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Going in Blind: Dating and People I’ve Never Met

Getting to know someone without a physical presence is complicated.  It’s funny how – in this age of technology – there’s been a resurgence of the time-honoured tradition of letter writing.  Yup. Pen pals are back.

I didn’t go into the online dating scene thinking it would challenge my writing chops, but in fact it has.  So far I’ve had (am having, I think) two relationships based purely on the written word.

Bachelor #1, Right Stuff Guy, is a sports-oriented but courteous and gentle type.  We’ve been texting off and on since Week 1.  His interests include snorkeling and cliff diving. He’s a respiratory therapist with two daughters, whom he obviously adores.  He works in a sleep lab, which sounds really interesting.  He’s 50.

Bachelor #2, Ottawa Tall, is a tall (6’3″) pun-loving guy, with whom I’ve been enjoying a vigorous exchange in email since last Friday.  He’s interested in stand-up comedy and films.  He’s proudly 1/8th Iroquois on his Great Grandmother’s side (which possibly accounts for his great hair).  He works at the Mint.  He’s got a daughter and two sons (all tweens and teens) that he hasn’t told me anything about yet (possibly due to some scruples on his part, so no judgement here).  He’s 42.

Both these men I’ve seen only in the pictures they’ve posted online.  I’ve never heard either’s voice.  I’ve never been in the same room with either of them (as far as I know – lol).  I don’t know for sure that Right Stuff Guy isn’t actually a smoker, or whether Ottawa Tall maybe has a roving eye (Oooh, Butterfly, so unfair of you!).  I don’t know how either of them actually smells.  And, in the odd way this internet age of dating works, I would say either of them could be a future love interest.  Without ever having met them.

Or maybe neither of them is.  You never know.  I could be being filtered out as we speak. It’s a very fluid situation.

A couple of weeks back I was all excited about this guy named Loven.  Loven was an amateur comedian (read “stand-up with a day job “  here, or “guy who shows up at open mike nights and gives it a whirl “ , if you like).  He had a banner going across the top of his profile, announcing the dates of the next two Open Mikes he’d be at.  I messaged him.

“Where’s Club XXXX?  I might come out.”

He quickly messaged back.  Address of club, but in a friendly way.  Because of how the dating site works I can see he’s been checking my profile before replying.  I message again.

“Okay.  That’s on a Sunday.  I’ll be there.”  Or some such.

Loven replies again: “How will I know you?”

Well, that IS promising.  I was totally thinking to just come out and support an amateur performer who has the guts to put himself out there like that, in his online dating profile of all places.  After checking out my profile, however, he’s upping the ante.  He’s interested.

Now I’d been thinking if his act makes me think he’s too much of a weirdo or I don’t like the cut of his jib I can cut out no problem before he even has time to see me.  But now I’m flattered.  His pictures show a very good looking man of 50.  Not tall, but exceedingly attractive.  I message back.

“I’ll wear a bright coloured top.  Coral coloured.”  What started as a friendly interest is quickly shaping up to be a potential date.

All this went down that first Tuesday, my day of being a Top Spot girl.  After the exchange, I felt buoyant, elated even.  Online dating was easy.  The week progressed. Loven viewed my profile several more times, but didn’t contact me again.  I’m thinking maybe – later in the week – I’ll message again, just to confirm we’re on for a drink or whatever, after his show.

Loven messages me Sunday at 3 pm.  Just as I’m going into my coffee date with Stan.  His message read as follows:

Hi BF Just wanted to mention that I recently met someone and I want to see where it goes. Feel free to come and enjoy the show if you wish but I won’t be able to socialize. Thanks.

Now this message raises more questions than it answers.  Loven’s either waited 6 days (from Tuesday to Sunday) to tell me that, or he’s met this “someone” (or, possibly, just decided about her) only today.  He could have at least let me come enjoy the show without making it weird.  What could a quick “Hello”, or even a handshake, have hurt?  I wasn’t exactly planning to jump on him.

By now I’m pulled over in the parking lot of a mall, discussing the pros and cons of still going out, just for fun, with my best friend Janet.  Outside the car a snow storm is swirling around me.

Honestly, it’s probably not worth the trouble in this weather,” she is saying, “but, if you still want to go, I’ll go with you.

I don’t want my best friend to do that, all the way from her end of town, in heavy snow. With a sigh of resignation I turn my wheels for home.  She’s probably right.  He’s not worth it.

It leaves me wondering about Loven, though.  He’d viewed my profile on Sunday again. Probably just before messaging me.  I imagine him looking at my photos, trying to decide if I’d be worth cheating on his new girlfriend for.  Ew.

Or possibly he’d been caught, still cruising the dating site, by this new lady friend.  Maybe she’d stood over him, forcing him to message me and cancel our meeting.  Perhaps he’s being bullied about, and by some woman he’s barely met.  That’s not making him more appealing.  I’m picturing a pretty spineless guy either way.

Anyhow, he was the one who had turned the whole thing into a “first meet”.  I was just out for laughs and chicken wings.  Supporting a fellow small time performer.

Whatever.

This week I’m wondering if the whole “NOT being a total sport and going out to see Loven anyhow ” thing has created some bad karma.  My two Bachelors ask me out on dates, then they both cancel.  Yes, both Right Stuff and Ottawa Tall have done this to me now.  So, although I’ve been asked out 3, maybe 4 (should I count Loven?) times already, I’ve only been on one actual date.  With Stan.

Okay, 5 date asks.  One-Eared Andy asked me to take ballroom dancing with him.  Lol.

Right Stuff initially mentioned Spa Nordic.  While I chat to RS, I’m juggling another text convo with Janet.  “He’s about to ask me to Spa Nordic!” I squeal in text.

Not really a first date kind of place.  In bathing suit?  Lots of secluded areas for pools and parking,” my level-headed best friend messages me back.  “Third date maybe?

Next day I text with Right Stuff and we agree to do our first meet at Centrepointe, planning to go for a skate together, then grab a panini.  It sounds wonderful.  After we book it I realize I’m supposed to be having some work done at the house that day.  I don’t cancel the date, though.  Not even the next day, when I wake up wheezing.

RS cancels the date.  His message is short.  “Sorry BF, Bun Bun [his youngest daughter] is sick and her mom is working tomorrow.  We will have to make it another time.

I don’t hear from him for a few days, then “Sorry for being incommunicado.  I got what Bun  Bun had.  Yuck.  Not feeling very datish.  Its almost done.  Bun is back at school.

Another long intermission (days).  I send two short texts (both basically say ‘hope you’re feeling better’).  I see him on the dating website during the week.  He’s viewing my profile once more.  This Friday we have a short conversation in text, but – by then – I have been juggling my own children’s ailments for the past 3 days and am feeling tired and sicky myself.

RS seems to be very touched by my care for my children.  He sounds impressed on Friday that I am spending some time alone with Booba after the school called me at 1 PM to come get him.  Boo’s not really ill – his tummy ache has more to do with bullying than bacteria – but he still needs some Mommy time.  I like that RS likes me for that (even though I’ve been revisiting his profile pictures as well and he’s not that great looking.  I also have some reservations as he is not forthcoming in the profile about whether he smokes or not…).  Still, the fact that he is a really caring dad (which has come across clearly in our chats) is a very attractive quality.

Since Friday I have not heard from him.

On Thursday evening I receive an unexpected message, courtesy Site 2 (site which I previously dissed on this very blog).  “Ottawa Tall is interested” the first message reads. Then “Ottawa Tall has sent you a message.”

A week or so ago, before I caved and joined Site 2, there was a day when Site 2 said I could send a number of messages for free.  I picked some promising-looking guys (surprisingly there were a few) and sent fairly simple messages that said, more or less, that I was interested in talking with them a little more but unfortunately not interested in paying for a membership on the site.  I’d left my email address (the website blocked it out, but sent the messages).  The next day I’d forgotten all about this.  Ottawa Tall was the best of this bunch – and now he’s messaging me back!

Well tonight is free and since I don’t have a paid subscription either I wanted to take this opportunity to reply.

At the end of this message he carefully spelled out his email address in such a way (all in words at Butterfly was dopey dot com) as to survive being redacted by the Site’s computer.   I’m not entirely sure what to say, but I take a stab at it and email him back.

