Monday, April 23, 2012


Like Meg Ryan in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, I consider myself low maintenance.  I may even have a stronger case.  I don’t ask waitresses for meal components “on the side”.  I once bought a two-in-one shampoo/conditioner.  And my Starbucks order has never included the descriptors “extra hot”, “no whip”, “double tea bag”, “grande in a venti cup”, “three-fourths decaf”, “room for cream” and/or “served by a barista singing the Armenian national Swahili.”  (In my early Starbucks days, I did go through a phase of ordering a tall dark Italian, but when I kept get nothing more than a strong cup of coffee I reverted to my standard venti brew.  I now leave the dreaming to my lottery quick pick.)
In truth, I am not as low maintenance as I’d like to think.  A colleague once said, “You have lots of quirks.”  Not sure what’s the less offensive label, quirky or high maintenance, but I could never respond with a successful slander suit.  I blame Miss Piggy.  And Chicken Little.  And Dory and Babe and the cow that jumped over the moon.  Yes, I am a strict vegetarian whose REM visions of eating a thick slab of steak are not dreams but nightmares.  (Seriously.  While you dream of appearing in meeting for work in boxers, I dream I’m force-fed filet mignon.)  Ordering off a menu can be a complicated process.  Servers try mightily to suppress annoyance over my inquisition about broths, cooking oils, gelatin and that cursed cheese ingredient, rennet.  (And now I have to ask about crushed beetles?! )

A few weeks ago, I went on a promising first date with another vegetarian.  His choice is based on a cholesterol count, not a love for Bambi but it still makes dating and eating out easier.  If we don’t go to a vegetarian restaurant, we at least opt for a place where there is something more than a soggy pasta primavera on the menu.  In the past month, I’ve visited favorite restaurants that I can’t convince friends to go to (“Didn’t we go there last year?”)  and explored a new haunt, immersed in a hippie culture while dressed in a Michael Kors outfit en route to the ballet.  Yes, you can eat granola without looking granola.  (Tie-dye only accents my pastiness.) 

Being a vegetarian isn’t a dating essential like non-smoking, but it sure is refreshing.  I don’t have to defend or justify my diet.  There is no need to look away as my dinner mate gnaws on a heaping plate of buffalo wings at T.G.I. Friday’s or cracks open lobster bits.  I don’t have to think about kissing someone with beefy residue on his tongue. 

To be sure, if there were hordes of gay vegetarians on the planet, I would cruise tofu turf, but dating is challenging enough for me.  I once did a worldwide search on a gay dating site with 22,000 members.  When I added “vegetarian” as a search term, the pool shrank to seven.  Yep, that guy in Helsinki looked dreamy. 
When I do date a vegetarian, I become more hopeful, perhaps even desperate. 

Please let this work.  Maybe I can overlook the fact he dresses as Spock on full moons.

Sure he rambled for an hour about igneous rocks, but he makes his own vegan cheese. 

When we’re both eighty, how wonderful that we can order one item and ask for a share plate!   

I do not know how things will turn out with my current broccoli beau.  He has admitted that his vegetarianism is selective.  He’ll eat fishcakes and turkey tacos at a catered work function and I was startled that his Lexus had a leather interior, but matching my values isn’t going to happen.  I’ll appreciate what we have in common, enjoy the dining experiences and see how things play out.  If things go kaput, I have a backup plan:  I’ve bookmarked this website.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


What makes a good match? About two months ago, I signed up for another online dating website,, feeling that a moratorium was in effect at Plenty of Fish. (Not that overfishing ever occurred, but stocks were clearly depleted.)

Sad to say, the prospects at are even less promising. Still, once or twice a week, the site generates a list of possible matches for me. I get an email, suggesting that I take a look at GnomeLover49’s profile and pointing out some commonalities in our profile.

Like you, he is a non-smoker.
He also goes to the gym.
He also likes to travel.

Wow. I know I’ve said in the past that I’d just be relieved if the guy breathes, applies deodorant and washes his hands after urinating—yeah, I know, that last expectation eliminates a lot of guys, but it’s a non-negotiable. A non-smoking, gym-visiting traveler? Jackpot!

Or maybe not. How much should a date or a potential partner and I have in common? When I was new to dating, I genuinely thought there was great potential because the slightly inebriated guy chatting me up also liked a song by Ce Ce Peniston. (Sadly, neither the guy nor Ce Ce lived up to their potential.) In retrospect, I was probably slightly inebriated too...and a little too smitten by the guy’s high cheekbones. On another occasion, I felt a spark with a guy because we had a two-minute sharing about our dislike for Geraldo Rivera. Another time, I got excited because a guy with thick, curly brown locks liked all the Golden Girls. Even Dorothy!

I was surprised—no, shocked!—that none of these relationships lasted longer than, well, a night. In those days before cell phones, I’d rush into my apartment, unimpressed by my unblinking answering machine. Blankety blank. Seems some people don’t immediately think in terms of for better or worse and happily ever after. And so began my jaded period.

