Archive | February, 2012

Update from the Deep Blue Ocean: Plenty of Fish

28 Feb

Women, Plenty of Fish has your number

Top 10 Things You Should NOT Bring to a First Date

27 Feb

You're selling yourself, not a car.

Having covered what to bring to a first date in a previous post, it’s time we turn to the things you should leave at home. Do NOT bring:

  1. Your best friend(s). Seriously, unless this was discussed beforehand and both parties co-signed the master agreement to bring people from their life to a romantic screening, do abstain from this terribly ill-advised idea. This goes without saying for most people, but you’d be surprised. Any good reason to bring a friend on a first date (the guy looks might be the Lopper, has a strange lisp/hunch/googly eyes suggesting a troll) questions why you’d want to be on that date in the first place. Any bad reason (vetting, insecurity, social experiment/”punking”) is just rude. Leave ‘em at home.
  2.  A hangover/alcohol poisoning. Yes, just because you foolishly scheduled a Sunday morning date after a Saturday-night bender doesn’t mean you should teetotal your way through a night out with friends. But if you care at all about the person you’re meeting the following day, you might want to eschew the riskier side of your raging behavior: funnels, keg stands, beer before liquor, hard drugs, questionable drunk food, etc. It might make for a good blog post later, but it won’t impress your date when you’re regurgitating last night’s dinner on his brand new loafers.
  3. A stick up your ass. You’ve already checked the mirror twice. Your hair and makeup look great. If you’re a guy, your eyebrows are in arch-ready mode. You smell good and your breath is impeccable. Now put you hands behind you and run them down your spine to your butt, verifying that there’s not any discernible objects sticking out of it. If there is, pull it out and discard it or, if you’re really attached, wrap it, wash it, and save it for non-date night.
  4. The keys to your “Beamer.” You might be driving to your date, in which case it’s perfectly legitimate to have your car keys with you. But whatever you do, do NOT casually play with them or drop them on the bar/table in front of your date. You might be the type of guy who likes to dangle his keys out of sheer habit, but the girl next to you will very likely assume that you’re douching off. Play it safe.
  5. An extremely elaborate, 2-hour story. Everyone loves a good story, and there’s no better way to kick off a real conversation between two people than exchanging some personal experiences. But no matter how awesome that time you got lost in the woods for a week was, or the full transcript of the lecture on macrobiotic nutrition you just attended, keep in mind that your date may have something interesting to say as well. Do not monopolize the conversation. If you need an audience for your monologues, write a one-man show or troll some online forums.
  6. Your racial fetish. Maybe you’ve got yellow/jungle/vanilla (?) fever. Alright, it’s not the worst affliction; in fact, it might be really fun. But the girl/guy you’re going out with likely doesn’t want to be thought of as a fetish (unless, of course, both parties are on the same page from the start). They probably want to be appreciated for their brilliance, wit, charm, and passions and not the color of their skin or the curvature of their nose. Save it for the 36th date.
  7. Heels. Why, girls. …Why?
  8. Dishonest profiles/photos. One of the most common complaints you’ll hear from women is that guys lie about their height. It is understandable that when it comes to a measurable asset that can immediately disqualify a guy from consideration, he might be tempted to “pad his resume” an inch or two. Personally, I find this pretty tacky, but if a one-inch lie can produce an amazing connection, who’s to judge. One of the most common complaints you’ll hear from both genders is that people post deceptive photos. Not much you can do here. You can put your best face on, but there is no sense at using crazy angles, concealing missing limbs, etc. If you want your partner to be comfortable with who you are you have to show that you’re comfortable with it first and foremost
  9.  “Mickeys.” Guys, no. If you’re going to Roofie someone, Roofie yourself. Your date may need a little “inspiration” to get more affectionate, and a nice bottle of wine along with some impressively obscure verse does just fine, but she’s not looking for “aggressive seduction.”
  10. A wedding ring. Whatever your reasons (you’re already in love and bent on proposing/you forgot to take off your wedding ring before going on a pre-affair screening date), you should probably polish that ring and leave it at home. Girls might want to see it at some point, but a cocktail and some trail mix will do for now.

Stuff OkCupid Girls Love

23 Feb

Gents, study this list and you'll be tusking your dream OkCupid beau in no time!

Data-mining OkCupid chicks. (The following is a thoroughly unofficial list of things girls on #OkCupid profess to enjoy/be unable to go without.) Did I leave anything out? Suggestions encouraged!

