Recent Splats according to Miz Yank

At long last, the follow-up to “Date Expectations”

Several attentive readers pointed out that nearly a month passed and I still hadn’t written a follow-up to my post about a much-anticipated first date with “T2.” My love life skews so heavily towards comedy that I thought you might find a cliffhanger a nice change of pace, but apparently not, so here goes.

A lot of people wanted to know if I was nervous. No, I wasn’t. I don’t really get nervous about these things, though I have ample reason to, based on my behavior on one particular date two summers ago. I was just looking forward to it, the best possible mindset to have before a date.

T2 had made a reservation at Georgia Brown’s, a downtown restaurant that serves upscale southern fare. He offered to pick me up and I accepted. I don’t usually do that, but I had a good feeling about T2, and my gut is rarely wrong, whether or not I listen to it.

Moments before T2 pulled up in front of my house, a torrential rain let loose. He came to the door with an umbrella big enough to shelter a family of 6, which meant there might even be room for my hair. We arrived at the restaurant and were shown to our table, one of a series of two-tops with chairs on one side and a long, cushioned banquette on the other.

T2 asked, “Where would you like to sit?”

It looked to me like the person who sat in the chair might be more in traffic, so I said, “I’ll take the chair.” The hostess pulled out the chair for me and I sat down. I should note that T2 and I are pretty much the same height, or at least we were until he took a seat on the banquette and immediately lost four inches.

I tried to keep a straight face but couldn’t, and neither could T2.

“Could I get a booster seat over here?” he said, just one of dozens of lines that kept me laughing all night.

By the time we finished dinner, the rain had abated so we walked around the monuments. DC is a picturesque city under any circumstances, but like most of us, it looks just a little better in the moonlight. Our conversation wandered happily, too.

I could hardly have imagined an evening going any better, which is why I went ahead and told T2 I thought we should move in together.

Oh, relax, people, I did no such thing. I didn’t even invite him to Thanksgiving. But things had gone well enough to make a second date a very good idea. This was fortunate because, in a slight breach of sequencing protocol, T2 had actually invited me on a second date –a Sunday spent admiring the foliage on Skyline Drive –before the first occurred. He had acknowledged the departure from convention but, based on how much time we’d spent texting, he figured he was standing on pretty solid ground. I agreed.

T2 again kept me in stitches that day. He’s one of the wittiest, funniest people I’ve met in ages, and he continued to impress me with his thoughtfulness.

After that date I went off to Texas for the TWA Conference and we had plans to get together once I returned. T2 had known I was a bit nervous about giving my workshop, so he checked in to send encouraging (and hilarious) thoughts.

Safety note: Before I continue with my story, I must ask that you first back away slowly from your cast iron skillet, hammer and any other blunt object within easy reach. In fact, now may be a good time to encase yourself in a protective layer of Nerf.

So I got back from Plano and texted T2. But instead of making plans to get together, I told him I had some misgivings and didn’t think we were a fit romantically.

See? Aren’t you glad you put on the Nerf? I’m the one you want to hit over the head, anyway.

Here’s the thing: I like T2 very, very much. He has qualities that I prize–kindness, thoughtfulness, curiosity, intelligence—and he cares about his family the way I do mine. He’s funny and doesn’t take himself too seriously. But we lacked combustibility, an essential ingredient for me. Some of you will think I rushed to judgment, that friendship offers the best possible base upon which to build a relationship. You may have a point, but it’s never worked that way for me, and I thought too highly of T2 to go on if I couldn’t be All There.

We had a long text exchange and I did my best to explain my inexplicable nature. T2 accepted it with incredible grace and thanked me for my honesty. Then I did something I’ve not done since I started dating again after my divorce: I asked if he would want to be friends. Though I struggle to find time to nurture the friendships I have, T2s don’t come along every day, and I didn’t want to lose him. He politely declined, and I could hardly blame him.

A week later he made my day when he said he’d thought about it and wanted to try to be friends.

We went to a Halloween party together last weekend. He dressed up in disco garb, including a spectacular wig, and it would have been perfect if only we didn’t discover the theme of this particular costume party was sci-fi and superheroes. Oopsie. Then again, I’m pretty sure he could have survived nuclear war in that polyester suit he was wearing, so maybe he had some superpowers after all.

