in nyc you’re either looking for an apartment, job, or boyfriend…

March 8, 2011

This past January I was unceremoniously informed that I had to vacate my apartment by April. It was through no fault of my own that I had been giving the boot. It was simply that the landlords’ son had graduated college and they had decided to give him my second floor brownstone apartment (they inhabited the ground and first floors).

This was a shock but not necessarily a surprise. I loved my spacious one bedroom with a cozy but comfortable living room that was flooded with natural light. I loved having my landlord a flight of stairs away and an older and lively retiree living above me who was available to accept my packages. I had been living in my Clinton Hill neighborhood for eleven years and paying well under market value. I had watched the neighborhood’s gentrification and somewhere in the back of my mind I knew my days were numbered. I thought the ax would come in the form of higher property taxes which would lead to a rent spike which would lead to me getting the hell out.

My lease was not set to expire until July so I was pissy about them breaking the terms. It had been an unseasonably harsh winter so I was pissy about looking for an apartment in the record breaking snowfalls. I knew that I wouldn’t find a comparable apartment for the rent I had been paying so I was pissy about the imminent decrease of my disposable income. In short, I was a little pissy about the entire situation.

Until…

In the midst of treading in my self-pity I remembered a conversation I had with a friend years before, during his first visit to my apartment. He loved it and immediately exclaimed, “I want this place as soon as you move into your next place! This is such a great starter apartment!” I remember brushing off the statement with a short laugh but for some reason the words starter apartment had nestled themselves deep in the recesses of my mind. I had intended on staying in that place for at least another couple of decades or until my knees could no longer take the steep staircase. I had such a great deal on the rent and the neighborhood was idyllic so what would make him think I would ever search for another spot. But once in a while, when I least expected it, starter apartment would surface and then just as quickly disappear from my thoughts.

So in my search for a new apartment I have acknowledged a few things. I have a fantastic, huge walk in closet. It is the only closet in my apartment. It is the storage room, linen closet, coat closet, clothes closet, and everything else closet because it is the ONLY closet in my apartment. My kitchen should not be used for any meal that requires preparation. No chopping, slicing, dicing, mixing, stirring, or blending can comfortably take place. There should be a marker outside my bathroom that states, “You must be this tall to use these facilities.” Of course, at 5’9″ I would be disqualified from ever entering. Whoever thought that a decorative fireplace adds charm to a space should be smacked. It doesn’t add charm, it subtracts space. Yes, I’ll miss my beautifully preserved wood floors and 10 foot ceilings but I will happily trade those in for an extra bedroom/office and washer/dryer. I’m ready for a grown up apartment.

Next up…the search for my perfect apartment and learning to live without it.


too bougie or not bougie

February 19, 2009

If I haven’t mentioned it, I’m from Long Island; born and raised in Amityville, yes that Amityville. Growing up on LI leaves a lot to be desired. I spent the majority of my formative teen years conniving my way to “The City” which usually meant Jamaica Avenue in Queens to buy clothes. My parents definitely did not want baby girl hanging out in the NYC so any and all excursions had to be kept on the hush hush and I was pretty much on lockdown the rest of the time. After high school I fled Amityville so quickly I left a poof of cartoon smoke at my heels.

When given the opportunity for freedom I ran to…Richmond, Virginia which I found to be about a half-step below Amityville. Yeah, long story, maybe I’ll tell it in another post. Anyway, four years of college in VA and an extra couple of years thereafter made me realize I needed to be in Brooklyn. Here’s the weird thing, I didn’t really know anyone from Brooklyn and definitely did not hang out there in my youth but it held an allure for me like, I guess, those who feel the pull of Hollywood. There was something about Brooklyn.

