Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

February 21, 2007

"Based on my tarot card reading..."

I think you will agree that my title today is not a promising way to begin any sentence. And it certainly is no way to create a strategic battle plan. Despite all of this, I found myself starting a recent journal entry that very same way (yes, I do save my true, inner ramblings for illegible, serial killer scrawl within the pages of my bedside journal). I knew as I was writing that it sounded ridiculous (I even made a witty parenthetical note about it immediately after writing it), but I also was aware that what was to follow these silly words was something powerful that could change my life.

Based on my tarot card reading....I am going to have to get a lot more strategic in my dating life.

Duh. Any dumb ass could have --or should have --thought of this already without the aid of a tarot-card reading friend. Nevertheless, that is how I apparently needed to figure it out.

I've been going at this husband searching thing so half-assed. I've been focusing on what I don't have or am not getting instead of setting a goal for what I want and then strategizing how to get it. (And yes, I'm well aware this applies to just about every aspect of my life - particularly my career. But this is not a career blog is it?)

So now comes the scariest question...."What the hell do I want?"
Not what my friends have, or what society tells me I'm supposed to have. What do I actually want? I've been sitting on this for days now, and I think I'm getting close.

Here is the list to date (no pun intended):

1. To find love and get married. Note the "find love" part. I already know I won't settle for the "get married" part without the "find love" part.

2. Have at least one child.

3. The guy has to be at least my height (5'9"), and that's even pushing it.

OK. So these first three are absolutely non-negotiable. The remainder of the list is where I'm struggling. How much of a deal breaker is the rest of it? If he's really great, would I bend these rules? Should I? Here they are:

4. Must have a solid and proven (meaning I have seen it myself on more than one occasion) group of friends. No loners.

5. Must have a college degree. Wildly successful businessmen with demonstrated ability to accomplish long-term goals are the only exception.

6. Financially stable. Note: not rich. But able to manage money and make more than me (that's not that hard is it!?). Home and/or condo ownership a bonus.

7. Likes animals and is not opposed to owning at least one cat and one dog simultaneously.

8. Does not want more than 2 kids. That's my max (imposed by my clearly understood patience level and low tolerance for noise, and my biological clock).

9. Does not play video games on a regular basis. If he owns an XBox or anything like it, he must demonstrate to me that he only takes it out when one specific friend from back east comes to visit. (Extra points if he can't resist a stand-up Galaga machine though).

10. Has at least one of the following qualities (but by no means no more than two): organized, plans ahead,good time manager, efficient, energetic, punctual.

11. As for religion he can fall into only the following categories: Jewish (no more than Reformed, or maybe a very liberal Conservative), agnostic, spiritual but not religious, atheist but doesn't think people who do believe in God are stupid, Christian by birth but doesn't really think Jesus Christ is the son of God, Buddhist, Taoist, any nature based religion. Basically if you think Jesus is the Savior, or are a Mormon, Muslim or Satanist, you're not my dream guy. But God bless ya....

There are still a few areas where I haven't made up my mind. These are:

a) Ethnicity - I suppose white-ish (define that someone?), but just because this would mean we might be able to avoid a lot of hot-button issues that are hard enough even when you aren't married to each other. But would I turn down a great man because of it? No way. So I guess this is not a deal breaker, but a yellow caution light.

b) Owns a motorcycle and is very passionate about it. I wouldn't or couldn't make a guy give up one of his passions just because I can't handle the 99% certainty he'll get in an accident.

c) Wants to ultimately end up settled somewhere God-awful. Like Floribama or Podunk, Nebraska.

d) Workaholic - When I'm with him he's fantastic and he earns a ton of money for us to potentially spend. But he never gets any time to spend it.

e) Has terrible fashion sense and is resistant to suggestions. At the very least he needs to have cool taste in shoes.

f) Has children. I think that is a BIG "it depends" but I might be able to qualify it by saying he can only have one kid, be on good terms with the ex, and be a good father. No, "Oh yeah I have a kid but he's hardly ever around so don't worry about it." Yes, I have heard that before and it is NOT a plus.

g) Family problems. Do I really have a right to go there? Well, I think I can qualify again here: Has a messed up family and DOESN'T KNOW IT, or know how to handle it.

h) Thinks therapy is absolutely a joke and huge waste of time and money.