    1. David Sedaris

    2. Zombie Apocalypse

    3. Impromptu Dance Parties

    4. Burt’s Bees Chapstick

    5. Machu Picchu/Peru

    6. Narwhals

    7. Haruki Murakami

    8. 30 Rock

    9. NPR

    10. Africa/Peace Corp

Timing Your Affection

22 Feb

Does, he, doesn't he?

The following is inspired by a “girl” question: “When is it right to sleep with someone you’re dating?” I say girl question because few guys ever really ask this question, or pose it this way. At a younger age, guys might show their interest in a friend’s love life by asking, “Did you pork her yet?” An affirmative response will net you a high-5 (do kids still do that, or is it a high-4 or low-3 these days?)  while a negative response would earn you a look of pity or snorting disdain. But it wouldn’t get to that because you’d probably lie and say you had, even if privately you told the girl how much you love her and that you’re willing to wait for the right time.

But guy clichés aside, this question becomes more important to both genders as we grow older and remain single. Thus questions like “Is it right to sleep on a first date?” and “How many dates should I wait before banging so he doesn’t think I’m a slut?” occur with some frequency among daters. The desire for objective protocol to distill the confusing smog of romance is universal. If you’re not religiously orthodox and observant of sexual purity before marriage, you still need some sort of anchor. But as we all know, it’s hard to know when to drop one in the choppy waters of personal relationships.

Let’s start with the obvious: in most cases, the woman is the driver. Unless you’re an Antonio Banderas type (or a rapist) you will make your case, but the final decision will rest with the fairer gender. Thus I assume the vast majority of us, if we’re meeting a total stranger for the first time, don’t expect to go from banal questions over awkwardly sipped cocktails to hot monkey sex, or even gentle canoodling in the space of 2-3 hours. What we’re looking for is some sort of connection, hints of something greater, excitement for a second interview. But there is that rare occasion (rare for many of us, anyway), where the timing is so right, the conversation so good, the jokes so rip-roaringly funny, and the booze so potent, that you’ll end up doing something biblical by night’s end.

Personally, when it comes to formal “dating,” I have not experienced first-date sex. More tangible than love at first sight, it’s still very elusive. At no time during a first date was there a point where I’d dare say, “How about we move this to your/my place.” If there’s good body language and the signs are there, a great date is one that ends in some quality, tipsy tongue-twisting. If you’re lucky enough, as has happened to me, it might take place in the rain. If you’re not Spider Man like me, a simple kiss on the lips can mean the difference between an iffy/confusing “Do I see him/her again?” and a “Wow.” That’s because first dates are inherently awkward and confusing.

For me, if I have a great time on a first date that ends without any preview of physical affection for next time, it makes the second date kind of tense (though sometimes more exciting). Of course, obsessing with getting action can be harmful and disconcerting. At least the first two dates, I’m more concerned about that first kiss than the unrealistic jackpot of bedding someone. From there, the story will unfold as it will. But the first kiss is crucial–it’s like passing that first level on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? where your money, paltry sum though it may be, is guaranteed. The second date is pesky, undefined, and often guided by the rhythm of the first date. If you made out at the end of that first night under the romantic glow of the F train in Brooklyn while a bum lubricates the tracks with his urine, your expectations for date #2 go up. I’ll be more relaxed knowing the next date can start with a kiss, but I have no idea how it will end. The stakes are higher. You must build on and exceed the success of the first. If it ends without a kiss, you will wonder if there’ll be a second date, even if your companion “had a wonderful time and would love to do it again anytime, really, call me.”

In short, there is no rule, but a great sequence over 3 dates might be kissing>more intense kissing>play/sex. Then again, I’ve had relationships where I’ve waited weeks/months, and others where it took 2 dates. Nowadays, 5 can seem like a long time if I’m really into the girl. On the other hand, it’s crazy that a month is “too long.” It’s all about chemistry, timing, and effort, in that order. (The pickup artists among you might disagree, but this is just my POV.) If you sleep together on the first date, it mind be mind-blowing, or it might be a little anticlimactic (no pun intended). It could also defuse the excitement and mystery that come with sexual tension. A guy might not care about his reputation or how he will be perceived in social terms as much as a girl, but that doesn’t mean that every guy wants to immediately shag the girl with whom he just had a great night and might have a future.

Ultimately, it’s all about what feels right and when. I’m willing to bet that for every time an aggressive guy makes his move too quickly, there are us tentative guys who don’t make the move fast enough. I’ve had the experience of “overthinking” the timing of sex. Later, I laughed about it because I realized that waiting for 4 dates was completely arbitrary and only confused a girl (who was clearly into me on the first date) as to my intentions. I was driving myself into the “Friend Zone” one wonderful date at a time. My best advice is: don’t overthink it. Go with your gut and make your feelings known to the extent possible. But pay attention to the other party. Getting to she show a few minutes late is much better than missing it altogether.

