Broken Record

12 Jul

Among the various frustrations that come with becoming a Serial First Dater (a most ignominious title) is the tedium of having to talk about yourself each time. Recently I went on a spur-of-the-moment date via OKCupid locals. (Background: I was lying in a park reading a book. She was lying in a different park reading a different book. We’re both vaguely and indifferently Jewish. She’s from SF, and I operate on the assumption that most girls from SF are awesome.)

We met up and of course she didn’t look at all like her pics. She was also a fake San Franciscan having only lived there through grad school (doesn’t count if you’re going to insert the affiliation into your screen name). Not the point. As a “nice guy” (the bar is low these days, based on what other dudes have reported doing in this situation), even if my date does not look to be the person she portrays in online pictorial spreads, I still follow through and hang out. It seems rude not to, and who knows? This chick seemed sane and had interesting experiences living abroad (Africa include, obviously, as she’s on OkCupid).

After an awkward attempt to pay for her own popsicle on the High Line (come on, ladies, I can afford a popsicle, and I don’t even expect lurid sexual favors in return), she said, “I don’t know anything about you. Tell me something about yourself.”

“What an intimidating request,” I replied. Not because I haven’t had to tell people about myself a million times, which all SFDs are proficient at. But at least let it come out naturally in the course of conversation. Maybe I was being extra reticent on account of my disappointment in her appearance. I don’t know. But suddenly faced with a direct request to summarize/advertise myself, I kind of went blank. I threw out some obligatory facts and mercifully we soon went back to just shooting the shit.

This moment once again conjured up my always dreaded hint of potential SFD burnout: self-description fatigue. We’ve already laid out some details in our profiles. Now, unless broken up by some truly amazing person/experience/conversation thread, an SFD is always at serious risk for falling into run-of-the-mill dates with 20-question safety nets and boilerplate resume recitations. I, for one, bore myself to tears having to hear my own life story dozens of times. To every new girl, I’m a new story, perhaps at times even an interesting one. But to myself I’m a broken record, like that one book a poor peasant reads to his children over and over because it’s all they own.

Even when I try to put new spins on it, twist and turn it every which way, change the wording, bring in new characters, there are only so many times you can tell your life story. The person I “love” most—myself—is also the person I’m most weary of. Such is life. That’s part of why we go out and roam amongst others, that’s why we look for someone else to love, as much as or more than ourselves. So we beat on, and we give our elevator pitch and tell our stories over and over, hoping to find someone whose story we want to hear more than our own, maybe even over and over. And then? We’ll see.

Fun with SEO Stats

9 Jul

Some interesting search terms led people to my little blog this past week. “okcupid first date” tied with “battle lizard miniature” and “lizards in egyptian art,” while others dropped by after looking for “singing sisters sempach,” “carrot top dating,” “disco stu’s shoes,” and “nerd girl I jucat came oceans demotivator.” Good to see such disparate audiences coming in!

Why I Blogged

27 Jun

Everybody Hurts…Sometime

In January of 2012, I decided, mostly on a whim, to start a blog about online dating. This was no New Year’s Resolution or sudden epiphany that I was born to be a dating blogger. I wish I could say my hand was forced by destiny…that my mind was pregnant with blogorrheic nuggets of wisdom handed down to me by the gods of online dating themselves. No, dear reader. Alas, this electronic rag was first inspired by an experience most mundane—rejection.

The cute Jewish political operative and I had hooked up on OkCupid and exchanged some very bland and decidedly unbantery overtures to meet. Not only was she a Jew, but a Jew from Florida, which meant no escape from the late-December visit to the panhandle. Fresh off an ugly breakup and a string of fruitless first dates (yay, online dating!), I had no expectations when we met up at a South African wine bar in Hell’s Kitchen. She was even prettier than her pictures and I was immediately attracted to her. Over the next several hours and many glasses of Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, the chemistry was palpable and the night disappeared in front of our eyes as only those really great first dates can. Halfway through the bottle, we both had to pee, only to learn that the bathroom was overflowing. This led to a somewhat memorable experience of being ushered to their sister restaurant down the block by the bartender through pouring rain. With no umbrellas, it was a nice opportunity to take charge and wrap my arm around her in a most manly fashion.

