April 7, 2008

A guide to cyber civility

Today I received a comment from a reader about one of my earlier posts in which I gave examples of the asinine messages guys used to send me when I was part of the online dating scene last summer. Here is what Spike had to say:

So you think men like myself should not like Even try ? hah well this guy =) didint find anything to discribe his love and feelings towards you , so he sent a noble =) . :D anyways im not really sure if your making fun of them , cause it was not clear .

But do you have any better ideas that might actually get your attention online :D

Ayy Take care now

Thanks, Spike. You make a good point.

In addition to telling men how they’ve gotten it wrong, I should have instructed them on how to get it right. So here it is.

The problem with many or all of the messages I introduced as horrific examples of online conversation was that they didn't even attempt to elicit a response.

When you send a message to a woman you’re interested in, I’m assuming your goal is to convince her to respond — an indication that she may be interested, too.

(If your point isn’t to get her to respond, I’m not sure what your point could be other than to waste her time.)

I wrote my last blog post on this subject to illustrate that many men were messaging me apparently without this goal in mind.

How exactly am I supposed to reply to “MMMM…..yummy!” ?

And why would I even want to?

Like all other types of dating, online dating is a game, and it helps to know how to play. So here are some good rules to follow:

1. Remember that there is an actual person on the receiving end of your message, and this is a first impression. Treat it that way. You should check your spelling, be courteous and respectful and generally try to connect with this person.

2. Say something about yourself. I don’t need a biography, just something interesting that makes me care to learn more. A first name is always a good start, since it's awkward conversing with a nameless stranger.

3. Show your interest. Mention something you read in her profile or how you live in the same area of town. This shows that you aren't just contacting her because her photos are hot. Even if you are just contacting her because her photos are hot, she'll be more likely to respond if you maintain the illusion that you care about more than her physical appearance.

4. If you choose to comment on her physical appearance, be general and decent. Many girls don’t want to hear that they “have a nice rack.” This, of course, depends on what kind of site you’re on… To send an acceptable message, stick to “You look very beautiful" or “You have a nice smile.” These are not clich├ęs — no girl gets tired of hearing these things.

5. Try funny. This doesn't always go over well, which might deter some guys from cracking jokes. But funny is one of the foundations of flirting! If you can make her laugh or even crack a grin, you're halfway there. And if not, it wouldn't work out anyway. You need someone who meshes with your sense of humor.

6. Ask a question. This shows you're interested in more than her great rack, and it also makes her more likely to respond. Just don't ask too many — she may not want to write you an essay in response.

7. Be intelligent. "MMMM...yummy!" is my case in point.

This is a lot to digest, but the key to remember is that online conversation is very much like regular conversation. Many of these rules also apply to making a good first impression if you were meeting someone face-to-face.

I’ll leave you with an example of a well-written cyber message:

Hi, I’m Jared. I read on your profile that you’re learning to water ski. Where do you ski?
I’ve been going to Lake Lanier to ski every summer since I was a kid, but I haven't had time lately because I'm opening a surf shop. Don't worry, I'm not a beach bum (yet!).
I'd like to get a chance to learn more about each other — IM me sometime if you want to chat. My screen name is Jared815.

OK, so Jared wasn't very funny, but there's a good chance he'll get a reply, so he can always try again next time.

At least he didn't go the way of his peers and write, "I've got a ski for you..."

April 5, 2008

Win...or die miserable

Samantha: “Well let’s just say it, you won.”

Carrie: “Was there a contest?”

Samantha: “Oh please, there’s always a contest with an ex — It’s called ‘Who Will Die Miserable.’”

There’s nothing like staying in on Saturday night for a self-induced marathon of “Sex and the City.” (For the record, it’s not “Sex in the City.” I usually have to check. It makes me nervous every time.)

I especially loved the scene above because, seriously, is there anything better than being happy in a new relationship while watching an ex suffer alone?

This is assuming it wasn’t one of those mutual breakups, but let’s face it — break-ups are never mutual. One person just gives in. Sucker.

Nonetheless, after any good, knock-down, drag-out break up, the race begins to see who will start dating first. Someone will couple up fastest and someone will be left in the dust.

And you’d better hope it ain’t you.

Because the naughty and completely gratifying satisfaction felt by the winner — well, there’s a flipside. It really sucks to be the loser. It sucks even worse if you initiated the break up.

There are ways of getting around this setback. One good psychological exercise is to identify every single reason why his new girlfriend is a monster. You could say, “She looks like Chelsea Clinton,” or “She’s as fat as Tyra Banks.” It usually helps to repeat these attacks over and over again to your friends, and also people you’ve just met. Whatever makes you feel better.