So that's as far as I've gotten. Perhaps you've learned surprising new things about me (like I'm a racist, materialistic, baby hungry wench? Hopefully not). Or maybe you learned something about yourself. Or you're just thanking God you are off the market and don't have to think about this shit anymore.Either way, I will try to consult this list along the way to make sure I'm staying true to my word.

Oh, the man update if you care:

Rabbi M. - We spoke soon after I persuaded him via email. He was flippant and kind of a jerk. Asked me to do something that weekend but he seemed noncommittal and a bit hostile about it. I emailed him the next day to cancel saying I had forgotten about a birthday party I had to go to (true). As expected, he never contacted me again to reschedule. I was relieved.

Blind Date - I wish I had given him my exit survey so I would know whey I never heard from him again.

Match.com Guy - Yes, I just joined (partially for more material for my blog:-). We have a "just drinks" first date next week. He sounds nice. What the heck else can I say at this point?

Dismissed.

February 13, 2007

Please take a moment to tell me what you think of me...

I went on a blind date the other day. When people ask with an amused expression on their face, as you likely are right now, "How was it?" I have a really hard time answering. I feel this way about almost all blind dates.

Here is how I am answering all blind date questions from now on as I've learned there isn't much more you can say after going from "complete stranger" to "a guy I'm dating" in 2.5 emails and one phone call.

Either
a) It was awful. I will never see him again.
or
b) It wasn't awful. I would go out with him again if the opportunity presented itself.

Perhaps you will be happy to know that the friend of a friend I went out with falls into the "b" category.

But so what? The operative part of answer b is "if the opportunity presented itself."

I approach first dates the same as job interviews. At the age of 34, there is only one thing I know - I am completely incapable of being anyone but myself. So I decided a long time ago to not get nervous on first dates or job interviews and just do the one thing I know how - be myself (but no martinis during the job interview).

Because of this, I think I'm a pretty damn good first date. I'm not timid or overbearing, I'm friendly, I ask a lot of questions, have interesting things to say, almost always make the guy laugh, and generally keep the conversation moving. With a few very glaring exceptions, I've never had a first date or an interview that outright bombed.

I have, however, not been called back for a second interview or a second date despite what I thought was a pretty good showing. Here's where the comparison between the two scenarios quickly ends. You can follow up and be a pest when going after a job. In fact, it's expected.
Quite the opposite with a date, right?

If I am really confident post-date, I will send the guy an email saying, "I had a great time, blah, blah." Basically the thank you letter of dating. But for the most part, I've been repeatedly told by guys and girls alike that the man should make the next move for date #2.

But more often than I would prefer, he simply disappears. Maybe people are just trying to make me feel better, but I've heard this happens to lots of other men and women too. Sometimes I have no idea why and it is shockingly sudden (like with Rabbi M. - until I pestered him, that is). Other times he will just fade away.

In the majority of these disapperance cases, I barely notice or care. He was a complete stranger after all. A fellow soldier I passed on the battlefield, maybe shared some grub in the mess tent for an hour or two. Hardly any time to get attached, so relatively easy to let go. But it would be really nice to have a little feedback before he was gone for good, wouldn't it?

So, here's my idea. A dating exit survey. It would go something like this.

At the awkward end of a first date, you hand him this just as you part ways.

Dear (name of date),
Thank you for spending time with me (today, tonight). I know we are both busy people and our time is valuable, so I hope it was a worthwhile experience for you.

