Category Archives: dating

"Blah, Blah, Blah"…On First Dates and Job Interviews

I know I’m not the first one to compare these two scenarios, but having recently been through both the interviewing process and dating, I’m starting to consider rewriting my “script,” clearing the slate like someone in the Witness Protection Program.

I’m very thankful that there will never be another first date for me, and the one I had with my now husband doesn’t fit into ANY of the typical first-date cliches. That’s probably how I knew that it would be my last, first date.

We all bring to the table scripts that fit different contexts. I’ve never been asked on a first date, for example, “What’s your management style” or “Tell me about a time when you were faced with a challenge and turned it into a success.” During a job interview, I’ve never been asked, “So, how many siblings do you have?” or “How old were you when you first had sex?” (which would undoubtedly make job interviews much more interesting).

Maybe we should have a dating resume, a summary of all the questions we’ll probably be asked that we hand the person, give them 5 minutes to review it in order to cut out 99% of the inane conversation bound to follow. Summary at the top:

Youngest of (fill in the blank) siblings, grew up in (fill in the blank), my parents are (fill in the blank).

Graduated from (fill in the blank)and have lived in Boston for (fill in the blank).

I will/won’t kiss you after this and I probably will/won’t sleep with you.

In the past, I’ve been really lucky in a job search to find something very quickly. I don’t bother applying to jobs that I’m not qualified for or jobs that are out of my field of interest. In the same way, when I was doing the online dating thing, I wouldn’t e-mail a guy who was into NASCAR, heavy metal or slasher movies. I also knew that e-mailing a guy who wanted a “slender” or “athletic and toned” woman would be total bait and switch on my part.

This time around in my job search, I have an 80% response to the resumes I’ve sent out but the interviewing process has become endless. You generally start with a 1/2 hour phone screening with either a volunteer or low level staff member, who generally doesn’t get the specifics of the job you’re applying for. You still have to sound cheerful and ridiculously erudite but I can’t help but think that this is what we ALL sound like on the other end of the phone–a steady stream of over-eager, slightly desperate, faceless voices. Then, it’s up to this person to gather the information, sum you up, and decide if you are being “put through to the next round.” Your fate is in their hands.

This is generally how pre-screening of first dates happen, at least for people of my age, over the phone or through e-mail where the words create the chemistry or lack thereof, before you move on to the “next round.” (I have younger friends who do this all through text message which confounds me.) I once exchanged very brief e-mails with a guy who had no sense of humor and really had no interest in a pre-phone conversation. Even though I had a feeling that the date would be a bust, I went anyway. It was the most boring and awkward two hours of my life. With my husband, the communication was charged and honest, both of us very up-front about the life-experiences we were bringing to the table. We flirted. We laughed. By the time we met for the first time, we had already been through the pre-screen, and were pretty sure, as we sat at dinner, that we would make it way beyond even the second round.

In this job search, I’ve had 7 phone interviews that have resulted in 5 in-person interviews. Generally, I’ve met face-to-face with the person I’d be reporting to and another member of the staff, and spewed the same stuff I spewed over the phone, this time the exaggerated smile being witnessed in person. These have become sort of an out-of-body experience for me: Looking down on myself, I see a pathetic woman in a suit, all hand gestures and hair flips, using jargon and every industry buzzword there is. All I can hear is “blah, blah, blah.” You’d be sick of me too.

I’ve left some of these interviews feeling on top of the world calling my husband and saying “Now THAT was a good interview.” I haven’t been invited back by any of these places. Like dates that I’ve thought have gone okay, I automatically go to the superficial–“Should I not have worn a suit to a grass roots agency?”, “Was there lipstick on my teeth?” “Do these shoes look as cheap as they were?” I wonder how ANYONE could be better suited for the job than I.

I’m at the point where I just want to start making shit up: “I’ve raised over a BILLION dollars for our local hospital.” “I’ve raised the money, created the curriculum AND built, with my own two hands, FIVE schools in Rwanda.” I guess eventually, it would all turn into the same “blah, blah, blah” as have my real accomplishments to date but maybe I should give them a go and see if anyone notices. Just be on the alert for reference checks and be sure to tell the person in charge of hiring that you were the one who made the first multi-million dollar gift to both the hospital AND the schools in Rwanda.

The Fine Art of Scaring Men

The writing was apparently on the wall when in kindergarten I paid boys a penny to kiss me. Or maybe it was when I threw a neighbor into a thorn bush and tied him up with kite string (To be fair, he did choke me with my scarf at the bus stop.)

