Thursday, November 30, 2006

Enhance this!

Unemployment is at it again. Seriously, they make it impossible for you to get a job.

Yesterday, I got a letter in the mail. I was randomly (yeah right) selected to participate in a MANDATORY (Yes, it was in all caps, bold and italicized. They mean business) in an "Enhanced Re-employment Services Orientation" session.

Now, let's just pause to look at this. Enhanced means it's new and improved and all I know is when I collected unemployment the other three times I got laid off, they never once helped me find a job. In fact, all they ever caused me was grief. But hey, apparently I am not doing enough applying to three or four places a day and now UE wants to help me. Sign me up. What can I bring?

That is where things get tricky. I expected them to say bring a resume as they may have a resume workshop. That is useful. Or, bring a list of the jobs you have contacted so we know you're not just sitting home on your ass all day decorating for Christmas or playing online Scrabble. No, they asked me to bring "any information regarding previous job search assistance programs you have completed or are currently attending." Um . . . none of the above. I have nothing to bring to the table. Maybe I can borrow' Tim's T-shirt that says exactly that - "I BRING NOTHING TO THE TABLE." So, I have to show up empty-handed (except for the coffee I plan on toting) all the way in Bridgeport from 9 a.m. to noon. It sounds like their only enhancement is heavily based on whatever you bring to class and they are going to steal ideas from other programs.

When they learn i will be of no use to them, do you think they will realize they made a mistake and send me home. I bet they hold me there captive just to further torture me. I am convinced Unemployment is purgatory except they pay you (barely) for the time they spend torturing you but the second you step out of line, they are there to point out your mistake and start garnishing your wages. If you dare to speak out against their mistakes, you are laughed at and told you are wrong.

I just called. I had to. I wanted to make sure (I was hoping and praying) they didn't have (read: did indeed have) the wrong person. Alas, they did not. I was tempted to say that I could not make it. That I had open heart surgery scheduled for that day but they have my SSN# and can probably tell when I am lying. In fact, I think the second you register a claim with unemployment, the Labor Fairy plants a tracking device in your ear in the middle of the night and they know everything about you.

So, let's all cross our fingers that this job I have been trying out for pans out by the time I have to attend this class or at least I am going for my drug test that day so I can have a valid reason to call and say I can't make it. It's like jury duty I guess in which case I hope there is an amputee I can stare at again.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Type casting? Ask yourself, don't ask me.

I am amazed at how many of my friends go after guys and girls who are polar opposites of themselves and then get mad when that person doesn't get their humor or doesn't understand that if you don't pay your bills, your electricity may get turned off.

I have super responsible friends who own homes and have mortgages and pay their bills in full (crazy!) and on time actually write to girls who fully admit to being financially irresponsible. I think they find some charm in this at first with little realization that it will eventually grate their nerves. More than likely, when they are in the middle of watching a movie at her place and the powers gets shut off.

I'm not saying opposites attract. I am the perfect example of such strangeness occurring. I wouldn't say Stew and I are overflowing with things in common and the boy doesn't find me the least bit funny. Which really, when I am standing there dancing around, giddy with my own puns, how can you resist laughing. But if he walks in with an oversized pack of graph paper balancing on his head and says he has a new flying nun hat, I'm supposed to drop to the floor clenching my sides in a fit of hysterics. Umm.... no. But, despite our differences of opinion (mainly on the opinion that I'm funny) we have enough in common to make it work. Actually, it's all a lie. He tolerates (for some reason not yet known to science) what no other man could so that is how it works. Any sane man would have been worn down by now and run away. Maybe he is just as crazy as I am. Hmmm.... there is some food for thought.

What I am saying is everyone has their "sticking points" as to what makes someone girlfriend/boyfriend material. Someone who can't take care of themselves and lets their rent lapse is not the person you want tied to you for the long haul. My friend was wise enough to recognize this in a guy she dated for a bit. He took her out a couple of times and then started talking about how short his check was that week and could they just hang at home. One might let this slide IF the guy did not live at home and didn't have any rent to pay. But once she let it slide with this guy, they never went out again, despite her suggestions of a movie and dinner and despite her offers to treat. So, despite the fact that he turned her on more than any guy she has ever met, she cut him loose.

A friend of mine wrote me the other day. He was having some email banter with a girl he thought "probably too young and dumb" for him. So, he baited her by writing something that was ripe with innuendo and had way too many big words for her. When he showed me what he sent her I told him that she was going to miss that. "Wait," I said, "I think I just heard the plane fly by . . . and was that a honk?"

"Why am i always attracted to the stupid ones?" he asked.

I don't know. If I had the answer to that, do you think I would be home sitting on my unemployed ass trying to create the perfect egg salad? Do you think the highlight of my day would be seeing brown rice sushi at the grocery store? No. I would be self-employed, writing an insane book and charging $100 for it because it can only be found on the net. Oh wait, I guess that means i would have written The System.

Maybe the financially responsible soul seeks someone less responsible because that is how they wish they could be. Or, maybe they do it because they feel like they'll prove useful to that person if they are there to keep her in line or write out a check when her check bounces. Maybe the intelligent guy goes for the dumb girl because he harbors a secret desire that ignorance is bliss or maybe he is lazy and knows he doesn't always have to be smart or funny. Maybe the shy quiet guy goes for the outgoing girl so they don't have to worry about making small talk because she'll do it all.

I just feel bad because I can see my friends getting totally screwed over when they date their opposites. I can see it coming from a mile away.

Maybe I should go into fortune telling.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wisteria Wishes and Caviar Dreams

I have been shopping for other people since June.

If you were thinking in the Christmas sense of the word, you'd imagine I'd be done by now. But, I'm not talking Christmas. I'm talking bridesmaids. And it has been hell for every party involved. See, usually when a girl gets engaged, she gets all giddy with delight thinking about her dress, the friends she wants around her that day, what they will be wearing. Not me. I didn't even have my dress picked out when I started the task of looking at bridesmaids dresses. I knew that would be the hardest. It is way more difficult to find a dress that flatters the very different bodies of four girls than it is to just fit myself. When I strolled into a bridal shop one afternoon, I had every intention of looking at bridesmaids dresses and getting that out of the way first until I was informed by Lovely Lynda Bridal Shop Guru that I had to pick my dress first and work from there.

I wasn't ready to take that step. Granted, my mom was with me but that was more for opinion than purse strings and I had my period which meant the bloat factor. Nothing says good time like trying on white/off white/ivory dresses under harsh fluorescent lighting when you're bloated and crampy. In fact, nothing says "I'd like to go home and kill myself" more. I happened to have some pictures of the dresses I liked and Lovely Lynda Bridal Shop Guru just happened to carry that designer. After four run-ins with entirely too heavy dresses, maxed out with crinoline with beads and sequins all over them, I had enough. I put down my foot. NO MORE CRINOLINE AND NO MORE DRESSES WITH SHIT ALL OVER THEM. So, I ended up with no crinoline but a dress with shit all over it. But, now that my dress was out of the way, the real joy could begin. Having my dress picked out meant that none of the bridesmaids dresses i liked were going to work with it.

The true test of sanity would be selecting the bridesmaids. I pretty much knew who I was going to ask before they knew. I knew the one who would need the most convincing would be my friend in Seattle because we both hated the girly wedding factor. Since Stew wanted to do this the traditional way, I knew fishnets and doc martens were out of the question. They would no doubt be frowned upon on the lush lawn of the resort we are getting hitched at. So, when I asked her I had to throw in something about fully understanding how huge of a task I am asking her to undertake and what a hardship it will be to wear a princess dress and play girly matching dress-up for the day. She responded by telling me she could not guarantee her hair won't be fushcia by then or that she might be covered in tattoos. She also said, "you can put me in a traditional dress and shoes but the fact that i am not traditional will shine through."

I said, "Buck up camper. I'm wearing white, the hypocrisy is starting at the top of the food chain for this shin dig."

All agreed. All my ladies were in. It was time for the real joy. My only requirement in the search was that the dress be under $200 and it would be nice if I found something they could use again. Sounds easy, right? Well, it's not. I'm a pretty simple girl. I dress simple and I'm known to check clearance racks first. But, for such a simple girl, I was cursed with expensive taste. Even dresses I thought would be under $200 were super expensive. Stupid silk. Every dress I showed them, they hated. People told me I was being too nice even letting them have a say but I did tell these nay-sayers that these girls were buying the dress. But, after a while, hearing their opinions (of which there were a lot of) I had it. I picked a dress I wasn't too thrilled about because Lovely Lynda Bridal Shop Guru told me the dress was flattering to every figure. However, it didn't come in any of the colors I liked so i went with the lesser of all pastels. The girls (myself included) weren't thrilled about the choice but I was sick and tired of the process. In a brief moment of temporary insanity I told them to scout for dresses that they liked under $200 and get back to me. I gave them the guidelines that the dresses had to straight across on top and long. They were also encouraged to go try these dresses on and report back to me how they looked on a real person. They reported back to me but very few of their selections fit the bill and even fewer were summer appropriate. We had to remember that this was July . . . . outside . . . so light was the key.

So, I went back to the drawing board and found something we couldn't really all agree on but it was the better than the dreamy chiffon dress I almost went with.

The toughest was choosing the color. Again, i had visions of a rich sapphire blue but this dress did not come in that color. Or, anything near it. So, i went with gold, switched it to rose and then vomited from thinking about all that pink I'd have to look at all day. So, i changed it to wisteria which is the lesser evil of all purples.

