Slim Pickins

Defined by Urban Dictionary as “almost no choice of chicks/dudes to date in a certain group of people,” I am totally owning this phrase right now. After having politely clarified that I preferred quality over quantity (in addition to my dates being generally good-looking [too much to ask?] and not almost 40), I haven’t been matched in two weeks. To counter this lull and entertain myself, I decided to brush up on my dating etiquette compliments of The It’s Just Lunch Guide to Dating. It’s an interesting read from the folks who live and breathe the subtleties of dating and have seen more than one neurotic lady grace their hallways. Heretofore follows a list of rules I am repeatedly breaking:

  • Height preference: Guilty! Yes, I have surreptitiously crossed someone one off my proverbial list if I deemed them too short. The dating guide details a study where 77 out of 79 women admit they wouldn’t date a man shorter than them — and instead of making a case for the vertically challenged men of the world, I think the research is more indicative of a genetic preference with which women are hard-wired. We survive if we have the big, strong, manly hunter by our gathering side, right?
  • High heels: “Guys love gals in sky-high heels, but wedges don’t count.” What? Lame. 
  • Widening my scope: According to the experts, I shall not be turned off because of occupation, income, fitness level, hair color, hobbies, musical taste, boldness or lack thereof. Okay, fine. But if the guy is out of shape, listens to KS95, can’t manage his income (or lack thereof), likes to tie-dye in his free time and is as shy as a mouse, we aren’t a match! If you aren’t taking care of yourself physically, financially, etc., I think this speaks to larger issues I care not to touch with a ten-foot pole. See also “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Double fail.
  • Strike a pose: I’ve isolated the problem—Note to self: Must pose more.
  • Tardiness: This sends out a negative message, per the dating gods. But how am I supposed to make a swooping grand (and perfectly posed) entrance if the guy isn’t even there?

Luckily, there are a few rules I am correctly following — telling it like it is (triple points!), and being proactive, enthusiastic and, most importantly, myself. According to It’s Just Lunch, other successes include: tousled hair (it counts even if the look is due to a lack of taming time); smiling lots; not wearing really tight pants or ordering spaghetti; and — I think this is the clincher — not jumping too quickly into “sexy talk.”

Admittedly, I have some refining to do in terms of my reproach approach. If I were to poll my therapist, hair stylist, career coach, matchmaker and masseuse — obviously, some of the most important people in my life — they would undoubtedly say an attitude adjustment is in order. Although, I will still console myself with soothing “don’t settle!” self-pats to my back.

I may also be looking in all of the wrong places. Based on my limited experience, there are some terrible places to meet single men — the gas station, Bed, Bath & Beyond, the DMV, weddings and concerts featuring female singers. Super awesome spots to snag a tall drink of water: the Minneapolis lakes area, Half-priced Books, Target Field, my favorite antiques shop, First Ave after The National concert or a friend’s BBQ. Maybe I will stake out one of these fruitful locales and prowl for potentials, setting up a booth for any man interested in organic lemonade and/or taking a short survey. Inquiries may or may not include:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, tell me how fantastic you think farmers’ markets are.
  2. Bill Bryson, Dave Eggers, Ayn Rand, Orson Scott Card and Simon Winchester belong to what category of careers?
  3. Do you generally like or love prime numbers?
  4. Do you own any Ed Hardy apparel?
  5. When is the last time you talked to your mom?
  6. If given the choice, would you rather watch Arrested Development/It’s Always Sunny or MTV/Spike TV?
  7. Tell me about the relationship between you and your car.
  8. Please expound on your talents in spider-killing.
  9. Do you think it’s impossible to love your dog too much? Please explain.
  10. Do your friends love you as much as you absolutely love them?

…but I shall not limit my scope too much.

Striking a confident-yet-approachable stance pose after a long weekend at the cabin, it’s just me and my dirty-from-Spicy-Doritos keyboard, obsessively listening to James Vincent McMorrow and Dan Wilson, updating my queue on Netflix (hello, “Dexter” Season 5!) and paging through my worn copy of The Fountainhead. My GMAT prep books are collecting dust in the corner as I soak up the last rays of summer, but I am blissfully happy. Despite my tendency towards snarkiness, I am blessed with fanfrickintastic friends, an amazing family, a fulfilling job with wonderful coworkers and a safe and comfortable place to lay my head. I’m taking a slight repose to strip myself of pre-judgments, common dating mistakes and the extra calories I’ve consumed from all of those old-fashioned doughnuts and French fries. I shall return ready to take on the next adventure in the quest to find the ultimate partner with whom to share a bountiful life.

