The Lost Art of Smiling

blog pix smiling potato head

I was searching for a parking space in the lot of a wine store last weekend when a man walked by on the way to his car. He looked directly at me and smiled in an appreciative way – a good and true smile that included his eyes. I smiled back noting his attractiveness. Several cars followed me so I quickly turned into the next lane to land a parking space. By the time I had parked, there was no sign of the smiling stranger.

I wished I had arrived at the store 20 minutes earlier. Perhaps the stranger and I would have met in the Italy or New Zealand aisle. It’s not as exotic as meeting in another country but at least we would live in the same country.

This brief encounter – not really an encounter – struck me as unusual. Why? Because it seems that a lot of the men I pass on the street, or in the gym, or in the grocery store, or at the pool are suffering from the male equivalent of resting bitch face or RBF.

Let’s explore this while eating the Barefoot Contessa’s lobster potato salad.

I rarely encounter a man who purposefully smiles at me. Now admittedly sometimes a male stranger might catch me in resting bitch face mode and would not consider smiling at my unhappy looking countenance. However, even when my facial expression is truly neutral and not intimidating, my quotient of smile receipts is fairly minimal.

I seek more chance smiling/eyes meeting encounters where a bold person might even initiate conversation. Why are these encounters so rare? Part of the problem – and you probably guessed it – is that everyone is looking at their phones or texting or talking on them. So, men are not tuned into their surroundings, which might include a tall woman of a certain age who has specifically put on make-up and skinny jeans to run a boring errand in hopes of having a meet cute.

Two other reasons: Like women, men are both stressed out and in a hurry. They’re often overscheduled and run from work to the gym to happy hour to home and so on. So they forget to stop and smell the lilac perfume of that same woman walking confidently down the street.

Back to the resting bitch face issue. As mentioned above, despite the word bitch, men also suffer from this affliction. One writer describes the male version as resting dick face (RDF), which I find hilarious and a great term. Scientists have found that a “resting bitch or dick face” shows minute signs of contempt even though the affected individuals are not feeling contempt. If you observe a person in the RBF or RDF mode, you will likely feel uncomfortable and my guess is you won’t smile at that person.

So what can we single ladies do about this phenomenon? As I have written before, we can make a concerted effort to get out of RBF and smile. And how should we handle an encounter with a man with RDF who is not looking at, texting, or speaking on his mobile? Consider accidentally bumping into him (unless you’re driving) and apologize profusely while smiling. It just might lead to a meet cute.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

Irreconcilable Differences in Dating

blox pix august 6 couple by water

Like many online dating interactions, it started out as promising. We “liked each other” on Zoosk, a site that has given me many possibilities but — so far – has not led to a relationship.

At first match, it was the distance that gave us both pause. I thought geography might be the deal breaker, but it turned out to be something rather obscure and weird.

Intrigued? Stuff your face with a generous portion of black sesame noodle bowl while I dissect the latest online encounter.

Mr. P’s description of his waterside life, his sense of optimism, and his love of family, cooking, physical activity (a senior Olympics competitor), and overall carpe diem philosophy appealed to me. As a bonus, he’s 6’4” and pushes my “attractometer” buttons.

I was worried that his profile did not mention any cultural, musical, or artistic interests but figured I would probe for that. I started fantasizing about living on the river. On the somewhat negative side, he’s 5 years older than me. I focused instead on the fact that he’s in excellent shape and lives a healthy lifestyle.

In his first message to me, Mr. P brought up geography issues. On a good traffic day, we live about 90 minutes away from each other. He said he was willing to correspond and potentially move forward if I was. As mentioned, I was already mentally kayaking in front of his house (he wrote he had 2 kayaks) so I said, “I’m willing to carpe diem if you are.”

We continued corresponding — moving off Zoosk to personal email. I learned we had a work connection (from my pre-retirement life) but his focus was on something I found fairly boring and technical.

Mr. P sent me pictures- of his front “water” yard and some of his 7 grand children (he has 4 children). He promised to send more family photos.

