The alternate ‘It Gets Better’ project

It-Gets-Better-LogoAnyone who knows me from a hole in the wall knows that I love Dan Savage. The smart mouthed advice columnist who is responsible for introducing the world to the term ‘Santorum’, ‘GGG’ and ‘monogomish’, Dan and his hoooos-band Terry were also responsible for the remarkable YouTube campaign ‘It Gets Better’.

The couple produced a single video in response to bullying of teens (LGBT in particular), promising that no matter how crappy things are now, it does ‘get better’ as you get older. If you’ve never checked out the actual first video, I highly recommend it (along with the 50,000 other videos on the site) and the overall project was incredibly inspiring to not only LGBT teens, but anyone who felt ‘different’ or was bullied at school. I only wish it had been around when I was a kid.

But… I’m no longer a teen and I’m no longer bullied, but I feel we need a few more ‘it gets better’ projects to help those who feel awkward, different or just having a plain old, ‘life is sucking right now’ period. And I know you’re out there grown ups… I know that we all need an ‘it gets better’ now and again. So here are some of my proposals – Dan – should you want to help out some lesser known ‘minorities’ who are suffering in silence;

1. That bad hair cut

We know the current trend of pixies got you excited and you just decided to go for it, but don’t worry. It will get better. It will grow out. In the meantime, try some blond or red highlights and always remember to wear lipsticks so people don’t call you ‘sonny’ in line at Target.

2. The hole your career slid into

Things have been looking pretty grim of late I know. You were right. You’re boss really doesn’t like you. (Sorry). But it will get better. You’ll find another ally somewhere else in the organization or you’ll land an awesome project where you get to shine for a little while. Or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be laid off and get to start afresh somewhere where everyone doesn’t know that you slept with Dave from sales. Plus their healthcare plan can’t be any worse!!!

3. Thursday night TV

I know. I hate The Voice too. In fact all singing shows should be sold to Japan and immediately replaced with tap dancing, cooking or dog training shows. Anything except someone else murdering Maria Carey songs from 2003. But don’t worry. It will get better. Parks and Rec will be back in January and hey, maybe by then they’ll have something else to put before and after it that doesn’t make you want to stick a fork in your eye. Maybe it won’t even feature married overweight guys with hot wives?!!!!

4. Those Burpees

Sure right now you’re lying on the floor, coughing your guts up and wondering whether you have the strength in your arms to push up, but one day it will get better. One day, you will be able to jump from a standing position into a full push up and then bounce right back to standing without losing control of your bladder, your lungs or your vision. One day, you will knock those suckers out without even thinking about it. One day, you won’t struggle around on the floor like a dying worm, and you will not want to die… one day. I’ve not yet met anyone who’s reached this place, but I’ve heard a rumor that someone’s girlfriend did them easily once.. so I’m holding out hope that it gets better. I mean, it has to … doesn’t it?

5. Dating

You’ve online dated, you’ve casually hooked up, you’ve proactively searched and you’ve even tried joining those ‘activity groups’ in the hope that you might find a suitable mate who doesn’t annoy the shit out of you after 20 minutes. You’ve considered marrying your dog, and you’re most significant relationship this year is with Showtime.But it does get better. Sure, that goober your sharing a drink with right now isn’t qualified to clean your bathroom but you will meet a nice guy/girl one day, even if you have to clean a Brazilian rainforest of frogs to find them. Plus another martini and even this potential stalker is going to seem a lot more attractive.

6. Those $250 skinny jeans

You were so thin when you bought them and yes, you did look ahmazballs that one time you wore them, but we know the pain you go through in order to even attempt a zip up at the moment. It will get better. You will wear those jeans again and that money won’t be a leering pile of denim that your friend/partner/spouse uses in every argument about money for the next 3 years.  You’ll lose that muffin top, you’ll remember that nothing looks as good as skinny feels or you’ll learn not to give a shit and make like everyone else by wearing a super baggy sweater that comes down to your thighs. Or you can wait another 3 years by which time everyone will be back rocking the boot cut or grab some Taco Bell and you’ll be in them by the weekend.

7. Your bank account

We totally agree that you needed that thing that you just bought on line that you really couldn’t afford, but it will get better. When it arrives and you’ve hidden it from your spouse/ self for a little while, you’ll remember why you really needed/wanted it and man, its going to make you feel soooo good. Especially when you put it to its intended use and I promise, people will literally fall in love with you, now that you have that thing. You’ll be smarter, sexier, hotter, faster and damn, you’ll probably get a pay raise as a result. So hey,don’t feel bad. Its going to get a lot better real soon.

My dog – human savior, therapist and all around dumbass

francis reindeerMy dog is not smart. I’ve said it before and will continue to reiterate it.. he’s not smart. Sure, with all that greyed hair and wise eyes he looks like he might be pondering life’s questions, but I know for a fact he’s just trying to figure out if there’s new cat poop under that bush. Mmmmmm cat poop is tasty.

This is a dog who has walked into lampposts on several occasions and finds a blank wall fascinating. Horse manure can send him into a rapture that renders him deaf and blind until he’s wearing most of it and he’s eaten at least 6 smartwool socks in the last 3 years. But only the heels mind. He’s not dumb.