When the night was finally over, we walked to the intersection of our parting and she congratulated me on being her longest date ever. Then, she punctuated it with a clear opening for a kiss. We made out in the rain, not quite Spiderman style, but pretty intensely, neither of us really wanting to go home. We both knew we’d see each other again.

We swapped texts and set up another date for the weekend. Lamely, I suggested we see a movie and get food later. (They can’t all be winners, whatareyagonnado?) On Saturday, screwed by Brooklyn’s ridiculous weekend subway changes, I rushed from the train to the train to the shuttle bus, back to the train, just to cut my lateness by a few minutes. I sent her texts and she was perfectly understanding when I met her just as the movie was starting. She looked great again and I counted the minutes until we could just let go again. After Young Adult (which was an OK date movie I suppose), a fabulously amazing and fabulously expensive tapas experience was followed by a perfectly divey bar. Not long after some beers, I volunteered to cab her home. We got into a car and started making out in the back. I didn’t expect her to invite me in, but she asked me to come up and “meet her cat.” (Oh, ladies, how I love your subtlety.)

Upstairs, after a quick tour of her charming Hell’s Kitchen apartment, we were back at it until we both started falling asleep in each other’s arms. She was sorry for not asking me to spend the night but she wasn’t quite ready, and I absolved her of any guilt. It was totally understandable. As I left, I texted that I really loved holding her. It was a totally uncensored but (I thought) fairly harmless expression of my feelings. I was feeling good again, all was right with the world, there was magic in the air. The Times Square fumes smelled better.

Over the next few days, I was really excited. I texted, I even called. But all I got in return were delayed and tentative replies, with lame and well-worn excuses about having a “crazy week.” It’s not that I hadn’t been rejected before, but not like this. Not after two awesome dates where two souls, as different as any other two, seemed so perfectly in-sync. Not after we kissed the way we did. Not after I’d met her cat, for chrissake! What the fuck did I do wrong? Was I a bad kisser? Was I merely kiss-raping a very timid girl the entire time? Was she seeing someone else who was just a tad more special? It didn’t matter. Her steely response (or lack thereof) was pretty clear. She blew me off without an explanation; I was no better than some loser contacting her online for the first time. I thought of confronting her for answers, but what would that do? So she could fire off some template sandwiching a firm rejection between telling me how awesome I am and that I would find someone great? For the first time in a long time, I was hurt. Truly hurt. Start-a-blog hurt.

 

How About We… First Get a Cup of Coffee and Make Sure Neither of Us Has Conspicuous STDs

12 Jun

Muff-Dive Before You Skydive

So I’ve joined this relatively new dating site, How About We (also served up through the Someecards website), and I really love it. I think it’s the best 2.0 dating site I’ve seen, with a gimmick that actually works, a simple layout, and an elegant way of collecting feedback to make improvements. The concept is simple but innovative: online dating based around experiences and interests rather than just arbitrary filters and profiles. You propose some dates you’d actually like to go on and only then do you fuss over whether your picture makes you look too fat or just how much you should reveal about your bug collection.

The coolness of the concept, however, has an amusing side-effect. Once you start scouring the ladies’ profiles, you run into some very amusing “unrealistic first date proposals,” or UFDPs. Some of these, localized to NYC, include:

  • Rock climbing
  • Shooting range
  • Parachuting out of an airplane
  • Ziplining over a mountain
  • Trapeze class
  • Spontaneous travel to an exotic locale (i.e., Peru/Inca Trail/Machu Picchu)

Now, not to be square and old-fashioned, but are any of these dates actually viable? With varying degrees of plausibility, even the ones that sound doable, such as a shooting gallery, in my humble opinion, do not create the best environments for getting to know someone (unless you’re both NRA members, in which case it just might be).

A first date should be about getting to know a person, not about extreme adventures. There should be some healthy awkwardness and a lot of conversation. You’re both feeling each other out, looking for common ground while looking for any really bright red flags. So, yeah, maybe it’s not very original, but a coffee or a glass of wine at a chill venue is usually pretty ideal. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, check out a museum or art gallery for some conversation pieces.