At this very early stage of interaction, I wondered if there was too much about kids and grandkids. I wanted to know more about him. I decided to redirect the focus and asked him what kind of music he listens to when cooking and whether he has any favorite hangouts for live music.

Here’s his response (verbatim with casual punctuation left intact):

“You might find this strange, I forget to listen to music, I never listen to music while driving since it distracts my thinking…I am always thinking about business opportunities, my mind never stops. Being a bit ADHD makes me more of a one track thinker. When I do listen to music I need to focus just on the music….I must admit I like a lot of the current music, but don’t listen since it distracts my thinking. I am not a multi tasker, Whatever I am working on, I must simply concentrate on that, not that and music. It works out to be an advantage, since I can come up with some awesome solutions/conclusions.”

I was concerned about his comment that he is always thinking about business. I could (somewhat) understand what he was saying about not being able to multi-task but I couldn’t imagine a partner who forgets to listen to music since he’s so focused on generating business ideas. Mr. P didn’t answer my question about his favorite live music hangouts, which made me think that wasn’t important to him.

My dream of a waterfront life started to feel like it might be a rural nightmare with limited cultural opportunities (pause for dramatic emphasis).

Then Mr. P asked, “When driving with someone, can you talk to them?” I thought that was an odd question but answered, “Yes, I can. How about you?”

His reply: “Tough question, I can drive and talk, but add music and it gets too much. SO maybe this is a killer…best to know now before we waste too much time…what do you think, I like efficiency.”

I was taken aback. The fact that this was on his mind was almost as strange as the reality of the question.

I replied that, rather than killing this potential relationship, why couldn’t we stay “in limbo.” I suggested we refrain from emailing but one day if he happens to be in my area, we could meet for a glass of wine to discuss this deal breaker.

The notion that driving and talking with music in the background would be a “killer” seemed crazy to me. I had to get on my soapbox. I wrote him: 

“I find online dating such a ‘reverse’ way of getting to know someone compared to the old fashioned in-person way. For example, we end up getting more information than we would if we met at a party. In the online world, both parties make judgements without the benefit of chemistry and body language.”

I wished him well. Later that evening, he replied:

“Happy hunting, we will never know what we might have missed, but then again the unknown is rather sexy me thinks.”

Hmmm, I’d rather have the known. It’s clear that, after a 24-hour flurry of emails, Mr. P is not the one.

I’m going to go multi-task now and listen to music while exercising and reviewing the saga with Mr. P. I won’t be thinking about business. Wait, have I ever thought about business?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

A Single Gal’s Friday

blox pix woman vacuuming

It’s Friday about 1 p.m. and I’m cleaning the house in between giving myself both a manicure and a pedicure (the clear polish I’m using signals low anticipation of my date tonight). The mani-pedi specifics determine the level of interest I’m feeling for a pending first date.

Clear polish indicates the lowest level of excitement (unless I’m in a clear polish phase). A salon mani indicates a relatively high level of interest and a salon mani-pedi combo is the equivalent of …well, let’s just say my hormones are geared up. Men, don’t worry, this post isn’t all about manicures.

Sit down and have some of Jose Andrés’ gazpacho while we analyze Friday’s timeline.

Let’s back up from the mani-pedi/house cleaning frenzy to the day’s beginning:

6:00 a.m.: I make coffee and read the Times on my iPad. I’m distracted from the latest Administration fiasco by wondering whether Mr. D, the guy I’m supposed to meet that evening, will confirm our date or fade away. Our last communication was 3 days ago so I’m not sure of the status. As you may recall, I’ve been burned before.

9:20 a.m.: Showered and dressed, I’m packing up my stuff for the gym when my phone beeps that I have an email. Yes, it’s Mr. D, confirming our 5 p.m. date and saying he’s looking forward to meeting me. E-mail has been our primary form of communication. We haven’t spoken on the phone though we have exchanged cell numbers. I no longer require a pre-date phone call and, as it turns out, it wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome.