After two years and five address changes, I made it to the Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill/BedStuy area; one street away from Biggie’s old stomping grounds, around the corner from Chubb Rocks’ Treat ‘Em Right lyrics, and a world away from Amityville. It was love at first sight. I’m glad I trusted that cosmic pull to Planet Brooklyn. It’s been over ten years and I’m still in the honeymoon phase. Of course there are things that need to be fixed but like any good relationship I’m willing to overlook the flaws for the overwhelming benefits of being with BK. But I think I’ve undergone an unexpected change. I think I may have become, I hesitate to say, one of them – a bougienubian. You are probably unfamiliar with this term since a friend of mine coined it in a conversation a few years ago to describe a sect of Beautiful Black People who invaded Brooklyn in the early 90s looking for a creative place that was not Harlem where they could freely roam from brunch to brunch with the right people but not too commercially known in between frequenting the arts festivals where they purchase authentic African masks to adorn their abodes while maintaining a close-knit circle of their other bougienubian friends.

My friends and I would joke about their fabulousness and how “special” the bougienubians behaved. Now, as I sit in my adorable one-bedroom abode gazing at my authentic South African artwork planning a Sunday brunch (complete with mimosas) I’m noticing a slight change in my outlook on life. Specifically, a recent event has me concerned.

My stats are similar to many in my immediate world – 30s, single, childless but my entrée into the world of Facebook has reconnected me with many from my past who have wed, given birth, and still live in Amityville. In fact, this weekend I plan to have a late lunch with a few girlfriends from high school. I initially left the details to their discretion since I’m traveling to LI to meet with them. My mistake. Their first suggestion was a seafood restaurant. I cringed when I read the e-mail because I don’t eat seafood however, I figure there’s always a chicken dish available. As I’m known to do, I google the joint. Good news is the place is Zagat-rated but let’s take a look at some actual reviews:

“Good raw bar, cheap, cheap lobsters, bring the kids and wear a t-shirt. Have fun.”

Bring the kids? Wear a t-shirt?

“Like an indoor picnic. If you like paper plates and plastic utensils – then this is for you.”

Did he just say paper plates and plastic utensils in a restaurant?

“No ambiance whatsoever but…the best fresh seafood served cafeteria style. You can pig out and make a big mess…”

Oh hell no! This is wrong on so many levels. Luckily, another person from the group doesn’t like seafood and requests another locale. Whew. Do you want to know the next suggestion? IHOP. Yes, the International House of Pancakes, where we would go as teenagers after a late night of hanging out ‘cause it was cheap and well, open. IHOP. They want me to hop on the Long Island Railroad to feast on a short stack of pancakes. Really?

Granted, LI is not a hotbed of entertainment but it’s certainly capable of maintaining a decent array of dining opportunities. I can no longer hold my silence and carefully construct an e-mail to offer alternatives. Remember, I’m the one that started with “I’m leaving it up to you guys” and now I’m clearly saying, “Damn, y’all can’t even pick a decent restaurant!” I tread lightly because I want to respect budgets but there’s got to be a better place:

Okay, I’m just putting this out there since I’m neither married nor anybody’s mama but don’t y’all want to go somewhere more befitting four very attractive young women out on the town sans spouses and children? I’ll even settle for an Applebees or TGIFridays or any place that allows for good food and good conversation.

Yes, I said I would stay out of the decision and yes, I obviously lied.

The immediate reply is…TGIF! Yeah, I wrote it but it was supposed to be a foot-in-door approach to allow for them to think beyond IHOP. I now know better. I’m about to strong arm the situation (like a true Brooklynite) and it dawns on me that they’re actually happy with this choice. I’m the one pushing for a “real” restaurant. I take a moment to breathe and see what’s happening. These are my friends and this is their LI life and I’ll be happy to visit for a couple of hours. If I must endure an afternoon dining without a wine list I guess it’s okay. At least I won’t have to use a spork.


tommy ain’t got no job!

January 30, 2009

I love my niece like I love breathing but I swear I don’t know where she gets off! My beautiful, talented niece who’s honest and intelligent has officially lost her mind. Granted, this isn’t the first time I’ve made this declaration.

The first time was when she texted me about her pregnancy. I received a text from my nineteen year old niece that she was pregnant! I was flabbergasted. You don’t f**king send me a text message that your teenage self is going to have a baby. WTF!
Once she admitted she was pregnant (yes, there were initial denials), we talked about her options. She decided to stay in school until the end of the fall semester, take off the spring semester, and re-enter the following fall semester. Right! Less than a week later she dropped out of college. Three years later…Unless you’re Kanye West, stay your a$$ in school.