Soon we are emailing up a storm.  Each of his emails tells me a little more about him and gives me a tantalizing taste of his voice and character, while asking all kinds of wonderful leading questions to keep the conversation going.  Even though I feel tired and sick and the kids are whiny (especially Lou Lou), I’m really enjoying the exchange.  4 emails go back and forth on Thursday (I press send on my last at 1:35 am.  No wonder I feel tired on Friday!).  6 on Friday.  6 more on Saturday.  In the second exchange we agree to meet for coffee at 11 am on Sunday.  In the meantime, we keep talking anyhow.

He asks me what I like to laugh at, since I mentioned I laugh a lot.  In my long winded reply I mention that I sometimes laugh at “the way my kids see the world.  It’s weird and refreshing.”  When he emails back he says “See the world in a weird and refreshing way?  Like pumpkin flavoured kool-aid?” I LOVE this.  The more we talk the more fun it gets.

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I like him.  Or maybe it’s how he makes me feel.  He’s easy to talk to, smart and funny. We like a lot of the same shows, comedians, and films (Galaxy Quest!  I can’t believe it!).  I like that, even though he has kids, he’s a bit closer to my own age (a couple years younger than me actually).  It feels like it has real potential.  He works at the same employer as the husband of a good friend.  I’m looking forward to telling him about this connection, after we’ve been seeing each other for a while of course.  I wonder if he will mind that I don’t dye my hair.  I’ve been slowly letting it fade to silver the past 3 years. Suddenly I don’t want to look or feel so old.  I wonder if I have time to get it coloured before Sunday.

I’m falling in like.

Saturday evening comes and I take a bath and go to bed clean for a change.  I use some leave-in conditioner in my hair and don’t forget my moisturizer.  Sunday morning I am up and getting ready with the clothes I’d carefully planned when – at 9 am – my cellphone suddenly starts to ring.  It’s an 819 (Quebec side) number I don’t recognize.

Hello, Butterfly speaking,” I say.  I try to sound cool, but I’m wondering if it’s Tall.  Although the caller is definitely a tall man, he’s not the one I’d first had in mind.

Pierre-Paul needs a page turner for a piano trio today.  Mendelssohn and Debussy.  It’s very, very last minute.  Can I be there for a concert at 11 o’clock?

I say Can I call you back? and let him go.  This is kind of a mess, but maybe it’s a sign or something.  Maybe I should just come right out and say “I trust you.  I like you.  Want to come to a concert today and meet my friends?

Just as I’m about to call him I notice a new email message.  I dial his number anyway, but hang up after 5 rings.  Then I check the email message and feel like crying.

Hey Butterfly,
After giving it some thought I think we should chat online a bit further before we meet in person.
Your earlier response gave me pause. The impression I got was that you might think that I was coming across as creepy or a player of some sort (keeping a rating system, filing you under categories…) and that is definitely not what my motives are.
I think it would be good if we got to know one another a bit more before we actually meet, as to avoid any anxiety about motives and intent.
I hope this is ok with you

The email is time stamped 1:49 am.  It looks like he was up late, possibly agonizing over how to put this.

Me and my big mouth.  I tease too much.  I wish I hadn’t even noticed him giving the emails those subject names now (“Corresponding with Butterfly”, “Butterfly responds” and – my favourite – “Butterfly awaits”).  I pushed it too far.  I wish I’d never mentioned it.

I go turn pages for the lovely pianist, even though I forget my reading glasses in Ottawa. I reflect that – if it weren’t for preparing for the called-off date with Ottawa Tall – I probably wouldn’t have been fresh as a daisy and wearing my Simon Chang “date-night jeans”, all primed and ready to go for an 11 am gig.   After the show I have lunch with my friends.  Then I return home.  Tall has sent another “conversation continuing” message, but it’s an incredibly short one.  I wonder if it’s half-hearted.  I email back anyhow, feeling sheepish and pathetic.

I was planning to call this post “A Tall Refreshing Glass of Pumpkin-Flavoured Kool-Aid”, but – sadly – things once again did not turn out the way I planned.  I’ll keep you posted, though.

Sigh.

Butterfly

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Spheres

I haven’t talked much about my upbringing.  There are reasons for this.  For one thing, well, it’s private and involves some other people (such as my parents) who are private and who I wouldn’t feel completely comfortable nattering on too too much about.  For another thing, it’s a pretty depressing topic for me.  But there’s one thing that I’ve more or less concluded about my upbringing that enters into play here for this whole “Online Dating Project” I’ve determined to throw myself into, one thing I might as well get out there right now:  Dating is something I actually have very little experience with.

I’ve probably mentioned before that I am a minister’s daughter and that our family moved from place to place throughout my school years.  In fact, I never lived anywhere for longer than two years.  Then we moved again.  To outward appearances I was an outgoing person, but – in truth – this was partly on account of necessity:  I was constantly required to make new friends, become part of a new community, and cope.  Inside I was a different person.

Inside I was a shy person.  At the core of this Butterfly was a person who felt alone, who felt disenfranchised from every group, and who was aware that it was only a matter of time before she would be fingered as a deviant, the outsider, and – in all likelihood – be stoned by an angry mob.

In response to this, I developed an outer coating – tough and smarty pants sarcastic – to help me get by.  So what if you don’t like me?  I don’t like you anyhow.  What’s that?  You DO like me?  Well I double-dog-dare you to!  And then I’d do something choice – like swear loudly, right in front of the altar at the church.  Or go home and practice piano and just not care! that Cliff Hall accepted Jennifer Drew’s invitation to the Sadie Hawkins dance this comin’ Friday instead of going with me (when we had so much to talk about, being the only two kids in Enrichments.).  Well I wasn’t going anyway now – so HA!

Yup.  My life was a constant humiliation.

And then high school hit.  By then we were living in what can only be described as a hick town (I have no problem relating this as – surprise, surprise – I have retained not one friend from this time in my life).  In Hick Town, there was nothing to do Friday nights except squeeze into the tiny, smoky pinball arcade.  Or play board games with the older chaperons in the United Church basement.   Most of the cool kids hid in the woods, drinking ill-gotten beers.

There really was no dating scene.  “Dating” meant you’d left your panties behind the hang-out with the same guy more than one night in a row.  It goes without saying that I was forbidden to partake of this ritual (and fairly unsure I wanted to).  Looking back, I guess it may not have been a very useful education about men anyway.

So, yeah.  That was high school.  But this is now.

Every week the dating website sends me a summary of my progress for the week.  I signed up two weeks ago on a Tuesday, so – so far – I’ve got two of these.

The first week’s summary ran something like this:

“Seven-day Success Check-in:  See how you started off!

Compared to Successful ***** Members….                                                             You’ve sent 6 more emails.  You’ve received 2 more emails.  Your persistence is paying off….”

I decided to take this as good news.  So what if I struck out more often?  I was taking more turns at the bat.  And, after all, I’d had a number of interesting encounters during the week.  It seemed like lots of guys were cruising my profile and I’d had a decent number of winks and messages, including numerous entertaining exchanges with men far too young (or perverted) for me to whom I had sent back what I believed to be scathingly witty replies.  The validation that I was doing slightly better than SUCCESSFUL site users only confirmed my “It’s Rainin’ Men” over-confidence.  I ignored the “well, you’re fresh meat” comment of a friend.  Nah, it couldn’t be that.

Little did I realize that, in the beginning, the site gives you “Top Spot” status.  Your profile is like a featured profile, you come up at the top in the search results of other users, etc. etc. etc.  Which goes a long way towards explaining the number of men in far-flung parts of North America who reached out to me.  Scott in Schenectady, for instance.  And where is “CO”?  Does that stand for Colorado or Carbon Monoxide?

Also, the mistakes I’d made on my profile (coming across sounding like I was bitter and had a lot of baggage in that first oh-so-public draft) got seen by a lot of people in the first day, when I was in “Top Spot” promotion.  I’d probably blown my chance with a number of nice guys by turning them off then.  And I, in return, was also exclusively seeing those other people who were getting “Top Spot” promotion as well (not necessarily 100% the same people I really ought to meet).  Because the site algorithm was still trying to figure out who I was, and the kind of person I’d like to meet, I probably wasn’t seeing the best sort of matches for me in any case in those first few days.  And my own little organic processor hadn’t finalized any sound criteria for weeding out liars, or quickly assessing who’s actually a nice guy.

