Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cupid's Chokehold

I kind of noticed that he has been acting a tad bit differently towards me lately. Not that I could really pinpoint the cause right away and deduce that he might like me as more than friends - I am a bit dense when it comes to picking up that vibe from men - but I could sense that he has been a bit extra nice, extra polite and extra accommodating to me during the last couple of weeks.

It could have probably always stayed that way... him silently hoping for more and me never getting a clue and continuing going about my daily business, saying "Hi" to him in our architecture classes and studios and innocently inquiring him about the progress of his latest project. But the darn invention called Facebook Chat let it all out in the open one studious night.

I remember it as if it just happened. I was working on my laptop last Thursday night, preparing for yet another thesis presentation when a Facebook chat message popped up. Despite that Facebook chat has been the staple of this social networking web site for quite a while, I still get starltled every time someone chats me up on there. I don't ever linger on Facebook for very long - just casually sign on, browse my friends' status updates and sign off right after that. On those days that I do forget to sign off, I am usually forced into spontaneous conversations with people I haven't talked to in a number of years and uncomfortable flirtations from friends of friends whom I have never really met more than once or twice. Sometimes it's nice to catch up with a fried or two but I am constantly afraid that someone creepy or irrelevant is going to chat me up any second.

So the friend begins a school-related chat with me, yadda yadda yadda... then suddenly says:

"So enough about school. Tell me what does a woman like you usually do to relax on an evening like this?"

Bless his heart, I should have realized right then and there where this conversation was going. I played dumb though and said, "Oh you know, nothing special. Drinking some wine and watching Cartoon Network."

With every man having a passionate affair with Cartoon Network, it was not surprising that my friend complimented me on my choice of television:

"That's great! Totally makes up for all the shitty shows that most girls like to watch."

Excuse me. I have completely come to terms with the fact that I love watching "The Hills" in spite of how aware I am how vapid and close-minded those girls are and how out of touch with reality their little world is.

Nevertheless, I bit my tongue and probably said something witty and charming which, I suppose, urged him on to take the next step and ask me:

"So this might be a complete shot in the dark but do you wanna grab a drink with me sometime?"

"A drink.. as in a friend-type situation?" I did not know how to say it without making it sound awkward.

"Yeah... I suppose... we can do that too if that's what you would prefer."

How do you say no to a friend without jeopardizing your friendship? Is there a magic formula for politely declining an invitation to a date without looking like a terrible person (read: a bitch)?

"Well, I just got out of this year-long on and off thing with this guy from St. Louis..." I responded. Was it ever an on and off thing with Mr J? I don't know, but for the intents and purposes of this conversation, it sure was at that moment, "I'd totally be up for getting drinks with you as friends though."

Boy, was I glad I had a big ol' glass of Shiraz right by my side at that moment because it came in handy as I took a gulp to shake off the uncomfortable feeling of turning someone down. Bravery, in the age of technology, is not quite the same as it was back in the day when people were forced to ask each other out in person. Yet still, I silently admired my friend for being able to say that he was interested in me. I just wished I could have returned the sentiment.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When One Woman is Simply Not Enough

"Look, I know you have a girlfriend,"
I was on a verge of losing my cool, as I typed that in a Facebook chat window. I mean, who did he take me for? I could not trust a single word he was saying, even as he was attempting to pay me compliments and telling me that I reminded him of Natalie Portman. And really, in my book, that's a lovely comparison to make.

But not to be taken for a fool as he was trying to butter me up, I knew what he was trying to do. His Facebook page spoke for itself - the numerous photos with a bombshell blonde, the recent flirty wall posts from the said blondie with little hearts at the ends of each sentence, the relationship status, for Christ's sake, all indicated that the boy was in a relationship.

"We broke it off," he said, "Let me call you. I can explain this bs."

"No need to," I replied, "I know you have a girlfriend and I'm not going to mess with that."

Been there, done that. Who would want to be a back-up girl again? Certainly not me.

"It really ended. If you would just talk to me I can explain everything. Let's just say it ended with a shattered Blackberry."

Oh really? I pictured the blonde going through the guy's Blackberry, while he was taking a shower or drinking with his buddies in another room, trying to affirm her suspicions that her boyfriend was cheating on her. I pictured her coming across a flirty text message and storming out of the room, livid that she trusted him this entire time, while he was playing her behind her back. The guy probably tried to stop her from slamming the door in her face, grabbed her... "Stop! Let me explain. It's not what you think!"

She would hear none of it, slapping him across his face with her perfectly manicured hand. "Do you think I'm fucking stupid? I found your text messages to her!" She probably ran back to the room where his Blackberry was, grabbed it off a nightstand, scrolled the little black ball down until she found the message and shoved the Blackberry in his face, pointing, screaming.