I’ve done my share of quirky dates. From Pickle Day on the Lower East Side to an interactive off-Broadway show to a Michael Jackson/Thriller outdoor tribute, I’ve tried to spice things up or just fly by the seat of my pants on a first date. Some were good, some were bad, some were neutral. What I’ve come to realize is that adventures are most awesome when shared with the right person, and your first goal should be to find that person, not going on a safari or arranging a flash mob date.

Not with a Bang But a Whimper

4 Jun

ImageIt was a casual mid-week evening of extreme beers and mild rage (in theory). A couple of my friends met me at Peculier Pub, that underrated NYU hangout on Bleecker that happens to offer one of the great bottle lists in all of New York. They even offer mediocre Eastern European varieties. Rarely will I imbibe a Belarussian lager, but I appreciate the option. The evening started out fortuitously with Founders Imperial IPAs and proceeded to the inevitable Samichlaus. 3 or 4 “erudite” beers in, the night started getting more interesting.

First, a Korean girl wandered in, looking lost. My friend uncharacteristically invited her to join us, whereupon we learned she was a language student. Behind us, a gaggle of geeks were holding court. Somewhere between the Korean girl and her friend (who soon joined us) singing the virtues of Dr. Who and a portly gentleman in a Dr. Who tee shirt behind us, we finally realized that the two girls were there for a Dr. Who fan club meeting. Awesome. Eventually, we had to release the Korean exchange student to her flock, but not before getting her to translate a North Korean beer commercial on YouTube (North Korea has beer commercials?).

Turning our attention back to our palates, we sailed further down the River Malt. At some point past that time when you stop paying attention to time, an odd couple started shadowing our booth. A skinny guy in a vest and a semi-ditzy, heavily inebriated blonde were swaying back and forth, hugging and pecking one another on the cheek. They sat down next to me and proceeded to unburden themselves of many a slurred thought. Sensing perfect marks for some bartime fun, we gave them fake names and got into character.

When the male half went outside to take a call, the blonde moved closer in and started chatting me up. I asked how long they’d been together. Laughing, she informed me that he was just a friend and was bi. As if catching herself, she immediately leaned in and whispered, “I’m pretty sure he’s just gay, but don’t tell him I said that.” Her secret was safe with me. She continued to engage me in conversation (such topics as, “What’s up with Jewish people, does it like, mean you’re Jewish?”) but I was only a quarter-interested in the mental wanderings of a 21-year-old FIT student.

I was trying to return to chatting with my friends when the girl nudged me and asked if I could accompany her to the restroom. Naively, I got up and walked her over to the typically grungy unisex bathroom in the back and returned to the booth forthwith. My friends stared at me incredulously and commanded me to return to the back of the bar immediately and proceed inside the bathroom with the girl. I complied. The door was ajar and she whisked me inside. We looked at each other somewhat awkwardly. She seemed to be vacillating between come-hither bluntness and some pre-sobering moral doubt. She made some throwaway remark about wall graffiti that I interpreted as her handing the ball over to me.

There I stood, drunkenly contemplating what is probably the only chance I would ever have at some honest-to-goodness bathroom sex in an NYC bar. But there was no push, no motor running. The only thing filling my mind was a total lack of investment and desire for this girl, who wasn’t half-bad-looking. After about a minute more of sloppy banter about bathroom walls, she hugged me, said, “Sorry that he cockblocked you,” pointing in the direction of her friend, and ran out of the bar into a rainy night. I walked back to our booth to tell my friends, and you all, one anticlimactic tale of staring.

Picking Up the Pieces

17 May

It was my first blind date. And, naturally, it happened thanks to the wonders of the InterWebz. I’d met a girl through Match (during that short window when I’d give that crappy site a shot). Like me, she was a reformed Soviet Jew straddling the line between family expectation (working as a speech pathologist) and yearning for self-definition (buying an apartment in Park Slope). It soon became apparent that while we were both cool and amazing people, the chemistry was lacking. We had a couple of drinks at Heartland Brewery in South Street Seaport and called it an evening. So  I was quite surprised to receive an email from her a couple of days later. She thought I was great. So great, in fact, that I was “perfect” for her younger cousin, who was equally great.

