Truth in Advertising

Somewhere in my internet excursions, I came across this little gem as a profile for an internet dating site:

The first thing I had to do was to check and see if I’ve been sleep-posting to dating sites again.  The second thing I needed to do was to install security cameras to catch whoever is spying on me, because really, this is just plain creepy.  The third thing I did was to ponder this poignant missive, and wonder why there is rarely any truth to online dating profiles.  As a service to you, my loyal readers and followers, I have decided to create a list of common dating profile phrases and define them for you.  You’re welcome in advance.

  • Average Body Type: This is a phrase that needs further clarification in so many ways
  • Must love pets: Crazy cat lady
  • Currently caring for parents: Lives at home
  • Friendly, outgoing personality: Starts bar room brawls at noon at the local saloon
  • People person: See above
  • Loves video games: Basement dweller
  • Occasional smoker: Closet chain-smoker
  • Investor: Buys scratch-off tickets at the local gas station
  • Loves working out: Loves working out what’s for dinner and whether to watch Maury or Dr. Phil
  • Loves hiking: Parks the car at the far end of Wal-Mart once weekly
  • Enjoys quiet afternoons antiquing: Hoarder
  • I enjoy fine wine by candlelight: Lush and possible arsonist
  • I’m laid back and easygoing: Neurosis still to be diagnosed
  • My friends say I’m fun: They have to, it’s what I’m paying them for
  • Seeking a partner in crime:   My last one is doing ten years because s/he didn’t run fast enough
  • Seeking a causal relationship: Married
  • Looking for friendship: See above
  • Love romantic dinners by candlelight: Will stick a candle in the napkin holder at McDonald’s
  • Very open minded: To my own ideas

Ok, I may seem a little harsh, but if you must know, my own online dating stories have been pretty much epic fails.  From the guy in the questionable hairpiece (I swear it was moving) to the one who claimed he was 6’4” and was actually a circus midget in real life (no really, he was in the circus, born and raised), I have been stalked, the recipient of highly inappropriate pictures (which I didn’t ask for, I’ll have you know), and otherwise disappointed to the point that I hardly even change out of sweatpants for dates anymore.  I have the escape text pre-programmed into my phone, and I carry mace in my purse.  Not the spray; an actual mace.

What if online profiles just said what they mean?  Read this one I recently posted on a dating site:

I’m just putting this profile up to get likes on the cute picture of me and my dog.  I hate to go anywhere, and doing things is usually too much of a bother.  My main profile picture is from eighty years ago when I was a cheerleader in high school.  I may have gained five, ten, a hundred and ninety pounds since then.  I hate people.  I especially hate people anywhere near me.  Ever.  I enjoy the quiet comfort of my couch and a healthy dinner of chocolate cake and Captain Crunch.  I snort when I laugh and have been known to belch at a funeral.  I think I look sexy in my fuzzy sweatshirt with the coffee stain on the sleeve.  Ok, on the sleeves.  Ok, on the sleeves and collar. I think I look sexy in my fuzzy sweatshirt covered in coffee stains and chocolate sauce. I really want to find someone who loves me unconditionally and gives me the attention I need while leaving me alone 99% of the time.  If you want to get back to me, that’s fine.  I don’t really care either way.  If we end up going on a date I’ll have to get dressed and leave the house, so it’s okay if you don’t contact me.  In fact, don’t bother. I’m kind of a bitch anyway. 

Still waiting on the right swipes to start rolling in. They’re coming though, any day now.

What if there was a dating site that matched you with pet profiles?  What do you think? Wow, I wasn’t even thinking THAT, you guys are sick.  Seriously. Ewww.

What I meant was, you could look at their profile and see their pets and connect through your love of animals.  They could call it Puppy Love, and the motto would be:

“Who cares about the owner, check out this adorable kitten.”

It’s impossible to be disappointed with the outcome of any date that included a fantastic pet encounter as well. Heck, I’d suffer through a bad date just to hang out with a kitten or pupper. You just can’t go wrong meeting a cute bundle of fluff. The guy (or gal) might be an asshole, but hey, at least you met a new doggo! Can you imagine the break-up? Yeah, so, I don’t think this is going to work. You’re an asshole. But I can still visit Caden the Corgi, right?  Right!?