The nine months of her pregnancy were fraught with drama. She pretty much told us to collectively kiss her behind and that her and her baby daddy knew what they were doing. It’s amazing what she was going to do with her new family, and how she didn’t need us for nuthin’! They had it all figured out without ever having an actual gameplan. When the dust settled she’s living in her parents’ basement with baby daddy no where in sight.
But this is what brings me to the latest WTF! moment. My loving niece and her spectacular son call me to extend birthday wishes. He serenades me with a 3-year old’s version of Happy Birthday and then demands that I sing it to him. I love every minute of it (especially since our birthdays are two days apart). My niece takes the phone and we chat for a moment before the realization hits that it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon. So I ask whether she had today off from work. She at least had the decency to reply with hesitation, “Aunt Cheryl, you know I quit my job.”

Now, I know no such thing! We had a conversation a couple of weeks earlier in which she complained about the people at her job, the environment, and the level of disorganization. I told her that in this economy, it wasn’t smart to leave a job without at least having viable prospects. I tried to explain that even though her job wasn’t ideal, she should at least take advantage of the benefits afforded her and her son as well as the opportunity to finish school on someone else’s dime. She “yes ma’am” me throughout the conversation and I thought we had an understanding. Well, now I understand, she’s breaking my heart and my image of her. Who gave her the impression that it was acceptable to quit her job and stay at home with no financial support? This is a young, able-bodied, smart young woman who thinks it’s okay to leave her place of employment because the people were getting on her nerves. Hell, if that’s the case then we’d all be chillin’ at home. Did we not instill a proper work ethic? It’s frustrating because she tries honestly to be a good person but there’s a disconnect. I talk to her about saving money, investing, setting goals and it seems like she’s listening until I realize she’s hearing Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice, “Whaamp, whaamp, whaamp. Whaaaaamp?”

Next moment of Zen my niece provides stems from her lack of money sense. I’m taking my sister on a Caribbean vacation for her birthday. It’s just going to be me and her, sand and sun, and maybe a cabana boy. My niece tells me that she’s going to give my sister/her mother money so she can buy stuff for her. I politely ask, “When does a single mother with no job still living with her parents have a disposable income?” Silence. “Oh, you don’t know the answer,” I ask, “well, the answer is never. You don’t have money to give anybody unless they’re supplying you with heat, gas, oil or housing.”
This answer upsets her. “Oh, aunt Cheryl, I have some money.”

“No you don’t. At least you don’t have extra money. You see Peanut (that’s what I call her), extra money is for those who are gainfully employed, without (bad) debt, living in their own spots with a retirement plan that doesn’t involve hitting the lottery. Please allow me to repeat that you ain’t got no job!”

I am left speechless that someone in this economy could think it okay to not appropriately provide for herself and her family. She quit her job! Quit! As if she had that luxury. As if she was entitled to a “break” from dealing with reality. Damn!


twelve steps to happiness

January 13, 2009

I’m still doing Match.com and I’ve met someone who I think may be interesting. Yes, interesting has different connotations either positive or negative and I’m deliberately vague. His name is Marc, he’s an artist and a builder, which I love because I have a thing for creative guys. I won’t bore you with our first few dates except to say that we seem to enjoy each other’s company. Eventually I invite him to a play my friend is performing in. He tentatively accepts my invitation with the caveat that he may need to go upstate. I extended the invite on a Saturday for the following Friday. It’s now Thursday and I haven’t received a confirmation from him either way. I’ve put a girlfriend on standby and I need to tell her something. I send him a text and…nothing. The worst thing you can do is let my imagination take over. I knew it, things were going too well. I wish he would’ve just said no instead of going deep cover. At least I thought things were going well. Geez, I can’t even trust my own judgement? The answer is the sum of squares! Okay, the last thought slipped in because I was in statistics class while mentally beating myself up. My cell phone chimes alerting me to a new text message. It’s him. He apologizes for his late response and can attend. He’ll call me later this evening to discuss. Life is good. I can give my full attention back to differential equations.

