About Me

February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

Today is February 29th, a.k.a. Leap Day! Several celebrities have had February 29th birthdays: musician Jimmy Dorsey, actress Dinah Shore, self-help star Tony Robbins, rapper Ja Rule, and, disturbingly, Aileen Wuornos, the prostitute-turned-serial-killer played by Charlize Theron in the movie “Monster.”

But what does Leap Day mean for singles? Plenty! Tradition has it that women can do the marriage-proposing on Leap Day or, in some places, anytime during a Leap Year. Although some say this tradition originated with St. Patrick or with Brigid of Kildare in fifth century Ireland, there’s no evidence of it existing prior to the nineteenth century. Some people conflate this “Ladies’ Privilege” of Leap Day with Sadie Hawkins Day -- but Sadie Hawkins Day was invented by Al Capp in his Li’l Abner comic strip back in November 1937, and for the next 40 years it was celebrated in November.

There’s also a story, according to Wikipedia, that “a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow.” I appreciate that the law probably made men take marriage proposals from women seriously, but somehow I don’t think I’d want a guy to marry me just to avoid a fine....

Happy Leap Day, everyone!

February 28, 2008

my only Match mistake

As I said in my January 28th review of Match.com, I met some really nice guys through that site. In fact, looking back over the past year, I realize that the few relationships I had that went anywhere at all, however briefly, were with guys I met on Match.

My only truly bad experience was late last spring/early summer, when a guy from Match whom I’ll call the Total Flake e-mailed me. He lived on Long Island and claimed to be a professional astrologer (that should’ve been my first warning sign). We had only exchanged a couple of e-mails when he asked if we could talk by phone, which I (mistakenly) thought boded well -- I figured it meant he wouldn’t just e-mail me for weeks and never suggest getting together. So we talked one night, and it turned out he’d met his previous girlfriend on Match six or seven years earlier, and they had lived together for five years when he’d lived in Arizona, but they had broken up a few months earlier. She was the first and only woman he’d ever met on Match.

Anyway, the Total Flake and I had a fine talk, and he said he’d give me a call again later in the week…which turned out to be the next night. And the night after that, and the night after that, etc. I got to know the Total Flake well during so many calls. He told me how he’d traveled through Central and South America, had become fluent in Spanish, and that South Americans were so much more receptive to astrology than North Americans.

“So you actually make your living as an astrologer?” I finally asked him point-blank. He back-pedaled a bit (second warning sign) and said, well, he would eventually, but he was also living with his mother on Long Island and managing his late father’s investments. Uh-huh.

Then he explained that he had a lot of severe sinus issues, and he’d even had surgery at one point, but it had gone so badly it had made him worse, and sometimes he had to sleep sitting up and let his nose drain out. Nice, huh? I’m all for honesty, but let me get to know you better before you dump your baggage on me, please!

I was able to find out so much about him because he ended up calling me every night for nearly TWO WEEKS. It made me wonder. I’d been on Match for six months at that point, so I knew that you could connect well with someone on the phone but end up having nothing to say to them in person, and vice versa. Why was he investing all this time in me when we might not even like each other once we met in person?

The other thing that gave me pause was that he was always on Match – and I mean literally ALWAYS. Whenever you log on, you can see which of your matches are “on-line now!” or when they were last on the site. Whenever I logged on, no matter what time of the day or night, it always said he was “on-line now!” It seemed like he was on the site 24/7.

One Thursday evening, during what must have been our 13th phone call, the Total Flake finally, at long last, suggested meeting in person. I said sure, and he said he could come into the city on Saturday and we could meet somewhere around Grand Central. “I’ll give you a call tomorrow night and we’ll pick a time and a place,” he promised.

The next night was Friday. I didn’t have any plans, so I came home from work, had dinner, and was puttering around when I suddenly realized it was 10:00 PM, and for the first time in two weeks, the Total Flake hadn’t called. I got on-line and noted that, as always, he was on Match. I called him, and his machine picked up. I left him a message saying I was just calling to touch base about when and where we were meeting tomorrow. Then I immediately checked Match, and saw he had logged off. Five minutes later, I checked again – and he was back on!

He never called me that night. In fact, he never called me again. On Saturday afternoon I checked my e-mail, and he had written to me that morning. I deleted the e-mail in a fit of rage soon afterward, but as I recall, he’d written something like, “Hi, Dating Guru, I’m afraid I won’t be able to meet up with you today. Things that have been said during our conversations have led me to believe we would have little chance of being friends, let alone more.”

??? Why on earth did he waste his time talking to me every night for two weeks if we had “little chance” of even being friends, “let alone more”? Ever since then, I’ve tried to cut out the awkward-phone-call stage with these on-line guys. Send me a few e-mails, then let’s get together and see how things go in person. My time is valuable to me, and I never want to waste it in that way again.

I believe I know the Total Flake’s horoscope for the future -- and it says, “You will remain single for all time." Ugh!

February 26, 2008

Are married people taken more seriously?

My sister and brother-in-law had a party last Saturday celebrating his birthday, and the one thing he wanted was to perform a few songs with his band. Since they live in an apartment complex, and there was no way to avoid it being a little on the loud side, the band purposely played for us in the early evening, finishing at about 8 PM. As they were taking the equipment out the front door, two police officers calmly walked in through the back – someone had complained about the noise.

“You really can’t be doing karaoke or anything like that in an apartment complex,” one cop said gruffly. “You could get evicted.” (As my sister and brother-in-law noted later, that was pretty funny considering they always pay their rent on time and their complex has empty apartments all over the place!) My sister, wisely, yessed them to death as they lectured us and took a good look around, but there really, really, REALLY wasn’t anything to see. There wasn’t even any alcohol being served, and even if there had been, almost everyone in attendance was at least 30 years old.

But the most interesting thing was what happened when one of the cops asked my sister, “So you’re the owner of this apartment?”

