Sport flirting

flirt manA sport is generally a game that is played by one or more people. There are winners and losers (or sometimes a tie), but generally people playing the game know they’re playing it.

Except.. the sport of flirting. This is a game I’ve never aware that I’m part of, I’ve never voluntarily joined and the outcome rarely seems to results in a win.

Why? Because I’m a horrible flirt.

No, I’m not one of these people who manage to make every man in the room feel like Superman by flicking my hair, touching their arm and catching their eye at just the right moment before looking away coyly. No, I suck at flirting. I’m the one who’s most likely to punch you the arm, insult your facial hair and your intelligence then believe that I’m totally overdoing my come on. Now with hair that’s barely an inch, I’m bereft of the one thing I was capable of doing – twirling my hair – which leaves me with giggling, leaning in too close and batting my eyelashes. Not so much flirting as looking like I’m slightly retarded*.

Not only am I terrible at flirting, but I seem to have bypassed the line which enabled me to judge when someone is flirting with me. When it comes to reading the signs, I am apparently selectively autistic. Now women have over 40 different ways of flirting (well, other women), but men have only 10. Here are the main ones and I can say, hand on heart, I’ve never picked up on any of these in reference to myself in 42 years of life.

  • Flared nostrils: My immediate thought would be is he angry? about to sneeze?
  • Eyebrow flash (Quickly raising his eyebrows at the deliciousness that is you): I’d simply assume he was surprised or his Botox went askew, but nope.. apparently he’s interested
  • A flirtatious smile: If I knew what a flirtatious smile looked like I’d not be writing this post.. how does it differ from a grin? or a leer? or a smirk? Argghhhh. What does a flirtatious smile look like and how do I differentiate it from just a smile? Is there a special sign I can look for? Like a tongue poking out or something?
  • Intense eye contact: Now when I’m talking to someone I expect them to look in my general direction, but ‘intensely’? I’d simply assume he was a) deaf and reading my lips, b) ‘simple’ and trying to figure out what I meant by ‘whilst’ or c) psycho and mentally planning how to remove then cook my head.
  • Chest and pelvis pointed in your direction: Short of getting on my knees and looking under the table, how on earth am I meant to judge the direction of a man’s pelvis? And even I know that’s not socially acceptable. Plus how can I tell if his chest is pointing at me unless he’s wearing a tight nippletastic t shirt? (which is a whole other post). Its not like they have boobs you can follow.. maybe his chest is pointing at me? Maybe its pointing at the cute dude behind the bar? How can I tell???? (I’ll be the one under the table)
  • Touches your back, upper thigh or arms: Now after being single for a year I’m not used to anyone touching me unless they’re wearing a white lab coat and I’m addressing them as ‘doctor’. Which does make this sign an easier one for me to read – after all, anyone who touches me at all is noticeable.  Except, except.. some people are natural touchers. They gesticulate a lot, they touch someone’s arm to make a point, they think nothing of touching a woman’s hair, putting a hand on a shoulder or giving a full body hug at the end of an evening. All of which signal ‘go time’ to me… are simply the way they are with everyone. So as I’m trying to remember when I last shaved my legs and whether I’m wearing the good black bra or the slightly gappy one.. he’s off to pick up Chinese food without a thought in the world. See how confusing it is?
  • Laughing a lot: This one I can never tell. Am I just ‘on my game’ or is he a bit simple? Is he easily amused or has he been smoking some illicits’ in the car? Laughing like a drain is meant to signal that he’s receptive to you, but maybe he just doesn’t get out much? I for one would never take a laughing man as a signal of flirting..I’m not that funny.  I’d be more likely to think he’s high. Which in Colorado, he probably is.
  • Physical proximity: So if his shoulders are brushing up against yours, or his chair is really close to you, he leans in to say something or to catch what you’re saying.. all are  signs that he’s flirting. Or you’re sitting in a loud and slightly crowded bar and he’s slightly deaf. Which, for most of the guys in my age range… probably the more likely cause. And any guy who gets in close to you outside of a bar… major creepo right?.

So those are the main ones which guys use. All of which to me are completely unreadable as anything other than normal social behavior of any guy I’ve ever know – on a date, in an office, as a friend or just rando man out in the world. I just can’t tell. Which of course means I’ve spent 20 years misreading the signals and ignoring the rest. Because here’s what exponentially complicates it for those of us not blessed in this department.

Some people flirt for sport. With no actual intention behind it at all.

So, I may have missed the raised eyebrows, the flared nostrils, the puffed out chest and the flirtatious smile.. but after an hour I finally notice that he’s touching my arm, stroking my hair and holding my gaze… it still might mean bupkiss. While I’m busy congratulating myself on this guy finally noticing me, or somehow looking past all of the obvious flaws to see the inner beauty that is moi, he’s actually wondering if is ex is available for a booty call. Because he’s a sport flirt. Just keeping his hand in. His skills sharp. It doesn’t take him any effort, he loves to see women respond and hey, nothing was actually said. He didn’t actually mislead anyone. Its all just good fun, right?

So here’s my ask of you sport flirts out there. I’m going to ask that you refrain from practicing on me. I’m generally too stupid to pick up on your signals and if you somehow do manage to penetrate the tectonic plate that is my brain, its so rare, I’m going to believe that its real. That you’re actually really interested in me. You know, as a woman.

