Crouching Tiger, Hidden Creeper

I’ve been on an opera kick this week. Puccini is my absolute favorite composer, so I’ve had that station going all week while I have read articles, organized my taxes, and for the first time have colored in my “adult coloring book.” I’m a little slow on trends sometimes.

I often don’t understand the meaning of the songs because who here speaks fluent Italian? Not I. But it certainly adds a little flavor to my tasks. Also, it’s the funniest thing to run across some slow-motion films of dogs wiping out in the sand or attempting and failing to catch treats or toys in their mouths – so dramatic when Maria Callas is wailing!

I was feeling very passionately that my OKCupid profile needed another revamp. Guys don’t care what I’m doing with my life or which books I’ve read or if I know all of the cool places to eat. They just want to know if I will go hunting and fishing with them (welcome to Minnesota) and if I can hook my ankles behind my ears. So I took all that crap out. This is what my profile says now:

MY SELF-SUMMARY
*******I’M ALLERGIC TO:********

– Hookups, FWB, DTF
– Threesomes, foursomes or moresomes
– All animals furred or feathered (even “hypoallergenic” animals), though I love them
– Misogynistic behavior
– Bad behavior and excuses
– Cheaters, liars, thieves
– Poor dental hygiene
– Conspiracy theorists
– Stalkers
– Contemporary country music, rap
– Republicans
– Being called “cutie”
– Organized religion or prayer

The most private thing I’m willing to admit

I don’t get out as much as I would like to because of some major health issues.

You should message me if

– You are a non-smoker (of all things) and don’t use chew/snuff (ever)
– We live in the same country; my preference is to connect with someone in the same metro area because I dislike long distance relationships.
– You know and use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation.
– You would like me to proofread your profile for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors.

Almost immediately after posting these bullet points, a guy hit me up and said I was hilarious, and unfortunately, he was a hardcore Catholic and a Republican – but he really appreciated my sense of humor. We ended up having a really good chat through the site. He talked about his daughters, and how one of them was living with him as well as a nearly 2-year-old grandson. We chatted about the intricacies of finding and keeping a job that could pay the bills without the need to add another job. We talked a little bit about my disease and how it affected my ability to be social.

In all, a respectful, flowing conversation happened. Then I got an unexpected but very welcome call from my close friend in Arizona, and told the guy that I couldn’t chat because of the phone call. He said that was fine and posted his number, and I replied back with mine. He asked if I would be interested in a date. I thought what the hell, if we get along, we both could include each other in our circle of friends.

My call with my friend was pretty lively. She told me about the difficulties she had with men she had dated (or really, had minimal contact with) who kept calling and texting, even though she wasn’t interested and told them so. She told me how one had briefly been a professional MMA fighter, and took it upon himself to put her in a choke hold and then forced her to the floor. Another was a guy who couldn’t seem to accept the fact that she had gotten into a relationship with someone else instead of him, and even agreed to a double date so my friend could introduce him to our other friend – until he realized that my friend was also bringing her boyfriend.

My advice was that she must use small words and tell them why she is cutting them off, and then cut them off. First, they are not respecting her boundaries, and she does not owe them anything. Second, she needs to get her mind out of the space where women are required to be people pleasers and make sure they don’t anger men. That anger rears its ugly head when men think they are simply entitled to women’s bodies. How dare we reject them?

After we ended our call, I texted the dude and apologized for taking longer than I had planned. He called me “cutie” with a smiley face, just to piss me off. The next thing he did was tell me how beautiful my eyes are. I thanked him and told him I appreciated his complement, but I put more value in values than I do appearance. We discussed options for activities where I wouldn’t be up and out for too long (hopefully longer than a high five).

And then Hidden Creeper came out.

I was trying to discuss meeting places with him, and he kept talking about my appearance and how “cute” I am and that he just couldn’t help it. Then he asked me if he could kiss me.

In my head I was saying, “Hold on there, buddy – where in the hell did this come from, Mr. I’m-a-Hardcore-Catholic?” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that him talking about kissing me is his code for testing me to see if he can go balls deep. It happens all of the time.

I told him that if we both felt attracted to the other person, then sure, we can have a smooch. But I also told him that I didn’t want to discuss it further, because it has been my experience that if all you do is talk about what you want to do with the other person once you have entered their personal space, and then you actually meet, it doesn’t end well. Sometimes there’s no attraction from one or both parties. but then they feel obligated to ______ because it was talked about. I told him that I wanted to make sure we’re not getting ahead of ourselves.