“We rent, yes. Me and my husband,” she said.

As soon as she said the word ‘husband,’ the cop visibly relaxed. “Oh! You and your husband!” he said. The lecture stopped, he took down her name and phone number, and left without even issuing a noise citation. We couldn’t figure out why the fact that she was married seemed to reassure him so much. It’s flattering to imagine that we all appeared young enough to be a bunch of wild college kids, but we don’t look THAT young! I just think there is a tendency for married people to be taken more seriously, to be thought of as “real adults.” Once you turn 18, you graduate from high school and you can vote; once you turn 21, you can drink. But after that, in order to have any other real celebrations that people will truly honor, that they will drop everything for to come and witness, you have to get married. No one throws “congratulations, you’ve moved out of your parents’ house” showers, or “great, you got your first real job” parties -- at least not formal ones with religious ceremonies, like a wedding, where friends and relatives pledge to support your life together as a couple. It would be nice if everyone could have some sort of ceremony at age 21 or 22 where friends and relatives could come together to pledge their support for your adult life, period – whether you ever get married or not.

Better that than adapting a ritual from some remote Amazonian village in Brazil, where to be considered an adult, you have to stick your hand into a swarm of angry, stinging giant ants (see http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/places/culture-places/beliefs-and-traditions/brazil_initiationwithants.html).


February 25, 2008

Millionaire Matchmaker

Has anyone else seen that “Millionaire Matchmaker” show on Bravo? New episodes air on Tuesday nights at 10 PM Eastern Time, but they rerun it throughout the week. The matchmaker in question, Patti Stanger, is a third-generation matchmaker who used to be the director of marketing for Great Expectations, “the largest and oldest dating service in the U.S.,” according to Bravo’s web site. She has long black hair and an intense air about her, and she doesn’t smile much, probably because she takes her calling so seriously. “I really feel like I’m in service to God,” she earnestly said at one point. (And hers is probably the most lucrative service to God there is!)

The series takes place in Los Angeles. There are apparently a lot of millionaire men in L.A. who can’t find the woman of their dreams -- probably because the woman of their dreams is a twenty-something model with Einstein’s brain. But have *you* ever tried telling a millionaire he can’t have exactly what he wants?

In the last episode I caught, three guys were seeking Patti’s “service to God”: Peter, a 46-year-old who got rich doing something dull but who also makes money teaching and selling instructional videos about Qi Gong, defined by Wikipedia as “an aspect of traditional Chinese medicine, some forms of which involve the coordination of different breathing patterns with various physical postures and motions of the body.” He claimed he wanted a woman who was at least 30 years old, smart and spiritual, and NO models or actresses (!). For a while there, I thought Patti was going to ask him out herself!

The other two guys, Tai and German (pronounced Her-MAHN), had been best friends and business partners since college, live in a mansion together, and swore they weren’t gay. ;) I actually liked them more than I’ve liked any other millionaire I’ve seen on the show, maybe because they were younger than most of them (31), so they were more playful and less intense about the whole thing. Ironically, despite ideally wanting to meet women who were sisters or best friends so that they could do everything together, neither of them gave off a gay vibe, which is more than I can say for some other guys who’ve appeared on the show.

Patti threw a party on a boat with 30 or so women she and her staff had hand-picked as potential matches for either Peter, Tai or German. I don’t like that part of the show. It makes me feel like the men are at a horse show or something, examining each woman to judge the best specimen. Tai and German were driving Patti crazy because they would NOT split up and talk to women separately, even though Patti kept trying to make them. Peter was also annoying her, because instead of talking to the mature, spiritual, smart (but still gorgeous, of course) 30-somethings she’d brought on the boat for him, he was chatting up the 20-something model/actresses he’d specifically said he didn’t want!

In the end, they each got to pick one women to go on a date with, and Peter picked a 20-something model/actress from the South who was sweet and friendly, but didn’t have a lot going on upstairs. Naturally, their date was an unintentionally hilarious disaster. At one point, Peter talked about how he donated a significant amount of his money to feed, like, 20,000 hungry families, and the woman actually said, “Yeah, uh-huh. Well, I’ve been trying to cut back on carbs.” !!!

Meanwhile, Tai and German insisted on going on a double date, which may not have been the best move. When the limo pulled up at their place with their dates, they showed up with no shirts on. It was pretty funny, actually, and of course they were only joking and put shirts on before they went on the date. But as Patti said later, that set a tone that they were fooling around and not taking their search for love seriously. They went dancing and then had dinner. German’s date was going well, and the more he touched and cuddled with his date, the more Tai did – only his date wasn’t nearly as into him, and she could tell Tai was being all touchy-feely to keep up with German. In the end, Patti told them they’ll have to – gasp! -- date solo in the future.

Interestingly, Patti’s parents were visiting during this episode. Her mom, a retired matchmaker, asked how her boyfriend was, and Patti admitted she doesn’t have enough time for him since she’s working 24/7 trying to find love for “her millionaires.”

“You never listened to me!” her mom teased her.

“I know, I know – if I had, I’d be married with a gazillion kids right now,” she said with a sigh. “But I always went for the bad boys.”

I guess even growing up with a matchmaker mom and being one yourself still doesn’t guarantee love.

February 22, 2008

Relationship Obituaries

On Valentine’s Day, I read a story in amNY (http://www.amny.com/news/local/ny-bc-ny--relationshipobits0213feb13,0,714272.story) about a new web site called Relationship Obituary (http://www.relationshipobit.com) where people write and submit “obituaries” for their past relationships. Kathleen Horan started the site soon after she and her boyfriend broke up. Sadly, her father died two weeks later, and she found writing his obituary so healing, she thought composing an obituary for her broken relationship might be healing, as well.