"Then what is THIS? You're just friends with her, huh? I don't call my friends "baby"!! Don't fucking tell me that it's not what I think it is.. It's exactly what I think it is!"

He probably stood dumbfounded, not expecting this turn of events. And as she saw the blatant admittal of his wrongdoings written on his face, she hurled the Blackberry across the room, slamming it into a wall and shattering it into pieces. She, then, ran out of the house, holding back her tears and slamming the door shut behind her.

And here he was, putting moves on me, probably mere hours after the fight with his girlfriend, telling me how hot and intelligent ("A rare combination" as he put it) I was.

Maybe if I was eighteen and dumb as a rock.. maybe I would feel flattered. Maybe I would even agree to go on a date with him. But at twenty five, I do not have the time to deal with little boys. So I let him go back to his sandbox.

I simply signed off.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On Ineligible Bachelors

I believe that internet dating can make one lose most, if not all, of the faith in humanity. Either most of the people utilizing these sites are so unskilled at writing normal messages to the guys/ladies they are interested in that they come off as completely creepy/dumb/horny-as-hell, or they are just simply expressing their true selves. In which case, I am scared for America.

Understandably, internet dating sites seek to match two singles with one another; and, understandably, for some people dating and sex come together hand in hand, but if you haven't been laid in several years and your standards have been lowered to the point of wanting to find a pair of legs in a skirt, don't declare that within the first three lines of your introductory message. A tid bit of advice: perhaps you can scramble a bit of money together, fly to Vegas and hire a girl for a night to fulfill your needs. A dating site is not really the place to clean your pipes.

You complain when women don't respond to your messages. Perhaps, they are just following a simple and sensible rule - "When you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Sorry, bud, but if your profile picture is showing you showing off your flabby stomach in a dirty bathroom mirror and your "Looking For" section lists that you are basically willing to take any sort of human affection you can get (from new friends to random hook-ups), you're not really selling it to the ladies out there. Sure, honesty is great - do not mislead women into thinking that you are Brad Pitt's long lost brother and have six figures in your bank account. But, Jesus, how many replies do you expect to get when you live in a trailer by the river with your crazy mother and children from two failed marriages? Just think about it... if you were a decent-looking guy with a Master's degree and high hopes for the future, would YOU want to settle for a chick with more baggage than the airport storage facility?

If a woman does decide to respond to your message but says that you are not her type, please do not try to convince her otherwise. No matter how many times you say, "Yeah, that's cool. Doesn't mean that we can't still be friends.", a sensible woman will not buy into that crap and stop responding completely. Especially if that woman is clearly on the dating site in search of a romance. If you really ARE looking for long-distance buddies or a gal pal to grab a vanilla mocha latte with, you are barking up a wrong web site.

Maybe you are cute, smart, have your crap together and initiate communication with a woman with a witty, thought-out message. Maybe, upon reviewing your profile, that woman finds you to be even more intriguing and worth getting to know. Make your intentions clear - if you say that you are serious about dating someone and getting to know them better, do not sporadically disappear off the radar for weeks on end, just to reappear again later. If you really joined the site as a means of boasting your ego and you really have no intentions of dating anyone you meet online, delete your account and go meet someone at a local bar. Who has the time to get their hopes up in thinking, "Oh this guy actually seems promising." just to have you play the peek-a-boo game for your own amusement. Now I see you, now I don't.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Practice Makes (Not That) Perfect

People are such complicated creatures. Not just men and not just women... people in general confuse the hell out of each other on a daily basis. And when it comes to dating, well, nowadays everyone comes with their very own manual of the do's and don't's of dating, lists of things required in a potential mate and a slew of horror stories of first dates gone wrong.

Unfortunately for some, I also come with a dating manual and various sets of lists of requirements and as I grow older and wiser, the manual is becoming more extensive and the lists grow longer. Of course, I tell myself that I am allowed to be picky with the dudes I choose to date because I qualify myself to be "quite a catch." I mean, seriously, I think I am intelligent, ambitious, funny, pretty and have a pretty good outlook on life. What MORE do these men want?!

However, on several occasions, especially the ones where I was not particularly interested in my date, I found myself to be a lot less charming and witty (and sober) than I would have wanted to be. On those occasions, I imagine, if my dates had dating blogs of their own, they would have probably classified me to fall into one of the following categories.

The Alcoholic:

A good rule of thumb to follow of a date is to limit your drinking to a couple of glasses of wine or beer, depending on a setting. However, when I am not having that good of a time, I help myself to a generous amount of alcohol to make the date more fun (at least, in my head). I would imagine some of my dates in the past were less than thrilled as they watched me down one drink after another, in an effort to make the minutes pass a little bit quicker.