Who was I to argue with a woman’s praise? So I got her cousin’s email address and exchanged a few perfunctory messages. What do you do/where do you live was covered and a tentative date schedule. It was only on the day of our meet-up that I realized I had no idea what this girl looked like. That was the whole point of the blind date, but still. Going on a date with someone you’ve never seen before is sort of like ordering fruit online—you’d better trust the source. So when it finally occurred to me that I could cheat and Google her it was too late—she was not at all my type physically, but I felt like an ass canceling so I decided to just got and see what happened.

The day of our date, as luck would have it, my bathroom ceiling, which had a bad leak for days, finally caved in. I walked in to rubble in my bathtub and on the floor. The space looked like a bombed-out WWII building. It was a couple of hours before our date and I called the girl to inform her about the fiasco. As soon as I told her about my bathroom her tone changed and she sounded really suspicious.

“I’m still coming, I just need to move some of this rubble out of the way first, so I might be running late.” She was tentative and lukewarm.

We met at a lame music venue on the Lower East Side. Not one of the hipsterish ones but the kind that low-airplay mainstream radio bands. Not that I’m a snob but the lineup was pretty atrocious. Despite not being my type, she looked really nice, all set for a raging Saturday night on the town. What I didn’t expect to find was a couple who were clearly there with her. She introduced me to her friend.

“She’s health, I’m money,” the girl proudly declared. It took me a few seconds to figure out that this was a joke about their respective professions and their neat fit into Russian-Jewish parental expectations.

Next she introduced me to the girl’s boyfriend, a very typical Brooklyn Russian guy, the type I avoided at all costs in high school. He promptly told me that he sold cars in Brooklyn. I asked him if he was in school or working full time.

“College is whack. I make six figures, no college degree.”

The couple gave us some alone time, and we went for a drink at the bar. I was kind of hoping she would commiserate over the giant gaping hole that used to be my ceiling, assure me how happy she was I wasn’t crushed in the collapse, and buy me a PBR. No such luck. Instead, she took on a stern voice and made perfectly clear that if I hadn’t shown up she would have never given me another shot. Fine.

We went back to the couple and listened to some bad music while the girl and I had an awkward 20-questions-style interview. It turned out we had very little in common other than a tenuous connection to a college hockey rivalry being played out at MSG that night. Soon she grew bored of the joint and told us that she wanted to go clubbing at Lotus. Already on the fence about staying, I told her I had no interest in going there, but she was free to do so since it was her big night on the town (she lived in Jersey). The girl immediately relented and we somehow decided to drive back into Brooklyn and maybe go for a nightcap somewhere. My plan was to hitch a ride back to my house, since the other girl’s boyfriend lived nearby and was driving.

The car was one of those souped-up Japanese cars that outer borough and suburb-bound Russian teens and twentysomethings favor. The dude started gunning his “turbo” gear and scaring the crap out of the two girls. When he was doing 60 in a 25, I suggested he might want to slow down, but he was hell-bent on waving his dick around. Finally, we rolled into Gravesend, a neighborhood abutting Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst that we were all well familiar with.

He drove us to a “club” on Avenue U called “Pleasure.” As you might guess, it was anything but. After parting with $40 at the door, we entered what can only be described as a time portal into the 70s. There was a disco ball, a smoke machine, a swank-looking bar with icy-blonde Russian girls pouring overpriced drinks, and absolutely no one dancing or really even inhabiting the space. We sat down and ordered some food and drinks. The car salesman ordered fries and, after telling me some tiresome tale of his car-selling coups, slumped over his girlfriend’s shoulder and passed out. I invited my date to dance to the cheesy techno beats, trying to salvage a bit of the night, but she declined and went into an awkward silence. We sat apart, looking at a soggy plate of fries at the smoke machine filled the empty dance floor with its artificial haze.