Some of the obituaries are boring and badly written (“he was jealous and hostel”). But the best ones stick to the true obituary or eulogy format, specifically listing things the boyfriend or girlfriend would be remembered for, what they would be missed for, and, probably more importantly, what they *wouldn’t* be missed for. Some of them are really sad (“the cause of death was an aortic aneurysm of the relationship, which was aggravated by a yearlong deployment in Iraq”).

I didn’t watch any of the video entries, but amNY talks about one where the woman says she broke up with her boyfriend after she caught him cheating in a Monopoly game with a "whole bunch of $500 bills under him." She said, “My philosophy is, if you're going to cheat in Monopoly so blatantly, what hope do we have really?" Hee hee. ;)

Maybe I should write an obituary for Almost Perfect’s and my relationship (see my January 30th post). We met the day after Valentine’s Day last year, so that could be why I’ve been thinking about him a lot over the past week. When I went to a talk the other night, I could’ve sworn I saw him a few rows ahead of me and I just about froze in my seat. But then the guy turned and I realized it wasn’t him. I know it’s ridiculous. I shouldn’t even remember his name anymore -- we only dated for two months! It was such an intense two months, though. I just know I’m going to run into him in Brooklyn in a couple of years, with his new girlfriend or wife and their baby by his side. I can see the scene so clearly, I almost feel like it’s already happened.

At least I learned one lesson: never let anyone break up with you over e-mail if you can help it. A last talk, some closure, a cup of hot chocolate to drown my sorrows might have made it a little easier.

Or maybe not. Who knows?

February 20, 2008

Dating 9 - 5: Part 2

I met the only other guy from work I ever dated at a junior high school where we both taught ten years ago. What attracted me to him at first was that he was incredibly smart, so I’ll call him the Professor. He also seemed shy, and I’ve always had a soft spot for shy guys. One time we had a staff lunch, and no one even realized the Professor was missing until I went down the hall to get him. I remember distinctly thinking to myself, “I wonder if he would ask me out if I paid a little more attention to him.” So a couple times I went into his classroom to eat lunch with him.

Sure enough, a few weeks later, he stopped by my classroom and asked me out – as he stood in the doorway, a good 25 feet away from me. I found it endearing.

We went out to dinner several times. Even after I ended up quitting the job suddenly one day after a quasi-nervous breakdown, the Professor never held it against me. Since I was living at home at the time, he met my dad. They’d both been history majors in college, so every time we went out, we would come back to my place and he would talk to my dad – at considerable length – about history. The day after I lay down on the living room carpet and fell asleep as they chatted away about esoteric topics I knew nothing about, I realized that he was a better “match” for my dad than for me! That’s when it became clear that the Professor and I were just friends.

Well, it became clear to me, anyway. Although he always refused my offers to pay for my share of dinner, I thought, “Oh, he’s just old-fashioned.” We had never so much as held hands, let alone kissed, and never had any sort of relationship-defining talk, so I assumed he also felt we were just friends.

I moved to Boston for a year, then moved again to settle in New York City. The Professor and I had known each other about three and a half years when I became unemployed again and began spending my time focusing on my social life and dating in earnest. One night my boyfriend at the time answered my apartment phone when it rang. It was the Professor.

When I got on the phone, he acted like everything was normal. But when we met for dinner a month or so later, he suddenly asked, “Who was that guy who answered the phone at your place?”

“Oh, we’ve been dating for the past couple of months,” I said.

“Really??” The Professor looked astonished, then became quiet. He didn’t say too much after that.

Until a couple months later, when we went to the beach. We didn’t bring swimsuits or anything, just walked along the water and had dinner. I was standing on the sand, gazing at the beautiful blue water, when the Professor moved to hug me – and then he kissed me! On the lips! I was stunned, almost literally!

So I did what any sane, mature person would do: pretended it hadn’t happened.

We went to dinner and then got in his car to drive home. But eventually he turned down the radio and asked, “Do you ever think of me as ‘husband material’?”


Of course I had to say no. I just didn’t feel that way about him at all. I explained that he was way too smart for me, that sometimes he talked about topics in a discussion I had no hope of contributing to, that he should find someone more traditional from his Orthodox church to date, etc.

And that, I thought, was that. We stayed friends, though as the years went on, we saw each other less often – every three to four months, on average – and most often when I went home to see my dad (the Professor’s true love :).

But just last week, we met for dinner one night, and I was telling him about my friend’s upcoming wedding. He asked if it was difficult for me to watch “everyone” getting married.

“No, not really,” I said. “Not all of my friends are getting married. And it’s not like I haven’t been dating.”

He nearly dropped his fork. “Really!?” he said. He was quiet for a minute, staring down at his plate. Then he looked at me and asked, “So I still don’t factor into the equation at all?”

It was so awkward! He talked about how we’ve known each other for nearly ten years now, how good we are together, we communicate so well -- though as two of my good friends said, apparently we DON’T if he really thought we still had a shot together!

Then he said, “I’ve asked you to marry me four times!”

Now it was my turn to nearly drop my fork. “What are you talking about?” I said. “A proposal is getting down on one knee and giving a ring. I don’t remember anything like that!”

“It was close enough,” he said. He considered the kiss at the beach a proposal, as well as another time a few years later when he looked at me and said, out of the blue, “You’re going to marry me one day.” (For the record, my response was, “No, I’m not. We’re friends.”) As for the other two times he supposedly proposed – I really have no idea.

So I had to explain again that I just didn’t feel that way about him, that he was a great guy but just not for me, etc. He wanted to know exactly why I didn’t like him in that way (“Is it my glasses? Are they too thick?”). I felt terrible. We talked for a long time, though, and finally he seemed to get the idea.

“Even though this conversation didn’t having the outcome that I’d hoped, I’m glad we talked,” he said. “I was craving intimacy. Not sexual intimacy, but spiritual intimacy.”

I know there’s something reassuring and comforting about a friend you’ve known for a long time; I can understand how for some friends, it turns into more. And it would’ve made my life so much easier if I could’ve just fallen in love with the Professor. If I had, we’d probably have been married for six or seven years by now. But after ten years, I think it’s safe to say it’s never going to happen. Hopefully he finally understands that.


