Do As I Do


I took my father to a baseball game recently. I have done it once a year for three out of the last four years. It is hands down one of my favorite days of the year. Just my dad and I eating pulled pork sandwiches and watching the Mets lose.

We went on a weeknight this year when the Mets were playing a less than stellar team on a night that should have poured but ended up perfect. The stadium was empty.

We sat on field level on the first base side. The row in front of us had only two people in it a couple that appeared to be anything but in love. The woman was sitting closer to home plate and watched the game at almost a right angle to her significant other. He practically watched the game over her shoulder.

They didn’t hold hands, they didn’t laugh, and they barely looked at each other. And when she did turn to look at him it was almost disdainful. Like when she yelled at him for overtipping the guy who sold him a soda.

It was one of those interactions I had a hard time looking away from, nor did I have to as I was afforded the luxury of anonymity, watching them from behind.

I couldn’t get over how completely unhappy they seemed to be. Perhaps they had just had a fight, or maybe something more severe was taking place, but I couldn’t understand why anybody would want to spend their time like that.

But as I watched them not be in love with each other I started thinking other things. And the thoughts fell like dominoes.

How could anybody tolerate being in a relationship like that?
I don’t want a relationship like that.
I want to truly enjoy the person I’m with.

And then the couple I have watched interact with each other more than anybody else popped into my head; my parents. I thought about how they might sit together at a baseball game. I thought about how I’ve seen them sit together on a bench, out to dinner or anywhere else.

I realized I never saw my parents sit like that couple at the baseball game. They were always enjoying each other’s company, always affectionate with each other, subtly but consistently.

Now I am lucky to be the child of parents about to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. I know that puts me in the minority in so many ways. It is a minority I am very lucky to be a part of. And as all things go in my life, I am suddenly understanding lessons from many many years ago. Lessons I hadn’t even realized I had learned.

The first vacation I ever took with my college girlfriend was months before we actually started dating. We were best friends at the time, spending all our time together, laughing and driving her car around Arizona. At the end of our sophomore year we decided to take a weekend road trip to San Diego.

In my memory the trip is colored by the beautiful innocence that exists between two people when they have unlimited time, tremendous capability and a healthy ignorance of all future responsibilities.

We ate, we experienced, and we laughed. We grew closer in new ways.

On our last day there, on a morning soaked in stubborn fog we said goodbye to the beach and started back to her car. She stopped to tie her shoe while I was looking in the other direction and I didn’t notice until she was already ten steps behind.

I slowed my pace as a sudden affection came over me. Wanting to express something but unsure of how to show it, like a giraffe learning to nuzzle, I did something for the first time that also seemed strangely familiar.

While slowly walking still looking straight ahead and with my arms at my side I reached the fingers of my right hand open wide, wiggling them slowly, as though stretching. And without a word exchanged, or even a glance, by the time she caught up with me her palm found mine.

It hadn’t been something I’d thought about in advance. The action of it almost seemed foreign to my body, something I couldn’t control. It wasn’t until her fingers were laced through mine that I realized why it seemed so familiar.

It's what my father did. It’s what he always did when he held hands with my mother.

I had seen him do it many times before. Walking side by side with my mother he’d open his hand wide and her hand would find his. I can’t remember specific instances, this memory comes in bulk. But it’s there in the cells of my being, a built-in example.

It seems silly to say that I am regularly learning things my parents taught me decades ago, but I suppose that is how it goes. The knowledge never matters until it does. The experience is kept on the shelf until it’s needed. And hopefully, the familiarity of it all isn’t lost on us.

As I get older I inhabit more of my father’s mannerisms than I can count. Some of them seem insignificant, simple gestures, motions that indicate nothing else but uniqueness.

But there are some gestures that have come naturally to me and embody much more just an action. They embody a mentality, a personality, and a way of being. They are things that connect me to my father.

They are effortless yet significant, spontaneous yet important, and most warmly unexpected.