True to his word, he calls me around 10:00 p.m. It’s a really nice two-hour conversation and the first 90 minutes are pretty mundane. The last 30 minutes consisted of him trying to talk me into coming to his apartment. Now, this is a virtual minefield with me. A booty call? Really? It’s 11:30 p.m. at night and he wants me to get dressed and go out in the cold NYC air. I’ll run a hot bath to warm you up. What kind of man would let a woman ride the rails this time of night by herself? Take a car service. I have to work tomorrow anyway. I live ten minutes from your job. I’m not paying for a car service. It’s my treat. Besides, I’m going to see him tomorrow night at the play. But I want you now.

This goes on until I say, without question, no, I will not go. I can hear the smile in his voice. “C’mon. Be spontaneous.” I hang up.

You know how everyone has her/his personal kryptonite? That one thing which exposes your vulnerability regardless of your superhuman strength (or in this case resolve)? He hit it whether by design or in error. It’s my lack of “going with the flow”. I’ve been working on this for a couple of years. You know, loosening up. I like information and lots of it. I want to know how, when, why, where, who and it would be nice if it’s written with a detailed explanation. I don’t do well with spontaneity. I need a gameplan.

He texts me: “Call me when you’re on the bridge.”
I ignore him.
He texts me: “I’ll meet you downstairs.”
I ignore him.
He texts me: “Do you like mango or passionfruit scented bubblebath?”
I text him: “Passionfruit”

I arrive at his apartment apprehensive and excited. I’m congratulating myself for living in the moment. I mean, what’s the worse that can happen, right? He meets me in front of his apartment and escorts me up the three flights of stairs that I believe can only be found in NYC pre-war buildings or the Statue of Liberty. The glow of his computer screen casts a green hue throughout his room. Note, I didn’t say apartment because that would be too generous even in Manhattan terms. It’s a room but his artistic touch is seen throughout and it’s homey. He explains that he’s been playing poker in an online tournament while waiting for my arrival. We sit at his desk as he “dumps” his hand but the other players think it’s a strategic move and he wins the round or whatever it’s called in poker. He tries it again and again, he wins the round or whatever it’s called in poker. He jokes that I must be his good luck charm and suggests just shutting off the computer. I’m relaxed and tell him to finish it out while I get comfortable. Now, if you’re like me, you’re not familiar with the world of online poker. If this is the case, check out a recent 60 Minutes segment http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4639069n%3fsource=search_video.

Four hours later…

He plays in this tournament for four hours straight! Did I mention he begged me to come to his spot? Did I mention that he paid for the car service? Did I mention that I feel like a nutcase? What just happened? Luckily, I have plenty of time to ponder this question since Marc is lost in his poker game. I can’t make this stuff up.

I’m asleep when he finally finishes. He wins $800 for his effort which still doesn’t explain why I needed to be there. This is so absurd that I’m not mad just completely confused. As I get ready for work the next morning I can’t resist asking him yet again, why did he call me from my apartment to watch him play poker. The crazy part is he doesn’t understand my frustration. I never get a reasonable answer which is my fault for thinking that one even existed.

I think it’s time for me and Match.com to call it quits. Next up – eHarmony.


first date first impressions

December 22, 2008

I’ve finally got up the nerve to start going out with a man who seemed reasonably sane. My first date is with Josh. I’m hesitant because he’s a few years younger than me but his profile is lighthearted and humorous. He has a quirky sense of humor which I find very attractive. His picture is nice and he lists himself as 6ft with a note saying that’s his true height. Bingo! We do the whole wink, e-mail, text thing and I like his virtual personality. The first time he asks me out I have to decline because not only am I sick, I’ve lost my voice. We plan on later in the week which is difficult for me because of class but I really want to meet him. The good thing is he lives in Brooklyn, has a car and knows a few places in my neighborhood. He chooses a spot I’ve never been to but it’s close to me. I happen to have a midterm the night of our date and one for the record is that I will never schedule a date on the same night as a big test. The test takes longer than I had anticipated so I have to push the date back a half-hour to give me enough time to run home, change, shower, and pretty-up.

