July 27, 2009

Men and Movies.

I'm picky about movies. I don't like gratuitous violence, yet one of my favorite movies is Pulp Fiction and I saw Public Enemy recently and enjoyed it. I like movies with a heart, with characters I grow to love, and that teach me something about life. I like to avoid movies that make people look stupid, but I really enjoy the new Bromance style movies, like Hangover and I Love You Man, that show men's shortcomings yet make them seem human and loveable.

But I should have skipped The Ugly Truth, a movie so predictable that I could have told you the whole plot and the ending within the first few minutes. Listen, we're all human, we screw up and make mistakes and sometimes we embarass ourselves, but this movie made both men and women look bad. Really bad. Granted, there were some laughs, but mostly at the expense of the main characters and I found myself squirming in my seat as I watched them make fools of themselves and then, of course, fall in love. Actually, the guy started out being a real jerk and turned out to be a nice guy and the woman pretended to be sweet and nice and was really a "psycho controlling" b**tch.

So why write about it? I think about my last post where I wrote that it's important while dating to be real, to be honest, to be sincere. And then I think about how, in these movies, we seem to enjoy it the most when we see people at their worst. Is it that we feel bad about ourselves sometimes and laughing at another's goof-ups makes us feel superior? Is it that we are really mean and enjoy seeing people being harmed? Or is it that we are raised watching violent acts on TV and the movies and are so desensitized that we now laugh at another's pain? Geez, I see the billboards for a new children's movie that shows small rodents carrying machine guns and I am horrified.

So what makes me write about this, you say? I hear about my women friends' dating experiences and it just seems so frustrating, how we want to meet someone with good values and similar interests, yet we rule them out for superficial things, like being very overweight or having bad teeth. Yet, we're human and mating seems to harken back to the cavemen times when we women picked the men who we thought would be the best providers and protectors. And don't forget that the men apparently mated with a lot of women in those days, spreading their seed far and wide to keep the species intact. But we're past that, aren't we, and all of my women friends are self-supporting and don't need a man to support us. But still, it would be nice to have someone open the door and tell me I'm beautiful, no question about it.

So I really wrote this rambling post to say that, no, the Guy Panel won't happen this month because I was unable to find enough guys willing to participate. And the Wow meetings have been on hiatus for a few months, after my being sick for the beginning of the year and recently taking a vacation and planning another one and having my best friend visit soon. So who really needs a guy, after all, since we ladies have family and grandchildren and good friends? No, we don't need one, but it might just be really nice to have one around, anyway.

July 21, 2009

A Guy's Point of View - A Guest Post.

Honest or not, here I come.....

....I'm considering that as my new tag line for online dating profiles. I want to talk about honesty and internet dating. Although I consider myself more honest than some people, I am still not perfect. So standing here waving the mighty banner of Honesty makes me squirm a little.

Honesty is the best policy, as Franklin originally said. So why is it so often replaced by some other policy? I think fear and shortsightedness combine to sabotage honesty. Your online dating profile is a blank slate, and you must supply all the "facts". It's inevitable that you'll consider the consequences of choosing one fact over another. Gee, am I five-eight or five-nine? I know which one sounds better (OK, that one hits a little too close to home.) With no one to stop you, and visions of your Prospective Mate selecting or discarding your profile, you choose the better-looking fact, and the first little chunk of honesty erodes.

The web sites sometimes are complicit in this, too. PlentyOfFish.com has many checklists where you must choose a value. For drinking and drug use, your choices are "Often", "Socially", or "No". So if you have one glass of wine with dinner every day, you're an "Often" drinker. Someone who gets blitzed twice a week drinks "Socially". There's a certain lack of precision in all this. In my case, I smoked marijuana once in 2005, in Amsterdam (I was led to believe that it was a cultural requirement), and twice in 2008. "No" is certainly not the honest answer to "drug use" for me. But "Socially" makes it look like I get high and listen to Hendrix every Friday night. Many other users on that web site see it in those terms, and one of the most frequent messages I got was basically "Nice profile, but what's with that drug use?" I would trade a couple of messages explaining my extreme lightweightness, and the explanation would be accepted. Sort of. (It's harder to detect a fisheyed expression in cyberspace.)

So guess what? My profile now says "No" for drug use. I will still be explaining my oh-so-infrequent tokes to my Potential Mate, but I'll be doing it face-to-face now, not in some ham-handed way with email. I'm not afraid of my actual record; I just want a chance to present it fairly.

But that's a slippery slope. Do I fudge the height thing, trusting that when I show up I'll be so charming that my blatant error of fact will be excused? What about age? Weight? Misleading photos? These things are so common in internet dating that they are practically clich├ęs, and these lies all fly to pieces at the first meeting or soon thereafter. Why would people risk such severe consequences? The new relationship, even if it survives that shock, now has to deal with distrust right from the start.

I don't know why, but I'm guessing that fear drives these poor decisions. You envision the Potential Mate scanning profiles, trying to choose one to respond to, and weighing the "facts" in each one. You're very afraid that you might not make the cut, and better "facts" mean that you have a better chance to make the cut. The shortsightedness lets you see the Potential Mate going through this process, but doesn't let you see the Potential Mate freaking out when they find out they've been lied to.

While most people are afraid of missing the cut, I think I'm more afraid of letting someone down. I struggled with the best way to present my marijuana experimentation, and came up with an approach that I can live with, while knowing that it's not purely honest. In other respects, my profile is pretty darned accurate. Bottom line: I don't want to waste my time or the time of women who are attracted to my profile, but not to the real me. I'm in it for the long haul, and I don't want the tension of some discovered or undiscovered lie hanging over what is an increasingly good relationship. I want to be at peace with myself and with my sweetheart.