Ladies, Be Cruel to be Kind, Vol. I: The Initial Reply

18 Feb

Silence Is More Honest than Words, and Always Clearer!

There are many fundamental differences between men and women, and thank god for that, on behalf of the world of straight guys. Women generally smell and dress better, think longer and better before they speak, are more considerate of other people’s feelings, pay more heed to ethics, and, let’s be honest, they’re much more pleasant to look at. They’re often caring and meticulous as nurses, more patient as teachers, and more stable and rational as executives. But there’s one area in which women, in my experience, do not excel, and that is clear and direct communication in the online dating world.

If you’re an “experienced” (euphemized) online dater like me, you’re very familiar with this scenario: You look through a girl’s profile, and something sparks excitement. She’s different, you say. In this wasteland of cookie-cutter work-hard/play-hard, just-as-comfortable-at-home-as-going-out, dreams of Machu Picchu, ambitious-but-silly dating resumes, she rises to the top of the pile. So you’re inspired, you’ve found your muse, and you use your 15-minute coffee break, lull before sleep, or (if you’re a truly busy professional) toilet seat-based smartphone session, to compose a really meaningful message. Maybe you both love the same amazing book. Maybe she used your favorite quote from Family Guy. Maybe you’re responding to that really deep thought she had at her last Yoga class. Or maybe you use your very best material, something I’ll call “UberBanter,” to draw a distinction from the countless one-liners you typically use on lesser speciwomen, to woo her virtual attention.

Whatever the case may be, your hopes are up. This is the part where, as a guy, you click send, make the hand-washing gesture, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Your message disappears into the mysterious void that no man is allowed to go: the female psyche. No man has ever entered, though many have tried. The truth is, none of us dudes really know what happens in this fascinating world of neurons, synapses, complex thoughts and feelings. We simply don’t know what happens, but we’re pretty sure it’s slightly different than the typical “hot-or-not” analysis performed by the typical male. (Not to say that girls don’t have visceral reactions based on physical attraction—we know the ladies are just as sexual as us, just less scoundrelly about it).

Now, let me pause here for a moment to address the ladies: Ladies, I realize that I have no mandate or capital to influence your decision-making, but allow me to beseech you. What you do next has the capacity to get a guy excited and put a smile on your face, but in rare cases will it dramatically affect his life. So there are three distinct possibilities here:

  1. YES! You write back an enthusiastic reply indicating similar interests, modestly hinting at some spark, or even going for tit for tat and zinging him back on his banter. Awesome! A potential match is in the works, Both parties read a book, masturbate before bed, and go to bed dreaming of unicorns/superpowers/social justice, wherever your interests may reside.
  2. MEH. You get this amazing email and really want to connect with the dude, if not for his giant nose, ears, facial hair, and whatnot. Whaddayagonnado? Or maybe you’re just not feeling it, it’s too forward, esoteric, insecure, whatever. Cool—no response required and you move on to the next of your 47 daily Cupids.
  3. URRR. You get this great message. It flatters you, sets your heart aflutter, makes you laugh. Then you look at his giant nose, ears, facial hair, or what have you, and wonder whether you’d find him as funny while wearing heels, or if you could really rock it with a dude who’s not into spelunking and skydiving as much as you. Pass…but wait. Unlike the rest of these assholes, he took the time to write a long, thoughtful, funny response. He’s probably a pretty decent human being and you shouldn’t just shatter his fantasy of feeding you grapes in bed, planting your vegetables in his community garden, and making angels cry at your destination wedding in Peru. So what do you do? What DO you do? I know! I’ll write him back a courtesy message validating his sense of humor/intelligence/interest in me but just brief and noncommittal enough to confuse him on my interest in meeting him for a fair-trade latte and potentially shagging at some point.

I don’t know what really goes through a woman’s mind, but based on responses that come in Scenario #3 I can imagine it’s something akin to this. Girls, as much as you like nice guys but love bold men, many of us dudes feel the same way about you. It’s not that we don’t appreciate tact and responsiveness, but if we’re sending you a message, especially a lengthy or thoughtful one, chances are we’re interested in you and all we expect in return is a direct indication of interest or lack thereof. This is the wrong time to offer an unwittingly patronizing “There, there” or “Well isn’t that special.”