I learned some more Online Dating for Dummies (Is that a thing?  ‘Cause it sure as heck should be!) tips this week too.  If you click on the ad for Site 2 while you’re on Site 1, they’ll add you to it (Hey, filling out personality questionnaires about myself is irresistible!  Can’t be helped!  They promised to tell me something interesting about my personality type, okay?).  Turns out Site 1 is Site 2’s parent company (and they’ve already got my credit card number…. Dang!)  So then Site 2 started sending me matches generated by my new “profile” there.  First I resisted this, but – slowly – curiousity got the better of me and I was reeled in.  By the end of the week I had shelled out for a paid 6-month membership on this site as well.

Site 2 is not nearly as good as Site 1.  Basically it’s a smaller subset of men from Site 1 (because – Hey! – they clicked that ad too.  What can I say here?).  By “subset” here I mean the most desperate and weird ones who weren’t getting anywhere with Site 1.  Yup.  Those guys.

So now I, too, am on Site 2, where one of the guys literally has the username alwayyshorny.  First I was like “What’s Alway Shorny mean?”  then I was like “Ooh.  Ick.”  It’s not flattering to find a name like that in your “Daily Matches.”  And – by the way – thanks for telling us all about that, Jack… Off.  Kind of made me feel like taking down the 25 picture photo essay, the one I’d posted to try to get that 41 year-old, handsome, skydiving pirate to flip me a Wink.

Booba always said I should date a pirate.

With dogged determination, I’ve been sending Winks and short messages to everybody who interested me.  All.  Week.  Long.  My reply score seemed to hit a serious dry spell as the week progressed.

By the end of Week 2, my new summary looked like this:

“14-Day Success Check-In:  Track Your Progress

Compared to successful ****** Members…

You’ve sent 9 more emails.
You’ve received 2 less emails.

Great effort. Now search a little smarter: find people you already share something in common with.”

Ssssss.  That burns.  So find something fundamentally wrong with me and call me on it.  Thanks for nothing, website!

You see, what I’m slowly realizing is that every human being on here is – fundamentally, and whether they will admit it or not – trying to find their sphere.  For some of us that means raising our sights a little higher.  For some of us, sadly, it might mean lowering them.  For others still I think it means refocusing the telescope of who we think we are and what we believe ourselves to be after.  In every case, however, we’re all looking for that bubble of belonging.

I don’t know why the men I’ve shown interest in aren’t replying to me.  Yes, I know I can come off as very abrasive at times.  My (I hope in real life very attractive!) “take the mickey out of you in a flirtatious manner” tough chick stance probably isn’t very appealing as disembodied words.  There was that one man (a younger, swarthy one who claimed to be $150 K a year self-employed developer) who suggested he “come over to [my] house with a bottle of wine” and went on to inquire whether I liked red or white.  I messaged back immediately: “Omg, did I do crack last night and text and invite you to come to my house and rape me? Crap. Gotta stop doing that. Not a chance, fella.

Well.  I thought it was funny.  It probably wasn’t.

On the other hand, as any one who reads the blog or knows me is real life is already aware, I can be tremendously trepidacious and unsure of myself at times.  And I think that’s coming across in these email cold calls to men I wish would become my suitors.  In as much as I am a super brassy snark with the guys I don’t want to get assaulted by, I turn into a knock-kneed school girl around the letter-men I wish would notice me.

And, of course, I am still figuring out who I would like to notice me.  Is it Rico Suave – the unbelievably handsome 48 year old Physicist/Oceanographer who’s way out of my league in terms of education, employment status, globe-trotting street cred, and good looks?  Is it the gentle-eyed 56 year-old (older than I said I wanted to date!) single dad with the marvelously shaped face who says he is a film buff and enjoys “being walked by” his incredibly large dog?  I noticed I didn’t even look, or care, what this man does or how much he makes.  All a guy like Rico could do with me is have a little fun on the side, hide me from his much more sophisticated friends, and then cheat on me while he’s travelling the oceans of the world for months at a time.  Besides, is it really a Rico that I want, or is it really Rico’s life for my own that I desire?

This giant learning curve of a dating game may have been worth the price of admission for that alone.  To help me figure out what kind of relationship I might actually want.  If, indeed, I even actually want one again.  God knows, the last one dissolved into a huge emotional mess ages ago and was tough enough to get out of.  Am I really that eager to throw myself under the bus and do it all again?  What am I looking for that leads me to this website night after night like a compulsion?

I take a giant risk and write to Bergerac (the 56 year old, he of giant dog):

Hi Bergerac,I just realized that I have viewed your profile numerous times now but haven’t attempted to reach out to you at all. Decided today I would email you, despite my terrible batting average at this so far. Long ago I had a close Spanish friend who would describe someone like you as a “persona de cara buena”. I don’t know if there is an English equivalent for this idea, so I still use the Spanish term. It means someone whose obvious good character shines through in their visage, I suppose. You look to me to be a man like this. What else? I enjoyed reading your profile and appreciated that you are a film buff. Me too! I just finished putting a home theatre in my basement and hope to enjoy it sometime – when it’s not being monopolized by my kids, that is. I also liked when you said you “Enjoyed being walked by your dog”. :D I noticed you said in your profile that you are looking for women just slightly older than me and I, in turn, said I was looking for men somewhat younger than you. Having said that, I was previously in a long term relationship with someone closer to your age. I suppose I was focusing on that as potentially part of our problem, although it probably wasn’t the real one. Well, this feels like I have been writing my resume. Guess I’ll stop. I won’t be offended if no reply. Gradually coming to accept that this is 99% of what online dating is – uncomfortable Sadie Hawkins’ dance followed rapidly by rejection. Please forgive my boldness if you’re kind of old-fashioned that way (like me). Just get a bit sick of those “all the wrong fellow” types who beat down the door if I remain passive in this process. All the best, Butterfly

Later in the evening my phone buzzes.  Bergerac has written back!

Thank you for the kind words. You should never apologize for reaching out and it should never be interpreted as boldness. It’s flattering and it takes guts. Honesty should have some value. I wish you all the best…and don’t be so hard on yourself. Take care.

I feel 16 years old again.  Like I don’t know who am I or where I am supposed to fit in.  If I had a sphere, right now I would crawl into it and hide.

 

 

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“Whoa, dude! Seriously?” A Crazy List Lady Guide About What NOT To Put In That Online Dating Profile

I made a number of rookie mistakes in my first attempt at an online profile.  As far as dating goes, “experience” is great.  “Baggage”, however, may be not so great.  So saying things like “You must also talk – you cannot be passive aggressive or a bully ” and “Control freaks need not apply ” were probably not among my finest moments of shameless self-promotion.  And – let’s face it – shameless self-promotion is exactly what an online dating profile is all about.

Now that I’ve had a bit more time to observe the bizarre world of trying to decide whether a complete stranger could be your soul mate via a self-written infomercial and a handful of low res Polaroids posted on the world wide web, I’m ready to share some wisdom.  At least, as it pertains to me.  Please be warned there’s a shameful amount of “in my opinion ” in what follows; The Crazy List Lady has returned.

Butterfly’s Top 10 Tips for Any Fella Drafting and Deploying An Online Dating Persona

  1. Username.  Let’s start here, because you’re probably going to be asked to set one as soon as you enter the gate.  Put a little more thought into this.  Think about your goal here.  If it’s to attract a partner for the long term then focusing on your own best quality as a partner is probably a safe place to start.  Therefore CuddlyCraig and FredHoldsYourPurse are much better usernames than BigFatSensFan, or GoodInBed111 (“Um ICK!!!”).  LoveMyMuscleCar1972, AlKoholiK, and WhoCares2015 are also bad ideas.  Some of the good names I’ve heard so far – BraveFredBloggs, RadioAfterglow, TheDoctor05, MusicianWithAJob, and YogiCanoeBear.  All of whom I’m waiting to hear back from, by the way.  But let’s save that peeve for another post, shall we?
  2. Your Profile Pic, Part 1.  You didn’t put one?  Yawn.  Join the chubby hoards.  I’m already reading the next guy’s write-up.  What I’m thinking this says about you:  Lack of confidence?  Huge neck goiter?  So go back and put one right this instant! Believe me, there will be very few cases when your profile pic will be worse than my imagination. 