But I don’t have kids so I treat my dog as many parents treat their kids. Which is to say… overindulgence features heavily. During our 5 years together I’ve fed him insanely expensive food, taken him to 1:1 training in and around the metro area, paid for a year of acupuncture (yes really), and walked, hiked and ran him approximately eleventy billion miles. He snacks on lamb and dehydrated steak. This dog visits a dog day care center with a swimming pool every week. His toughest challenge is jumping out the back of my SUV when we get to the dog park (he gets lifted in, of course).  He’s not exactly living a tough life. Am I helicopter parent? Maaaaybe. But hey, its a two way street.

In return I have a faithful companion, someone who offers me comfort after a bad day, and who lies by my side when I sleep.. protecting me from squirrels, cats and all manner of other imaginary foes. No-one has ever been more excited to see me after a day out of the house.  I’m going to skip over the howling that accompanies the UPS truck that he seamlessly times to coincide with a 1:1 call with the CEO. Overall, he’s a great buddy to have around; you can get quite used to power-washing his vomit from the back of the truck after every car ride.

However, after 5+ years together I’ve decided that while he might not be smart, he can get with the program and start earning his keep. He’s done his time, and he needs to go get a job. He’s never going to move out of my house, but I’m sick of him lying around all day snoring, farting and waiting for the next hourly episode of ‘walks in the Wash Park neighborhood’ or ‘throw this, will you?’ while I’m trying to downward dog or facilitate a conference call. My helicopter parenting days are o.ver.

But like many helicopter parents, I know that my dog can’t find his own job. He needs help. Hey, I might even need to help him through the process. It can’t be worse than today’s parents who show up at job interviews right?

So after perusing the options available to him – professional ring bearer, orthodontia model, gusset checker (yep, he likes to eat pantie gussets and sock heels) – I’ve settled on therapy dog. After all, the people in the hospital don’t need to know that those eyes aren’t saying ‘I love you’ (they’re asking ‘where’s the cat poop?’) and he does have a way with that under-bite that seems to make people smile. Plus that dog loves.. loves.. loves to be loved. I know his limitations and lets just go with his strengths. Sitting and being loved.

After some research and talking to people who are already active in the therapy dog world I discovered that a) they’re not as insane as the dog show people and b) even my dumb dog can do it. Apparently all that’s required is the ability to walk around a hospital and be petted. Jeez.. I want that job. This dude lives for ear scratches, belly rubs and even a nonsensical review of match.com profiles so I think I’m hooking him up with a sweet career. He doesn’t even need to wear an uncomfortable suit or hide his tattoos. And since I got him from the Colorado Prison Canine Program he’s already familiar with that whole institutional smell. God knows, no wheelchair or IV stand can freak him out after 3 months in a prison cell with a full face tattoo’d meth dealer. (She’s lovely and she trained him very well. She gets out in 2017).

Of course working will dip into his aggressive sleep schedule. Today he’s been asleep since 8am and its currently 2:17pm (he woke up to fart around noon and conked out again).. so actually staying awake to “work” might be our biggest challenge.. however I’m sure he can nap while being petted. As long as he doesn’t break out the gas – we don’t want to set a ward on fire. But like any helicopter parent, I guess I’ll have to accompany him to his job – you know, make sure that he’s being treated right, that people are respecting him as much as they should and to bask in the reflected glory of having a cute (but retarded) mutt.

When I heard today that we’d be heading off to orientation next month I excitedly described his new role in life over a belly rub and an episode of Ink Master.

‘Dude.. you’re doing to be bringing comfort and joy to others. You’re going to get so.much.love’

‘You can so totally do this. I know you can. You’re going to be great’

‘They’re going to luuurrrve you’

He sighed, decidedly unexcited by the prospect… and then breathed into my face.

Dead meat and dog shit breath.

So while there isn’t any dress code for this job and he’s not going to need finesse his resume, that dog is going to get his teeth cleaned this week before he starts “work”. I’m not having him sent home for breath like dead neanderthal man. After all, I want him to help and comfort people, not accelerate their demise.

All I need to do is clean his teeth, give him a bath, make sure he doesn’t vomit in the car on the way there, walk into any immobile objects and doesn’t take a dislike to any men in hats with beards.

He’ll be great. Just you wait.

He likes you, you like him.. now what?

He likes you, you like him.. now what?

After writing endlessly about my 7 year spell of online dating, I need your advice.

I met a guy I like, who seems to like me and I have no.clue.what.to.do.now. 

I am so out of practice with being around someone who seems sane, smart and straightforward that I’m acting like a vestal virgin. I don’t know how to be when I’m not on a first or second date. I honestly can’t remember how to do dating.. you know, regular, see each other every couple of days, chat on the phone.. dating.

I think I’ve got the first couple of dates nailed.. I dress up, put on makeup (and then scrub 87% of it off since it makes me look like a tranny), pull out the good underwear and make sure that the worst of my Crossfit bruises are hidden. 

Sidebar: Crossfitters can easily be identified since we all look a bit beat down. Fit as f-k but beat. Literally. Bruised knees, shins, clavicles, necks, chins and boobs..all completely normal. But a little alarming to the non Crossfitter.

