Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stalking Mr. Right*

Before I go off on a series of tangents signifying nothing, I need to remind you of TED's unified dating theory. A proper date must have activities from both of two classes of activities: the social and the sexual. These categories are to be construed broadly. Social activities can be dinner or a movie or a cup of coffee or a drink in the hotel bar. Sexual activities can range from spending the night tied in a sling right on down to a goodnight kiss. But the deal is, you have to have both. If you have social activities without any sexual activity whatsoever, you have just hung out with a friend, possibly a friend of very short duration. If you spend the evening making out and/or producing fluids but you don't have any social activity (five minutes of post-coital conversation does not count), then you've hooked up. If you get both, then you've had a date.

Anyway, now that I'm entirely single again, I've been doing some dating, and it's been fun on both social and sexual levels. I like the living-in-the-present aspect of early dating. If you're dating a guy for a while, then you have to start thinking about The Future, but for the first so many (ten? fifteen?) dates, the only things you have to think about "are am I having a good time?" and "do I want to do this again?" And you shouldn't really even think about that second one until after the date or, if you're an overachiever near the very end of the date. Thinking ahead is just going to drive you crazy, and, let's face it, most guys you date aren't going to end up sharing a checking account with you, so why go there?

Contrariwise, I find that when I'm actively not thinking about the intermediate- or long-term potential for any of the guys I've been out with, I enjoy speculating about who the perfect guy for me would be. And in the minutes I've spent pondering this matter, I've come to two main conclusions:

1. I want a guy who's not around too much.
2. Real men are overrated.

The "real men" thing just means that flesh-and-blood guys (although they have the immense advantage of, well, flesh) never measure up to men from movies or books or television. And since I'm already dating real guys, it just makes more sense to search for the notional Mr. Right in the popular media.**

As for "not around too much": back when I was shacked up with my last partner, I found that we were happiest when he had taken on some overseas consulting work and was gone three or four times a year for two to three weeks at a time. And he was a pretty nice guy, so it's not that I didn't like him: it's just that I like my space. On the other hand, I also like having someone to share the bills, so I'm basically looking for fictional men who travel a lot but share their home base with me. (I am aware that the practical applications are rather severely limited.)

So, who might measure up?

George Clooney in Up in the Air. Sure, I'm aware that George Clooney is the actor, not the character, but did you remember "Ryan Bingham"? I had to Google to figure out the character's name. Anyway: George Clooney, traveling corporate hit man. Let's evaluate, shall we?

Assets: Easy on the eyes. Hardly ever home, so very low maintenance. Apparently very skilled in the sack. TONS of frequent flyer miles = free vacations!

Liabilities: Straight. Probably wouldn't remember my birthday. But really, the biggest problem with GC is that he's just starting out on his midlife crisis. Within six months, he's going to have quit his job and will be staying home learning to knit, so I'd get home every evening and dinner would be ready, but he'd always be there, and he'd be wanting to discuss our relationship. Egad, no.

In general, I think there are just going to be problems with heavy corporate travelers. To begin with, most of them are going to be in sales, and, well, ewwww. So let's leave behind the world of commerce and look at that other source for frequent travelers: G-men. For starters.

Bond. James Bond. We're using the Daniel Craig incarnation here, because he seems the least fictitious of the bonds, but it doesn't really matter: one Bond's as good or bad as another.

Upside: Easy on the eyes. Fast cars, exotic locales. Reputation for being great in bed, so unlimited opportunities for threeways. Big payoff from the British government when some foreign strongman or other finally cuts his throat.

Downside: Straight. No, really straight, and probably narrow. Seriously, look at the nipples on Daniel Craig: they've never been bitten. And I'm guessing he's not that good in bed anyway. There's a lot of close your eyes and think of England going on. Worse still is the near certainty that some day you're going to wake up bound, naked, tortured, and held for ransom in the hold of some freighter off the coast of Africa. (I realize that this would go under upside for some of you, and, hey, I don't judge, but it's not my thing.) And, sure, he'd probably rescue you eventually, but that sort of thing is tiresome and just try explaining it to your employer.

Moving on.

Agent Dale Cooper.

Plus: Sex on a motherfucking stick. Likes pie. Possibly could be nudged to bi. Will never cheat.