As is often the case with first dates, you may be considering making this our last date as well. I may be thinking the same thing and, I assure you, there are no hard feelings if this is the case. However, I would like to ask you to take a few moments to evaluate your experience with me (today, tonight) so that I can better serve my first dates in the future.

Please answer the following questions as honestly as possible and return to me in this pre-addressed, stamped envelope.

Q1. I plan on contacting you again.
a) Yes
b) No
c) Not Sure

If yes, skip the rest of the survey and give me a call when you want to go out again. I swear I'm pretty fun on a second date too.
If you answered No or Maybe, please continue on to Q2

Q2. I will not be contacting you again because (check all that apply):
a) I felt our personalities were just not a match
b) You talked too much
c) I wasn't attracted to you
d) Our religious beliefs aren't a fit
e) We don't have the same taste in music
f) You drink too much
g)I hate tennis
h) I suspect you may have used drugs
i) You're weird
j) You are too into your cat
k) I'm too short for you
l) I can tell you want to get married - soon
m) You didn't have sex with me tonight
n) You brought up your mom
o) We live too far away from each other
p) You don't care about your career enough
q) You ordered an appetizer AND dessert
r) I'm afraid I'll show up in your blog

Thank you for your time. Drive carefully.

What's wrong with a little data gathering? I mean, how the hell are you supposed to go out there and sell your "product" without a little feedback from the customer? That would NEVER fly in the business world, so how is it supposed to work in dating? I just need a little feedback. It doesn't mean I'll change who I am. I may ignore the data completely. It is after all, only their opinion.

In consumer research, it is brand perception that matters. The actual product is almost insignificant. Especially if it has already been through extensive product redevelopment in its late 20s and is about as good as it's going to get.

Why the hell do I always choose Ivory soap instead of Lever 2000? They haven't done a damn thing to change Ivory in 50 years, but I believe it is the best soap on the market. And I'm sure that perception was caused by millions of dollars of consumer research conducted by Procter & Gamble to find out what consumers thought about Ivory soap, and then another ten million working to change that perception through clever ads with babies' butts and white, fluffy towels.

The same goes with first dates. I need this data to see where I am to start with. Then I can evaluate what consumer perceptions I need to work on changing (if any). How else can you do this without some preliminary data gathering?

The scary part is that the problem with my product could be that the customer base I am targeting is all wrong to begin with. So I just have to keep dating, and dating - changing the customer base until my product is sold once and for all. I just hope I haven't reached my expiration date by then.

So does this mean I'll have to change metaphors (similies technically) for this blog? Dating is Marketing? It just doesn't have the same ring does it?

February 10, 2007

It's More The Guerrilla Type

It's important to make clear that when I say "Dating is Warfare," I'm not talking about your Good vs. Evil, Allies vs. Axis, Us vs. Them traditional type of war. Everyone knows that kind of war doesn't exist anymore in the real world, or in dating for that matter. I'm not saying that men are the Enemy, or that women are the Heroes.

When considering my analogy, I think it's best to envision the Guerrilla warfare more typical of today. No one is absolutely right. No one is completely wrong. Everyone's just scrambling, trying to get their hands on what they think is best for them and their own tight-knit circle. Unfortunately, some bloodshed may be required.

Think of Iraq if you will. "Insurgents." Who are these people? What exactly are they fighting for or against? And what are the Americans fighting for or against? And the Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiites...are they all particularly evil? Or right? (Fundamentalists aside, OK). I bet if you got a few of them alone in neutral territory, gave 'em a piece of pie, and just asked them for their perspective on the situation, they would probably make at least some sense to you. Most people just want to survive, be happy, and find what's best for them. Most importantly, survive.

That's what dating is. For men AND women. So when I say this is warfare, I mean that we are ALL struggling out on that battlefield just trying to survive and, hopefully, thrive. It may feel like men are the enemy sometimes, but if I had the chance to get some guy with real Evildoer tendencies into neutral territory and just get him talking about what's really going on in his head, I'll bet he wouldn't qualify for membership in the Axis of Evil. He's probably just following whatever tactical strategies have worked for him in the past to survive.