Anyway.. first few dates.

You skate around the big elephants in the room (the ex’s, how many other women he’s actually dating at the same time as you, whether he’s picking up the check, whether he drives a Subaru… ) and you chit chat about music and travel, trips and siblings,  whether he thinks 8 cells constitutes a sentient being (sorry, its now on my checklist after the last guy), but you generally keep it light.

I try to stay away from tequila (makes me crazy), and too much vodka (makes me sloppy).  I try not to offend, I mentally coach myself that lunging at him from across the booth isn’t a good idea (see how I’ve learned?), and making out stays above the waist. I see if he claims the check or if he ignores it studiously.  Its taken a few years, but I can finally do a first or second date really well. You know, low percentage of men running out the bar or me climbing out the bathroom window.

Dates 3 and 4, I’m less familiar with but have some experience. You’re still full on trying to put your best foot forward, investing in looking cute and trying to avoid the landmines. Maybe you mention the ex’s, you tell each other how much fun you’re having (but not too intensely or using any L words – “enjoy” is very safe) and you try to figure out if he’s harboring any major insurmountable weirdness.  But after date 4… I’m lost.  Are you still ‘dating’? Are you in a relationship? (and can you be in a relationship if you’ve not yet slept together?) Can you assume that you’ll see each other again every couple of days or is a week to week ‘depending on my schedule’ thing?

What happens after date 4?

How soon before I can tell him that I really hate people who crunch apples loudly, that I have a daily amount of conversation I can engage in before I lose the ability to communicate and what about my attire? I’ve only got so many cute outfits in my wardrobe and frankly I need a new bike helmet before I need another damn sun dress. How long do I have to keep washing my hair every time we go out? Or biting my tongue to stop me staying something crude? And goddam it.. how long before its acceptable to get naked? In the last 7 years I’ve heard everything from ‘right now’ to 90 days..

(Yes you heard right.. 90 Days. You can thank Steve Harvey for that one. He also uses the term ‘cookie’ instead of ‘vagina’ which freaks me out. My vagina bears no relation to a cookie – at. all. Is it meant to?)

But regardless, I know its not 90 days –  I’m 41 not 14- but when its right? I have no idea any more.

My experiences of late have involved not waiting (and regretting it) or waiting (and then discovering that I think of him like a brother). Where’s the sweet spot? And how do I find it?

(or is that his job?) *wink*

If you’re rolling your eyes and mentally telling me to ‘just be myself’ or ‘just go with what seems right’, just remember that’s what has led me to being single for 7 years and collecting dating stories which would kill my mother if ever aired.

 ‘Myself’ often wears clothes with food stains on them. “Myself” can’t be bothered to do anything except watch Ink Masters and order deliver sushi on a Thursday night, and “myself” really isn’t the nicest person to be around when she’s tired, or hungry, or PMSing or in need of a workout. And that’s before I even get into ‘myself’ thinking $156 for a bra is completely acceptable, but that my car plates can wait a month. Myself doesn’t wear makeup, is obsessed with Crossfit and often doesn’t put on pants until 5pm.  Myself is like Shrek in a china shop where guys are considered. I’ve broken a guys jaw accidentally and thrown one on the floor when trying to show off my dance moves. I am quite literally retarded around men I find attractive. When does he get to see this real version of me’?

On reflection I’m thinking ‘never’ might the correct answer here…

So until I can figure it out, I’ll just keep scheduling ‘dates’, avoiding the ‘are you still on Match’ conversation and shaving my legs within an inch of their life. We’ll eat out, make each other laugh, make out and hopefully someday I’ll know that its ok to show up in my Nanos and introduce him to Crossfit. And I’ll keep praying that he’s not on the Steve Harvey 90 day plan.

The 3 month hurdle

Everyone knows about the key milestones in a relationship.
The moment when you call each other ‘girlfriend/ boyfriend’, the moment one of you first says ‘I love you’ (usually followed by awkward ‘thank-you’), and of course the haunting 1 year milestone when you either move in, find a ring in your sorbet or move on.
But few people talk about the lesser hurdles.. especially the dreaded 3 month marker. Or as I nicknamed it ‘dumper week’.

Most people ignore the 3 month mark since on the approach, say 2 & 1/2 months, you’re typically still deep in the ‘crazy sex/bottle of wine Tuesdays’ mode and the idea of breaking up is something in the far off distance, if at all. But literally 1 week later you can look at someone across the sheets and suddenly notice that you hate the way they breathe. Notice that they say really misogynistic things or that the way they pronounce your name pisses you off and suddenly its over. Instantly.Without any precursor you can’t believe you’ve spent the last 11 weeks with this numbskull and you’re off like a shot. Or they are.

I started to notice the 3 month hurdle back in my 30s when I realized I was settling into a 3 mini relationships a year. Each one lasting 10 or 11 weeks without fail, with a few weeks in-between. In fact, from the age of 36 to 39, I didn’t make it to 12 weeks a single time. And that included two discussions about rings and one about kids (hey, I was drunk). I think the shortest was 7 weeks, but the majority were just under 3 months and largely it was me doing the bolting.

What was it about the 3 month milestone that seemed to create such a roadblock  for a new relationship?

