Warning: Frank language! This is posted by request of Carrot on The Dihedral This post appeared originally on one of my Blogger Blogs in 2008.
Warning II: All these stories are true.
In 1998 I tried to go to Colorado for a week with my dog to visit my Aunt Martha. On the Alpine Tavern Road exit, the waterpump in my Escort went out and that was the end of that adventure. I coasted to the Ford dealership that took care of my car and left it. It was then I established my first email account and I tried online personals for the first time.
From that I wanted to write a story called “Netting Men”. I thought it was a clever title.
I met four guys. Three of them were bizarre; the one who wasn’t lived on a sailboat. The most bizarre was an old hippy in flo-jos and tube socks who lived in a motor home on the bay. His job was delivering pizzas by bicycle. He was about 45 years old. When I arrived (our “date” was a walk on the bay) with Kelly (golden retriever) and Molly (aussie/malamute mix), there were three other guys in his run down and harvest gold motor home and he came to the door with a large dead rat in his hand. That was horrifying, but I went through with the date. He had grey hair; I had red. We walked a red dog and a grey dog. A girl commented how cute it was “our” dogs looked like us. My skin crawled. If he TOUCHED Molly, I’d have to bathe her. At the end we sat on a bench. True to our generation, he asked me my sign. I answered, and he informed me that he didn’t think it would work. See, he had once been a Professor of Astrology at de Anza College. “I’m a Scorpio and I can tell that you are not particularly sexual. I need a very sexual woman. Sorry to disappoint you,” he said.
I have heard the “the Scorpio” argument several times since; enough to avoid them if I have fair warning. My brother is a Scorpio, too. So was my most recent ex…
(P.S. from the present — no woman who is completely turned off by a guy is “particularly sexual,” AND no guy who lives in a harvest-gold RV, delivers pizza on his bicycle [and is older than 16] and calmly carries rats out of his kitchen is much of a turn on)
Then there was the guy with the wonderful dog who went hiking with a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew and regaled me with splendid belches along the way. The dog was smarter than his owner, and I soon realized the dog felt a custodial responsibility to the guy. He looked at me almost desperately, as if he hoped I’d take to the guy and give him (the dog) some time off. Another met me at a trail head. The first thing he said on seeing me was, “That’s not your natural hair color!” We’d talked on the phone several times prior and I had thought he was probably a smart guy…
That was the end of that internet dating experience. The next time I tried it was in 2003-04 to reassure my ex-friend, Lana, that I was not interested in a good friend of mine whom she was dating.
The first was a museum curator who took me to see an exhibit by Andy Goldsworthy. I loved the exhibit, but my assessment and appreciation of the work did not sit well with my date who was an east coast guy full of answers. This was not to be a participatory experience; he was there to tell me what to think about what I saw. He was intelligent, thoughtful, articulate and divorced from sensation. It was a case of well-mannered mutual revulsion. During the course of this date I was actually hit on by a wildly tattooed, punked-out artist who came up behind me and said, “Here’s my number. Call me when you ditch your dad.”
(P.S. from the present; I probably should have called him but I washed the jeans with the number in the back pocket.)
The second was an Executive Coach. When my friend Brian (aged 20 at the time) saw the guy’s picture in the Yahoo Personals, he said, “Martha, that’s an old guy!” Since I hiked with Brian and hung out with Brian he had forgotten that I, too, am “an old guy.” I met the man and we immediately recognized that the other had the social skills to make the date/coffee/light dinner interview pleasant and entertaining, but we weren’t going anywhere. I got home to an email suggesting that we “just be friends.”