9:45 a.m.: Working out – it’s cardio day and I’m taking a little break from swimming to give my arms a rest so I pound away on the low impact cardio machine while listening to tunes on RockMyRun.

10:45 a.m.: Run errands, none of them relevant to the dating life. No meet cutes to report but a yummy taste of fresh bread from the local bread store.

11:30 a.m.: Back home for a lunch of that gazpacho.

Let’s return to the cleaning/home nail salon activities. Here’s the deal with cleaning my house before a first date. Although I have never brought someone to my home at the end of a first date/meeting, lately I’ve been cleaning my house “just in case.” Just in case I meet someone who stirs up so much mutual chemistry that we must end our evening at my house. So I vacuum, clean the bathrooms, hide any evidence of my blog, and turn on my bedroom’s ambient lighting (eclectic electric lamps and candles). Somehow this exercise, even though I know it’s likely futile, makes me feel better – like there’s a possibility of romance and sex and who knows what else.

The reality is, since my divorce, first dates haven’t led to this outcome…but one never knows and I think I may be at a place (and at an age), where the pluses of such an encounter might just outweigh the potential minuses.

3:00 p.m.: I shower, reapply my makeup, and totally change my planned outfit for this evening – opting for black jeggings and a silky top (more casual than my original choice of a black skirt/blouse combo).

Mr. D suggested I choose our meeting place. I picked a laid back bar/restaurant. I try to mix up first date locations for the wait staff’s sake as well as my own. I base the choice of a casual or more formal venue on my sense of what might work best with a particular man (of course I have to like the place too).

4:45 p.m.: It’s raining like crazy as I drive to our date – slight butterflies, but mostly trying to maintain hope that this, my 100th give-or-take first date, will be a good one.

5:00 p.m.: I pull into the parking lot – right on time. Before I open the door, Mr. D calls me on my Google Voice number. Our first conversation – and it’s to tell me he’ll be 15 minutes late since he forgot his phone and had to return home to get it. Sigh. I tell him I’ll meet him inside. At least he doesn’t have a thick accent from his home state of New Jersey.

5:15 p.m.: It’s still pouring rain and I’m sitting in the last booth by the bar. I’m drinking a happy hour white wine, checking my phone for any updates from Mr. D, and looking at every single male who walks in the door. There’s a man who looks 80. That better may not be him! Phew, he keeps walking.

5:30 pm.: Okay, he’s now officially 30 minutes late and I’m trying to be calm. The waitress, sensing my frustration, tells me that rain and flooding are impacting traffic. I take another sip of pinot grigio, respond to a text from my brother, and note that there’s absolutely no one of interest sitting at the bar.

5:36 p.m.: I see a man enter the front door. He’s unattractive, definitely not 6′, walks rather stiffly, and appears to be wearing a “company” work shirt.  Oh, good, he’s leaving…wait, he’s taking out his cell phone to make a call. Yep, my phone is ringing. I tell Mr. D where I am (he apparently doesn’t text as I had sent him a text with my whereabouts) and he lumbers over to the booth.

Sigh. I would never have guessed that the man before me is the same one I’ve been communicating with on OurTime. Ladies, and gentlemen, I’m sure you have faced this situation before. You try to hide your utter disappointment at the disconnect between someone’s profile photos and the flesh and bone person in front of you. You have two choices: make the best of the situation or be a total bitch/dick, make an excuse and leave immediately. I try to make the best of it and stay for at least 30 minutes. I can talk to most anyone for 30-45 minutes. I draw on my journalism training and ask questions.

Mr. D is at least a nice man and makes an effort to get to know me. I stay for almost an hour (remember I waited 30+ minutes for him) but decline a second drink or any food. Side note: I’ve learned to not order food in these situations. Inevitably, the conversation stalls and you still have to eat/wait for the bill, etc. Mr. D plans on having another beer. He refuses my offer to pay for my wine and stands up to shake my hand (!) as I prepare to leave. Our height disparity is clear. “You’re tall!” he says. Yes, I think, as I remember that his profile promises a man who’s a full 2 inches taller than me.

