Saturday, December 29, 2012

Turning into a crotchety old lady

My sister told me this morning that I'm in danger of becoming one of those crabby, crotchety people on the Internet.

And it's true. But it's not my fault. I keep being provoked by men who don't follow my simple rules: If you are interested in someone, contact them and be nice to them. If you aren't interested, don't contact them. Is it too much to expect people to follow this logic on an Internet dating site??


  • My Enemy: I received a message from a suitor who was amazed that we managed to be 0% match, 0% friends, 93% enemies. I read his profile and was amazed, too. He seemed smart and interesting and he writes for my all-time favorite publication, so I replied to his polite email with a nice email of my own. He wrote back a distinctly unfriendly one-liner; apparently we ARE enemies, after all. How did the Internet know?!
  • Ohio: A recent transplant from Ohio reached out. His email was boring, he mentioned wanting to be friends, and his age range ended a year below my age -- even though he's exactly the same age as me! I didn't reply. A few weeks later he tried again; this time I explained my qualms. He wrote back: "I think friendship is the basis for any romantic relationship. And I am sincere when I say that you look much younger than your age!" So you normally wouldn't want to date someone so old, but are willing to make an exception because I don't look old even though I am?? Thanks, but no thanks. (He eventually upped his age range by one year after I pointed this out to him. Why are you not willing to date someone a year or two older than you??)
  • Weird Mainer: A guy from my home state wrote to me explaining that he's not interested in dating because "we're probably related," but he thought he'd reach out anyway (his purpose was unclear -- "because we'll probably run into each other eventually." Um, I doubt it.). I'm pretty sure I'm related to three Mainers: my mom, my dad and my sister. If you don't want to date me, don't make up an excuse to explain why. 
  • Couchsurfer: Someone who's 'not looking for a relationship' wrote to say he doesn't think we're a match BUT he thinks I'd like Couchsurfing. Actually, if I wanted to find out about travel info, I'd belong to a travel info discussion board. And by the way, everyone in the world already knows about Couchsurfing, and thinks it's weird. Or at least I do. (A sleazy guy I know uses it to meet European women a decade or so younger than him and sleep with them.) And if you don't know about Couchsurfing and want to read all about its weirdness, check out the New Yorker article about it. 
I used to have a note at the end of my profile saying you should get in touch only if you wanted to date me, but I took it down a while back because I wondered if it was unnecessary and might feel negative to a potential suitor. It might be that it's time to reinstate this self-evident truth. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

'Tis the season for exes to come crawling out of the woodwork

It's that time of year when people take stock of their lives, feel lonely, get sentimental, and contact their long-lost loves. I've seen signs of it all over the place, from my roommate mentioning over breakfast that she'd written a boyfriend she's barely spoken to in two years to headlines in Love Letters like Should she reach out to an ex over the holidays? and Contacting a old love [sic].

Some people do it well, like l'Artista, who sent me a sweet note telling me he's been thinking about me a lot lately. These people express their emotions without letting themselves get carried away by them. Other people do it poorly, such as Leif Ericson, who sent me an impersonal, self-serving, AA-style apology note. Six months after the fact, it was utterly unnecessary, and left me feeling that any connection I ever felt to him was imagined. I didn't reply; or maybe I did. (Gmail is giving me mixed messages about whether or not the reply I crafted was ever sent. But it's the thought that counts, and I didn't *mean* to reply.)

I also got an unexpected message from a long-lost date who I never thought I'd hear from again. (I'm a little bit hesitant to link to old posts about him, because I didn't say anything very positive about him and I want to keep an open mind. But what the hell.) He asked me to give him a second chance. I felt ambivalent about it and wasn't sure how to respond, so I asked some friends what they thought I should do. You know when you get the same exact advice from two of your very best advice-givers that it is really quality advice, so I followed it and requested that he provide me with a reason why I should go out with him again. He replied,

Hi Heathen, In the spring what happened was that I started seeing another girl more seriously right around the time when we went out. I agree I screwed up and should have been more straightforward with you and told you what was going on. I regret and and I'm sorry I ruined your Friday night. 

I think you should give me another chance because I thought we had a really good first date, because I think you're very smart and interesting, because on our date I made you laugh (a lot, as I recall), because I think we have a lot in common, because I think you're cute, because I want to talk more about education policy and French things with you, and because I'd like to spend more time with you. That's more than one reason, but I think they're all good. Have I persuaded you?