February 19, 2008

Dating 9 - 5

Name: Work
What it is: The place where you show up every day and do stuff in exchange for money
Cost: Free – actually, they pay you to be there!
Random fact: According to The Office Life web site (http://www.theofficelife.com/work-dating-office-romance.html), “a recent survey of 610 working men and women by vaultreports.com showed that 58% of people claimed to have had a workplace relationship, and a surprising 23% admitted to having ‘relations’ on office property.” (Makes you think twice before touching anything in the supply closet, doesn’t it?)
The scoop: I know they say lots of couples meet at work, but if I were counting on my job to supply my social life, I wouldn’t have had a date since 1998. I’ve only been asked out by a co-worker twice, and I only actually went out with one of them – a pretty low number, considering I’m 35 years old and have had a TON of jobs (staying at each one for only a year or two). And both of those co-workers were fellow teachers -- kind of funny, considering the stereotype about 90% of teachers being female. (Middle schools actually have a more even ratio of male to female teachers, in my experience). When I was in my twenties, my single young co-workers had no interest in me, and the rest of my co-workers were at least ten years older. Now that I’m in my thirties, the co-workers in my age group are either already married or gay, and the others are at least ten years younger!

My dates: I’ll call the first guy, simply, the Lonely Man, because I think he was. We met right after I moved to South Texas as a naïve 23-year-old, ready to save the world by teaching eighth grade English. He’d moved there years earlier from some other state and was teaching gifted/talented English to sixth, seventh and eighth graders. A few of us teachers went out to dinner one night, and although Lonely Man was a little strange and didn’t smile much, I learned that he played classical guitar, which was cool. He was also in his 40s – twenty years older than I was.

In the teachers’ lounge a few days later, one of my female co-workers casually asked, “How old a guy would you consider dating?”

Having no idea where she was coming from, I said, “I probably wouldn’t go more than ten years older.”

“So, 43 is too old, then?”

I said yes. She looked pensive. “I feel really awkward about this,” she said, awkwardly, “but Lonely Man likes you and he wanted me to ask you if you’re interested in him. But I know he’s too old for you.”

That’s really how it happened. It was so junior high, you would’ve thought we were the students, not the teachers! But, he was only the third guy who’d ever asked me out in my entire life (the other two had been two years earlier, in college, and neither of those relationships had lasted very long), so I was still flattered. After school that day, as I posted my students’ work on the walls of the trailer that was my classroom, Lonely Guy came around. We made small talk for a bit, and he finally said if I’d be interested in doing something one night.... Because I was nervous, I cut him off by blurting out, “Sure! That’d be fun!” even though I had no romantic interest in him.

He said okay. But the weird thing was, he never actually asked me out after that. A couple months later, he actually made plans with my roommate (only two years older than I was) to attend a concert. But when she got a strange vibe from him, she said, “We’re just going as friends, right?” He said, “Yes, because I know you wouldn’t go otherwise.” Sufficiently weirded out, she cancelled on him.

A couple months later, I ended up even more relieved that Lonely Man and I had never gotten together when a group of us met for dinner, and he talked about some sort of pest that was being a nuisance in his yard – maybe groundhogs? And he proceeded to tell us all proudly that he had taken to trapping the animals and drowning them in his bathtub. !!! I was horrified. I’ve always thought drowning has to be one of the worst ways to go, whether you’re a person or an animal. It was extraordinarily creepy.

I moved away a couple years later, and a few years after that, I learned that Lonely Man had died. :O Yes. He had moved to a bigger city to take a new teaching job – surprising, because he’d lived in that small South Texas town for so long, I thought he’d retire there – and the rumor was that he had killed himself. :( I felt a little guilty at first. If I had dated him, maybe he wouldn’t have committed suicide. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that’s really, really, REALLY not a good reason to date somebody.

Tomorrow I’ll post about the other guy I met at work – whom I’ve actually (according to him) been dating for ten years (!). Stay tuned....

February 14, 2008


As a Valentine’s Day treat for you, dear readers, I’m posting a wonderful, sweet, funny story from the Feb. 10th New York Times Magazine about one woman’s experience with on-line dating (on eHarmony, it sounds like) at age 55. May it give hope to us all. Happy Valentine’s Day!

by Laurie Kasparian
The New York Times Magazine, 2/10/08


“O.K.,” I told my best friend, “there’s this guy online I think I have to go out with.” It wasn’t said with the enthusiasm of one who finds love at first sight over the Internet. It was with a sigh, more than a modicum of dread and the appropriate amount of resignation that I admitted this to her, my happily married friend who found it all too easy to urge me to “get out there” and date.

I was 55, 15 years divorced, and this Internet campaign took all the pluck I could possibly muster. But all the other avenues had dried up — blind dates, volunteer groups, classes, professional contacts (bars were never an option). The site I used would send me matches, and all I had to do was read about them and “start communication” or “close” them out. Mostly I closed — square-dancers, Fess Parker fans, TV-fishing-show hosts and fathers of three preteens. But once in a great while someone came along who had no zapworthy traits.

I was a year into the search when this particular guy came along: Steve. It wasn’t that he sounded like the love of my life; it was that I could find no valid reason to reject him. My friend kept me very honest about this. She was in favor of kissing every single frog, and I dutifully ran my matches past her for a second screening. Steve, she enthusiastically agreed, had potential, and I knew what I had to do — “start communication.”

Our initial online interchanges went well. Steve asked what I thought the three most important qualities of a lasting marriage were, and I waxed eloquent on two of them, then gave up trying to impress him and just blurted out the third, “a killer sex life.” He told me his sons were both voted “best hair” in high school. “I am so proud,” he quipped. “They have worked so hard.” Questions and answers flew across the ether. But our schedules prevented us from meeting, so instead we moved up to the phone. Nightly calls lengthened to three hours and more as we hungered for and found common experiences and intimacy and trust. This was heady. But we still hadn’t met. We had the online photos, and we quizzed each other on our looks, but I wasn’t sure I would be attracted to him in person.

