Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DOMINO DANCING

I am three for three this month.
I’ve read it in articles, seen it on TV and heard it on the radio: there is a surge of people joining online dating sites after Christmas. Furthermore, more people break up in January than any other month. (Maybe Johhny shouldn’t haven’t joined the online site on Boxing Day while still attached to Frank.)
So call me an opportunist. Someone’s pain could be my gain. I rejoined one dating site and tried to view my ol’ standby, Plenty of Fish, with new eyes. Perhaps a cute little fishy has been lurking amongst all that algae.
Thus far, match.com is a complete dud—just like last time I shelled out money to join. Despite being a top site for heterosexuals, very few Vancouver gays have profiles on it. I have received two very nice expressions of interest from men whose photos suggest there could be a physical attraction. Great,…if I lived anywhere near Edmonton, Alberta or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Why taunt me? Why make me regret my foolishly chosen home even more?!)
There are more guys on POF and, lo and behold, it seems some new fishies have joined. And, yes, as my opening sentence suggests, I took the lead and messaged three guys whose photos/profiles piqued my interest.
Not all at once, of course. In my mind, that either seems slutty or defeatist. Slutty in that juggling multiple guys goes against my dating intentions—a relationship, not hookups. Defeatist in that mass-messaging would show that I am not particularly hopeful of hearing back from at least two out of three of them.
Having shared my online approach, you might surmise that, if I messaged three guys, at least the first two messages went nowhere. And, yes, you’d be absolutely correct. You’d be even more correct if you guessed that all three messages went nowhere. Shame on you, logical defeatist!
Three for three. Three messages, three periods of painstaking virtual silence.
Nothing,…

Nothing,…

Nothing.
Except I did receive messages the day after I sent each of my charming, witty notes. It’s just that the incoming messages did not match the outgoing messages.
Welcome to mismatch.com.
I wonder if the three guys who received my messages lapsed into a hyperventilating fit of despondency as did I when I opened my mail. Is every middle-aged single guy delusional in thinking he can attract men beyond his reach? Are we all seeking to reel in that prized catch that spawns a truly unbelievable fish story? This pathetic dating game is more reminiscent of knocking down dominoes than playing Go Fish. Why do I keep playing?
It is still January. These newly thrown-back fish have yet to adjust to the pond. We’re not the same and neither is the pool.

Maybe they’ll come out with a news story on what time of year people are the most desperate. I can hold off on the opportunism ‘til then.



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

MAN OF MY DREAMS

I can’t wait to go back to sleep. I dreamed in short, vivid snippets last night and one episode was particularly wet. No, not in a smutty, Health 101 way. It involved a pool of water. And me. And a guy.

Again, nothing sexual. To get that kind of thinking out of your head, let me share that one of the other dream sequences involved being chased by unpredictably playful zebras. I have a recurring nightmare wherein I am forced to eat steak. (I’ve been a vegetarian for almost thirty years.) Seems my internal oddities roam unfiltered in REM sleep.

So back to the pool, the guy and me. I cannot recall what he looked like. All I know is a feeling: unguarded glee. We shared it. Both of us fully clothed and standing near the pool, he scooped me up and leaped into the water as I laughed and he grinned. A simple act which, when it involves someone special, can be an exhilarating moment.

No need to overanalyze the teensy vignette. However, it combines a couple components that make me feel my happiest. I have a deep connection with water. I swim six kilometers a week at a local pool—sigh, no grinning suitor to be found—and I moved to my rural home specifically because of the water view. So much of my life has been shaped by experiences linked with pools, a river, a lake and oceans—friendships, high school survival (swim team), career (linked back to lifeguarding). It is odd, in fact, that no dating experience or relationship has linked with water. I’ve never thought about it before, but none of my exes had any comfort in water. Perhaps we were doomed from the get-go. Perhaps for my next date I should ask the guy to produce his swimming level certificate. Tadpole?! Uh, sorry.

Yes, overanalyzing...

