Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Better Learn to Play

How many times have you heard this:

“I hate ‘The Game’ - It’s so stupid.  “Why can’t I just tell him exactly how I feel about him?”

Because, princess, he will Run.  For.  The.  Hills.  And before you get all, "Preach on, sister!" ladies, we’re no better!  Well, I’m not, anyway.  You tell me you like me before I’m ready to hear it and I will shut it down!  History has proven there is nothing I like more than a man who wants nothing to do with me.

As much as we all claim to hate “The Game,” I've found it is a necessary evil for three reasons:

1)  The mind-game aspect.  Have you ever wondered why all-you-can-eat buffets are so successful?  Because once we know we have a never-ending supply of something, we suddenly "get our fill" much faster.  I need me an a' la carte kind of guy, who’s open a limited number of days each week and has a little bit of price integrity.  I know it sounds trite, but we really do want what we can’t have.

2)  It increases your strike allotment to three.  I don’t know about you, but I have waved the white flag simply because I caught a glimpse of excessive earwax in an over-anxious suitor’s ear.  On the other hand, play a little hard-to-get and I’m much less apt to pull the plug when you give me an unsolicited “Love Is…” clipping, mistakenly believing every girl thinks those frightening Cupie dolls are endearing. (heads up, not all of us do…)  We need the chase as it forgives some of the unfavorable moves (or earwax) that might otherwise be deal breakers. 

3) It can jump-start the honeymoon phase.  When someone isn’t readily available or blowing up my phone with a play-by-play of his day, it causes me to wonder what is going on in his fabulous life.  I imagine he's not contacting me because he's busy hunting lions in Africa or skiing the Swiss Alps.  So, by the time I find out he was actually unable to call due to super gluing his butt cheeks to a chair on a dare,  I'm already hooked.

I mean, let’s face it, we’re all great in the beginning:

  • “Dating” Life Portrayal- I couldn’t be in a better place in life.  I finally know what I want, I spend quality time with my son; kids need that.  I enjoy piddling around the kitchen – some might call me a gourmet cook.  Oh, my waistline?  Well, thank you, but I’m naturally this thin.  Plus, I always find time to fit in a 3 mile run.  Another beer?  No thank you, one is my limit.  What a coincidence, my credit score is 800, too.
  • “Real” Life Portrayal – Sob uncontrollably as you realize you're jealous as hell of your dating alter ego.  Tell Timmy, “the usual” in the Taco Bell drive thru, speed home to free yourself from your full-body Spanx and exhale for the first time in 4 hours.  Kick your 8 year old son off the couch because you're gonna watch "Dog the Bounty Hunter," and if he doesn't like it, he can go play Grand Theft Auto in the back room.  Finish the night off by pouring a vodka-scotch and using your “Notice of Foreclosure” letter as a beverage coaster.

Eventually, that real-life is going to expose itself.  You might want to play the game in an effort to “hook” them before they find out you’re really….well, you.

"Game Playa’" Paul was delivered to me one morning and I liked what I saw.  He was cute, but different than my typical type.  His profile, however, was amazing!  He was humorous, well-written, and intelligent.  We spoke and emailed around our busy schedules, and he seemed to be a bit of a braggart, but I just figured he was puffing himself up due to insecurity. (kind of sweet, actually)  He was a father of two and very active in their lives, he was a runner like me and lived in a great area – he seemed really “together.”  After several email exchanges and phone conversations, we decided to meet for a happy hour.  And, yes my loyal readers, the happy hour was at BJ's.

When I walked in and spotted him, he was dressed nicely in jeans and a blazer. (hot!)  He was drinking some sort of dark ale, which made me cringe as I feared my Michelob Ultra would give me one strike right off the bat.  My fear was realized when he said, "You're ordering a Michelob Ultra?  "Why not just order water and be done with it?"  I laughed this off, as I've become quite accustomed to the beer jab. (strike 1)

We went through the all too familiar "get to know you" routine.  Like most, I get nervous when I'm on a first date and tend to fire off a barrage of questions to ward off any awkward silence.  As a result, Paul had ample time to talk about himself.  I learned that he was a highly decorated Naval Aviator, a black belt in some martial arts discipline, a full-time father of two kids around my son's age, he volunteered at a center for traumatized children, was an exceptional athlete, in the process of getting his masters degree and I believe he was being considered for a Knighthood.  (I may have made the last one up, but seriously?)