Dear Mom – Things They Don’t Teach in School

Yesterday. Whew. What a long day, for all of us.

Dad had the biopsy on his lungs yesterday.  To say I was nervous and afraid is an understatement.

I decided to tag along to keep you company.  You’re my mom, but you’re so much more.  My friend, my confidant, my rock.  And dad?  He has always, always been there for me, no matter what. So of course, I was going to be there for him.

While thinking of you both last night, after all was said and done, I took a moment to reflect on the differences that separate us, and also those that connect us, as they do in any family.  Politics?  Please.  Social issues?  Ugh, no way. I have no doubt that you feel the same. I mean, I got my attitude from somewhere, right? Yet, through it all, I love you.  More than you will ever know.  You’ve done so much over the years for me; I want to be there for you like you are always there for me.

This is not to toot my horn, so to speak. Instead, it’s meant to offer up a heartfelt apology.

Yeah, I choked.  Sure, I’m great at the lighthearted stuff.  I can gossip about the mailman and tell terrible jokes with the best of them in an attempt – perhaps, a misguided attempt – to keep your mind off things.  I can distract you from the bigger picture, if only for a little while, with any number of sarcastic and witty (in my own eyes, at least) observances. I can get super-charged and angry on your behalf; whether it’s at people or situations, I’ll gladly take it on to save you the stress or heartache.  But the serious stuff?  I’m at a loss.

They never taught this stuff in school.

Mom and dad, I wanted to say the right things.  I wanted to do the right things, to offer comfort, hope, and a bit of light in the darkness.  I just am so ridiculously backwards and awkward in serious situations that I don’t know what to say or do. It’s almost funny. Except, it’s not.

I’m sorry I’m not good at small talk or knowing what to say in a painful, frighteningly serious situation.  And I was scared.  Just like you were.  I’m sorry I’m not better at comforting you; I truly wish I knew how.

I hope you both know that I love you more than anything in this world.  I will always be there for you, no matter how awkward or backward I may be at the reassurances and encouragements and comforting phrases.

My heart feels it, oh boy does my heart feel it; if only my mouth could say it.

 

The Classic Battle

One day early last week, on Facebook, I posted a picture of a male actor – you would know him, he was amazing in that thing about the thing (won an Oscar!), with an even more amazing body – posed provocatively, wearing only a micro-Speedo.   I was very pleased at the way the picture focused on his … um, attributes. When I posted the picture, I was hoping to get a bunch of likes and exploit the man, you know, as you do.

Right about now, there are two groups of readers.  Half of you wonder where the picture is, and the other half said, “Well, now, that just isn’t right.”  Okay, so there is also a third group, comprised of members of both groups, who are trying to bleach the picture of the Speedo out of their brains.

Of course I didn’t really post any picture like that.  But I have to wonder; were you more outraged over the idea that I would exploit someone for “likes,” or was that outrage brought about because it was a man?  Men don’t commonly get exploited and paraded around for their bodies instead their talent; that is a privilege usually saved for women.  In fact, it’s expected.

I belong to a Facebook group that focuses on films from the “Golden Age of movies.”  The ground rules are simple: be respectful, no politics, no religion, and discuss classic era movies.  Shouldn’t be too hard, right?

In any group, there is bound to be the one who pushes the rules to the limits.  In this group, one guy not only pushes the limits but crosses them over and over, to the giggling joy of his caveman supporters.  He continues to  post pics of actresses in their most sultry persona and one, he even cropped to be sure her breasts were on clear display…in fact, it was just her breasts, so if he hadn’t mentioned who the actress was, there’s no way you would know. Unless you’re a breast aficionado.

Not all of the actresses he ummm … discusses … are from the classic era either. A cropped, very risqué photo of Catherine Zeta Jones, who is truly a lovely woman (inside and out from what I understand), was duly submitted for inspection and I don’t think she was even born in the classic movie era, let alone acted in any movies from that time-period.  His pics, as no doubt intended, elicit the usual responses from other men, suggesting graphically what they would like to do to the women, among other lewd comments.  The moderator keeps deleting the posts, but somehow the guy is allowed to remain.