Please target any other woman in the room, the office, the bar or the store…touch her arm, hold her gaze and laugh at her crap joke with abandon, but don’t sport flirt with me. Its just way too confusing. And pretty cruel to mock the afflicted. In fact, if you’d like to wear a special sporting shirt for the occasion that would make it even easier on me. Maybe carry a small sign? That way I could actually differentiate between the sporting flirt and the genuine dude trying to signal my attention. Well… you know… if I can ever figure out what a flirtatious smile looks like.

***

*Yes I know retarded isn’t a socially acceptable word anymore, but when I’m referencing myself, I think I’m allowed to choose the term which best applies. Which most often is ‘retarded’.

First Date topics you might want to skip

sick-bedAh first dates. Gotta love ’em. Actually we all hate them. There is no rationale as to why we decide to spend an hour with a complete stranger with the sole purpose of trying to decide if you’ll get naked at some point in the future. I prefer my annual ob-gyn exam.. the small talk is easier and he doesn’t care if I’m not that pretty.

What do two people who know pretty much nothing about each other, talk about on a first date? I mean, its not like its an interview for a job (no matter what Jerry Seinfeld says). But you do.. and at 40 something, I typically manage to have a good time on a first date especially if they’re a) cute, b) chatty and c) trying. But last night, even I was stumped. I finally found one I couldn’t crack. And boy, did I try. Blood.. meet stone.

First dates typically start by either of you latching onto a topic and staying there until the cocktail kicks in, at which point you can move the conversation in a zillion directions. Which is when the date gets fun. After all people.. aka humans… tend to be really interesting.

Over the years I’ve learnt that to get things going to start light and casual..weekend plans, summer activities, even the weather can get things moving. Its not hard.

But no, this guy decided the best place to start after he’d said hello, was to give me his resume. Starting at age 18.

Now as a 46 year old man, who’s run a fairly successful business, I would think my date would have the ability to small talk. You know, .. how’s your summer been? done anything fun? what are your plans for fall? Are you looking forward to ski season? Banal, but easy.

Not this guy. Instead I got his life history from age 18- 46, with every move, every job, every conversation with management, his stock purchases and yes, even his IPO returns (and subsequent investment decisions).

I wasn’t sure if he’d somehow confused me with a headhunter.

At one point I even interjected to mention that yes, his career was fascinating but that I was actually more interested in how he arrived in Colorado, to which I was reprimanded with ‘I’m telling you’. So I guess if he wants to hear about how I ended up in the US I’d have to start from the womb?

But.. 15 minutes in, I managed to steer the Titanic away from the iceberg of his bank account details towards the calmer waters of his kids. Everyone likes to talk about their kids don’t they? And while I don’t actually care about his kids (I’m not considering dating them), I figure it might calm him down and he could wax rhapsodic (as all parents do) about the awesomeness that is his offspring.

But no.. I actually appeared to have found the only parent who wasn’t interested in talking about his kids. Nope.. not one bit. Instead he wanted to spend time assuring me that my decision not to have kids was ‘ok’ and that people without kids were ‘fine‘. Wow.. Thank you. I had really been tortured by my non-parent status for the last 10 years, but now *phew* I can finally sleep at night. I really must pass on to other non parents that we’re not the pariahs of society that we think.

What became really clear as he expounded  on ‘having vs. not having kids’ (with no idea as to whether this was an active choice for me or not), was that he clearly hasn’t spent any time with adults who don’t have kids. According to his portrayal of us non-parents, our status as ‘non parents’ was down to our preference for a hedonistic cycle of alcohol, sex, food, travel (yep, seems about it). No judgement though.. no judgement at all.  There was no recognition that we might have rich inner lives, be pursuing creative or spiritual passions  or that we simply didn’t find the right guy at the right time. Nope.. he was fine with people who preferred to selfishly live their lives alone with no ‘real’ responsibilities. He was just concerned for us.. dying in a retirement home, unvisited, unloved and soul suckingly alone.

What can I say. This guy knows how to woo a single woman. Sympathy for my barren status and impending lonely death always gets me hot.

Before I could interject that maybe, just maybe some of us non-parents might have a expansive network of caring friends, that we live full and rich lives, that we might actually have a greater chance to spend our latter years surrounded by loving, fun and caring people.. (after all, plenty of people in retirement homes have kids who don’t visit).. he decided that really, we needed to talk about dying.

Yep. Lets talk about dying. On a first date. Awesome.

His reason for being on Match.com? Well apparently it was down to his desire to not die alone. He wanted to die holding the hand of his loving spouse, who was assuring him that he was loved as he drew his last breath. Surrounded by his loving kids, and you know.. loved.

I want to die smothered by a pillow. Hopefully in the next 5 minutes.

He went on, and on, about his uncle who had died alone in a nursing home, with no visitors and you know..totally alone. And how, by not having kids or a spouse, this man was an object of pity and fear for my date. His being not married, sans kids,  in old age was literally the worse thing that this guy could imagine..

‘I don’t want to end up like that’

Well buddy, non of us do. That’s why we invest time in friends and family (yes, the ones you don’t create still count!). That’s why we live our lives engaged with other people. Spend our time with friends we care about and have experiences that we will remember forever. Sure, we hope some of those friends will be with us in our dotage, but if they’re not, we’ll find new friends to keep us company and engaged in life..after all, we’ve been finding and keeping friends all of our lives. (you know, when we’re too tired to have sex or too hungover to be drinking). I for one will never be alone unless I want to be.. and after an hour with this guy.. I’d never wanted anything more.

