About Me

March 28, 2008

Paper, plastic, or me?

Name: The supermarket
What it is: Where you go to stock up on food for the week when you grow tired of (or broke from) eating out
Cost: Just the cost of groceries – which you were going to buy anyway.
The scoop: I just read about a couple who got married a few years after meeting at the supermarket. In fact, there are whole articles written about how to meet people while grocery shopping -- you’ve got to admire people’s ability to multi-task. In his article, “Meet Someone at the Grocery Store” (http://www.getromantic.com/singles/advice/meet_at_grocery_store.html), Scot McKay suggests picking up a tabloid while you’re waiting on line and striking up a conversation; “following” someone you’re attracted to and then accusing them (in a joking way) of stalking you; and shopping in the early evening hours on weeknights or on weekend afternoons to increase your odds.
My dates: My only “luck” (and I use the term loosely) at the supermarket happened so long ago, I can’t even remember what year it was -- it was probably about ten years ago. I was home for a visit with the family and ran out to the supermarket in my hometown to pick up a few things. I was around 26 at the time, and the employee behind the checkout counter looked a few years younger, maybe a college student, with glasses and spiky brown hair. As he rang up my chocolate (I actually can’t remember what I was buying, but I’m sure there was chocolate in there somewhere), he began to make conversation about the weather.

“Raining out?” he asked.

“No, not yet,” I said. “But I brought my umbrella just in case.”

“That’s good.”

We continued this oh-so-scintillating conversation for approximately 60 more seconds. I gave him my cash, he gave me my change, and then out of nowhere, he looked at me and suddenly asked, “Would you be interested in going out with me sometime?”

My jaw dropped. I was wearing a bulky winter coat and sweatpants, had barely combed my hair that morning, and we had just had the most boring conversation ever! Where had THAT come from?

The woman behind me cleared her throat and pushed her cart closer to me. I looked at the guy behind the counter, mumbled, “Um, I’m seeing someone,” grabbed my bag of groceries and ran out. It was flattering, I guess, but I could just picture the fascinating conversation we would’ve had on a date (“So do you use an umbrella when it snows, or only when it rains?”).

After that, every time I came home for a visit and had to go to that supermarket, I chose my checkout line very carefully....

March 27, 2008

"For Better Or For Worse" Cartoonist To Divorce

I am so sad to learn that Lynn Johnston, creator of one of my all-time favorite comic strips, “For Better or For Worse” (http://www.fborfw.com), is getting a divorce from her husband of 32 years. :( I must have been living under a rock, because I just learned about this even though it became public knowledge last fall (http://www.modbee.com/life/funstuff/story/100348.html).
Apparently, Johnston’s husband, hereafter known as THE JERK, moved out last April and asked her for a divorce because he fell in love with somebody else. Johnston admitted it was a complete surprise to her. I’ll bet! Who marries someone and raises two kids with them, then abandons them to run off with another woman after 32 years!? THE JERK, that’s who.
I am so disappointed by this. I hope some amazingly wonderful guy who actually deserves Johnston comes along and sweeps her off her feet.

March 25, 2008

WeekendDating (speed-dating)

Name: Weekend Dating (http://www.weekenddating.com/)
Their blog: http://weekenddating.blogspot.com/

What it is: Speed-dating

Cost: $30 - $40 per event (less if you sign up for an event the same day you register to be on the e-mail list)

Random fact: This is one of the very few speed-dating companies that has events on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (hence the name WeekendDating).

The scoop: It’s nice to speed-date on the weekend, knowing you don’t have to get up early the next day!

My dates: This speed-dating company has two important advantages over most of the others: the events take place on weekends, and there are free (and plentiful) appetizers. I like to date on a full stomach. I’ve now done WeekendDating twice. Both times Jay gave each of us a card with a question on it, and we were supposed to find the person of the opposite gender with the same question in order to determine who our first speed-date of the night would be. The first time I did it, one of the guys told me his question was, “It’s the first date – should the man or the woman pay?” When he found the woman with that same card, she said, “Well, what’s your answer?” He said, “I think the man should pay.” She snapped, “Wrong answer!” and walked away. :O

Since Jay, the amiable guy who founded the company, is from Long Island, most of the guys I’ve met have been from Long Island or Queens – not too convenient for me, since I live in Brooklyn without a car. Most of their events take place on Long Island, too, although the ones I’ve attended have been in Manhattan. The first time I went, there was a nice range of guys, but last time the men were mostly blue-collar and didn’t have jobs that required college degrees (there were guys who work for the post office, cable guys, etc.). I hate to think I’m a snob, but it’s never worked out for me with a guy who doesn’t have a college degree. Who knows, maybe some guy will prove me wrong one day, but I’ve just never had enough in common with men who didn’t go to college.