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    “Ummm…”

  3. Your Profile Pic, Part 2.  Okay, your profile pic IS worse than my imagination.  Ah, dude, I’m truly sorry, but, um, yeah, you’re better off taking that down. Maybe try putting  some additional photos of things you like instead.  If it’s pornography, though, try going for Old Masters instead of naked girls on muscle cars.  Believe me, you can still find porn in paints.  And it’s got gallery street cred.  We girls like this better.  Still no one will call you, but at least now we’ll suspect you had a measurable IQ.
  4. Your Profile Pic, Part 3.  Okay, just a few more things about pics.  If your pic is so grainy or pixellated that I can hardly even tell what the image is of (Using a cellphone here, fella!  How was this photo taken? Via SATELLITE?) you’re getting passed over too. Photos that will compel me to take a pass on you also include: you – not wearing a shirt; you – LYING DOWN, legs noticeably parted, and using a highly suggestive camera angle (Whoa!  Put that thing back in the holster, “Big Ben”); you – showing off your half/full sleeve tats, neck tats, or completely tattooed torso; you – giving someone else a tattoo; you – with good-looking ladies (even if you have eerily blurred their faces – something which I find… incredibly… disturbing…) who are draped across you seductively (double indemnity if you go on in the caption to explain that this person is your mother, daughter, sister, or an ex you happen to have an excellent relationship with); a picture of your car.  Or any car.  Actually, the profiles I enjoy perusing most (even if I realize the person is not a good match for me) have lots of high res truly flattering photos that show the person in the best possible light.  And bonus if we get a glimpse into your life and aren’t left thinking “so, err, pity sex?

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    “Wow, awesome costume!  Austin Powers, right?  What’s that?  It’s not a… ?  Oooh… oops… Sorry.”

  5. And More Photos!  Sites that let you add more photos are fun.  The more the merrier is how I see this.  I recently fell for an older (and not that great looking guy) because of this picture of him in the kitchen wearing this apron that says “Double double toil and trouble”.  It said so much about that person and made me like him right away.  Oh my, he does have a lovely smile!  Other great sorts of pictures – action and funny shots, Hallowe’en costumes you really rocked (the apron man also had a picture of him dressed as Boy George – if you are this man, please call me!!!), pictures of trips and with family/kids, or at the cottage.  Remember though, it’s best foot forward time.  So use your best photos, not the crappy ones.  Seven identical bathroom selfies, all with 5 o’clock shadow and bad lighting would be a good example of what NOT to post here. It also screams that the only camera in your life is the one attached to your own phone. Which is weird. Buy some friends, bro.
  6. Age, Part 1.  Your age in the header of the profile is stated as 43 but it is obvious in your photo that you are closer to 63.  Creepy.
  7. Age, Part 2.  You’ve honestly displayed your age in the profile header as 63 but under “Who He’s Looking For” you’ve selected the age range 16-36. Thanks for making an exception and sending ME that “wink”, by the way.  I really appreciate it.  You’re even MORE creepy.

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    “Ready to party, ladies??”

  8.  Interests.  The site will give you a choice of 10 things, such as board games, race cars, cooking, camping, shopping, dancing, music, reading, gardening and tv/movies, then ask you to choose 4 of them.  They all sound fun, right?  Yeah, I had the same problem.  So don’t make too many Venn diagrams based on this bologna. You’re still going to actually have to walk across the gym (eventually) and talk to the girls! if you want to know more.  So – if you like someone – get up your gumption and actually message them.
  9. In His Own Words.  Okay, that means it’s your turn to talk.  So – if you didn’t bother putting anything in this section or boiled your 2000 word limit down to something pithy like “Got questions?  Call me “, or “I’m planning to fill this in later ” – you just lost me right there, pal.  If you really can’t use some words of your own to describe yourself and honestly don’t even enjoy trying, then you’re really not for me.  I have read men’s profiles that were like poetry, or comic essays, or gave such a luscious taste of that person’s voice that it seemed as if I was standing next to them.  If I marry again, please God he’s a man like that!  Someone who can delight me with words.  For a woman who’s been in relationships for almost all of her adult life, my love letter drawer is way too thin.
  10. You’re a Freak, and you can’t (or just don’t want to) hide it.  This should be self-explanatory but, for some reason, is not.  This is the person who’s all out there.  All the baggage and longing to control another person is not just on the table, it’s all over the table.  You’ve “got your fingers crossed that [I] am financially responsible and fiscally restrained” [Bitter about the ex who drained your bank account and maxed your credit card?  Oooh, punish me, punish ME!!!].  You “are 51, drama-free, and looking for someone with no baggage” [and 17 years old!].  You “can’t control your wild need for physical expression and [are] looking for someone to run with scissors with you”  [They’re called hookers, dude.  Pick yourself up one.].  You “are looking for someone gorgeous, ambitious, professional, breathtakingly beautiful, who enjoys skydiving and adheres to the Paleo diet…” [Sorry, Christie Brinkley was busy.  They sent me over instead.  Reality much?].  Sadly, I could go on.

Well, guys and dolls.  That’s my sketch of the online scene I’ve seen so far.  My journey continues.  Still hoping to meet that handsome Ryan Gosling-lookalike of a blogger who is independently wealthy and loves walking, swimming, skiing, canoeing, kayaking, macrame, alternative music, cleaning my floor, Simon Pegg films, and cooking “sous vide” style.  Oh, and my kids.  Of course.  ‘Cause – hey – if y’all menfolk can be that wildly, unabashedly, unrealistically romantic, why the heck cain’t I?

All for now, folks,

 

Butterfly

 

its_raining_men_by_thereasa

It’s Rainin’ Men

The Manhunt continues…

Since last post I’ve continued to engage the male species via the medium of online dating. And yet my most recent meaningful interactions have been with Yves Rocher (my face cream), Simon Chang (that one new pair of dark blue “date night” jeans I just bought, and have yet to wear), and Mr. Shawarma (self-explanatory I expect).  And I’m coming to the conclusion that that’s not entirely my own fault.

I stand corrected actually.  I did meet – for real and in person – one guy.  ‘Stan’ was 55 and – online at least – direct and confident.  Unlike many of the guys who’ve contacted me (a fair number, as it turns out, in one way or another – more about this another post…), Stan was succinct and candid in his communication.  He winked, then followed up rapidly with the (apparently de rigueur) “Hi”,  via the dating site’s messaging system.

I quickly check his profile.  Not much detail – divorced 55 year old guy with a couple of kids, intelligent sounding but I do wonder if he isn’t actually a bit too old for me.  Also, he doesn’t really sound like my type.  He’s an MBA type person, and gives no details about the books, music or films that turn his crank.  Also, he says nothing at all about physical activities.  So kinda blah.  Even worse, he’s short (at 5’8″).  I’m 5’6″ but lied and said 5’5″ on my profile.  I’m fairly certain that if guys are going to lie about this it will be in the opposite direction.  Stan’s self-description also says “I am relaxed, romantic, and imaginative with good personal hygiene.  I will make you feel like a complete woman.

OMG – I’m biting my tongue a bit at that.  Imaginative with good personal hygiene?  What is this guy, a gigalo?  And I already know I’m a “complete” woman, thanks anyhow.  I do take my own garbage to the curb after all.  Maybe he just has no clue what to write to make himself sound attractive?  I’m scratching my head even now, as I write this days later.  Oh, to be in a fly on the wall in someone else’s brain, huh?  Maybe just for a few minutes though.  Lol.  Don’t think I’d like it in there for long.

Stan’s profile picture (a head shot) reveals only that he is black and bald.  He’s wearing sunglasses.  He’s not really smiling.  It does look like he’s wearing a suit in the head shot, so possibly he’s a dapper type.  There are no other pictures.