So I wish Mr.Doom and Gloom all the best in his search for his deathbed hand holder. I do know for sure it won’t be me.

I’ll be the one in the corner with the pillow at the ready.

All systems go for Capricorns!

Horoscope for Capricorns

Hey, its day 2 of a monster migraine.. so sue me for a crappy title. I’m still writing even though I’m wearing sunglasses inside and all I see out of left eye resembles my parents aging Trinitron (a lot of vertical lines).
And since I’m partially blind, this means in the eyes of my employer I can still work.. but in the eyes of Rachael.. the only thing I can really do is surf random sites in the hope of coming across a ‘new creative idea’ for internal communications.

Hence, I’m reading my horoscope.

Which is exciting because a) its an eclipse tonight and b) this apparently means lurve is on the horizon. Talk about making my dog walks kinda loaded.

In fact my horoscope for today was ‘single and looking for love?  Today might be the start of a whirlwind affair’. Well lets just say I have my eyes peeled for Mark Ruffalo and I won’t be leaving the house in non matching underwear today.

Not that I think ‘whirlwind affair’ equates to sex with a stranger while out walking the dog (my life is weird, but not that weird), but I do feel the universe demands matching underwear and knowing my luck, today is going to be the day that I get run over by Edward Norton. And he, surely, expects matching underwear.

You never know.

So, seeing that the universe is positively demanding that I go out and find a crush, a love, start an affair or just flash my new Freya thong at someone.. where to start?

Well after consulting my positively ‘packed’ calender of activities, all I see on the horizon is a looming first date with a potential douce, a yoga class and movie night ‘Ingredients’ courtsey of my community garden.

What can I say, I roll hard.

Thinking that perhaps these activities aren’t likely to illicit any whirlwind anything (certainly not with the douce who refers to himself in the third person constantly), I am planning on adding some other activities to my day in the hope that for once, my horoscope might be somewhat on track. I don’t count a date with Mr. Potatohead as my ‘lurve’ connection for 2013 and c’mon .. its already May.  If it continues in this vein, I’m going to start grabbing the sweaty youth at my Crossfit gym or stalking the bike mechanics at Specialized. And I’ve already terrified one mechanic this year.. I need to leave some available for actual working on my bikes.I can’t ostracize myself from every mechanically inclined male in Denver.. I break too many things when I ride.

But here’s the weird thing.  For the first time in a while the actual thought of all that effort, all that ‘getting to know you’ stuff, primping and pretending, all that phone tag stuff and ‘so.. tell me about your sister’ just sounds exhausting. The thought of a ‘date’… yerch..

I’m so sore from working out, brain dead from an insane workload and irritable from my last performance review (promotion now due in 2020) I think any guy who came near me might get his head bitten off and his ass whupped.. and to be honest, that seems more appealing that lurve.

Hmm.. maybe instead of seeking lurve.. I need to start exploring the local S&M community? 
Wanted – dude to have his ass whupped by really irritated female who really doesn’t give a shit about walks on the beach or your personal growth. Hmmm.. I wonder if that’s part of tomorrow’s horoscope?

Where did making out go?

Where did making out go?

In the era of the fling, the flung, the f.buddy and fornication I have an embarrassing admission.

I’m 41 and I love making out.

From the age of 16, making out (aka. necking, snogging, kissing, petting, smooching.. you get what I mean), was the main goal in life. As a late starter I wasn’t that interested in the whole thing until I did it, (New Years Eve, my 16th birthday, Day 1 without braces, Jon) at which point I realized what  boys were good for (other than peeing on the fire when you were done making s’mores). Kissing was where it was at.

Nothing has ever been quite so heady as backing up against a wall, a car, a sofa and just locking lips with a guy you weren’t sure even knew you existed until 2 minutes ago. And then realizing that through some random selection process, your mouths fit together just perfectly. So much so that you didn’t want to stop. 5 minutes turned into 15 minutes turned into hours until your lips were bruised and your Dad was honking the horn for you to get inside and make your 9pm curfew. (Yes, I was living in a prison camp for most of my teen years).

Because sex wasn’t on the table (hey, I was a late starter), you had no other objective other than trying to drive the other person nuts with your lips, aided and abetted by your wandering hands.  Making out was really the only way to show someone what you were thinking (hey we were British) without saying anything embarrassing. It also was the dawning realization that – wow – I have all the power!
Of course things would get heated, but with an early curfew, a bike as transportation and a bedroom the size of a closet… you couldn’t get more protected sex than two pairs of jeans, a belt buckle and the sound of ‘Mastermind’ on the TV in the living room. Since sex was off the table every move and sensation was  heightened. Having your lip bitten, someone kissing the hollow in your neck, nibbling your ear… even now.. wow. Communication, touch, connection.. all kinds of wonderful.

These days, this age, we know that sex is always on the table, near the table or somewhere in the same restaurant. Any indication of attraction seems to light the nitro exhaust to the bedroom (or the sofa), and these days, making out is just a quick stop on the way to more naked pleasures. A first date peck on the cheek quickly turns into a second date fumble and before you know it, he’s wondering why you’re not making like the chick on Xtube as he takes off his socks.  You’re lucky if he kisses you at all once your bra comes off. As a formerly married person, I remember wondering why kisses had morphed into pecks and distracted 3 second smooches when we we had more time, more things to share. Kissing was the canary in that coal mine and it pretty much died after a year. Maybe its just me, but I’m sure everyone – single or married – still enjoys being kissed. Don’t you enjoy making out?