He replied with, “Ok sounds good” and then stopped texting me. So I still have no idea if this date is going to happen, but my guess is that it won’t.

I feel the change in personality happened as soon as we started communicating off of OKCupid and that is because he knows I could easily block him there and he would have no idea how find me. Luckily I can push his calls and texts to spam if I get some on my cell, but he doesn’t know that. I just feel sorry for his daughters. He revealed to me that his oldest daughter moved back in with him because she’s 24, has a 2-year-old, is kind of lost, and the baby’s daddy is an asshole who took off. I want to shake him and say, “He took off because you didn’t teach your daughter how to value herself, or she may never have let him in in the first place.”

Being able to look at everything and process it in a much healthier way than I have in the past is my present to myself. I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better. I wish everyone else luck, would like to remind you that it sometimes takes effort to get on the right track, and keep holding yourself and other people accountable.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

I recorded a 20-minute interview with Daniel (“Danny”) Levine about this blog and this crazy life. I’ve only been here for six months and already the Minnesota accent is creeping back in. There were a couple of times where the sound dropped, but you get the general idea.

A Prayer Before Dating

Today, a good friend posted a surprising quote from her Christmas Eve church service: “Lord, touch us where we need to be touched.”

Amen to that!!! I mean, that’s almost exactly, word-for-word, the prayer I say before each date. Well, okay, mine is a little more elaborate: “Lord, please let him have clean teeth, pleasant breath, an unsloppy kiss, magic hands, a great personality and recently bathed bits.”

This holiday is a bit rough. First, I’m no longer in Arizona and gathering with friends to feed ourselves silly and play games like Cards Against Humanity. They are all my “other” family. I have hosted as few as one and as many as ten friends at my house, depending on if they had already been extended an invitation or they had family in the area. I have always made sure they had presents under the tree. I try not to think about this or any aspect of my former life, because it inevitably causes tears.

There is also a gap with our sister passing in July. Her absence also brings tears. This is the first time in about 23 years that I, my other sister and our half-brother are in the same city around Christmastime, and it would have been perfect to have our oldest sister here too. We are still scattering a bit – our brother is heading back to Wisconsin to be with his girlfriend and her family for the holiday. I wonder if we will all ever be in sync; none of us has experience in how to act like siblings as adults living in the same area, and I watch friends who have mastered this skill with envy.

And of course, there is no soul mate under the tree. Santa baby, what the hell???? It’s too soon for me to be able to tell if the person I recently met is a match; we have a few strikes, including my inability to drive, our distance (50 minutes on a good day) and his recent purchase of a puppy (since I’m deathly allergic). He has a good heart, though. Right now we are enjoying each others’ company.

This is a difficult holiday for a lot of my friends who are struggling with illness, loneliness, isolation or job loss. I don’t have any words of wisdom to pass along. All we can do is get through the next week. Maybe what we have wished for this Christmas – a job paying a living wage, gatherings with friends, a loving partner – will show up, but just a little late.

Below is a picture from my house in Phoenix when I had two living rooms and decorated two Christmas trees. Again, tears. God, I loved that house and the life I made in Phoenix. But happy holidays to you, wherever you may be.

2ChristmasTrees

Hope for the Hopeless

I had a date yesterday.

We met on OKCupid. He complained that women weren’t responding to his attempts to start conversations. I complained that men were opening with sexual demands. I’ll call him Nashville, since he is from Tennessee and still has quite a pronounced twang to his speech (which I think is adorable).

First we were chatting through messages on OKCupid. Then we graduated to texting on our phones. Though I haven’t asked him, he must have wondered if I was being flaky because I didn’t start texting right away, but I was worn out from a couple of doctor appointments. Then we graduated to actually talking on the phone; the first time we talked we were on for 3.5 hours, then we got on later in the evening and chatted for another 3.5 hours. Then we made a date.

It was just supposed to be a lunch date, and really just a coffee date, no food involved. I picked a spot two blocks from my apartment. We walked from my place, and luckily I didn’t end up getting the droopy face by the time we got back to my flat. Nashville asked if I had any plans for the remainder of the day, and if not, would I like to do dinner as well? I was totally game since we seemed to be getting on so well. We got comfortable in my little shoe box flat – he on the couch and I laying flat on my bed – and we spent the afternoon watching music videos from the ’80’s. Wham!, David Bowie, Scorpions, Psychedelic Furs and Def Leppard all got heavy play.