Finally, a female member took a stand against this sorry excuse for classic movie discussion.  She made a post about how she’s tired of seeing it, that it’s disrespectful, goes against the rules of the group, and stop being assholes basically – though she was very nice and polite about it … more so than I would’ve been.  Predictably, her post was met by a bunch of men jumping on her saying,  “Just block the guy, choose your battles, it’s not important, get over it, scroll past it, let it go, grow up, stop being a snowflake,” and  complaining that she was “on her soap box,” and that it wasn’t a real problem so why complain, etc.  One guy, who I guess was trying to “help,” said “Agree with the concern, and more, but believe part of the solution is to stay calm and positive. Just breathe.”

As is the norm, although the post she made was calm, cool, and anything but hysterical, she was, quite literally, accused of being hysterical and over-reacting.  The reactions came, of course, from men who have never had to battle these types of attitudes and comments personally; in fact, these same guys are the very culprits who keep feeding the caveman’s posts in the first place.

I am sure there are lots of good guys in my group, too, just like in real life.  Most likely, they stayed quiet throughout all of this to simply keep clear of the scuffle – just like in real life.  The women, as could be predicted, came out in full force to support the female member’s post, rallying around her in true “girl power” form.

The problem is, this idiot guy and his rude followers probably genuinely don’t even perceive a problem.  But come on! Why on earth should a woman have to block someone, scroll past lewd pictures, or just suffer sexism silently? I mean, this question is relevant every day of our lives, but especially in a freakin’ group meant for classic film discussion of all places!  Then, God forbid, a woman has the spiritual fortitude to confront the men and call them out on their overt sexism … well, then she’s down-played, ignored, ridiculed, and gaslighted.

Sexism is real, and it plays out nearly every single freakin’ day in women’s lives. Women are taught to ignore it, deal with it, cope with it, and never act on it or they’ll be perceived as “over-reacting” or being “hysterical;” it is, after all, just boys being boys.  When can women unite and finally say, “Enough is enough?” If not now, when!? Sexism is so pervasive that it shows up everywhere and anywhere, even in an innocent group on Facebook that was formed to discuss classic movies.

Granted, this is a small group on Facebook.  Alarmingly, though, Facebook tends to be an interesting and realistic mash-up of the real world. Meaning, the people who are your Facebook friends or fellow group members are representative of a small microcosm of who you would find on the street every day.

Frankly, I think I need some new friends.

Valentine Musings

Exactly 1,792 years ago, in the Central Italian town of Terni, a little boy was born who would grow up to be the subject of over 150 million greeting cards a year, second only to those sent at Christmas. His name was Valentinus of Terni. As an adult he was quite good at converting the Romans to Christianity. This didn’t sit too well with the Roman Emperor Claudius. When the 43 year-old Valentinus politely refused the Emperor’s suggestion to stop converting Romans, Claudius had him beheaded on February 14th, 269.  Ahhh. Good times.

And that’s why on February 14th of every year we celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving flowers, candy, jewelry, and greeting cards to those we love.  Yeah, I’m sorry. I just don’t see the connection.  It actually wasn’t until the Middle Ages that people started celebrating Valentine’s Day.  Now, here we are, centuries later, with the notion of gifting our loved ones with chocolates and over-sized bears a part of our cultural fabric, except for that brief, yet fun, period when insults were all the rage.

It starts in kindergarten. First, making a little construction-paper and doily covered mailbox to hold all our valentines – that was my favorite part, I’ll have to admit. Then exchanging little cards with each other, the teacher making sure that everyone got one. In grade school, we’d make construction-paper red and white hearts for our parents and a select few of our more crush-worthy classmates. In junior high (this was in the years before “middle school” became a thing), we became much more selective, and secretive, when acknowledging Valentine’s Day with classmates.  With high school (at least, my high school) came the single roses or carnations sold by the PTA for $2 a piece…flowers that would be delivered to the classrooms at some point in the day for all our fellow students to behold and admire.

As adults, we moved on to more serious gift giving. Last year, Americans spent $19.7 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts. I’m pretty sure that the majority of that money was spent on gifts to soothe ruffled feathers, hold on to troubled relationships, or for relationship “prospecting.” But hey, whatever moves the economy along and provides for 50% off candy the day after, I’m all for it. At least, the 50% off candy part.

