Monthly Archives: June 2013

Three Poles in the Pond

Shelton-Fishing-Pole

My neighbor Ryan thinks he’s the Dating Czar of the Universe.

It cracks me up.

I’m not saying definitively that he’s not the Dating Czar. He may be. But the working theory is that he’s not. He’ll get pissed if he ever finds out I think that.

He moved across the street from me the same week my wife left.

So, he’s only ever known me as this newly single dad.

He’s 29, has a doctorate and is more successful than I am.

But, again, he’s 29. And my extra life experience counts for something. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Ryan thinks I should be talking to every woman I cross paths with whom I find attractive.

Leave no stone unturned, he said.

He likes to say: “Always have three poles in the pond.”

This has turned into a bit of a joke between us. I don’t think his girlfriend approves, but she’s a pretty good sport.

Despite what you may be thinking, Three Poles in the Pond is NOT a euphemism for three-guy, one-girl group sex. Just so we’re clear.

It’s a fishing metaphor. And I get it. As a general rule, three poles yields more landed fish than one pole.

And that’s his only point.

He’s not even saying to “date” multiple women simultaneously. He’s certainly a little more cavalier about all this than I am, but he also doesn’t advocate deception and dishonesty.

But he does think I need to be “talking” to multiple women. Which I think I technically am.

I’m totally unsure when “talking” becomes “dating,” but perhaps we can tackle that question in a future post.

Because I’m reasonable and pragmatic, I’m willing to at least consider that Ryan might have some knowledge on this subject.

The Three Poles

1. Bars

To date, my most positive experience with a girl actually did take place in a bar. Of course, Ryan was with me and takes credit for the entire thing.

But basically, he and I went out drinking, met a girl next to us at the bar who happened to be there alone. She lives in North Carolina. Wretched luck. But she’s originally from where I live and visits semi-frequently, so I gave her my business card and mobile number before walking out.

She texted me later that night, which was awesome. Soon, I’ll tell you the story of how I totally wimped out with her the following night.

That said, bars are crap. Crap, crap, crap. I mean, I love them. Immensely. But as a means of meeting women with whom I might be interested? I don’t know.

But I’m not going to stop going out any time soon. Perhaps there are future bar stories waiting to be written.

Regardless, the bar scene represents Pole #1.

2. Online Dating

My position on this subject is clear—online dating is nonsense. Bullshit, even.

But, in all honesty? It’s hard to ignore. There are a lot of women out there dealing with the same situation I am—and I don’t mean divorce recovery.

I mean they’re in their 30s, have jobs, are busy, maybe have kids, and maybe don’t have local roots. I don’t have roots here either. Which means I’m only friends with married couples and people I work with—two places where dating partners WILL NOT be coming from.

Online dating is the obvious solution. It’s only embarrassing trying to explain yourself to non-online daters.

It really is a pretty awful experience overall. You get rejected on a daily basis, either by women who won’t respond to a note you sent, or by women who view your profile but apparently don’t find you worthy of writing.

I imagine them checking out my profile and thinking: Ewww. He’s only 5’9″ with an “average” body style AND his wife left him. I bet he’s a total loser who drives a Pontiac Grand Prix.

I have something like 220 views on my online-dating profile so far. But only about 15 of those ever wrote me a note.

At least three women have written me just to say something to the effect of “I loved your profile! It was so honest and refreshing! Good luck trying to find someone that will put up with all the shit about you that I don’t like!”

I made that last sentence up. But seriously. I get that a lot.

Online dating. Weeee. It’s Pole #2.

3. “Regular Places”

Ryan’s words, not mine. He means grocery stores, or church, or the library, or a local park. Whatever.

This may eventually net a nibble or two. But so far?

Let’s just say I’m not having any luck with the girls I pass in Target or with the 70-year-old ladies sitting behind me in church.

Let me illustrate just how absolutely horrible I am at approaching women in such a setting.

True story:

It was a hot, gorgeous Sunday afternoon just a few days ago. My five-year-old son’s mother had just dropped him off.

Little man said he wanted to go to a nearby park where they have a small public pool for children. So I took him.