Anyway, maybe, just maybe, I didn’t entirely screw this one up. Whether or not T2 and I had chemistry, we have plenty of warmth, and I’m glad we decided not to let the whole thing go up in smoke.

Should you get back into the dating game if your heart’s not in it? Let’s ask your lungs.

Everyone knows Americans are celebrating Veterans Day today. But did you know 11/11 is also known internationally as Singles Day?

I, for one, did not, which is shameful considering I co-host a podcast about dating and relationships. According to BBC News, Singles Day happens to be the world’s biggest online shopping day of the year. This makes perfect sense, since we unattached types prefer to stay home and enjoy the company of our seven cats.

Since it is Singles Day, it’s somewhat fitting that Philippa and I have chosen to dedicate this week’s blog duel to answer a question from one of our listeners: Should you date if your heart isn’t really in it?

As a practicing lawyer, I long ago lost the ability to answer a question using with brief and clear responses such as “yes” or “no” (though that would allow me to end this blog post quickly and pop open a beer). So instead I’m going to answer this by invoking an analogy: I believe one’s fitness for dating has a fair amount in common with how one approaches physical fitness.

Are you the kind of person who just completed your third Ironman, or is ironman the term you use to describe the guy who presses clothes at the dry cleaner?

If you fall into the first category, throwing yourself into the dating pool when you don’t exactly feel like swimming will probably end up just fine. You’re used to motivating yourself to do things you don’t necessarily want to do and even exert yourself beyond ordinary discomfort by telling yourself that, when it’s over, you’ll be glad you did it. Sure it might make you flail, gasp for air, and flail madly at first, but after going through the motions for a while, it doesn’t feel so bad, and pretty soon you won’t even dread the next workout. You’ll fall into a regular cadence, enabling you to power through a bad workout, confident that a better one lies ahead.

But if you’re a dating couch potato, convincing yourself to get back in the game when your heart isn’t in it might not be the best idea. Even if you muster up the energy for the first trip to the gym, if it’s at all painful—as so many first forays are– you might be too discouraged to go back. That’s worse than not trying to begin with. If, on the other hand, you wake up one day feeling like it’s high time you got fit, then just start moving and see what happens. No matter how it goes, you’ll at least have some idea of what you are (and aren’t) missing before you return to the cozy comfort of the couch.

Regardless of which category you fall into, as they say in those Cialis commercials, make sure you’re healthy enough for this kind of activity before you return to the gym. If, for example, you just experienced the relationship equivalent of a blowing a hammy, don’t risk re-injury by going back to the gym too soon. Take a breather, let yourself heal a bit, and then ease your way back into it.

And may you have good luck with that thing you’re doing.

[And speaking of GLWTTYD, have you gotten your copy yet? If not, why not? Discuss. (And if you’re waiting for the eBook, it comes out on November 19!]

 

 

Hidden Meaning

In a throw-down between “actions speak louder than words” and “the pen is mightier than the sword,” which cliché wins?

I say neither, and also both. (I think Philippa would agree.)

Ultimately, speech and action are just two different ways to express ourselves, and the success or failure of each depends as much on the recipient as it does volume or force.  No matter how loudly you act or how powerfully you write, sometimes the message you intend isn’t the one that’s received.

My recent foray into online dating illustrates the point.  I posted my profile on PlentyOfFish.com this past Sunday just to test the waters.  I figured activity on the site would be low heading into the holidays, since starting to date someone at this time of year could mean a trip across the gift expectations minefield.  This dangerous terrain causes thousands of relationship casualties each year, not to mention the purchase of millions of Yankee Candles.

I vastly underestimated the number of men who were willing to throw themselves on the scented candle grenade, because correspondence flooded my in-box right away.  (This has less to do with the appeal of my profile than the fact that fish love fresh chum.)

Because laughter matters so much to me, I made sure my profile included references to movies that I find funny, like Airplane! and This Is Spinal Tap.

Many men sent brief messages that picked up that thread and ran with it, to the point where if another man calls me “Shirley,” you just might have to dust for vomit.  [I just lost the people who haven’t seen these two movies…]

http://youtu.be/Agpo9-EUjKI

But I responded to every single one of the movie quote guys because it was clear they’d at least read my profile.