Thank moses.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Always Ring Unemployment Twice

Unemployment. As great as it is at keeping money in your pocket and helping to pay your bills is really terrible. They make it damn near impossible for you to get a job.

I'll explain.

I recall a scene, about 6 years ago when I temped for one day, against my better judgement. I made $150 and it ended up costing me $1900 thanks to Unemployment's rules and regulations as well as the misinformed individuals behind the counter. Before I took the temp job, I called to see how I had to file. The rep told me to file normally for the week and claim the one day on the following week's claim. So, that is what I did. Apparently, that was wrong but it wasn't her fault. It was my fault and I ended up having to give unemployment $1900. I tried to appeal it but it became a he said/she said thing and UE, being a Government agency is ALWAYS right.

Lesson learned: When you have a question for Unemployment, call and ask more than once until you get two answers that match. Also get the Rep's name so you have a name to hate for the rest of your natural born life. You'll never get this person fired or even reprimanded. You will just harvest a hatred for that faceless name FOREVER.

I'm getting really bored sitting home and waiting for someone to hire me so I started thinking about taking on some part time work. So, I call UE to find out how taking a PT job affects your eligibility to collect.

Here is where it gets tricky. They don't allow you to take classes to enhance your marketability or career goals unless you take them at night. Their rule is that you have to be eligible for work during the day in the event a job comes up. Ok fair enough. However, they say it is ok for you to take part-time work. Umm . . . ok and if you work PT during the day doesn't that mean you can't go on interviews as well? You file your hours the same week you work (ok, got that from my past mistake) and then UE deducts 2/3 from you UE benefit check and you get the rest. Really, this only works out to be maybe $50 more a week and honestly, not worth the trouble.

So, yesterday, I went on an interview and they want to give me some test stories to write because I have been away from Journalism so long. While my AP skills may be a little rusty I'm a firm believer in the fact that as long as you never stopped thinking, you can still construct a sentence. Oh and when you minored in Journalism and every job you have ever had included writing, you probably didn't forget how to report a story. But whatever. So, giving me test stories means that they have to pay me freelance rates and i have to fill out a tax form and UE will get wind of this and I know how to file for PT work but how on god's green earth do you file for freelance work? So, I had to just write the editor and ask him if i can go unpaid to avoid going to jail or getting penalized by UE.

See, impossible.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sometimes it's better to gift with the receipt

It's that time again. The stores are decorated. The CVS aisles are taunting me with Reesces trees. Shopping center light posts bear the same worn out decorations you've seen since you were four. And in a matter of days, the Salvation Army bells will be ringing and I'll be wracked with guilt as I leave Dunkin Donuts with a hot cup of coffee if I don't empty my change into the red bucket. It's just a matter of time before people start asking me what I want for Christmas and I have to ask them in return.

I'm not against gift giving. I actually love to do it but asking someone what they want can be dangerous. I know several people in my life who ask for something simple but it comes with a dozen or so restrictions that make the task impossible. One year my aunt wanted a simple yellow pillow. Sounds easy, right? Right. It was the request that that followed which made it Mission Impossible I, II and III. It had to be a certain shade of yellow, not too light, but not too bright. It could have flowers but only if they were muted colors. No fringe or tassels. If it had braided trim, it was okay only if it wasn't gold and could change to pink only on Sundays between the hours of 8 and 11 a.m. Here's my kidney, I found it easier to remove with a butter knife and some whiskey than finding your yellow pillow that doesn't exist in any of the 200 places I looked. Oh, and here is the gift receipt.

Sometimes I have the opposite problem. I listen carefully to Stew all year and when he says he wants something I file it away for Christmas, birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day. That's how he ended up with a nose/ear hair trimmer for Valentine's Day. Romantic i know, but ear and nose hair is so not hot so it kinda works . . . in my world at least. By the time any of these holidays come around I have a list as long as my arm and limited funds. And he makes buying things ahead of time impossible because if he is not sure they are coming he buys it himself. I had every intention of getting him B.B. King tickets for Christmas but I know Stew and unless he knows he has them, he will buy them as a surprise for me. So, I am forced to tell him ahead of time and I end up blowing a great Christmas surprise so that we don't end up with four expensive tickets. Or, I will be in target with Stew and he'll show me a few things he wants. Of course I can't get them while he is with me but, since the boy scored a pair of AC/DC pajamas there last February, he almost NEVER misses a Target shopping excursion.

Lucky for me I am unemployed so I can return to Target anytime I want alone for just one dollar. Yesterday was that day and I knocked a few people off my list. However, with Stew not with me, it leaves me with a bit more browsing time and the intention of buying gifts for other people turns into buying gifts for other people . . . and me. I hadn't asked certain family members what they want yet so I was tempted to just scrap that idea and get them whatever with a gift receipt. I'm convinced that my aunt and I have not kept a single item we've given each other in 15 years despite how much we say we love it when we open it up on Christmas Eve. I don't think I hid my disappointment very well when I opened last year's fur trimmed, suede ankle boot because she promptly handed me the gift receipt. Ankle boots are just not my thing, you need nice slender legs for those and I just wasn't blessed with those.

My mom still likes to think my sister and I are 5-years-old despite the fact my sister has kids of her own now. She finally broke the habit of singing "Santa" on the from part of the gift tag. She also finally semi-broke the identical gift rule of thumb. For a while, my sister and I had to open up our gifts at the exact same time or else they would be spoiled. If she picked up a rectangular box, I had to quickly find the matching box in my pile. I sat down with her last year and explained that it's ok for us to get different gifts. We know she loves us the same. We don't need matching sweaters/ornaments/candles/scarfs to tell us. It's all about being even I know. When I am shopping for my nephews, I find myself doing the same thing. It is hard when there is a 5 year age difference between them tho', A gift that is age appropriate for a 4-year-old is too childish for a 9-year-old smart ass mini-genius. I know they will share whatever they get but one of them is always vying for the other one's gifts the second they open them.

This year I face a harder task. Buying Stew's side of the family gifts. Last year, I was still new so I bottle of wine for his aunt and uncle sufficed. Who knew if I was even going to be in Stew's life by the time they cracked it open. Altho' he was living with me by then, so the chances were better I would be. Gift certificates to area restaurants prove to be good and i think I will do that this year. Gift certificates are such a business because most people forget they have them/or lose them so the business makes money without ever having to shell out their services. I still have a certificate for a manicure from 2004. It's not my regular salon so I never think to use it. Plus, I chew my nails so I never think to get a manicure. I guess that is the real reason. I always feel like a nudge when I ask to use to use the certificate towards something I need more like a pedicure or an eyebrow waxing. Some places don't allow substitution at all.

Thank god this holiday only comes once a year. It's always a stress on the brain. See, maybe that would be the best gift giving idea ever. Say to someone, "let's not swap gifts this year. I am giving you the gift of peace by not having to think about what I may or may not like/want.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Beam me up Scotty, I married Tom Cruise

Luckily I was spared from the TomKat wedding countdown all most of the weekend. Stew and I took the kids Friday night and that means that my TV was hi-jacked and the channel was never changed from Nickelodeon or the Cartoon Network. The kids arrived a couple of hours before the early evening entertainment news broadcasts and didn't leave until early evening on Saturday. By then I didn't care if I ever heard the TV again so I quickly retreated upstairs to play a few songs on Guitar Hero II. After I racked up almost $1000 jamming in clubs from Austin to Boston, Stew came home from work and took me to see Borat. By the time I got to read any news online, the wedding was over and much to my dismay Katie did not break free of the Christian Scientist pitbull attack dogs and free herself from Tom Cruise's evil couch-jumping clutches. A large part of me was hoping she'd leave him at the altar and run off with Suri and the new baby she is suspected to be growing for harvest.

Is it bad luck for a bride-to-be to wish that someone would be jilted at the altar? Probably, but when it's Tom Cruise, who really cares?

Seriously tho' and this question has been burning me for days. If you go on Oprah and jump up and down on her cream colored leather sofa singing the praises of your knocked-up fiancee' Joey Potter Pacey Dawson, why would you forgo sending Oprah an invite and invite Posh Spice instead? Apparently Oprah was too sane a party guest and Tom Cruise feared she might do something crazy like bring some sanity to the festivities, or even crazier, bring Gayle King. I don't know about that but if I had the opportunity to invite Oprah to my wedding (with the belief that she actually had a reason to come), I would sure as hell make sure she got the first save-the-date card. But my real guess is that there wasn't enough room left at the inn after inviting the entire Christian Science church, alien biological parents to Suri (and select Tom-approved members of Katie's family) to invite "outsiders." When did having Kirstie Alley at your wedding become more important that Oprah? that's like crossing off Bill Gates because you have to invite Courtney Love. If she were still dating Edward Norton it would be an entirely different situation, but she's not, so big X next to her name.

I can go on and on about this but I am pretty sick and I didn't sleep well so the couch and warm blanket is calling my name. Of course I would get sick when I actually score an interview and I have no insurance. So, we're going to remedy this old-skool with as many OTC drugs as I can still buy without signing my name on a form red-flagging me as the proprietor of a meth lab in my tiny kitchen.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lack of patience or low threshold for pain

I hadn't heard from my friend for a few days. Usually i don't when she works a few consecutive days. After being up all night tending to patients, I'd imagine, the last thing I'd want to do is gab it up on the phone. I'd imagine I'd want to crawl into the comfort of my bed and drift off to sleep. Monday, she must have felt like talking. I didn't want to ask (but I had to), if she met the guy she has been having nice conversations with over the past two weeks. Or, at least if she has heard from him. She said that he was supposed to call her Monday night but didn't. Now she is hoping he never calls again.