On the day we finally had our first date, I was having a major case of the vapors. My anxiety would settle for a moment, and then the thought of our meeting would set it off again. He seemed just as nervous. We each had mentioned that we had sensitive stomachs, so when he said, “You know we won’t go out to eat,” it didn’t sound as if he was cheap or weird.

Our rendezvous was at a bookstore in Newport Beach. I was to find my favorite book, and he was to find me. Was this cheesy or romantic? More troublesome was what book to pick. I did not want to be pretentious, superficial or predictable. I finally went with my true choice, “The Sound and the Fury.” I love its tale of the disintegration of a family in the South, and I especially love one line in the appendix, in which Faulkner gives all manner of family history. When it comes to the black family servants, he merely says of them all, “They endured.” It always touched me.

I nervously stood, book in hand, awaiting Steve’s arrival. I finally sat down in the aisle, leaned against the books, read lazily. I would see his sneakers approaching first, I thought. Finally they did. I looked up, saw what I felt was an old friend, jumped up and gave him a little hug. “Are you nervous?” he asked. “Not anymore,” I replied. “Me, either,” he said. “Let’s see what you picked.” I showed him the book. He took it in his hand. “Good choice,” he said. “Isn’t this the book that ends with something like ‘they endured’?”

We took the ferry across Newport Harbor, walked along the strand, talking and stealing glances. He didn’t look much like the picture. He was clearly older, decidedly heavier. Different glasses. We finally did decide to eat, and shared pictures of our kids as we did. It was clear he loved his children heart and soul. I liked that. Still, he seemed rather shy and stiff. Our phone calls had become very intimate, yet he steered clear of any intimacy now. I could tell he liked me, even though he did not smile much. I felt uncertain.

On the way back across the ferry, we were silent for the first time that night. He hadn’t touched me at all. Sitting side by side, I impulsively leaned against him, shoulder to shoulder, and stayed there. It was comfortable, and I felt him relax. “How many people do you have to call tonight to tell about our date?” he casually asked. I counted up in my head: “Nine.” “Great,” he said, “the Supreme Court.” As we parted, he turned to me and said, “Thanks for the lean.” I smiled and realized bargains are made in an instant. For my part, I could see I had to start rearranging the old furniture in my head to make room for this strangely familiar stranger.

Three years later, we endure.

Laurie Kasparian is a high-school English teacher in Irvine, Calif.

February 13, 2008

Soul Mates: myth or reality?

When you’re in the initial communication stages with someone on eHarmony, one of the questions they can ask you (or you can ask them) is:

What do you think of “Soul Mates”?
A. there is no such thing
B. each person has one soul mate, whether they find them or not
C. a person has several soul mates in a lifetime
D. through work, any person you truly love can become your soul mate

Whenever someone asks me that question, I’m stumped. I have no idea how to respond. I was reminded of it yesterday while reading a magazine article in which a woman wrote, “That’s where I ended up meeting my soul mate.”

“That’s sweet,” part of me said.

“I’m gagging now,” the other part said.

It’s such a romantic notion to believe there’s one right person for everybody. It’s also kind of depressing. Not to be morbid, but what if your soul mate died as a child? Or what if he or she is alive and healthy but you skipped the one party, missed the one train, didn’t join the one web site that would have led you to meet?

It would explain why so many of us are still single, anyway.

And what about people who were widowed but got re-married, and truly felt both their first AND second husbands or wives were their soul mates -- though perhaps in different ways?

I just typed “soul mates” into Google and learned some interesting soul mate theories. The idea is assumed to have begun thousands of years ago when Plato wrote a story, “The Symposium,” about a race of human beings who were half-male/half-female, until Zeus split them apart. Forever after, they – we -- are consigned to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for our literal other half. Just as I was wondering what that meant for gay people, I found another web site that said Plato actually wrote that some of the beings were half-male/half-female and some were androgynous; therefore, some of us have a soul mate of the opposite gender, some the same.

Some people believe a soul mate is someone you’ve been with in past lives. But I have no idea if past lives are true, either. And others simply think your soul mate is someone you find easy to be with, someone with whom you feel a strong connection.

There’s an article by Gary Thomas titled “Soul Mates or Sole Mates?” on a web site for Christian college students, TrueU.org (link: http://www.trueu.org/dorms/menshall/A000000145.cfm). Interestingly, Thomas believes the concept of a soul mate, one person who completes us, is a myth, and is not Christian or biblical at all. He writes, “In a biblical view, there is not ‘one right choice’ for marriage, but rather good and bad choices. We are encouraged to use wisdom, not destiny, as our guide when choosing a marital partner. There is no indication that God creates ‘one’ person for us to marry. This is because Christians believe that God brings the primary meaning into our lives. Marriage — though wonderful — is still secondary….It really doesn't matter whether my spouse is a ‘soul mate,’ as much as it matters that I choose to love her with Christ's love. That means a sacrificial mindset marked by generosity, kindness, and mercy.”

When my sister (who has found her sou lmate, by the way) and I talked about it last week, she said she thought there are a range of potential soul mates for each person. After all, she said, “considering all the people in the world, and all the people that you meet, how can there be only one?”

I hope that’s true. Because even if I have a whole LEAGUE of soul mates out there, it’s been hard enough to find just one of them!

February 12, 2008

How bizarre, how bizarre

How could I have neglected to write about the weirdest speed-date I’ve ever had, at New York EasyDates’ “creative singles” event!? (See my 1/25/08 “EasyDates” post.) A guy we’ll call Paranoid sat down across from me, and we started chatting. When I mentioned that I do grantwriting, he said, “Oh, I’ve written a few grants – for my research.”

