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

November 30, 2008

The FaceBook Ex-List

Like many of you, I am now totally addicted to Facebook. Normally these social networking phenomenon run their course pretty quickly, so I try not to get too attached (MySpace anyone?). But this one....I'm fully entrenched. And judging from the new names I see pop up every day as friend requests, I'm not the only one.

Wine Guy is equally involved. We've even been known to communicate through status updates and comments while sitting a few feet apart at our computers. So it was inevitable that one day he would ask who some of my friends are. Usually they're friends from the pre-Wine Guy era that have yet to come up in conversation. But one recently popped up with a slightly more awkward answer...an ex boyfriend. Granted, he's an ex from middle school, but an ex nonetheless.

Wine Guy had seen a comment 7th Grade Boyfriend made on something I had posted. It was typical 7th Grade Boyfriend (7GB) teasing. We've had the same relationship since our stormy fling in middle school, and it involves almost entirely around giving each other shit. But we still managed a rather close friendship and have kept in touch over the years, supporting each other in our dreams (his to be a filmmaker, mine to be..happy).

But Wine Guy wasn't really aware of this history so when he saw 7GB's smart ass comment he became a little protective. "What the hell did that person mean with that comment?" I laughed and assured him it was totally within the bounds of acceptability. As I was explaining our harmless friendship over the phone, I started browsing my other friends on Facebook.

Oh, look there's an ex-boyfriend from college.
And, hey, look at that..A guy I dated briefly in high school.
And wow, there's the guy that took my virginity (in college, in case you're wondering).

At first I was jokingly noting these friends to Wine Guy, but after the third one I started to realize this might be kind of strange. Why the heck do I have so many former boyfriends, flings, dates, friends-with-benefits on Facebook anyway? Is that strange? I have no idea. But suddenly I was inundated with my romantic (or notably non-romantic) past.

Out of my 118 friends to date, I have had some form of romantic past with 11 of them. Plus one guy I had a mad crush on in high school (he was three years older than me) who I bumped into last year and we are now Facebook friends (he barely knew my name back then and, even though he is your typical, married late 30s schlub today, the geeky freshman girl in me still gets a thrill that he accepted my friend request).

Just to clarify, my definition of "romantic past" can be pretty loose. Especially when you consider how far back some of these relationships go. Here's the breakdown:

Elementary School: 2
#1 - Our relationship consisted of playing on the playground and lip-locking when my sister locked us in the closet. We recently reconnected after 21 years on Facebook and I'm thrilled about it. More to come on this one.
#2 - My first french kiss and I was totally peer-pressured into it (by yet another Facebook friend I haven't spoken to in 18 years). It is not a particularly pleasant memory but I'm over it.

Middle School: 1
Our history includes a little french kissing and lot of drama (including when he cheated on me with one of my rivals, something I still give him crap about to this day).

High School: 1
I think this "relationship" lasted a total of 2 weekends, until I found out he got back together with his girlfriend (probably better for him since I wasn't going to give it up anyway).

College: 5
Only one was a 'real' boyfriend (my first in every sense). The others were what we liked to call "hooking up." I'm sure you are familiar with the concept.

Post College: 2
One was a friendship that briefly - and mistakenly - turned to romance. And the other is, of course, Wine Guy.

I guess when I look at it, these exes were really friends more than anything else. There are certainly guys I dated a little more seriously that would never dare ask to be my Facebook friend. And vice versa. But the way I see it, if you liked someone enough to swap some spit (or other fluids) with them at some point, chances are you have enough left over after a spoiled romantic venture to maintain some semblance of a friendship. Besides, how hard is it to be a Facebook friend anyway?

What about you guys? Any exes on your friend lists?

Dismissed.

November 17, 2008

Vaccines Required

Please, single women, listen to me. I wish someone had told me this when I was actively looking to meet men anywhere but bars, online dating sites, or blind dates. Get yourself to a dog park immediately. Oh, and you should bring a dog too. If you don't have one, consider getting one. Or at least borrow one on a regular basis.

I go to our local dog park at least four times a week and, although I'm definitely not looking for a boyfriend or a fling, I can say that I've had at least ten potentially flirty conversations with eligible men. And I assure you that I go there dressed in my nastiest outfits, hair in a ratty ponytail and no social intentions.

But if you are a dog lover (or at least a dog non-hater), you can't help but get pulled in by the pure joy that goes on around you at a dog park. The owners are relaxed and focused on their pets enjoying themselves, not on impressing the humans. I don't know about you, but to me people look their best when they are just being themselves - something you rarely find out there on the Dating Battlefield.

I even have my own little secret dog park crush - Jinx's Dad. He's tall, relatively handsome, sweet and somewhat quiet. Every time we see each other we wave and end up chatting because our dogs tend to play together. I barely know anything about him - not even his name, nor does he know mine. But he just seems like a good guy. Perhaps I give a dog-owning man too much credit. But I can't help but see it as a good sign when a man is willing to take on the responsibility of another living thing and find such joy in it.

Luckily, Jinx's Dad had one distinctive feature that made my crush 100% harmless - a really bad mustache. Not a goatee. Not a beard. Not a flavor savor. A straight up mustache. The kind that made him look like a cop or maybe a gay male stripper. It just didn't seem to fit his face and I always wondered why he had it. But from the moment I laid eyes on him I thought, "Man, if he got rid of that mustache he'd be hot." Thus he was safe in my book.

That was three months ago. Two weeks ago I spotted Jinx running around the park and looked up to see his Dad waving at me - no mustache in sight. Uh oh. He looked hot. The first words out of my mouth were, "You shaved your mustache." Kind of a strange comment since we'd previously exchanged zero conversation of a personal nature. Let alone about personal grooming habits. He responded with a little "Yeah..." and then we went on talking about our dogs.

All of a sudden I felt very self-conscious. A little less like myself. Perhaps it was because Wine Guy and I had been fighting earlier, and then I walked out of my front door and found myself accidentally flirting with a now-hot guy. But I know me and I know I don't cheat. So I tried to keep my cool.

Tonight he was there again. And this time we talked more than ever before. I felt like I should walk away, not linger too long before I gave him the wrong idea. Instead I opted for the subtle slipping in of the words "we" when talking about where "we" let the dog sleep at night. I admit, I felt a little sad putting that out there. Perhaps he would be less friendly to me next time?

Then he spilled the beans and all of my little anxieties and guilt trips went out the window. He's moving in one month. Back to North Carolina.

Normally when I part his company I give an ultra casual I-don't-owe-you-anything "see you later." This time I veered and gave an enthusiastic, "Well I gotta go. I'm sure I'll see you before you move. Good night!" Perhaps the last time I see him I'll even utter his name. No harm in that right?

So ladies, get thee to a shelter and adopt a dog today. The dog park awaits.

Dismissed.

November 15, 2008

Moonlighting

I know, I've been MIA. I guess it's for a good reason. I randomly got myself a little side job writing movie reviews for a local weekly newspaper and I've been focusing on that. Let's just say it's a whole different ball game when you are writing something that has your name -and picture - on it.

I've written three reviews so far and they also asked me to interview a writer/director/actor who was in town screening her film so I got to practice acting like a real journalist in front of an unsuspecting interview subject.

So far I think I'm doing pretty well, though I found myself a bit flustered when I had to review the latest Holocaust movie "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas." Why? Well, I am well aware that the readers of this paper skew towards the older, Jewish variety. And, being Jewish myself, I am overly sensitive to anything I might say that could be construed as offensive. Basically, I loved the film. But my main thought that I wanted to convey in my review was that after so many hard-to-stomach holocaust movies over the years, one might become just a little desensitized to the horrors of it all. (C'mon, haven't you heard yourself think, "Ugh. I couldn't possibly sit through another Schindler's List. Let's go see Old School instead").

But this movie, simply because of its total lack of in-your-face ugliness all seen through a child's eyes, manages to re-sensitize you all over again. I think it 's a valid point. But I chickened out and said nothing of the sort in my final review, which ended up reading so stale you could almost hear me restraining myself from what I really wanted to say.

If you're Jewish you might understand what was bothering me. Or maybe not. But the more I thought about it (overthought I'm sure), I could just imagine the paper's editor opening the first of many angry reader letters, "How dare your film reviewer even suggest that one could become sensitized to the idea of the murder of 6 million Jews!" Of course, that isn't what I was implying at all, but, well, it's tricky. So I kind of sold myself out and overly sanitized my review.

I already regret it and don't plan on doing anything like that again. Hey, it was only my second one so I figure it is all part of the learning curve.

I had one friend and frequent blog reader tell me that he thought my first review (of "Role Models," which I actually liked, despite its gratuitously vulgar children) was a little "vanilla" compared to my regular blog voice (which is very similar to my in-person voice). My response to that? I totally agree. But, dude, this column has my name and picture on it. No cute little Dating Trooper pseudonym to hide behind! But I can already feel that I'm finding my voice for this new platform and am hitting my stride.

