I Don’t Belong Here

When I was dating in my youth, we didn’t have texting and online dating. We were rejected the old-fashioned way–in person. (And honestly, to call my social activity pre-marriage as dating is a stretch. Stalking may be more appropriate, but that’s not relevant here.) So, as my dear friend Christine pointed out, I’m not only diving back into the dating scene, I’ve had to adjust to a whole new pool.

On paper, online dating seems like a good idea. You can take your time crafting your profile and enhancing your pictures before releasing your bio to the world. And the beauty of the internet is the anonymity. Yes you are putting your picture and various details about yourself out there, but no one has to see your face in real time. No one has to hear your awkward laugh. You can seek companionship in your jammies or on your lunch break with no cover charge or loud music. (Old. Yes, I’m old.)

However, in moving online dating from idea to reality, we forgot about the DudeBros and the Good Ol boys. We did not account for the Thousand-dollar Millionaires or as they are known for the over 35 set, the Self-Employed. And we never even imagined there would exist the Delusionists who are 45 year-olds claiming to want to get married and have kids some day.

*Disclaimer* Obviously #notallmen ruin online dating.

So, if you’re a woman who feels like joining one of the many online sites or apps that promise to make dating easy and safe, let me save you some trouble deciphering the profiles of the men you may want to avoid. That way you can just focus on the ones who are genuine and kind. The men who are just as terrified as you to put their heart out there hoping for the best.

And if you’re a man working the Tinder scene, you’re welcome for this warning of what not to do.

Red Flags:

  • Hugging juggy women in their photos: Um, why are you chatting with me? Looks like you’re all set in the dating department.
  • Having a form of ‘Sexy’ in their profile name: Self-explanatory.
  • Gym Selfies: One or two is okay, especially if they look super uncomfortable in them as if they regret it. However, if there are 5 or more you’ve probably got yourself a DudeBro. If they are all of his stomach, and he’s making a tough-guy face while clearly wearing too much product in his fauxhawk, you’ve got their king.
  • Vote for Donald Trump filter on their picture: Maybe try to meet up with them to figure out if they are a bigot or a misogynist or both.
  • Over 40 and claiming to want to get married and have kids some day: It’s possible he just wants to ease the minds of single moms. He’s saying, “It’s cool, I’m totes not afraid of commitment. I just haven’t had one before now.” Maybe he just doesn’t understand the realities of fertility over the age of 35. But it’s also possible he’s only looking for a 25 year-old.
  • Occupation is listed as Entrepreneur: Again, this could be honest. It could also mean he hops from job to job as various friends claim to have these great money-making ideas. He may also live in his car.
  • Opening chat is, “Hey, you want to meet?”: I, for one, am much more likable in person. (Shut up. I am.) Maybe he’s feeling this way too? Maybe he needs an excuse to just get out of the house and give it a try. It’s also possible he wants something else that will be over in three minutes.

In addition, there are some standard profile descriptions you need to learn how to decode:

  • “No baggage” = “Once I date a girl and get what I want, I never see her again, so you’ll never have to worry about my exes. I don’t even remember their names.”
  • “Not looking for drama”=”I really can’t handle ’emotions’ or ‘needs’ or ‘women’.”
    • When women say this it means they don’t ever want to see a picture or name of another woman anywhere on your phone or that bitch will get cut.
  • “Love to travel”=”Everyone says this, so I’ll post these pics of that awesome Spring Break in Cabo and hope no one notices I was 19 at the time.”
  • “People say I’m kind and funny”=”People is a general term for my parents and the girls at work who I trap in the break room to ask for help with my social life.”
  • “I just want to have fun and see what happens.”=”I’m just here for sex.”

Don’t forget to tailor your profile to meet the most common desired stats of women being sought: adventurous (What does this mean? Are you asking me to compete on The Amazing Race? Because I’m in.), into fitness, and drama free. I’m pretty sure declaring yourself rich and available for bankrolling travel would help too.

For a while I thought this was my life path.

For a while I thought this was my life path.

Some other advice I can give you is to know yourself. If you think the NRA should be labeled a hate group, go ahead and skip the profiles of guys in camo holding a dead animal. It’s cool; he’s not for you. He’ll find his match. And so will you if you stick to what you know you need in your life. A wise friend advised, “Know what you expect out of this before you start.” It makes it much easier to decide if you’ll swipe right or swipe left. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. If you’re just answering an email to be polite, don’t. Take care of your heart through the whole process and be brutally honest.

It’s going to be okay; there are nice people you connect with out there. They just may be in a different pool.