I make it to the designated spot on time and…he’s not there. I’m waiting and getting nervous thinking I’ve been stood up. I sit at the bar thinking of Plan B – I will order a drink and an appetizer, enjoy the atmosphere then get the hell out of there. I get an ego boost from a cutie who gives me a “look” and I really hope Josh is good looking in person. I receive another hit albeit not so flattering when a guy sits next to me and starts a conversation. I’m getting anxious ’cause the clock’s ticking and dude chatting me up is a little off or slightly inebriated. Josh walks in and I immediately recognize him, not because he’s what I expected but because he looks like a close approximation of his photos. I stand to greet him and realize 6ft ain’t what it used to be. Also, close-up he’s not as appealing as his profile pics and there’s just something I can’t put my finger on…

We sit in the back lounge area, order drinks and an appetizer, and talk. He’s nice enough but definitely not what I had hoped for in person. This is why I don’t spend too much time in virtual relationships. They’re like black and white photos – everyone appears a little bit better and you don’t notice the rough edges as much. Virtual relationships allow you to be funnier or smarter or more compassionate because you have that extra time to edit your natural response. However, it’s a necessary evil for me because I like to see how a guy communicates, I just don’t waste a lot of effort on becoming penpals.

So, back to Josh. The conversation is okay and I feel comfortable with him. I apologize for pushing back the time at the last minute and I explain that I wanted to give myself a cushion to get home, shower, change, and get to the spot. He nonchalantly mentions that he didn’t bother to shower before meeting me. Really? Let me say he made it clear that he’s been home at least four hours before the start of our date. But this is besides the point. On a first date, under no circumstances is it permissible to share your lackadaisical attitude towards personal hygiene. No, his day job does not entail hard physical labor but still. Damn. Don’t tell me you didn’t shower. I’m sitting there simultaneously trying AND not trying to smell him. I’m forced to spend the next 15 minutes surreptitiously searching for signs of poor personal care. Guess what? Found ’em. The mood lighting initially hid it but upon closer inspection I notice that his clothes have been worn a lot. The cuffs on the sleeves are actually fraying and his slacks have seen better days. He didn’t even care enough to wear a decent outfit.

I try to be nonjudgmental and focus on making the best of the rest of the date. Honestly, it wasn’t horrible which led to my mistake of going out with him again. Yes, I’m that stupid. There’s something in me that wants to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I caught him on a bad day. Nope. Second date outfit is just as bad and this man works on Wall Street and still has a job so he should have at least one presentable shirt in his closet. What’s worse is that as we talk some more I’m bored senseless. How did I get stuck with a boring, poorly dressed date? Because I’m that stupid. When our meal comes I eat it like a recently released hostage. I want to get out of there as quick as possible. No thank you, I don’t want another drink. No, I don’t want dessert. He’s barely finished his meal and I’m flagging the waiter like I’m landing a 747. Yes, the check would be great. Please bring it! Now!

Suffice it to say there was no third date.

So, enough of Yahoo! Personals. Next on deck is Lavalife and Match.com.


my space or yours?

December 9, 2008

It started for a good reason. I wanted to spy on my niece Jamie. Okay, it may not sound like a good reason to you but I felt no guilt trolling MySpace for her profile. In my opinion she was a half-step away from eloping to Afghanistan with a 40-year old man whose intentions were not as pure as mine. Yet, now I’m the bad guy. I feel like the creepy guy in the club who’s way too old to be a part of that crowd but still trying to pick-up women half his age.

 

It really did begin innocently enough with a conversation between me and another niece, Tanya. She was extolling all that is wonderful with MySpace because she was able to keep in contact with her cousins without wasting precious cell minutes. When she told me of some of the things found on her younger cousin’s site I was concerned to say the least. I figured the best route would be to see for myself. No one warned me that I would have to join the Family like Donnie Brasco to get a peak at her information. I needed to gain her trust to be accepted as a friend. I had to post my information to show that I was willing to do a give and take. And like Donnie, I was immediately sucked in. I was able to maintain some perspective which meant I refused to post any pictures but I would be a liar if I said the temptation wasn’t there.

