30 June 2005

Little People

As many of you now, my dating life has been consigned to the world of on-line dating. Match.com, eHarmony (which I no longer am participating in – a story for another entry), Yahoo personals (also know as “the-freaks-come-out-on-line”, dot com), Chicagoist personals, etc. I equate on-line dating to shopping in a catalogue – you look through the pages at a series of items in pictures/photos, and you decide what you like best and buy it. Of course, you don’t really “buy” anything on match.com, you just choose to contact that person, or “wink”, which is the equivalent of saying, “I’m interested in you, but, I’m either too shy to write the first time, or, I’m afraid of rejection and I want to see if you wink first, or, I’m too lazy to write you right now and I want to see if you wink or write to see if you are worth the time,” amongst a plethora of other dumb reasons to just wink without writing. Anyway, I digress.

Let’s discuss why I chose the path of on-line dating. First, it’s a matter of time, or lack of it. I just don’t have the time to go out “clubbing” or to bars on a frequent basis just for the purpose of meeting ladies. I know that a lot of men go very often for this sole purpose, but I view it as an intense waste of time, and financial resources, to do that. And, who really wants to meet someone in a bar anyway (except, if you are my best friend, Dino, who married the girl he met at Bamboo Bernie’s). Moreover, I am way past my clubbing and barhopping days. As old age slowly creeps into my life, not only can I not physically stay out late, my tolerance for that scene is virtually non-existent. Second, to use other “live” dating services is cost-prohibitive. “It’s Just Lunch” has a great premise, but at over $1,000 for something like six (6) set-ups/dates, well, I just don’t have that kind of money to squander. Of course, if I did have that kind of money, I probably wouldn’t need to use “It’s Just Lunch” now, would I? Third, meeting women just on the street is kind of weird. I have never had a problem just going up to someone and (hopefully) striking up a conversation. But, using that skill with the intention of trying to get a date is somewhat devious, wouldn’t you agree? And, I feel that most women who are just approached on the street by random strangers who “hit on them” find the whole situation to be rather creepy. Fourth, on-line dating services are just easier on the ego – a rejection from someone you winked at or just wrote is easier to digest than a face-to-face, “No, I’m just not interested in you.” There are many more reasons, but I think you get the basic gist.

Onto our hero’s story – I receive an email from a Ms. I (names have been changed to protect the innocent). Now, Ms. I doesn’t have any photos, and normally, I don’t respond to correspondence when the sender does not have photos on her profile. But, in this case, Ms. I’s email was so very nice, that, I decided to take a chance and write her back. Of course, I asked if she had any images she could share with me. She mentions that she did not put up any photos on her profile because, “[she] doesn’t want her co-workers to recognize her….blah blah blah.” So, before I do anything else, I wait for her photos, which I receive about a week later. She’s fairly cute, from what I can tell, and her emails are fun, so, I give her a chance, and we continue to email. Now, I am one that is not too terribly fond of the whole “let’s-email-each-other-and-get-to-know-each-other-that-way” type of online dater – a few emails, maybe a phone call or two, then, we typically drinks or dinner. So, Ms. I and I, after a phone call or two, decide to meet for dinner at a restaurant close to her. Keep in mind, we have only spoken on the phone a few times, and, have an idea of what she looks like, so, I’m hoping for the best. After a round of “drive-around-the-block-looking-for-parking” I find a parking garage and park there. There is no direct route to the restaurant, as the garage is on another street, so I am forced to take the circuitous route. Luckily the restaurant has a large, open glass front, so I can peer in and try to spot her so I don’t fumble my way through trying to find her in all of the commotion. As I come within range to view inside the first window, I notice a rather short woman sitting in the waiting area. Well, saying short is being nice, she is actually a “little person” – my sister informs me that she is not a midget, but, rather a dwarf because, although she is atypically short, her limbs and features are atypically proportioned or formed (amongst other reasons). And, the asshole that I am, what do you think popped into my mind? (Okay, sicko, NOT that). That damn song from the Wizard of Oz. You know the one, it goes, “…we are part of the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, …,” or something like that. You know the song, the one the munchkins sing when Dorothy first comes upon them. Okay, so that was just downright callous to think that when I saw that short woman through the glass, but, we are all narrow-minded in some way. And, yes, it was evil, I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. Much to my chagrin, the short woman I just saw in the window, who approached me when I walked in (coming up to just short of mid chest to me, and keep in mind I am only five foot seven!) and said, “Are you Ray?” WAS MY DATE!!!!!!!!!! Only me, Ray, could wind up going on a date with a DWARF (or midget, I have no idea). What fitting karmic retribution for all of those times I made fun of a fat girl, or any girl for that matter, or rejected someone, or cheated on someone, or whatever evil I committed during my dating chronicles. Needless to say, we had dinner, then, as politely as possible, walked her to her car and thus ended the evening. I did tell her that we weren’t “vibing” and that “this wasn’t going to work out for either of us.” Heck, at least I was honest. Of course, I didn’t tell her about the Lollipop Guild. “Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.”