Yes, there are legitimate dating Evildoers out there just looking for a kill. Not a lot, but they certainly exist (and I have dated at least one of them). But these Evildoers are men, women, straight, gay, married, single, confused. All you can do while slogging through the battlefield is keep alert, look for signs and hope to God you don't stumble across one of them in your journey. Kind of like an IED.

I guess what we are all hoping for is to find someone out there who uses - or at least understands- the same homegrown guerrilla tactics we've become comfortable with. Then, you can work together to build your own encampment and hold your ground. If all goes well, the encampment turns into a territory with some sketchily defined borders.

With the right paperwork and a little luck, you can ultimately earn entry into the globally recognized United Nations of relationships, enjoying all the benefits of membership -- and all of its drawbacks as well.

Ahhh, marriage.

February 7, 2007

Diplomacy is Always the Best Option

I really should consider a career change because my last ditch effort at negotiation and diplomacy with Rabbi M seems to have resulted in some minor success. His reply to my "I'm not that big of a loser, really. You should rethink that dealbreaker of yours" email follows:

"Well, you should have been a lawyer or maybe in sales...hmmmmm. You write a convincing e-mail and I am up for another shot. Lets talk.. "

Kind of cryptic, but the lines of communication are at least reestablished and the battlefield is temporarily cleared of landmines.

I promise to shed some light on my warfare metaphor soon, but this initial battle has been such a cliffhanger I had to report on that first.


February 6, 2007

Ouch, I've Been Hit!

Quick update from the battlefield:
I heard back from Rabbi M. and his response is the equivalent of getting shot in the ass by my own gun. Here it is...

"Hey there - hope you are good. First off - I suck and I am lame for not calling - I was up in LA all weekend - all is well. Second, I was thinking about our date- which was great. I think the smoking is a deal breaker for me, so I am sorry - you know I am honest and direct so wanted to tell you straight up. I would call now, but it may be late. Please take care..."

Let me set the record straight, the only reason my "smoking" came up on this date at all was because he freakin' ASKED me to tell him what my secret "bad girl" behavior was. If he didn't like the answer (and he seemed fine at the time when I explained my very occassional recreational smoking), then why would he ask? Perhaps he was expecting something like, "Every Saturday night I go to bed without flossing." Who knows. But I must admit I'm embarrassed. It' s about as bad as not getting a dream job because you took a few puffs that previous weekend. Stupid and a waste. I'd much rather reach Veteran status than giggle at something stupid and overeat once every few months. So here was my reply..I doubt I'll hear back.

"Thanks for the email. But this sucks. Mostly that the smoking even came up at all during the date because it's not at all a part of who I am or my regular life and something I would hate to get in the way of maybe going out with a potentially great guy. But, like you, I'm honest and direct (too much so sometimes) and you asked me what my "bad girl" thing was so I told you! I probably rambled on about it (too much wine plus I was nervous and on a conversation buzz) and wasn't reading you right at all. Stupid of me and I apologize if I made you uncomfortable.
I hate to think you think I'm some big pothead or something - because I'm actually a pretty good, responsible girl/woman. It is an easily deleted part of my life (and a very small one at that).There is so much more to me than this little leftover behavior from my college days...
But I suspect there might be more dealbreakers for you. However, if that really is the only one and you are thinking "too bad.. we could've had a good time." Then I ask that you take me at my word and give it another shot. If not, then oh well. Good luck to you too ... "

Oh, and something I forgot to mention previously. He brought be a beautiful bouquet of flowers on our first and only date. So I couldn't resist sharing this tidbit of information with him at the end of my email. Hey, gotta have the last word, right?

"p.s. I swear I'm not saying this to make you feel bad - it's actually kind of funny in hindsight, especially since you are likely going to blow me off anyway:-( ...but I would avoid Stargazers in the future. They are apparently very toxic to cats and my poor kitty was hospitalized last week for taking a few nibbles! She's OK now thank goodness."