So, I only chose one guy at the last event. He worked for a financial company, was originally from Colombia, and had lived in California for several years before moving to New York City. He seemed nice, interesting, and smart -- plus if I dated him, maybe I could finally become fluent in Spanish! After the event, he, the friend I went with, and another woman all had dinner together, which was fun. When I received my list of matches the next morning, I learned that he had picked me, too. After I didn’t hear from him for a few days, I sent him an e-mail – and I never heard back. WHY DO GUYS DO THAT? Why pay for a night of speed-dating, choose women you’d like to see again, and then never contact them? What a waste!

But during dinner that night, it came out that he’d gotten married seven years ago and was already divorced, so maybe I’m not missing out on too much. I can understand people who get married too young and get divorced in their 20s (who really knows who they are in their 20s?), but this guy was in his 40s. That would make me very nervous.

March 21, 2008

Fidelity, or Fantasy?

As you may have heard, here in New York State we recently lost our (married) governor, Eliot Spitzer, when he resigned after it was discovered he’d spent up to $80,000 on high-priced prostitutes over the past few years. No sooner had our new governor, David Paterson, taken office when he and his wife held a news conference and admitted that during a rough patch in their marriage, around 1999 to 2001, they had both had affairs. “There were a number of women,” Governor Paterson said, including a state employee, though no one that he directly supervised.

You’ve gotta admire the new governor’s honesty, but all this makes you wonder…is ANYONE out there being monogamous? According to my up-to-the-minute internet research, anywhere from 17% of women and 25% of men (http://www.infidelity-etc.com/index.php/4) to 40% of women and 60% of men ((http://www.dearpeggy.com/affairs.html) have had an extramarital affair at some point. I also remember reading an article a few years ago which stated that in 10% of all U.S. families, the father is not the true biological father of at least one child in the family, due to the woman having an affair and never admitting to her husband that the child is not his. (The woman herself may not always know for sure.) Interestingly, the same article stated that statistic drops to 3% in Utah, because Mormon couples are more likely to be monogamous.

It’s enough to make you wish you were a swan, or some other beautiful animal that mates for life. Oh, except they don’t either, really, according to a March 18 article by Natalie Angier in the New York Times entitled “In Most Species, Faithfulness is a Fantasy (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/18/science/18angi.html?ref=science). A lot of animals partner up to cuddle, groom each other, breed, and raise young, but genetic testing shows that “anywhere from 10 to 70 percent will prove to have been sired by somebody other than the resident male.”

Apparently, the only guaranteed-monogamous animal is the Diplozoon paradoxum, which is a worm that makes its home in a fish’s gills (ew). To quote David P. Barash, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, “males and females meet each other as adolescents, and their bodies literally fuse together, whereupon they remain faithful until death. That’s the only species I know of in which there seems to be 100 percent monogamy.”

Geez. I think I’d like my body fused to someone else’s even less than dealing with their affair!

March 19, 2008

No End In Sight

I must take a break from dating stories to tell you I just rented the DVD “No End In Sight,” which was nominated for an Academy Award this year for Best Documentary, and can’t recommend it highly enough. As the documentary’s web site says, it “examines the manner in which the principal errors of U.S. policy – the use of insufficient troop levels, allowing the looting of Baghdad, the purging of professionals from the Iraqi government, and the disbanding of the Iraqi military – largely created the insurgency and chaos that engulf Iraq today.” It’s available on Netflix, at Blockbuster, etc. (http://www.noendinsightmovie.com/)

And it was five years ago today that, despite massive protests by Americans and the majority of the world’s people, the U.S. invaded Iraq. 3,990 members of the American military have since been killed there. 29,395 have been wounded. (http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/)

At least 82,249 to 89,760 Iraqi CIVILIANS have died violently. This is an estimate – the real number is undoubtedly higher. (http://www.iraqbodycount.com)

After September 11th, President Bush “ordered his then top anti-terrorism adviser, Richard Clarke, to look for a link between Iraq and the attacks, despite being told there didn't seem to be one.” (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/19/60minutes/main607356.shtml)

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States found no credible evidence of a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda in attacks against the U.S.; IRAQ HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH SEPTEMBER 11th (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5223932/)