Like two hands finding each other for the first time.

What Happened to the High Five?

Do you remember the high five? That most jubilant of traditions whereby a human, celebrating some sort of success, would take their open hand and slap it against the open hand of another human, creating a sound and also a collision of fulfillment and rapture.

Perhaps you don’t, because in recent memory the high five has been replaced by the touching of closed fists known as the fist bump, or soul dap, or pound, or a half dozen other aliases.

That itself makes me frustrated with the gesture. What is your problem fist bump? Why must you have all of these aliases? Be yourself. You don’t see the high five masquerading around town as the “raised finger star formation” or the “open palmed slap” or the “elevated pancake joint hand gesture.”

No, it is the high five, it has always been the high five, and it will always be the high five. It knows who it is, and that is comforting to me.

Whereas this fist bump creature has probably always been around, it is relatively new in the mass consumption realm. If I had to place blame, I would trace it back to the first time fear of mass pandemics hit the U.S.

I don’t remember if it was Bird Flu or Badger Pneumonia that set off the hand washing craze (which, is just about the saddest thing in the world that hand washing would hit an all time low to return as a “craze”) a couple of years ago, but when that happened people became absolutely mad about germs.

Individuals would wear one glove on the train to hold the rail; they wouldn’t shake hands with business partners, and would Purel their hands if they accidentally touched anything. Hey, I was one of them. I don’t like being sick either!

But it was around that time that I noticed a wealth of fist bumps going around. Guys fist bumping guys, girls fist bumping guys, and children fist bumping dogs. It was spiraling out of control. The reason it bothered me so much is because I derived no satisfaction from it.

A high five is only as good as the force put into it. A weak high five can feel more like a futuristic hand scan than a celebratory act. And I know you can go too far and end up with a hand that feels like it was slapped with a broken piece of Chinese Bamboo. But generally it’s a gratifying experience. I can give a robust high five to guys and girls alike.

Not so much with a fist bump. Giving a forcible fist bump is a great way to end up with a set of broken knuckles. Now I don’t mind hitting fists at a moderate strength ration with one of my male friends, but I can’t go punching the fists of women. I mean I think its best to avoid any type of woman punching, even if it is consensual. That’s just good life advice.

But still on its best day, a zesty fist bump is only as good as say… lukewarm creamed corn.

You want to believe it did the trick, but really deep down, you know it just didn’t.

If this fist bump were so key to our society we should be teaching it to children. But we don’t teach it to them do we? No of course not, because tiny children don’t really know how to make fists.

There is a reason that the only thing adults know what to say to children under 5 is

“Hey give me a high five.”

It’s never:

“Hello toddler, might we engage in a soul dap?”

I like the high five because the instructions are in the title.

Your hand goes high and you hold up five. Oh Ok, I get it. Done, no problem.

That’s probably also why I like “All You Can Eat” Buffets, “Diving Boards” and “Row Boats.” For all of those things, the instruction is right in the title. How can you go wrong?

Fist bump is pretty clear, but soul dap? I don’t even know where my soul is, and I’m not even sure how to dap. It sounds like tap, but maybe, a secretive tap? And give me a pound could really seriously confuse some British folks. I’m trying to increase international cooperation here, not obfuscate it!

But I think the real attraction of the fist bump is that it allows one to “play it cool” as it were. There is a fair amount of commitment on one’s part when you throw your naked paw into the air anticipating reciprocity.

There is always the chance that nobody will touch palms with you and just leave you out to dry. Like being the only one in a bathing suit at a pool party, or walking across a bar to talk to a girl who doesn’t speak English.

I’m not speaking from experience on either of those, I just, well, OK let’s move on.

But like I said there is an element of risk to initiating a high five. You could just end up leaving your bare palm in the air like you’re trying to ask an uninterested Miss Flanagan for the bathroom pass.

Sometimes we fist bump at work. It’s very appropriate because closing a “How To Ticket” doesn’t really elicit high five type of joy within me. A subtle fist bump works for me there.

But in the moments that matter, if I birdie a hole in golf (which I don’t) or I guess the answer correctly (which I never do) I want to feel the excitement resonate in my palm.

Otherwise I will spend the rest of my life equating “How To Tickets” with things that actually are awesome.

Like diving boards.

Cooling Down to Heat It Up


Fall has descended upon my fine city. And that means the rapid approachment (don’t question my grammar) of the Holidays and much chillier temperatures. This is my favorite time of year in Manhattan. I have a buddy who just moved to New York who told me that he keeps hearing 2 things from people who lived here for a while.

The first is that the next 2 months in Manhattan are magical. I have to agree.

And the second thing he keeps hearing is that once colder weather comes, single people start hunkering down into winter relationships the same way bears look for caves.

I have to say, I’ve seen this happen as well. Though I’m still not quite sure how it happens because we males are pretty much clueless when it comes to anything except fantasy football.

But it is much easier to fall (pun intended) into a relationship at this point in the year then say, oh… the summer.

During the summer there is a lot of interaction with considerably less clothes. Like at the beach.

It is there that us men make our most courageous attempts to talk to members of the fairer sex. The beach is a funny place to hit on people, because you are essentially wearing what you want those people to see you in if you are successful wooing them.

When you are in a bathing suit you really can’t hide anything. There can be no cognitive dissonance on the girl’s part of; “Maybe he looks good under that shirt?”

There is no shirt. There is only you my friend. And you look infinitely more awkward talking to a girl in your underwear than you do in clothes.

Does any man anywhere know how to talk to women? I certainly don’t, that is why for the larger part of my life I either acted like an idiot in front of females (not a good tactic) or just looked on longingly from across the room (also not a good tactic).

But as I get older, watching guys talk to girls is perhaps the most painful/entertaining thing in the world. We really have no idea what we’re doing out there. It’s a battlefield and we are over matched. It is like Saving Private Ryan with perfume and Cosmos.

Last summer at the beach I watched a guy run into a girl he knew and say;

Oh how come you didn’t tell me you were coming out here this weekend?

Well Topless Guy, I believe it probably had something to do with the fact that she did not want you to know that she was going to be there.

And here’s another knowledge fiesta for your synapses. If you are standing there in your bare chested glory, and the hot girl in the bathing suit who did not tell you she was coming out to the beach is sitting in a beach chair and does not stand up to put her arms around you, thereby forcing you to bend down awkwardly to give her a kiss on the cheek to greet her… you don’t have a chance.

Men don’t really have strategies for talking to women. We might say we do, we might think we do, but we really don’t. In kindergarten you would hit a girl you like and then run away from her as fast as you can. High School brought the slander and slouch, when you would make fun of the girl you like and then eliminate all manner of posture and turn away to appear like you didn’t care about the girl’s opinion.

College brought the drink and shoot. With the addition of alcohol the strategy was basically just consume until you have become brave enough to accost any and all women within spitting distance.

And that’s about all we got.

I have a good female friend who was recently on the receiving end of a brilliant strategy. A gentleman who had been sitting next to her handed her his iPhone and said:

Do you want to play this game?

So he tried sharing his toys, that IS nice, but ya know… you are an adult. Try using something other than video games as your opening statement.

Now I am no Don Juan, heck I’m not even like… a Bob Juan, but I gotta believe I would never use video games as part of my dating repertoire.
           
And let me be clear, up until recently I was very uncomfortable around women. In fact the first time I tried to ask someone out I was in my sophomore year of college. I found myself sitting in front of a Phoenix Suns dancer in my public speaking class. I had high blood pressure for the duration of the semester as I tried to come up with conversation topics so I could turn around and engage her with something slightly more interesting than my impression of Donkey from Shrek.

We eventually went on a date. And now we’ve been married for 6 years.

No just kidding, after that date I never her saw her again. I am apparently very good on dates.

I recently heard a story about a girl who was dancing at a bar and making out with a guy she had just met. They seemed to be getting along very well. She was really digging him until he dropped this little nugget on her;

You’re cute, but you’re a little chubby. You should try eating more salads.

Wow.

Never mind the fact that this poor girl wasn’t even chubby to being with. At what point does telling a woman she’s chubby seem like a good idea? The only living creatures I have ever told were fat are dogs.

Like my friend Sophie's dogs:


THEY could use a salad.

But even if you women decide to date us men (and really I’m still trying to figure out a value add we have for you aside from bug killing, which as you know, I really don’t do) we don’t even know how to talk about you.

Recently I have heard more guys refer to their “Lady Friend.”

This gives me the willies. I don’t like the sound of it. It sounds like you have some kind of woman of the night who comes to your chambers with wine in a calfskin thermos.

Yes Lady Friend, please avail yourself of some of my fine champagne and drape yourself upon my velvet chaise to the sounds of my harpsichord.

This is why I pretty much no longer talk to women. I communicate exclusively through acts of chivalry, small gifts, and wiggling my ears.

And that is tough to do with a winter hat on. But if you do see it, trust me, it’s magical.

Julie of J. Crew

I operate under the assumption that every customer service representative everywhere in the world, hates their job. I think it’s a pretty fair assumption. I mean if you think about it, you never call customer service to be like

OH MY GOD I LOVE YOUR PRODUCT

No, you call because the item in question is a piece of shit, doesn’t work, is broken, costs too much, didn’t do what it was supposed to, or gave you a splinter. So the people who work in customer service must anticipate nobody wants to say nice things to them… ever.

Hi thanks for calling customer service. What’s that you say? Oh you have a problem? Wow, I’m shocked, please, proceed to yell at me for the next 20 minutes.

In fact everybody in America is so fed up with dealing with everybody else in America that there is literally nobody left in America to be mad at you. We had to outsource that to another country that isn’t yet fed up with us calling to be pissed off.

Most of the times those calls are really confusing and don’t accomplish much since yelling at someone 5,000 miles away is probably not going to get you to speak with their manager.

But recently when I have issues (which, who are we kidding, I have issues daily) I have been redirected to the online chat feature. I don’t mind this so much. Most of the time it is some robot sending you a link. But sometimes, you get a human. And when I do get a human, oh man, I become about as ridiculous as humanly possible.

Like when I had questions for J.Crew recently. It was extremely late at night so I was a bit loopy, but as you will see, the woman on the other end of the chat was fantastic. Naturally I saved it.

Richard: Hi Julie how is your evening going?
Julie: Hello...fine
Richard: lol that doesn't sound too wonderful
Julie: Sorry, I am doing well.
Richard: You don't have to lie on my account, we all have those days no worries.
Richard: Tell me Julie, how is your knowledge about shirts?
Julie: Thanks for waiting--will be with you in just a moment.  
Richard: Oh no worries at all. I'm sure there's not many people around to answer questions at this hour.
Julie: I'm sorry for the delay--will be right with you.  
Richard: Please, please, take your time. Like I said, they are just shirts. They are not going anywhere. Well, I mean, hopefully for your business sake they do get sold ya know?
Julie: Thanks for your patience.
Julie: Are we speaking of men's dress shirts?
Richard: Indeed we are Julie!
Julie: I do have some knowledge and I also have exact measurements for each garment we sell, except for shoes, that is.
Richard: Well quite the good thing I am not in the market for shoes tonight, at least not shoes from J Crew
Richard: I am curious about shirts that are slimmer than your classic fit.
Julie: I'll be right with you.
Richard: Oh absolutely Julie, like I said, this isn't a shirt emergency.
Richard: I have very few of those.
Julie: You would then be looking for those listed as 'Regular Fit' which is a more tailored fit.
Julie: By the way, my software sends those messages automatically. I hope they aren't annoying you.
Richard: Lol no not at all.
Richard: I find them quite entertaining, I'm actually surprised you are a human.
Julie: 100% human guaranteed.
Richard: I bought furniture from a site that was all automated responses. It was like talking to Rain Man.
Julie: :)
Julie: We also sell a Men's Slim.
Richard: Now about these regular fit shirts, do you know what the actual different in inches is from the classic fitting shirts?
Richard: Ah yes, my question also applies to those slim fit shirts.
Julie: If you'll bear with me for just a minute, I will give you some details. OK?
Richard: I will bear with you Julie.
Richard: I place my complete shirt trust in you, Julie of J. Crew.
Julie: What size would you normally wear? S,M,L,?
Richard: I usually fit into a medium comfortably
Julie: Great...just a few moments.
Richard: Fantastic
Richard: I imagine you have quite the shirt handbook over... well... wherever you are.
Julie: I'll be right with you.
Julie: Ok...I have some numbers.
Richard: Fire at will.
Julie: For the Regular fit medium the chest circumference is 45", waist 42.5", sleeve length-shoulder seam to cuff-25.875" and neck 16.25.
Julie: For the SlimFit medium chest is 43.5", waist is 41", sleeve is 26" and neck is 16.25".
Julie: So, I guess it's 1 1/2 inches slimmer.
Richard: and what is the classic fit, if you have that number?
Julie: Ok...another minute please
Richard: Quite the wild goose chase if you will.
Julie: I'm sorry for the delay--will be right with you.  
Julie: Ok...classic fit medium is chest 47", waist 44.5", sleeve 25.5" and neck is the same 16.25".
Richard: So I guess no matter how skinny you are we all have the same size neck huh?
Julie: Looks that way...sorry.
Richard: Oh no worries, you didn't make the shirt...necks.
Julie: Does that help you determine which one you need?
Richard: It certainly does Julie. I can't thank you enough for your diligence and your commitment to problem solving.
Julie: It's my pleasure, especially for such a nice gentleman.
Julie: Is there anything else I can help with?
Richard: If I knew how to do some sort of virtual bow, I would.
Richard: No, alas I believe our time here has come to a close.
Richard: Unless there is some question you have that I can answer.
Richard: I can't imagine what that would be though.
Julie: Well, thanks for taking the time to chat with me and for shopping with J.Crew. Anytime you need help, just ask.
Richard: Brilliant. Enjoy your evening, I hope it continues well past more than just... well.
Julie: Thanks for waiting--will be with you in just a moment.  
Richard: lol naturally.

Quite a pleasant exchange we had. My only regret is that I didn’t get her phone number or email. I could use a new friend. Especially one who knows about shirts.

The Social Network

There has been tremendous buzz lately about the new movie The Social Network that was just released. The movie is of course about the founding and early days of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and others who were a part of the company in the beginning have said that the movie is a fictionalized account of how the website and company were actually started – that the beginning of Facebook was Zuckerberg and his cofounders sitting in a room coding, programming, and geeking out.



But whether or not that is the case is of no consequence. And even though the movie pulls a lot of its information from actual depositions of the ensuing lawsuits that followed, it wouldn’t even matter if the beginning of Facebook was Zuckerberg sitting in Sunday school writing letters to Jesus. It doesn’t matter if Facebook was just a dorm room project started to meet girls in a really auspicious beginning. What the movie captures and showcases is our new reality, the way we view our world. In essence, The Social Network is the movie we as a culture need it to be.

While the movie may have set out to capture the before, what it has actually captured is the after, our now, our present reality. The zeitgeist of the Facebook moment. If Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Foursquare, and others are on the left side of the equation, what lies on the other side of the = sign might as well be infinity. This movie is far greater than the sum of its parts.

When Facebook started, it seemed we had all gotten over the hype of a website changing everything… again. Few would have imagined that the creation of another new website would have the effect that it did, and those that did, well, they have a lot of money now.

What Facebook has done is speed up the process. It has taken the rate at which we consume information and increased it a million fold. It has created the possibility for connection with every person we meet in our lives. It has turned strangers into “friends” and friends into voyeurs. It has taken our (previously unknown to ourselves) siloed lives and turned them into a web of connectivity that is nearly inescapable.

What is most interesting is that for as Facebook as evolved, in 6 years, as large as it has grown, as fast as it has expanded, it is still grounded in a collegiate mentality. Whether you are 16 or 60 you are doing the exact same thing - you are cultivating your personality, adding friends, keeping your eyes on what everybody else is doing, all from the comfort of your own home, all without moving more than your index finger, all without even opening your mouth.

Facebook quickly became the pacesetter in an industry that is all about connectivity. How many different aspects of our lives can we share with each other and how fast we can do it? We understand the benefits. We are reuniting with people we had otherwise forgotten about, and staying connected to people we might not otherwise have a chance to. The drawbacks? Well, they are different for everybody.

It’s all very Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind. Don’t want to know what’s going on with your ex boyfriend? Defriend him. Don’t particularly like how you looked at that holiday party? Untag yourself, it’s like you were never there. More than any time in the history of the planet we have the ability to cultivate the kind of life we appear to have, and the life we choose to remember.
I know this is nothing new, and I’m not saying anything earth shattering, but I think that’s just the point. The arrival of Facebook didn’t instantly change the way we live our lives the way 9/11 did, it has done it almost surreptitiously, working its way into every corner of your behavior. Kind of like the difference between making a sharp left turn and veering just slightly off course can both take you way off your path.

This is our new reality. Not just dramatically different, epically so. Whereas every mistake, mishap, missed connection, and messed up relationship became reassigned to the bowels of our memories, fleeing from our present with a tremendous ephemerality, now our history is incredibly tied to our present. We define ourselves by it.

It is unlike any other innovation of media we have seen. It is unignorable. Trust me, I tried. Whether or not you choose to be you are a part of it, you are. In the background of a picture you didn’t now you were in, acknowledged as a relative, or otherwise.

Even though Facebook may not have had a cutthroat beginning with back stabbings, parties with coke and booze, that kind of a lifestyle could exist for it now. Social media isn’t just a thing or a trend, it is an industry, a cash crop capable of being grown in the most unlikely of locations.

Silicon valley isn’t so much a location anymore as it is a mentality, a spirit, and an energy that has spread across the country creating a tech industry in New York that was previously nonexistent. There is a line in the social network where Justin Timberlake’s character says to Jesse Eisenberg’s

This is our time.

And he couldn’t be more right. This is our time, to create, to share, to ignore and to cultivate as we see fit.

Facebook may indeed have been just a couple of guys from Harvard coding through the night in the same clothes they wore yesterday, but the film conveys the significance and gravitas that we as a culture, hell, we as a species, have attached to it. It is the single most significant change to the way we as human beings interact with each other and ourselves.

It is not unfair to say that the future of Facebook and the future of our lives are now inextricably linked. And just like the Social Network may not necessarily be a perfect representation of what actually happened, neither are our lives.

Not anymore.

The Dating Manifesto - Part 2

So I started thinking about what my friends do to meet people. What were their tactics? What techniques did they use? How could I meet the pretty pretty ladies?

My generation, Generation Y, or the Google Generation, or whatever the heck we are, is not a generation that dates. We cut our teeth on Instant Messenger, and by the time we were old enough to start having actual relationships, we could do the whole thing via email. We are a generation more comfortable with sending text messages than sending flowers.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I have a couple of friends who went on Match.com. I’m not generally a fan of any kind of online space, book, or internet social networking in general. But I had one friend in particular who was encouraging me to give it a shot. She was really curious and wanted to have a buddy to try it with. So I did what any good friend would do.

I let her try it by herself.

And she was very disappointed with the results. I was sad for her. So for research purposes only, and to see what all the fuss was about, I did a little tooling around on Match.com.
Seriously, for research purposes only.

In order to create a profile, Match.com asks you some very specific questions about who you are, what you want, and the person you want to meet.

For instance, it asks you to check off your best physical feature. It has many options including, but not limited to, hands, eyes, feet, and belly button. Now while it may be humorous and cute to tell people your belly button is your best feature, can you imagine if your best physical feature used to be attached to an umbilical cord?

Picture introducing your future Match.com bride to your friends. She probably looks like the wrong end of a pork roast and the first time your friends see her they cringe.

“But oh no” you say, “Don’t judge her yet. Sweetie, show them your naval!”

It also asks you what your turn-ons are. It gives you a list of options and asks you to check off whether or not you think certain things are turn-ons. This includes 2 that I have issues with.
Skinny Dipping and Thunderstorms.

Skinny Dipping? Well let’s just think about this. The fundamental goal of any male since puberty has been to see women naked. So if someone you’re attracted to you says, “Hey honey, I was thinking about going swimming, should we wear clothes or no clothes?” Are you really going to respond with, “Oh sweetie, please please, clothes ON, we get too much naked time together.”

And thunderstorms? Oh for chrissakes if you put that in your profile you deserve to have every idiot in the city show up at your door in mid-august with his “sounds of the monsoon” CD and a copy of The Perfect Storm on DVD.

Does anyone else find it abnormal that we are advertising our turn-ons on the internet? What’s next? Scenarios that make you feel insecure? Foods that give you diarrhea?

Match.com also gives you the option to “wink” at somebody. Of course this isn’t a real wink, but a virtual wink. And someone can virtually “wink” back at you. Just in case emailing someone whom you already know everything about from the safety and comfort of your couch is too scary … you can just virtually greet them… like an 8th grader.

Which probably means you have virtually no ability to talk to the opposite sex, which is why your dating on the internet.

Creep.

It also asks you to check off whether or not you want kids. That makes sense to me. Why waste your time dating somebody who ultimately is looking for something completely different? But people specify how many kids they want. That intimidates me. What if I can’t provide you with 3 children? What if it turns out my boys can’t swim? Are you going to divorce me? God this is stressful.

And I think that’s my problem with Match.com. A lot of people find themselves on the website because they can’t meet a decent individual to begin with or they are just frustrated with the dating scene. And then once you get on the site, it enables you to be so incredibly specific on what you’re looking for and how you see yourself, that it almost makes it more difficult because you can be even more discerning.

It becomes too targeted. It’s like hunting. You’re hunting for a partner. Awww how cute.

When people put that much of themselves out there for others to see. It becomes too easy to judge. I know it’s something I’m guilty of. It almost takes all the fun out of getting to know somebody. I’d rather just repress all of the horrible weird things about myself and let somebody get to know me for 2 or 3 years before I become comfortable enough to reveal them.

But what I call fun, maybe others call stress. Perhaps when you know all the basics about somebody, you’re free to dig deeper and get to know them on a more intimate level beyond just turn on’s and favorite movies.
But for as flawed as Match.com may seem, can any of us really fault anybody for using it?

It didn’t come about for no reason. It can be so difficult to meet quality humans in this city, nay, any city. And as all of our socializing is marching towards an almost exclusively electronic medium, we are left with fewer real life options. We are posting, poking, and texting, to a complete and total social incompetence. It’s no wonder so many young attractive singles are left feeling jaded and lonely.

So I don’t fault Match.com, and I don’t fault the people who use it. In fact, I applaud them for the bravery and courage they show by putting themselves out there in front of millions and millions of weirdos, kooks, and other alumni of To Catch a Predator.

All I know is Match.com is not for me. And until they add eyelashes as a feature, or I get a better looking belly button, I will probably avoid it at all costs.

The Dating Manifesto - Part 1

Dating in New York City is a bit of an endangered species these days. The days of meeting someone, asking for their number, and then eventually engaging in courtship are mere memories. While I think the rest of the country is gradually saying goodbye to dating, the geography and lifestyle of New York City is sending dating as we know it to an accelerated death.

For anyone who has ever looked at a map of New York City it would seem that everyone who lives in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, or the Bronx (we don’t include Staten Island) would be within a short drive of dating each other. But in a city where over 50 percent of the people take public transportation and almost nobody owns a car, nobody is a short drive from anybody.

People in the city tend not to date anybody who lives more than 2 trains away. In other words, if you have to transfer trains more than once to see somebody, odds are you are not going to date that person.
And for people like me who live in Queens, I am considered G.U. Geographically Undesirable. It’s like Manhattanites think I was outcast to Queens because I’m a polygamist or I have the Mutaba virus. In a city of 8 million people you can understand why traveling more than 15 minutes to see somebody might seem unnecessary. 

Sometimes when I tell people I live in Queens I feel like I’m telling them I live in Kazakhstan. The facial expressions alone are priceless. Usually people jerk their head back a little bit and say something like, “Oh… How do you like it?” They say this because they don’t want to say “HOLY CRAP WHERE IS THAT?!”
And I’m fine with that, because I love my place. I don’t have a roommate, and I can walk around with no pants on whenever I so choose.

My place is awesome. It looks like a man lives there and I TOTALLY want to be a man one day. But I do live in Queens, and while I have been told owning an apartment makes me a “catch” it’s kind of hard to drop that into a conversation with someone the first time you meet them. Certainly you can’t just slide it in without seeming like a complete a-hole.

Girl: Hey I’m Carly
 Me: That reminds me of this time I was paying my mortgage.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Just meeting people is really the hardest part. Those outside the New York City area might not understand. They might think since there are so many people, you must meet people everyday. And you do, but those are one-off interactions. You are not making friends every time you bump into somebody on the street.

The social set-up is such that you can’t really hang out with anybody without spending money. Friends typically don’t just hang out at each other’s apartments. Probably because everybody lives in a different corner of the city, or they have 3 roommates they can’t stand or because their living room is the size of a Bran Muffin. Most hanging out takes place at a pub after work or at a bar on the weekend. And that gets expensive.

Sometimes a friend will say to me “Hey Rich do you want to go get a drink after work?” But because drinks are so expensive in Manhattan, what they are really saying to me is “Hey Rich do you hate money?”
My answer is almost always yes. It is a necessary evil of New York City, and I have come to accept that because I love my friends more than I love being fiscally sound.

If you take into account the fact that most hanging out is taking place at bars and add the common opinion that you don’t meet quality people at bars, then meeting quality people becomes a fundamental problem.
While the people you meet in bars seem normal enough and may even be attractive, there is always one question that triggers the nuclear bomb of crazy to get dropped. You might ask them what they do for a living and you find out they run a rescue shelter out of their van for gay cats. Ohhhh, ok, no thank you.
So where are the attractive quasi-normal people?

There are so many beautiful women in the city, but I rarely see them out in the places I enjoy hanging out. I see them walking past me on the street, at the lunch spot, or on the subway. They just never end up at the same place as me during free time. No, I only go to places where you can find school buses full of obnoxious troll women.

It just doesn’t make sense because Manhattan has beautiful women in droves. Actresses and models prance through this city like its their playground. How come I can’t find out where they are hanging out?
Sometimes when I pass the beautiful women on the street I want to stop them and ask them where they are going. Not because I want to follow them in some creepy way (I kind of do) but I just want to know where their people go out. Like that meatpacking plant full of models on Seinfeld.

And though I may see a beautiful woman on a bench, or on the subway, the only people who talk to strangers in this city are either homeless or clinically insane. I on the other hand try to conceal my crazy.
So what can we do? What options do we average folk have? If we are not trolls and not models, is there some last resort for meeting humans in a city of anonymity?

Surely there must be.

To Be Continued.