“Research on what?” I asked.

He then proceeded to tell me that twelve years ago he got a grant to do some scientific research, but he finished in record time, so his mentor told him to come up with an additional project. It was fall, and Paranoid had a lot of leaves in his yard, so he decided to figure out a way to make ethanol out of leaves – and within just a few months, he did it. He got a million-dollar grant to perfect the process, and his mentor started flying to different countries to introduce the technology to them.

“He was flying from Taiwan to Brazil when he died of an aneurysm on the plane – well, that’s what they SAID happened,” Paranoid said with a suspicious air.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I think they got him,” Paranoid whispered. “The big businesses that grow corn, they don’t want to see ethanol made from leaves and grass and lose their profits. In fact, I think the Brazilians stole our technology and are using it now – that’s how they can produce so much. They SAY their ethanol is from sugarcane, but they’re definitely using our technology.”

Paranoid said that his mentor’s “murder” scared him so badly that he ended up changing his name, getting a different social security number, and moving “to a dead end dirt road on Long Island. I still live there,” he added.

Paranoid certainly got points for being, uh, “creative,” but I didn’t choose to see him again. I would’ve been looking over my shoulder the entire time!

I will note, however, that Brazil IS at or near the top of the world in global ethanol production – from sugarcane. So who knows? Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you….

February 11, 2008

Valentine's Day stress

Over the weekend the New York Times ran an article called “Matchmaker, You Have Until Thursday” (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/fashion/weddings/10speed.html?ref=style) about the pressure that many singles feel to find a boyfriend or girlfriend by Valentine’s Day – or at least a date. Speed-dating registrations apparently increase by 15 to 20% during January and February, and Match.com had a 40% increase in new members. It’s a little late to be finding this out, but good to keep in mind for next year.

The reporter also sat in on a HurryDate (http://www.hurrydate.com) event, where each person had TWENTY four-minute dates. TWENTY! The most I’ve ever had at any speed-dating event was fourteen! Maybe I should try HurryDate again. I’d tried them last summer but didn’t have very good luck – neither of my mutual matches ever e-mailed me. I don’t understand that. Why choose me if you don’t even want to put in the effort of e-mailing me back, much less seeing me again? At the time I suspected it was an age thing – they were both a few years younger, and since you have to fill out a profile on HurryDate, I figured they saw my age and weren’t interested anymore. But since then I’ve had a couple of mutual matches from other events not write me back, either, even though they didn’t know my age. People are just strange, I guess.

February 7, 2008

Speed-Date Discount for Feb. 10

Women aged 23 - 32: speed-date with New York Easy Dates in Manhattan this Sunday 2/10 at 7:30 PM for only $25 (regularly $37). Just go to http://www.nyeasydates.com and type “marathon1” (without the quotes) in the discount code box when you sign up. They apparently have a plethora of men on the waiting list (!).
Also, Time Out New York has an article on their web site called “How To Gain a Guy or Gal in 10 Days.” It just tells you interesting things to do or places to go in the city during the next week, though, not actually how to get a boyfriend or girlfriend. I think the Valentine’s Day screening of “Harold and Maude” is my favorite. Click on http://www.timeout.com/newyork/articles/features/26202/how-to-gain-a-guy-or-gal-in-10-days
to read.

The subway - like a singles cruise, only much, much cheaper

Name: The subway
What it is: The underground railroad connecting the boroughs of New York City
Cost: $2 per ride
Random fact: About 40% of New York’s subway system actually runs above ground.
The scoop: On Craig’s List (http://www.craigslist.org) a few years back, I remember several posts trying to declare a certain subway car as the “singles car.” If you were single and interested in meeting someone, no matter what line of the subway it was, you were supposed to get into that car, and presumably make eye contact, start talking, and let things unfold as they may. Unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me remember whether it was the first car or the last car. Anyone recall?

In any event, I don’t think it ever really took off, maybe partly because distractions like iPods and cell phones (which do work on the above-ground subway cars) have only proliferated since then. It’s too bad, though. When you think about it, the subway really is one of the more risk-free ways to meet someone. Consider: it only costs $2, there’s always a stop to get off at if things go downhill, and if it doesn’t work out, at least you went somewhere in the process, even if only from one point in Brooklyn to another. Over the past several years, I have read not one but THREE stories in the New York Times about couples who ended up getting married after meeting on the subway. It can work! (Though not, in my experience, during rush hour.)

My dates: Over the past six years, I’ve met four guys on the subway. The first must have been back in 2001 or 2002, when I had infinitely less dating experience than I do now. I’ll call him the Free Spirit, because it was his feet I noticed first – he was barefoot. I mean, he had sandals, but his feet were out and sort of resting on top of them. I’m not going to lie to you – the man had beautiful feet. When I finally tore my eyes away and looked up, I noticed his head was cute, too, with light brown skin and beautifully curly hair. But he wasn’t making eye contact, so I went back to the newspaper I was reading.

When I was a few stops from home, though, the Free Spirit suddenly said something to me, and we started chatting. We were both nervous – maybe he’d never tried to meet someone on the subway before, either? -- so the conversation was awkward. I can’t remember a thing we talked about, actually, but between his cuteness and his beautiful feet, I was happy just to gaze at him.

We got off at the same stop, 74th Street/Roosevelt Ave in Jackson Heights. I was changing trains to go home, and the Free Spirit was walking home from there. We said good-night reluctantly, and as he walked up the stairs, he turned around and smiled at me. I smiled back. Alas, I never saw him again.

I met the second guy a year or so later, so I was more prepared this time. I’ll call him Cushy Job, because he had one and I was jealous. When we met I was actually on my way home from a date with a guy I’d met at a club, who had turned out to be pretty annoying. But I looked better than usual because I’d taken some time to dress up. I was reading a book, and Cushy Job struck up a conversation with me about it. I was so excited about talking to a guy who seemed to be a reader, he may have thought I was more interested than he actually was. Still, he was cute, with a great accent (he had grown up in Haiti), and he had the aforementioned cushy job pushing papers at the New York City Board of Education. I told him I was an unemployed former teacher looking for a job related to education but not teaching, and when he asked me out for breakfast, I accepted.

