Archive | March, 2012

Time to Get a Watch

31 Mar

Set your clock to: Punctual

Punctuality: it’s not just a river in Egypt. Wait, that pun makes no sense. In any event, I’m someone who’s very careful about keeping appointments, sometimes to a near-obsessive degree. If I have a doctor’s appointment at 4, I’ll be there at 3:59. If I have a conference call, I’ll be there on the dot, not a minute later. Whenever I schedule a date, I make sure to be there at least 5-10 minutes early. It’s not starting to sip our drinks at exactly 7 PM will directly determine the success of our relationship. But when you don’t have much to go on meeting a person face to face for the first time, impressions are important, even if people often mis- and over-interpret everything that happens on a first-date.

On the dating scene, punctuality very quickly reveals itself. If I’m running late, I usually call or text to get word of a brief delay out to the other party. So I’m not perfect but I try to be as considerate as possible so the girl doesn’t think that I’m not taking our meeting seriously. Plenty of girls that I’ve met are as good or better than I am. More interesting is the roughly 60% of women who are either lax in scheduling or wishy-washy in being on time.

With certain women, I would postulate, being on time is paradoxically a social faux pas. Times and appointments are for reference only, kind of like a weather report. We don’t spend time obsessing about the weather (excepting cases of extreme disasters), so when we check the forecast and see rain in the cards, we might grab an umbrella; most of us aren’t going to then drape ourselves in a raincoat and put on giant galoshes. This is how I feel many people treat date appointments. My dates have arrived anywhere from 5 minutes (totally venial) to 2 hours (she “didn’t realize” we were keeping our originally scheduled time and I was in a forgiving [horny?] mood) late.

Somehow I feel like if I kept a girl waiting for more than 5 minutes without forewarning (or even with if it goes beyond the 15-minute mark), they would not be so understanding. It’s kind of like being late to work. Of course, the trains can often screw your commute. But knowing that you should be able to exercise judgment and take appropriate measures (e.g., leaving earlier) to insure yourself against unpredictable factors. If you throw yourself to the whims of the subway schedule every morning by cutting it close, you’d better have a cool boss. Otherwise, you’re jumping without a parachute. Why would you take dating less seriously? Does being a girl impart some sort of endearing quality to being late? Is that what “fashionably late” means? Maybe I’m a little neurotic, but when someone is stranding me for 20 minutes or more, the vexation totally spills over and can change my mood from excited anticipation to annoyed resignation. If you kept your friends/family/employer waiting or flaked on a job interview, would you expect the other person to brush it off?

Then there are the people whose lives are full of drama, or so they’ll have you believe. The week is always “crazy” (most frequently used female brushoff, too). There’s always some vague and ambiguous reason to reschedule or a mysterious and unspecified obligation (which could be anything from a sick cat to banging some other dude, who knows?). There’s always a crazy boss, a last-minute audition, friend drama, etc., etc., etc. All of our lives, especially a city as manic as New York, are busy and fraught with unexpected challenges. But when we want to meet someone, we make the time and we handle it like adults. We can do better than approaching it with the emotional maturity of a 17-year-old blowing off their college class to smoke a bong or go skinny-dipping in a local swim hole.

Ladies, be kind, mature, and responsible. Do your hair for an hour if you must, but don’t bandy it as an excuse. If you want to be taken seriously and treated with respect, give it back. Get your ass in that bar stool on time!

Throwing Caution to the Wind: A Glutton Punished

26 Mar

Watch what you eat

I can no longer recall if it was a jDate or a hookup, but I do remember that it was a date, with a girl, and she was kind of cute. I was 27 or 28 at the time and she was 22, but she seemed a mature 22 so I took the plunge. We made plans to meet at the Park Bar, a loud but kind of homey after-work watering hole near Union Square. And there we were, sipping glasses of delicious wine and chatting about our respective lives. What could possibly go wrong.

6 hours earlier…

A work potluck can be really fun. It gives you a chance to show off your skills in the kitchen and easily and superficially impress your coworkers. If you’re on the lazy side, it gives you a chance to sample all of your really meticulous coworkers’  detailed preparations. At that point, I’d already cemented by reputation as an office glutton. Our receptionist/office manager routinely alerted me to meeting leftovers and various treats that were brought in, even as he mocked me for my indiscriminate consumption of anything and everything that was free.

This particular potluck, I really went balls out. Sampling fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, beans and rice, and various ethnic preparations, I gorged myself with absolutely no regard to dietary sanity or human decency. And, when my stomach could take no more, I went back in for dessert.

6 hours later…
The girl wasn’t the problem. The problem reared its ugly head a few minutes into our date, when I realized that the air surrounding me was fragrant not with romance or the scent of spring, but my post-potluck flatus. I panicked. I only half-heard everything the girl said from that point on, and since she was pretty happy to talk about herself my distraction was somewhat accommodated. Yet I kept looking at her, wondering if she could smell it too. What is she thinking? Is this over before it began? Will she say something?