But mostly you’ll still feel like crap. That is, unless you have the good fortune of drunk dialing your ex and telling him exactly how much of a monster his new girlfriend is. That might make you feel better until the next morning when you realize you just gave him the upper hand.

Because even in a breakup, it’s still about power.

One person will find a new mate, live long and prosper… and have the power.

One will die miserable. Make sure it’s not you.

April 3, 2008

Back on the wagon

My friend Tyler recently informed me of his devastating sadness that I had abandoned my blog. You could call this a bit of an intervention. He made me come to terms with my uncaring ways — days spent doing things besides posting my thoughts to this site.

I decided it was time to recover. It's time to get back on the wagon.

I spent last weekend at a friend's couples shower in honor of their impending matrimony. It was more fun than the earlier women-only bridal shower (yes, men make everything more interesting. We like to keep you around a) so we can laugh at you and b) so we women don't kill one another). That shower was like a slow, tortured death because it was all mothers fawning over my friend.

"Oh, how did you meet?"
"Tell us about the proposal!"
"Have you got a dress? You just must tell me every last detail of your wedding planning until my ears fall off."

It was enough to make me want to hurl. But this new men-included fiesta was different. First of all, there was more alcohol (always good), and secondly, the couple was forced to endure publicly humiliating games for our enjoyment. It was win-win.

The game was that the hostess would ask each one questions about the other --"What's David's favorite color?" -- in private and they would write their answers on cards. Then later, they'd be asked in front of everyone and have to hold up their answers while their soon-to-be-spouse gave the real answer. This was surprisingly entertaining. It would have been better if they'd known less about each other.

There's something disgusting about two people knowing everything about one another, and something so secretly satisfying about watching two people who are about to tie the knot find out they know nothing about one another. I wish it had been the latter.

Nonetheless, I found out that men are a lot smarter than their female counterparts at this game. They've adapted!

While my friend Katherine would meticulously try to establish the fact that she knew every detail about her future hubby, David played it safe and went with can't-go-wrong vagueness.

"Where was Katherine born?" became "The Hospital."

Well I couldn't argue with that, especially after three glasses of wine. Ok, four.

Sadly, the game only taught me how much I don't know about my own boyfriend. But on the bright side, it means our party guests will have more fun when we're forced to play their silly games in the future. Friends: look forward to that secretly satisfied feeling.

October 13, 2007

The media. sigh.

I apologize for my absence lately, but schoolwork has been getting the best of me this last month. And I thought senior year would be easy.

Anyway, for the sake of transparency I should share the fact that in that time I have taken myself back off the market. Or maybe it’s more factual to say my ex finally succeeded in taking me off the market.

So, alas, no more blind date sagas (sad for you, fine with me!). I’m no longer a free woman, but according to my friend Phillip, I’m still the “life of the party.”

Oh yeah — I’ve still got it.

I might have stayed away from blogging longer, but a recent plea for more entries has strengthened me for the task — this one’s for you, Athens Door Guy.

In case I haven’t mentioned this before, I work in a newsroom.

It’s interesting to witness, not only what happens IN the newsroom when people have down time, but especially what happens outside of the newsroom. Because journalists are crazy. I’ll show you what I mean.

Here is an example of a conversation that happened IN the newsroom this week:

Girl — “Hey, do you still have that big box of condoms Trojan sent us?”
Guy — “Um, yeah…”
Second Guy — “That’s awkward.”
Girl — “Can I have some more of those?”
Guy — “I already gave you some.”
Girl — “Well I used them all. Besides, you’re not using them.”
Guy sighs and goes to get them. He throws a few her way.
Guy — “Well, at least someone’s getting some. I’m glad I could sponsor some sex.”

And here is an example of a conversation that happened OUTSIDE the newsroom, but among newsroom regulars:

Guy — “Yeah, we went to Toppers and this girl was dancing on me and I thought, ‘Well, that’s very nice,” and asked her, like, ‘Oh, do you go here?’”

Girl 1 — “Why are you giving me a cupcake?”
Girl 2 — “Because I want you to eat it.”
Guy — “Hahahahaha! I’m writing that on Facebook right now!”
Girl 2 — “It’s really good, just eat it.”
Girl 1 — “I don’t want your cupcake.”
Girl 2 — “Well, SOMEBODY has to eat my cupcake.”
Guy 2 — “Now everyone’s touched it.”

Girl 1 — “Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s make a new sex magazine for Athens and call it Doggy Style!”
Girl 2 — “Ooo, our first cover can be a guy in his whitey-tighties with a happy face drawn on his drawers!”
Girl 3 — “We can review vibrators and stuff.”