The third was a marketing director for a publishing company. We met for lunch; it was obvious immediately that he was just going to get through as quickly and painlessly as possible. The fourth was an avid mountain biker who loved to ride in the desert — something I really wanted to do. I was impressed because he drove all the way to Alpine to meet me. We had a nice dinner, and I liked him and we both thought the other was nice and good looking, but the conversation died about 40 minutes into the meal and never returned. What started out great became awkward and uncomfortable… He was NOT a Scorpio…
It should work. I mean you describe yourself in your own words. Back in my 20’s I remember thinking that meeting someone and handing him a resume, he hands you a resume, you check it out and go from that, many questions answered, would make it easier — that’s what online dating actually does. You basically write an ad telling the world who YOU are and what you are looking for. It’s amazing what you can tell from what is NOT written, for example, you know a guy is an executive type who’s used to giving orders when he basically writes a profile (allegedly about himself) that sets forth the necessary qualifications a woman must meet to be “hired” by him to be a girlfriend/lover/wife. Don’t have the min quals, forget the interview. One guy wrote, “I hate big breasts. If you have big breasts, don’t email me.” Another guy wrote, “If you get together with me, you’d better like my girlfriend. I would never leave her for you, ever so accept that right now.” This is accompanied by photos of him and his girlfriend along with photos of just him. Another, “I like 69, but my wife doesn’t. I love her, but I want head.” These are freakish phenoms, and amusing.
My favorite came to me through eHarmony (which a friend I met on eHarmony and I call “eharm” — that friend had been rejected 1440 times by potential matches and wonders if eharm is where “stepford women go to die.”) This passage is from a profile of a man that eharm’s much vaunted algorithmic bots (had to be white bots because they don’t have much rithm) sent as a potential match FOR ME:
“as i said befor i realy like to go into the woods and listen to the sounds of nature and get colster to m y savuer and think about life and hope this is not for nothing that i am on this world . i am a biker and hav been for 45 yrs & only broke 14 bones in that time ,i dont plan to break any more because i have stop speeding. after supper i watch tv movies , walk my dog for the night and retire for the night after watching j. leno . i also like to make my own food for the last 4 yrs sinse my devorse .i stoped smoking 26 yrs ago , & make 80 of my own food because i am very fussy about fats’ fiber.”
Some men (and possibly me, too) reveal between the words a level of hostility that tells you just how bad they were screwed over by someone. Women do that possibly more than men. On OKCupid (a free dating site that is a little WORLD into which one can fall and never emerge — it reminds me of a film I once wanted to make about a guy on Venice Beach who went from Tarot Card reader to Tarot Card reader until he dies just trying to get a different future reading after being told by the first that he would live an empty life full of futile searching…) it’s easier to read the same-sex profiles on OKCupid than on any of the dating sites I’ve been on. An enormous range of gorgeous, successful and dynamic women along with half-dressed Lolitas somewhat past their prime. I like it a LOT.
(P.S. from the present: I met one of my best women friends on OKC back then)
Putting a profile up on a dating site has taught me a lot about communication and its impossibilities. You can write what you think says, “I’m looking for a friendship that can turn into a love relationship” and there are men who will think you want sex now, with them (those are the Scorpios) over the phone. So, in a way, it doesn’t matter what you write in a profile, some will read what they want to read.
What’s AMAZING to me is the sheer NUMBER of dating sites each of which has hundreds of “age appropriate” single men. All the information (assuming it’s honest) should make this work, but there’s no reason it should be more certain or more predictable than meeting at school, or in line at the movies, or at Trader Joes (I’m constantly being hit on at Trader Joes — I think it’s the 50-something equivalent of a 70’s fern bar). People like me — who are scared — assume that all that information is a little insurance against future disappointment and heartbreak, but that just ain’t necessarily so. This is because…
People Can Lie
I met my most recent ex on Yahoo personals… Besides his physical attraction (substantial, in my opinion) his profile was clever. He said he preferred sushi to spagetti, Fellini to … I forgot but it began with an “F.” I thought this meant he liked sushi and Fellini (anyone who knows me knows that if someone likes Fellini they have penetrated several Martha barriers) — “Wow!” I thought. I read the salient details, too. His career was in marketing; he made $70,000 — 100,000 year and lived in La Jolla. He painted a picture of a clever, intelligent, educated man with a good career and an appropriate salary for his age in that “line of work.” We exchanged emails. His were brief, but fun, then we talked on the phone. He was incredibly charming. We met for dinner; he was captivated by me and hardly ate anything. I asked him what he did. He said he did marketing for a north county newspaper. He drove a Lexus. We sat in his car afterwards and kissed; I was very excited in every sense by this handsome man, who wrote good songs (he played them for me on his MP3), who was enchanted by me…
And then… His marketing job for a north county newspaper consisted of standing behind a cardboard kiosk outside Vons, Costco, or Ralphs trying to sell newspapers. His emails were brief because he wrote them on his phone from the kiosk in front of Costco… He liked sushi OK, but what really interested him was neither sushi or Fellini, but alliteration… The film genre he liked the best was that of the mindless action movie and anything directed by Wes Anderson. He had not finished college — in fact, he had done two semesters separated from each other by more than 20 years… The income he advertised was what he had earned from one of his jobs before he lost it (the job) and the Lexus is in front of my house, tagged by the county to be towed away. He parked it here more than three years ago to “hide it” from the repo man. He wrote three whole songs, and could not play any musical instruments. He was not captivated by me at dinner, well, maybe a little, but the reason he didn’t eat was that he didn’t like what he had ordered. The picture had been photoshopped…
(P.S. from the present: the Evil X was a narcissist and sociopath who practically ruined me financially and destroyed any interest I might have in ever getting involved with a man again in any lifetime. He ended up being committed to a mental hospital at which point I lost sight of him. I had to help his beautiful wonderful daughter get through her crushing disappointment at learning the reality of the father she had always adored.)