I found a spot on a park bench near the pool where I could keep an eye on him. There was a mom in a folding chair reading a book nearby. We made eye contact and smiled at each other. I couldn’t tell whether she was wearing a ring, and I wasn’t going to embarrass myself finding out.

So I sat there watching the kids play, thinking about how amazing it was being that age. Poor kids. They have no idea what’s coming.

Anyway, I snap out of it when I see this totally cute mom walk in with this adorable little girl about my son’s age.

Whoa.

In two seconds, it goes from good to awesome. My son stops, makes eye contact with the little girl, and they exchange waves.

Holy shit. My kid has more game than I do.

It didn’t take me long to learn that she and my son are friends from his daycare lady’s house.

I watched him and this little girl splash around the pool playing together for a while, totally jealous that my son gets to frolic around with attractive girls in swimming pools.

I glance over at the mom sitting on a park bench from across the pool. She’s just sitting there, being cute. And she isn’t wearing a ring.

I have sunglasses on. So she can’t know for sure I’m checking her out, though she probably guesses correctly.

So, should I go talk to her? OF COURSE you should go talk to her jackass. Hot mom at pool with daughter who happens to be friends with your son!? Biggest. Softball. Icebreaker. Ever.

I’m just working up the courage to walk over and introduce myself when another couple walks in and sits down next to her.

The two girls looked like sisters. I couldn’t figure out who the guy was, but his arrival immediately sapped what little courage I’d worked up.

Par for the course. Blew it again, Matt. Nice work.

After 45 minutes or so, the couple got up and left.

And as the sun started its nightly descent, families were one-by-one packing up and heading home. The hot, single mom looked like she was getting ready to go too.

Here’s my chance.

I walk over and help her round up the kids and the pool toys they were playing with.

“Hi. I’m a little more shy than my son. I’m sorry I’m just now saying hi to you. I’m Matt,” I said, extending my hand.

She smiles as she shakes it.

“Hi. I’m Celeste.”

She tells me she lives next door to his daycare provider.

Whoa.

We share a joke about how kids never listen. I yell something to my son about helping his friend’s mom round up the pool toys so we can all go home.

“Alright, kiddo. Say goodbye to your friend,” I said. “It was nice to meet you, Celeste.”

And off we went.

The next morning, I dropped my son off at the daycare lady’s house.

“So, I met your neighbor yesterday,” I said, when she came to the door. I was fishing for info, but trying to play coy.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she replied, indicating that she didn’t think too highly of her neighbor. “He’s kind of an asshole.”

“Yeah? What’s the situation there? There was one guy with two women. It seemed a little weird. I couldn’t figure it out,” I said.

“They’re just a little strange is all. I watch the little girl sometimes. But her big sister Celeste is really a sweetheart,” she said.

I felt my face turn red.

“Sister? I thought Celeste was her mom,” I replied.

“Really? Celeste is only 19,” she said.

I just looked at her like a special-needs ape, my mouth half open.

“………”

After shitting my pants right there at the door (metaphorically speaking), I mumbled something about seeing her later and hustled off to work.

Not only do I not have any game, but I evidently can’t even identify teenagers anymore.

Way to go, Captain Creeper.

Holy shit. This presents an entirely new set of problems.

But, in the interest of fairness, the bar scene and online dating’s stock just went up big time.

So I’m thinking maybe I’ll just stick to two poles at a time*.

Wait for it…

No, seriously. Wait for it…

* – That’s what she said.

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The Hilariously Unfunny Date… LOL

LOL

Picture this, boys.

One of your buddies comes up to you and says: “Hey, you’re dating, right? I know a girl. You have to meet her.”

“Yeah?,” you say, interested. “What’s she like?”

“She’s great. One year younger than you. Dark hair. Dark eyes. Italian. Totally pretty. And get this—she’s a doctor. Just moved back home from Chicago.”

You’re totally in, right?!?! Gorgeous, brilliant doctor? Where do I sign up?

Well, if you’re me and you make horrible decisions, you sign up to do this on an online-dating site.

This girl and I had some email back and forth. Her overuse of “LOL” every few sentences should have been a giveaway. I mean, she wasn’t typing anything funny, LOL. She was just saying really normal things and because laughing is her favorite, she apparently just sat around laughing out loud as she typed to me, LOL.

