Part Nine–Oh, Do Tell*
*This one gets a little graphic so if you’re my kid, you may want to pass on it. Although I think one section provides an excellent tutorial on how a person should never interact with another, but if you’re my kid you know this already.
During my foray into the online dating world, I kept my friends and family entertained with stories about my latest disasters, which is how these blog posts initially came about. On Monday mornings my co-workers would seek me out for news about what had happened over the weekend with dates I’d been on or details about the emails and texts I’d received. They laughed at the hilarious and horrifying details as well as the week-by-week show-and-tell of the wackiest profile photos that had shown up in my Daily Matches. Like the guy who was barely holding a towel around his waist, covering up his otherwise naked and bony body. I titled that one, “Please Don’t Let Go of the Towel, Please!” Or the fellow who was the spitting image of David Coverdale from Whitesnake, what with his long wavy hair and his silky shirt that was unbuttoned to his belly button. (Take a moment now to prepare yourself for a flurry of Whitesnake references. Deep breath because these songs may stay in your head for days … ) So sorry Here I Go Again, I didn’t “Come an’ Get It” because I wasn’t “Ready an’ Willing.” Finally, our collective favorite photo, the gentleman in bike shorts who was standing in a gym bathroom taking a mirror selfie of his non-existent behind. Flat Stanley had an expression of pain on his face from being so contorted in twisting around to capture his deflated heinie that we are all still fairly certain that he continues to receive the services of a chiropractor on a weekly basis.
Not only did my colleagues ask to see the photos but they also requested that I recite the profile narratives with–as my aunt used to say about reading the newspaper bridge column–enthusiasm. Here’s one:
“I am a Blackjack Dealer. I am looking to have some fun behind closed doors. I am not into sports, I am into the entertainment business, and I love to drink.”
It was profiles such as this one that I realized my algorithms had gotten completely screwed up somewhere in the process. An alcoholic casino worker with a potential hobby as an amateur porn director was not exactly who I was looking for as my soulmate.
Another one was a bot, or a male Maria-Butina-Russian-operative, which I liked to read while employing a legitimately terrible accent: “I am Smith by name … i will like to meet someone who is ready for serious relationship and make happy family.”
And to that I was tempted to reply, “Give best to Vlad.”
When writing a profile, you have thousands of words from which to choose so it’s interesting what this particular fellow decided to use to describe himself:
“Lover of life & a gentleman & very hygienic.”
He was not kidding about the last part. He was exceptionally tidy, like a real life Mr. Clean but with hair and each strand was slicked back in its own proper place. He was wearing a tight fitting white polo shirt that looked as though it had been bleached, starched, and ironed, quite possibly while still on his excessively strength-trained body. Through the computer screen, I swear I could smell the steroids in his super-duper-pumped biceps and pecs. My Inner Dirtbag Runner stumbled out of her van, yawned, and said, “Hell no, dude. Like, way too fussy. He’ll totes freak about your showering schedule, or lack thereof. Also, you have any more of that matcha chai latte?”
Then there was this profile, which I swear that I did not fabricate although I wish I had. But, honestly, I could not make this up. The photos confirmed all of the below:
“I a deplorable. I <3 country music, camping, 4 wheeling, and guns. Also hiking but had to take a break because my leg was amputated. Waiting for the prosthetic to start again. Dancing is out for a while. 🙂 Have passport. <3 cruising. 7 kids and 9 G-babies.”
Again with my effed up algorithms.
Almost every Friday I went out to dinner with my friend Taller Me. We met when our kids were young and we lived across the street from each other. We bonded over our similar childhoods in the mountains of Montana and Colorado, our creative pursuits, our unexpected divorces, and our shared enthusiasm for wine. Late into our Friday dinners, we would often grab our phones and show each other the men we were communicating with and compare notes about the ones we had in common.
“Don’t bother with this one. He hasn’t changed his profile photo in 10 years,” Taller Me told me about a lawyer in Phoenix.