AND THEN, later, maybe contemplating trying again, I drafted a personal ad which may have been a parody but it also seems like it might be carry more than a germ of truth…
If you are overweight or ugly, don’t message me. I just can’t get my rocks off with overweight or ugly men. I tried to be less superficial, but guess what? I’m superficial, deeply, truly, profoundly superficial. I prefer men with blue eyes, fair skin, hair (any color), a strong chin, a sharp nose — basically your standard Anglo/Celt/Viking kinda’ guy ala Rutger Hauer, several interchangeably handsome Irish actors. Green eyes will do in a pinch, if they reflect intelligence as well as light, and since you’re likely to be grey haired, the least you can do is NOT wear a pony tail.
If you have issues with relationships such as rage at past partners for kicking you between the legs or taking your money, that’s not me and I’m not going to go out of my way to attempt to understand that this might make you something less than free, open and trusting at the beginning. If you didn’t know better than to choose women like that — yeah, yeah, I know how you men like the bad girls — that’s not my problem and I’m not going to pay for it. I’m one of the last good women and a good catch. You must be gainfully employed or self-supporting. I’m not a gold-digger, but I’ve supported all the shiftless, unmotivated, addicted and lazy men I’m going to for this lifetime. I’m a very independent person and you’d better be, too. Otherwise, get in line for the next woman, I guess.
Please don’t be controlling, passive-aggressive or co-dependent. My ex was all of those things and I don’t like being controlled that way. If you know how to use your masculinity and money to get me to do what you want, well, I’m all about it. I don’t care if you have a motorcycle; it doesn’t interest me now, it won’t if we get together. A motorcycle is a motorcycle is a motorcycle. I just hope it hasn’t completely pulverized your gonads or numbed the salient nerve endings because I really like sex. If you have ED or any other problem for which there is much late-night advertising on TV and much spam in my email, probably you need to find someone more on your sexual flatline, I mean wavelength. If you spend all night looking at porn on your computer don’t e-mail, you don’t need me.
You must have all your teeth and no serious health problems; you must have your own health insurance because I have mine. If we travel, you must be able to leave the US psychologically as well as physically; I don’t want to hear provincial complaining about the toilet paper in the restrooms of a nice restaurant in Grindelwald. My god, man, look at the mountains and forget your anal varicosities!
You must be someone who is not chronically “negative,” your every quotidian moment controlled by emotions like unhappiness, sorrow, grief, frustration or anger. I’ve already experienced enough negativity and I won’t accept any more. A good sense of humor is a must and the ability to enjoy my back-handed, sarcastic jabs a real plus. If you drink heavily or are addicted to hard drugs, NO. I have been there and done that and hate it and I would hate you, very, very quickly.
I’m looking for that “last first date” someone to “come home to” and someone to “grow old with.” Of course those are euphemisms for the fact that I’m not getting any younger or better and we’re looking at our twilight years, baby, but I’m denying that because all my students who want A’s tell me I look like I’m in my early 40’s and of course they’re right.