I was starting to think that I was cursed or that there was something in my personality that I could hold in for only so long.. and apparently 3 months was the moment at which I breathed out. Was it the thrill of attention that overshadowed my ‘boyfriend’s personality and 3 months was the point at which the thrill started to wane and his affection for UFC emerged? Or was it simply that at three months you’ve exhausted the delight in shared interests and you’re forced to look outside of each other’s history for conversation? Finding that this person also has a sister and loves The National isn’t enough of a truss to support an evening’s entertainment and as you look forward, you realize that you’re facing a potential lifetime of conversations about the Broncos. Um.. no.

Whatever the reason, this cut off remains true whether its me or my mate doing the running. My last relationship – as different and special as it seemed, pretty much stayed true to form with a cut off at 12 weeks and 2 days. I guess the 2 extra days was due to him living out of state.
Despite conversations about weddings (from him), meeting the parents (from him) and ring sizing (his idea), he still woke up after 3 months and decided that I wasn’t the person he wanted to talk agri-politics with for the rest of his life. (thank GOD in hindsight). And yes, it hurts to go from 100mph to a total change of heart, but I do get it.  I guess in our twenties it just took longer to ‘wake up’ because we were drunk so much of the time and we were willing to overlook total incompatibility for some hot sex. On our 40s, yes we’re wiser and we’re getting relentlessly efficient at moving on when its not right.

My girlfriend Hope is currently heading towards her own 3 month milestone and I hope, oh so much, that she’s not similarly cursed. I want so bad for her to find someone who wants to discuss life’s quirks and family with, who makes her laugh and find her as amazing as I do.. and that she, similarly, doesn’t wake up to a troll next month. But if it falls at this first, critical hurdle, I know we’ll both still be lining up with hope for the next race. 

The wisdom of Dan Savage

Just in time for Valentines day…
For those who’ve been trapped under a cultural rock for the last 14 years, Dan Savage is the arbiter of all that is sensible and matter of fact in matters of sex, love and relationships. A columnist with Seattle’s ‘The Stranger’ newspaper (and syndicated all over the US), Dan also hosts a weekly podcast (‘Savage Lovecast’) that has been infecting my ears now for hundreds of episodes and has taught me a lot about things I needed to know, stuff I wasn’t sure actually happened and proclivities I never needed to learn about (‘sounding’ anyone?). I’ve listened to Dan through my 30s and now my 40s, and I wish that his advice was mandatory listening for everyone over the age of 21. It certainly would have saved me a lot of time, heartbreak and trips to the doctor. And I might have been able to make a better run at some of my paramours. Here’s some of what you’ve been missing.

Good, Giving and Game (GGG):  Dan believes that anyone hitting the sheets who wants a repeat purchase, is responsible for being ‘GGG’. That is Good – or skilled – at what you’re doing; Giving – doing things which might be not be your favorite in order please your partner (and vice versa); and Game – up for trying new things within reason (and no, wearing a diaper isn’t reasonable for most people).  Based on some of my experiences I’ve encountered more than a few guys who weren’t even a single ‘G’ (lots of Game.. not much else). And based on feedback I’ve had to work on at least one of these via step by step instructions (he was a HR guy who begrudgingly gave me a B+ and a diagram for future use).  If you’ve got complaints in the bedroom, first consider whether you’re ‘GGG’ yourself.  And no, twice a year with the lights off probably doesn’t qualify.

DTMFA: Otherwise known as ‘Dump The MotherF-r Already’. On occasion if you’re partner isn’t ‘GGG, you might need to DTMFA.The applications are too many to list, but generally revolve around selfishness, passive aggressive behavior and wanting to sleep with your mother and sister. I tend to think that if you’re more sad than happy when this person is around, it’s probably a case of DTMFA. Clearly I’m an old hand at DTMFA – I practically have it tattooed on the inside of my eyelids.

The Campsite Rule: ‘Leave it better than you found it’ also applied to people. Which means we’ve all got a duty not be screw up our partners through lying, cheating, stretching out their good underwear or having them find you experimenting naked with a hanger and the Cusinart. Especially applied to the young, inexperienced or the ‘not f-d up yet’, don’t be the man or woman, who ruins it for the next guy (or girl).  Its a lofty goal. I’m sure I’ve left at least one guy with some permanent flinches though I hear he’s doing much better these days and he can actually wear a swim cap.

F-k First: My last and favorite, especially in light of tomorrow’s “holiday” (can you feel the scathing tone?). As many of you are heading out with plans for a large fois gras/ wine/ steak laden dinner, little thought is given to how you’ll feel by the time you get home and hit the hay for some loving. Not many people want to roll around when they’ve consumed an app, entree and their partners dessert, all washed down a bottle of Cab. By then most of us are cradling our food babies and hoping that he’s too tired to make the moves. According to Dan you’ve got it all wrong. F-k first – when you’re slightly hungry, sober(ish) and awake (and well before the food baby is conceived).. that way you can slide into the restaurant with a smug expression, worry free and ready to over-indulge to your hearts content.

And for those of you who want to hear more of Dan’s wisdom, have a question about your transgendered coworker or want to know how to handle that request to wear a diaper… check out the podcast. Your partner will be glad you did. 