As for me, I’m spending Valentine’s Day as a single person this year. Believe or not, I find it quite liberating.  Single adults have been emancipated from what I call “The Great Valentine’s Day Duty Dash.” You’ve all probably witnessed this great phenomenon. It is a double tidal wave of frantic people flooding CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and 7-11 stores across the country, desperately looking for something (preferably not too expensive) that they can give a significant other to celebrate a holiday that somehow was able to sneak up on them.

The first wave arrives on the evening of February 13th. They look like a horde of locusts stripping a Kansas wheat field. Candy, cards, cheap perfume, wine, flowers, teddy bears, candles, Gillette Venus shaving kits.

The second wave arrives around 5:00 PM on February 14th. Rush hour. The stores have desperately tried to restock the shelves, but not much is left.  People begin to realize that if they don’t come home with a Valentine’s Day gift, they might as well just not go home. When they discover that the last of the Snickers bars and My Little Pony Lip Gloss are gone, they fall to the floor and begin flipping about like tuna on the deck of a fishing boat.

As a single person, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. The angst of buying the “right gift,” or any gift, is gone. The decisions about the appropriateness or cost of a gift are non-issues. After spending more years than I would like to admit stressing out over being faulted on my gift choices – as well as my reaction to gifts given to me, I’m glad to have a break in the routine. When I was younger, I didn’t think it would ever be possible, but my experiences have dimmed the shine of cupids and hearts and hastily thrown together reservations at that candlelit Italian restaurant. And that’s okay too. That life was not all it was cracked up to be, trust me, and no amount of Valentine’s Day pageantry would’ve fixed it. I’ve since found that what I want in a relationship is something deeper, something real, something that doesn’t need to be glossed over with decorative red and pink trappings to keep it afloat.  Now, I have different romantic goals.

When my soulmate and I do connect on Valentine’s Day? It won’t be with heart-shaped boxes of candy and cards and cute stuffed animals or a reservation at that exclusive, yet somehow still overly crowded, restaurant with a fixed holiday menu. It will be with whiskey and action movies and dancing in the living room. And ice cream. Or cheesecake. I’m good either way.

With a Spooky Girl Like You…

Mark Twain made an interesting observation that may or may not be true, but these days it certainly makes sense. “Man is the only animal who blushes…or needs to.” The “…or needs to” is the key phrase here. We do some pretty crazy things, that’s for sure. When it comes to sex, crazy can get even crazier. A case in point is a 27-year-old English woman who claims to have such mind-blowing sex with ghosts that she has given up having sex with men.

Amethyst Realm (yes, that’s her name – I couldn’t make this up any better if I tried), of Bristol, says that she’s had sex with over “twenty ghosts.” The first time was 12 years ago when she felt a “presence in the house” which, naturally, just escalated to doing the deed. At which point, she was hooked. This ethereal affair lasted for three years until her husband came home early from work one day and caught her. Or rather, caught the shadow of her lover on the wall of their shared home. While no details were given about this “unveiling” of the truth, presumably the marriage ended at that point because her husband isn’t mentioned again in her story. If you ask me, I think that her infidelity would have been the least of her husband’s concerns. But hey, that’s just me.

Undeterred by this turn of events, Ms. Realm apparently let the spirit world know that she was available for some spectral shenanigans, because over 20 ghosts have since stopped by. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m not slut spirit-shaming by any means. The sex is so good, she claims, that she’s given up on living, breathing men altogether. Hey, to each their own, I guess…?

To take it one step further, she even wants to get pregnant by one of her ghostly companions. I’m not sure if she’s discussed this with her spectral buddies or not, but I can’t help but think that ghosts aren’t exactly up for co-parenting. I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time, won’t be the last. But I’ve always assumed that hauntings and otherworldly goings-on would take up a huge chunk of their time. I’m also really curious as to how child support would work in that scenario…or, if the baby took after dear old Dad, how she would even keep track of her spawn offspring (cause, you know, it would be invisible), but, whatever. I’m not even going to touch on the intricacies of childbirth. If horror movies have taught me anything, it’s that ghost-human pregnancies are nothing if not a very, very bad idea.