Oh, and that height thing? I have an inversion table at home, and after a few minutes of hanging I can get to five-foot-nine and a half! However, it's very difficult to drag that thing around to restaurants for first meetings.

Men as Pizza.

An author recently asked me to read and review her book. "Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza," or "How to write an eye-catching profile, search for, and meet the right person online" is by Cherie Burbach, who wrote inside, "Ellen, Happy Dating! And remember, never settle. You're too important for that." Nice.

It's a no-nonsense, easy reading book about how to use internet dating sites, with such topics as how to write your profile, what pictures to post, what to do with the responses, how to handle the first meeting, and how to be safe. It all seems so simple and so obvious, but I'm sure it's good advice. And worth reading.

I have my own set of gripes about online dating. The endless back and forth emails, like the guy is just looking for a pen-pal. The married guys posing as single. The guys from Utah or New Jersey saying that they're interested in me. The pre-written "winks" instead of writing a note about what you liked about my profile. Giving a guy my phone number and never hearing anything else from him. The guys giving me advice and criticism about how I've written my profile essay. The coffee dates where the guy doesn't even buy us the coffee. Ah, is it worth it?

We all have this inherent need or drive to connect, to love and be loved, to meet someone who genuinely appreciates who we are, to experience the joy at knowing we make someone's life a little better by just being ourselves. So here's my dating advice. Listen more, and talk less. Do things that are fun together. Have a mindset that dating is about getting-to-know each other, so really pay attention to what is said. Stop thinking about what might happen someday and enjoy what is happening now. Be real, be really who you are and not what you think he or she might want you to be. Be honest but not hurtful. And strive to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated.

Geez, that sounds like a good philosophy about life. Be real, be honest, be kind.
Have fun. Nice.

July 19, 2009

Men as Dessert.

In my thirties, there were lots of places for single people to meet. I remember on Fridays, after work, a bunch of us single girls would meet at a local hotel for happy hour, you know those cheap drinks and even cheaper appetizers and lots of people who are very happy that the work week is over. There were so many options then, that we’d have to think about which place to visit each week. On Saturday nights, there were clubs and dances and, again, we could pick and choose between lots and lots of options.

Now, we’re older and wiser and still looking for guys to date and, alas, the options are very different. I remember having a great desire to have a man in my life in those days, but lately it isn’t such a strong drive. As grounded and relaxed as I am at this time of my life, it seems unnecessary to have a partner and lover, yet it’s like that book, “Men are Just Desserts” that I read a long time ago – the meal is enough but dessert makes it even more delicious, like a special treat that brings a smile to our faces and adds an extra moment of joy to the meal. But now I’d want every bite of that dessert to be amazing, and I’m not willing to settle for one that is just so-so.

So where do I meet someone so yummy? I can’t find any happy hours where people my age congregate, and there are only two clubs I know in my area for us older-and-wiser folks. One has a good band, but not much of a crowd. The other has a terrible band, lots of people, but not much in the way of mixing and mingling.

What about singles parties, you ask? I did host those ten parties that were well received and lots of lots of fun, but the space I used is closed and I’ve been unable to find another. There’s my friend Rookie, the creator of Super Single Mixers, who is hosting a party in a few weeks that sounds great (see www.supersinglemixers.com), but she only does a few a year. And, of course, there’s internet dating, but that’s for another post.

So, in the interest of helping some of my Wowettes find Mr. Dessert, we went out last night to an advertised party at a club in the Marina, a lovely location that I visit all too seldom. I had been to two of these parties in the past, both times saying when I left that I would never go back. Expensive, a small crowd, and no one that interested me. But, in the spirit of friendship, I agreed to accompany one of my Wowettes. We thought we’d get dressed up, make the drive, and then check out the party before we paid our hard-earned bucks. We drove the packed LA freeways to the Marina, found the restaurant, amazingly found a parking spot, and scoured the restaurant for the party. I had thought we’d hear the loud music from afar, but it was quiet everywhere. Finally, we walked up the back stairs, past the group of guys checking us out, and found the sign-in desk. Still, no music, no crowd, no nothing. We lied (yes, we lied) and said that we were going to wait for a friend to arrive, and I made my way toward the entrance to the party to check it out before we decided to cough up the $25. The closer I got to the door, the closer a big bruiser of a guy got to me, like maybe he would tackle me if I tried to get in without paying?!? I assured him my intentions were honorable, that he had nothing to fear, and I leaned in to the room. What did I see? Now remember, we had arrived one hour after the supposed start of the party. There was a bandstand and no band. There was a dark room with little 4-seat low tables and chairs, each far from another, and a few women sitting here and there. There were supposed to be appetizers included in the price, but the burly guy was getting too close to me, so I abandoned the search.

No music, a dreary room with no way to mingle, and costly. No party for us. Thought we’d go to a movie instead, so we grabbed a copy of the LA weekly and sat outside in that lovely marina air and started to read it. Couldn’t find a movie we wanted to see so we kept reading the paper together and came upon the ads. We read the calendar for the Hollywood Bowl and checked out the clubs for the cool and hip and young and start cracking up when we came to the ads. After pages and pages of pics of almost naked women with obviously surgically enhanced (huge) breasts advertising phone lines for singles, we spot a big ad titled “Two Women Massage” and say, “Well, we’re two women, is that for us?” and couldn't stop laughing. Then, we get to the pages with pics of gorgeous bare-chested guys and see the ad for “Nasty Girls 99c” and the phone # of 1-800-xxx-HEAD and then we just about fall off our chairs, choking with laughter.

We finally got it together, had a delicious meal on a patio overlooking the boats, and then headed home. No party, no dessert, no cool new guys. But another fun and silly and memorable evening with the girls. If I find a guy that’s half as much fun as that, I’m gonna keep him.