For every “I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue” guy, there were at least as many whose entire message to me consisted of: “Hi”

I was tempted to respond to these men with the gentle suggestion that they upgrade to POF’sFull Sentence Package (“Now Featuring Real Punctuation Marks!”), but I didn’t.  I just sent those messages to the trash.  Why bite on a hook that has no bait?

Plenty of people will think my approach is unfair and that a two-character message is meant merely to create an opening.  Maybe so, but to my eyes, those two characters were loaded with a completely different meaning.  They said, “I’m not really trying, here.”  For all I know, the “Hi” Guys sent the same message to every woman POF claimed might be a match, without even reading her profile.

If I put this online interaction in real-world terms, it’s kind of like a guy who walks into a crowded room and just gives a wave.  Maybe he’s waving at me, but I’m not going to assume he is.  And unless he comes over and says something that signals his interest in me, as opposed to any female in the room, I’m not about to curtail the conversation I’m having with the guy who asks me if I like David Sedaris.

Am I judging too harshly? Missing out on good guys?  Maybe.  But to return to movies for a moment, this isn’t Jerry Maguire, and you don’t have me at “hello.”

 

Toes In The Water…

Yesterday, Philippa and I gushed about our guy friends.  She said she’s got such great guy friends that it would be almost impossible for her to date anyone seriously.  I know what she means.

I have an armada of awesome dude pals, too, but that’s not the reason I’ve spent most of the past two years on the dating sidelines.  (My experiments in speed dating and professional matchmaking being notable exceptions, of course.) I just hadn’t been ready to attempt a relationship.

But it’s been a year and a half since I finalized my divorce, and it’s time for me to get serious about Meeting Someone.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met men just by doing stuff I enjoy – hanging out with friends, taking trips, playing sports, and going to various events – but most of them aren’t available.  I decided a more targeted approach was in order: online dating.

I soon learned that the online dating world is vast, and there are sites for practically every age, preference and interest group. In fact, there are even sites for inmates and the people who want to date them (inmate.com and WomenBehindBars.com).

An article reviewed these two prison dating sites and noted, on the plus side, that “[m]ost of the ads include the prisoner’s release date, so you can make long-term plans.”  Because no one deserves to have a gap in life sentences.

Since every pro has a con (ha!), the review criticized the sites because they don’t provide much information about the crimes.  Here, I part company with the reviewer, because I think this omission makes perfect sense.  After all, everyone knows that details of your conviction are second date material.

Anyway, given the sheer number of sites available, I didn’t know how to choose so I consulted one of my guy friends who’s done multiple tours of duty in the online dating trenches.  He’s smart, attractive, funny, successful, and roughly my age, so I trust him.  He suggested PlentyOfFish because, based on his experience, the male-to-female ratio was at least five to one.  Since the odds in D.C. are practically the opposite, those numbers were reason enough to check out POF.

Before you can cast a line on POF, you have to create a profile yourself by answering a series of questions.  I was cruising down the virtual dating superhighway, answering easy questions like “Smoker? Y/N,” and then I ran smack into a jersey wall: body type.

POF lists five categories: thin, athletic, average, a few extra pounds, or big and tall.  I’m a bit over 5’7”, and weigh 128-133 lbs, depending on the prior day’s chocolate intake. On a height/weight chart, this puts me at the lower end of normal.  Depending on who you ask, this might make me thin or average.  I didn’t know how to choose.  Since I also swim, play tennis, run and do boot camp, I though choosing “athletic” would be an elegant solution to the dilemma.

I was bragging about my savvy to a friend over dinner at Ghibellina tonight.

Her Montepulciano practically erupted out of her as she said, “Wait, you chose ‘athletic’? No no no no no! Don’t you know this is all code? ‘Athletic’ doesn’t mean you’re fit! It means the Bears drafted you in the second round. YOU HAVE TO CHANGE IT!”

I did.  And then I posted a photo.  I considered going the ultra-honest route and choosing one similar to the nose-sticker ad.

I’ll go ‘athletic’ before I let anybody photograph me in the nose stickers.

But ultimately I settled on a flattering photo that my sister took of me on our trip to South Beach last fall.

With that, my submission was complete.  Now let’s see if I get any bites.