On my second date in a dozen years, I met Gina. A doctor. A pretty one. A hearing-loss specialist.

Worst two and a half hours, ever.

This is the kind of stuff Jerry and George used to bitch about at the diner.

I’ve never been less attracted to a gorgeous doctor in my life. If you’d told me it was going to happen ahead of time, I wouldn’t have believed you.

We met at a decent Mexican restaurant because the pub we were planning to go to was overrun with Tuesday night lushes.

We ordered a pitcher of margaritas. It would prove to be insufficient, LOL.

I knew immediately this was going to suck. But I kept my cool and did my best to ask questions and feign interest in her responses.

Highlights of our evening included:

1. Gina’s favorite thing to do is laugh, she said. So she likes comedy clubs, LOL. This struck me as HILARIOUS because she was the least-funny person I had ever met.

2. Gina lived in Chicago for seven years. In those seven years, she had never once been to any of my favorite Windy City eateries. I asked her if she’d ever heard of Grant Achatz or his amazing restaurants—namely Alinea. I told her how amazing Alinea is supposed to be and how badly I want to get back to Chicago to eat there. I showed her the incredible food photography on Alinea’s website. She crinkled her nose and said: “Ohhh. This looks fancy. Is that, like, caviar? Yeah, I don’t think I could try that.” LOL.

3. Despite growing up in our area and living—I SHIT YOU NOT—three miles from the national park that we’re extremely fortunate to have nearby, Gina had never heard of it. Like, she didn’t know it was there. The park is more than 20,000 acres, for God’s sake.

Me: “Yeah, I really like to get out and go for long bike rides along the river on a Saturday or Sunday. That park is a total gem. Great place to escape. Do you like doing anything outdoors?”

Gina: “A little, I guess. Not really.”

I wish this margarita was stronger, I thought. Way stronger. LOL.

4. Mercifully, the waitress comes and I get to speak to someone interesting for 45 seconds. Gina orders some fajitas. She requests that the kitchen refrain from adding onions, mushrooms and roasted peppers to her dish, LOL.

OK, so she’s a picky eater. That’s not so bad. She’s a doctor. A really pretty one. Maybe I can get past this.

“I noticed you had tableside guacamole,” I told the waitress, glancing at Gina to make sure she was on board. “May we have some?”

The waitress walks away.

“Ooooh. I love fresh guacamole,” Gina said.

I about had a heart attack as this was the first time she’d exhibited competence in any one area of life, not counting school. LOL.

After another burst of aneurysm-inducing conversation about uninteresting things, the waitress came back to make the guacamole.

I politely let Gina choose the ingredients. I wanted her to choose how much of everything to put in the guacamole as she had previously demonstrated a propensity for pickiness.

Gina had the waitress double all the ingredients, LOL.

Double tomato. Double onion. Double garlic. Double jalapeño. Double lime juice.

Double fucking jalapeño!?!?!?!? That’s only smart if we’re trying to have a Who Will Have the Worst Diarrhea Contest tomorrow.

I didn’t say that out loud. Probably should have.

Needless to say, the guacamole tasted like absolute shit. She took three bites of it.

Time to take stock of this date.

The Gina Checklist:

  1. She’s the dumbest smart person I’ve ever met.
  2. Her favorite thing is laughing but she never does anything funny.
  3. Despite being beautiful, despite my tequila consumption and despite my prolonged against-my-will celibacy, I couldn’t be less interested in touching this girl.
  4. She is the destroyer of guacamole. The Guac Killer.

Signing for the check and walking out of the restaurant was one of the happiest moments of my entire life.

She hugged me in the parking lot and thanked me for dinner and drinks.

I had never been so happy to escape into the familiar confines of the Girlfriend Litmus Test. Before starting the car, I texted my neighbor Ryan to tell him what a shit festival of a date I’d just been on.

He laughed. He’s kind of a dick like that.

I texted her when I got home to thank her again for meeting me.

She said she wasn’t sure there was a romantic connection there (What could have ever given you that idea, Dr. Guac Killer?), but that she thought I was interesting and hoped I would show her some of my favorite trails in the national park sometime.

LOL.

Online dating is bullshit.