22 June 2005

Me, myself and I

So, I’m thinking about being alone. No, no, it’s nothing like that – it’s not like have someone, and I want some “alone-time”. I’m thinking about my “singleness”, the solitude that has defined and consumed the majority of my short thirty-eight years on the planet. Being alone is a choice, I suppose, as I chose to not date from some years in my late twenties, due, in part, to a failed romance with a woman I know was (is?) the love of my life (she knows who she is; she is one of my best friends). Subsequent years yielded many dates and few fruitful relationships. Of course, I dated like a fiend in college and in my early twenties – some would say that my current dry spell is karmic retribution for that crazy time. Suffice to say, now, at thirty-eight, I have no significant (or insignificant, for that matter) other, and no prospects for that coveted position. Not really sure what that is, it just is what it is. Everyone says, “It will happen when you least expect it.” Well guess what, I don’t expect anything, and I still don’t believe that anything will happen. But, that’s not the point of this piece. Lately, I have been thinking about that fact that I will probably be single for the rest of my natural life. And, astonishingly, I am okay with this. It has become a truth to me. I am fairly certain that I am destined to be alone until my Maker comes for me. And, you know, I am not sad about it at all. I used to anguish over certain break-ups when I was younger. And, when I didn’t get to marry the woman I wanted to be my bride, I shuttered myself from the female population for three years. Now, I find myself with plenty of quality time, and a sizable surplus of quality time (anyone want to buy some quality time?). Consequently, my mind goes to work, and work, and work, and work. Random, pointless thoughts. Deep, philosophical, one-sided arguments. Questions. Answers. Recipes. Lists. Wants. Needs. Desires. Dreams (really, the only time that I do this regularly….I rarely dream when I am asleep). And, then, the inevitable – girls. Sure, I think about them, but I can’t date thoughts now, can I? So, I think about being alone, alone-ness, being one, isolation, meals for one, who my emergency contact will be, to whom do I will my stuff, if my nephew will think I am a big nerd from not having a girlfriend/wife, what my nephew will think that he has no cousins, buying a single towel or the pair, wondering why food can’t be packaged in less than family size, what to claim on my W-4, getting help for projects around the house . . . these are some of the things I think about when I think about being alone. Alone is a double-edged sword. It’s nice to be able to have the freedom to do the things you want without hindrance or objection. At the same time, those occurrences when you need to have someone around (i.e., dates for weddings or other events, tasks requiring more than a pair of hands) requires more than some planning and a fair amount of consideration. Alone is expensive. I can’t explain why, it just is. Alone is challenging. You can’t just play a board game by yourself, and that also prohibits playing tennis or ping-pong (at least you can golf alone). Discussions with yourself when you are alone make you look like you are talking to yourself, which, essentially, you are, and also make you appear loony. But, if no one is around, how can you “appear” loony if no one is around to witness your lunacy? Most recipes have to be cut in half; more often than not you are eating leftovers for a while because you prepared a full recipe. Intimacy becomes quite the paradox, but, we will save that topic for a future entry.

Funny thing is, in spite of all of this, I find solace in my solitude. I’m not writing this for sympathy; I just want to let everyone know that I’m okay being alone. And, I will continue to purchase two tickets for the annual Illini Fall Football get together with my friends, just in case.