Then it was my turn.

Now friends, I believe I held court for an impressive 22 minutes with my nonsensical ramblings.  All I could think while I was talking was that he had an exceptional vocabulary and was quite eloquent in his delivery.  So after 21 and a half minutes of uncomfortably tucking my hair behind my ears and trying to (unsuccessfully) read his nonverbal cues that he was following my verbal diarrhea, I blurted out, "...and I can recite the quadratic formula and tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue." 


Did you also want to point out that you were the Chinese jump rope champ in 1978?

(strike 2)

Not surprisingly, he had no reaction to this - not even a courtesy laugh.  At this point I'm so defeated and embarrassed I was scanning my memory for ANYTHING I've done in my life that would be remotely interesting to him. (I liken it to being the chicken-hawk to his Foghorn Leghorn)  And just as I was about to admit defeat, I found it!  My Mud Run!  

For those of you who don't know what a Mud Run is, it's a 6 mile course with 32 military obstacles along the way and it's all done in the mud.  Picturing me muddy, sweaty and fit would be just the ticket to get me back in this pissing match of sorts.

Karen - "I ran in a Mud Run last November and am doing another this April." "It's a 6 mile -"

Paul - (interrupting me and sounding less than impressed) "Yeah, I'm familiar with the Mud Run - I've run it 17 times."  "In fact, I've done over 324 endurance races."

(strike 3)

I bet he had earwax buildup, anyway...



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Can I Get Luke's Number?

I'm beginning to think that my “man” wish list is either in the need of a major revision, or incineration.  I mean, the idea of the list is to keep the things I want in a man top-of-mind – like "good man” marketing.

Originally I created the list when my best friend and I were sitting around my kitchen table crying into our beers over our failed relationships.  One of us read in a book…or a horoscope…or heard of a friend of a Kardashian who made a list and she's now engaged to the guy who matched her list - at any rate, we made the lists because someone or something told us it was a good idea.

Finalizing my list wasn’t as easy as one would think.  I thought I knew exactly what I wanted in a guy; a grown up.  But when I found someone who possessed the traits I listed, my eyes would glaze over as they would inevitably highbrow me to death discussing their Growth Stock Mutual Funds or how they heard the most fascinating anecdote on NPR. (I mean, financial security and staying abreast of important worldly matters?  And he calls himself a man...)  Okay, I get it...but it bores me! 

On the other hand, give me a guy with an electronic ankle bracelet, extensive knowledge of Ren and Stimpy, and an expired bus pass and before you know it, I'm extolling the greatness of his Granny's "Weenie and Cheez Whiz Casserole" at his family's Thanksgivin' dinner.

Lesson - just because a guy is a perfect match with my list, doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be attracted to him.  That chemistry is a slippery sucker, isn’t it?  And as we’re about to learn, virtual chemistry is vastly different than actual chemistry. 

Enter Brent.  

Brent’s profile was interesting, humorous and well-written.  And, he was almost a perfect match with my list! He seemed to be the perfect blend of grown-up with the right amount of fun mixed in.  His pictures showed him playing soccer and flag football. (one displayed a cute mole on his right cheek that I found absolutely irresistible)  He was a corporate attorney and a divorced father of 3.

Given the new dating process when you're post divorce with kids in tow, we resorted to phone chats, texting and emailing.  As we spoke on the phone I remember thinking his voice didn't seem to match his pictures.  He was more soft-spoken than I anticipated, but that didn't matter.  He was a great distraction from my previous Suaves and my mind was doing a bang-up job of rounding out this virtual love affair I had going.