"Why do you hope that?" I asked.

"Well," she hesitated, "he put up another picture of himself and now I'm thinking all the other pictures were really old because this new picture looks nothing like him."


So, we ended the conversation with best wishes that he stayed away and never called.

Last night, I was waiting for Dancing With the Stars to come one and my phone rang. It was my friend. Of course my first question was, "so, has he called?" She said he hadn't and she was glad but added, 'Ya know, we had a few nice conversations. What if i was into him, I would be so bummed right now. I'm not, but I would be."

Sometimes you're damned if do and you're damned if you don't.

Here's where I'd like to address "the drop off." It's the biggest risk with online dating. Actually, you encounter it in the dating world period but it's more prevalent in the online "scene." You have a couple of good phone conversations with someone and *foomp* they drop off the face of the earth. In some cases, you'll still see their profiles online or in some cases they will remove them or change the names. Or, you can have a good date or two with someone and they vanish into the air. I remember I went out with a guy on two dates (the second date was 90 times better than the first). He wrote me the following day to tell me what a great time he had and could he call me on Monday at about 8. I said "ok." I wasn't really feeling this guy but he seemed normal enough to at least continue to get to know if he would become the inevitable - abnormal. Monday comes, 8 p.m. comes, 9 p.m. comes, 10 p.m. comes. NOTHING. NOTHING EVER AGAIN. It's fine. You come to expect it. But why bother setting up a time to call when you have NO intention of calling?

It happens to both sexes, I know. And everybody who talks to anyone online says it's one thing they hate the most. In fact, when my friend told me this yahoo expressed his dislike for this behavior in one of their earlier conversations, I still believed, eventho he spent a few days calling when he said he would, that he still had the potential to do this. Everyone has the potential to do this because the online world always offers the potential for a "trade up." A Trade Up is when you're already talking to someone and someone else comes along and gets your attention and you find this person more interesting/funnier/prettier/closer than the current person. You either vanish or stall to see what happens with the "trade up" before you decide to "trade in". What made me leery about this guy my friend was talking to was that he actually mentioned the "trade up" in prior conversations with her. Ugh! Why not just show the table your hand, pal!

However, today I heard from my friend and she said the guy called her last night after she hung up with me. She let it go to voicemail - rightfully so. She said she wanted to call him back and confront him eventho she knows she shouldn't because doing that makes him think that he is worth the time and he's not.

The botched "Trade Up" now becomes the "Rejection Election" where a girl polls her friends to see what she should do. Should she call? Write an E-mail? Just let it go? Here is where there becomes potential for a face-off. See, in my time in online dating, I experienced A LOT of rejection and a lot of "dropping off." I had to even do it myself a few times but it seems to be harder for girls than guys because girls tend to have a guilty conscience about it and believe in a "do unto others" universe. A lot of guys, don't. Before you all get your boxers in a bunch, there are some men who do, but the majority of them don't.

I used to be a dropper offer until it happened to me so many times that I started feeling too guilty about doing it to others. But honestly, I know why most people do it because it is way easier than writing that email or making that phonecall. The first time I did it, it didn't go that well. I got several snotty emails directed to me and after explaining my actions a dozen or so times, I just dropped out knowing i gave it a good college try. The second time, I dated the guy for a little over a month so I figured I had to do it in a phonecall. This was after a week or so of avoiding his calls but he baited me one day by calling me from his family's fax machine line, a line I wasn't familiar with. I told him it wasn't working out (it wasn't) and that we didn't seem to want the same things in life (we didn't) and that I had met someone else (I did). He went away for a little while but then I started getting these random emails first seeing how I was, then "can we go out for coffee?", then "can we just have a sexual relationship"? Ummm . . . Sometimes he would call every couple of weeks, then couple of months, then like half a year would pass and he would call and not leave a message. It took a good year for him to completely go away.

So, was the "right thing to do" really the right thing to do? There were some instances where the guys were understanding but it was like two in eight.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The System

One night, while heading over to Stew's friend house, he fessed up to something BIG. Prior to meeting me, Stew read a dating manual. I don't think I ever met a guy who read a dating manual or at least admitted to it. Fessing up actually won the chap some points but I felt really bad he wasted his time because my type can't be decoded in a manual. Or, so I thought . . .

I had to know more. I wanted the name of it. I wanted to read it. I wanted to see if I could pick out the tricks he used to reel me in. I wanted to see if my reactions to such tricks fell out of the confines of the book. The last thing I wanted to be is labeled "a typical broad." Of course, sensing danger, he pleaded amnesia to remembering the name of the book and the name of the author, only saying he got it online. I was intrigued because I like a good mystery and I HATE not knowing something.

A few short months later, all my questions would be answered . . . .

While helping Stew pack up his condo, we were throwing a bunch of books into a box. I knew right away from its low budget, no frills glossy white cover, this was the book.

"Oh wow!" I said holding it up, "Is this THE BOOK?" It looked like a galley copy of my first novel . . . well, ONLY novel . . . so far.

Stew laughed, the nervous laugh. The "oh-moses-now-she-is-going-to-read-it" laugh. "Yeah, just put that in here." He looked down at the box. I could see the hope that I would put the book in the box turning his cheeks that crimson red they get when he's embarrassed.

I tightened my grip on the book. "No way, this holds bullshit guy code. I want to read it."

"If you want, but you really shouldn't."

"Move over" I said, kicking off my shoes and climbing onto the bed ready to devour it from cover to cover. So much for packing.

I noted the name, "The System." It sounds so manly. No cutesy title here, this was a book about getting down to business. Then I noted the author's name, "Doc Love." This was going to be great. This was better than finding $5 in the pocket of an old coat.

"Ok," Stew said resigning himself to the fact that I was going to read it. "Let me just say that I customized the book. A lot of it were real asshole techniques and that's not me so I used a few things from it but not everything. Some of the stuff is stupid. You are going to hate it but without that book I never would have met you, the love of my life." Ok, so I added in the "love of my life" part but the rest is true, I swear.

"Let me be the judge of that" I said cracking open the cover, which seemed pretty stiff for something that was supposedly read. Then again, I know how Stew scans . . . I mean reads.

Turns out, Stew and I read the same book except mine had a catchier title and did not cost $99 because I could find it at Borders. My book was called "Why men Love Bitches". The basic gist was about how to make yourself seem unavailable and more mysterious to generate more interest in you because the second he knows he has you, you are done for. The basic gist of the System is "Keep a lady guessing all the time how you feel about her because the second she knows she has you, you are done for." So, the mysterious, unavailable bitch meets the equally mysterious asshole and they engage in a game they both say they don't want to play anymore but know they have to.

To this day, Stew vehemently defends The System explaining had he not read it, he would have approached our relationship straight up, called me a lot and eventually smothered me until he drove me away. Or, worse, I would have played him like a cheap fiddle knowing he liked me so much that I could don a pair of Doc Martens and do a jig on his heart.

Stew is right . . . and wrong. While calling me all the time would have easily driven me away, I would not have stepped all over him because that's just not my nature . . . and Docs are too stiff to get jiggy in*. Plus, anyone that knew me while I was just starting to date Stew must've heard me say a million times, "We don't seem to have that much in common, yet there is something I like about him but don't ask me what it is because I can't tell you."

I couldn't figure Stew out. I mean, I knew he liked me, he kept asking me to go out and entertained my absolutely ranting non-sensical emails. But, in retrospect, coming up on almost 2 years later, I think me not figuring Stew out had more to do with his dumb luck and my laziness than with The System. See, Stew met me when I had officially hit my limit with online dating. I was dating a few people but promised myself when that bullfrog pond dried up, I was going to take a break from it for a while. I was just so sick and tired of the scene that the thought of meeting someone new didn't give me the same rush of excitement it once did. It filled me dread and I treated it like a chore.

Stew technically could have stopped reading this book at page 2 and requested a refund. Right after he read, "Until a woman stops playing head games and throws in the towel, you have to convince her that you are the greatest thing since popcorn."

This was evident when I was late for our first date. I came to dinner that night rife with "this is me, love it or lump it" attitude. I was, as he put it, "so real" and "real" was what he was looking for. "Real" was something I was used to hearing. "Real" is my gimmick until most people get tired of it when they realize it's not going away. Every time Stew said it, I cringed because I knew one day he'd wake up and long for "fake and typical" because "real" is too much work. Real requires her emotional wants and needs be fed before he takes her to dinner.

So, when Stew insulted me by calling me quirky and then left me in the parking lot with just a "well, bye." I had to go out with him again because I had to know what the heck his damage was? Who insults me and just leaves me in the parking lot wondering?

Apparently, a very smart man who read The System.

*Doc Martens are only too stiff to get jiggy in if you don't wear them every night to CBGB's.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm going to take a dump and then we'll talk religion

I love it.

I got an online dating horror story from one of my friends. Apparently, he went out with a chick the other night and it was a disaster. Seriously. I swear this stuff really happens even to men. It was supposed to be a simple Thursday night date, pizza and a movie. He asked her prior to the date to buy the movie tickets early because it was likely to sell out. Apparently, she failed to do this but didn't tell him until they got there and paid for parking . . . and guess what, the movie was sold out.