On the plus side, he does say he’s professional and “well-groomed” (also a bit “???”, don’t you think?), and he claims to have a sense of humour.   I wasn’t brought up in a barn so although I don’t gush back I do respond with a “Hi” of my own, even though I’m not into him.  I see my picture on the screen below his now, both of us with speech balloons coming out of our mouths.  It looks like a comic strip.

The next message is more promising: “You look terrific and sound great.  We should get together for a coffee.  What do you think?”

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Ooh baby!  Suddenly I’m Geri Halliwell, from this Bridget Jones inspired video.   It’s Raining Men (Geri Halliwell version, from Bridget Jones’ Diary)

Well then!  Flattery will get you everywhere.  Or at least to Tim Horton’s.  I meet him there for a coffee a day or two later.  As I swing into a parking spot I receive a message from another one of the dating site users, ‘Loven’.  But that’s a whole other story.

It turns out Stan is a somewhat slumped, non-descript man in a very blah taupe-coloured spring coat (which is weird in itself as it’s practically a blizzard outside) and wearing a cheap-looking black knit toque, quite possibly purchased at Walmart.  To cover the bald head, I suppose.  He’s somehow shifty-looking in his posture (moving his weight from foot to foot, etc.), and I deduce there’s some sort of major issue underlying this almost palpable complete lack of self-confidence.  I estimate his height at about 5’4″. He’s already holding his Tim’s.

So cheap too.  Great.

Even though I can’t believe I went to trouble over my appearance for this I get my own hot chocolate (yes, I actually shelled out $1.85 from my own pocket to meet this person) and sit down.  In my head I toast “Cheers!” to my first date, courtesy the did-I-get-hosed-paying-that-for-this??? matchmaking site I’m now showing up like a turkey in a butcher shop window on.  At least I can honestly say I feel adventurous.

By the time I take a seat Stan is on his third table choice in the small donut shop.  He’s been table-hopping like a nervous shore bird, jerkily sticking his beak in the sand hither and thither, seemingly in hopes of finding a promising spot before something larger comes along and eats him.  I find it weird, but there’s nothing wrong with the table and I have open access to two escape routes.  There’s lots of friendly staff behind the counter and almost zero other customers in the place (I did mention it’s a snowstorm outside, right?).  I sit down.

I’m a person who talks about herself with ease, but I find myself having to ask leading questions to get Scrimper Stan to reciprocate.  Having to prod is unappealing.  Slowly, however, we manage to exchange some information – what each of us does for a living; the number of children we each have and their ages: number of siblings, where they live, what they do for a living, etc..  Stan speaks slowly and insanely softly and is apparently a mumbler (which is actually a big pet peeve of mine) so I have to lean in across the minuscule table for two in the deserted donut shop just to hear him speak (whisper, actually…).  It feels ridiculous.

Honestly, he’s probably just a bashful person, but – still – I’m not getting everything he’s saying and it feels a lot like one of my meaningless “I’m listening” noises is going to wind up being me agreeing to go back to his place.  Honestly, I feel safe enough in the Tim Horton’s, but uncomfortable with the person sitting across from me.  I feel like he may be using my good manners to try and corner me into something I haven’t actually agreed to and hoping then those same good manners will render me too polite, or perhaps bashful, to stay firm about my boundaries.  I’ve met guys like this before.  My body language is giving every kind of cue that he needs to speak up.  He’s still not doing it.

Over the course of a bit less than an hour I learn that he is an MBA managing investments for a big, commonly known company.  He spares me the details.  He also tells me about his son – who is at Queen’s University in Kingston – and his daughter at Ottawa U.  The daughter apparently lives with him, even though he pays for her to have a share in an apartment with girlfriends downtown.  It seems she only uses the apartment for a crash pad.  He seems to think being able to give her the cash for one quarter of a three bedroom apartment is his street cred as a real sugar daddy.  If he’s even telling the truth, that is.

He has brothers in New York City, Washington state, and Uganda.  When I mention that these are all places I’ve never been he responds with a laugh and a sudden and terribly unjustified confidence. “I’ll take you.. I’m gonna take you,” he chuckles (Yah, right, buddy.  You didn’t even shell out the $1.85 it cost for my paper cup drink here…).  Then he reaches across the table and strokes my forearm à la creepy uncle.  I remind him what it says on my profile:  I’m not looking for a sexual encounter.  I’m just out to meet new people.

I don’t say it exactly that way, but the content is basically the same.

“Oh yes, I know, I know..” he mumbles.  “I love your laugh.  You have a great laugh.”  He repeats that strange compulsive covering of his mouth with a very fey gesture of his left hand he’s been doing as he smiles and laughs in return.  I am quickly becoming accustomed to this mystifying tick even though I really don’t get it.  His teeth are straight, white, and clean looking.  They are far from his worst feature.  I’m guessing they are a gift of nature and he didn’t need to pay for them.

He’s a strange little man.  And soon he’s planning our next date.  The poor guy imagines our meeting has gone great.  My hot chocolate -which, luckily for Stan, has been delicious – is almost finished.  I’ll be leaving shortly.

“So.  What do you think?” He seems to be leering a little now and, for once in my life, I’m kind of regretting showing off my curvy figure (I’d dressed to accentuate it for Loven, whom I’d hoped to be seeing a little later.  Again – another story!).   As for Stan – that pervy little hypocrite – gosh, I feel like calling him on it:  Think about WHAT, Stan?

“We should go for a drink next, hmm?” he is saying.

I’m trying to imagine me going for a drink with Stan.  Somewhere dark and involving a lowering of inhibitions and/or judgement, with perhaps a time lapse between the consumption of said beverage and this Butterfly being able to declare herself in a fit state to drive her automobile once more (because, honestly, I’m not much of a drinker.  And an insanely cautious driver).  And don’t get me started contemplating the sort of foul play that could go on with a single woman and something evil slipped into her drink.  I hear they make nail polish now that can detect such drugs.  I don’t know where to get any.  A drink with Stan sounds way too risky to me.

I just can’t even imagine it.  Well, I can imagine it, actually: it’s a rape scene from a made for tv movie.  I’ve no interest in checking out.

weathergirls

Not sure being the object of Stan’s plans is really all that flattering after all.  My “Rainin’ Men” mental imagery has shifted in the hour I’ve been in this Tim’s: It’s Raining Men! (The Weather Girls)  Still pretty fun though…

I explain that another Tim’s date might be better.  I’m pretty sure that – with any normal guy – my body language and lack of encouragement would be fairly strong signals that even the second coffee date isn’t really going to happen.  Not so sure Stan is that normal of a guy though.

I get up and exit quickly, with Stan disconcertingly tight to my coat tails.  Somehow I escape to my car.  He seems to dissolve in another direction although I can’t see where he might be parked.  I hop in my little car, lock it, start the defrost going and get those wipers slapping.

Finally alone and able to relax, I at last check the message Loven left me over an hour ago.  As I do so I can’t help but notice no other car has left the parking lot, even though Stan did seem to evaporate.  It slowly dawns on me that poor guy quite possibly walked or bussed it here.  In this weather.  I pity him.

But – ah, yes.  It really is rainin’ men, though.  And I’ll tell you more about it next time.

All for now,

 

Butterfly

 

 

shazbot

Sex and the Single Butterfly

The truth is that the only way to get comfortable with socializing again is to socialize.  I know that this is likely the case based on my experiences in similar areas – driving and performing would be some good examples.  Right now I feel awkward interacting with men, saying I’m single, all that stuff.  So, as a New Year’s Resolution, I’ve determined that I must practice.  Until I’m better at it.  Comfortable at least.

Chief among other reasons to get back out there is one I learned in high school physics class:  inertia.  When I’m in motion, I tend to stay in motion.  When I’m in pajamas, I tend to stay in pajamas.  The days when I’m flying solo present a bit of a dilemma this way.  It’s easy to get into a funk, then wake up Wednesday morning feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing in my kid-free time.  At least if I have to get dressed for a coffee date it’ll start me moving again.

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Hopefully – if I can get moving! – I can keep moving.

So this week I ventured past the “Welcome” screen and signed up at a dating sight.  In the end, it turned out NOT to be Lava Life.  I found one a bit more user friendly, where my profile WASN’T deleted somehow, again and again, and the guys I browsed seemed to have a bit more potential.  In the interests of modesty, I won’t name the site.

