an endless stream of “real winners”

I was reminded again this evening of the fact that I’ve only ever loved one truly decent man…but that’s a story for another day. Before that was an endless stream of what my father would have ironically called “real winners.” I mean, I suppose it’s possible that one of my high school or college boyfriends might have amounted to something. It was too early to tell back then, when I was in a relationship with any of them. Given my track record, I doubt it.

Case in point, my father called earlier, giddy with news. I tried to explain to him that I’d just gotten home from work, was trying to get dinner and had to race off to a sporting event. He was insistent:  I had to Google an ex boyfriend.

With phone to my ear, spatula in hand, jacket half on and half off, I learned that a man I dated more than two decades ago had been arrested for watching porn on his mobile phone while sitting in his car in a parking lot. Apparently, a nearby couple could see what he was watching, so he turned the phone their direction to show them. They promptly called the police, who charged him with lewd behavior, among other things.

Doubled in age, experience and wisdom since the days of spending time in his company, I’m still able to envision him doing exactly as charged:  noticing others noticing him, assuming they were titillated or interested, thinking he was being cute by sharing his guilty pleasure with them. (Why do you think I dumped the guy?!) Ugh…ick. And think of his humiliated wife and children at home!

(Then again, what kind of police state is this where we can’t enjoy porn in the privacy of our own vehicles?! Cue laugh track.)

The thing is, I’m nearly as disgusted with my father, who was so certain I needed to be aware of this pathetic fact about a long-ago boyfriend. My father, it can be said (endearingly, of course) is, himself, a pig. In his defense, he’s been a loving, caring father and a wonderful grandfather. Also in his defense, he doesn’t know any better — he, too, thinks he’s being cute when he flirts and makes suggestive remarks to the young women where he works. What he doesn’t get is that these young women probably go hide in the restroom after he says something like, “that’s okay, if he doesn’t treat you right, I’ll take care of you,” — or maybe they go home and shower. He doesn’t understand that, if they smile and play along, they’re just trying to survive in a hostile environment. He doesn’t understand that his behavior, no matter how innocuous it seems, is harmful. In his defense, he got better briefly, when I first entered the working world and shared with him some of my own workplace challenges.

Still, once sentenced to live out his final earthly chapter in a nursing home, my father could easily become the dirty old man known for patting the asses of the female staff. My maternal grandparents probably once described him as a “real winner,” bless his heart.

It’s no wonder I’ve struggled with my choices in men over the years. But things may be looking up — the latest guy just asked me to accompany him to the opera. I know it’s no testament to character, but I’m going to take it as — at least — a sign of good taste. And by good, I mean better-than-porn-in-a-parked-car good.

is “curvy” code for something?

I recently had a brief, back-and-forth-a-few-times exchange with a fellow on that online dating site. And then, in the middle of a message, he wrote:

One question, and I hope this doesn’t offend you, but are you curvy in the sense of having a curvaceous figure, or curvy in the sense of being a Big Woman?

You might imagine how completely taken aback I was by this sort of thing. After all, if one were to actually look at my photos, there is a clear picture of my full (and fully clothed) body among them. While I’m sitting down in the photo — and, if I’m honest, it’s possible that I was 10 pounds lighter in the shot — it’s clearly representative of my proportions and the way I carry my weight.

So, let’s get back to why, when it comes to describing my physique, I listed myself as “curvy,” rather than the other options…among them “athletic,” “average” and “a little extra.” Honestly, it’s mostly because I read somewhere that people with higher confidence are more likely to describe themselves as “curvy,” while their less-confident counterparts use other options to describe themselves. And it’s also a little because I have curvy friends who’ve mentioned they get more attention online when they describe themselves as “curvy.” I’d like to be thought of someone who is confident in my body, and I’d also like to attract attention.

At any rate, you can imagine all the questions that popped into my head, beginning with:

  • What kind of douchebag asks this sort of question when the conversation was going pretty well? I mean, wouldn’t you just suggest meeting for coffee for an hour of your life to assess in person whether you find the other person attractive? 
  • Is that his way of saying he’s into Big Women?
  • Is “curvy” a term that only women over a certain size are allowed to use? And, if so, what size is that? 14? 22? 8?
  • Didn’t he bother to look at my photos?
  • What’s on his priority list?

While sharing this story with a few girlfriends, they mostly agreed that this was a clear filtering opportunity — i.e. he’s not worthy. Another girlfriend shared that she’d been asked for her BMI during her short-lived experience with online dating.

What I’ve learned about myself is that I do feel pretty confident in my body or, at the very least, I’ve made peace with it. It’s not perfect, and I wish I were more svelte…but I also have other priorities in life right now that are more pressing than hitting the gym each day or starving myself. And I’ve found plenty of men who are very attracted to me.