The small room was packed and I was barely able to snag a seat at the bar. There was no way I could move us somewhere else. The room was a fishbowl, slowly filling up with nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and methane expelled by yours truly. There was no mistaking it. I knew my own fart. Irrationally, I feared going to the bathroom would immediately trigger/confirm her suspicions and seal my fate. For some reason I had to stay at the bar and suffer through this charade. Just as my anxiety was quieting, some dude walked over to order a drink and wasted no time commenting, his armpit flailing over our heads, “Man, it smells like ass here! Wooh!” Asshole!!!

I kept looking at my date but she was shockingly unmoved—either she was too polite or her septal deviation was even worse than mine, blocking all olfactory sensors. After about an hour, the flatulent menace penetrated my nasal passages and put a squeeze on my mind, pulsating like the beating heart from Poe’s famous story. I could take no more and declared that it was “getting late” (it was 9 pm on a school night) and I had to go home. At this the girl seemed genuinely shocked and taken aback. Could it be she was actually having a good time despite my awful wind-breaking? It didn’t matter—whatever she might have thought before, she was now sure that I was peacing out. We walked to the train stop quietly, commenting on the weather and TV shows. We hugged and never saw each other again. I’ve farted many times since then, but never with such devastating effect.

Poke, but Don’t Superpoke

23 Mar

Text with caution

By popular demand (and by popular I mean two female friends of mine have discussed/requested more coverage of it this week), we’re going to talk about some Dating Rules, specifically regarding first-date follow-ups. Who should message whom first after a first date? Here we run into the issue of gender dynamics and control.

So you’ve had that really nice first date. He came in looking all dapper and not at all socially awkward as you had imagined from the multiple references to Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galactica. She was super-quirky and charming, not at all the distracted cat lady you were expecting from her profile. You hit it off right away, discovering shared interests in college hockey, zip-lining in Costa Rica, and Deathcab for Cutie (remember them?). She giggles nervously at his jokes, he adjusts his and watch several times throughout the night (without ever looking at it). Minutes turn into hours and before you know it, 2 AM is here and you both have work the next day. You part with a really tight hug, exchange promises to “do it again,” and maybe even part with a brief but meaningful smooch.

What’s next? I try to play it by ear, but these days, if I like the girl, she’ll know about it within 24 hours or less. Some people like to text immediately after parting, and this might be totally appropriate and heart-meltingly awesome in some cases, but I saw an insight from some girl on Twitter who said (paraphrasing): “Let me marinade in the last few hours and take you in before you start spamming me.” There’s definitely something to that. Human beings are complex creatures and sometimes we need to miss a person to realize their full value. Maybe a first date is more appropriate for a head-on collision of unfettered emotion, or maybe it’s occasion for a more nuanced and flirtatious “dance.” The one thing I unequivocally won’t do is wait some arbitrary amount of time. This is juvenile and unnecessary. If you want to feel like the other person has options/is busy yet still takes the time to tepidly tell you that he/she likes you, you may want to think about how you ascribe value to people.

The question I was asked, though, is what do you do if someone tells you that you’re awesome and he/she would love to see you again, and even keeps texting over the next few days, but stalls or waffles on asking you out again. Ladies, it may not shock you to learn than even as a guy, I’ve limited scope on this turn of events. Why isn’t he setting a date? This is one area where a red flag, which I normally hesitate to raise, may be indicated:

  • Maybe he’s got other options
  • Maybe he’s already in a relationship
  • Maybe he lied about having a good time
  • Maybe he caught a bug from a “too nice girl” and is phasing you out slowly
  • Maybe he needs a nudge
The first four cases are ones that are pretty straightforward. If you don’t hear from him/her within 48 hours of a mutually stated desire to rendezvous again, assume one of the above and take no action (if there’s an exception, you’ll hear from them eventually). If you think (think really hard about it—you want to be sure) that a nudge might just be the ticket, be proactive but subtle. If you’re absolutely certain this could be the beginning of something beautiful, drop him a casual text and see if he’d like to join you for some specific activity (concert, gallery opening, wine tasting event, etc.) and name a specific date. Or (may the gods of dating forgive me) use a light fib to tell him you’ll be super-busy next week, so if he wanted to get together, it needs to happen Friday (or whatever your dating calendar allows). This way you can draw out his attentions in a direct manner without too much manipulation/game playing. If, after all this, he/she is equally reticent or noncommittal, assume they’re playing the field and move on.

Be Aggressive or Be Yourself?

21 Mar

Due Diligence

21 Mar

She has my full cooperation, but how exactly does she hope to verify that I’m neither crazy nor a perv?

What exactly does her background search entail?

To Beard, or Not to Beard

15 Mar

Will you be my beard?