Another thing I didn’t like on Lava Life was having to click from five choices of what your were “looking for”.  These included friends, casual dates, “relationship” (vague!), a long term partner, and (dreaded term!) “hook-ups”.  I’m sorry, but any man who has checked off that last one has ruled himself out for me.  Too risky.

On the other hand, from the men’s point of view, I’m not sure I’ve ever met one who wouldn’t be at least tempted to “hook up”, faced with an opportunity.  So NOT checking it off might lead me to believe that the guy’s either lying or gay.  Perhaps he’s not red blooded enough for me.  Which is dicey because I’m just old enough that some of the men who would be interested are of an age where they may need to “See Alice” themselves before a make-out session.  That doesn’t sound appealing (no offense – I still feel a bit young for that).

And – heavens! – men now have to decipher whether it means a woman is slutty and available (if clicked “yes”) or cold and prudish (if clicked “no”).  Along with the whole other mind game of “is she being honest or just coy?” that men seem apt to jump to.  Where no matter what you say men assume they know better and you meant the opposite.

Anyhow,  I don’t want to get into another relationship where I’m absolutely ALWAYS required to make the first move.  Or one where I’m being pressured into being more physical or acting more “committed” than I’m ready to be.  Better to take the whole question of one-night stands off the table.  Right now I’m just looking to make friends.  Of course I’d like to meet somebody special.  In time.  It doesn’t have to be by next week.

My first day online I made myself available for “chat”, which is an evening rush hour of basically texting on the computer screen with whoever comes along.  Yikes.  What a wasteland.  Within an hour two “American service men posted overseas on peace keeping missions” tried to get my email address.  One didn’t even speak English decently, even though he insisted on using the name Scott Miller and claiming he was from Schenectady, New York.  Scott was very eager to get my email address, claiming the connection wasn’t very good, and said he wanted to “send me picture of his hause”.  He also insisted he was a peace keeper in Syria.  He got off the chat like the keyboard was on fire when I questioned this.  Since Syria isn’t at peace right now, it was kind of a no brainer.

By the way, if you’re female and considering the exciting world of online dating you may find this link handy.  Current UN peacekeeping missions  Just to help you weed out the liars a bit more quickly.

The other one was lying too, by the way.  Afghanistan isn’t on that list either.

I quickly weeded out a few other Americans after that.  Apologies, but I’m not sure what you could want from me if you live much more than 20 km away.  Bowling sometime is pretty much out of the question.

The next guy was a bit more local, but not great.  Perth is a couple hours away.  He also broke one of my two cardinal rules, being a PhD.  The other is a smoker.  Unsure which is more of a turn off.

I ended up on the telephone with this guy.  He was kind of pushy and got me to do this even though I felt uncomfortable.  He thought we had “lots in common” based on some Venn diagram he was no doubt making with our answers to the vague “interests” you select from in making a profile.  All things which sound like fun and give most people who haven’t met the impression they have a lot more in common than they actually have.

Early on in the conversation, this fellow pushed me to concede that it would be okay with me that he was a little overweight, and that – for some reason – he only had one ear.  I could tell by experience that this guy, Andy, would hold me to these commitments for the rest of my life if given half the chance.  I really had trouble to stay focused on what he was saying as he drawled on about his field.

In asking me about myself One-Eared Andy repeatedly blurted “Oh!  I’m sorry” at the strangest of times.  He was sorry I had my kids on my own, sorry I was able to put other people’s needs above my own, etc.  When I said, on the contrary, I thought putting other people’s needs first made me a very functional member of society – a good wife, mother, and employee – he said “Sounds very Dr. Phil.”  After this remark he asked me if I would take ballroom dancing lessons with him.  I kid you not.  That’s what the man did.

Ballroom dancing lessons, by the way, would be on a short list of things I would absolutely hate as date suggestions.  For me it’s one of those things you can’t control it but – for whatever reason – you just can’t stand.  Pink floyd and doing drugs together would also make the list.

Very soon I thought One-Eared Andy was – in the immortal words of Mork from Ork – a real nimnos.  Then he said something like “sounds like you have commitment issues.”

#%^^*&(&()*)^%&%*?????  

Okay.  What?  I’m 45, and just leaving an almost 20 year marriage.  He’s 47 and never had a partner because “work came first”  (And also because he has one ear, weighs 300 pounds, and is a jerk).  What.  An.  Asshole.

shazbot

“Ha ha, nimnos!  Shazbot, you’re caught!”

Once upon a time, in my university days, I had a group of lesbian friends.  One night, after egging me on for a while, they finally talked me into going dancing at a gay bar.  It was a hoot.  I had a great time.  We danced all night, laughed with be-sequined queens in the free flowing washrooms, and finally landed at a breakfast joint for eggs at about 6 am.  Then one of my friends, Andrea, put her hand on my leg under the table.  Like fairly far up my leg.

I was uncomfortable with this and I said so.  I said something like “If you were a guy I would have slapped you by now.  Do you think you can get away with that just because you’re a woman?”

Andrea was a bit drunk, and all I got back for my honesty was some slurred together smack about my close-mindedness and the continued presence of her hand on my thigh, which I then firmly removed myself.  But I learned a valuable lesson that night.

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This is a picture of a nice looking dike.  You get the point.

Sometimes people want to pressure you into doing things you’re not ready or willing to do by trying to turn the tables and make it YOUR problem instead of theirs’.  I’d just spent the whole night out with my friends, proving to them that they as people came before their sexual orientation to me.  I was okay with who they were, even to the point of entering the bar and dancing with them.  But a photo of my boyfriend (who didn’t enjoy dancing and had stayed home with relish) was still in my wallet.  They needed to be okay with who I was too.

Don’t let people push you to “Prove you’re okay with that” .  Ironically, these sort of pushy people are, in fact, simply showing they’re NOT okay with YOU.  And if they want to prove that is NOT, in fact, the case, they will absolutely need to back off and give you your space.

I sense that some men online will use the “commitment issues” line that way too.  Trying to push you to do or act like more than you are ready to feel.  But I have to hold my ground here:  I know I don’t have commitment issues and that these guys have no right to expect me to prove otherwise.  I’m not beholden to any of them in any way.

I’m continuing to meet people and will let you know how it goes.

All for now,

 

Butterfly

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What I want our school to know

The clock in the office is six minutes fast.  I don’t set the time on my cellphone, so why do I have 9:19 while you have 9:25 already?  This fact alone gives me the impression our school’s administration is determined to set me up for failure.  The truth is:  I worked my tail off to end up late for school by four minutes.  At least you could give me that.  I’m four minutes late.  Not ten.

I probably shouldn’t have opened with this point.  I’m giving you the impression I’m mad at the school today.  And I’m not, although I probably gave them this impression as well.  What I really am is totally freaking humiliated.

This morning’s walk to school with Booba was pretty demoralizing.  Lou wasn’t late, although Boo tried hard to make her be.  And Boo wasn’t on time, although Lou and I tried ever so hard to get him there, my voice alternating between masseuse and drill sargent all the long (!) walk there.  When 7 minutes become 25.  Again.

There was a 5 minute window, once we arrived on the school yard, when we weren’t even at all sure where Booba was anymore.  I was getting kind of worried he wasn’t coming, that he may have run off.  I probably shouldn’t have asked him to carry his own book bag.  I’d slung it in his direction right before he disappeared.

In any case, we just couldn’t catch sight of him, dallying somewhere beyond the schoolyard fence and the sea of portables blocking our view of the sidewalk.  Lou stopped walking forward and started turning in anxious circles, making it unlikely even she would would make it on time, even though I spotted her class enjoying a few minutes outside in the kinder yard less than a hundred feet away.

Finally Booba reappeared, a small figure begrudging his way along, spring coat unzipped.  Still without snow pants.

Sorry about that snow pants things, by the way.  He was brazenly proud the other day, telling me how he “sneaked out to recess” without pulling them on again.  Imagines of my kid, sitting at his desk all afternoon in soaking wet pants as all snow and ice that’s stuck to the fleece slowly melts, haunt my waking hours lately.  The janitor must scratch his head at the puddle under that one chair every evening.