Now, I’m not saying that Ms. Realm has lost it. That’s not my place. I will say, however, that I hope she gets the help she so desperately needs. Whether that’s from a shrink or a demonologist is up for grabs.

Some psychiatrists believe that she suffers from “sleep paralysis.”  It’s a condition where one gets stuck between a sleeping state and wakefulness. You feel immobilized. You can sense a “presence” near you. You can feel as though someone is touching you. I guess at that point, anything can happen. Our minds are strange, complicated things.

If, per chance, her story belongs in the true-romance section of the bookstore, instead of the horror section…it flies in the face of everything I’ve ever learned about paranormal activity and my entire life has been a lie. With the one exception of “The Entity,” I’m much more accustomed to ghosts and other demonic entities trying to murder people in incredibly creative ways instead of searching the earthly realm for hook-ups.

Truth be told, maybe she’s just having a bit of fun with all of us. Then again, maybe it’s just a spooky kind of love.

 

A Brief History of Online Dating

I know I’ve been talking a lot about dating lately, but as I have ventured back into the scene over the past year, I find myself doing what I do with a lot of new subjects of interest – overanalyzing. Hey, what can I say? It’s what I do best.

So, anywho, speaking of dating, let’s take a look at a phenomenon that generates over $2.5 billion in revenue per year: online dating sites. Online dating sites are used by 15% of Americans (don’t ask me to prove those figures, but I swear, I found them somewhere, I didn’t just make them up).  Our society’s demands on our time make the opportunity of finding a dating partner or, heaven forbid, a mate, problematic. Dating sites have become the cattle calls of personal interaction. This is not, however, something that sprang from the loins of the Internet.  The concept has been around for a long time. In fact, for thousands of years. Here are some of the more notable sites from my vivid and bored imagination history, yeah of course, history.

Hemo-tab-ra’s Sphinx Sylphs – Giza, Plateau of Giza, Kingdom of Egypt – 2497 BC

Hemo-tab-ra, an enterprising naturalized Hittite, gained a lucrative contract from Pharaoh Khafre to provide the workers who had just finished The Sphinx, and were now hard at work on the pyramids, with women. For a jar of beer, a worker could attach a short note to the base of The Sphinx that described himself. Local women could peruse the ads for 30 minutes in exchange for a small basket of wheat.  They would take their chosen ad to Hemo-tab-ra, who would set up the meeting at sunset. Egyptologists have even found and translated one of the ads:

“Jaru-al-tep, I am NOT near death.  I have all my arms and legs

and most of my teeth.

 I have eighteen toes and eight and-a-half fingers.

Only three open sores.

I love small animals and crying.

Looking for a woman.  That’s it.  Just a woman. PLEASE!

Balderic’s Beauties – Château d’Ainay-le-Vieil, Cher, France – 1301

Balderic le Lubrique saw an incredible marketing opportunity when the local women complained about the lack of men due to the fact that they were still on their way back from the Third Crusade. For the sensible price of 6 Denier (the same amount you’d spend on a fat capon), village ladies could put up notices on the wall of the Château. For an extra 2 Denier, Balderic would attach a drawing of the lady. In reality, they looked more like French cave dwelling pictures of Mastodons being speared, but hey, whatever works…and this apparently worked. This ad was found in cellar of the Château during renovations.

Angélique la Salope: I am 22.

My parents are worried that I will never marry and remain an

old maid forever, thus draining their finances and patience.

Cuddling in front of the fireplace to read a book would be wonderful

except for the fact that I can’t read or write

since women cannot go to school in our village.

My parents want grandchildren…

As for me, I just want a man who will not relieve himself on the kitchen floor.

“Do You Want Your Ashes Hauled?” – Advertisement in the New York Tribune – 1912

“Hauling Ashes” was a post-Victorian euphemism for “doing the nasty.” This was the first co-ed dating site. Someone would place an ad and ask for a response to a Box at the newspaper…”serious inquiries only.” The New York Public Library Archives reportedly has this ad on file in their vast records:

Proper Gramercy Park woman, widow

seeking discreet gentleman adorned with stately head of hair for social intercourse.

I have my own home that features window shades, and my own Victrola.

I prefer afternoon or early evening tea-time “meetings.”

Of note – a meal of any sort should not be presumed

Only those gainfully employed and with clean finger nails need apply.