Minus: Probably wears boxers. Sexually conventional, so nudging to bi would be a lengthy process, and he's much more likely to go for Sheriff Truman than for me. Will never cheat. Bob.

So, no business travelers, and no government employees. Who does that leave?


Pro: Smoking hot. Pan-sexual. Will bring a continuing stream of sexually adventurous woodland beings home to bed with him. Supernatural. And this is Rupert Everett from the movie, so it's long before that unfortunate cosmetic surgery.

Con: Always sleeping outdoors. Also, as much as I love A Midsummer Night's Dream, I don't think I could bring myself to watch that version of it again. Whoever cast Ally McBeal as Helena needs to be shot. Or at least sternly reprimanded.

I guess it's back to the real men. Alas.

*Yeah, I know: no actual stalking is going on or is even contemplated. It's just not my style, but sometimes I like a provocative title. Hire a lawyer and sue me.

**I am aware that the logic here is, shall we say, weak. But we're tongue-in-cheek in this post anyway. I don't actually spend my time fixating on movie characters.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sturm und Drang

I meant to post yesterday, on Valentine's Day (hereinafter V-Day, because, really, any holiday with a name longer than "Yule" is just too much trouble to type out), but I got busy, and, more to the point, what I was writing was crap.

Anyway, my V-Day started at 7:30 with a phone call, from a very sweet guy with whom I've been on two dates, wishing me a happy V-Day. I'm not sure that waking someone up via cell phone is a great strategic move on V-Day, but whatever. There followed a text message with a ridiculous V-Day graphic, and I was of two minds:
1. Dude. It's only been two dates: ease up a little.
2. What? No chocolate?

It is a sad but undeniable fact that I am more likely to want what is harder for me to get and what I probably shouldn't want. Put another way: I'm more likely to be into a guy if he seems less into me. I am given to understand that many others of all genders and sexual persuasions are in the same boat.

If you analyze this phenomenon (as I have, obviously), you come to a couple of conclusions. First, it's often to your advantage to appear less interested than you are. "Playing hard to get" is the more negative way to put that because it makes me sound like I'm playing games, and nobody wants to be accused of playing games, even if that's what he's doing. In any case, playing it cool is wise not just because it usually makes you more attractive. Emotions often outrace reason, and if you act on the former, you may have already done something you'll regret when the latter catches up.

The second conclusion is that I should really learn to value guys who are into me more than I do. And, you know, for the last several years, I've determined to spend more time with guys who are willing to chase after me and less with guys who I have to pursue. And, well, it's a work in progress. I'm doing better with the not-acting-too-interested part than I am with the rewarding-interest-in-me part. But I find that being aware of the ways in which my psyche acts against my self-interest is a big help in modifying the behavior.

Well. There's my moment of introspection for 2012.

As for V-Day itself, I see a lot of whinging from both the attached and single segments of the population. If you're attached, the whinging goes something like, "Egad, yet another instance of the greeting card-florist-industrial complex conspiring to make me spend money on frivolities." And, well: really? The fact that you have someone to do something for is, on balance, cause for gratitude and celebration, not for complaint. Besides, V-Day is the easiest holiday ever! Finding someone the right Christmas or birthday gift can be really difficult, but on V-Day, you get some chocolates and flowers and you're done. [If you're feeling especially kind, you can throw in some sexy underwear or a sex toy, but I mention this only so that I can tell a story at my own expense. That Guy, with whom I recently broke up, was a very stylish dresser, but he wore underwear (white woven cotton boxers: ugh) that were totally at odds with his image. So early last month, I went online and ordered him some more appropriate underwear, thinking it would make a good V-Day gift. Then I broke up with him. And, well, I'd ordered underwear on clearance, so it couldn't be returned. And it was size small, which I really am not. Fortunately, last weekend, I got a late night call from one of my favorite gentlemen of horizontal acquaintance asking me to come over, and it occurred to me that said gentleman is probably 5'4 and maybe 120 lbs if he's soaking wet, so I grabbed some of the underwear and took it with me. He was happy to have it, though when he tried it on, it was a little too big. I reckon it'll shrink in the dryer, though.] It's pretty easy.