I also know that I have a robust laugh—the kind that can be infectious or grating depending my company’s disposition. When work is too intense, when I am fatigued, when I do not seem to be flourishing, that laugh goes dormant. If I laugh at all, it becomes a motion on mute, an oddly internalized chuckle that cannot break out. There is a direct correlation between my expression of laughter and my sense of thriving and even my writing creativity. (Reading this, you can probably discern that I am in the midst of a muffled laughter period.)

That little dream instantly awakened me. It underscores my need to feel joyful and to feel unrestricted. It also represents hope. Prospects of ever connecting with another man seem bleak. Maybe, just maybe, he’s still out there. Alas, this is January and I am in Canada. Pool season is months away. Come June, if you hear reports of a fully clothed middle-aged man lurking at the community pool, know that it’s just me, the quirky dude who runs with zebras.

Tonight I’ll hit the pillow early. I’ll invite my pool mate into my dreams once more. Alas, why is it that the good dreams are one-shot wonders while the horrid nightmares (filet mignon!) have no qualms with invading the bedroom over and over?

I’ll take my chances. It is worth it to dream again.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? (Part One)

I do not have a tattoo. I will never have one. Yes, this is a “never” I can say with certainty. I hear getting inked can be painful. I do not need to investigate this. Rumor of pain is enough of a deterrent. I have an intense aversion to such a feeling and thus I have come to terms with the fact that I will never get Amy Winehouse permanently etched on my upper arm. It is not much of a hardship. I do not have an urge to identify myself with a singer, a snake, a rose, MOM or some sort of chain-link design. (Call it a hunch, but I don’t imagine tat artists are so skilled with otters, cauliflower or a group shot of the cast of The Golden Girls. Yes, even if I wandered in a tattoo parlor in a drunken state, I would remain an ink virgin. I don’t do Bea Arthur. SLAM!)

So no tattoo for me. My skin will only be covered with SPF 45 and cotton.

My regard for tattoos on others has evolved. I grew up in a conservative, reserved family during the 1970s. Tattoos were for radicals. Prisoners. People who still saw Jane Fonda movies. Extras in “Easy Rider”. If anyone let a tattoo show, I was trained to look away. No telling how many times I saved myself from being stabbed to death.

I imagine that long-tatted folks are horrified by how commonplace getting inked has become. In the rural, artsy/blue collar area where I live, a tattoo is no longer the requisite accessory for driving a motorcycle; rather, it is the perfect companion to driving a pickup truck. And everyone drives a pickup. (This is yet another reason why I am the default answer to the local version of One of These Things Is Not like the Others. I am the misfit with my plain ol’ silver Honda Civic. There are perks however. I can easily spot my vehicle in any parking lot. No need for a hot pink paint job.)

It has taken time, but I am finally in a state of mind where I no longer see someone with a tattoo and think he is planning to overthrow the government or lace my latté with LSD. (Is LSD a liquid? I don’t feel a need to Google. It might be scary.) I work with people with tattoos. My cousin has a tat. (An ankle butterfly. Yes, we are related.) I appreciate the fact that a tattoo can make a statement, even add to one’s identity. The tattoo is no longer taboo.

But as with everything, I think some people take inking too far. Indeed, excessive inking can make an attractive person look utterly unappealing. I may be in the minority, but I feel that way about David Beckham. This man is almost universally lusted over. He is one fine man. Or he was. A few tats? Fine. But he kept going. Why distract from perfection? I still find his face attractive, but that’s it. In the coming year, he may cover his cheeks and forehead with tatted leopard spots and then all will be lost.
A more current rendition of Adam Levine.

Adam during his minimalist phase.












Same for Adam Levine. He’s not Sexiest-Man-Alive worthy, but he certainly caught my eye when I first saw the video for “This Love”. Beautiful. Now he, like Beckham, is the living, breathing version of a hoarder’s house. Tattoo clutter.

No matter how much you love dragons, NO MORE TCHOTCHKES!

