha's profile a couple of times to search for matches for when I go off hidatus. Let me tell you, if you ever want to feel pessimistic about dating, use Heathenisha to look for matches. It's bleak who OkC thinks she should go out with. Unattractive, overweight sports fans who drink beer on their Friday nights, are unemployed and live in the 'burbs. OkC really doesn't seem to have a high opinion of Heathenisha's potential to attract men.

Apparently, no one's told the staff robots at OkCupid that all men really want is a woman who loves the color red.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ex boyfriend amnesty

Under the influence of my friend Surfer Girl, whose expressiveness I admire, I declared ex boyfriend amnesty last week (for all exes except La Moustache, who is unpardonable). I added Dreamy back in as a friend on Facebook, thereby rendering him very happy, and agreed to see him for lunch this weekend. I accepted Le Canadien as a friend after 6 months or so in my Facebook purgatory because sure, he was a jerk -- he left halfway through a date, never called and turned out to have a girlfriend -- but at least he was obvious about being a jerk, and in the end I may have used him as much as he used me. I called up l'Artista and listened to him talk and talk without really saying anything, and thought about how good he is at listening to me and understanding me so naturally and how very much I love him, as though he were part of my family, and how utterly unsuitable he is as a mate. And when my end-of-college crush popped up on Facebook the other day -- the one who I invited to visit me in New York, telling him I had plenty of space for guests, and who then offered to two (female) friends of his that they could crash with me -- I added him as a friend. Nice how Facebook allows us to reach out without involving any actual communication.

Surfer Girl is outgoing and emotive and has no filters whatsoever, and I admire her ability to reflect on what's happened to her, be open and tell people what she thinks of them, and then move on. (She's also one of three -- 3!!! -- of my close friends who have recently fallen in love; I'm SO happy for all of them, and also wish they could've spaced it out a bit.) Being forgiving doesn't come particularly easy to me, and I'd like to be more so. I'm also still feeling bad about Monkeyboy, and beginning to realize that perhaps I need to be a bit more forgiving toward myself about him. I've been berating myself for feeling bad and wondering why it's taken so long (way longer than it took to feel better after the end of my year-long relationship with Dreamy), but maybe giving myself some space to feel bad is what I need. I re-joined OkCupid before Monkeyboy had finished his drive home after breaking up with me, and forced myself to immediately start dating. The boys I've been going out with are cute and smart, and seem to like me and want to kiss me. And all I can think about is how very much I don't want to kiss them and how much more I liked Monkeyboy.

So I'm going on hidatus -- my first. I'm taking a couple of weeks off of Internet dating, and seeing how I feel. I'm not sure what will happen with the crop of cute boys I've been working on cultivating; I may continue to go out with them, just to make absolutely sure I'm not interested, although I'm not excited about the prospect of having to kiss them more just to be certain I don't enjoy it. What I'm focusing most on the at the moment is being kind and forgiving toward myself. And what the hell, a little bit toward my ex boyfriends, too.