Like Riding A Bike

Part of the cliché of being 43 and divorced is reinvention. I am currently reinventing myself as a healthy person who occasionally has a whole loaf of garlic bread for dinner and skips runs when she is too tired. It’s a unique persona to be sure. To this end, I was recently lured into a gym with promises of low rates and a six-day free trial. We shall henceforth call this gym Eternity Fitness. My friend Tabatha offered to take a class with me, and we chose a spin-type class. Tabatha is great, and she’s been there through my divorce alternately holding my hand and kicking my butt. But, mark my words, she will be the reason I die in some fitness mishap.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a spin class, it is a class where a room full of people ride stationary bikes while the instructor yells helpful mottos like, “You are a warrior!” from his or her own stationary bike at the front of the room.

When we arrived I was ready to fitness. I love fitness. I am fitness. Also, I can ride a bike, so I was sure this would work out better than pilates which is an exercise for people who know where all their core muscles are and can engage them at will and for sustained periods of time. I have core muscles, but we are not at a point in our relationship where we can get engaged.

Luckily, we arrived early, so we had the chance to get a good spot and make sure I could indeed still ride a bike. I was alarmed at the sheer number of towels placed on each bike as my friend had already advised me to grab one before we got in the room. I can make it through a run with one shirt used as a towel. What did 5 or 6 towels mean? I went with it. Doesn’t sweating mean your body is efficiently working and in good shape? Wow, this class would totally make me fitness.

Our next task was to adjust the height of the seat and the distance away from the command panel. It was weird; no amount of adjustment made the seat comfortable. See I learned to ride a bike on a sweet pink Huffy with a puffy bread-loaf-shaped seat. It was like biking on clouds. This spin-class seat was like biking on marbles.

In my day we rode our bikes to school. Uphill both ways while being chased by rabid dogs.

In my day we rode our bikes to school, uphill both ways while being chased by rabid dogs.

I was feeling okay about my chances of survival in this class. I mean, 30 minutes? I could probably do something physically difficult for that long.

When the instructor arrived, he focused on me right away because I must have been giving off a helpless aura. He told me I needed cages for the pedals. Of course, Cages. I was totally about to do that. After first trying to use two left cages, I was all set with cages on my pedals to keep my lame non-biking sneakers in place during class. I just needed to actually get my feet in them while on the bike seat. This required help from the instructor and Tabatha and Jesus.

The class wasn’t too full, and no one was really close to me except Tab, so if I accidentally cussed, it would be okay. The instructor, let’s call him Brad because of reasons, got on his bike, cranked some music, and turned down the lights. Alright Brad, this was totally my jam. Pretending I’m dancing at a nightclub? Yes please.

The music was unfamiliar to me but laid enough base for me to follow the rhythm. Except I was already behind. Brad was up front talking about heart rates and zones and levels on the bike which could be adjusted. I tried to make sense of it all, but honestly I was just spinning the little dial at the front of my bike when everyone else did. I think I was supposed to be in a certain range with those numbers depending on what Brad told us to do with the dial. Maybe the dial thingy adjusted tension in the spinny thing in the wheel? Hard to say. I decided that since it was my first time I would just focus on being in motion the whole time. It wouldn’t matter how fast I went or what level my bike was set at.

I was happy at first. Duh, riding a bike right? Then we were told to raise up out of the seat. I’ve seen enough commercials for Eternity Gym to know what was expected of me. Ass in the air, feet spinning like crazy, and warrior face on. But I was unable to perform this maneuver. I’m not saying it was hard to sustain, or I couldn’t raise very high; I’m saying my butt was glued to the seat for the first three times Brad called for it. When I finally did get out of the saddle, the wheels either stopped or I wobbled half out of my stirrups. I guess these bikes don’t work like normal bikes or maybe I lost my balance in the divorce.

I didn’t give up though. Momma didn’t raise a quitter. Plus I was unable to get fully disentangled from the foot cages and was therefore stuck. I kept at it and eventually got my body and the bike to work together so that my rear was in the air a tiny bit. At this point I was light-headed but super fitnessing.

Then I got fancy. I tried to get my foot more comfortable in the cage. And then I got hurt. I can’t say exactly what happened, but let’s just say I had to pretend I was purposely getting of the bike for a restroom break. Tab told me where it was, and I escaped into the brightly lit free weight section of the gym. It was too bright, and my leg was throbbing right at the achilles tendon area along with a burning sensation radiating up my calf. Casually checking for blood in the mirror, I thought I saw the bathroom on the other side of the gym. I decided I’d go in there and tend to my wounds.

I circled that area like three times before I realized I was never going to find the bathroom. I womaned up and went back to the spin class. Lights were still off and Brad was still empowering us. I had secretly hoped I’d been gone long enough for it to be over. It was at about minute 39, and it hit me that this was a fucking one-hour class. Death to Tabatha.

So I continued my version of spinning until the end of class. Tab kept asking me how I was doing, and I said fine and thought I smiled. Hard to say though because I was concentrating on doing 30 things at once including, but not limited to, not falling again.

And then it was over. Brad turned off his mic and the music. Lights came back on. Without the pressure to keep the wheels moving it was a bit easier to get the cages off my shoes. I stood on firm ground ready to get the hell out of there. But walking was not pleasant. In fact, I would have preferred to be left on the floor to die. My legs were a strange combination of jelly and brick with my lady bits complaining about the damage done by not getting myself out of the seat enough. I was hurt. Badly. In a way running around my neighborhood never left me.

Needless to say the thought of ever looking at a spin bike again was horrifying, and I did not join the gym. But I did do one good thing that day. When I saw Brad leaving the gym, I did not run him over with my car. You’re welcome Brad.

Women And Hair: A Fairytale With No Happy Ending

Family lore includes a story about my first bad haircut. I was about five-years-old, and it was cut very short. Now, short hair is cute, but mine was naturally curly and unpredictable. That doesn’t always look cute. I was unhappy and refused to leave the car once we returned home. My mom, clearly worn-out from having me as a daughter for five years already, went into the house and stupidly told my brothers not to say anything to me about my hair. Naturally, they came out to the car and pointed and laughed.

Thus began my never-ending journey towards accepting my hair.

I have always considered my curly hair to be a burden. (Along with the burden of being incredibly smart and humble.) It curls right when I want it to go left. It pokes out of ponytails in unattractive ways. It refused to be braided cleanly. It’s as poufy as Julia Roberts’s hair but less cute. Like by 100,000. I have had a hair stylist since I was double digits. No mere Super Cuts could handle me.

Um, not quite what mine would look like. Needs more pokey hairs going every which way. Photo Via demeter clarc

 

Oh sweetie, keep smiling; it distracts from the hair.

Oh sweetie, keep smiling; it distracts from the hair.

 

I can't imagine how long it must have took my mom to get it all in one direction. And, yes, I did wear purple at my First Communion.

I can’t imagine how long it must have taken my mom to get it all in one direction. And, yes, I did wear purple at my First Communion.

I have never been afraid to experiment with my hair. I got it permed a ton when that was a cool thing to do. But Stephanie, you said your hair is naturally curly; why would you perm it? I’m not sure, but I think I thought it would make the curls behave. Plus spiral perms were a thing, so I had to do it. The one good aspect was due to my hair’s natural wave, perms lasted about nine months. I’ve dyed it black, though you couldn’t tell. I’ve put blonde highlights in it. I’ve had it many lengths, sometimes all at once.

A friend and I heading to a bar mitzvah. This picture is just golden. The fashion, the hair....

A friend and I heading to a bar mitzvah. This picture is just golden. The fashion, the hair….

In high school I decided it wasn’t enough to be the skinniest girl ever with the sassiest mouth, I also wanted hair that made me stand out in a bad way. And my parents let me do it because they knew someday the only person who would be embarrassed was me.

Do you see it? That's right; I have a tail that I braided and held together with rainbow elastics. I dyed the tail black once too. Also, do you see my mom's hair? That's where mine came from.

Do you see it? That’s right; I have a tail that I braided and held together with rainbow elastics. I dyed the tail black once too. Also, do you see my mom’s hair? The genetics are strong in this family.

Like I said, I’ve always had a stylist, and it’s because my mom was sympathetic to my plight. She has never really loved her hair either. She used to put her hair around orange juice cans to straighten it. I’m sure that’s why she agreed to paying for my stylist to do my hair before my senior photos.

That's my hair on perm.

That’s my hair on perm.

The long and short of it (sorry, had to do it) is that women have a complicated relationship with hair. We want it off places where it naturally grows. If we have curly hair, we want straight hair, believing it to be much easier to style. And, oh my, the thing about being devoted to our stylists. We can’t even leave them when want to try some new ideas from a new person. We lie and say it’s totally comfortable to be bent at the neck while they wash our hair with scalding water for what feels like 20 minutes. We tell them we love the way they styled it and then brush it out in the car. Do men worry about their hair? Sure. Then they scratch something and move on. They do not obsess over it and buy magazines with impossible styles they think they can do in the five minutes they devote to hair care in the morning.

I am now spitting distance to 40 and have cut off the long hair once again. For now, I like it short and even let it go curly most of the time. Maybe this is me. Maybe this will be me for a long time. Or maybe I’ll get some purple highlights this summer……