Thank you, teacher, for your appreciative email when I brought some warm outside clothes to school for him.  I still can’t believe his dad sent him with only the light coat and no snow pants at all those two days.  Yes, I am aware it was minus 25 Celsius with the wind chill.  When you couldn’t reach his dad that day, I called his office and got him.  He snapped at me that “The school should ask A” where his snow pants were.  Then he hung up on me.  I can’t believe this is the guy who is beating me at the parenting game.   Is he really “beating me”, or is it just a feeling?  Lately my anxiety is off the hook.

On that note, I can’t believe that parenting has become a game I have to win at in the first place.  A popularity contest.  My ex was always way better at manipulating external impressions of the situation than me.  Is that what my life with my children boils down to now?  Have optics become all that matters?  I’m playing a game I’m not good at and the kids know it???  I can feel Boo manipulating my uncertainty.

Honestly, everything I thought I knew about parenting has been washed clean away.   Separation has left me on a bare beach of white sand, directionless, with no tracks to follow.

I have to agree with my ex for being irritated, though.  Boo can be difficult. Intractable really.  Just not sure how much I really  pity their dad.  He has been giving lessons in disrespect, then gets angry when he reaps what he’s sown: “Kid doesn’t listen to me.  Tell them to ask HIM where his pants are!”

For my own part, I’m really tired of trying to help my kid to listen – to me as well as to you teacher people and all the other important adults in his life.  It’s been the one big issue, ever since our son was a preschooler.

Now I’m getting kind of worried I myself will end up having meltdown on the playground one day.  That really wouldn’t help us, I know, but  – you see – our family’s issues have been going on and on and on and I’m exhausted from it all at this point.  Other than the emotional support we get from our many friends, I’m alone with my kids now.  I have to cope with them alone.  We need help – I know we need a new strategy – but I can’t figure out where would be a safe place to say that.   I’d like to feel like school is a safe place, where everyone’s on our team, but I really don’t.  I’m not that stupid.  That’s not how it works.  Any grouchy or nasty person in the yard or hallway – any one at all, really –  can get me, can get us, into big trouble.  It would only take one quick cell call.

All I have to do is lose my temper at that kid.  Maybe even all I need to do is look grouchy.

And when I feel that defensive I think I come off more irritable and “angry” at Boo than I really am.  It’s a psychological defense mechanism for me, I know, because I wish people knew what I’ve done to try to get him there on time, and what I was up against on the way, but this defensiveness only makes the problem worse because the optics of that are just very, very bad.  Knowing I can’t feel grouchy makes my grouchy feelings even worse, and grouchy makes it look like the “problem” is ME.

This morning I was really exasperated – I only wanted to be able to say there was at least one “good” morning while he was here.  He does like to brag that he is “never late with Dad“.  So it would have been something at least to have one day when we didn’t need a late slip.

In honour of this goal, I prepared lunches  and packed their bags last night.  Their outside clothes were hanging up.  Their wet mitts from last evening’s outdoor sledding adventure (because I also want him to be healthy, love the ourdoors, and to cut back on his screen time) were toasty warm and dry after all night on the rack over the heat duct.  This morning I was up before them, and had breakfast, with glasses of milk, on the table for them by 8:15.  I also laid their clothes out for them.

I had to yell over top of Booba’s voice for Lou to hear my instructions to get her snow pants on at 8:50, and competed for her attention with the rude comedy show he decided to stage at the same time.  Sometimes I wonder if he has Tourette Syndrome.  School starts at 9:15 and – by 8:55 – I already had that sinking feeling that we weren’t going to make it, again.

When I ask Booba to do something he doesn’t move.  I count how many times I have to ask, but I’m watching the clock now and start steaming once I get to five and he’s still ignoring me .  The moment I start yelling seems to be the moment he begins to stir.  When he does, he also screeches back at me for raising my voice, as if I’ve been completely unreasonable doing that.  He makes me feel like I’ve physically hurt him, reacting that way.  Watching him finally put on only one sock (then he’s off – distracted again) is a pretty hollow victory.  Not worth half the guilt in my opinion.  And it’s merely one tiny step of the seemingly dozens I’ll have to painstakingly spell out for this kid before he is finally read to leave for school.

Lou Lou, meanwhile, is cheerfully sweating and playful with her big brother, which distracts him further.  She’s wearing not only snow pants, coat and boots, but a dickie, ski mitts, and a furry black Penguin hat.

Right now I feel like I’m all that Boo has got.  And he doesn’t seem to get that I’m on his side.  Nothing seems to matter to him.  He knows that he’ll lose all screens for everyone the rest of the weekend if he is late today, yet he makes us all late anyway.   I arrive home and power down the two tvs and put their tablets on a shelf high up in the closet, but tonight I know he’ll act like he doesn’t care about his PlayStation game or Netflix, even though it sure looks like those are the only things he cares about lately.  I think he feels a bit like “everything he cares about gets taken away” anyhow, so he’s trying to be impassive.  It’s a dumb attitude considering how much he really has, most of the time.

How can I get him to really care about anything again?

Our “weekend” together ends at 10 AM on Sunday.  I hate to spend the rest of the short and precious time we have together punishing all of us.  Including Lou Lou, who hasn’t done anything wrong.

I feel like Booba’s got the impression that you don’t need to show any respect anywhere, to anyone, at any time, or to follow any of society’s rules.  And I don’t know how to snap him out of this.  Most of the time he’s a really great kid – reasonable, nice to talk to, and sensitive of others.  What start these fits with him?  It feels like I have Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde here then, instead of my seven year old son.

And why, once again, is everything is so, so difficult! for my son while my daughter is placid, smooth sailing?  One friend says she’s modelling herself after me.  The calm parent in private life.

This might be accurate, but it’s hard for me to say it because it involves actually firmly pointing the finger at Dad, who’s saying things to them like “Your mommy is an eff-ing b-word” and “Never get married.  Women steal all your money.”  It’s hard to listen to my son saying this (and worse) and know that my own dad was right a while ago when he worried that a misogynist father raises a misogynist son.

I love my son.  I don’t want him to become that person!

It’s also hard to say some things may be beyond my control because this requires me to accept that, for now, I may not be able to fix everything pronto by changing my approach somehow.  Maybe I need to let Boo take the fall-out by himself, including possibly doing poorly at school and losing allies with that oh-so defiant attitude he’s sporting these days.

And, of course, I should have more confidence in myself.  I always look for what I did wrong.  Like the world is on my shoulders.  I’m really a very good mom, daymares of CAS taking the kids away notwithstanding.

I don’t know the procedure for requesting my son spend some one on one with the school psychologist or how bad things need to be for the school to expend resources on him that way.  I’ve already got him into the learning assessment process, which has been unfolding in a series of one-on-ones this week with the Resource Teacher (maybe another reason his behaviour is spiking), but  I continue to feel embarrassed about how things are unfolding with him.  The learning assessment should highlight any learning differences that are underlying issues, from dyslexia to a high IQ, yet I know the tough time we’ve all been going through cannot be discounted.  Should he see the school psychologist?  I’m not even sure if it’s the right thing or not.  Just I love my kid and want us to do better as a team.  The school may end up suggesting this step anyhow, as an outcome of the process he’s in now.

I kind of hate being on the school’s radar this way – it makes all my anxieties feel worse –  but, realistically, I know we’ve already been on the radar for a while.  I arrived at the office feeling disgusted with Alex this morning and loudly encouraged him to ask for his own late slip.  I’m pretty sure no one missed that.  On the other hand, even his lovely teacher has emailed me to pick my brain.  She wanted to find out MY mechanisms for coping with his obstinate behaviour.  So I know other people know he’s being difficult.  Other people, even the pros, have already fessed up:  They’re not sure what to do with this kid either.

And:  Breathe out.

What can I do right now to ensure the school knows I want to work with them to get this fixed?  I want the school to know I’m on their side in this.  Obviously he needs to follow the rules, and – to some extent at least – conform to others’ expectations.  But, in my defense, it seems like I’ve already done what I can to let them know I’m an ally.  And the process that may lead to better help for Booba has, in fact, already begun.