Let's stop and analyze this action. First things first, Stew has a theory and I tend to agree with it in a lot of cases (fortunately for Stew, I blew this theory away from day one). The theory is that "broads aren't dependable." As a girl, who is friends with other girls, I will admit that sometimes we lack some forethought especially in the dating world. Usually, in that world, the only thing we give an ounce of thought to is how we are going to end the date suddenly if it sucks.

I can even go deeper into this. Depending on which date this was (I found out it was #2), it's not wise to give a girl a responsibility until you're at least 90% sure she can handle it. Otherwise, you risk the evening being ruined and even if it was her fault, her and her friends will still blame you. Also, for the first few dates it's an unspoken rule that the guy should really plan everything. I could be wrong on this, I think Stew spoiled me by always having plans . . . and good plans. Altho' I let it be known early on when when Stew called my cell as I was on my way to our first date to tell me the place we agreed on was closed. I quickly sprung into action with another suggestion. Granted I was running late, but at least I came through.

I'm going to get a proverbial shit storm from men and womyn regarding this about it being the year 2006 and womyn should be equal parts and have a say. I'm not saying that at all. I'm not saying we shouldn't offer to pay our way or just shut up and let you control everything, I'm just saying that the part I like most about the wooing process is sitting back and being wooed. In my case, I like that it still hasn't ended either. The only thing that really changed is he doesn't open my car door first so I don't have to freeze/sweat/get wet any longer. This only changed because his new car has power locks so we can get in at the same time. But for a good solid year, he always opened my door first.

Lesson to be learned: If you are a guy, plan the date. This includes buying any tickets in advance. Keep doing this until you feel comfortable doling out some of the dating responsibility.

Now, because the movie was sold out she invited him back to her place. My friend was ready to call it quits when she expressed surprise that you can buy tickets online, but the fact that she asked him back to her place showed some promise. Some light at the end of a very dark and long tunnel. So, of course he went, who wouldn't?

I'm not a guy. But, I have heard enough stories from guys who went to a date's house too early in the relationship and things hadn't gone down quite like they hoped. In fact, pardon my French, these situations turn to shit a lot faster than you can imagine because if you thought it was too good to be true for a second, then it is. Remember my story about a guy going to a girl's house on date #2 and things heating up and she shuts him down with the "I just had a procedure to see if I have uterine cancer today." Well, things didn't go any better for my friend. Apparently, as things were moving along in the sweating and petting department, she decided this was a great moment to stop him and start asking him his thoughts on religion and children. Of course, because someone just side-swiped out of "the zone" you don't mince words and ask them where is this coming from? She replied, "Well before I go any further, I need to know you're the kind of man that will raise our children in the Roman Catholic faith."

Holy Christmas!!!

Ok, asking a guy back to your house on the second date and starting down the path of "getting lucky" is NEVER the time to talk religion and kids. And, by the way, asking a guy back to your house on the second date is ALSO not the way to put out the vibe you are a good catholic girl. It says you are a psycho and a walking contradiction and if there is an exit, your date should run for it like the room is on fire.

Now, I should know better by now that there are just a lot of crazy people in the world, but still I found myself making excuses for this chick. I assumed that maybe she was a virgin saving herself for marriage. I examined her profile and it certainly talked enough about waiting for the right man to make me wonder. But my friend assured me that "she went for the package like she had been there before."

Then I thought maybe she wasn't all that interested and this was her way of getting him to lose interest. Girls can be a bit roundabout in that way. I remember the great lengths I went to to make a guy lose interest once. This included me falling asleep at the table, flinging my plate dangerously close to the edge of the table because my burger didn't have pickles and acting like a total brat. I also pretended to fall asleep in the car on the way home. A normal guy would have run. My date did not. He just thought I was having an off night.

So, I asked my friend, "have you heard from her since?"

SIX TIMES. She called twice and wrote 4 emails so she wasn't trying to get rid of him, she was serious. She was a walking recipe for crazy withe secret ingredient of psychotic. So, he sent her an email telling her it wasn't going to work out.

But my favorite part of the email he wrote detailing his date was the afterthought.

"Plus, she took a couple of nasty dumps early in the evening that just lingered and lingered.... it was all and all not worth the hassle...."

Sounds like she needs a whole other kind of match.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Swapping footloose and carefree for cookies

I love cookies.

There are few things I wouldn't do for the possibility of a good soft, chewy, moist cookie landing anywhere in the vicinity of my mouth. Speaking of, have you seen the cookies Dunkin Donuts sells now? They were great before, but now, they are gifts from heaven. They increased in both size and price but well worth it. And the peanut butter cup . . . ohhhh myyyyy goddddd.

Anyway ...

Sometime between pulling clothes out of the hamper and smelling to see which were the freshest to wear and Saturday, I became an adult about to become a wife. It happened in the blink of an eye at a wedding no less . . . . not even mine.

Stew's footloose and carefree friends were miles away in Rhode Island drunk off their asses after a day sampling beers at Beer Fest. See, Stew and his friends go to beer fest every year. In fact, before we were engaged one of his friends told me that I would always be cool in their eyes as long as I always let Stew do two things - play poker once a week and go to beer fest. I had every intention of doing both but unfortunately for Stew, we were invited to a wedding the same day as beer fest this year. Breaking the news to Stew was awful. I knew it would crush him not being able to go and I knew it would cause a few arguments along the way. Sure I could have gone to the wedding alone but everybody knows that isn't much fun. Plus, it was the sister of an old friend of mine whose family I have known forever. How weird would it be when her mom congratulated me on getting engaged and I had no fiancee to show her?

"Beer Fest was like a holiday. Think of it like Christmas" Stew said to me one Wednesday night after he'd come home from poker where his friends gave him a hard time about not being able to go. Like that was going to make me thrilled about him playing poker once a week now that I had to debate beer fest vs. wedding every Wednesday night from September to mid- November?

A holiday. Beer fest is a holiday. Who knew? The subject would come up at least once a week or any other time Beer Fest was mentioned in my presence. We debated for the sake of both of trying to feel better. He would feel a small victory knowing he at least tried and I would feel guilty like the big bad wolf ball and chain when l said I'd rather he come to the wedding with me and again, he'd taste victory in my guilt and shame. It was a lose-lose situation for both of us because the lines of responsibility and settling down were clearly drawn.

The text messages detailing the drunken debauchery of the crew who went to beer fest started around 9 p.m. and went until midnight, when I assume they all passed out. Poor Stew doesn't have a text plan so he was getting slammed with charges. I was curious enough to ask how the guys were holding up but really enjoying my carrot cake.

He held his phone over for me to see that one of his friends is asking for our address because he and his wife are hosting a party of some sort. I'm assuming, because physical addresses were requested and not email addresses, we were getting an tangible invite on real paper and not an E-vite. This meant that the party had a purpose and was more than likely a dinner party. A dinner party. With real invitations. Wow, I was so grown up. I guess that meant I also had to bring something.

It only took a second to feel older than my 33 years.

"When is it?" I asked Stew between bites of cake and bopping to Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back."

"December 9th"

That's when it happened.

"Oh," I said flipping trying to flip forward on my mental calendar. "That is the day I have your cousin's cookie swap."

And we both froze and stared at each other. Then at the bride and groom, our cake and back to each other, the color still drained from our faces.

"Well, I guess I'll bring dessert."

Friday, November 10, 2006

More creeped up. Shocker, I know.

I used to be so good about writing down ideas that came to me so that i didn't forget. Why can't I be that way again. Oh, I know, because i was never good about it. Only in my own fantasy land.

Thankfully, I have more than one friend doing the online dating things so I hear from them often. Misery loves company in the online dating world. I can't blame them and sadly enough I enjoy it. Ask Stew, when I know my friend is going on a date, I skip around the house giddy with excitement until I hear from her and then Stew and I rate the date. Stew lends his hand in decoding anything vague the guy may have said and I plan her next step. Some of my friends email me the girls they winked at or emailed to get my opinion on them. I know I am a quick judge but let it be known I am just as quick to judge the ladies as I am the guys. I don't play favorites in the online world.

Anyway, in some of my recent rants with a friends, a few more things came to mind.

I'd like to say something with regard to pictures
Some people have taken good pictures during their life and some have taken bad ones. All of your online pictures should be current. Think of it like food. You wouldn't buy milk that was a few days past the expiration date, would you? I say maybe a 2 year limit. You had a great full head of hair in high school but you don't anymore. A few years ago, you weren't in your 30s showing signs of a slowing metabolism. You can pretty much tell the old pics from the new in profiles because there might be more hair, less chins, more grey, a different hairstyle or color, a goatee or not. We'd like to know which person to keep an eye out for in the coffee shop. Should we be looking for a brunette or a blond? Clean shaven or chin spinach? The most common complaint I have heard from anyone who has met someone online was "They must have put up an old picture because I didn't recognize him/her."

The body type debate
Everyone sees themselves differently but a full length picture will help your potential dates judge if you put yourself in the wrong category. Some cultures find a larger person "average' and some guys I know, find an "about average" girl too plump for their liking eventho' my arm probably weighs more than she does. Some girls who think they have 10 lbs to lose will say they are curvy and some guys with beer guts will call their builds "athletic" as if they took home the gold in the Beer Olympics. Besides, what is the cut off between "about average", "few extra pounds" and "large"? Some sites ask you for your weight directly. Hah! Good luck with that. We lie on our licenses, do you actually think we'll tell the truth and put it on the Internet?