I was charmed by this (I like nothing more than a man who likes me!), plus I remembered that he introduced me to one of my favorite music videos of all time, so I agreed. Time will tell if I live to regret this decision -- unless the world ends tonight, of course.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


My school asked us not to bring up the subject of the shootings in Connecticut with our students, but to talk to them about it if they bring it up. I don't agree that this is the right approach, but I want to respect their wishes. So rather than broach the topic myself I've been asking kids questions all week, such as "Is there anything you've been feeling scared about lately?" and "Is there anything you heard about in the news that you want to talk about?"

Kids' attention spans are short, so I've met with limited success -- most of their answers have been along the lines of, "Yes, I had a nightmare last night" or "I watched this really scary movie one time." Today, though, the two young friends I was eating with both answered negatively, but then one of them paused and added, "There was something... It happened a long time ago. There were these three guns, and a man took them. He shot his mom and then he went to a school and shot some kids." [Six days qualifies as 'a long time ago' for a first grader.]

"Yes, that was really scary, wasn't it?" I replied.

"You heard about that, too!?" he asked, incredulous.

We talked for a while about how scary it was, and how they worried that the man would come to their school or their younger siblings' schools. ("I just don't want anything to happen to my brothers. They're too little.") Then the conversation took a political turn:

"I saw President Obama talking about it," said J. "He was crying."

"Yes, he was," I answered. "I think he felt really, really sad and scared about it. He promised that he will make some new rules so that it will be harder for people to get dangerous guns like that."

"I love President Obama," said O. "I wish that he were a superhero, like Spiderman."

"He is like Spiderman," replied J. "He's so brave, just like Spiderman."

"I think President Obama is brave, too," I chimed in, abandoning any pretense of being nonpartisan. "Brave people are people who feel scared but make good decisions even when they are hard. Just like you both do when you are brave and try a bite of your tomatoes at lunch."

"Yes, we are usually brave," agreed O. "I don't feel like being brave today, though."

"You don't have to try your black beans if you don't want to," I reassured him, and then I showed them this photo, which made them love President Obama a little bit more (if that's possible).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dating, Italian-style

"Tell me about your most recent date," said my date last night, a blond, blue-eyed Mediterranean whose coloring, if not his sharp southern Italian esses, contrasts sharply with l'Artista's.

"D'accordo," I said, "although I have to warn you, it's not going to be a very interesting story. We met up for dinner last week after my sister's annual Christmas cookie-baking party. I brought along a few of the cookies we baked, so we had those for dessert. We talked a lot about New York since we both lived there for a long time. He was nice, but I wasn't feeling it."

I paused for a moment, then added, "How about you? Tell me about your most recent date."

"I haven't had any," he replied. "I hate dating, American-style. I know all the rules, and I hate them. But tell me, how come you didn't bring cookies on our date??"

"I'm sorry,"I told him, "I should have. But I do have a quiche in the car if you want some."

The date ended with us standing by my car, eating my half-frozen quiche, him pretending to enjoy it even though I had warned him it wasn't the most delicious thing I had ever made. And I thought, I sure do like Italians.

Lucio Battisti: one of many Italians I love.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Whiskey and friends, or the breakup cure

Theradate wrote me a very sweet email last week to tell me that, while he likes me a lot, he met someone else before he met me and feels that he needs to stop dating other people in order to give things a shot with her.

After just four dates, this news was hardly heartbreaking. It required a 12-hour recovery period, not even requiring a full day of recuperation. Theradate is a lovely person, and I hope we remain friends, as he said he wants to. I had fun with him, but was also frequently taken aback by his eccentricity, and I'm not sure that I'm meant to be with someone who is *quite* such an extrovert (an extrovert, yes, but this was really extreme). But one does get tired of having things not work out, whether it's because the suitor in question turns out to be issue-y and alcoholic-y à la Leif Ericson or is dating someone else à la Theradate or just doesn't feel like the right match à la a million other guys I've gone out with.

(In some ways, the "I met someone just before I met you" reason is particulary frustrating. It's not that you're incompatible or he's not that into you; it's just the timing. There's an implication that, if the timing of the first meetings had been reversed, you could be the one getting top priority.)

So I was happy after receiving this news to run into my friend L'il JC at the gym, fresh from her own disappointment of meeting a guy who really liked her who, try as she might, she just couldn't force herself to like back. And then M. came and joined us, and we went and baked ourselves in the sauna and I told her my newest poop story from work (the number of poop stories I've amassed this year should probably be a blog post unto itself, and this latest one managed to outdo all prior ones). Then the three of us headed to M's house for burritos and whiskey, and when I thought about it it seemed amazing how many evenings we've spent at M's house drinking whiskey after things don't work out with someone -- whether it be a big breakup or a little disappointment, like this one. It's not planned, but it seems that that's where we wind up every time. And somehow it makes me feel better every single time.