In Afghanistan – where the Taliban regime decimated a beautiful country as they provided support and safe harbor to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, who WERE responsible for September 11th -- 487 American troops have been killed (http://icasualties.org/oef/). Afghanistan doesn’t seem to get as much media coverage as Iraq, but if you’re interested in catching up on how things are going there (one-sentence summary: not so great), the Washington Post recently ran an article (on 2/11/08) by Peter Baker, entitled “Conflicting Assessments of War in Afghanistan” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/10/AR2008021002437_pf.html). The New York Times also ran a much longer story by Elizabeth Rubin in its magazine section on 2/24/08 called “Battle Company is Out There,” which is definitely worth reading. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/magazine/24afghanistan-t.html?ref=magazine)

Lastly, a prayer:

Loving God, Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and all who grieve for them. Help us in our fear and uncertainty, And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love. Strengthen all those who work for peace, And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts.
-Anonymous (source: http://www.beliefnet.com)

Every single person lost has multiple people still grieving for them.

March 18, 2008

FREE month on HurryDate.com!

If you’ve been curious to try HurryDate (http://www.hurrydate.com), one of the speed-dating companies, you’re in luck – in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, they’re giving away free 30 day subscriptions to HurryDate Online! You also get 25% off all speed-dating events while you are subscribed. Between now and March 22nd (the offer expires Sunday March 23rd), choose the one-month subscription package and enter the code POTOGOLD when prompted to pay. (Their e-mail notes, “You will be asked to enter a credit card to redeem your free month so that we may provide you with uninterrupted service after the first month is up. You may, however, cancel at any time prior to that so as not to be charged.”)

March 17, 2008

What Happened to Ms. Enabler

Just a quick postscript to my March 13th post, in case you’re wondering what ever happened to Ms. Enabler after Mr. Invisible died. Four months after his death, she attended a fellow teacher’s Halloween party, where one of the high school teachers asked her out. They ended up getting engaged only six months later and marrying that summer – barely 12 months after Mr. Invisible died (!). This after Ms. Enabler had always said she didn’t care about whether she and Mr. Invisible ever got married or not, because “it’s just a piece of paper.” Pretty weird, huh? J told me privately that she doubted the marriage would last, since it was so soon after Mr. Invisible’s death. I lost touch with Ms. Enabler, but last I heard she and her husband had moved to a bigger city, though still in Texas. I don’t know for sure if they’re still married, but when I Google’d her a couple years ago, she was still using her married name.

March 13, 2008

Woman Sat on Toilet for 2 Years

Is your workplace buzzing as much as mine is about Pam Babcock, the woman in Kansas who sat on the toilet for two years – so long that her skin actually grew around the toilet? (http://www.topix.net/content/ap/2008/03/boyfriend-woman-lived-in-bathroom) Apparently, the poor woman, who’d been abused in childhood, developed a phobia two years ago about leaving the bathroom. Her boyfriend, Kory McFarren, claims that, at least at first, she moved around the bathroom, showering and changing clothes. He would bring her food, and they would talk and have an otherwise normal relationship – “except it all happened in the bathroom,” The Associated Press article notes. McFarren only called for help when he realized Babcock was acting disoriented. At that point, Babcock had obviously been doing nothing but sitting on the toilet for a long time. “I should have gotten help for her sooner,” McFarren admits in the Associated Press article. “But after a while, you kind of get used to it.”

After reading the article, I suddenly flashed back to a former friend of mine, Ms. Enabler, and her invisible boyfriend. When I moved to South Texas to teach in 1995, Ms. Enabler, who taught in the same middle school that I did, was my assigned mentor. The first time she took me out to lunch, she talked about her boyfriend, whom I’ll call Mr. Invisible – they lived together and had moved to Texas from the Midwest three years earlier. “Is he a teacher, too?” I asked.

She said no, “and he doesn’t speak Spanish, so that makes it really hard for him to get any other job around here.” I can’t remember for sure, but he may not have finished his bachelor’s degree – and he apparently had no interest in doing so, even though there was a college about 45 minutes away he could have attended.

I began making friends with other teachers who had lived in Texas for a while, and one day halfway through the school year, I remarked to J. and C., a couple that I knew, “You know, I’ve never seen Mr. Invisible’s face or heard his voice.”