On second thought, those are pretty normal conversations for 21-year-olds, journalists or no. I guess this is just a lame tribute to my really funny friends. I hope my next post will be more meaningful.

September 23, 2007

Is he remotely manly?

Size is no longer the ultimate measure of manliness.

I’ve discovered a fool-proof way of determining how much of a man you’ve got on your hands.

Next time you step into his place, count the number of remotes he owns.

The more remotes, the more of a man he’s likely to be.

There’s one for the television, one for the DVD player, one for the surround sound system, one for the Xbox, one for the (insert name of a second game console of choice. Good bets are Wii or PS3).

There’s also probably at least one lying around from something he used to own but got rid of a year ago, and another with a use that befuddles even him. He probably keeps it with all the useful ones to give himself a manlier appearance.

And that’s the point, I think. You come over and, while he’s getting you a beer, try to accomplish the simple task of watching television.

Next thing you know, you’re rendered helpless by his entourage of controllers and calling his name for assistance.

That’s when he sweeps in to the rescue – double fisting remotes and clicking buttons here and there as you watch in admiration at his technological savvy.

I think real men take pride in their confusing system of controllers and the fact that only they can utilize them with any success. I, on the other hand, end up throwing one of the many remotes across the room in frustration.

Ultimately, if you can figure out how to turn on his TV set, change the component to satellite, change the channel and adjust the volume – all on your own – consider it an assessment, not of your smarts, but of his manliness.

Because real men never cease to confuse you – even when it comes to their appliances. That’s the way it was meant to be.

September 7, 2007

'Hi, I’d like a tattoo that will make every man I meet go completely flaccid'

I had dinner with a friend Thursday night who told me a great story that I felt compelled to share with you.

As we savored Coronas and cheese dip, she began to tell me of a family friend who had been dating a man for several years. The man recently died in a motorcycle accident, and my friend’s relatives attended the wake to show their sympathy.

They quickly found that the abandoned girlfriend needed sympathy for more than one reason.

In the brief period between her beau’s death and his wake, she had decided the best way to mourn his tragic passing was to get a tattoo in memory of him.

A gigantic tattoo.

Across her entire back.

Of his face.

As icing on the cake, she scrawled the words, “I Will Love You Forever” below his image.

Now, we all understand grief. But my friend and I were intrigued by the sexual repercussions of her eternal memorial, and the possibilities this girl’s future love life holds.

“What happens when the next guy she’s with has sex with her doggie-style, and he looks up to see the Ghost of Christmas Past staring back at him?” my friend queried. “Is that not, like, instant ED?”

And she would know.

Her boyfriend has five tattoos, the majority of which reside squarely on his bum.

His philosophy, she says, is that he should get something incredibly tacky, stat.

“I know I’ll eventually regret one of them anyway. I might as well go ahead and get it over with, so I can say, ‘Wow. I really regret that,’ and move on,” is his mantra, she says.

This, coming from a guy who has Tigger (yes, the Winnie the Pooh character) inked on his ass, and who has seriously considered procuring a permanent representation of the “Ice Age” squirrel on his inner thigh, fervently reaching for his nuts.

As funny as it would be, I’m thinking that might be a Grade A, regrettable tatt.

Perhaps not as regrettable, however, as a freakishly accurate, life-sized, full-back portrait of your dead ex.

The moral of the story is that nothing’s permanent – boyfriends, marriages, life – except the ink you just injected into your skin.

So you may want to rethink getting his initials inside a heart on your ass cheek. It’ll be a guaranteed mood-killer with your next partner.

September 5, 2007

If you've been hit with the fugly stick...

"Pretty people have it easy, whether they want to admit or not," my friend Phillip recently wrote on his blog.

Yes, life sucks if you're unattractive. It's no secret that it's harder to get out of a speeding ticket or convince an employer to hire you if you've been hit by the ugly stick. Not to mention getting someone from the opposite sex to listen to what you have to say.

But it's not always a party for the pretty kids, either.

I've seen many a personal ad from guys pleading for someone to appreciate them for more than their really, really ridiculously good-looking selves.

"Girls only ever want me for my body," one poor soul lamented on Craigslist.

My, it must be an uphill battle for those who are physically blessed.

But whether hot or not, we all are obsessed with our looks and the idea that our futures depend on them.

We MUST know -- we NEED to know -- whether we are considered attractive, because it assuredly determines what kind of a life lies ahead of us!

Just check out the hundreds of people who pony up their photos for public criticism on HotorNot.com. They can't rest until they know if the world approves ... or recoils.

But there are, in fact, things WORSE than being ugly.

You might be bugly (butt ugly)

or fugly (fat and ugly)

or even pugly (poor and ugly).