All this came to mind again Friday night as I went to the gym to squeeze in a mediocre end-of-week workout. As gyms in January are clogged with well-intentioned resolution makers, this promised to be a rare moment when I wouldn’t have to wait for any weights or machines. Despite my fatigue, I changed into my gear and went. The alternatives, 8 p.m. bedtime or ever-syndicated “Hogan’s Heroes”, were not compelling. Sometimes depressing can be a motivator.

As I walked into the gym, a guy wearing a school-bus-colored thong tank worked his triceps. His back was fully inked as were his arms. He turned to reveal a work in progress as pectoral tats reached toward his neck. I looked away, not based on a fear of being knifed—indeed, you can’t hide weaponry in a thong tank. I turned because that’s what you do when you see a train wreck.

Moments later, I peeked. (Another train wreck behavior.) I saw his face and it registered that this was a guy I lusted over only a year ago. Best looking man at the gym. Back then, he’d had a tattoo on each of upper arms that he flashed when he wore regular tank tops. I actually liked the designs he’d chosen, but I appreciated how his perfect biceps weren’t covered. I’d tried repeatedly to make eye contact with the guy but never succeeded. And now here was this “new, improved” version of the man. All sex appeal gone. At least to this beholder, he was utterly ruined.

What do you think? Do you prefer old David or new David, old Adam or new Adam? How about Ricky Martin? I know many guys like tattoos, but is there a point when it becomes excessive? What is the turning point? How does someone with a fondness for ink know when to say when?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

ISN'T IT ROMANTIC?

Generally, I have ample protection. I have never wandered into a bridal shop. I don’t flip through wedding magazines—even when it’s between that and The Economist at the dentist’s office. I avoid the Valentine’s section at the grocery store. (It will be set up within the week, no doubt. I’ve stocked up on Band-aids and Kleenex already so I have no reason to stroll down that aisle I refer to as the Red Sea.

But then I went and booked a quick trip to Victoria. As it bears no relevance to me, I completely forgot how romantic the charming little city can be.

Interlocked elbows while meandering and gazing at beautiful old buildings.

Sharing tea and scones at the Empress Hotel.

And how about getting cozy on a horse-drawn carriage ride?

I tried to tune out the romance. I don’t need a companion to admire the architecture. And I am more of a coffee guy anyway. Still, I conjured up a dreadful image of me paying for a carriage ride for one. I imagined the sad looks, the hushed whispers and the likelihood of becoming a YouTube sensation—2014’s version of Grumpy Cat. Definitely had to steer clear of horses. The risks were too great.

It didn’t help that I traveled to Victoria with two dates lined up. Two chances to click. There was a chance for that carriage ride or maybe even a midnight harbor walk, keeping warm against Date #1 (or Date #2) while oohing and aahing at all the structures tastefully silhouetted in glowing lights. And I saw potential in BOTH dates. Trouble is neither of them did.

Cue Gershwin.

And so that made being alone in that darned charming little city a tad harder. As I ventured about, there seemed to be fewer families taking up all the sidewalk space. Perhaps that is more of a summertime phenomenon. This made the glut of couples even more obvious. To be fair, despite walking many miles during my stay, I saw no lesbian couples and only one gay pairing. Perhaps Victoria is too Victorian.

Luckily, I’ve also come to know Victoria as a recreational city and a place to sate my shopping desires. I didn’t need a mate to enjoy a scenic jog along the water or to load up on shirts and shoes. And I didn’t hesitate to go out to eat with an empty chair across from me—I got used to that long ago. (I had plenty to read.) I decided to satisfy any hankering for horses when I got home, figuring I could pet a couple of alpacas through a fence on the way into town. Close enough.

So I managed to dodge Cupid’s arrow. (Damn.) Must have been a trick arrow because I certainly tried to get hit. I’ll make it back to Victoria, hopefully sooner rather than later. Romantic or not, it is a lovely setting.