6:45 p.m.: Home. Eating a sandwich made with bread from the bread store, and glad I don’t have to eat with Mr. D.

8:30 p.m. Looks like a Netflix night. It’s the premiere of The Incredible Jessica James and I’m loving the opening scene with actress Jessica Williams being brutally honest with a first Tinder date. Nothing like a funny movie to help soothe your disappointed heart.

9:30 p.m. My phone beeps with an email from Mr. D. (He definitely doesn’t text.) He writes that he enjoyed meeting me and hopes to see me again. I’ll email him tomorrow to say: I enjoyed meeting you too but, sorry, I don’t think we’re a match. At this moment, I’m more interested in what happens to Jessica.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

The Dating Comedy Channel

Marx brothers

A man walks into a dating site… and describes himself as “very recently widowed.” When is this statement ever attractive? Particularly if the man is grinning in his main profile photo. When I see something like this, I put on my detective hat and wonder, “how did he do it?” Just saying.

Like the very recently widowed description, there’s a lot of comedy (often tragicomedy and absurdist) material in online dating. You don’t have to look too hard for it. It can be found in profiles, photos, and behavior. I’m always curious about the motivation and thought process of these inappropriate guys. Curiosity always makes me hungry so join me in a slice of blistered tomatoes and corn pizza while I share some tragic/comic examples from my dating files.

For instance, you’d think someone who was widowed would be careful about proofreading the word referring to his marital status. But that’s not always the case:

I am windowed

Sometimes one’s romantic dreams intersect with dentistry:

fillings of my heart

I have to laugh at this larger than life description of a self-described Viking and his ideal mate though I think he’s more of a caveman than a Viking:

Remember The Three Faces of Eve? Here we have the three faces of a man on Bumble:

God fearing man with personalities

I so need to know whether someone enjoys cabbage. It’s one of my top priorities:

Ton

Not funny but annoying as hell when a guy can’t come up with one specific thing they liked in your profile:

CNN News Junkie

Ahh, the strength of the male ego – particularly when it concerns sexual prowess. Perhaps there’s another reason a second encounter was not requested:

6'4

Tweet me your funny examples! I’m on Twitter (and Facebook) as @60sdating.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

When Endless Texting on Tinder Paid Off

Maui

If you’re on any of the online dating sites or apps, you know about the problem of endless texting. The keyboard crush is the modern version of the pen pal.

Some guys (and apparently some women) prefer to extend the written conversation to such an extent that there is little chance of a real in-person meeting.

About a year into online dating I reached my threshold for this type of interaction. Now after 8 or so texts and/or a week or two of time, I encourage or initiate a real life meeting/date. I need to know if there’s chemistry and connection. All too often a great written or spoken communication does not translate in real life.

There’s a young Tinder-matched couple having fun with extended texting. Of course they haven’t invested a lot of time or energy into their “relationship.” You may have heard about Josh Avsec and Michelle Arendas’ story, which has been featured in the media.

Enjoy some of my Fenwick Island Corn, Cheese and Egg Stovetop Custard (recipe below) while I summarize.

Josh and Michelle, both Kent State University students, matched on Tinder in 2014 and exchanged 11 messages up until this month, with increasingly funny excuses for their delayed responses.

Then Josh tweeted about it:

Josh twitterJosh Avsec‏ ‪@Wes_03 Jul 7

Hahahaha one day I’m going to meet this girl and it’s going to be epic. Look at the dates of our tinder texts.

Josh tweet re Tinder

Josh’s tweet went viral and over 12,000 people retweeted it. Word got back to Tinder and the company offered to send them to a city of their choice for their first date.

TinderVerified account @Tinder

It’s time you got together IRL. You have 24 hrs to decide the city you want to have your first date in and we’ll send you there! @mch_rnd

They picked Maui and thousands of interested onlookers are waiting for the date to happen. Many in the extended peanut gallery are hoping for a wedding in the near future.