“This one will ask you to participate with him in acro-yoga,” I told her.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Couples yoga with crazy Cirque du Soleil-like poses,” I said, showing her photos of flexible half-naked couples posed on beaches while delicately balancing one another on feet and shoulders or abdomens like an Alexander Calder stabile.
“Yeah, no,” we said in unison.
Years ago, I played tennis with two women whose friendships I’ve cherished even more than their powerful serves and assassin-like net games. When I saw Partner 1 and Partner 2 for dinner and a movie every few months, they too wanted updates. They’ve both been married for decades so they were somewhat intrigued by later-in-life dating. One night, I told them about Most Likely Married, a guy who kept messaging me but never wanted to meet, which was OK because he seemed sort of boring. His texts were brief and centered around how busy he was at work and with his kids. One night while at dinner with my friends, he sent me a message, which I shared with them.
“‘Hi Sexy, how was your day?'” I read. “Sexy? He’s never called me that before. He, in fact, has never called me anything,” I told them.
“Oh no, you’re not Sexy, you’re Hot Stuff,” Partner 1 said.
“Right” I told her, rolling my eyes.
“Go,” she said as Partner 2 laughed.
“Really?” I asked.
“Come on,” she said so I typed, “Sexy? I prefer Hot Stuff.” Then I added three laughing emojis because, really.
“That works for me,” he immediately messaged with a winking emoji. “Permission to think naughty thoughts, Hot Stuff? Haha.”
My friends thought this little exchange was somewhat exciting. Me, not so much. The direction this back-and-forth was taking made me a bit nervous.
“What are you going to say?” Partner 2 asked.
“‘Take a cold shower,'” I typed, then sent with a shower head emoji.
He did not. His messages escalated a few days later when he sent me this: “Want to taste your p****. You like?”
No, I did not like. Not at all. So I wrote, “But Most Likely Married, I don’t have a cat.”
“That’s fine lol. Hope you want my c*** though.”
To which I wrote, “Who knew that you owned a rooster!”
And then I blocked him.
After that, I took some time off from the whole dating enterprise. Most Likely Married made me realize how exhausted I was of this absurd process, cranky about the shabby behavior I’d witnessed, and sad that I was spending so much time so futilely. Plus during this odd and unforeseen journey, I’d never cried more in my life. Daily, at the beginning, and I’m not a crier by nature. But I was still grappling with loss on a number of levels–my kids living thousands of miles away; a job I really enjoyed but had to leave; a man who I had loved but who had so easily dumped me; and a life that just didn’t feel like mine. Add to this equation six months of constant rejection and completely failing to make even one decent connection through the various dating sites and apps and the sum total was a woman who had a case of The Uns–I felt unlovable, unmatchable, undesirable, uninteresting, and unhappy, all of which eroded my mood, confidence, and resilience for many more months than I care to admit.
If only comedian Daniel Sloss’ brilliant Netflix show “Jigsaw” had been released in 2016 rather than 2018, I likely would have had a clearer outlook on what I was looking for from the get-go and a fiercer attitude about being A-OK with my singledom. I recommend his show to everyone because his insights into relationships, especially the essential one with yourself, kick the social norm view of romance in the teeth. “Jigsaw” has led to hundreds of divorces and tens of thousands of breakups of relationships that were going nowhere or had died long before. In 2018, when I watched the show for the first of three times, the following quote resonated inside me with the force of a shot of tequila. That is to say, oh my God, my throat is a-fire and in 15 minutes I might punch several walls just for fun because I now understand the meaning of life: ” … the worst thing you can do with your life is to spend it with the wrong person. There are 7.5 billion people in this world and you found a soulmate just 50 miles from your house? What a coincidence! I’m not saying that finding love is impossible. It’s just that statistically, you most likely haven’t found it. I’m sure that 80% of all relationships are fake. It’s just that there are a bunch of people who don’t know how to be alone and are making other people waste their precious time.”
Next time: Part Ten–But Instead I Continue to Waste My Own Precious Time: My Night as a Cougar