 

Butterfly

smartisthenewsexy

Me, Sex, and Sheldon Cooper

I am sitting at my computer, trying my hand at blogging again today.  For the first time in a really, really long time.  For some time now I’ve debated whether this particular activity was actually going to be a part of my Whole New Life or not.  Today, I just felt like I needed to write.  The comma fault here is intentional.

I’m still not entirely sure whether confessional blogging is going to be part of my new life or not.  It may just be today.  I’m testing the waters again.  To see how it feels.

Last night and this morning I felt like it’s finally hitting me that I am well on the path to being a “Gay Divorcée” now, which is really not as fun or exciting as Fred Astaire made it sound in the movie title.  And I was already a single parent.  In fact – functionally – I’ve been one for some time now.  So it’s surprising perhaps that it’s still only slowly dawning on me that that’s what I’ve become: a stereotypical single mom, with all the stigma the title implies.  My kids even have a dad who lives at a different address and hates my guts.  How classic is that?

gay-divorcee

Ahh, for the days when divorce was gay!  And “gay” was, ummm, different.

I LOVE my new house, btw.  I got here in October, after a tremendously trying and intense most of 2015, and it is turning out to be a truly peaceful and private place for me.  A sanctuary.  It’s beautiful, it’s perfect, and – finally – our friends truly feel welcome.  That awkwardness is gone.  So this change has been good and – in the end – worth every bit of the incredible pain we endured to get here.

But – sometimes – I’m lonely.  I don’t mean that kind of lonely when I come back to the empty house after dropping Boo and Lou at their dad’s, although I do get that feeling every week and manage to get through it. I mean adult companionship kind of lonely.  As in needing a connection, like missing having a special someone you can text at the end of a long workday and say “Hey, wanna grab a burger or something?”  or someone who cares where you are and what time you’ll be pulling in the driveway.  But also the kind of lonely that makes my buddy Kim feel the need to suggest we could drive to Montreal for a “naughty shopping trip in a place where no one knows you”.  Because apparently there’s an app (as in appliance) for that.  And an app would probably be a good thing right now because it might prevent me from getting into a human relationship –  with the inconvenience of feelings of attachment and so on – before I’m really ready to get into all that again.  Afterall, I’m not yet able to bring my head and heart along for the ride.

Still, I’m ever so slightly repulsed by this idea.  I’m just prudish enough for that.

As an aside, I think it might be a bit pathetic that it’s taken me all this time to begin to think about myself as a person who is potentially in want of a new companion.  I’ve been alone a while.  The last five years of our marriage my husband and I lived under the same roof but weren’t partners in any other sense of the word.  And it’s only recently that I’m coming to the realization that this break really was his choice, and that I executed the act of literally “leaving” only because I finally couldn’t go on living like that anymore.

In other words, he rejected me.  Everything else is merely fall-out from this…  me reacting to that fact.  So I can no longer say I initiated the split, because really that’s a misrepresentation.  This realization also hurts.

I’ve looked at online dating sites.  I’ve only got as far as the “Enter” screens of these sorts of places, though.  I didn’t sign up for any, or even bother trying to look to see what sort of fellows were in there (probably not like the Ryan Gosling lookalike profile pics in the ads).  I kind of felt like I was standing outside a bar I was too chicken to go into.

Sometimes I try to imagine how I’d feel if a friend tried to set me up on a blind date.  Thrilled, or terrified?

Ryan-Gosling-Taking-Break-From-Acting

This is my blind date?  Okay…  I mean, maybe I’m not totally terrified afterall…

Mostly, I just ended up reading comments sections underneath third party online articles concerning the dating websites.  And I have to say those comments gave a pretty mixed message about the whole scene.  They didn’t alleviate my fears, put it that way.

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Apparently my blind date is more likely to resemble this fella.  And expect me to “put out” after, if many of the ladies’ comments are to be believed…  Now I’m not so thrilled.

 

By the way, Bachelor #2 is not looking for a long term commitment with a woman like me either because, apparently, he can score better.  Easily 10 to 15 years better, if the comments sections are to be believed.

My friends haven’t actually suggested setting me up on any blind dates yet either, to be honest.  I’m pretty sure the consensus there is that I’m just not ready for that step. Not yet anyhow.

So what I have been doing lately – thanks to Google Play – is watching a whole lot of The Big Bang Theory.  It’s a show I’d heard of and been curious about for a while, but never actually seen until now and, lately, it’s my favourite mental junk food.  Fortunatelythere are 9 seasons of this junk food available for me to catch up on.  So lots of distraction from the real world.

bigbangtheory

Being a bit distracted from the real world right now isn’t likely the worse thing that could be going on with me while I heal.  I’m still licking my wounds of anger at the horrible names my children come back to me with after they spend time with the Boy Genius.  The words my ex is spewing about me make an unreal comparison to the thoughts and fond memories that came flooding back to me once I finally got some space.  So – hey! – I could be drinking, or worse.  Another woman or man might choose to cope with their pain that way.

When I was a kid I used to hide in books, but my husband stole that pleasure from me with the stream of criticism I had to listen to whenever he caught me with one.  One of my goals for 2016 is to read for pleasure again, without the anxiety or guilt I learned while hiding this dirty, impractical habit from “HIM” for the last 19 years.

So – for now – I guess there are worse addictions than hiding in a world of warm and convivial sitcom laugh tracks and forgetting for a while that what I am basking in the warm glow of is actually the television, and that these “new friends” I am bonding with cannot see me back and have no idea who I am or that I’m actually alive.  And they wouldn’t care if they did:  apparently Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki make $1 million an episode.  Each.  That pretty much puts my little life in perspective right there.

Too much television may be addictive, but at least it’s not sex, drugs or rock and roll.  And I do recognize it for the bad habit it is.

At first I thought of my new found passion for Sheldon, Leonard, Penny and the guys as a kind of defiant rebellion against BG.  I fancied Leonard as the type of guy I’d go for – smart but warm, cool but insecure.  In short, someone very human, very vulnerable.  No more Vulcans for me.

As the episodes passed across the screen, however, and I kept finding myself clicking next after next on Google Play, I began to realise that my compulsion for the slowly evolving characters and plot wasn’t about Penny and Leonard anymore.  Instead, I found myself watching to see what would happen next as the relationship between Amy and Sheldon unfolded.

sheldonandamykiss

oh my…

I didn’t see that one coming.

As the survivor of a relationship with a male who certainly acted much of the time like an emotionless walking time bomb, the blow-up that preceded Sheldon and Amy’s kiss felt like very familiar territory.  Comfort in anger as a “safe” emotion to take refuge in when other feelings are frightening is something I have lived with in another person and that fact is something akin to traumatic for me now.  I could feel fear and disgust building up inside Amy herself as I watched that scene.  Maybe I was projecting.  Seeing her surrender to the kiss made me at once jealous and sad for her.  The fact that it came about the way it did isn’t all that promising for Sheldon’s emotional evolution, is it?

The cautionary part of this tale for me is that a Sheldon Cooper who can no longer resist the urge to take me in his arms is still basically the kind of guy I’m attracted to.  So it looks like I’m not ready to meet and interact with an only mildly nerdy and perhaps not super off-the-charts intelligent guy at something normal like the local bistro, or maybe French class.  This from the girl who wept her way through the last half of The Rosie Effect, which was just way too raw a thing to be reading last summer.

When I met (and was swept off my feet by – yes, I can admit that now) my soon-to-be ex-husband my goal was to marry and mate with the most intelligent man I could find.  I’ve since has time to reconsider that at leisure, planning how next time I would be attracted to someone chubby and fun-loving, someone I could talk to like one of the girls, someone into feelings and shopping and laughing at foibles together.  Time to stop taking all my “hot partner” clues out of the pages of Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre.  Ah, but old habits die hard!

smartisthenewsexy

A picture similar to this one online had the title “Smart is the new sexy.”  I LOVE smart, but how much is too much?  Is it over-reacting to want to push myself towards “less smart” fellas as potential relationship partners next time around?  What if I’m just not attracted to non-brainiac men?

So.  What should I do next?  Keep blogging or quit for good?  Start dating or stay as I am a while longer?  Like “supersmart” still or look for “super nice” in 2016?

Nice to be back,

Butterfly