A Brief History of Heels in Time

15 May

Heeling Good About Yourself

Heels: Before and After Christ*

Approx. 4000 B.C.
Earliest depictions of shoes (flexible leather pieces held in place with lacings) in ancient Egyptian murals on tombs and temples.

Approx. 200 B.C.
Platform sandals called kothorni, with high wood or cork soles, become popular among Roman tragic actors.

Approx. 1000 A.D.
At Saxon weddings, father of the bride customarily presents the groom with one of the bride’s shoes, symbolizing transfer of his authority over her. The bride’s shoe is thrown to the bridesmaids; the one who catches it will be next to marry.

1154-1189
King Henry II of England popularizes shoes with narrow, pointed toes. Legend says they hid his deformed toes.

1189-1199
Knights of Richard the Lionhearted begin to wear sollerets, downward-curving pointed toes, to keep their feet from slipping out of stirrups.

1215
A law passed in Paris bans university professors from wearing shoes with long, pointed toes. However, shoe toes, a symbol of rank, grow longer and pointier during the next two centuries, culminating by about 1382 in the spiky-toed cracowe. Kings and princes sometimes wore toes 30 inches long.

1386
Knights fighting in the Battle of Sempach in Switzerland are forced to amputate their shoes’ long toes after dismounting before they can advance on foot.

Approx. 1500
Shoes begin to be made in two pieces, with a flexible upper attached to a heavier, stiffer sole. This leads to the introduction of the heel, devised as a better way of keeping a rider’s foot in the stirrup. Heeled boots for men quickly become fashionable.
1509-1547
Henry VIII of England favors wide-toed shoes, sometimes 12 inches across, which had to be stuffed to keep them on his feet.

1533
Short-statured Italian bride Catherine d’Medici, married at 14 to the Duke of Orleans, wears shoes with two-inch heels to exaggerate her height. The high heel may have been invented by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).

1553-1558
Mary Tudor (“Bloody Mary”), another vertically challenged monarch, wears heels as high as possible. From this period until the early 19th century, high heels are frequently in vogue for both sexes.

Mid-1500s
An extreme shoe style called chopines, popular among women in Italy, Spain and France, had pedestals of cork or wood as tall as 24 inches. A Venetian lady wearing chopines needed two servants to help her in and out of a gondola.

1628
Pilgrims arrive in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A law is passed prohibiting “excess in bootes.”

1660
French shoemaker Nicholas Lestage, so clever at his trade that some accuse him of sorcery, becomes shoemaker to Louis XIV. The heels of Louis’s shoes, some decorated with miniature battle scenes, are as tall as five inches. High “Louis” heels are also fashionable for ladies.

1745
Madame de Pompadour, tiny-footed favorite of Louis XV, popularizes high, narrow “Pompadour” heels. Ladies tape their feet to reduce their apparent size and faint at court.

1793
Marie Antoinette ascends the scaffold to be executed wearing two-inch heels. However, in the wake of the French Revolution heels become lower than at any time in the 18th century.

1794
Quincy Reed opens America’s first retail shoe store in Boston. Around this period, Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849) invents machines for cutting soles and riveting them to uppers.

Early 1800sB
Flat shoes and Grecian-style sandals become popular.

Approx. 1865
The “sneaker” or plimsoll, a canvas-topped, rubber-soled shoe, is invented for badminton and tennis. Ladies’ heel heights vary but stay below two inches during the rest of the century.

1904
The ladies’ “pump” or court shoe, a British invention, reaches America. Shoe stores begin to stock shoes with a range of widths around now.

Approx. 1955
Tall “stiletto” heels for women’s shoes, invented in Italy, become a fashion rage. Very pointed toes come into vogue for both sexes.

1970s
Return of the platform shoe.

1980s
Athletic shoes diversify and gain popularity. Some women begin wearing them to work or for commuting.

2100(Projected)
Women adopt holographic projections of heels, miss authenticity of painful blisters and wounds. HoloHeels create hipster revival of classic heels.
*Source: http://users.powernet.co.uk/wingett/History1.htm

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