Now I love a man with a plan, a guy who takes charge and doesn’t want to talk about his feelings for  hours before copping a feel.. but lately, I can’t help wondering where making out went.
When did a quick snog become a drive by on the way to unhooking my bra? An obligatory tongue thrust before unzipping my jeans? Don’t guys lament the absence of sexual tension? Isn’t there any need to connect with the person you’re about to ‘connect’ with?

Maybe in the era of instant porn and ‘on demand’ everything, the teasing, tension laden ‘will we? won’t we’ make out sessions aren’t so appealing or maybe we’ve just forgotten. Have we become a species driven by instant gratification, or are we just too busy to kiss each other? Has our iPhone actually replaced intimacy? No? Really?

When did you last kiss someone for more than a quick minute?

For the pleasure of it?

Just because you wanted to say something, show something without talking?

My last make out session was a while ago but it sticks in my mind. Kissing, touching and more kissing. Ok, a little rolling around but all very junior. There was lots of discovering each other through touch; the joy of finding a hip bone, a lat and yes, the obligatory boner, all while having that unique conversation that is kissing. Plus since our mouths were busy, neither he nor I could say anything too stupid.
And it was delicious. Instead of lamenting what I did or he did or what no-one was able to do, I was excited for what we didn’t do. For the tension that remains, even if its never put to bed (figuratively or literally). It felt good to want something and not be able to have it for a change. And for an evening I felt 16 again. Frenzied, excited and thankfully this time, no Dad on the horn in the driveway. I don’t know who was more shell shocked at the fun that was had, him or me.

So here’s the thought of the day. Go home and kiss someone.

Just not a 16 year old.  I think that’s a felony. 

Learning to flirt

I always thought of myself as a good flirt. I had no shortage of guy friends growing up and I made them laugh. Some even kissed me in-between chuckles. Wasn’t that flirting?

Apparently no.

I didn’t learn that I was a horrible flirt (as in ‘bad’, ‘not good’ and ‘are you trying to actively scare men away?’) until I was back in the dating pool at age 35. I assumed that since I’d had several long term boyfriends (and an ex husband), that I must be doing something right. It wasn’t until I casually talked about flirting with a friend that I learned that I’d been doing it all wrong.  She laughed;

‘oh no, you’re horrible at flirting’

‘you mean I over do it?’

‘No…Its like you are trying to convince men that you’re mentally retarded..’

‘…or you’re trying to physically hurt them’

Really??? I always thought I was quite flirtatious’

(…raucous laughter)

Apparently flirting is not;
– Fake punching a guy in the chin and accidentally breaking his jaw
– Poking him in the genitals
– Matching him drink for drink then puking all over his car
– Twirling him on the dance floor so hard that he spins into the DJ booth and cracks his head open
– Leaning in for the long shot on the pool table and seductively sliding your cue through the green stuff
– Avoiding his eyes because you’re so nervous you want to laugh hysterically and then pee your pants
– Jokily insulting his wardrobe, grammar, hair, car, career, sexual prowess or penis in a crowded bar
– Arm wrestling him and actively trying to win
– Telling him that he looked so good, he made me ‘slide off my seat’
– Sucking your finger and then starting to bite a hangnail

Yes. I know. I’m dying inside too.

I thought it was cute in the moment. I now know I seemed psychotic.

To be honest, after I learned what flirting actually is, I was amazed I’d even been kissed at all. Thankfully I have nice boobs.

Luckily I now have friends who have helped explain that physical feats of strength and verbal abuse don’t count in the ‘attracting a mate’ game. More hair twirling and lip licking, less humiliation. Cute smiles at strangers, and whispered ‘hi’s, maybe some casual physical contact and definitely no punching.

I was game. I decided to take my new knowledge out for a spin.

Here’s the thing. Like dancing, learning a new skill takes time and you tend to be a bit ‘jerky’ at first. It doesn’t feel or look natural, and as pragmatic ‘can do’ woman, I sort of missed the casual nature of the thing.

The result? My hair twirling looked like I was infected with lice or was suffering with trichotillomania. When I  smiled broadly at guys standing in line at Whole Foods, I felt like The Joker and from the looks on the guys faces, I suspect they were inwardly chanting ‘stranger danger’. My hair flips resulted in me having to peel a chunk stuck in my lip gloss, and don’t get me started on the lip licking… I think even my dog thought I was about to eat him with a nice bottle of Chianti. When I wanted to casually touch my latest crush, I wound up grabbing his watch and complementing him on the time. Yes. I complemented him on the time.

I guess I have some work to do. So if you happen to see a woman with a chunk of hair stuck in her lip gloss and a fixed grin on her face, please be nice to her. Just duck if you see a fist coming and know that she really really likes you.

I will be taking a lover

Given the decline in available attractive men over 40, I have made an executive decision. I shall soon be taking a lover. No, not a f-k buddy. I’m not 22. A lover. Someone to ..ahem… love me…you know… periodically.
Easy right? No strings, just occasional loving from a tried, trusted and reliable partner. It should be easy right? Lets just say you ask a man to turn up, be welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm, get loved up and then leave. No arguments about how you didn’t put the laundry away, who’s picking up the kids or questions about ‘where is this going?’ You’d think there would be a line out of the door. Sadly, no.

I don’t work in an environment rife with single men (I work at home), and my pursuits tend towards the gay and female friendly (yoga, gardening, dining out and movies). Even when I’m hitting the gun range, a very manly pastime, armed weapons at close range tend to be a prohibiter in meeting guys (unless you live in Texas in which case its hotter than crotchless panties to some guys). I’ve tried smiling at guys while on my bikes, but sweaty lycra isn’t that attractive, and on my motorcycle, no-one can see your rictus grin at 70mph.

So here’s my first hurdle. How does one identify, track down and solicit potential lovers? (do not say Craigslist). Its not exactly something you can put in an ad without sounding like you’re advertising for a hooker and I’m not. I actually don’t want to have to pay.. and even if I did, are there even guy hookers in real life??? Tawdry and I’ll put that one on the back of the stove for if I get desperate. Really desperate.
No, I think that since I don’t need to wear a bag on my head in public and I still fit into my college jeans, I should be able to do this without an ATM withdrawal. But how? My guy friends have suggested that I could find someone ‘by snapping my fingers’ but I spent the weekend doing that and the only reaction I got was a very alert dog. Maybe I should have left my apartment.

Ok, so if its so easy … how? Again, my extremely informed male friends ‘go to a bar, flirt and go home with someone’. Yes, if I were 25 that would work. But again, if I’m in ‘meat market’ bar, I tend to look like I’m someone’s mother coming to call them out on missed curfew. The bars I actually go to tend to cater to the older crowd and sadly, most of them are married or partnered up and nothing ends an evening like the threat of a knifing in the bathroom. Lately the only single guys I’ve met are behind the bar and waiting until his shift ends at 3am, well he’d had to wake me up first. Nope, bars are out.

Which pretty much leaves exes and, gulp, websites. Since my exes seem to boomerang around on an annual basis and if there is no requirement to eat my cooking or meet my mother, I guess I might be able to identify someone if I throw in a bottle of Oban. If not, I’m back on the dreaded online community which, if my dating is anything to go by, means I’m shit out of luck.

Ok, lets say that I actually leave my apartment and am able track down a willing participant. Here’s the next hurdle. How does one propose such an agreement? I am, after all, a pragmatic organized person with  very heavy Downton Abbey viewing schedule. Do you leave it to chance with a ‘call me for a good time?’ or do you actually schedule the thing ‘so…..ahem… Sunday afternoon say 3-6pm?’  That seems way too weird either way. I did try the direct approach once and the guy practically shrank 3 inches before I’d finished the sentence and I haven’t seen him since. How do people do this?

Maybe there’s a reason that most of the women I know don’t do this. Its too damn hard. Men don’t seem to respond to women who know what they want at the best of times. And I guess some chick coming at you with a proposition and a potential schedule might be considered terrifying at best.
So I’m throwing it out to the universe. I will be taking a lover…

(meanwhile I’ll be one snapping her fingers and waiting in apartment 1010).

Finding a date: Fresh to Market

Despite our technologically obsessed workplaces and unceasing levels of communication, many people would think that finding a date these days is easy. After all, we’ve all see those commercials featuring Mr. Creepy Old Man talking about ‘true compatibility’ and who hasn’t got a friend who met their boyfriend/ husband/ex on match.com?  Finding someone to date is easy right?
Wrong. 
As any person over the age of 40 can tell you, finding a non psychotic, vaguely attractive person in your age range is more challenging than anything Tom Cruise can pull off while hanging from a wire over a computer. For now I’m ignoring people who like to date waaaaay out of their age range (sorry cougars and cradle robbers), but for those who consider a 2-5 age difference their target demographic, sorry to break it to you, its tough out there.

Online dating is great for finding weirdos, freshly minted divorcees, girls with massive insecurity issues, angry people and hermits. Sure, there are the occasional sane cute ones, but they are rarer than Jewish athletes. For the rest of us, those ‘plenty of fish’ are missing a fin or two and probably have crossed eyes. Most are – like perch – immediate throw backs. If you want to get laid, great.. go right ahead. If you actually want to date, this ain’t the way to go.

So if you’ve given up in online dating (something I’ve done with more fervor and frequency than actually ‘go on dates’), the question arises 4 months into an dry spell – how do I meet someone?

Three words – Fresh to Market

Sure its not a location, because location is irrelevant. I know someone who met and married a guy she met at a drunken frat party (when she was waaaaaay out of college) and the number of people who get busy over the photocopier at work really should be included in the ‘Benefits’ package. You can meet guys everywhere (except my apartment), but when you meet them is everything.

Fresh to Market is everything at 40-ish.

One of my girlfriends met her long term ‘partner’ while rebounding from her 13 year marriage, another met her partner by playing ‘friendly shoulder’ after his divorce which turned into hooking up and eventually dating. Both chicks found a partner when they (or he) were ‘fresh on the market’. Why is ‘fresh’ on the dating market so important? Because they don’t know better. If you’re the first and you’re not an absolute ogre.. then you’re in. And nobody is more susceptible to your charm that someone who’s been through a painful time and needs to feel good about themselves. If you can deliver some warm and fuzzies (or maybe an orgasm) .. well… you’re through the front door at least. My advice? Hear about a breakup? Get on the phone, on the doorstep and into your role as lead sympathizer and cheerleader. Its how Harry got Sally after all?
NOTE: And no, you can’t cause the divorce or the breakup. No one likes a psycho as a girlfriend. A lay sure, but not a girlfriend.

‘Fresh to market’ doesn’t always mean newly dumped.  My guy friends always seem to meet women who are working in town on secondment, temporary assignment or those who have moved to town for a new job.  All of them acted as local host, did the Lannies Clock Tower/ Peaks Pike/ Ski day/ First Friday activities and all of them ended up married. I repeat – all of them ended up married to that chick. Now I’m not advising you to camp out at DIA with a sign, but if you hear someone is new to town, reconsider your level of enthusiasm about the Aquarium.

Finally, ‘fresh to market’ can be much less obvious. It seems to happen (more often than you’d think) that one day a guy wakes up and thinks ‘ huh .. being married = not that bad’ and stops thinking that every woman wants to be ordering china after the 3rd date. Suddenly his first dates are actually not about getting laid (it fact it becomes a liability), but about auditioning women for long term potential. Its not so much about short term fun but whether he can see himself dealing with the baggage your bringing once those cute crows feet look like canyons.. Sure most guys will tell you that they’re always ‘looking’ but as we know.. thats also the best way to get a chicks pants off. The guys who are looking… tend to not mention it. But as a chick with many guy friends, I can assure you that you can actually see the ‘available’ bulb go off (and I start counting down the days to ‘we’re engaged’). Early warning signs include mentions  that ‘all my friends are married’ and an daily text messages that don’t involve the words ‘ what are you wearing?’

So, how do you find one of these unicorns?

If I knew that, I’d be wearing a ring now wouldn’t I??

Questions we’re still asking at 40ish…Does he like me?

 Interestingly if you Google this phrase, the number of responses is about 70 trillion, mostly aimed at 13 year olds whose gummy smiles and braces are locked up wondering if the reason their lab partner set them on fire is because they ‘like’ them. Sadly, I’m apparently still that girl since I Googled this phrase this afternoon actually looking for an answer.

For those of us over 40 who still haven’t figured it out, there’s not really much guidance on answering this question when it comes to romance. The married friends just roll their eyes with faux sympathy and coo about ‘Oh I remember worrying about that’ as they still look for reassurance from the husband of 10 yrs. The singletons can analyze the crap out of text message, but do you really want guidance from someone who’s as clueless as yourself?  (after all, you are all single). Which leaves your own judgement (or a very very patient therapist). Wondering if he was really interested in your tattoo or just trying to touch you? Was he really concerned about walking me home, or just working up the courage to ask for another date? Do his repeated text messages mean anything other than ‘I’m bored and I know you’re sitting at your desk Googling ‘how to meet men”). Who’s to know. I guess if you have to ask, the answers probably no. But then the evidence is kind of blurry on all fronts.

The last guy I enjoyed a first date with apparently died (or so I like to think), since 3 months into dating he asked me my ring size, my wedding ceremony preference and then disappeared from this earth. He seemed interested right up to his apparent death (hopefully slow and painfully).

The guy before that charmer waited 262 days between date 1 and asking for date 2 (yes, you can wait too long) but when, after abject apologies and no small amount of begging, we went out.. yep..he disappeared again. Its been 2 years now so I’m guessing we’re about due for date 3.  Was he interested? He sure seemed interested during those 121 emails he sent before the date. But apparently not that much.

The same goes for a guy who lived in my neighborhood. Over the course of 3 or 4 years he engaged in flirtatious conversations, sent me late night drunken Facebook messages and even offered the odd invitation for drinks.. and yet it never quite happened. Because he only did those things when he was dating someone. Once he was single he disappeared. So apparently not that interested.

Am I missing something? Do I have ‘interim romantic interest’ tattooed on my forehead or am I just the least effective booty call in history? Because maybe its my advancing age, but these days I just can’t tell. I’m not repulsive and I do date.. but why do the guys I date, act so strange? Is it just me or are they all like that? I’m sure chicks are just as bad.. but lord, I didn’t expect to be Googling this question 25 years after I first asked it.

And the answer? Well Google talks a lot about eye dilation, sweating and raised pulse rates, but unless I can whip out my torch, a magnifying glass and a stethoscope every time I meet a guy.. I guess I’ll just have to keep guessing.

Where is the fun?… Valentines Day

Yes, I know its January.. 
Back when my world was made up of bell bottoms, horrid cable knit ponchos and questionable striped shirts, I celebrated Valentines day. V-day was the highlight of the year with the sending of hand written notes and much snickering in the corridors. Since paper ‘Valentines’ originated in the UK, we were taught that February 14 was the day you wrote a note to someone you liked, admired or were ‘sweet’ on. Poem optional. The only rules were that you didn’t sign it, and it was meant to be from a ‘secret admirer’. Cards were quickly assembled that day from lined paper torn from workbooks and the sentiment was pretty limited to ‘I like you’. The odd extrovert might draft an ‘ode’ of love, but generally this was limited to boys called Graham with lisps and affectations involving scarves. The receiving of the card was pretty darn exciting, but trying to work out the chicken scratched author was intoxicating. Hoping that it was who you hoped it to be.. (..and equally terrified that it might be him)..and hiding your disappointment when you realized it was actually from Damien with the big mole, not Spike with the cool hairdo. Valentines day didn’t need a sugar high, it was full-on ‘CSI’ at our school by 3.45pm. The one day no-one wanted to leave school.

As we got older, the exercise pretty much stayed the same but complexity rose with age and fear. The notes became cards (still often hand made), the senders anonymous (pushed through his mailbox in the early evening dusk followed by Lance speed pedaling) and the analysis of his projected interpretation, detailed (oh the hours trying to figure out what he’d think!). We rode our bikes 6 or 7 miles to make sure that our Valentine couldn’t identify the correct postmarked source (yeah, guys lie awake wondering about that), wrote 17 drafts to hit just the right note of flirtatious innocence, and wove clues to our identities more deftly than Shakespeare.  I swear that in 12 years of school not a single guy ever knew that Valentine he received was from me, (and if he did, he’s currently working for Mi5). In hindsight, I don’t think we quite got the idea quite right.

The Valentines we received were up for public debate and interpretation. Green ink? Must be Gareth, he was kind of ‘alternative’. Spelling mistake? Clearly Andrew- he never could spell ‘February’ correctly. The drawing of the filigree heart? Definitely Chris – everyone knew he was the best at ‘drawing’ in the school. Huge dirty fingerprints? Got to be ‘big John’, after all he was always playing rugby during break. Clearly the guys put 1/100th of the effort and time into the act of composing and exchanging notes, but they didn’t seem too fazed when we figured it out. I guess for them it was the point.. duh. 

In a school of less than 600, you generally knew exactly who liked you and who thought you were dragged through the ugly bush so your options were limited when it came to imagining, but ending the day with the notion that someone out there thought you were the cats pajamas was awesome, even if you couldn’t be sure. No note? Clearly it got lost or he was too shy (hey, girls start making excuses for guys from birth). Maybe next year he’d work up the courage.  Yes, that’s it.

By the time I was in college we were too cool for notes and too poor for gifts, so we got creative. My roommate Sarah spent 3 hours cutting potatoes into hearts for her boyfriends dinner (sadly he decided to help out and mashed them right before she served dinner), and I decorated my boyfriends car with flowers I stole from the campus gardens (much to the hysterics of his roommates).  Cheesy? – beyond measure. Fun ? Totally.
At age 23 someone delivered a 6 foot fig tree to my door and then offered to help me iron my work shirts. At 26, I re-papered a boyfriends walls with cut out red hearts (which unfortunately left pink stains everywhere) and greeted him wearing nothing but a paper heart of my own design. Cheesy? You betcha. Fun? he laughed like a drain.  Especially when he realized I was stained red along with the walls.

Now that I’m 40ish and living in a different country, I don’t recognize Valentines day at all. Yes its commercial, its a hellish shade of Pepto pink and seems to be dominated by demanding, expecting women. That actually doesn’t bother me a jot. But what I don’t see is the fun. When did it stop being fun? I hear women complaining about roses that didn’t get sent, over-crowded restaurants and even dismissal of the day entirely (‘we prefer to declare our love every other day of the year’). For some it reinforces the agony of being alone and others use it to celebrate girlfriends. Women seem to be the recipients, rarely the initiators. Cards are used to accompany flowers or forgotten altogether and the notion that it might be silly or lighthearted seems to be something left behind at school. And no-one seems to be having much fun.

Me? I still believe in the fun of Valentines day. I think that everyone needs a little excitement as part of their day, implications be damned. So I’ll be spending the next 2 weeks composing my anonymous love sonnets, finding the perfect card and cycling out to parts of Colorado hereto unknown to deliver a chicken scratched note or two. He won’t know its from me, but I’ll have fun and this time I won’t need to repaint anyone’s walls.

What those dating profiles actually mean


In moments of boredom, solitude and basically when I need to tune out, I peruse the ‘man ads’. Not the ‘here’s Mr. Winkie, you wanna piece?’ ads, but the ‘looking for a date/ I’m witty and yet still strangely single’ type ads. After oooooo 5 years of this (it comes in waves, its not my second job or anything), I’ve discerned some general guidelines for sorting. Ignore at your peril.

” I have 2 wonderful children who are my life”
As of the mid 30s, this is a staple opener for the divorced guy. Take this to mean he’s a stay at home welfare dad, he’s boring and has little use for anything other than Sprout Tv and Tater Tots, or that he’s not actually looking for a women, but a ‘woman hole’ for Mr. Winkie. This guy hasn’t dated in a loooong time and is using his kids an excuse for having no friends and no social life.
Advice to Guys: Stating that you have no time for anything other than your kids in an ad for an actual, live woman pretty much cements your priorities out of the gate. We get it – they’re wonderful, they’re amazing and unique, but so are we. Next.

“Looking for that one special lady”
Now I know I”m no longer able to wear a mini skirt and I think Justin Beiber looks like a lesbian, but no one under the age of 80 likes to be referred to as a ‘lay-dee‘. Anyone who self identifies as a ‘lay-dee‘ is typically a early 40s transsexual who wants to host tea parties while listening to Chris De Burg or an upper class wannabe with Parade magazine china on the dining room wall. If I’m a lay-deethat makes this guy a mother obsessed wuss. What he actually wants is a ‘nice girl’ who doesn’t ever say the wrong thing, swear or god forbid, have sexual demands.
Advice to Guys: We are are ‘women’ ‘chicks’ ‘girls’ ‘dates’ or even ‘dude’. We may sometimes be ‘bitches’ but wait for the blue hair and estrogen cream before you call us ‘lay-dees‘. My vagina still works thank you.

No one can believe I’m single” 

We can. You’re on a dating site.
Advice to Guys: You’re on a dating site. We’re all mostly single. Many of us are surprised about this. Sharing your confusion as to this fact only reinforces your oblivion towards the real world.

“I’m just looking for that one right person”
I’m totally thrilled that you don’t subscribe the to polygamous lifestyle but I have to break it to you. There is no ‘one’ right person. There are many right people. The fact that you haven’t met any at your age indicates you might need to leave the house occasionally.
Advice for Guys: Don’t be so damn picky. 35 yr old blond, millionaire, large busted virgins are impossible to find outside of SecondLife or Russianbrideforsale.com.

“Looking for someone real”
This is my personal favorite as a online headline. You’re online. No one can see you. No one knows who you are. I could be a man. Or 12. Or living in Nigeria. My picture could be taken from a website for slimming pills. I could actually be Charles Manson. You’ll never know. Does anyone ever wake up and think ‘hey, I’m not actually real, I’m kind of fake’.
Advice for Guys: We’re all as real online as that picture you took back in 1989 leaning against that Porsche and posted yesterday. Kinda real. Sorta real. Really real. Take a chance, you might really like the ‘real’ me.

Sexting

Once upon a time girls and boys used to hold hands, snog in the bike sheds and send each other cryptic notes during class.When the girls and boys got older, they spent hours on the phone whispering and giggling with each other, fondled each other on park benches and trying to get away with an illicit hand down the pants.

These days, they sext.

For the uninitiated (or those trapped under a large rock in Utah), sexting is the sending of lurid photos of your body parts (or your entire self) and suggestive comments via your phone to your boyfriend, lover or these days, apparently anyone who might be interested. Boobs and full body underwear shots seem to be popular, along with suggestive poses, gynecological shots and even guys are muscling in with ..ahem… a firm grasp on themselves. Looking at it objectively, sexting echos the schoolyard with a ‘you show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ theme, but with the daring possibility that your photo could end up on his (or her) Facebook, Twitter or simply stored in a secret folder on his (or her) laptop until his IT department finds it during laptop replacement time (yes it happens, I know the IT guy at work).

 If you’ve not tried it and you’re a consenting adult (teenagers doing this makes me shudder), I highly recommend everyone try it it. It’s simultaneously liberating and terrifying. On a good note, you can take as many photos of yourself and select the best one, thereby avoiding shots of the cellulite on your thighs, your varicose veins and stretch marks.  Its titillating, and suggestive texts back and forth can really ramp things up for later. On a bad note, you are sharing something extremely private which may or may not be treated as you think. It really tests the level of trust you have in your partner (‘no honey, you can’t use it as your screen saver’). You also might open the floodgates for random photos of groin shots from your lover during your conference call (not everyone’s ideal morning wake up call). If that’s your bag, great, just make sure you don’t leave your phone on your desk during any meetings. Your boss or coworkers do not need to meet your partner’s … bits. It makes the company holiday party so much more fraught for everyone.

WARNING: Do not sext someone who you have not yet been …intimate..with.  People who have just started dating have enough excitement going on without sexting and to use the phone as your primary method for seduction… well, its trashy and I don’t think its terribly effective for anyone over the age of 21. Its the equivalent of someone flashing you and hoping for a positive reaction. High risk, low chance of success.

But if you know this person, you’ve already been intimate and you trust them… .. a few tips to help maximize your experience.

Check what actually appears on the screen before sending it. Smart phones love to suggest alternate words for your misspellings which can result in you asking your partner to ‘flare me senileless’

Exclude your face: Unless you’re legally bound to this person or possess suitable blackmail material, avoid including your face in any photos. Not that every man isn’t a trustworthy petal of joy, but if the love of your life should happen to dump your ass, your face isn’t going to be plastered all over Twitter. Yes, its weird, but do you really want people connecting your face to those nipples?

Sexting while drunk. One word – don’t. Sure, after a drink, suggestive comments or photos are flirty and fun. After 5 martinis, not so much. And yes, people can tell you’re drunk if the text says ‘I wan Ur pie us’. The walk of shame is nothing compared to the ‘scan of shame’ when you realize that you conducted  40 minute sexting session with an albino guy you dated two years ago, including a flurry photos of what may be your butt, your foot or the corner of your leather sofa.

The setting. For the sake of all that is rational and holy, consider your setting. Things which should not be included in your sexy photo-shoot include; your dog, the Christmas tree, dirty dishes, your toilet, your kids (unless you actively like visits from CPS), stained clothing (a different kind of ‘dirty’), fluorescent lighting, the book ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ or family pictures.  Appropriate places include your bedroom, a bubble bath, your garden (as long as its not communal) or a fur rug (if you happen to live with a hunter or a former porn star). And no matter how proud you are of your granite, the kitchen ain’t sexy. And for the love of christ, do not take a photo of yourself in front of the bathroom mirror…that’s for guys on Craigslist and reality tv stars.

But how do I take a photo of myself? Well you have two choices. Grab an understanding friend or get creative. Prop the phone on a pillow, use the swivel function on the iPhone or Google it. Someone out there (actually over 1,354,782 people) have ideas on how to photograph yourself using your phone.
But maybe just start small, go traditional.  Text a flirt. Text a suggestive comment. Describe what you have in mind for tonight that doesn’t involve the Real Housewives of Atlanta. It won’t end up on Facebook and no-one can see you blushing.