Unfortunately, the breakfast only confirmed how little we had in common. I’m not a morning person under the best of circumstances, and during my unemployed year – well, let’s just say that my being conscious before 10:30 AM was becoming an increasing rarity, so I don’t know what I was thinking agreeing to meet this guy for breakfast at 9 AM on Saturday. He had been up since 6 AM, doing tai chi or some other sinfully healthy exercise in Central Park, and as he went on and on about it I could barely keep my eyes open. I did give him my résumé (maybe not the smartest thing to give a random stranger from the subway, seeing as it had all my personal information, including my address – what was I thinking!?). He said he’d help me get a Board of Ed job. But of course we parted and I never heard from him again. Oh well. At least he didn’t stalk me.

I actually became friends with the third guy I met on the subway, so we’ll call him Guy Who Is Now a Friend (GWINAF). A friend and I were going home after a night of dancing at Webster Hall, and she noticed GWINAF sitting on a bench on the subway platform, writing in a journal. She struck up a conversation with him about what he was writing, and we all got on the train together. We were chatting away when he moved his hand and I noticed he had the ink mark you get at Webster Hall. “Wait – you were at Webster Hall, too?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “Is that where you two were?”

“Yeah. But what did you do with your journal while you were dancing?” I asked.

“Oh, I just left it behind a speaker,” he said.

I was astonished. I keep a journal and would never dream of leaving it in a public place like that. (But I’ll give a perfect stranger my résumé with my address on it. Ha!)

It turned out GWINAF lived in Queens, too, so as we were nearing home, he asked if we wanted to keep talking some more. The three of us ended up going to the Georgia Diner in Elmhurst, eating and talking until 6 AM, about numbers, and New York City, and his dreams of acting and singing. It was a fun, random night.

I met the fourth guy, who I’ll call Too Old For Me, as I waited for a subway in Brooklyn a little over a year ago. Too Old For Me had to have been 60 years old – he had gray hair, and children who were grown – and he told me all about how he’d moved here from Russia ten years earlier. “I am a painter, an artist,” Too Old For Me said. “I would love to be painting you.” He told me how beautiful I was, how it made no sense that I was single, all these great lines – too bad he was old enough to be my father!! Before I got off the train he asked for my phone number. I didn’t have the heart to reject him right then and there, so I said, “Why don’t you give me yours?” He wrote it down for me, but I never called him.

So, looking back, I guess I’ve only gotten one actual “date” from the subway. Maybe I should keep my eyes open on the ride home tonight....

February 5, 2008

CatholicMatch discount code, and eHarmony Republicans

If any single Catholics out there want to try the on-line dating site CatholicMatch (http://www.CatholicMatch.com), use the discount code VAL8 to purchase a six-month subscription for only $9.95 a month -- your credit card will be billed for one total payment of $59.70. This is apparently a 60% savings. The code expires Feb. 14th (Valentine’s Day) at midnight. I haven’t tried CatholicMatch, but if you do let me know how it goes.

In other news…in my ongoing quest to get caught up on my eHarmony account, I logged in today to find a FastTrack request from a 36-year-old business systems analyst (whatever that is) in New Jersey – he had already written me an e-mail. Curious, I accepted his request, and this is the message I found:

“Well, it would appear I fail your requirement as I am a republican. I will with some pleasure pull the lever for McCain tomorrow, but would have rather pulled it for Giuliani. (Boy I hope I spelled that right ;-). Giuliani I think would have done a lot of good for the US, and McCain would do a decent job. So I am sure we would get along like oil and water. In the mean time, keep on keeping on! P.S. I do appreciate non-morning people, being a night owl myself.”

Now, what was his point in writing to me? I resisted putting “no Republicans, please” in my profile for a long time because I don’t discriminate against potential dates in terms of race, ethnicity, how much money they make, etc., and I want to be open-minded. But a romantic relationship has never, ever, ever worked out with a Republican – we just don’t see eye-to-eye on too many fundamental issues.

Of course, it hasn’t worked out yet with a Democrat, either. At least not for the long-term.

Anyway, why did this guy waste his time e-mailing me if he thinks we’d get along “like oil and water”? I assume he was just trying to be funny. But I wasn’t laughing because first of all, he didn’t even know enough to capitalize “Republican,” and second of all, he admitted he actually would have voted for Giuliani, of all people -- the mayor who PURPOSELY made it a hundred times more difficult for hungry people in New York City to apply for food stamps! Sorry, being a night owl too is not nearly enough to cancel out your Republicanness.

Needless to say, I am not writing him back. I am, however, voting tonight! Probably for Obama. By the way, guess who can’t be too happy these days? All the registered voters of South Dakota and Montana, as well as Republicans in New Mexico – they have the last primaries in the country, on June 3rd. Talk about feeling irrelevant. I mean, even GUAM’s primary is earlier (May 3rd)!

February 4, 2008

Funnies from eHarmony

For a while I’d gotten behind on the half-dozen or so matches a day that eHarmony has been e-mailing me, but I finally went through them all. Some guys put the weirdest, funniest information in their profiles. Under “some other additional information he wants you to know,” one guy wrote, “I have three days unconsummated marriage which ended up in divorce.” A little Too Much Information there. Another guy put that he is actually very sensitive in spite of his “obvious aggressive” traits. Next! Under “one thing only his best friends know is,” one guy wrote: “My lack of experience with the opposite sex.” Well, now all your potential matches know it, too! Somebody else listed “Hygene [sic] products such as deorderant [sic] and toothpaste” under the things he can’t live without -- I guess that was supposed to be reassuring.