Dating ‘normal’

Unexpectedly I found myself on a date with a non hippy, (body part, not ethos), sane, good looking dude one Friday night. I had a scotch or three to celebrate.
Interesting? check. Passionate about his job? check. Good body? big check. Eyes? two, facing forward and aligned, check. Single? check. Chemistry? ummmmmm????

Here’s the kicker. The guy had no edge. Either he was hiding it in his pants or he really was the ‘what you see… ‘ guy. Which threw me for a loop. Where was his self obsessed monologue on his activities?  His off handed criticism of former partners? Slightly sexist comment about my career? Nada.  None of it. Instead, I just had a great date. Which ended at 1am and a request for a second date that following Sunday.

Second date – snowshoeing – gave me the ideal opportunity to dig around his personality to find his edge, plus check out his ass in snow pants (hey, these things are important in Colorado). Damn. He passed that test. Clearly he’s drinking blood or sucking down HGH because this guy does not look his age in the clarity of daylight.
So we hike. And we chat. Well he chats, I’m conserving oxygen and watching him slowly wilt. And again, no edge. He’s open, apparently honest and not hiding much – but with some boundaries. All very appropriate and proper.

The problem becomes apparent- its me. I’m not used to normal people. Certainly not guys I’m on a date with. By now we’ve hit the sheets and he’s already picking out rings as I’m making for the door.  Or I’m planning our vacation and he’s out the door. Instead this guys is telling me about how he took care of his Mum when she was terminally ill with lung cancer. Seriously. He’s that nice. He’s making me laugh, calling me on being harsh and generally acting like a good friend.

The result – I’ve never felt like more of a freak as it becomes clear… this guys wants us to be friends and get to know each other before anything happens. Did this guy write a dating book? I’m floored. Stunned. What a pity that I find him so boring. See? this is what dating does to you..I can’t be attracted to normal. I don’t know what to do with nice or normal.

Now help me find a guy who’s completely career obsessed or has a burgeoning drinking problem please. That I can deal with.

After The First Date: Now What?

 Like you need me to tell you?
Well, since you’re probably sitting around just waiting, trying to not think about it with a slow gnawing in your stomach.. you probably have nothing else to do.

Typically most days after a first date I like to take a few borax showers armed with a good plug of wire wool and some hallucinogenics. But that’s just me. Lets say you had a good first date and while it all seemed to go well, you’re not quite sure what happens next. You had good chemistry, there weren’t any awkward silences and he didn’t have to be carried out of the bar. You may have even had a platonic, pursed mouth kiss or an ‘Aunt Mildred’ distance hug and waved each other goodbye. But will you hear from him again?

Well, I hate to break it to you ladies, but if there wasn’t an ‘asking’ for a second date on the first date.. you’re probably not seeing that guy again, until he reappears on Match.com or gets arrested for hiring hookers on Federal. And no ‘we should totally do this again’ as he scoots off at high speed doesn’t count. I’ve used this myself and its the guilt free kiss off. Yes we might do something again…if hell freezes over or I’m really drunk on a Friday night.

Sure, some guys still live in 1985 and wait the proverbial day or 3 to call, but this warning sign indicates one of two things a) he’s a player, and old school at that or b) he’s not really that keen, but his other dates this weekend didn’t work out any better. After the age of 40, waiting a day or 3 to contact someone after a first date is tantamount to pulling that year old pint of vanilla out of your freezer. You don’t actually want to eat it but, well, you can’t be bothered to go to the store and you’re hungry. (yes, you’re the vanilla with freezer burn). No one wants to throw away the ice cream, because, being honest, after 40, ice cream, even covered with ice crystals and tasting slightly of chicken.. well its still ice cream.

But if your optimism can’t be dampened (and you’re female), you’ve probably convinced yourself that because no-one drooled, farted, mentioned a felony and there was laughter, he’s definitely going to call and you just need to sweat it out. If you’re coming off a dry spell or you’re less than confident in your total desirability, instead of spending the next few hours or days thinking about whether he was a good fit for you, you’re spending your time hoping that he thought you were a good fit. Which I’ve found leads to me dating a lot of psychotic men with alcohol problems.

There’s a reason that girls waiting for phones to ring still features in the movies today. Because its a reality. No matter that he could text, he could poke you on Facebook or send you an email, the 40ish dater knows that he’ll call. So you busy yourself with laundry, and brunch and cocktails and even drag yourself to a cold First Friday art show, all while constantly checking your phone to see if there’s anything happening. Not that you’d pick up… c’mon, we grew up on answerphones. We’re not that stupid. When guys have called me after a first date I’ve learned that its usually the ones you don’t want to call, who will call like clockwork. And who needs to deal with dodging the awkward ‘second date request’? I am sure there are women out there who can bold faced tell a dude ‘sorry, but talking to you made me want to poke my eyeballs out with a fork’ but its not me. I try and communicate telepathically through disinterest, yawning and cocktail dates that last for 1/2 a cocktail (its worth the sacrifice).. but if they don’t get it… well I’ll deal with it via my answerphone. The one time I did confront the yawning gap in chemistry and the sense that I was dating my dad, I ended up in an email back and forth that lasted 2 months. He took my honesty as the opportunity for some free therapy and to learn ‘what exactly about me don’t you like and why?’