The Debbie Downer:

Usually, if I am smitten by a guy, I would care less if I am sitting right next to a restroom at a restaurant or if it is too hot outside to play miniature golf or if the stock market went down again that day. However, if a guy is less than lovely, I WILL find something to complain about - the cafe lighting, the world economy, the job market - no topic is safe as I will surely rain on my date's parade. After all, if I am not having a good time, then why should he?

The Workaholic:

I will talk about work and work only. If I am not interested in getting to know a guy and he's all out of questions to ask me, I will start talking about work-related topics - how much I have left to do on my Master's thesis before I graduate, how writing a perfect resume can be an absolute bitch, how many hours I worked last week in order to meet a deadline. Check, please!

The Bore:

Sometimes I just don't feel like being bothered with conversation at all. It's not that I don't try but sometimes I run of topics to discuss and it's better to accept awkward silence for the phenomenon that it is and enjoy a Dynamite Roll while listening in to the conversation at the neighbors' table.

The Tease

Once in a while, I THINK I like a guy and I do make an effort to get to know him, to laugh at all the right moments, and to flip my hair just the right way. I may even kiss a guy at the end of a date and say that I hope to see him again very soon. He may leave the date thinking that he's got me wrapped around his finger.

And then the next morning comes and I wake up and change my mind. "Ugh, he seemed WAY too eager," I might think then. Or even, "Ugh, I can't put my finger on it but there was something very shady about that guy." And sometimes I may be right about the shadiness, but the fact is, sometimes I can change my mind in a matter of 24 hours for no justifiable reason at all.

Before I scare anyone off, if I haven't already, I will add that 90% of the time I am a charming, sweet, down-to-earth, cool chick and, most of the times, I know right away if I like a guy or not so I don't lead him on forever and ever. However, we all have our off days, whether it is our date's fault or not, and it is okay. I, for one, remain unapologetic to all those who might have had a bad time with me. For all that I know, they might have deserved it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Girlfriend Experience

Many have heard of the service call girls offer called "The Girlfriend Experience." I, for one, have heard about it first on the Showtime series "A Diary of a Call Girl" a couple of years ago and have been intrigued by the topic since.

The main heroine, Belle, meets with her regular client who pays her not only to have sex with him but for her to act like his girlfriend for a weekend. That entitles going to the movies together, holding hands, cuddling, calling each other "honey" and "sweetheart" - all the usual things couples in love do. Belle is quite a diligent actress, as I suppose she has to be being a high-class British call girl, and puts on an excellent act transforming from a vivacious vixen at night into a googly-eyed girl-next-door by day. The only unorthodox exchange that occurs between Belle and her client is the transaction of money. He pays her to be his girlfriend and goes back to work a single man on Monday morning.

But can this "Girlfriend Experience" transpose itself out of the taboo world of paid sex and into the everyday real world. Do us singles not, even those single bachelors or bachelorettes who choose to be alone because they want to, all crave the "girlfriend/boyfriend experience" once in a while?

There is a level of connection created between a man and a woman (or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, etc) when there is more interaction between them than just sex. That is, cuddling, hugging, kissing, holding hands - it all involves a level of openness and trust in another person that is not present in the act of sex in it of itself. One night stands never connect us to another on an emotional level and, whether or not we consider one-night-stands to even be morally right or safe, their primary function is always pure physical satisfaction.

With the "girlfriend experience", the goal is to experience what it is like to feel a strand of a deeper connection and, whether that connection has been paid for with money or it genuinely exists and we just do not have a priority for it, we all want to possess it once in a while.

I believe what I had with Mr J was just that - I can call it the "Relationship experience". While there was no exchange of money, the distance was the dividing factor that only brought us together during holidays. During those times that we were together, it was very much under the pretense of forgetting about the fact that we would be separating again soon for a very long time. We ate dinner together, cuddled together, made breakfast together - and it was what we both needed to feel like we WERE, in fact, together. Except, in reality, there was never any official commitment made between us.

He called me late last night and the phone awoke me from sleep. I knew that he was out celebrating his birthday earlier and was returning home from a bar and, as he would usually do, he was calling me because he knew I would be there for him. And I wanted to answer, I really did but I had to let my brain dictate my actions in this case. And my brain said, "Remember how he behaved to you when YOU needed him in the emergency room? Go back to bed and don't worry about his drunk ass."

So I sent him a "Get home safe, Mr J" text and returned right back to dreamland. The "Girlfriend/Boyfriend experience" only works for so long. After a while, if all you can have is the experience and not the relationship, it is best to move right along all together.