Jealousy and The House of 1,000 Corpses
Let me explain something about online dating people seem to forget. You're picking from a pool (albeit a small dirty one) of people. You also paid so you want to get your money's worth. Chances are, you are talking to more than one person at a time and so is the person you are talking to. I'm soooo not the serial dater type. Talking to one person sometimes is too much for me. I'm so bad at it that when I was attempting to serial date, I confused people's names, repeated stories, asked questions they already told me the answers to and even called some when I meant to call the other.

I dated 13 guys in a year. Stew being the 13th. That is slightly more than guy a month and yes, that means a few overlapped. Kill me. Early on when I was getting to know Stew, I was also getting to know other people. Poor Stew didn't have the time to do this with his work/K-Fed party style schedule, but I did. I learned early on to never put all my eggs in one basket. Anyway, one night we were driving back from dinner and the topic of movies came up. I started talking about "the House of 1,000 Corpses" and how he owned it. Stew said he didn't own it. Stupid Lisa, couldn't leave the mistake alone and asked, "are you sure? I swear you told me that." No dummy, that was someone else. Come on, you date 13 people in a year and keep them straight. I dare you. And to make matters worse, a few had the same name or similar names.

If you only want to talk to one person at a time, that is your choice but you're wasting time and money because they're not doing the same thing and NO, it is NEVER ok for you to ask how many people they are talking to at once. If you want to be upfront about it and say something first that is cool but it's not mandatory. However, if you are talking to quite a few, it's common courtesy to hide your profile for a while so you don't attract even more bees with all that honey.

There is a fine line between tricking the answer out of someone and appearing to be jealous. I have no clue what that line is because I barely believe in boundaries but Stew tells me it's there so I guess I have to listen to someone who believes in them.

Say, someone told you something already. It's possible they forgot they told you. It's also possible they thought they told someone else and not you. It's best not to call attention to it unless they ask, "did I already tell you that story?" The door of opportunity has been placed in front of you. You can either lie or say, "Yes." Or, you can gingerly throw the bait out there by saying, "Yup, you must be confusing me with all the other girls/guys beating down your door." If you said "All the other people/guys/girls you're talking to" you sound bitchy, catty an jealous. But making it slightly humorous, makes it sound a bit less serious and you may actually get an answer. "Well, isn't that what online dating is all about." Bingo.

First Impressions
In the online world, first impressions are more IMPORTANT than they are in the real world. After a while trading poorly written emails with someone or having a couple of bad phone conversations, I'd just go with my gut and cease talking to them altogether. I learned that if those two things were bad, the date was not worth the time it took to get ready (even if you knew it would be some great fodder for your chats with friends). But if they were lucky to make it past the email and phone interview round to an actual date, I gave them 3 meetings/dates to shine before I decided if they made it to round 2.

After being online, you'll eventually hone your skills and grow bitter enough to read between the lines of people's profiles. If you don't want to date someone who smokes, don't wink or email anyone who has "no answer" as an answer for if they smoke because they do. They might be a "bar smoker" but that means eventually they'll smoke around you.

Why 3? In some cases that is too generous. In retrospect, there were guys I should have cut off after the first date. I believe that the first meeting should not really counted as much more than a scrimmage before the big game. You are both nervous. You're trying to get a read on each other, you are thinking too much about what the other person is thinking that you can't let your guard down for a second and be comfortable. The second date, you are a bit more sure of yourself (they wanted to see you again, right?), more at ease. By the third date, you feel like you have an ok understanding of their personality and can decide if you'd like to continue dating them.

I pride myself in being able to read people. I'll be honest with you. I could not read Stew. During our first date he called me "quirky." I am, but you don't have to say it. At the end of the date I am used to hearing something like, "well, I had fun we should do this again" or "I'll call you." Stew talked about housing prices in town and then just said, "ok, well, bye." To which I thought, "What a jerk!" but I was so confused, I said, "Well, call me if you want, whatever." So, imagine my surprise when he did call. I found out why he did this later.

You can also skip the dating process altogether and administer tests along the way. I have an obscure sense of humor and it's rare to meet someone with the same. I tested early and often. I liked random references. Some people got them. Some didn't. I didn't rule out the ones that didn't but they fell a bit further down on the list. I also tested them with jokes. This would encourage them to tell me things they found funny. It was a lot like America's favorite Comic without the fanfare and phone numbers. Don't let these testing opportunities pass you by, they are the key to not wasting time.

The greatest fear of online dating is the first phone call. It transcends everything into "slightly more real and less anonymous."

The second greatest fear is shared by several of my girlfriends: "What if he sounds like Stephen Hawking"?

I was a "two for flinching" kind of girl. I'd swear or do something more me and less expected of a lady and see if they flinched. If they did, they weren't for me.

The space between us
This is not always the case but I've found it to be. The second someone expresses a negative thought towards the distance between you two, don't go any further because this person will later blame the distance for the demise of your union. Traveling gets taxing. I used to drive 2.5 hours every other weekend to Southern New Jersey and only when I didn't have to do it anymore did I realize how much it sucked. I should have listened to my gut when my gut said "You have to cross a bridge?!?!?!" It may be all fine and dandy at first, but eventually, one of you is not going to want to make the haul that weekend and in that one moment of laziness, it's over.

My friend lives in Branford and is talking to a guy in Meriden. I don't really know the proximity of CT towns but I told her it was about a 40 minute trip depending on the time of day (no time between 3 - 7 p.m. is good). She told him that Meriden seemed kinda far and he responded with, "well, if you want to back out, now is your chance." She was put off by this but Stew said it was perfectly normal that he said it. She listens to Stew a lot more than she listens to me. But then again, I used to do 2.5 hours, 40 minutes is like commuting to work.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Anonymity is a double-edged sword.

You can either make it work for you by being bold enough to do something that you're not bold enough to do in person. Or, it can work against you for the very same reason. There is a common misconception among people looking for love online. That misconception is, "the person is not in front of me, I can do/say whatever." If I am a girl looking for love online and I am usually reserved, anonymity may help me be a bit more flirtatious. The same goes for guys. While it's ok to be a little bold to a degree, it's not okay to piss all over the rules of online dating etiquette.

Posting a photo vs not posting one
Your picture is the first visual someone is going to see. If you don't post a photo, you should know that you are less likely to be contacted because more people are less apt to search profiles without photos. You diminish your chances greatly by opting to not put a photo.

If you don't post a photo, it's ok. However, you should explain why you're not posting your photo like your job is too high profile and you know some of your clients use the service and you want to avoid embarrassing conversation. Or, you just don't have one that you like yet. Always offer to send a photo in your profile because it seems less sketchy. And the photo should always accompany the first email you send in response to a wink or an email.

If you choose to post a photo, pick a good one. Nothing blurry, nothing where you look like a speck on top of a mountain. Always have your clothes on. Not having clothes on or barely wearing anything sends an entirely different message and there are other sites for folks looking for that. We've gone over this before, if you put up a picture of you with a child, identify the child's relationship to you immediately. Never make a picture of you and a child the first picture. Some people will assume that is your kid and they may be against dating single mothers/fathers. You don't want anybody that shallow anyway but they're out there.

Avoid posting pictures where you blur out a person's face. Obviously, that person is your ex. Having it up on your profile is tacky.

Too much information
It's okay to say you like kissing. It's a whole other bag of nuts to claim that you've been told you're a great kisser/great in the sac/have the oral skills of a fast talking southern auctioneer because chances are, you suck at all of the above and someone in your past was just being nice. Let them be surprised at your skills and let them be their own judge.

Everyone has a few things that they like. Your profile is not the place to list them. Neither is in the email you write. There is a whole different step in the relationship to come clean with it and ask someone to do something for you. That step is not anywhere near the first one. It's never ok to send an email to someone asking them to respond only if they are shaved clean and/or will let you suck their toes.

Hide-n-go Email
The sites can get expensive but so can dating. Hiding your email in your profile to have people contact you outside the confines of the "we-say-we-strip-your-email-address-but-we-don't" world of online dating can be like asking a stranger to meet you for coffee . . . in a dark alley. But more importantly, it shows how cheap you are. And if you are too cheap to meet someone, then you are too cheap to be dating.

Emails vs Winks
For those not familiar with online dating, allow me to explain what a wink is. A wink is something you send to someone that you are interested. Like a wink you'd give someone in a bar telling them they have the greenlight to approach you. The online company sends an email to the subscriber saying that InsertScreenNameHere has "winked" at them. Then the subscriber clicks on a link that takes them to the winker's profile. After reading it you can either wink back or email the winker.

Keep this in mind. "Winkers are Wankers." Winks are the lazy way out. Winks are for people (like me) who smoked a joint and decided to wink at anyone they thought was remotely cute. If you do not have a picture up, winks are completely unacceptable for two reasons:

1.) You're relying on your sparkling personality to hook someone's attention. As great as you think you are, your words better shine like Italian lacquer and chances are, they don't, Poe.

2.) Not having a picture up, makes you look like you aren't taking this seriously. Not having a picture up and just winking . . . um, no.

Winks are also free. You have to be a paying subscriber to e-mail someone so if you get a wink from someone you could both potentially be non-subscribers which means one of you is going to have to bite the bullet and pay. Altho' now I hear it's even sneakier and you have to be a paying member to see who even winked. SNEAKY.