By 3rd or 4th grade I was reckless with scribbled love notes, perhaps with a too-intimidating vocabulary for boys who still chose grunting over speaking. Maybe it was because I was a bit of a behemoth with size C boobs, towering over the other girls in my class . There were many times I would call a guy over, sit him down, tell him how I felt about him, only to hear things like “I really like you as a friend, but…” My girl friends, trying to encourage me, would say “You have a really pretty face and a great personality.” Awesome. Thanks.

It was probably as early as junior high that some slimy man stopped me while I was in Manhattan and said he knew some “producer” who was looking for “zaftig” girls. REALLY???? REALLY???

Eventually, most of my “bulk” spread out into a 5’9′ frame, curvy in the right places, “pretty face” and “great personality” fairly unscathed. I still blamed not having a boyfriend until 19 on my size, so, I suppose that it helped that my very first was 6’6″ (but skinny as a stick.) I think he sort of stumbled into me without really knowing what he was getting himself into, but, we were suddenly having sex for the first time in our lives, and God knows, a 19-yr-old man is not just going to throw that out the window too easily. In the end, I think I scared his FAMILY more than him.

At 23, I met a lovely, funny, but very quiet man who later became my fiance. We bonded over our love of the Flinstones, language and music. It was the first time either of us had ever been in such a heady, love bubble but, well, he apparently fell in love with someone else and we never got married (he eventually married her.) His two best friends are still friends of mine and I know that he has avoided, at all costs, being in the same place at the same time as me. Worked very hard at it, as a matter of fact. I can just see him, all beet red and tremendously uncomfortable. I don’t understand why because I would love to see him again, 20 years later, and compare lives. I sense it’s fear-based and not his shame over having ditched me for his “soul mate.” I can’t imagine what he would expect me to do if he saw me.

In my 30s I think I scared a man from Oklahoma, already teetering on the edge, to fully come out of the closet. On a more disturbing note, there was a man who very clearly liked young girls and I think realized, after not being able to “perform” with me, that that was who he really was and has sinced moved to Thailand. An English guy who stood me up and left me frantically worried claimed he was in a car accident and in the hospital but after a carefully orchestrated stakeout with a friend of mine, we discovered he was lying.

Recently, a friend of mine was going to fix me up with someone and said before he and I had met “Don’t scare him off!” I was truly insulted by this. It wasn’t because a button in me had been pushed but because the implication was that I was so off-putting that a seemingly strong, funny and intelligent man in his late 40s wouldn’t be able to deal with me. In the end, we never met, but I am pretty confident that he would not have cowered in fear in my presence.

The most wonderful of men have stood the test of time with me and been drawn to me. These are the ones who love that I go in first for the kiss, that I make the first phone call (my ex-husband said that he never would have made the first phone call and was thrilled that I did), that I talk to strangers and make friends with waitstaff, and that I am effusive with my feelings. Certainly, at this point in my life, it’s way too late to change who I am and I have no intention of trying to be something I’m not. I like me and my strengths and hope I pass every ounce of confidence onto my daughter. Perhaps I should advise her though, that throwing boys in thorn bushes is not really the best of tactics and that a good kiss is worth MUCH more than a penny.

When He Starts Drawing Diagrams on a Napkin, It’s A Good Time to Leave

Part I
About 15 years ago I made my maiden voyage to Martha’s Vineyard. I was meeting some friends who lived in LA and knew the Vineyard really well (WASPS opening their world to a Jew who wasn’t used to crossing water for the weekend.)

I ended up on a small, rough-hewn ferry, not like the ones I’ve been on since with their wireless and wine. There weren’t many people on the boat, just a handful of us, so the handsome, pock-marked man with a calm look caught my attention. I don’t remember how we ended up talking (my ex-husband would say that I probably pushed my breasts out and tossed my hair, something he always says I do when I flirt)but I found out that he was the roadie/manager for a band that was playing at a bar in Oak Bluffs very close to where the ferry docks. Somehow I wormed my way into his lunch with the band members at the bar. I probably drank my signature drink from back in those days–a white wine spritzer– which probably got me tipsy after only one (I’m still very much a light-weight–I now stop after two glasses of non-spritzy wine.)

I can’t remember if (let’s call him….”Clive”) Clive was paying any attention to me but I was comfortable enough to hold my own. After lunch, I walked to my small hotel, very “London bedsit,” and probably the only place under $150 a night on the Vineyard. The guys from the band asked me to come see them play that night and I didn’t think that there would be any way in hell that my two gay, West Coast friends would come with me to continue my flirtation with a roadie for some hippie-ish bar band. But, well, they did and it actually became their MISSION to get me laid by a roadie for some hippie-ish bar band.