That’s a lot of pressure for a first date, which can be stressful enough without worldwide interest.

I hope Josh and Michelle’s real life meeting/date goes well.

I have a feeling they’ll take it in stride – just like their extended keyboard crush. And perhaps that’s the lesson in their relaxed and humorous exchange: Have fun with these sites and apps.

I’m not going to attempt to mirror their 3 year journey but I think I’ll try to foster a more laid back attitude as I deal with the craziness of the modern day romantic search.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Nadia’s Fenwick Island Corn, Cheese and Egg Stovetop Custard (Warning: like all my recipes – instructions are seat of the pants with flexible ingredient amounts based on eye/feel)

(What to cook on a beach vacation when you have a conglomeration of leftovers and 6 people to feed)

13 free range eggs

¾ to 1 cup of milk (I used organic 2%)

5 ears raw white fresh-from-the-farm corn on the cob

1 red pepper, chopped

5 Campari tomatoes sliced thin to create a single layer in the pan

1 or more cups of finely grated Monterey Jack cheese

Beat eggs and add 3/4 to 1 cup of milk. (Note: Judge amount of milk to use by the color of the mixture. It should be a pale yellow but not so white that you can’t tell there are eggs in it!)

Stir and season with salt. Cut raw corn from cob and sauté in olive oil in an 11” sauté or fry pan. After a few minutes, add chopped red pepper. Sauté for a few minutes and layer the tomatoes over the veggie mixture.

Cook 2 minutes.

Pour the egg/milk mixture over the vegetables and cook covered very slowly at low temperature until half set. Sprinkle the cheese over the top (enough to cover the mixture) and continue to cook slowly until the custard is set. For a future version, I think I’ll add 1 to 2 roasted sweet onions.

Enjoy with whatever side dish you can create based on the state of your vacation frig! We had pasta with bottled sauce. A green salad and garlic bread would go nicely with the custard. Serve with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

 

 

 

An Advance Marketing Approach to Dating

blog pix July 9 cupid

You’ve gotten the emails or seen the commercials. Get ready for fall now… but it’s only June. Buy school supplies instead of a new bathing suit. You barely step into one season before the advertising barrage and decorations thrust you into the next one.

What if romantic pursuits took place in a similar fashion?

Suspend reality and let’s see what the world would be like if advance marketing took over the mating game. Have a real lunch of Federica’s Rigatoni with Tomato and Basil while we imagine.

You’ve just scored a promising online match with an attractive guy. Take charge and get ahead of the game! You know what’s coming. So don’t reply to his first message. Ghost him before he ghosts you. It’s all about being forward-looking.

You arrive at the bar for date/meeting #1 with Mr. Hot Stuff. Why wait for an end of date kiss? Seize the moment and pounce on him as he walks over to introduce himself.

It’s the end of date #2 with Mr. Hot Stuff (he apparently liked your exuberant first date greeting). As you discuss your plans for date #3, he asks, is there anything in particular you’d like to do?

Not one to be stuck in appreciating the thrill of the early stages of a romance, you suggest hiring a limo so you can travel in style to potential honeymoon venues by the beach. You tell him that great deals are to be had with advance planning. Surely, he’ll appreciate such a forward thinking and thrifty woman.

Somehow, despite your unusual behavior, you and Mr. Hot Stuff tie the knot. The wedding reception is still going strong, but why not pick your divorce lawyer now and lock in her hourly rate?  Twenty-five percent off if you don’t have kids.

It’s a good thing you locked in that rate. The divorce was tough but you have done the work, feel healed and ready to date again.

You signed up with a new dating app called ooOo and have a first meeting/coffee date scheduled with Mr. Cute Scientist. I need to up my advance game, you think. Several days before that first date, you visit your gynecologist for an STD screening test. Your plan: bring the (assumed) clean bill of health to Starbucks. As a biologist, he’ll appreciate my forward thinking about safe sex, you muse, and who wouldn’t love a woman with advance marketing skills?