Emailing doesn't take much time folks. It takes minimal effort at best and if you're not willing to expend it then why should someone take the time to get to know you? Do you really want to start the "lazy comfortable game" so soon? At least wait until they've spent the night to steal all the covers. Plus, emailing someone shows the person you actually took two minutes to read their profile. You will stand out from all the lazybones who just winked.

Now, a bit about emailing. The first email should be short. It is will be attached to your profile so if they wants to know more, they can read your profile. You don't want to repeat yourself, do you? I'm against form emails. Form emails are vague emails that apply to nobody in particular. Most form email senders don't even bother to check the location of where you are before they send you an email from Jersey that says "since we live so close . . " It only takes a minute to personalize a form email. Go ahead, keep one in your mailbox drafts and cut, paste and personalize. Start it by introducing yourself and where you are from. Say you read their profile and think you have some things in common. Cite one or two of the things. You can even mention a joke they told or a book they read that you read too. I used to make suggestions, "I see you read Chuck Klosterman, have you read Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs?" If they quote a movie, comment on it. Then close it by saying, I'd like to hear from you. Read my profile and let me know if you're interested. See how easy that is?

More about emails
I'm getting to know you. Let me ask you some questions: What is your favorite holiday memory? What is your favorite travel destination? Who did you want to win Flava of Love Season 2? When do you usually get physically intimate in a relationship? Whoa! back the funk up speed dater. I'm not lying, this actually happened to a friend of mine. I actually wanted the exact words so I spent 30 minutes looking through my archived Outlook items. Questions regarding sex and intimacy are better left off emails ESPECIALLY if you haven't met yet. In my friend's case, the guy hadn't even asked her out yet. So, he didn't have the balls to ask her out but he can ask her this. He also asked her to describe her perfect date and she did. In return he described his. For dessert he wrote "your lips" and went into great detail about what they might taste like. Again, no. I'm writing my freaking wedding vows and I'm not getting that corny.

Let's hurry up and meet
You should meet anyone you are talking to within 2 weeks unless it is a situation where someone is traveling or you are separated by some distance. If they are in town, you have no excuse. Meeting someone soon eliminates the build up with less risk for extreme letdown. I have a friend who will talk to a guy on the phone and have a fantastic conversation. I will then get a call from her telling me all about the conversation that will lead to her planning our their whole courtship, and wedding/break up. Just recently, I got a call from her and after telling me how much she enjoyed talking to this guy told me that he said he didn't want to have kids. I said, "Ok, so?" To which she said, "Well, I'm not sure if i want kids but he is sure he doesn't." Slow down, sister. You don't have to have kids with the guy, you can just meet him for coffee. But, I know the kid comment will ultimately determine if he gets a second date.

The lesson to be learned here is not to let corresponding with someone online go on too long but don't jump right into a meeting. Everyone has their comfort level. I know, for me, I liked to have at least one phone conversation with someone before I met them. That way I could gauge if we might have enough in common to keep conversation flowing. Then again, it is hard NOT to keep conversation flowing with me around. If you can't, then check your pulse. I had to leave the conversation with the vibe that this guy wouldn't kill me.

I know it's the year 2006 but some girls are still old fashion in the regards where they want the guy to ask them out. So, if you're a guy and you've been talking to a girl online for more than 3 emails, ask for her number already and ask her out by the end of that call. I know, it's dumb, she has every right in the world to suggest a meeting. most men tip-toe around the meeting thing because they want her to feel comfortable and not rushed but at least try. What is the worse that can happen, she can say "I'd like to get to know you a bit more before."

If you ask someone for their number, try to call within a day or two. Anymore than that and you're kinda an asshole. Especially if you have emailed during that time. If you had time to email, you had time to call. Only call once and if they're not around, leave a message. Do not hang up on they're machine (because they probably have caller ID) and call back a million times until they answer because by then you are known to them as "a stalker." Once you have made it to that level, there is no returning from it.

Don't call the person any more than two times a week at first. Two times you are courting them, more than that and your freaking girlfriends. If they want to call you, they have your number. Prior to Stew moving in, he could count how many times I called him on one hand. Now my calls are more like, "where are you? When are you coming home? I heard sirens, I just wanna make sure you weren't in an accident."

My friend just gave me a great example of call misuse lastnight. She has been e-mailing this guy and they finally moved things to phone. He's moving into "girlfriend territory" with the amount he calls/asks her to call. They talked Monday and he told her to call him Tuesday. I told her not to. She didn't. She called him Wednesday instead and they talked. he called her back later that night at almost 10 to tell her he was just thinking about her and wanted to say hi. WARNING: PHONECALL LIMIT FOR THE DAY HAS ALREADY BEEN REACHED. She was taken aback but tried to cover up her surprise by asking him if he watched Dancing With the Stars. He said yes and then pretty much said, "well, ok, I'm beat, I have to go to bed goodnight." The call lasted 2 minutes. A short call doesn't cancel out the fact that you called again.

Who pays
There are a few schools of thought on this. Some girls think the guy should always pay. Most guys think girls have quite the deal in dating and it's a joy for us to scoop up free meals. Some believe dutch is the way to go. Some people think it's whoever invited who out should pay. Some think whoever traveled the farthest should be treated. The truth is, there is no right answer. It's really whatever you are comfortable doing. I know couples who have been together for a while and go dutch on everything. Stew can't understand why and I've explained to him that nothing is worse than it being thrown up in your face later that one person paid for everything. If you are a guy and you bought dinner and a movie, keep in mind that was your choice. You could have easily said to her, "hey, i got dinner, do you think you can get the movie?" I always offered to pay my way. Sometimes people took my money, sometimes they asked me to just leave the tip and sometimes they refused my offer.

Traveling to meet your date
Some people have no limits on their search for love. If you're both in the same state, it is okay to meet halfway or choose the hometurf of one party. However, the traveler must entertain on their hometurf next time. It is only okay to bend this rule if you just happen to be in your date's area doing something else so you're not inconvenienced to travel again. Otherwise, it's a turn-a piece. It's not fair to assume they're always willing to travel to see you just because you have better places to eat or go.

If you are traveling a further distance to meet your date and you think you might spend the night, book a hotel. It's not fair, unless you have discussed it with your date and he/she has offered up an extra room/their bed to assume you'll be staying there. Otherwise, pack your ass back up in the car and go home.

That's all I can think of for now, but I am sure more will creep up.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for the sperm I use today.

Ok, so I had to take a break from my online dating series to comment on the story everyone is talking about. Britney finally fed Federline to the wolves. Now he is free to father some more kids out of wedlock and piss away any money he gets on child support.

I have to words for K-Fed - Carlos Leone.



For those of you who don't retain useless information like I do (just see how well I'll do on Jeopardy someday) Carlos Leone was the donor for for Madonna's first child, Lourdes. Granted Madonna had a relationship with her former personal trainer but at least she never married him. She does, however, give him spousal support which is really the Debbie Rowe buy off to stay the hell out of Lourdes' life. It seems like Brit is trying to do the same thing. I don't think she has to worry tho', K-Fed barely wants anything to do with his kids from his previous relationship. Then, again, those kids are only tied to Moesha money and not the "ooops I made a million dollars again" bucks that bought him his Ferrari and recording contract.

Was it all part of a master plan? An elaborate ruse to pull one over on the public because it is quite possible there are 3 people sitting in their trailers deep in Arkansas shocked at the news.

Marry him, have some kids, get him set up on a career path about as long as a Louisville runway and lose him from the payroll before he can get his hands on any money she is about to make (providing she still has a fan base).

Maybe she's not as dumb as we all thought. But one thing is for sure, he is.

Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In my years . . . yes, you read that right Y E A R S of online dating I've gotten really good at reading between the lines of profiles. Some, you don't even have to bother cracking the code because it's all there in black and white with bad spelling and even worse grammar. Some guys just smack you in the face with what type they are.

I've been suckered. I fell for the party boy when I was looking for a homebody and while you can always improve this type, sometimes it's good to know beforehand in the event you're lazy like me. One of the things that I learned fast was that you can never really tell what to take at face value in the online dating world. That is why I honed my "reading too much into this" way of looking at profiles. People say one thing and always mean another but mainly it's the womyn doing it. Men are a bit more upfront but they still have that "I have to play the game even tho' I will say I don't" mentality.

Meet the Geek
I'm a sucker for geeky guys. I love them. Unfortunately, few admit how geeky they are in their profile in fear they will scare a girl off. However, there are ways to tell. Usually, their jobs are a good indicator. Most geeky guys are in the IT field. The key is finding a geeky guy with a sense of humor. This is where pictures come into play.

The geeky guy will usually take his own picture. Most people take their own picture but the geeky guy's picture will be of better quality because he did his research on cameras and he knows how to work it. The not-so-geeky guy's picture will be from his camera phone or a Radio Crack web cam.

The Geek will always be fully clothed despite if he has the body of an Adonis or not.

The Geek will most often take the picture at work so you'll see wall of servers in the background. Pay close attention to whatever else is in the background. Desk goodies like funky figures or something will indicate just how far into the part this guy is.

The Pusher
Don't confuse this guy with the guy you get your weed from. The pusher is the guy that sells himself with more oomph than a used car salesman offering 0% interest. He also happens to be in sales and doesn't let you forget that sprinkling bits of career related information all over his profile. Everything goes back to sales. "I would enjoy taking a break from selling to grab a cup of coffee with someone special". "I love taking drives in my new BMW because I sold so much in the past year." Even the books he read are sales books and if you find someone bold enough, the books he lists in the last thing read is his own book - about sales of course.

The Closer
Not to be confused with The Pusher, The Closer has nothing to do with selling or Glen Garry Glenn Ross at all. The Closer is the guy closing the bar. The Closer is the guy who says he is tired of the bar scene and 8 out of his 10 pictures are of him partying in a bar. The other two might be of him partying on a boat.

The Closer will say that he is tired of the bar scene. He's not. If he were, his pictures would reflect that and he'd have more serious shots. Beware, his serious picture will be of him and a kid/pet.

Too Cool for the Room
My favorite. This is the guy who usually talks about how good looking he is and how he doesn't have a problem meeting people. Ok, then why are you here? Too cool will also remark at what a great catch he has been told he is. Ok, then why hasn't anyone caught you yet?

Too Cool's picture will look like the cover of a hip hop CD and his picture will resemble a mugshot.

Pick Me, I'm Mr. Sensitive
This guy maybe read Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars before he read The Da Vinci Code and he thinks this is what womyn want to hear. He'll mention that he believes chivalry is not dead and he likes to treat a lady like a lady. Beware, this guy's shtick won't last long. If he were for real he wouldn't feel the need to mention any of these things. He would just do them without calling attention to it. Mr. Sensitive will also have a hokey screenname like "URPrinceIn Waiting" or "KnightOnWhytHorse".

He'll be posed with a kid/animal and have a few outdoor scenery shots.

Just Here
This guy keeps it simple. His profile is three sentences max. He is just there because someone told him he should try it. Don't rule out this guy from future searches. During the three months he paid for, he may have picked up a clue and spiced things up a bit to get more attention. He probably won't have a picture or if he does, it's a scan of his license. His screenname will include his zip code or birthday.

Sweat Hog
No, don't think John Travolta, think cycling shorts and gym socks. This guy lives at the gym and his screenname will reflect his favorite athletic activity. This guy, like The Pusher, will pepper his ad with hints at what a health nazi he is. He will also insist that you be the same. He will reiterate it over and over and over again just in case you didn't see the ten other ways that he said he is athletic and you should be too.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I'm glad to see something never change.

There are a few ways to approach online dating and sifting through potential suitors.

Way #1: This is usually the way to go about it when you are new. You carefully read every profile of anyone that looks cute. I always wrote emails because doing that proved that I was a member and not some cheapo who refused to pay and could only wink hoping they'd read my profile closely enough to find the hidden clues to my personal email so I could continue not paying.

Way #2: This sets in after you have been at it a few weeks to a month. You scan the important stuff in the profiles: age, kids, married/divorced/widowed, smoker, drinker, living situation, job, interests, religion, what kind of girl they want, income. You do this for everyone who has a picture and remotely interesting headline. You email them.

Way #3: You scan the important stuff in the profiles: age, living situation, job, interests, income. You do this for everyone who has a remotely interesting headline. Email them.

Way #4: Scan the important stuff in the profiles: age, living situation, and job. You do this for anyone who passed all three (even by a margin) and wink.

Way #5: I adopted this method the last couple of months. Smoke a joint and/or drink two glasses of wine and wink at whoever had a nice smile.

As you know I have been looking for guys online for my friend. I like to call it "window shopping" except I have to remember I am not shopping for myself. This means I have to adopt Method #1. Unfortunately, I just send her the names of who I liked and a dissertation (sometimes she needs A LOT of convincing) on why I liked them. The rest is up to her and she always blows it because she winks. I tell her repeatedly if she doesn't have a picture up, she at least has to write an email so she catches their interest and she also has to offer them a picture if they want. She doesn't listen and therefore I have to spend the next week listening to how they didn't write or wink back. But if they did wink back, I have to hear how lazy they are that they didn't write an email. But I'm saving all that for my online dating etiquette blog.

I look at a whole bunch of guys in her age range from Stamford to Middletown. That is a lot of dudes and I have to say that 95% of all the ads are the exact same with a few savory exceptions which I'll get into later. It's kind of scary but after 2 years being off match, I see a lot of familiar faces. I saw one of my old Match dates has taken up yoga and put up a few pics of himself in various yoga poses. I cringed when I read that he likes"'long wet kisses". Granted, I was on and off for years so I am assuming it's the same with everyone. You take some time off and one bored night you find yourself back cursing yourself because you swore it off months ago. There is no shame in going back. Maybe you just grew bored of it, tried to meet people in real-time or you were dating someone for a while it didn't work out. It's ok to come home. It's like the safety bar you go to because you know you're chances of going home alone are 2 percent.

However, if you do go back, at least I had the decency to freshen up your profile. Seriously. Some guys still say they are going to graduate in 2004. Um, it's 2006, have you graduated yet? If not, take it out or we're going to think two things:

1.) slacker
2.) you don't care enough about your profile therefore, you won't make an effort in the dating scene

Oh, and I know the Da Vinci Code was a bestseller years ago, but by now you surely read something else. Even that very question "What's the last thing you read" is more recent. Good god, the book was already made into a damn movie. If it still says Da Vinci Code we think two things:

1.) you put that because everyone else did
2.) you are a slooowwwwww ass reader

It's ok to say you don't really read much. I have respect for the guys who say that. At least you are being honest. It's even ok to say that work keeps you reading tech manuals or something so you don't have time to read for pleasure. Some girls actually care about this question. I'll admit, I did. However, I only cared about it because it was a sure sign to me whether or not you looked at your profile in the last decade.

There are certain things that need to be said in a profile:

1.) Dropping the Daddy/Mommy bomb

If you are a man or womyn with a child then be upfront about it. By upfront I mean, somewhere in the first three lines. Most people are upfront about it but every now and then you find someone who buries it deep within the profile like a passing comment or fleeting thought. It's your right to tell us on a first date or something but if you're going to put it in your profile, put it high on the "things about me" list. I saw one profile recently where the guy just kind of slipped it on towards the bottom. He said "Oh yeah, I am about to be a dad too, long story, I'll tell you sometime." Hey buddy, now's a good time. Long story? Why do I have a feeling it has something to do with a night of heavy drinking and blacking out. It will avoid a scenario that happened to me once.

Having a great time on my first date. My date seems like an awesome guy.
Me: Here's where you tell me you have 6 kids or something . . .
Date: Well, actually . . . .

He didn't have six, he only had one but bringing it up that way seemed a bit sketch. I'm personally not against dating people with kids, but some people are. Give potential dates the option of knowing before investing the time in getting to know each other.

This leads me to #2 . . .

2.) Pictures with kids and/or animals

If you are going to have a picture of a kid in your profile, identify who the kid as your son/daughter/niece/nephew/godchild fairly soon.

Men and womyn come from two different schools of thought on this. Men think showing us a pic of them spending time with their child or animal shows their sensitive side. They think womyn will say to themselves "awww.... they like kids/animals." Honestly, most womyn I know, think it's a bit weird. It doesn't pull at our heart strings, it makes us roll our eyes. We've met plenty of assholes with pets and kids so this doesn't exactly set you apart from the rest.

Oh, and need I remind you that the people you are meeting online are strangers? So, yeah, it's possible some creep may use you to get to your kid.

3.) Have kids? Yes. Want kids? No.

An online dating site has two questions, they put fairly close to the top of your profile's beginning. It plainly asks "Have kids?" Here is where you can choose a variety of answers. If you choose "yes", you also have to state if they live at home with you or do not. I've seen a lot of guys answer yes to this question. Yay for honesty. The next question is "Want kids?" You can answer just about anything to this: yes, no, undecided, someday. You can even put how many you might want. I've seen a lot of guys answer "yes" to having kids and "no" to wanting them. Granted, this could mean they do not want anymore but the fact of the matter is, they already have at least one and they're going to be around for at least 18 years so make us think you at least care.

4.) Crop shop

Stew had an adorable online picture. I love this picture. He looks so cute in it that I was shocked (and thrilled) he didn't get a million responses it from it. One day, while flipping through a photo album of his I saw the picture. I also saw what wasn't in the picture which were two girls with skirts like underwear, halter belly shirts and bellychains. Ugh! By then it was too late, he already lived with me. I was a victim of crop shop entrapment. Little did I know that boyish little grin meant "Outside the margins of this picture I am up to no good."

There are plenty of these pictures online. Stew was smart enough to not even leave a trace of "the others" but a lot of people aren't. It's a stray well manicured hand on the chest that gives it away. I like the people that blur out thier exes' faces. Just crop them. Is that supposed to prove something like other people find you attractive? Because chances are, we've compared ourselves to them and think, "oh, they like that type, they'll never like me."

5.) Love may be blind, but I'm not your nurse

Because I have a habit of writing about stuff nobody likes to talk about. I will preface this by saying this ONLY goes for the beginning stages of a relationship. Not after you have gotten to know someone well and are certain you see a future with them or you are already commited.

There has to be some mystery when you're trying to meet someone. You have to keep them wondering about you long enough to build interest and then you can start being yourself. This is going to sound mean but I think it is a reasonable. If you are in a wheelchair, you should say that in your profile. I spent a while chatting with some guy online to find out later that he was in a wheelchair. Some people may be willing to overlook that but a good majority of people won't. It's one thing if you are with someone for a while and something happens to them, but it's a whole different mindset to start a relationship like that unles you're lazy and in it for the parking.

The same goes for health issues. Hiding something like that is just sneaky. Granted, it's your right to privacy and I am not saying you have to disclose illnesses in your profile. You can wait a few weeks after going on at least 3 (but no more) dates with someone or talking to them for a while. If you really like this person and you want to see where things can go, you should be honest about things before they get too serious. It's always a slippery slope. I've heard from a quite a few guys about girls opening up about having some serious health issues after things have gotten serious. I've also heard a few guys tell me about girls opening up way too soon. One guy told me about going to a girl's house for their second date and things getting a bit heated. She had to stop things because apparently she had a "female procedure that day to try and determine if she has cancer." Why she would disclose this on date #2 begs the question why she would invite a guy over to her house on date #2 knowing she was going to have a "female procedure" earlier that day. When he told me about this, I told him she would become a psycho. She proved me right three days later.

A health issue can be a deal breaker when starting a relationship.

I remember once I was talking to a guy. After our first phone conversation, he wrote me an email explaining that he really wanted to get to know me but his dad was really sick and he was afraid he couldn't give me the time he wanted to but he wanted to try. I thought that was very upfront and honest so I hung in there. We met, we had an ok date but I just wasn't feeling any chemistry. We had been talking for a month and he called me any free moment he had which was actually A LOT more than I thought he would have and the constant calling was starting to really irritate me. Anyway, I finally told him that I didn't think it was going to work. He did not take it very well and despite my better judgment we swapped a few emails where I explained myself because I had some guilt that he was going through enough with his dad in the hospital dying. He stopped communicating me with me after a while which was fine with me. A month or two later I received an email from him, part of a mass mailing telling everyone his dad passed away. I wrote him and said I was sorry and that my thoughts were with him and his family. A few days later, I got an enraged email from him about how he thought I was a nice person but I wasn't and blah blah blah. Maybe he was expecting me to show up at the funeral. I have no clue what brought the rage on. But he said something that cemented the "thank god I got rid of you" feeling. He said how he had something personal that he doesn't tell many people about himself and he was going to tell me but apparently I am not worthy of telling. I forget exactly how he worded it but he made it sound like it was something health-related was going on with him.

Ok, so you were going to wait until I invested a lot of feelings in you before you told me you were dying or something? No thanks. For once I was glad I wasn't worthy of such information in the event i didn't want to deal and left you. I'm not going to spend the rest of my life carrying the guilt for being a shitbag when it could have been avoided if you told me sooner. ASS!

He did TIVO Dr. Phil every day tho'. Maybe he was going to tell me he really was a womyn.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Before you think Match, think gasoline.

So, after not being anywhere near the dating pool for a while, I guess I can take a giant step back from the scene and really examine it.

Honestly, sometimes I miss it. The thrill of meeting someone new. Not knowing what is going to happen. Will it go well? Will it go bad? Will I spill your drink on him? Will I throw it at him intentionally? Will I trip? Will we have nothing in common? Will this be the date that I finally slam down your coffee mug/fork and loudly say how I should have spent the night at home with a good book because I just wasted some precious time?

Wait a sec, did I just say I missed this? Yes, yes I did and yes, yes, yes I do.

But other nights I crawl safely into bed, slide my icy appendages around Stew and squeeze him until I am sure I've sucked out all of his warmth and then I roll over and fall asleep. And as I drift off into la la land, I think, "thank god, I don't ever have to go on another first date again." Sometimes it's followed by a pang of sadness. Sometimes it's not.

I know I can say this without insulting Stew because we've discussed it. I also know poor Stew struggles with his own domestication when we go to a party and there are a few cute girls running around dressed like hookers and he's trying to be respectful to me (because I am with him) by not gawking, but also wants to be able to commit every part of her early 20s body to memory for future conversations with his friends (read: use). I tease him when I catch him looking. Honestly, it's not that big of a deal tho'. Even I can appreciate a good set of perky boobs. Sometimes, when I see some I find worthy, I tell him to check them out. It's all good. You know why? Because I know she's not going to cook him dinner or do his laundry. I also know that there is a good chance there are barely enough braincells in her head to remind her to breathe much less entertain him when he gets tired of looking at her boobs.

During my five or so years on and off the online dating scene I had the fortune of meeting some really great guys. I also had the misfortune of meeting some really creepy weird icky ones too. Like any normal girl I gave them all nicknames and came home from dates mass-mailing my friends about the evening's festivities or lack thereof. Sometimes, if it was a long ride home, one, two or three of them got a call.

Now, settling down, I am forced to find my fodder in life's mundane routine. Lucky for me, I have a couple of single friends left so I get to live vicariously through them. One of these said friends is on a dating site whose name causes a fire to ignite.

Now, I'm not using names here people so nobody can get bent out of shape. My friend has been pretty unsuccessful meeting guys on there but, she is also not trying very hard. So, every now and then I sign on and search for her. However, I seemed to be the only one of us willing to drop my standards down to a reasonable enough level so searching at least yields some results. Now now now, don't let the lowering of standards comment get you. What I mean is, my friend has ridiculously high standards. There is nothing wrong with that but when searching online, some sparkling gems of guys don't sparkle the way they should until you meet them in person. Therefore, online dating starts with an open mind and gaining comfort with the simple fact that a majority of it is totally going to suck.

I can't say everything I want to about online dating in this one blog. This is definitely something that is a two, three or 10-parter. It may even spawn the beginnings of a book on dating. Who knows. I'm open. Maybe that is why I'm one of the few that actually had some luck in online dating.

However, I didn't get that way without being the girl who narrowly missed posting the following ad towards the end of her online dating days:

Look, I am going to lay it out for you since guys on here don’t seem to have a problem doing it. I’m tired of all this crazy match bull. People lying in their profiles. Saying they want one thing and then deciding they want something else. I am looking for a real person. I’m not going to go on any more dates where I have to sit there and pull conversation out of someone like teeth. If you don’t have anything to say then why are you here? How do you expect to meet people?

I am not going to pay for scars left there by other women. I’ll only pay for the ones I left. I will want to spend time getting to know you. So, if you’re not willing to put forth that effort and write me less than 3 lines, do not bother to write.

I will judge you - quickly. I’m sorry, but why waste either of our time? Personally, I’d rather be home reading a good book, then be out on a boring date. Wouldn’t you? THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT SO LISTEN UP. I do not have a need to talk to you 10 times a day. This is not something I think a lot of you guys comprehend because it runs pretty rampant on here. I like to have my own time as I am sure you do too. I do not need to talk to you every night. I do not need to talk to you throughout the day or on my ride home, or your ride home. I do not need to see you a few times a week (especially in the getting-to-know you phase). I know I must sound mean, but really, I am not. I am very laid back and the last thing I want is a guy who tries pushing me into talking to him every free moment or seeing him. There are some days I just do not want to do anything but hang by myself. Do not take this personally. It is just how I am. I'm fortunate enough to be one of those people whose comfortable doing things alone as much as she is doing them with someone. You know what happens to people who start spending a lot of time talking on the phone or hanging out? They tire of each other quickly. They grow restless because they don’t have as much time to themselves as they used to and most importantly they begin to resent the other person for invading their space. Let’s avoid this. It is best for us.

I like a man who keeps his independence because I am surely going to keep mine. I have A LOT of male friends. They are only friends. The guy I date needs to be secure enough to handle this. I realize this ad has a great potential to scare a lot of people off. Perhaps it’s too honest and that is not something anyone is used to seeing on here. It’s not your typical female profile because I am not your typical female.

I’m sure I’ve managed to offend some of your sense by now and I fully expect a few emails calling me a bitter man-hater. I’m just being honest and upfront so that there is no confusion later. If you find fault with that, then it’s probably best you don’t write.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I analyze the crap I've seen in profiles.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Out with the old, in with the new

I lost my job. Unfortunately, my work computer contained the bookmark to my old blog and it contained incriminating evidence. I deleted the whole thing. That pisses me off. There was some good stuff on there. Stew tried to talk me through saving it but I was in a foul mood (moi?) and I couldn't be bothered. Now, I know I am stupid.

So, now I am stupid and unemployed.

Not sure what kind of fun facts and rants this new blog will contain but stay tuned as I am sure someone will do something to grate my nerves soon enough to spark some inspiration.

Wow, that didn't take long. I just got spam for Black & Decker. Apparently, when you create a bridal registry, several companies (eventho' the places where you register claim they don't sell your info to third parties) begin sending you news of upcoming "hot" new products. In this case, it was about vacuums because getting married obviously means you will enjoy cleaning that much more.

The sad thing is, I can get excited about a new vacuum because I am using the one my Mother gave me after owning it for a billion years. She gave it to me only after she sucked up wet wallpaper remnants with it so it sucks . . . Just not in the way that it should. After a heated discussion over whether or not we should register for china or expensive things we actually needed that went something like this:

Me: I dunno, should we register for china?

Stew: No.

Me: It would be nice to have but where are going to keep it and when will we ever use it?

Stew: You're right.

Me: But when the hell will we ever be able to afford it?

Stew: (Sits back and lets me debate with myself. I'm so glad he learned this skill early.)

Me: Maybe if we ever got a house and had holidays and stuff but it would most likely just sit there and take up space. There is just so much other stuff I need like a working vacuum and pots I didn't inherit from my mom after Jason ruined them trying to make popcorn when I had microwaveable bags right there. You're right. Let's just get a Dyson instead. China schmina.

Phew! We narrowly escaped a fight on that one.