We finally found a Sunday when both of us were free, so we decided on a date at the Arboretum followed by lunch.  Since he lived closer to the Arboretum than I, I met him at his house.  When I arrived, my heartbeat was audible, my palms were sweaty and I felt nauseas. 

<knock, knock, knock>

It seemed an eternity before Brent opened the door.  I couldn’t wait to meet the cute flag football playing dad!  As the door opened, my face went from a cheek-cramping smile to what I would guess was a look of what the - (I know…way to rock the first impression)  Standing before me was a guy who sort of looked like Brent.  I mean, it was him...just different.  Realizing I was standing and staring like an idiot, I reached out to give him a hug and expressed my delight in finally meeting him face-to-face.

Throughout our time at the Arboretum and lunch I'm sure he thought I was mildly certifiable, because I kept staring at him in an attempt to find the "virtual Brent" I so looked forward to meeting.  Unfortunately, I didn't feel the spark with real life Brent. 

How can I explain it...he was almost...preacher-like.  By that, I mean his mannerisms were slow and deliberative.  And he kept smiling at me with a goofy grin, cocking his head to one side and giving a slow, knowing nod.  I kept waiting for him to reach down slowly and place his hands on mine, look deep into my eyes and say, "Bless you my child."  

After 2 full hours of staring at Brent, (and not in a good way) something dawned on me; where was that cute mole on his cheek?  You know, the one from the picture that I loved so much? 

Karen – “Hey, you have a mole on your cheek in your flag football picture.  Did you have it removed?  I kinda liked it.”

Brent – “Oh, yeah.  Well, the thing is, I have a twin brother, Luke.  I couldn’t find any good pictures of myself, so I just used some of his - he's the one with the mole.”

Sidebar – Uh, you're no Luke, pal!  You may resemble him, but you aren't him.  People sometimes tell me I look like Jennifer Aniston, but I don’t go posting her pictures on my profile or listing “Friends” on my resume. 

At this point, the date couldn't end soon enough.  I felt like I'd been cheated and I was borderline pissed off.

Once we got back to his house, I knew the drill.  I did everything I could to avoid close proximity or any movement that might suggest I was interested enough for a goodbye kiss. (or even hug at this point)  But, alas, my attempts were ineffective. (damn my hotness!)  When I turned from unlocking my car door, he was standing so close I could see his nostril hairs fluttering with each exhale.   

And then he asked the question I would have gladly traded 4 years of my life not to hear...

Brent - (smiling at me like a creepy creeperson) "May I kiss you?"

Karen (heaven forbid I just say no) "Sure."

Oh dear... make it stop, make it stop, make it stop...he moved in too fast, clearly had some sort of overactive salivary gland condition and he grossly misjudged my attempts to break free from his grasp as some sort of defective return of passion. 

Brent - “That was nice.” “I really felt something.”

blech....who says that?

I'm pretty sure what he felt was my gag reflex.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

But Who's Keeping Score?

I've come to the conclusion (the very grown-up conclusion) that I may play a large part in my weekly disasters some might refer to as dates.  Perhaps I give off the wrong vibe on a date...?  I was recently speaking with a friend of mine who said she went on a few dates and decided to choose "Mr. Friday Night" in lieu of "Mr. Saturday or Wednesday Night."  Hold up - she decided?  What, they all loved her so much that she just got to choose?  Moreover, all of her weekly flavors were actually relationship-worthy?  

Second grown-up conclusion; my friend must be giving it up on the first date.

So back to my ill-cast vibe – I believe what it boils down to is that dating is just so....what's the word I'm looking for here?  Exhausting.  And not “cute exhausting”, like an IRS tax audit.  I'm talking an all-consuming, emotionally draining, affects-every-fiber-of-my-being, kind of exhausting.  