The coolest part of this little gig is that I get free movies and can take a friend. I even get a little extra spending money for my trouble. It's especially sweet this time of year when all the good Oscar contenders are coming out. I am basically booked up through Christmas with free screenings. But I have a feeling that come January, when the studios start dumping their crap movies in the theaters while everyone is preoccupied with Oscar nominations, I will find this job less of a privilege and more of a chore. But for now I will enjoy it.

On another note, some of you may recall that every year I come up with a motto for the approaching New Year (last year's is here, but don't think it means I actually accomplished what I set out to in 2008). Well, with Wine Guy so busy working on his own side project most nights, I decided that I am going to dedicate 2009 to getting my book together. I finally came up with a really good framework/idea that could actually turn into something other people might want to read. And I promise it will have my real name on it (maybe even a picture!).

Why am I announcing this here? So I can't get lazy and put it on the back burner like I have with so many other things. In fact, my birthday is approaching and I am buying myself a daylong writing workshop specifically designed to get my ass in gear.

Wish me luck. In the meantime I'll do my best to keep Dating is Warfare up to date. Trust me, there is plenty to spill (and it doesn't all have to do with my dog, I promise).

Dismissed.

November 3, 2008

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

All that bitching about not having a baby and I neglected to mention how my "stand-in baby" - my dog Luna - is benefiting from my raging maternal instincts. Actually, some of you might say she wasn't "benefiting" at all, but rather suffering immense humiliation under my pathetic attempt have some sort of child-ish Halloween without a child. But you would be wrong.

As I mentioned in my comment on Mimi's most recent post, Halloween allows us the freedom to be someone else. To behave differently and outside the "norms" of societal expectations. That is why it is my favorite holiday. Every year I go downtown, which is normally the most annoying place on earth (think "bridge and tunnel" crowd for you New Yorkers), and participated in the informal costume parade. This is the one time of year when you can say just about anything you want to just about anyone.

"Hey, you look ridiculous!"
"Oh my God, that is the funniest outfit I've ever seen!"
"Sarah Palin, you SUCK!"

Total, complete freedom. Plus alcohol. Fun, fun.

But this year I have a dog, so I took it to the next level.

Because I live in an extremely dog-friendly part of town, there was of course a dog costume carnival last weekend. I ask you, how could I not participate?

Actually, the dog costume idea came before I even knew such a carnival existed. But I would have taken Luna out in public just for the hell of it anyway.

Because she is a mutt, she looks like lots of breeds depending on the day. But one I frequently hear is that she looks like a coyote, a fox or a wolf. What better costume than "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?"

I had the vision in my head but no idea how to execute it. Luckily I found the perfect thing at JoAnne's Fabrics, organic bamboo fiber that you can pull off in pieces, bunch into a ball and easily glue right onto a cotton t-shirt with spray adhesive. I did just that and created a little headpiece also. When I put the whole ensemble on her I couldn't believe how absolutely perfect it looked.

I was hoping my friend Mendoza Line would come with me to the carnival since she is as animal crazy as I am. But she wasn't feeling up to it so I dragged along Wine Guy and my mom, none of us knowing what to expect.

When we got there, I took Luna out of the car and Wine Guy and I dressed her. I was simply not prepared for the reaction we were going to get when we walked down the block and into the street fair.

We were the center of attention. People pointing, laughing, asking me questions. I instantly couldn't find Wine Guy or my mom and found myself trying to take on the crowd on my own. Then a photographer from the local daily paper started taking pictures (we didn't make the cut, but we did show up in the paper's online video of the event) and a German TV crew started interviewing me.

Apparently the costume was very convincing. So much so that one lady came up to me and tentatively asked, "What's wrong with your sheep?" I had to tell her, "Uh, it's a dog lady."

Thank God Luna is cool as a cucumber because if she had been acting up I would have not been able to handle the craziness. In fact, she is probably giving me a very wrong impression of what having a child would be like since she never once "complained" or made a fuss over wearing a sheep's outfit for five straight hours.

It took most of the afternoon for us to take part in the parade and find out that we won a prize for best "incognito" costume. A certificate and $5 gift certificate to a local ice cream shop. Was it worth it? Considering the fact that I've looked at the pictures every single day since and shown them to everyone I know, hell yes. Will I do it next year? Do you even have to ask?


*Note that Luna is smiling directly at the camera. A star is born.


Dismissed.