That happened.

So, if he didn’t ask you for another date while on the date, you’ve not heard from him and its ooo 4 days later. Now what?

Two words.

Move on.

or three words…

Start a blog.

Yep, I’m still waiting for Joe to call me back after an awesome 2 hour coffee date in Boulder and its been 5 years but I know he’s been busy. It’ll happen.

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??

Friends with friends with babies

I have a dirty secret. (and no it doesn’t involve garters)

Try as I might, I struggle to be friends with friends who have babies. Note, not kids. Kids are awesome. But babies…????
 Let me explain before you form your lynch mob and light the torches.

As a 40 something without kids, (through circumstance and genetics), I’ve seen over a dozen friends through engagements, marriages, their first, second and yes third babies so I speak from experience.
I’m thrilled for the life choices that my friends have made, have supported their decisions and been there to walk their dog, house sit, coo over diamond rings and silk dresses, maternity pedicures and yes, even visits to the delivery room. But once the baby arrives.. well its a whole other story. My pink slip is already in the mail.

I think that babies are cute. I’m not a monster. But I don’t seem to love babies the way other women love babies. I’ve never squealed when meeting one and they all seem….well…. samey. Plus they have a hole in their head.
Let me say that again..They have a hole in their head. 
Something which in a grown up person would cause people to scream, be rushed into the ER, put on life support and have to wear one of those head brace things… nope, baby just lolls around with that hole flapping in the breeze. I mean, mothers don’t even make them wear helmets. And I’m no safety expert but I don’t think that pink fleece cap is going to do much if their brains start falling out…
No, babies are weird, scary and they don’t do anything.

Now I’ll hold and play with one if I’m forced (which I have been), but its like someone giving me a kitten. I’ll hold it, stroke it and coo… but after a little while, I’m good. Unless its going to suddenly offer up a Woody Allen-equese ‘bon mot’… well… I might as well be holding a piece of veal. Even my nieces… I felt immediately attached to them and find them just adorable.. but as babies…. not my first choice of dinner companion. Maybe I am a cold soulless bitch and maybe its because they’re not mine, but I just skipped the gene which determined ‘must.have.one’ around my middle thirties. Which is where it gets tricky.

Because your friends with babies don’t like to be around people who don’t love their babies. Which means that about 1-12 months after the arrival of little Sasha, Simone or Emily, I’ll no longer be invited over, the calls will stop and I’m basically in the cold zone until the kid starts school. Which means I’ve lost more friends over the last 10 years than I did through elementary school, high school and college.  (I was quite the annoying little rat)

But surely that’s a good thing you ask? if you don’t like babies, why would you want to hang out with them?

Great point.

But those babies, they come with parents attached. And those parents used to be my friends. And with the arrival of babies comes a shifting of priorities which puts good friends second, and good friends who aren’t into babies, don’t want a baby and can’t have a baby, pretty much in the trash heap.
And because you’re meant to love babies, and understand the life is different now, you’re meant to accept with a knowing smile and a positive affirmation. Yes, we understand that its 1) sleep, 2) work 3) each other and maybe 11) call a friend…. but it still sucks. And when it happens over and over again.. it doesn’t get any less sucky.

So today, I’m saying it out loud. It sucks that I can’t be friends with friends who babies. It sucks to be dumped by friends because we don’t share that one thing in common.

But on a good note, they all start rolling back in when the stinker starts first Grade.

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.

All by myself.. I’m gonna be… all.. by… myself….

The curse of living alone is that you’re just that. Alone.

Note, I didn’t say lonely. As anyone who’s been by their bad self for a while, we’re not really a people who get lonely. If we did, we’d have partnered up a long time ago with one of the more charming people we’ve met along life’s pathways.  Which isn’t to say that we don’t want to be partnered – this blog is evidence of that alone. (my god have I tried)
 
Last night I spent a lovely few hours chatting with a friend over some wine. She mentioned with a husband out of town she ‘got a taste’ of what it was like to be a singleton when she was invited out with a few married couples.

‘It felt weird so I didn’t go……’

‘.. you know… being the only single person’

I get it. To those who’ve been partnered happily for a while, the idea of going places as a lone reed in a marsh of married folks is strange, lonely, uncomfortable even. But for those of us who don’t have that security blanket, we grow thicker skin and have get on with it. We often prefer it.  (except during flu and snowstorms… and if there’s a really scary spider in the bath). If we waited to be partnered  in order to leave the house we’d all have melded to the sofa and have to be airlifted out of our houses by our match.com dates.

Nope, being alone isn’t lonely. But you are alone.

Which during times of acute stress can be the most isolating feeling in the world. You don’t have that person to unwind with, that sensitive ear to unload into, that ability to unburden to the person sharing your bed. Unloading whats going on in your head allows you to create space in your brain, which leaves room for perspective, humor, even joy. And being alone means that to do that, you’re paying a therapist $100 an hour or upping your ATT wireless plan (and testing some very long term friends). You’re also being incredibly brave and trusting. Which is no small thing for life’s alone-rs.
I’m not sure if its the same for guys, after all, they’re not know for being the worlds best communicators, but I’m sure… sometimes… it has to be. And since guys don’t talk… what do they do?
If my neighbor is anything to go by, playing the bass guitar and chanting…if my ex was a benchmark, riding 100 miles seemed to do the trick. And for most guys, I guess that’s ‘why‘ football.