What gives? Maybe it’s a difference in expectations and the way we process/perceive acceptance and rejection. Men are used to rejections, whether with women, jobs, or in basketball games. It’s a numbers game for us and in this respect we’re always at a competitive disadvantage as the hunters. We apply and await decisions and women make the call. As sexual shot-callers, maybe women invest more of their emotions in showing interest or going after something, and expect that guys react to disappointment the same way. Thus good intentions effect unproductive outcomes and obfuscate communication in an already strange virtual environment.

So, ladies, the next time you get that funny or heartfelt message from a nice guy who just doesn’t fit the bill, the best practice is the easiest thing you can do: nothing at all. He’ll get the message. Trust me.

My Boozy Valentine’s: Keeping It in the Family

16 Feb

It Can Always Be Worse

Yesterday was post-Valentine’s Day, the aptly named Hump Day for those of you not occupying your local Wall Street! As you woke up from your chocolate/obligatory sex hangover (or that pitcher of loneliness and vodka punch you brewed after falling asleep in front of a Glee/New Girl double feature…or whatever you kids TiVo these days), I reflected on an epic Tuesday night spent with my greatest current love…my parents. In the spirit of cheese and alternative interpretations of Valentine’s (read: I don’t have a date and want to have a normal Tuesday, except everything I do will be interpreted as an attempt to compensate for not having a date and feigning indifference even though my soul is crying, but I really truly don’t care even though I can’t definitively prove it to the world and damn it there’s no winning here) …where was I? Oh yeah, so I decided to  invite my parents to the movies. For one, I felt bad about neglecting them of late (full disclosure: like any good Russian Jew, I live in the same county as Mom and Dad), plus my dad has had some tough medical issues to deal with in the short term, so I decided a little quality time was in order.

Of course, Tuesdays means Optimum Rewards Day for Mom and Dad (apparently Cablevision/Optimum entice customers by giving away movie tickets for Tuesday matinees), so I decided to take them up on a long-standing offer to use one and finally see The Descendants. I sprinted from my office, high atop MSG, while the latest episode of Linsanity  heroics was streaming live from Toronto, to Clearview Chelsea Cinemas. With only minutes until previews began, my dad was sweetly waiting by the ticket taker with my comp ticket. I grabbed it and advised him of the “will call” option. We entered a barely half-full theater (the beauty of an early-evening show on a random weeknight). My parents reserved two short rows (including a full row just to myself). I was told to sit in the corner with the boys (my dad and his friend Ed). My offer to go buy some popcorn was immediately waived off. Mom and Dad smiled slyly at each other.

“Trust me,” their faces said in unison.

I complied and sat down. As soon as the lights dimmed and the first trailer lit the screen bright green, an unidentified hand proffered a foil-wrapped package over my shoulder. I wasn’t there to ask questions, especially when starving. The package revealed a cheese sandwich. Next came a little squeeze bottle of Purell®. Wrong  sequence, I thought, bits of whole wheat and Danish cheese falling from my mouth, but again I dared not question it. I scarfed down the cheese sandwich and had my next question answered before I completed the thought as another foil package was extended to me—this time it was a delicious chicken cutlet with a sweet honey glaze. Then I heard Ed’s voice summoning me from behind:

“Cognac or vodka?”

Now, normally, this is a very welcome ritual, and a familiar one from several yacht outings I’ve been invited to by my dad and his friend. But I’d never expected him to bring a portable bar to the movies. Suddenly my mom’s guilty smiles and broken insinuations upon entering made sense. I refused but Ed wasn’t having it. I wondered if I’d been assigned to the men’s corner to normalize this behavior. Without hesitation, I took the rather elegant shot glass and downed what turned out to be a pretty damn rarefied and tasty cognac (and I’m no fiend). Ed was ready to pour another but I preempted him, prompted by visions of narcolepsy cutting short a movie I actually wanted to be awake for.

I’m not sure what happened behind me for the next 2 hours. Suffice it to say I’d be shocked if Dad and Ed had any intention to come home with cognac in their pockets. Toward the end of this somewhat underwhelming Alexander Payne flick, I heard some sobs from the back and thought they were coming from Ed. It turned out to be my poor dad. When we left, my mom was visibly upset and scolded both me and herself for bringing someone about to undergo neurosurgery to a movie whose plot surrounds a woman vegetating in a hospital. “At least it wasn’t a documentary about tumors,” I unhelpfully offered.

Complimenting the child actors’ performances, we walked out into another cold New York evening, and strolled leisurely toward the subway past half-empty restaurants, against a stream of rushing girls, faces glued to their smartphones, and dudes last-minute-shopping for sex-salvaging flowers.

Young Love

15 Feb