“Neither have we,” J. and C. said in unison – and they had lived there longer than Ms. Enabler and were good friends of hers! They said the same thing I had noticed, that whenever we called Ms. Enabler, she was the one who answered the phone. She never invited people over, claiming she hated the bad condition her landlord allowed the apartment to be in. Whenever people invited her out, she rarely went – and when she did, she went alone. At that point, I began to wonder if Mr. Invisible truly existed!

A month later, Ms. Enabler finally got off the waiting list for a house in the nice development on the other side of town that was only for teachers. Since J. and C. lived in that development, they offered to help her move, and she gladly accepted. “We’ll finally get to meet Mr. Invisible!” they told me excitedly.

But when they showed up the day of the move, Ms. Enabler let them in and said, “Thank you so much for coming – Mr. Invisible is sick with the flu and won’t be able to help at all.” A couple hours into their work, Ms. Enabler said she’d order a pizza for them all. She went into the bedroom to check on Mr. Invisible and see if he wanted any. J. and C. could hear her voice murmuring, but that was all. They couldn’t help but wonder, “Is she talking to herself in there?” By the end of the day, the move was completed, and J. and C. STILL hadn’t gotten to meet Mr. Invisible.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “If he does exist, what does he do all day while she’s at work?”

“Watches television,” J. said. “She had to call the day they moved to make sure the cable was installed right away so he wouldn’t ‘go crazy without it.’”

“But doesn’t he crave human contact?”

J. smirked. “I guess Ms. Enabler is all the human contact he needs.”

It was just so weird. Other teachers had boyfriends or girlfriends who didn’t work with us, but they were teachers in other schools or they were attending college, and we all hung out together and knew each other – except for Mr. Invisible.

When the school year ended in May, I went home to New Jersey for the summer. One day, J. called me. “I have some bad news,” she said, her voice low. “It’s about Mr. Invisible. He died.”

“He DIED!?” I sputtered. I almost blurted out, “I didn’t really believe he had ever lived!” but thought better of it. “What happened?” I asked.

J. said Ms. Enabler had called her and C. a couple days earlier, crying, saying Mr. Invisible was really sick and not responding, and she had just called an ambulance. J. and C. went over and were absolutely shocked at Mr. Invisible’s condition. He was unconscious, his stomach was distended, and his limbs were skinny and twig-like – and there was no mistaking the smell of alcohol.

When the ambulance crew arrived, they immediately asked if he had AIDS. “Of course not!” Ms. Enabler said, as if it were a totally unreasonable question.

“How much does he drink?” they asked, but J. said Ms. Enabler ignored the question.

“Ma’am, we really need to know. Does he get drunk every day?” they asked again.

“Well, not falling-down drunk!” she snapped.

They got him to the hospital, but it was too late. All they could do was make him as comfortable as possible. 24 hours later, he died of cirrhosis of the liver as a result of alcoholism, at the age of 28.

“The scary thing is, both his family and her family visited from the Midwest earlier this year, on two separate occasions,” J. reminded me. “He didn’t get into such bad shape overnight. He was sick when we helped them move four months ago, remember? So he had to have been pretty ill when they visited. But her dad, her sister, and his parents all saw him like that, and didn’t get him any help. Not to mention Ms. Enabler herself. How much did she spend on alcohol for him over the years? She just let it happen.”

I didn’t know what to say. Everything J. brought up, I was wondering myself.

Love can be defined in a lot of ways. Letting someone hurt themselves on a daily basis isn’t one of them.

But as Kory McFarren said, I guess after a while, you can kind of get used to it.

March 12, 2008

Love in the Plural Sense

I read an interesting article the other day about polyamory, defined by the Polyamory Society (http://www.polyamorysociety.org) as “the nonpossessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously. Polyamory emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time.”

Modern views of romance suggest that your partner should fulfill all of your needs and desires, but polyamorists enjoy the fact that they can spread out those needs and desires among multiple partners. So if, say, one of your boyfriends really loves outdoor activities, and the other only wants to watch movies, you see Boyfriend A when you want to water-ski, and Boyfriend B when you want to veg out.

It sounds good in theory. Don’t we all have different friends that we do different things with? And I guess you wouldn’t get bored too easily. But I can foresee a few problems. Such as:

1. It’s hard enough to find ONE guy I actually like and want to spend time with who feels the same way about me, let alone two or three! I suppose polyamorists would claim I wouldn’t be as picky if I weren’t looking for one guy to be my “everything,” as they say.

2. What if you get jealous? What if your boyfriends gets jealous? Negotiating time commitments and other issues are difficult enough when it’s you and just one other person.