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The Girlfriend Litmus Test

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Bask in the averageness. Bask in it.

I drive a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Waiting for the punch line? That’s the punch line.

I drive the most-average car in America. It’s like eating a Louis Rich cold-cut turkey sandwich for lunch. With no condiments.

It’s like eating bran flakes. Or drinking tap water. Room-temperature tap water.

Driving an eight-year-old Pontiac Grand Prix is, on a scale of 1-10, a 5.

So, here’s the deal: I’m 34. I’m single. I need to attract a mate.

And I’m constantly embarrassed at the idea of meeting someone out or picking them up in my Pontiac. In fact, as I type, I’m planning to meet someone out for drinks tomorrow.

What will she think of my car?

I have a thing for Grand Cherokees and Jeep Wrangler Unlimiteds. And I dig on the Cadillac CTS as well. Those are the vehicles on my very short list.

I’m often heard these days using the line: “I could DEFINITELY get a girlfriend with one of those,” referring to some amazing car I happen upon.

I could totally get a girl in a fly Caddy.

Then it hit me: Do I really want the kind of girl in my life that’s going to evaluate my worth based on my car?

Of course I don’t.

So, now the Pontiac has purpose. It’s more than just a car to get me from Point A to Point B at a totally average pace.

It’s the Girlfriend Litmus Test.

If I roll up in my Pontiac, and she’s still like: “Ohhhh Matt, you’re the best ever,” then I know I have a keeper.

Right?

RIGHT!?!?!?

It’s foolproof.

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Online Dating is Nonsense

Online-dating-101-for-introverts

Online dating is bullshit. Just like regular dating. But it feels unavoidable. You know, like death.

So, the other night, I went on my first date since 2001.

Because I’m 34, only know married people, and am infinitely less attractive than I was 12 years ago, I turned to online dating.

I know. It’s embarrassing.

For the uninitiated, online dating is exactly like regular dating—frustrating, expensive, and rife with rejection.

I’d like to cry a river for you and tell you how unfair it is that I—a pretty good guy, all things being equal—have to deal with rejection based on my online-dating profile.

Unless you’re doing it the old-fashioned way, you don’t even have the opportunity to say or do the wrong thing during or after dinner anymore.

Now?

They reject you upfront because you’re not six feet tall. They reject you because you’re a different faith, or because you believe in a God at all.

They reject you because you don’t make enough money.

Because you don’t have a Master’s degree. Because you’re an Aries and your astrological signs aren’t “compatible.”

Because you have opposing political views. Because you have a child. Because you’ve been divorced.

But it’s bullshit for me to cry you a river. Because I do the EXACT same thing to many of the women that reach out to me.

Three kids and never married? <Insert loud fail buzz noise here>

Much heavier than the body style I prefer, even though they describe it as “curvy?” Yeah. Curvy like a manatee. <Fail buzz>

Pittsburgh Steelers fans? <Fail buzz>

Here’s the sick part: I don’t really have any business dating right now anyway.

And my first date in a dozen years totally called me out on it.

Let’s call her Megan. Because that’s her name. Cool chick, too.

Despite my very best efforts to be upfront and honest about my situation, my mere presence on an online dating site is something akin to a lie, she said.

That was her take. And she might be right.

While some women are out there looking for husbands, I’m looking for someone—anyone—to fill the loneliness void. Because it is hard being in the empty house sometimes.

But I’m not trying to sleep around. I’m not trying to mislead anyone. I’m most certainly not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings.

No matter how noble my intentions, I’m still essentially using women to try and satisfy the need for connection in my life, while offering very little in return, except pleasant company. And when I think about it in those terms, I can see the unfairness that Megan was talking about. For the husband-seekers, I’m a complete waste of time. At least for the foreseeable future.

You know what I’d really like to do? Not care.

I want to just live my life, doing what I want when I can and doing what I have to do the rest of the time.

And just. Not. Care.

About dating. About five years from now. About anything.

But I do care. Involuntarily.

I may make peace with my singleness one of these days. But in the meantime, my online-dating site subscription doesn’t end for another month and a half. And I already made plans to meet someone else for a drink or two in a few days.

I’m nothing if not predictable.

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