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man.” — William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

A few months back, I contacted a very comely lass on OkCupid with whom I’d had a few flirtatious exchanges. We didn’t have a terrible lot in common but—and unfortunately—as a man, this didn’t stop me. In fact, my mind works in such strange and mysterious ways that it can twist what is an ostensible and fundamental mismatch into an exciting challenge. After a few exchanges, and due to her taking a week to respond to 2-line messages, I could tell the thing was going into pithy pen pal mode. So I requested a face-to-face. Her reaction to this was not quite what I expected:

“Sure, it would be fun to go out. But I must ask you, do you have a beard? Some of your pictures suggest that you do and others suggest you do not. Sorry to be blunt, but I’m not a fan of facial hair.”

Well, this was a new one. She was skipping the phase where we go out and pretend to like/tolerate everything about each other until a meaningful connection is formed and negotiating capital accrues. She was going straight into deal-breaker negotiations! I told her that I do currently sport a beard, but assured her it was well-trimmed, encouraging her to give facial hair a chance. She replied indicating that while it was a dealbreaker for romance, a beard would not stand in the way of friendship, to which she was also open.

Unsure of how to proceed, I dispatched a teasing message suggesting that her adamant stance might be more flexible upon a live encounter, and I was willing to take the chance. She, in turn, burned me by questioning whether my profile, which also indicated friendship among the menu options (just covering my bases, folks), was in fact accurate, and whether I even knew that it said that. SLAM! My ego was slightly hurt, and I was getting a little pissed, but that lizard brain was now firmly in control and wanted to meet this girl, if only to show her how cool I really was.

When the time came for our date, I wondered what the hell I was doing seriously considering trying to “convert” her into a scruff-lover. What to do?  How was I to respond to her all-of-nothing attitude? A quick and informal poll of my male (and some female, even) friends revealed that this was not a tough question at all: “Shave it,” was the most common answer to my predicament. At this, I bristled. Pardon? I should shave off my prized beard as a first-date investment? Maybe if we met, clicked, and fell in love, then I could grudgingly renounce and subsequently shear off my furry mask. But this was a FIRST DATE, for Pete’s sake!

So after taking immaculate care trimming my shaggy blanket into a well-manicured stubble, I went out into the night to meet her, on Christmas eve of all times (neither of us is Christian). She had already asked for 2 short extensions, which I granted, but when I got off the train I got another text asking for another 30-60 minutes. This should have been a major red flag but I had already schlepped into the City from Brooklyn, so this was happening. She texted to see if I wanted to do it another night and I tried to keep my reply from sounding too pissy. After about 20 digital pages on my iPad at the bar, and her getting lost (aka 1.5 hours later), she finally showed up. We had a nice time sipping fancy brews and chatting about our very different backgrounds (she’s from North Africa and I’m from Eastern Europe). At the end of the night, unsure of how to address the elephant in the room, I made a joke about her mulish beard ultimatum. It cracked a smile but not her firm position. With neither of us able to compromise our positions, we were deadlocked. We hugged, said goodnight, and went to our respective homes, her holding on to her pride and I to my beard.

Decoding Women

13 Mar

Read between the lines, hombre

In the online dating arena, men and women sometimes speak two different languages. Guys, if they’re smart, mask their profile from any appearance of just wanting to shag a lady, which in many cases is their primary intention. In so doing, they will also, if they’re smart, shove into the digital closet such male faux pas as indicating the anatomical proportions of their ideal female, or the many colorful expressions of what they would like to do to her, in some cases particular to their boat-floating preferences (“bend her in half,” Dirty Sanchez, etc.).

Ladies, on average, are more discreet than the average guy, and thus better at pulling off profiles devoid if superficial, materialistic, and judgmental swings of the dating cudgel. But if you pay careful attention, a small batch of codes emerges. It is the female signal to the male of what she really wants from her Cupid. Here are the 3 most common female codewords:

  1. Successful = $$$. This one is pretty direct, but if you analyze it you’ll see the subtlety. It’s the ideal way of saying you have money without saying it. Instead, you deploy a positive adjective used to describe a high degree of effort rewarded. It may be a little aggressive, but its social approval is beyond reproach. Who doesn’t strive toward success? Still, because it’s a bit controversial for an ice-breaking dating profile, only a minority of girls from across the spectrum will dare insert it for all to see.
  2. Ambitious = High earning potential (HEP), leadership material. This is arguably the most common code word a guy will encounter in a girl’s profile. You are likely to see this especially prominently featured on a career girl’s profile. Most common female professions associated with the metatag “Ambition”: Law, medicine, sales, PR, graphic design. Basically, most “alpha” females will expect this in a mate, save for a minority of hipster professionals on OkCupid.
  3. Driven = You might not be alpha-ambitious, but you’re definitely trying. Account executives, financiers, MBAs, and various corporate climbers are likely to request this one. I find this one to be most annoying. It sounds like a cover letter cliché and should have no place in dating. If someone ever asks me if I’m driven, I will tell them: “In a jalopy chauffeured by my dad.”