(really, why else football???)

Being alone can cause you to wake up at 3am in a panic about something minor, because its been bouncing around your head for 2 weeks and you’ve not been able to get rid of it.
On the upside you can have a dinner of cereal and wine, on the downside… well cereal and wine.
Thankfully being alone has taught me one thing… you’re never actually alone.

People, friends, strangers, family, ex hook ups, that hinky guy from the apartment opposite… you are never alone. You can choose to be alone any time you wish.. but you can also choose not to shoulder everything in life alone. And this year I choose not too. Its only 3 weeks in but I’m not going it alone in everything anymore. You don’t get prizes for handling everything yourself and frankly, I can’t afford the Valium prescriptions any more. I might not be unburdening myself to a partner, but I will share when I need to and not feel any shame or embarrassment when I do so.

So, friends, readers, strangers, gird your loins. I’ve got some things on my mind and stories to tell.

Dating advice I won’t be taking


I relented. I bought a dating book. It told me a lot of things including an explicit timeline for dating ‘activity’. Now no-one has given me such prescriptive information about the right time for a kiss, a hug or a roll in the hay since high school.. and yet I was enthralled to be lectured after 20 years of dating. After 8 seasons of Sex and the City, endless conversations with women since the age of 17, and a not-so-impartial-lecture from my mother… I always thought I knew what was appropriate ‘activity’ when dating guys. And I would like to present to you the summary of the last 20 years of advice.

Do/ Don’t kiss on a first date

Don’t have sex on the first date
Don’t have sex until the third date
Don’t have sex until he’s committed to an exclusive relationship
Don’t have sex  (guess who that came from…Mum)
Don’t wait to have sex too long, or you could be wasting your time
Don’t go down on him until you’re in a ‘relationship’
Don’t bring up having a ‘relationship’ unless he does
Don’t ask to be exclusive, that’s his job
Don’t stay in a relationship unless he’s going down on you
Oh and the one I love, continue dating multiple guys at the same time until one of them asks you to be exclusive… …..which seems to me, well, kind of whoreish. 
Basically I think overall it means no sex
…or maybe some sex
…or sex with one person
…but only in a relationship
…unless you’re testing driving him
…or think it has potential
…or more often, you’re horny and had too many martinis. 
It’s very confusing really. And after a sexless marriage, and quite a few sexless years in my 20s and 30s (..ahem and 40s), I really don’t know what the rules are any more. Or whether I really want to follow them.
 
I grew up dating in the UK where the words ‘to date’ didn’t actually exist. You had friends who had friends, you fancied one of them rotten, you drank too much one night and snogged outside the pub and that was your boyfriend. No conversations about it, people didn’t go out with more than one person at a time (unless you were charging by the hour) and the only game playing occurred in the pub and generally featured darts. You moved in when your lease was up, and for most of my friends, a ring followed a couple of years later (pre-empted by a few pregnancy scares and way too much time at Ikea). Easy.

So back to the dating book. According to this gem, I’m not to even KISS the guy until date #4. Mind you, I am only allowed to date a guy, 1 night a week. And it has to be ‘out of the house’. This means no cooking at home, no ‘hanging out’, no last minute drinks, and definitely definitely, no date more than once a week. It has to been scheduled, in advance, out of the house, a formal date (I’m presuming that I won’t be need to be wearing a prom dress or a corsage, but they didn’t specify). I’m not to drive myself, he’s to pick me up (apparently future stalkers or weirdos aren’t a concern to the books authors), and I’m to not even so much as glance in the direction of my purse. If he goes in for the goodnight kiss I am to shake his hand. Yes. Shake his hand. Like I’m Obama or the Queen. And if he goes in for the hug, I am do step aside and say ‘Not yet’. Apparently the new catch phrase for ‘I’m a prude’. Seriously? Not even a hug according to this  book. I often get a two handed handshake or a pat on the shoulder from a job interview… but no, apparently no touching on Date #1. Or #2. Date 3 I am allowed a hug. Date 4, I can kiss him, but no tongues. Yes, the book is that specific. At this point, I don’t even want to date me.

With my mouth hanging open in a combination of awe and horror, I skipped through the chapter to find out when I might actually get to make out with this poor guy and discovered that the schedule allows for date #8 (but second base only). Any awkwardness is meant to be dealt with via the ‘Not Yet’ phrase and a ‘wry smile’ (to quote the authors). Drive a man wild? Drive a man to dump you. Who does this? In case you’re wondering, you get to have sex only after 12 weeks have passed, or 12 dates. At which point you can see your blue balled beloved more than once a week. If he’s even speaking to you at this point.