The misspellings really kill me: one talks about a childhood friend who lived “next store” to him; another admitted to his “quiteness” (quietness). One guy, for whom English is obviously a second language, said he “likes to camp and makes histories under the night.” I’m not sure what that means, but I thought it was pretty poetic.

And finally, under the things he is most thankful for, someone named Pablo listed the following:
▪ Sex
▪ Sex
▪ Sex

I suppose he thought he’d get points for honesty??

February 1, 2008

Free singles event in April!

On Sunday April 13th from 6:30 – 9 PM, there’s a “Deeper Dating” event at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan (registration code T-LS5DB07-05) for people in their 30s and 40s. It costs $30 in advance/$35 at the door, BUT if you send an e-mail to DeeperDatingInfo@gmail.com with “volunteer” in the subject line and say you’re willing to assist, you can participate for free! Click on http://www.DeeperDating.com for more info. Apparently, Time Out New York calls it “a combination personal-growth workshop and singles’ mixer.” Sounds fun, or torturous -- it really could go either way. But if you get in for free, what do you have to lose, right?
Happy weekend, everybody! Go Giants. Or Patriots. Whoever you're rooting for. :)

Date from hell!

To ensure you’ll laugh at least once this weekend, I will now post about what was, without question, my Worst Date Ever. It was so, so BAD, I hope words can do it justice. The most appropriate nickname for this guy is Mr. Negative, who I met through one of the speed-dating web sites. We decided to get together for dinner at a diner in Manhattan. My initial first-few-seconds impression, when we met in front of the restaurant, was, "Great, he's cute, seems low-key in a good way."

Then we sat down, and he made the mistake of opening his mouth. He was the most thoroughly pessimistic guy I've ever been out with in my entire life! He’d mentioned in an e-mail to me that he had just been on vacation in Vegas, so I asked him about it. He proceeded to tell me about how he loves Jennifer Aniston -- I mean, he seriously LOVES her -- so while in Vegas he forced his friends to drive with him to Los Angeles for the weekend and go to this restaurant that he'd read on http://www.msn.com that Jennifer goes to all the time. He even asked a waiter when he got there, "Does Jennifer Aniston come here a lot?" to make sure he had the right place. When she never showed up, he was devastated. It ruined his entire weekend. His friends went on a city tour the next day, but he was "so depressed" that he hadn't seen Jennifer, he just stayed in his hotel room (sulking, I guess), then finally went shopping. He made his friends go back to the same restaurant the NEXT night -- he treated so that they all would go there again, even though it was a pretty expensive restaurant. Still no Jennifer. When he got home to New York, he read that she and Courtney Cox had been on vacation in Hawaii that weekend, and he was furious!

I was busy wondering why Mr. Negative had even wanted to go out with me, seeing as I look nothing like Jennifer Aniston, when he proceeded to tell me he is also intensely in love with Gwen Stefani -- so much so that he went to three of her concerts in three different states in the same week (!). He even held up a sign he'd made that read GWEN, I LOVE YOU, CALL ME, with his phone number on it.

"Um, isn't she seeing someone?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, she's married with a kid," he said matter-of-factly, as if that shouldn't make any difference at all. "But what really gets me is, not only did Gwen not call me, no other woman in the audience did either!"

I was dumbfounded. What woman in her right mind would call some random guy who held up a crazy sign at a concert?

Next Mr. Negative said, "Don't even ask me about my vacation in January!" Foolishly, I took the bait and asked, so he went on and on about the singles cruise he took to South America. They lost his luggage, only gave him $100 to buy new clothes, and worst of all, the people on the cruise turned out to consist of two guys in their 20s, Mr. Negative (who is 32), and all these fifty and sixty-year-olds! HA! The web site had apparently advertised it as a singles cruise for "younger" singles and showed all these photos of hot twenty- and thirty-somethings in bathing suits, so he was outraged. He told me about how he actually SUED them when he got home, but the lawsuit got thrown out because the company had never guaranteed what age anyone would be.

And so it went from there. I asked him about his job. His boss is terrible, he hates her, she hates him, he's been trying to find a new job but can't find anything in his salary range. I asked him about where he lives. Well, it's SO overpriced, it's dead there, he hates it, but it's close to work. I asked him if he has any siblings. He has a sister, he said, but she's so arrogant that they don't get along.

But the best part was when I asked Mr. Negative about how his speed-dating experience had been so far. "Horrible!" he said (surprise, surprise). He said that at the first speed-dating event he’d tried, there were only four women and 11 men, and none of the women chose him. The company gave him a coupon to go to another event for free. At that one, he said he chose nine women -- and NONE of them picked him! Gee, I wonder why??

"Women are just too picky," he said authoritatively. "They want someone who's six feet tall and who makes six figures a year, and they won't even look at anyone else."

It was so hard for me not to laugh! I wanted so badly to say, Um, no, we just want someone who has a positive word to say once in a while! And it was so awkward because he only asked me three questions about myself all night. When I wasn't asking him about his depressing life, we would literally just sit there. (At one point he said, "You look tired." Yeah, of you!)

After the check came and he paid (thank goodness for small favors), I stole a glance at my watch and could not believe only an hour had passed -- it felt like three! Then he walked me to the subway. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see a train station in my life. As soon as I spotted it, I said, "Well, this is me, thank you for dinner."

And HE said, "I'd really like to see you again! You're fun!"

I thought, Of course you think I'm fun -- a lump of WAX is a barrel of laughs compared to you! I mumbled something vague and escaped.

He e-mailed me the following week asking if I’d like to get together again. I thought, should I tell him (gently) why I’d had such a bad time? I mean, the poor guy probably doesn’t even realize how he comes across. I finally e-mailed him back saying that I appreciated his interested but am looking for someone more upbeat.

He wrote back:

“Funny, you were laughing the entire time and seemed to be enjoying yourself. Good luck in finding Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome.”

So much for constructive criticism!