What do you think this fellow meant by his question? What does it say about him? About our society?

The more I think about it, the more I suspect he has a thing for a larger, luscious Queen Latifah-like figure, but was afraid to come out and say so… And, frankly, I can see the appeal. I know a handful of Big Women who appear happy and full of life, their outer beauty manifesting as an expression of their inner joy.

responsibility rash

I’ve been overwhelmed lately. This should surprise no one who reads this blog; many of you are also single parents of young, active children with demanding jobs and homes. And I desperately need a vacation…which is coming.

My response to these feelings?

At work, I plug through task after task, one step at a time.

As far as the rest of it goes, I am retreating from responsibility (all those things I should be doing) as though it’s some sort of rash. I haven’t managed to fully plan our spring break vacation (we leave in a week), I haven’t cleaned the bathroom, I haven’t finished the taxes, the pots and pans sit in the sink for days before I manage to wash them, etc…

And I don’t care. So there.

are you available? or attached?

Long ago, I wrote a post entitled “are you available?” Back then, I was musing about whether or not the people I was meeting and encountering were truly available to be in a relationship with me.

I’ve recently learned of a new way of viewing this idea… You see, I had the opportunity to indulge in a free audiobook called “Attachment:  The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. While I’m not all the way through yet, I’m already planning to buy the book in print, so that I can take the assessments and use it as a workbook or manual. In addition to quizzes of sorts, I’ve already found a great deal of useful advice, as well as enormously useful insights that would likely have prevented most — if not all — of my worst relationship debacles, including the latest disaster.

(Downton Abbey helps, too, I find…if I’d known how to manage men as Lady Mary does, I’d probably be better situated at present.)

The book focuses on three degrees or styles of attachment:  the secure and two types of insecure, anxious and avoidant. It’s been fun to listen to the audio as I recall past relationships and how my or my partner’s behaviors have fit into these types or dynamics. I already feel infinitely wiser as I embark on my search… in fact, now I know what I’ve typically been drawn to and how to recognize right away those who are clearly avoidant, or unable to meet my emotional needs.

Let me know if you’ve read it and what you learned.

ginger discrimination

The other day my chatty chiropractor told me he thought I’d be a great match for Prince Harry.

When I asked him why, he gave two reasons:  first, I’m worthy of being a princess and second, we’re both gingers. I can argue with neither point.

But I felt I must tell him I’ve never been particularly drawn to ginger men. (Nor am I drawn to ginger women, for that matter, aside from that pretty character in Pitch Perfect.) He agreed that red-haired (more accurately orange-haired) men are often not the most appealing, but then opined that Harry is an exception. I agree; never mind the blue blood or age difference…

This conversation sparked further discussion on a topic I’ve been thinking about lately. Why waste my time thinking about such superficial things like hair color or complexion? Well…it seems ginger men often find me attractive. And their feelings of attraction toward me are rarely reciprocated. When one recently found my online dating profile, he seemed ecstatic — and he seemed to think my response would be equally jubilant.

My first reaction? “Ew.”

People like to point out that my anti-ginger bias seems contradictory. After all, I am a redhead. And my own father is a ginger — with the pale skin, every inch of that which has been exposed to the sun covered in freckles…and I am fond of my father. As I age, I also find that my skin is more sensitive and likely to burn in the sun.

Still, I don’t identify as part of this particular group of people with certain hair and skin pigmentation in any way that endears them to me particularly, at least not any more than I suspect dishwater blondes feel camaraderie toward one another based on hair color. In fact (perhaps as a result of several years of childhood torment), I am quick to point out these distinctions:  my hair is auburn, my eyes are dark and my skin tans with exposure to sunlight. I am covered in “angel kisses,” not freckles (and, no, they are not the same thing). I can see no reason for joining in any sort of ginger convention — I tend to choose my tribe based on other like characteristics. The enormous crush I had on the son of my father’s best friend when I was 13 years old notwithstanding, I am simply not attracted to ginger men.

But I’ve often heard that I should keep an open mind and, further, I’ve learned first-hand that some people are just not as photogenic as others. So out with him I went, determined not to make lifetime happiness decisions based on such superficial criteria.

And here’s what I found:  despite his relative financial success, despite his spontaneity, despite his sense of humor, he proved overeager (edging toward stalkerish) and further creeped me out with intimations that I reminded him of female relatives. (After all, I’ve seen my father in his skivvies, and that makes it less — not more — appealing to think of seeing another ginger in the flesh.) In summary:  not attracted.

If all of this reveals me as a sort of superficial bigot, so be it. Perhaps I am.