While I agree that we’ve all gotten used to everything too fast and that things need to slow down, I had a hard time swallowing this program. On the plus side, you know who you’re sleeping with and it means something (presumably because you’ve been doing nothing but talking and saying ‘Not Yet’ for the last 12 weeks).. which theoretically means you’ve garnered the guys respect, and you’re actually in a relationship before sharing yourself. But what really sticks in my head is how the author recommend that since you’re still ‘figuring out’ whether you even like the person, you’re also meant to be pursuing other guys. Meaning you’re spreading the blue balls around. Which somehow feels cheap and callous. Frivolous. Selfish. Cold. Mean. Exactly the type of women I hate.

So I’m stuck. I like the idea, but in reality I’m a one guy girl. I could not more wait 12 weeks than the average guy could (not without some serious intervention requiring hospitalization). And really, do you get to know someone over one date a week for 12 weeks? Do you know how this person will react when faced with non date, real life things? Do you know anything about someone with whom you’ve shared bread and wine, but not even a kiss?

Thank god I’m on a dating break because I don’t know if I have the stamina with this program. I don’t know if the man this is aimed to find even exists and if I found him, whether I’d even want to date him.

Plus in the immortal words of Murtaugh, ‘ I’m too old for this shit’..

My next wedding – the year 2056

I read today about an 88 year old woman getting married this weekend which got me thinking.
As someone who’s marriage ceremony probably foretold its depth and potential longevity (Bride wore Tevas, groom forgot to write vows, no-one in attendance and it snowed in July), I always have a vague longing for a wedding at the back of my mind. My wedding didn’t really signal much except doom, but I do think that saying something nice to each other, about each other, in front of some people you like, and who like you.. well that’s kind of nice. It signals commitment, and a willingness to  declare your love for someone, without getting cited for public indecency. Been there.

I was never one to daydream with tea towels on my head and people carrying my skirt, but after experiencing what was probably one of the most depressing wedding ceremony’s in history, I kind of want to do it again… except this time, a little differently. And if it takes me to age 88 to find the guy… well so be it. Gives me time to save for a nice dress.

My Wedding: Year 2056

Location: If we’re not all living on rafts or on the moon, I’d really like to get married outside. Yes, I did that last time, but this time somewhere nice and scenic. Without snow. Or hikers interrupting the ceremony for a quick photo. Potentially with mountains all around. And grass. And sun. Getting married in snow seems terrifying and too nipple-tastic for someone as blessed as me, and being able to wear a dress means heat is a necessity unless I want everyone focused on my chestical area. Plus I’ll be 88, don’t want me or my groom to die during the ceremony. So, mountains and grass in the summer please. Unless the air is now 99% carbon dioxide ..then I guess an oxygen tent would be more appropriate. Plus I always did like camping.

Ceremony: Last time this featured some strange lady chanting something vaguely hippy about the earth for about 2 minutes and then an awkward silence while my groom tried to make up his vows on the spot. This time I think skipping the entire traditional thing makes it easier. Hand fasting is an old Celtic tradition where hands are bound together  (yes, tied) with a number of different colored ribbons as the host talks about what each ‘bind’ represents (love, compassion, ability to make a decent cup of tea etc). Its terribly romantic plus it has the benefit of physically restraining your groom should he want to make a dash for it. Of course at 88 he’s probably not much for running, but if his wheelchair starts moving, I’ll be dragged along for the ride.

Attendees: A wedding is really about people. Yes, its about 2 people, but without any guests, its kind of sterile and weird. If its just about the 2 of your, why not get married in bed and why do you need a 3rd person to says things?  Nope, weddings need people. Hopefully ones who like you and are pleased to see you in love and join your celebration. Plus at 88, it can double as a funeral wake without the awkwardness of death, plus I get to be there and people say nice things about me.

Attire: Yes I wore Tevas last time and I thought it was a signal of my carefree spirit and desire for foot comfort over fashion. In actuality they looked stupid. Like wearing slippers to hike in. At 88 I’m probably in ‘comfortable shoes’ anyway, so at least this time they’ll have bows on them or something. And they’ll not be made of rubber (not unless Crocs has taken over all shoes manufacturers). I will wear a dress, even if they have to sew it around me, and it will not be white. And yes, I will wear blue underwear, though probably not a thong. No-one wants to see a thong on grandma. Unless everyone is wearing jumpsuits in 2056 and its providing life support, my groom will wear a suit. It will hide his hump and he can comfortably wear his pants pulled up to his armpits.

Honeymoon: Since I’ll be 88, the honeymoon will probably last all of about 2 days. I can’t see the love making taking all that long given that we’ll probably be nervous of heart conditions, blood pressure and deep vein thrombosis to really go crazy in the sack. We’ll probably go somewhere featuring water, enormous beds and more heat. Old people love heat. Oh god.. this sounds like Florida. So, NOT FLORIDA. Unless the world has ended and the only thing surviving is Florida. Which would just be my luck.

Happy Ever After: As a octogenarian, I hope to have a few good years left in me, even if its filled with the NYT crossword and 1960s movies starring Doris Day played at high volume. Who knows what they’ll have invented by then, maybe I’ll have 50 years left (god help my feet). Regardless I hope to spend my married life, my second married life, sharing a bed, a dinner table and some serious hand holding until the end of time (or until his gets cold and blue, in which case I probably will let go).

It will be very ‘happily ever after’ the 2nd time around… mostly because I can finally, finally, resign my match.com subscription.