In time, however, I changed my perspective on what to look for in a potential mate. Maybe having things in common didn’t matter at all. I told myself that it was about mutual respect. Understanding and accepting the differences was more important than liking Savage Garden and “Murphy Brown”. I decided to embrace differences. Let my guy be a Hulk Hogan enthusiast. Listen as he rambles on about how Ross Perot would have been a fine U.S. president. Allow him to waste his Sundays watching golf on television. I’d love him, warts and all.

With a fresh new outlook, I hooked up with a guy who quit a successful career in real estate and moved into a camper trailer while training to become a personal life coach. Next, I dated a guy who’d found his spark after joining a women’s knitting club. During each date he’d spoil me with a special gift, a small hand-crafted knit square—actually something between a square and a circle--, lovingly rendered in a shade of my favorite color, green. I never figured out what to do with the quasi coasters so I shoved them in a shoebox where I keep the latch-hook bookmarks I received from a nun I used to know.

Okay, sometimes differences are just too, um, different. Seems I’ve spent too much time on the far reaches of the pendulum. As I’ll share in my next post regarding my latest dating adventure, having at least one core interest or belief in common can at least provide a solid base. And if he can name at least one CeCe Peniston song, well then, bonus points!

Sunday, April 1, 2012


On Friday night I met my date at one of my favorite restaurants. The Naam is a hippie hangover establishment, all-vegetarian fare, mismatched wobbly wooden chairs, sitar-heavy soundtrack playing between live sets by a folk guitarist. To be sure, it’s not for everyone. My sirloin-loving best friend becomes surly whenever I dare mention the place. It’s a chancy choice for a first date, but every so often I stop playing it safe and go for what I really want. Being a quasi-vegan vegetarian, it is a rare pleasure to be able to scan an entire menu and make a real decision about what I want to order instead of waiting to ask the server what dish the chef can de-carnivorize.

Okay, so my meeting place wasn’t particularly bold. According to his Plenty of Fish profile, Jim is also a vegetarian. It was one of the indicators that led me to be cautiously optimistic about how the date might go. There were other signs of hope. His messages were exceptionally polite and warm. He grew up in the city my last date referred to as the world’s “most hideous place”. Yep, Los Angeles, the city where I’d lived for five years and the place I am hoping to return to, if someone could every spur the immigration sloths into reviewing my file. And not once did I squirm while reading his messages, feeling a need to find solace in this favorite book of mine.

Jim showed up making a wonderful first impression: stylish coif, designer glasses, fashionable outfit. I know there is a stereotype out there about gays being style experts who give straight guys makeovers, but gay men in Vancouver rarely exhibit any sense of how to dress to impress. Vancouverites would not find that remark a poor reflection on themselves; rather, it would show that I have my priorities out of whack. Sorry. My shallow concern for my appearance blossomed while I lived in that Most Hideous Place and I haven’t quite shaken it.

The date with Jim turned out to be one of those rare occasions when conversation flowed easily and more and more connections surfaced. Everything clicked. I had no doubt that the interest was mutual and, as we hugged goodbye on the sidewalk, Jim mentioned getting together again. By the time I’d reached the ferry, he’d texted me to say again how much he’d enjoyed the conversation. Some who follow dating rulebooks might find that contact too soon, too desperate, but I found it a perfectly natural extension of a pleasant dinner out.

We texted back and forth a few times as the ferry was late and Jim asked for my last name. “It feels a bit tawdry only knowing you on a first-name basis,” he wrote. That told me two things: (1) He has an odd definition of tawdry and (2) He wanted to Google me.

I should not have been surprised. Such is dating life in a virtual world. We’d met online. Why wouldn’t he conduct an internet search as well? I have a very common name. Perhaps he’d find some scandalous bits about a few of my namesakes. As an author, I get Google Alerts whenever my name appears in the Google search engine. Among other things, I have died twice this year. The obits were very kind.

When I awoke Saturday morning, Jim was on my mind. The conversation had been that good and his background proved truly impressive. Was he too good to be true?

Google got the better of me, too. I have never come across his last name before so the links that surfaced were direct hits. Sure enough, Jim did earn a degree at Stanford. And Harvard. Yes, he worked as an executive for all the major companies he mentioned. There were references to his time in Amsterdam, in Portland, in San Francisco, Chicago and, of course, L.A. As well, I found links to affirm that he’d actively campaigned for an iconic Democratic senator, worked on California’s campaign against Proposition 8 and served in a prominent role on a national minority rights organization in the U.S.

Checking Jim out online proved as fascinating as chatting with him in person. Intelligence is a sexy quality to me, as is political activism when it is a cause I also believe in. For now, let’s say that Jim is too good, but totally true. Wow.

One oddity did surface during the search. He graduated from the same L.A. high school as my alcoholic, former coke-head ex. (Why name him. Alcoholic Former Coke-Head Ex has a nice ring to it.) They attended at the same time with Jim finishing a year before AFCHE. Do they know each other? Now that I live in a different country, I’d say that commonality is plain weird. Thankfully, high school was oh so long ago.

It’s all a go after the Google. Apparently my deaths didn’t scare him off either. We’ve arranged for another dinner date next week. Only so much can happen online.