For example: Bi-weekly pedicures, bi-weekly eyebrow wax, (and let's face it, those should be weekly) daily shaving of the legs, haircut and color every 4 - 6 weeks, purchasing endless seasonal variations of "the perfect outfit" to wear, overwhelming guilt after partaking in guacamole and a beer, (and I love my beer!) always having to be on my best behavior, editing and over-thinking every text response, monitoring my every word, running every day, arms and back on Mondays and Wednesdays, legs and shoulders on Tuesdays and Thursdays, vigilant plucking of the chin hairs, keeping Crest Whitestrips stock prices at an all-time high...So yeah, if I’m on a date with you and I’m not projecting the right “vibe”, it’s probably because I’m worn the eff out!
Someone (a lot of people) once (continually) suggested that I'm too particular and should be more open-minded when it comes to men.  Listed below is my “man” wish list. (right, like I'm the only one who has one of these stuck on my fridge)
    • Christian
    • Nice Looking  Has a face
    • Good to his mother
    • A good great father
    • Makes me laugh (on purpose)
    • Has a job (I don't need a country club membership, but I will NOT be eating meat from a can)
    • Doesn't live with his parents (I'm sure they're lovely people, but no)
    • Likes to stay active and fit (but not so much that I feel a need to explain why Queso is part of my Sunday football ritual)
    • Doesn't fart just because he thinks it's funny (I'm willing to give a little on this...never mind, no I'm not)
    • Believes birthdays are reason for a true celebration
    • Realizes the importance of family
    • Thinks I hung the moon but doesn't make me the center of his universe
    • Someone I admire and respect

      Too much to ask for?  I'm gonna’ go with no.  But I did agree to try the open-minded route.

      Enter Secret Service Guy #2 - we'll call him "Brad."

      Brad was another dating site glory who captured my attention with his metaphorical "balls" and avid tenacity.  I had originally closed him out, meaning, I looked over his profile and didn't see what I was looking for, so I "closed communication" with him.  Typically, when this happens, I don't hear from the person again.  But Brad emailed me and said, "I noticed you decided to close communication with me.  I would like for you to reconsider as I think I have a lot to offer and we have much in common."  That took guts and I admired that - a lot!  So, I opened up the lines of communication with Brad, and opened my mind as well.  

      A little background about Brad - he was in the process of moving to Dallas, but hadn't done so just yet.  He actually had several ports around the country that he called home due to work travels, and was very much looking forward to having just one place to lay his head.

      Apparently his head wasn't only thing he was "laying" in these various ports...  

      Karen - So, are you excited to move back?  

      Brad -  I am - it's been a long time coming.  My girlfriend in Austin isn't very excited, but she understands it's what I need to do.  She's just unable to move back with me right now since she's getting her PhD.  

      Austin girlfriend 1/ Karen 0  

      Karen - Huh.  So tell me about your job.  

      Brad - Well, I was doing a lot of traveling with my various assignments for work, but now I'll just be working a desk job.  It's kind of ironic because my girlfriend in Maine is this spoiled 25 year old socialite who can't handle my traveling.  Now my traveling is coming to an end, but she can't move back with me since she's set to take over her family's multi-million dollar business.  

      Maine girlfriend 1/ Karen a-Ze a-Ro  

      Karen - Sounds to me like you've got a lot of girlfriends.  Are you still dating these women?  

      Brad -  Well, I don't actually move for another 3 months.  So, yeah.  But once I move I'm looking to be a one-woman man.

      At this point, I'm in such disbelief that my mind is unable to regroup and negotiate my next move. On the one hand, I'm completely offended that he would be so blatant about his other girlfriends.  On the other hand, the fact that he was so blatant about his other girlfriends was sort of....a turn on. (yes, a most telling peek into my psyche that screams "The answer as to why you're still single lies right freaking here!", I'm aware) 

      Long story short, I accepted a date with Brad that weekend. (cue the collective cry of disapproval) Hey, I was keeping an open mind, remember people?  Apparently, however, the fact that I wouldn't go up to his hotel room after the date was a bit of a deal breaker for him.  Not surprisingly, I didn't hear from Brad after that night.  

      Well, not until 7 months later, anyway...

      Karen 1/ Brad 0