Nashville and I bundled back up and walked two blocks to a pizza place where we had the most flavorful pie we agreed we’ve had in a long time. Then we went back to my little flat and made out for about an hour. Nashville and I had a very frank conversation about how neither one of us wanted to immediately jump into having sex because we both had a history of picking partners who were a poor match for our values and lifestyles. He also asked if he could see me with my wig off, but immediately my sphincter tightened up and I asked if we could wait for a later date (it’s like being doused with cold water from what I understand, seeing me like that). I wanted to hang onto some of the attraction in case Nashville decided he couldn’t handle my baldness after all because I don’t want every dating experience to be colored by my need for wigs.

When it was time for him to leave, Nashville and I discussed his work schedule and agreed that we both wanted to see the other person again as soon as we could figure out a time, which will be next week.

I’m realistic about my challenges. He is getting a puppy on December 27th – something he already planned and paid for – but he knows I’m deathly allergic. Nashville also voiced concern about having to commute to my place and the fact that I’m not able to share in the burden of driving back and forth. He lives about 50 minutes north of me. Driving that in winter weather will probably stretch that to more like 90 minutes. But we also have some things going for us, including our age and desire to have a mutually respectful relationship, and neither of us has children. Nashville also doesn’t mind that I swear like a truck driver and it seems he has been raised right – he sees women as his equal, not princesses on pedestals and not second-class citizens either.

We traded texts this morning. Nashville said, “I really like you.” I wrote back, “I really like you too.” I meant it, too. I said it without hesitation and reservation.

Showing Up is Half the Battle

Update: This morning, November 23rd, he sent me a text message saying that he was sorry because he fell asleep, and then he went to church and turned off his phone. He offered to show me the logs “where it proved he was in church.” I told him that all he had to do was text or call and tell me it wasn’t going to work out, not wait two days, and that it was time to live an authentic life and stop making excuses. Seriously, I am so done raising men.

_____________________________________________________

Yesterday was a good day for me, health-wise. I had vertigo and fatigue but not a facial droop. I thought I was undeniably lucky – because a friend from the past had offered to pick me up and take me out to karaoke, and rather than having my face paralyze by the time we arrived, there was a good chance that I would be able to be upright for a few hours.

He and I had talked about my limitations and what to expect to happen, which is to plan for the worst and hope for the best. All week he was telling me how excited he was to see me after all of this time. Then he started talking about how it has been a long time (in the neighborhood of 15 months) since he had dated, or been close to someone physically. Because we are so different on the religious front, I warned him that we wouldn’t be a good match because church is such a big portion of his life and I am 1,000% a non-believer.

I texted him Saturday afternoon to find out what time he was picking me up so I could plan accordingly. He told me that he would be by at 6 pm. Then he started texting that he was nervous about his teeth – he knows that I like it when men take care of their choppers. (I didn’t tell him that it’s because I had had boyfriends who had let their teeth rot and it was horrible kissing them.) I told him I knew it was expensive to get them fixed and that I was aware that he was making an effort, I just didn’t want him to have to get dentures in a few years at such a young age. I also told him that I had my own insecurities, but we should both try to work through them and enjoy our time out and catching up.

At 6 pm, he didn’t show – but he sent a text saying it had been a hell of a day and his roommates were fighting. At 7:30 he was still a no-show, so I texted him to ask if he was still on his way over or if we needed to figure out a different day.

Crickets. Nothing. Absolutely nothing, not even this morning.

There weren’t any stabbings or shootings in his area. I know this because I checked. With this in mind, there is no great mystery surrounding why he is still single. He has my cell phone number, my email and for Pete’s sake, my street address. I’m really struggling to find a place in my heart that will allow him the benefit of the doubt if he does come back to me, sniveling about something or other happening that prevented him from telling me what the deal was. It’s the kind of behavior that I would expect from a stranger but not at all what I want in a friend.

And if I sometimes sound bitter or disillusioned through the course of all of these blog posts, it’s because I am. Nearly every man in my life has let me down, with rare some exceptions. But rather than allowing this particular night of waiting needlessly to get my blood pressure up, I’m calm, as if he has never existed in the first place. As the daughter of an alcoholic, disassociation comes easily to me. But men should know that every time they do something like this, they break women’s hearts, even if it’s just a tiny bit; it all adds up.

While writing these few paragraphs, one of my favorite Anberlin songs came up on my streaming music. I’m sad they broke up in 2014 because I’ll never have the chance to see them live, but thank goodness for the permanency of YouTube.

He Looks Good on Paper

One of the hazards about internet dating – and I’ve said it before – is that you can get wrapped up in making your grocery list. Shopping for men! In my 20’s I decided that my ideal mate would be tall with blue eyes, be smart and not have any back hair. The problem with this list is that I left out very important requirements, such as my partner should actually like me (and women in general, no misogyny allowed), pay his own bills, do his own laundry, be willing to help me if I needed it…well, I could go on and on. But after the two live-in boyfriends in Cincinnati, I altered my list a bit.

In my 30’s, I still wanted an educated man with whom I could hold conversations. I also added the need to have a sense of responsibility so that I wouldn’t be stuck with having to take care of everything including bills and hard labor. I mean, when I had to work two jobs to make sure the bills would get paid, or the guys sat on their asses while I hauled heavy stuff or packed for a trip, it was exhausting. I also got incredibly tired of hearing why the boyfriends wouldn’t help clean. Both of them said they didn’t know what to clean, and I had to tell them. I asked them how they thought I figured out what needed to be cleaned? I never got an answer to that question.

So around 2005 I was dating heavily through internet sites. I was very excited to start up a conversation with a guy I’ll name Al. He was a high school history teacher, and he could string complete sentences together and speak in a respectful manner. Al was completely average looking with straight brown hair and blue eyes and a very thin build. I thought he had everything I had been missing previously in other dates and relationships. Al was also very responsible.

Our first date was dinner. The conversation did not flow easily. I tend to be animated when I speak, and he was the complete opposite. I felt a little sorry for his high school students because he did not seem to be an impressive orator. But I thought I was probably being too harsh, and so when he asked me out again, I agreed.

It did not take long for me to reveal to him that I was wearing wigs to cover up my bald head. Al took it well and asked a few questions, but the conversation went much better than I expected, so it was a huge relief. We had more dates at museums and bowling alleys. We did not kiss very much and we never had sex or even got close.

For what ended up being our last outing together, we picked a random music venue at the northern end of Phoenix. Al picked me up and drove us there at exactly five miles per hour under the speed limit the whole way. If you have never been to Phoenix, one important thing to know is that no one who wants to live to see the next day drives under the speed limit – most go 5-10 mph over as a standard. Anyway, that evening’s feature was a singer/songwriter that neither one of us had heard of before, and there were maybe eight people in the audience, but we both really enjoyed the performance. Al even bought the artist’s CD and had it signed.

Afterwards we went back to his house and talked for a while on the couch. Al made his big move and kissed me. I am not a fan of kissing with tongue (especially if my counterpart is a huge producer of saliva and I nearly end up drinking it). Poor Al had no technique whatsoever. It was if a fat worm stuck its head out of a hole and wiggled back and forth a bit. I was startled and consciously fought the urge to do the crab crawl backward. Suddenly, he grabbed my right breast and sort of did a “wax on, wax off” motion. I could not stop myself from making a sort of whimpering sound to match my thoughts, which were along the lines of, “Oh shit, this is very, very bad.”

Al sat back and said, “You know, that is the first time I have heard you respond with passion.” I lost all faith that he would know where any of my important bits were located or what to do with them. I extricated myself and told him I was tired and was heading home.

A few days later I called him and told him that I didn’t think we were a good match. Al was respectful, or stoic, or…gosh, nothing! I am sure he was probably disappointed because he wasn’t getting laid anytime soon, at least not by me, but I couldn’t tell from his voice if he was or not. And that is why I couldn’t carry on. This proves that a list is great as a guideline, but checking items off when they are met does not guarantee a love connection.

I’m in my early 40’s now and I still keep a list. If I would combine all of my previous and present requirements, it would look like this: The person I take on in the next relationship must be tall, have blue eyes, play the guitar and sing, have no back hair, do his own laundry, pay his own bills, give me back and foot rubs, not be a follower of any sports, love the arts, enjoy traveling and have an active passport, be at least a fair cook, be nice to me, be a feminist, not grab my boobs while we’re grocery shopping, take the initiative to clean, love animals but not have any, love kids and maybe or maybe not have any, not steal from me, have a witty sense of humor, chew with his mouth closed, brush and floss every day, be a master of lovemaking skills, and be a good driver.

But since the Keebler elves aren’t exactly making men to my specs, I suppose at this point I’m going to settle for someone being nice to me.