And you had best count your blessings if you aren't dugly (dog ugly).

If you be so unlucky, however, at least you can take comfort in the fact that you've been informed. Now you can brace yourself for the disappointing and lonely life that's likely ahead of you as a member of the dugly club.

You might want to hit up that hot guy on Craigslist, though. Tell him you'll appreciate more than his body if he'll appreciate everything but yours.

September 4, 2007

Good enough for me

Lauren: “I think that everyone can change if the right person comes along, and I think that every girl wants to be that person. Every girl wants to be the one girl that can change that guy.”

Lo: “But why do you have to have a guy that you have to change? Don’t you want to meet someone who’s good already?”

Well, that’s the idea – to find someone who’s already a good guy. But it doesn’t always work like that, does it?

What the girls from The Hills failed to mention is that good is rarely good enough. When we finally settle down and decide to marry someone, that’s us saying, "Hey. You’re good enough."

But nobody likes to settle, so when you find someone who has some qualities you like or admire, it’s only natural to try to elicit some others that he's lacking. Every possible beau requires you to weight the pros and cons: he’s got these things going for him, but he’s missing those.

It makes sense that we’d want to tip the scale a bit in a good guy’s favor. That’s why we never stop hoping we can squeeze some more potential out of him.

And I agree with Lauren – it’s a kind of fantastical thought to change a bad boy into a good one. To tame the wild child, if you will. But it is usually just that – a fantasy. The kind of thing country songs are made of.

Don’t get me wrong – people can change. But they have to want to change, and many times the things we hope to alter are too intimately connected to who they are.

You want him to be more frugal with his money, but you love his generous nature.

You want him to be more mature, but you love his silly sense of humor.

You keep hoping he’ll call you when he says he will, but…

wait, he should definitely change that!

The point is, some things about a person aren’t going to change. If you can’t see yourself dealing with those things if they don't change, you’ll have to accept defeat and move on.

Because a healthy relationship means losing the battle.

It means seeing a person for everything he is – the parts you love and the parts you wish you could change – and just accepting him.

It means saying, “You’re more than good enough.”

September 3, 2007

Dirty Dancing, Indeed

To my deep regret, I stopped into The Loft Friday night.

The spot I once enjoyed (at an earlier time in my life) now offers little more than a sweaty mass of horny freshmen, and no space to move or stand or breathe.

I went to meet up with a group of old high school friends and agreed to dance with one of them, only to discover that dancing with a guy can tell you everything you need to know about what he'll be like in bed.

It's no secret that the dancing we do downtown is just simulated sex, anyway. Like a less-than-complicated mating ritual, we can decide on the spot whether or not it's worth our wild to go home with a guy ... or duck out after one dance.

Because there are no secrets on the dance floor.

We can weed out the assholes and the virgins and the gay guys.

If he's thrusting his crotch around in a lost and confused manner, or if he seems in awe of the fact that a girl is actually willing to rub her ass against his groin for an extended period of time, you've probaby got yourself a grade A virgin.

If he's pounding you mercilessly with his denim cock (to quote Dane Cook) as if he was already doing the deed, he's probably the kind of guy who'd finish in two minutes and then get up and leave, without nary a thought to satisfying your needs.

Because if he doesn't care about your comfort and pleasure on the dance floor, he's going to care even less in bed.

The guy you want is smooth -- he wants to make you comfortable and happy, not get off inside his pants.

His dance style is gentle but firm, and he knows how to put the moves on you without violating your space.

My friend was not this guy.

His dance style -- which amounted to beating me with his crotch -- told me he was both a virgin and a two minute man.

I soon turned tail and moved on in search of better mate material, a little sorer than before.

September 1, 2007

A word about the mustache

If you are below the age of 40 – nay, 55 – you should NOT have a mustache.

It’s very simple – they are creepy.

I kissed a guy with a ‘tache (against my better judgment) this summer. That was creepier.

You should not have a mustache because they make you look older, but not in a good way.

They make you look like the 37-year-old who left his double wide for the night to crash a college party and eyeball the 18-year-old freshmen girls.

You might be the nicest guy on the planet, but the ladies won’t know it. They will avoid you like the plague.

If you have been told that your facial hair is the best thing to ever happen to your face, you either:

a) were told this by your guy friends (who are probably incapable of growing their own), or

b) are really ugly, and people are glad to see less of your face.

Almost no guy can pull off the mustache, and I say “almost” for reason and one reason only.

Sean Connery.
He is the only man I can think of whose face is actually enhanced by the ‘tache.

But I promise you will not look like Sean Connery.

You will look like Kip from Napoleon Dynamite. Good luck with that.