Unfortunately, Mr. Cute Scientist is appalled by your tactics. Undaunted, you believe his reaction was an anomaly and feel confident that most men will appreciate your forward and forward thinking approach.

As you dress for date#1 with Mr. Tall Midwestern, you put on the elegant white I can wear this to my wedding suit you’ve had in your closet for months.

You realize that sometimes advance marketing has to be subliminal. So you rock the white suit with a low cut emerald green blouse but you don’t tell Mr. Tall Midwestern the outfit’s intended purpose.

Sometimes you have to temper an anti-mindfulness approach to dating with subtlety.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Resuming what Never Started

blog post pix july 2

They’re coming out of the woodwork…No, not termites – though some of these men are bugging me.

Curious? Taste this Spanish gazpacho while I satisfy your curiosity.

These are not men I was in a relationship with. These are the guys I emailed or messaged for a period of time but never met or met and very briefly dated.

The latest to reappear, Mr. V from a Tinder match, texted me on my Google Voice number this past Tuesday, 4 months after my last text to him. He continued his usual witty banter of “Happy insert day of the week.” Yes, I’m feeling sarcastic at the moment.

Blog text insert July 2

He attached a picture and appeared to have put on weight and a beard. When we matched, he had recently moved to the area and had a new, very busy, job with a crazy schedule. After several texts, I got tired of him not having time to move things forward. I also realized we had very little in common so I was fine when we stopped corresponding.

What’s interesting and kind of creepy is that he sent me the same message on Plenty of Fish (POF) – and we had never been in contact on that site. I wasn’t in a mood to respond to Mr. V and send another “sorry I realized we’re not a match” email so I blocked him on POF and also blocked his phone number.

Had I felt more of a connection with him, I might have renewed the correspondence but I just wasn’t feeling it.

And then there was Mr. R. I had not corresponded with Mr. R but I had a crush on him. I winked at, “favorited” and messaged him on several sites – with no response. Then, unexpectedly, we matched on Tinder. I was surprised and wondered if it was a mistake that he would quickly rectify by unmatching me. He didn’t unmatch me but neither did he make the first move. Feeling fed up, I was tempted to delete him rather than send another possible futile message. My ego is not immune from bruising! A friend advised me to just go forward and send Mr. R a message since there could have been a number of reasons why he had not responded before that had nothing to do with me.

So, I put myself out there once again. Mr. R answered but did not respond in kind to my witty banter. His profile said something about having his shots for rabies and distemper so I made what I thought was a clever comment/question but he ignored that and instead sent a nonsequiter that stopped the flow.

I waited a day and then decided to ignore his reply with a generic “excellent.” He replied with what would be his only question or comment about me: “What do you do for a living?”

Now, my profile says I’m a writer…so he could have commented on that or asked, “what type of writing do you do?”

Also, there’s something about the phrase “do for a living” that bugs me. It’s more crass than asking about someone’s job. I prefer to not ask about a man’s work as my initial query. It puts you on that boring Q and A tract of basic questions. I like to have a little flirty fun at the beginning, before moving on to the following essentials:

*Where do you live? (on Tinder that’s critical)

*Are you divorced?

*Are those YOUR twin 5 year olds?

I answered Mr. R and told him I was retired and now write for myself. I followed up with a specific question about his photography career. His passion for photography consumed the rest of our e-conversation. He never brought it back to me and failed to respond to my last comment. I gave it a couple of days and unmatched him. It felt good and I was totally cured of my crush.

There have been some other “out of the woodwork” examples, including a guy I met for one brief date. I left after one drink. It was clear I wasn’t interested and yet he started viewing me again as if that date never happened. Then there was the guy who messaged me ad nauseum before we finally scheduled an in person meeting, which he then cancelled because of work. Now he’s viewing me again. Sigh.

Online dating is often a feast or famine proposition – whether it’s men from the past coming out of the woodwork, new matches reaching out, or nothing happening at all.

I’m just trying to hang in and keep up hope.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia