Monday, June 28, 2010

Red Flags - SST At Your Service

Ladies. It's time for some words of wisdom - take it or leave it - from the wise old lady here. (that would be me)
Now, I recognize that my wisdom is limited in that I've been dating a long time and still haven't found my best friend and lover... but the years have taught when to invest my time and energy and when to just cut bait.

Most of today's advice centers on what to avoid in online dating pursuits. Perhaps I'll share my own 'He's just not into you' rules for traditional dating, another time.

So here goes. Single Solitary Advice for online 'dating'. ( if there are any men peeking in - there's a thing or two to learn here for you too!)

Let's start with the profiles.

Just like the advice for poison ivy- leaves of three, let it be... if these three things are present, don't even engage him!
1. His photos obscure his face, either in shadows, by distance or with something sporty like ski goggles, motorcycle helmets etc. ~ this is a sure sign that he's not available. He's cheating on someone and is hoping not to be identified.

2. His only photo is a shot of his well-carved chest and abdominal muscles. Yes, they're nice - rock hard - and we do appreciate them. ~He's telling you this is all he has to offer - or - all he's willing to offer. He's just looking for someone who thinks he's hot and will get on her back in short order.

3. All of his pictures are self-portraits, taken in either the bathroom mirror or a mirror of some sort. This indicates two things. A) he's not really taking online dating seriously enough to make an effort. He's not going to put forth effort with you either. B) He may not have any friends... he hasn't been to a wedding or any social event in more than 2 years?! How else do you explain having NO photos of yourself taken by someone else? He can't even ask a neighbor kid to take his picture in the yard? If he has his shirt off in these self-portraits... run -don't walk- away.

Now, some may argue that these are all circumstantial. And that could be true. Use your own judgment on one or two of these red flags. But trust me, if all three are present - you don't want to go there.

Next up, red flag behaviors.

You've gotten to know one another on the dating site and now it's time to meet. You exchange phone numbers and it's time to make a plan...
1. If he only texts and never actually calls you. AND you get a yuck feeling from his choice of words and abbreviations. For example, one guy in his texts addressed me as QT. An abbreviation for cutie to be sure... but ... um ...NO! I am not 15 years old. That's just icky. Plus, my profile indicates that I'm a journalist... know your audience!!

2. He's asking you to come to his area of town for a first meeting/date... rather than coming to you. Say... NO! You are worth the trip and if he's serious about dating he needs to make this effort. At the very least, he should agree to meet at a mid-point. The red flag is ... if he's asking you to come to him... he's trying to get you home. If you decide to go anyway, make sure you never lose sight of your drink. Befriend the bartender.

3. If after numerous texts and/ or phone calls, he still hasn't established WHERE to meet at least 12 hours in advance of the date... you NO go. Again, if he's serious about dating, and he's a gentleman - he's not going to let this happen. You are a prize. You are a busy woman. You deserve firm, well-thought out plans even if you have to make them yourself. If he's still up in the air with less than 12 hours on the clock - he's not worth it.
These tips are not all inclusive. But based on experience - you can't go wrong by following this advice. You may think it's unfair to knock someone out of the running on one or two of these behaviors... but if you overlook them ... do a favor and let me know how it turns out.

My gut is well-educated. And here for your service.

Men, if you dispute my findings - I can respect that - but this is a learning experience. If you do any of these things... these are the conclusions women will draw. These are points on which you can easily accommodate us, rather than the other way around.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sticking It Out

When I started this blog, it was intended, in part, to be a place for me to record my dating stories. I was convinced that I could write a book about my misfortunes and occasional/ rare great dates. Many friends agreed.

Then I met someone, and it didn't seem right to focus on the past. As you know, that's over so here goes.

To date, I have shared memories about one favorite.
On my mind today, the one who actually wanted to marry me - but my gut warned me that would be a heartbreaking move.

We shall refer to this man by his nickname acquired post-breakup. More on that another time.

Introducing, the Cave Man:

I met him one night when my friends insisted on going to a certain dance bar that I hated. I obliged them once a year. That night, as I hovered at the edge of the dance floor - he approached. Tall, thin, fair and with a goatee. Not my type, but dancing is better than purse patrol so I agreed.

He was nice. At the end of the night, I gave him my business card which identified me as a local news reporter. He responded properly, appropriately impressed but not too much so. Which impressed me.

We ended up dating regularly. He lived outside of the city, on a government land preserve. The house was one of the benefits of his job, he had to live on the land. (sort of a naturalist, think Game, Fish & Parks.) He was an outdoors man. He loved nature. I respected that, having grown up on a working ranch. He was a hunter too, like my dad - so I was okay with that too.

I, on the other hand, had been itching to leave the farmland from the age of five. I loved living in the city. From my apartment, I could see the lights from Downtown. At the time, they were constructing the tallest building in town, and I could see the lights from the cranes while lying in bed at night. It was good to feel a part of something bigger than myself.

Cave Man on the other hand loved solitude. He once told me that his ideal job position would be on the land preserve at Fish Springs, Utah (or Idaho - I don't remember) The greatest appeal to him, was that the property was 100 miles from getting your mail, and 200 miles from anything else. "Doesn't that sound great?"

"Actually, that sounds like hell to me."

One night as we smooched on my couch, he said, "If we lived in Fish Springs, this is all we would have to do for 9 months out of the year."

Well, that did sound nice. But still.

I met his parents. His mom loved me. She watched the news every night just to see me! His dad had recently had a stroke, which left the brilliant, witty man with too few words to express his thoughts.
The Cave Man treated them both with great respect, especially his dad, because he knew how frustrated he was in his limited capacity.

The Cave Man told me that just before we met, he learned that he had a brother and sister from his dad's first marriage. When I asked about them, he said, "You don't understand, they're not really my brother and sister. I just met them. They're from another life."

Over time, it came out that the brother had either Cerebral Palsy or Down Syndrome. The first wife was described as 'crazy'. Bi-polar I think.
Cave Man shared this as justification that it was too much for his dad to deal with. He had to leave. They got divorced and he met Cave Man's mom.
Happily ever after.

That didn't sit right with me.
Was Cave Man okay with the fact that his dad had abandoned his first family? To the point that CM didn't even know about them until he was nearly 30?

When I met his parents, I also met other relatives. The cousins he's known all his life. One of whom had Down Syndrome and was just starting to live on his own with limited success. Everyone treated him with great respect as well.

Here's something you don't know about me: In my 20s, every time I met a Downs child, I felt God nudge me, saying "If you have children TRS, you will have a child like this."

It didn't exactly worry me, but it didn't thrill me either. But I knew that I would not even have those tests during pregnancy that reveal any possible deformities or diseases. My husband and I would love any child God gave us.

So one night, I shared this feeling with CM. I only got as far as describing the nudge when he said, "But TRS, they can test for that before you have the baby."
Yes. And then?
He got the point that I would be against terminating a pregnancy, and headed off my objections by saying, "We couldn't raise a Down Syndrome child. I don't make enough money for that. I know because I know what my aunt and uncle have been through raising ___."

My heart was stuck in my throat. Here he was, potentially the carrier of the genes he would so easily reject.

Combined with the fact that he had no problem with his dad abandoning a family - I had no confidence that CM would stick around if things got tough.
That was the beginning of the end.

We ended up dating for about six months. He told me that he could definitely see us married... in about three years. (I always wondered why three years? If you knew you wanted to marry someone why would you put it off?)

I'm the one who initiated the break-up. That night, he asked if it was the conversation about my nudge that sealed it.

There were more indications that we weren't compatible for life. It may not be fair, but I assumed he wouldn't be reliable in that situation... and that was an indication that he might not be reliable in many other ways.

The one thing I do regret... is that I wasn't mature enough to really talk about it with him. I wish I'd had the guts to ask him if he was really okay with the way his dad left his first family.

But I think my gut was right.

P.S. I read this blog post tonight which reminded me of this experience. Serious food for thought.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just One Day Older

Hi Bloggy friends!

I'm writing this at the very end of my 40th birthday.
For all the dread... it was pretty great.
I had the entire day off. Slept in. Got a half hour massage. A nap. A pedicure. Spent a great deal of time working to make my hair pretty. It worked.

Then I met my girlfriends for dinner. Such a great group of women...friends gleaned from different areas of my life... all meld together into a pretty cohesive group.
And all with something obviously up their collective sleeves. I could sense it!

About a week ago I started to suspect that Kikr was going to fly in from San Francisco to surprise me. I didn't let on to anyone planning my birthday dinner... because I didn't want to ruin the fun of the surprise.
I knew I wouldn't be disappointed if she didn't make it... but SO very excited if she did.

See, a couple months ago Kikr had asked for the email addresses of my closest friends in Denver. I complied. She's pretty sneaky, but the only way to get that info was to just ask me for it!

Later, in phone conversations she mentioned the last names of some friends I was talking about, that she has not met. So I knew she was in cahoots.

When I was in the depths of grieving my 40th birthday (remember that? Glad I got through that early.) and bemoaning the fact that I wasn't going to get my wish of having all my girlfriends who are scattered throughout the country, together on my birthday - one of my Denver friends assured me that my birthday was going to be great. She gave me that knowing look.

So finally, last week I guessed that Kikr was going to fly in!
A few more conversations with her and it was clear she wasn't.
But of course I tucked that in the back of my mind and thought... "Well, that's the story for now. We'll see what happens."

Tonight, there was dinner... drinks... beautiful wonderful friends. And gifts! Oh... at this age that is awkward. I don't expect gifts, but I sure do love them.

My girls had ideas about the order the gifts should be opened. So funny.
There was lovely bath wash, a fantastic necklace that you all will have to pry off of me when I'm dead... gift cards, Bacon flavored Chocolate (because bacon is nature's candy) and then the gift that was saved for last.
This lovely box. A treasure chest.
The moment I saw it, I knew Kikr was behind it. I cried before I even opened the box!

Inside, she had had my Denver friends collect and print out little notes describing 40 things that everyone loves about me.

Would it be too indulgent to share? Yes? Oh well.
"Her welcoming and innocent smile."
"Her honest, friendly opinion when you need it."
"How she writes emails just like she talks."
"She is a kind soul."
"Dependable in times of crisis."
"A true friend."
"Her 'Fashion Intervention' emails."
"When she finds something funny, she laughs with all her soul and things "get loud"."
And so on.
Each sentiment had the name of the person who shared it on the back. I shall treasure it always.

I am so very blessed.
It is a wonder to think that I might actually deserve these amazing people in my life.
God's blessings outweigh all of the good we try to put into the world.
So very blessed!

I also got a sweet text from McTwitchy (I know!) and a card in the mail from Mr. Burns!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Hope Chest

When I was in college, one Christmas my parents presented both my sister-in-law and I with identical handmade cedar-lined hope chests.

Mom had asked a man in our church parish, known for his woodworking, to make them. I knew she was excited about them - it was the sort of thing she had always wanted.

I was still in college and so we agreed that my parents would keep my hope chest in my bedroom at home until I had enough space to have it in my own home.

Since then, I have moved several times. Always to a small apartment, with a small bedroom and no space for the chest that measures about 50 inches long.
My mom has been disappointed, as she really wanted me to have it.
She also senses that the style of the chest just really isn't my style. I don't really want it. I sort of had it in my mind that I would just hand it down to my oldest niece... so that she and her sister will have matching chests (the younger sister would get their mother's).

I also thought that when I had a house one day, it would go in the guest room to store my memories and treasures.

But I still don't have that house.

The point of a hope chest in my mother's day, was for a young woman to store the little lovelies she had collected to set up house with her intended. A place to keep the needlepoint she'd learned to stitch, the quilt she made with fabric scraps... maybe some flatware and silver ware. Then later to store her wedding gown so she could hand it down to her daughter.

It wasn't meant for a 40 year old woman to stuff full of things in case she one day finally gets married. In our day and age, that would be considered pathetic.

And over the 20 years from when a young lady is issued her hope chest, to when she realizes she'll never need it - her taste would change anyway! Those items were intended to be home starters... to be implemented within 5 years, assuming she didn't become an old maid.

This week, I've been thinking about my hope chest. How it ought to go straight to my niece now, because she is in that stage of life, starting out on her own.
Thinking about how it may never end up in my own home.

Then it occurred to me - that the man who made it - worked for hours planing and sanding wood, joining corners and screwing in hinges - who is long since deceased.... quite likely prayed over that project. He knew my parents. He watched me grow, Sunday after Sunday in Mass. Perhaps he prayed for a happy life, blessings of children and family - for warm blankets and abundant food for my family.

Like my parents, it never occurred to him that I would spend my life alone.

Still, I shall imagine him praying over the construction of that chest and know that no prayer - even those unanswered- is ever wasted.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Pretty is as Pretty Does

Hello Bloggy Friends!
You all are so sweet. I hadn't realized it had been almost two weeks since checking in here.

There has been some epic crap going on in my life and I have been licking my wounds. I don't want to get into it all here - but seriously - EPIC.

But then this weekend, a few bright spots. Me, the girl who is a disaster at flirting has had some successful moments and really, that's all it takes to get the old confidence back.

After some disappointing efforts with online dating... the type of circumstances that make you want to just give up all together, there are some interesting prospects.

Even better, men emerge in real life. How about that?
A handsome man came into the studio for business portraits, and my adorable co-worker (who I just want to put in my pocket so as to have constant access to her wit) said, "TRS, do you want to take this one?"
Why yes. I do!

He started flirting at square one... and while that could be awkward, this flirtation was welcome. There was a mutual attraction, mutual flirtation - and dare I say mutual admiration. Now Adorable Co-Worker is trying to figure out how to give him my number when he comes back to pick up his CD!

Then as I was about to leave a party on Saturday night, the hostess introduced me to a friend of hers. Cute, fit and funny - when he told me he was a Chiropractor I had to resist the urge to announce... "Hey, I need to marry a Chiropractor so I can have daily adjustments!" (Seriously, my back is jacked up!) Instead, I engaged him in witty banter, up until the point he announced that he was a little buzzed on his beer - and I concurred due to the fact that he had just begun using profanities to woo me! I left without giving him my number.

Then tonight, I had a first time meeting with an online suitor. I wasn't terribly excited about him but agreed to meet him to speed up the elimination process. I actually came at it from the attitude of, "I'll give him a chance." which turned out to be further proof to follow my gut instincts.

Let's call him Vincent. (not his real name) Vincent texted me to say he wanted to take me out to dinner. I suggested Sunday night after work. Over the next 25 texts ... he proposed that I drive to his neighborhood (mistake #1) where there is indeed a wide selection of restaurants. But let's face it... if he's not going to travel to the woman's vicinity for the first date, it's a bad sign. Not very gentlemanly... then, he proceeded to suggest a number of different establishments without settling on one. ... I had to inquire twice about what time we would meet.

As I left my ... ahem... centrally located residence.... I texted that I was heading to the area we agreed upon but still didn't know where we were meeting. I seriously considered going back home based on the fact that we didn't have a firm plan. I continued. (Mistake #2)

I arrived at the neighborhood... one of those new urban/ suburban neighborhood centers... and still didn't know which restaurant to go to. I wandered around just to see what was all there. I spotted an Indian restaurant (a favorite) and went to read the menu posted on the window.
Within seconds, a waiter stepped out the door to point out a mama duck who was nesting in the planter near the door... and warned that she was calm but protective. He invited me inside to read their menu and avoid aggravating the mama duck.

The waiter was very friendly and kind so I confided about my strange date who has yet to tell me where to meet him. Waiter suggested that I have a drink at their bar and then tell Vincent, when he texts, that I'm content with a drink, come find me.
I liked that plan and did so.

A few texts later, Vincent finds me. He is loud. Very loud. I mean, I am a loud girl myself and I found it off-putting!! Vincent has a few beers and starts stroking my arm. I skooch to the other edge of my bar stool.

Vincent visits the bathroom and Waiter checks in on me. I share that he's not my type, but nice enough.

Vincent returns and displays a lack of sophistication that would shame a 15 year old boy. Continues stroking my arm, making me want to boil it when I get home.
He starts touching my leg.

Vincent visits the bathroom again and Waiter, who we learn is 22 years old and 20 times more mature and charming than my Internet date, checks in on me again. I share that Vincent needs to stop touching me.

Vincent returns and Waiter engages us both in conversation, making the rest of the evening much more enjoyable for me! Waiter leaves us alone long enough for Vincent to tell me about his brief stint in prison.
Yeah. Prison.

We finish our meal and we get up to part.
Vincent says, "I get the feeling you're not real touchy-feely but how about a hug?"
"Thanks I'd rather not."
Without another word, he tosses his arms in the air and retreats to the bathroom again.
I call after him, "Thanks for dinner!" and high-tail it out of there... thanking Waiter for his excellent wing man skills. Waiter offers to walk me to my car. (I decline)

When I get home, I find this final text from creepy Vincent:
"Hey, I'm really sorry for whatever happened to you but loose my number and get a toothe whitener"
spelling genius, His.

Dude. You spent time in prison and the issue here is MY TEETH?
Yes, they are discolored due to the prescription of Tetracycline for Croup when I was a baby. Most people just comment on my beautiful smile.

Yep, prime example of available men out there... just waiting for a woman like me. No wait... rejecting a woman like me! Har Har!

I'm kinda hoping Adorable Co-Worker pulls through on the business photo guy for me! I'm planning to introduce her to Waiter.

And yes, I washed my arm with soap when I got home.