My friends and I had a great time at the bar and the band was surprisingly excellent. When they had played their last set and Clive started breaking down, my friends URGED me to suggest that he come back to my hotel room. Even NOW, in my recently-discovered sexual confidence I couldn’t see myself being quite that bold, and back then? Unheard of. The bar lights were flashing last call, and my friend was insisting that I slip him my room number. Somehow, it ended up on a napkin along with my lipsticked mouth imprint and my friend ran to the stage to give it to him. I was mortified. I was thrilled.

Like a ship captain’s wife holding vigil, but without the widow’s walk and flowy white nightgown I always picture the pacing widows in, I stared out my window almost all night, waiting for Clive to walk up the path to the hotel and come rap at my door. I TRULY believed that it would happen and it would be the beginning of a whole new kind of me. The bed was right under the window and I remember just finally sinking, rather sadly, into sleep. When I left the next morning to go meet my friends, I noticed that they had left a little note taped to a post that said “Gayle’s Room” with an arrow pointing in my direction.

(A detail that I can’t remember now, but is so typically me): The internet was in its infancy stages but somehow, I found out Clive’s home address. He must have told me where he lived (New Jersey? Connecticut?)I found a postcard with a Vineyard sunset and said something about how I was disappointed that he never made it and mailed it off. After that, I ended up at my first nude beach where I had it in me to go topless, and probably like every human being who has ever been there, saw Alan Dershowitz, naked except for a straw hat, strolling along the sand.

Part II

Back in Boston, resumption of real life. The Vineyard always seems so NOT real. Again, details fuzzy, e-mail primitive, but somehow I found yet another way to contact Clive and I received an e-mail back, with some semi-apology about not coming back to the hotel, how he had taken a late-night walk and watched the sunrise. At the end of the e-mail, though, he said that there was something he really wanted to talk to me about in person and wondered if I would meet him in Providence when the band was playing, sometime during that next week. Something he needed to talk to me about in PERSON? Was he going to profess his love for me and needed me in front of him to kiss passionately and carry me away into the Providence sunset? In my mind, that was the only option and I told him that, yes of course, I’d be there.

On the night in question, I had a work barbeque at a board members fancy house. I remember that it was HOT and I was having serious hair worries (this was well before flatirons were available to the masses, when now, every day can be a good hair day.) A few people there knew that I was going straight from there to a “date” and were all very excited for me. I drove the hour-plus thinking of nothing else but how exciting a first kiss would be.

I walked into the rather large place and saw Clive, in shorts, Timberlands and a tee-shirt. We hugged each other and sat down at a high-top table, ordered drinks, some pub-ish food and made quick small talk. Within maybe 8 minutes, Clive pulled a napkin out of the dispenser and took out a pen.

“This is what I wanted to talk to you about.” He started drawing boxes and arrows and began to describe something that I couldn’t even follow. Why was this man DRAWING DIAGRAMS ON A NAPKIN WHEN HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE KISSING ME????? It didn’t take long before the boxes became a pyramid and I realized what was happening. I became an arrow on the bottom of a pyramid. He thought that I would bring him money and a bump up to the next level. To this day, I’m still confused how “boxes” could make someone rich.

I let him finish his spiel and he went back to setting-up for the band. I was stunned. I was temporarily immobilized. I had an hour and a half drive home and it was already way past my bedtime. All I could think about was how it wouldn’t matter anymore if I smoked a million cigarettes because my breath wasn’t an issue. I’m pretty certain that I had it in me to laugh, shake my head and not blame it on myself for being deficient in any way.

There have been some other doozies of dates and situations since then, but, I’m sure that this will stand out as one for the “Dates From Hell” record books.

Cupid, Pull Back Your Bow

“You got the tits of a 25-yr old.”

“You’re dangerous.”

“I don’t feel like myself when I’m with you.”

“I’m really into you.”

“I want you.”

“I need you.”

“You’re so beautiful.”

“I can’t stop thinking about you.”

A sample. A SMALL sample of the things I’ve heard from men in the past 6 months. Maybe even only 5 months.

Some of you might think this is bragging, a dream come true. Don’t get me wrong-a lot of it has certainly made me reel and blush and consider that maybe I am as desirable as these men make me out to be. Sadly though, on a Valentine’s Day when I’m sharing the couch with a needy, shedding cat, it’s making me take stock of what “love” looks like and what it might say when it REALLY gets here.

After a bad and generally futile habit of being the pursuer, I made a declaration to several friends, most of us single, that this year should be The Year of Being Pursued. Fair, enough, yes? Let the men put the effort in, let them be the dazzlers for a change. I think I’ve lost my dazzle and used up all the tricks up all my sleeves.

When I think back, I’m not sure that I’ve ever really been pursued for anything other than sex (OH and one time for a pyramid scheme.) I have been a single woman awaiting a grand gesture for 3 years now. I’m smart enough to know that maybe for me, there will never be a fairy-tale, movie-moment ending, but at least, I could hope for a grand gesture. I have fantasized about men sitting and waiting for me on my stoop (well, when I lived in the city and had a stoop.) I have waited for flowers, romantic text messages, the crawling back on hands and knees, the phone call that says “How could I have been so stupid? It was you all along.” I have really believed that these could and would happen. So, when a man recently told me that he drove an hour and a half to surprise me at a public place where he knew I would be, I thought that that was the grand gesture that I had been waiting for.

This was just one of many tricks this guy used to practically put me in a trance-like state. I’m not an idiot, but, he was very convincing in his apparent sincerity and had me so confused as to why he had chosen me to be the target of his interest and affection that I just went with it. There were alarm bells and red flags all over the place, and I take full responsiblity for relinquishing. I broke all my newly-made rules and resolutions. At 45-years old, I had become one of the quintessential cliches of what usually happens to much younger people–I was hunted, captured and released.

I have spent WAY too much time trying to analyze this behavior mostly repeating the play-by-play to strong, wonderful female friends who are rendered as confused as I. We always come to the same conclusion–there is no point in EVER trying to understand why men do this sort of thing. We end up angry or teary or empowered. But we don’t fucking get it.

I consulted a sampling of male friends–one gay, one a former lover and one, an old, platonic friend. Former lover was confused, said that it sounded like sociopathic behavior and was eager to hear what happened as the story unfolded. My gay friend put it really simply when he explained that sometimes men just “change their mind.”

And then my friend Ruben came up with an entire nomenclature and said “aahh…you’ve met your first Lothario, all easy-on-the-eyes & honey smiles…trust your gut no matter how fine he is or grand his gestures…there’s no way you could’ve seen such an old hunter coming unless you were acquainted with the type.”

Then Ruben had me do a very interesting exercise and told me to go over my “list” of men in my past and see if in fact, this hadn’t happened before. Well, I pulled out my secret list (come on, we all have one don’t we?”) and put an “L” for “Lothario” next to five total names. 5 out of, well, a bunch. The first one appeared when I was 22 and then came BACK about 10 years later. He too had me all confused and spun around, and my gut said that something was REALLY off, but I went with it anyway. Another one, a much younger guy, cocky and stunning, used me to make a point and was so mean-spirited afterwards that it made me desparate for an answer as to why he had been so fierce in his determination to “get” me. Of course, I never got my answer.

And then, this. I want to say to this guy, listen, if all you wanted was sex you just should’ve asked instead of going through all the machinations and an expensive dinner to convince me. I would’ve done it and it wouldn’t have been so fucking mortifying. I want to conduct an interview with him and find out how many times he’s done this before, what his batting average is, and why he does it.

I guess this is what makes women (and men too, I’m sure) so suspicious and guarded and jaded about love. I don’t want to be one of those people but I don’t want to make the same mistakes over and over again. My best friend, Craig says that he’s always admired the way I’ve been knocked down and get right up again. I don’t know if I have it in me to be bitter and jaded and NOT get up again. However, I think I need to preserve and protect my heart just a little bit more and hope that the next one, or the one after that, walks the walk in a much straighter line.

Kayakers, Foot-fetishists and Youngest Children: My 6 Months on

–“A size 8 is too big for me and I tend to like a size 4.”

“…yesterday I did kayaking with my daughter at Vermont, and while enjoying it, realized that there is so much similarity with life, in life, you are in your own kayak and it sometimes glides smoothly in the water, sometime bumpy water, sometimes you find that you are having a good company…within minutes, you are pulled by strong water current and the kayaks are now gone even beyond visibility…so true, the water current represnts the time..the time that has only one direction….forward…If not, I wish you good luck in your future journey…our kayaks will then be far far away..perhaps never to be seen again..
well nice talking you…I also love parrots and have a dream of bringing Amazon parrots home!”

“I want to meet the perfect woman… smart, funny, cute, sexy, independent, thoughtful, cool, and very very very ticklish feet…and I will enjoy tickling the very ticklish feet of my next girlfriend :”

It took me about 2 1/2 years after my divorce to do what I said to my friends, “if I ever do this, come over and shoot me.” Well, after having been laid-off from a job, getting bored of reading and napping, and in ownership of a new laptop, I joined How could I not?? They “guaranteed” that if I didn’t find true love in 6 months, they’d give me 6 months for free (however, you have to follow all these silly rules, which I apparently didn’t do, and not only didn’t I find true love, I didn’t get 6 more months free. I felt like I hadn’t done my homework and I was getting a handslap by some omnipotent power.)

So, the basics for those who don’t know: You write a gushy, well-crafted profile, not too cocky but not too humble. You don’t reveal your deepest darkest proclivities like “oh, by the way, I pick my toenails” or “sometimes I wear the same bra for weeks.” (Oh wait, I take that back and refer you to the foot-fetishist above.) You upload what you think are your most alluring or creative photographs, (which in my case included me only from the neck up, kind of like actresses who get pregnant in real life but it’s not written into the storyline on sitcoms who hide behind laundry baskets or couch pillows), answer questions about your birth order, your drinking and smoking habits, and what you want in a date (I refer you to the first quote, this after a very compelling and well-written profile. Picture me getting to that point and screeching to a halt a la Fred Flinstone.)

You then excitedly move on to your search for what you want. You plug in the distance you’ll travel, ethnic preferences, marital status, etc., and up comes a “gallery” of photos and attempts at quippy headlines (I can’t even tell you how many men use the first line of “Sympathy for the Devil” and think they’re being clever. It’s like COME ON, you’ve GOT to be kidding!” You then click on men that look interesting or handsome or whatever, and I hate to say it, look at photos and make snap judgements (oh and for me, if a man thought that “a lot” was one word or if they were in community theater, I clicked “next.”) Here’s the thing–you can see who’s looked at you. I can, they can. So, you quickly how realize how vapid we all really are.

Every day, you get presented with this feature called “Your 5 Daily Matches.” Some computer has come up with an algorithm based on things that say “You both like dogs” or “You’re both the youngest child” or “You both drink excessively”. You skim through and say “yes” “no” or “maybe.” OH, and there’s this other feature, clearly based on some other survey questions that can tell you, in percentages, your liklihood of matching. So, you might get a 97% match because you both are divorced and have kids, or are liberal, or whatever (my friend has the greatest story about her 100% match that J, if you’d like to share, I would LOVE it–there are wonderful success stories.)

In six months, I chose to only meet 3 men. I can’t say that I was being bombarded by e-mails from interesting men. Most that I reached out to, totally ignored me, despite seeming how perfect we were on paper. You try not to take it personally but secretly think “WAIT, I’m so attractive and so perfect! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

The first man I TRULY wanted to connect with, I looked at first, he looked at me, and moved on. I actually sent him an e-mail and said something similar to the above without the obscenity. He loved it (I think) and our banter and similar humor was really telling. I won’t go into it, because it was and still is a very special memory for me and not fodder for this, but it was everything I expected it to be. Comfortable from the get-go, easy, fun, remarkable chemistry the whole deal. I have to say, that when there is limited time you are forced into a very quick and intense intimacy and you run the risk of making important decisions quickly. For reasons, again, not for fodder, we were sort of doomed from the start but remain very fond of each other as people who connected in a special way.

So guy #2. Handsome (lots of pictures so clearly he was using that to his advantage.) First sentence was that he had a published book on Amazon(he didn’t say it was self-published, but after some quick Googling I figured this out and it sounded DREADFUL.) After some short e-mails, we decided to speak on the phone. The guy didn’t laugh ONCE in an hour and half and I think we all know how funny I am. Well, he expressed interest in meeting me and I said ok, and he then cancelled at the last minute (oh and then had the balls to try and “friend” me on facebook! I wanted to fire back and say “Are you fucking delusional” but decided not to waste my breath.)

Man #3. Incredibly handsome, smart, funny, honest, receptive. Again, these good things are not fodder for a blog, but in many ways I’ve learned more from him than any other man I’ve ever known. There were many known complications from the get-go, but we adore each other as people, and respect each other as parents and people.

In the end, I’ve discontinued my match subscription (ALTHOUGH they keep you on and tease you by telling you that’s someone “viewed you” but you can’t know who unless you rejoin.)

Well, I have no intention of ever joining an online dating service again (ummmm….and if I do, the aforementioned shooting still applies.) Let’s just PRAY, that for many, many reasons, I never get laid-off again, be placed on bedrest, and that someone comes and takes my laptop away this time.