For more harrowing dating escapades, check out My Brief OkCupid Affair with a World Champion Magic: The Gathering Player. (Language is PG-13.)

And, as it turns out, I do have a few dates on the horizon… more play-by-play action coming soon!

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Multi-date Update (Specifically: #6, #2 with #4, and #7)

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I’m highly discouraged. I’ve primped, primed and pouffed my way through more than a handful of men and nobody has yet to float my boat, as they say. Yes, I’ve had the sweet, the successful, the adventurous, the handsome, the brains — even the quirky and unique — but no one has weaved these together into a harmonious package that catches my eye as it twirls and sparkles in the store window.

Before I wallow in my self-prescribed misery, I owe each of the last three dates a paragraph or two to make their case…

The scene: Cafeteria in downtown Uptown on a busy Tuesday night. The dude: 36-year-old Rich — a man wafting of come-hither cologne and one-button-too-many-unbuttoned coolness. Why it would work: If I wanted to spend my days golfing, schmoozing and pretending I’m ten years younger than my real age, we’d be fantastic together! Why we just can’t work it out: Rich, who was rich (did I mention he was rich? He would let you know if I wasn’t making it clear), was just not my type. Interested in slick cars, coasting on well-timed career success and partying like it’s 1999, he was smoooooooooth. Intimately absorbed in keeping his tan just slightly orange enough as to let you know it was fake — and totally untrustworthy. Next, please!

The backdrop: Urban Eatery overlooking Lake Calhoun. The victim: Greg, another 36-year-old business owner, but this time in the beverage industry — blond, nice and extremely well-meaning, but entirely off-putting. Second-date-able?: Not so much. He started most of his sentences with “If we should date…,” seemed generations too old for me and the chemistry was roughly -325, if such a scale should exist. Give him a chance?: He assured me it was fine that he paid for meal (it was a business expense after all) and… and… well, I’m struggling to pull another positive adjective out of the wreckage of the date, to be honest. Let’s just say I politely sped up the date as fast as I could and exited gracefully as soon as the valet pulled up.

And last, but certainly not least: This one is exciting, right? She’s got a little spark going here and things may be looking up for Date #2 with Handsome Man #4. We close in on a beautiful Saturday night in Minneapolis, scrumptiously ripe for the picking. The gentleman: Brandon, of monster-truck fame, comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans and making the trek from Rosemount to South Minneapolis in said monster truck, which, yes, looks strikingly similar to the image I selected for his post, but think more red. Excitement, fun and possibilities: After abandoning a ill-fated attempt to take in the Pizza Luce block party, we sauntered over to Cafeteria for beers and French fries. We laughed and talked about anything and everything. He called me judgmental (I deserved it) and I told him to stop using the word “ain’t” (because it ain’t a word). I revisited my college youth as we headed to Williams for a nightcap. Although everyone there looked ready to head back to Calculus 201 in the fall, we roosted on the bar stools and drank beer out of over-sized glasses. And — I promise I will always be honest, dear readers — I kissed him. Right smack-dab on the mouth in the middle of a dirty and crowded bar. It was sweet, innocent and absolutely set us on a path of it’s-not-going-anywhere, for who starts their “how we met” stories with a peck in the middle of strangers? The aftermath: Ever the lightweight, I was down and out (and ready for bed) sooner than any civilized 28-year-old adult should allow herself to be, and the night wound down from there. And wishing and hoping and praying (okay, that’s being slightly over-dramatic), I have heard nary a word in 2.17 days.

So… exhausted from eight or so meet-and-greets in the last month, I am ironing, listening to Fitz and the Tantrums (download it now) and digging up the courage to post this intimate and oh-so-personal update for the world to see.

It’s an adventure, not a destination, right? Or… Hmm.

Five

Sunday night found me at Chianti Grill, awaiting the arrival of Aaron, a 34-year-old human of the male persuasion. He had totally stolen my move by deciding to arrive late so I was neurotically checking my phone and glancing (stealthily) sideways at every fellow who strolled into the restaurant.

Instead of meeting a psychologist who was a department head (as per my phone call with It’s Just Lunch earlier in the week), I met a psychologist who works for the Department of Corrections. You know, as in he spends his day at an honest-to-God, locked-down-with-handcuffs PRISON. Aaron was a nervous, portly, sweet man and the date was off to a rough start so naturally upon hearing about his occupation, I grasped onto this conversation topic as if for dear life. I prodded him with so many questions about the ol’ jailhouse that he was barely able to get in any questions about me, which of course was the point. As soon as he had lumbered into the bar, I instinctively knew the date wasn’t going anywhere and I was reticent to share any personal details with him. Don’t get me wrong — I was impeccably polite and patient, and my heart went out to him as he fiddled with his napkin, and broke a bit as he departed to go to the little boys’ room (his words).

Needless to say, I ordered a salad due to its quick prep time and as politely as possible wrapped up the date as quickly as possible. Although I was discouraged, it got me thinking… What really goes through our minds when we meet someone new? In the past month, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet a handful of new men and within the first five seconds, I’ve slotted them into their respective “it’s just not going to happen” and “okay, there’s potential” bins. Is there any sense to this or am I a hopelessly superficial person prone to judging people solely on their outward appearance?

Seriously concerned about my possible lack of character, I turned to my book collection for an answer. I snagged my copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” and began rereading a few sections.

Turns out, and I quote, “it is quite possible for people who have never before met us and who have spent only twenty minutes with us to come to a better understanding of who we are than people who have know us for years.”

I don’t think there is any substitute for a relationship carefully cultivated over the years with love and mutual respect, but there is something to the snap judgments we make when encountering someone new. First impressions are everything. (Or not… you really can argue both sides pretty effectively, but for now, I will take comfort in the fact that our intuitive awareness counts for something.)

I’m off to bed for some much-needed sleep to reclaim my trademark sarcasm for tomorrow’s date in Uptown. But first, a bit of dancing, some Pinot, a text to Brandon confirming our second date on Saturday (!!) and plenty of Lissie on the radio.

In the words of my dearest Cloud Cult, I love you all!

Candidate #4

I prepped for tonight’s date as any classy woman would — with a stop at Taco Bell for two chili cheese burritos and a Diet Mountain Dew. I had just received a note in the mail from my $401k manager stating that I did NOT have a designated beneficiary, a big financial no-no and firm reminder that, no, I did not have a husband or children to whom to leave my vast fortune. My pseudo date with Mike #2 earlier in the week was a nonstarter — to keep it short and sweet, he was short and sweet — but the It’s Just Lunch ladies had lined me up with three dates in four days so I was feeling good heading into the weekend.

After a last-minute wardrobe change from one navy Banana Republic dress to another clearly superior navy Banana Republic dress, I descended upon Ciao Bella to meet Brandon. I was slightly flustered upon arrival. I had poorly estimated my primping time and ended up hastily applying a clear coat of nail polish to my fingernails in the restaurant parking lot and arriving accidentally fashionably late.

Brandon, an electrician lineman at a local company, was nice, unassuming, in shape and way cute. He owned a house (+10 points) in Rosemount (-10 points) and ran a side business with his dad. We bonded over our common affinity for cereal, although he prefers Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops to my Kashi Go Lean. He had never heard of 89.3 The Current (wasn’t sure what to do about that one), and grew up with a steady diet of rap music. I, of course, spent my teenage years in worship of Hanson, N*SYNC and BSB (that’s the Backstreet Boys to the layman).

We swapped Vegas stories — don’t worry, Grandma, they were funny, not crazy escapades — and chatted about our families, including his sister who had told him he was NOT allowed to wear just a t-shirt and jeans to the restaurant. (Thanks, sister!) I was impressed when he didn’t balk at my snarky, and obviously hilarious, comments and wild hand gestures, and he seemed genuinely interested when I told him the most exciting part of my day so far had been the blender I just purchased at Target.

We spent a good two-and-a-half hours chatting and both enjoyed the super yummy halibut on special, washed down with beer for him and an extra-spicy Bloody Mary for me (always keeping it classy).

Although part of me wonders if we have enough in common, I didn’t inwardly flinch when he asked for my number, as I had done before on earlier dates. Although I did outwardly flinch when he pulled out of the parking lot in a monster-truck-like Chevy.

Feeling as though I’d semi-mastered the art of the first date — smile a lot, wear a fun dress and ask a lot of questions to avoid awkward silences — a second date presents a whole slew of new challenges. But that’s a topic for a different post at a different time should he call me.

For now, I’m mixing up a fruit smoothie in my snazzy blender, spinning the new Brett Dennen CD and then heading north to Roseville for the next rendezvous. Carpe diem!