February 5, 2007

It's Not Fun....It's War

Fellow Soldiers and Veterans,
This is the inaugural post on my Dating is Warfare blog. Exactly what I intend to share with anyone who reads this is unclear. I first thought of starting a blog last fall when my friend Mendoza Line sent me hers. It's intended for her friends and family to kind of keep up with her adventures in California. It was was clever, charming, cute (I'm a sucker for her dog) and actually worth checking out, even though I do talk to her everyday.

I quickly realized that simply the act of turning on the computer at home felt immediately like work. I made a feeble attempt with a few journal-like posts and some pictures where I thought I looked cute, just in case an eligible, attractive man happened upon it. Then I thought, "Who the hell would want to read this?! I don't even want to read it!" So I took a break and left the blog here to rot.

But tonight - almost six months later - it hit me in the shower. I was soaping up while going over and over and over in my head the countless possible reasons why this latest guy disappeared on me. And this after a perfect first date teeming with potential, followed the next day by an encouraging email exclaiming "Any girl that hates the mall, hates the phone, has my mom's middle name, shows me naked baby porn pictures of herself, and is Jewish is alright in my book!" And let's not forget his promise to bring me a souvenir from his leaving-the-next morning for Hong Kong on a 10 day work trip.

I waited patiently and excitedly for 13 days. Finally a phone message was received (done entirely in the character of an aging Rabbi Mandelbaum and consisting of no actual content other than being funny), along with a quick email that included pictures from his trip. Several of these pictures included Rabbi M. posed alongside some Chinese colleagues and an attractive, young female coworker he had told me was joining him on her first trip abroad. (I know, I know. But it seems just a little too obvious, doesn't it?!)

I returned his call immediately and left him a happy, encouraging message with a request for him to call me back. I then emailed him back immediately with a short "Great pictures!" email and an easily detected hint as to when I would be home to receive his sure-to-come phone call that night.

That was six days ago and I haven't heard from him since.

A fellow Soldier insisted I do not call him again under any circumstances. "If you're complaining about what he's NOT doing for you, then go find someone else who WILL do something for you." Then I called another friend (about to become a Veteran I suspect) who said, "Call him. You only get one chance in this life so why the hell not? You can't just toss someone aside because he didn't call you back." I wanted to listen to the Veteran. I want to be a Veteran too.

So I sent him an email first thing this morning. Quick, light ("breezy") and honest. "What's up? I was hoping to hear from you this weekend. Hope you're OK? Let me know if you want to grab a drink sometime."

Translation: "I'm casual here. Not mad at all! But I am disappointed you didn't call me, especially since you gave me every indication you were going to call and ask me out again. In fact, it seems so odd that perhaps I'm being hasty in feeling disappointed and instead should be worried that maybe something happened to you. So...here is where I am. No matter what the reason for your disappearnce, I'm interested. So you have a 48 hour grace period beginning right now. If you call me and ask me out within this time period, I'll say yes and be happy about it. If not, don' t bother calling."

I assure you, if I can muster up the strength to power up my computer again, it will be to report something relatively significant from the battlefield. So I suggest you check back from time to time. Whether you are a Soldier like me (I'll explain this theory more in my next posting), or if you are a Veteran and happily taking a break while the baby is sleeping and your husband is checking out Internet porn in his home office, I think you will want to check this out again. There might even be pictures and a few slightly embarrassing details about men I hope never find this blog. Just as a teaser, here's a picture that Rabbi M. sent in his very last (and third) email to me. It's him enjoying his romp in Hong Kong sometime between our fantastic first date and - well, whatever happened to him after that.


One of two things will happen if I'm successful with my rantings here:
1) You'll either feel a little bit better knowing that someone else is in the trenches with you.
or
2) You'll thank God they don't have the Draft anymore.

Dismissed.