Of course, the internet has changed the game. Some modern dating sites require the completion of exhaustive questionnaires. You’re simply too tired to date afterwards…or at least you need a nap first. Others feature the convenient “swipe left or right” feature to secure a furtive assignation. Not that I’m dismissing the whole “swipe left or right” thing outright, but let’s just say spur of the moment decisions in the love arena have never exactly boded well for me. Well, except for that one time…oh, nevermind, I digress.

One thing that has definitely changed over the years is the move away from simple facts and requests, and more towards flowery mendacity.  I mean, I know we all live for the moment when we enter the coffee shop to meet our online date, only to hear them chuckle and say, “Oh, I guess you can tell that my profile picture was taken about 20 years ago. When I was sober. And had hair. And showering was more of a thing.”

Hemo-tab-ra!  Where are you when we need you?

 

Dating Games

Most of us haven’t been lucky enough in love to have found our soulmate while we were playing in the sand box during recess in Kindergarten. How nice would it have been to cross off “Find the One” on our list of Life Goals back before we could read? No, for 99% of us, we weren’t so fortunate. We didn’t find “the one” before getting a driver’s license. We weren’t flaunting our promise ring at pep rallies.

As much as we’ve tried to fight it, most of us regular folk have had to wade through the dreaded social purgatory known as dating. Some of us have been thrown back into the dating pool more than once. As you are probably aware, the entire process of dating is a very difficult and often scary endeavor.

Meeting up with someone you hardly know? Terrifying. What if the date goes poorly right from the start? What if he shows up drunk? What if he makes a stupid joke? What if his breath stinks? Hell, what if HE stinks? What if he’s an ax murderer? There are so many valid fears that can flood the brain as you walk through the doors of the restaurant/café/zoo/bookstore to meet your date.

Nowadays, we have online dating. It’s supposed to make everything easier, but in fact it comes with its own series of perils. Getting to “know” someone online is so much different than meeting face-to-face. (“Know” is in quotations because the anonymity of the internet doesn’t really allow two people to get that close physically or emotionally. So how well can you actually get to “know” someone online? I mean, it’s all predicated on the parties being honest, and well, in this day and age, we all know how that can go.)

In some cases, having that digital distance between yourself and your suitor can be a good thing. I personally find it easier to speak my mind when I have a little time to formulate a reply to questions. My written responses have more depth to them and I represent who I am better in the written word. In person, there’s always the chance that nerves and anxiety will get the best of me and I’ll blurt out the first thing that comes into my head, and that’s not always a good thing, trust me. Such is the life of a raging introvert.

Those of you who are familiar with the online dating process know that in most cases there are only two roads to go down when you’ve identified someone you might want to get to know better. Option #1: Either you or the person you’re corresponding with loses interest after a while and—POOF—one day they’re gone. No explanation. No reasoning. Just gone. Try not to take it personally. It happens to all of us. Option #2: The dreaded meet-up. Now, this is where it gets tricky.

Everyone gets nervous before a first date, but I’ve found that the things we’re scared of are usually completely different depending on one’s gender.  Men are often afraid they’ll show up and find that the woman sitting across from them looks nothing like their pictures. Yes, the chance that she might be 20 or even 30 pounds heavier than she claimed to be is usually the biggest fear that keeps many men up at night. Or so I’ve been told by the men I’ve discussed this topic with (yes, I did my research).

In fact, in what seemed like a moment of kismet, just as I was finishing up drafting this entry the other day, a member of a group I belong to on Facebook posted about the anxiety he was feeling over getting the number of a woman at work – apparently a colleague of his thought that he and this female coworker would hit it off. Well, since the colleague couldn’t describe this woman to his satisfaction (or else, he didn’t trust the description), he asked said colleague to surreptitiously take a photo of her and text it to him, you know so he could see that she didn’t resemble “large Marge,” a character from Pee -Wee’s Big Adventure. Only then would he be interested in even getting her number. I’ll leave it to ya’ll who don’t know the character to Google it.

Women, on the other hand, are mostly afraid they got suckered into a date with an ax murderer itching to use the new tools he has stashed in his trunk, and that their body will be dumped into a garbage can before the night is through.

Dating games. Aren’t they fun?