The whinging by the single people usually goes more along the lines of "Egad, the media are conspiring to make me feel inadequate because I'm single." This, reader, is an error. The media are, in fact, conspiring to make you spend money because that's what they're there for. So if you're single, wrap yourself in the mantle of intellectual and moral superiority: "I am too smart and too good to be duped into feeling inferior by people who only want my money." Or, if that doesn't work for you, buy yourself something. Chocolate is half off!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tempus Fugit

So, apparently, there was this Super Bowl thing yesterday. I gave up cable a while back, so I couldn't have watched even if I'd wanted to, but I did get a text message from a guy with whom I'd been on a brunch date that morning/afternoon:

At that point, I just assumed that the Giants would score very late in the fourth quarter and win the game, and I didn't think about it again until this morning. I'd claim to be psychic, but, really, who didn't see that coming?

I tend to think that American football is one of the dumbest sports imaginable, which -- to me, at least -- explains its popularity. At the best of times, I am somewhat disdainful of the collective intelligence of my compatriots, and I can only imagine the level of ignorance and mendacity that we're in for between now and the November elections. That's another good reason not to subscribe to cable: if I had to watch political ads this year, I'd spontaneously combust. Citizens United: feh.

Anyway, while others were watching football, I was spending a relaxing evening with the girls. Today is my fifty-first birthday, but EFU doesn't get home before 10 pm on Mondays, so they wanted to celebrate yesterday. EFU got me a Sodastream, and YFU got me a couple of canisters of syrup to go with it. They (correctly) assumed that I wouldn't care about having the presents wrapped, so they made me close my eyes while they brought them into the living room. Then when I opened them, they accused me of having present face:

But, in fact, the Sodastream is a really cool gift. (The girls complain bitterly about how hard it is to come up with decent presents for me, but they always manage just fine.) I'd been thinking about buying myself one for some time now, but I was worried about finding space for it in the kitchen. The girls told me I should take it to the office, at least for tax season, so that's what I'm doing. Fizzy water on demand: who could ask for anything more?

After the presents, the girls went to my favorite local chicken place, El Pollo Rico, and bought dinner for us. It was the perfect low-key birthday celebration, and I am all about the low-key celebrations. I eschew pomp. Fifty was kind of a big deal, but fifty-one is barely a blip on the pomp radar screen.

As it happens, I was pretty beat yesterday afternoon/evening anyway because there'd been a fundraiser at church Saturday evening, and I'd volunteered to cater it. What that means is that I spend a lot of evenings over the week before the event cooking things that can go in the freezer, and then I spend about six hours Friday evening and all day Saturday doing food prep. At about four I get to the church, and some other volunteers join me to help get everything assembled and plated while I do some additional prep (For example, I make and freeze the puff pastry a week in advance, but I don't roll it, cut it, and bake it until I get to the church. Then I hand it off to someone else to split and fill with lime curd. Mmmmm.) and try not to panic. I was better organized this year than in the past, and we had everything except the sorbets plated before the first act started, so I was able to get downstairs and into my tux in time to see everything except the very first number. Then, with about two songs to go in the first half, I slipped out to scoop out the sorbets (one was strawberry with red wine; the other was sangria) so that they could go out with the rest of the desserts during the intermission.

I opened the second half of the entertainment with "Some Enchanted Evening." I have since listened to the recording, and I sound pretty good on it, but as someone once told me at one of these things, "You're a very good singer, but no matter how good you are, you're always going to be upstaged by your food." I guess that's better than being upstaged by someone else's food.

That much kitchen work (there was also the cleaning, and then the lugging of all my equipment and the extra food -- everything that went out got eaten, but there was extra of many of the ingredients) left me pretty fatigued, and I may also have been a bit dehydrated/hungover (wine is very good for the voice, you know), so it was something of a struggle to get up, showered, and dressed in time to make my 11:30 brunch date, but I managed.

In the past, I have approached dating with something between trepidation and outright loathing, but I have adjusted my attitude this time around, and, hey, suddenly it's fun. Appropriate date selection (as in the right guy and the right restaurant) is, of course, key, but deciding in advance that I'm going to have a good time is surprisingly effective.

And, you know, maybe I should have figured this out ten years ago, but a date where a prolonged horizontal encounter isn't even a possibility turns out to be a good thing. This particular guy lives in Siberia Baltimore, so both our dates have involved meeting somewhere in between, which leaves plenty of opportunity for flirting and touching and, well, prolonged making out in one or the other of our cars, but nobody's clothes are coming off. To say that this is not my usual modus operandi would be something of an understatement, but it's a good time.