3. I just really, really, really hope everyone uses condoms.

Enough said!

March 6, 2008

Goin’ to the Chapel and I’m – Gonna Find a Date?

Name: Church
What it is: Where you go to worship God. And eat doughnuts.
Cost: As much (or as little) as you want to put in the collection plate.
Random Fact: The odds can be tough -- single women are much more numerous than the single men, since a lot of men don’t start going to church until they get married and their wives drag them along.
The scoop: Doesn’t church sound like a promising place to meet someone? Everyone’s singing and listening and in a good mood, and there’s free coffee afterward. There’s also that stereotype that people who go to church are somehow more moral than those who don’t. Unfortunately, that’s just not true – that BTK serial killer in Kansas was a pillar of his church, for example. But the non-sociopath guys who do go to church are at least nominally interested in something besides themselves. That’s a nice quality.

My dates: Much like my experience dating guys from the subway (see my Feb. 7th post), although there were a few guys here and there I liked at St. Bart’s Church (http://www.stbarts.org/), nothing ever ended up lasting.

I met The Workaholic at a course I was taking on the Episcopal church, and on St. Bart’s in particular. The class met for dinner at the church once a week for a talk and discussion. The Workaholic and I sat at the same table two weeks in a row. He was friendly and interesting, and he had long brown hair that reached his shoulders. I can’t remember what he did for a living, but he mentioned he was working a lot of overtime at one job and was also working a second – in retrospect, not a good sign. But I thought he liked me. He even walked me to the subway after the second class, and seemed to be stalling before he finally said goodnight. I decided that the following week, I would invite him to my birthday party. Of course, the following week he didn’t show up. I thought, what do I have to lose, and asked the priest if he could call The Workaholic, tell him I’d like to invite him to an event, and give him my number. The priest did. The Workaholic never called – and never showed up at the class, or church, again! Think I scared him off? :O

I met another guy I liked at a brunch for the 20s/30s group at church. We’ll call him Tropical Dreams. He was really nice, had a good sense of humor, and a PhD (!) in something or other. He was also interested in writing, and we started talking about starting a writer’s group at the church. Soon we were e-mailing a few times a week, and in one of his e-mails he asked if I wanted to have breakfast before church the following week. Despite my poor track record with morning dates, I was excited and said yes. But when I met him at 10 AM on Sunday, Tropical Dreams said, “There’s a really interesting Rector’s Forum talk starting right now – do you want to go to that instead?” I sighed, said okay, and grabbed a donut leftover from the 9 AM service before heading into the chapel.

But all hope was not lost. We had talked about this thing called the Moth StorySlam (http://www.themoth.org/storyslams) where people tell stories and teams of audience-member judges vote on the best one. In Tropical Dreams’ next e-mail, he asked if I’d like to go to a story slam that week. I said yes, of course. But I don’t think it counts as a date, because I went to the place where it was being held, and so did he – but we never found each other! It was packed, standing room only, and neither of us had cell phones (not so unusual five years ago). I wedged myself in a corner toward the back, and apparently he was upstairs on a balcony -- so not only did we not sit next to each other, I had no idea he was even there. (And the stories that night weren’t even that great.)

We e-mailed for another week, and in Tropical Dreams’ last e-mail to me he suddenly, out of nowhere, brought up the notion of moving to HAWAII (!). He said he’d been looking into jobs there (news to me), and did I know anything about it? I promptly wrote back and told him all the bad things I had ever heard about Hawaii (“It’s so expensive! You’ll get island fever! You have to fly to go anywhere else! Outsiders have a hard time breaking into the culture! It rains every day!”).

I never saw or heard from him again.

March 5, 2008

DISCOUNT CODE: HurryDate (speed-dating)

The speed-dating company HurryDate (http://www.HurryDate.com) has a special offer right now where you can register for one of their speed-dating events for 50% off! Just enter the code WINTERBEGONE when you register for an event. This code expires next Tuesday, March 11th.

March 3, 2008

skinflint millionaires

Just a quick follow up to my Feb. 25th review of the show “Millionaire Matchmaker.” I watched another episode over the weekend, and this time I saw, right before the credits rolled, a notice in small print that said the millionaires get FREE memberships for appearing on the show. So not only do the guys featured have no shame about appearing on reality TV, they’re too cheap to pay for a membership and keep their privacy -- even though they’re millionaires! Guess it takes all kinds....

Completely unrelated but cool fact: guess how many people read this blog on Feb. 29th? 29! I love that. :)