 

Yes, the initial access was intriguing. So drunk was I with that access that I searched for my other teenaged nieces and nephews to glimpse their views on life, love, and anything they felt the urge to share. It has been nearly twenty years since my own teen years and I’d honestly forgotten, or effectively suppressed, the angst, self-reverence, and self-loathing of that period. I completely understand why teenagers loved that site. Imagine being able to indulge in your most delusional, narcissistic fantasies – Life According to Me! – with little to no filters or supervision. I was able to re-live some of those emotions through my nieces and nephews and let me tell you, it ain’t pretty. It’s simply the schizophrenic nature of teen years laid out in black and white. I love him! I hate him! She hates me! He hates her! In person, these are the kids that reply to every inquiry with fine. How’s school? Fine. How’s your afterschool job? Fine. How’re your friends? Fine. Well, MySpace let me in on insights that are usually reserved for school yearbooks and suicide notes.

 

But now that I’ve infiltrated their world what do I do with the information? I didn’t think this thing completely through. Is it normal for an 18-year old to be so in love with his first real girlfriend that he marks his status as “Married”? How about a 16-year girl who displays pictures of her baby sister with ambiguous captions implying the child is actually her daughter? I know you can reinvent yourself on the web but what’s the deal the one who is blatantly lying about her ethnicity – Black, Asian and Indian? WTF! I want to run and tell their parents but I’m not even sure what I’m telling them. Does this call for intervention or is it just adolescence?

 

I started this so I could be a watchdog so why do I feel like a rat?


analog girl in a digital world

October 29, 2008

I have a wonderful, younger, recently wed male cousin who has decided it is his mission in life to remind me that “time’s running out.” In his words, “You’re getting old Cheryl! What are you waiting for?!” When I try to explain how difficult it is to find a suitable mate he asserts that I’m not trying. It’s a funny thing to think about – how do you try to date? I hang out in places I enjoy and do things I like but to make a concerted effort to date? I’ve been having problems with that one. I’ve never been a “good” dater.

But I’m trying. I’m trying real hard. But everywhere I look tells me that I should try harder which has led me to Internet dating. Yes, this is what it’s come to since every time I think it’s okay to be over 35 and enjoy a single life something reminds me that I must be delusional. This week’s reminder was brought to me by 30 Rock. Tina Fey’s character is having relationship problems. While donating blood she goes into an unprovoked account of her recent dating woes and confides to the black nurse that she is going to break up with her boyfriend. The nurse looks at her chart, “Hmm, 35. Single. No children. Maybe it’s time for you to just settle.” Cue laughter. Wait, that’s me!

Well, I decided to share this wonderful journey with you. If you’ve never searched a dating site (and you probably have but won’t admit it) the ground rules are simple: 1. Everyone has to have a username, tagline, and profile; 2. Photographs are optional but highly recommended. That sums it up. I’m currently listed on Yahoo! Personals. After a few weeks on the market here are some of my observations/annoyances/experiences.

Your first line of contact is usually an e-mail and let me give any guys reading this some advice, make it personal. There is nothing more unflattering than receiving a generic e-mail. Even Spam cares enough to put my name in the subject line. I’m not asking for a ten-page letter listing each of my attributes. In fact, you can have a template and just tweak it with a line or two to let me know that you did more than see my picture and decide to go for it. Let me give you some assistance – if a woman says she enjoys spelunking then mention it in your introduction. It doesn’t need to be anything spectacular just something to let me know that the 100 other women you’re contacting aren’t receiving the exact same pick-up line.

If your e-mail is the first line of contact then your picture is the first impression. It’s hard to understand how something as simple as posting a recent, good quality picture can be a stumbling block for so many?

Let’s start with the guy who doesn’t post a picture. This is one area where you really don’t want to leave it to my imagination. My new rule of thumb is ignoring any communication from someone without a photo and no, I’m not being shallow. What was one of the qualities that attracted you to my profile? The witty headline? Nope! And do you expect me to believe that you’re contacting women who don’t have a photo? Nope!

Okay, so I found a profile that has a photo but it’s a little out of date. I know you think that great snapshot from your 30th birthday party would be perfect for your profile but here’s the problem – you turned 40 last month. Don’t post old pictures because it reeks of bait and switch. I get that you were a hottie back in the day but if you show me a picture from a few years ago I need you to hop in your time machine and make sure that’s the person who shows up to the date. And in all fairness, if you’ve made any major changes in the past year like getting fatter, grayer, balder, skinnier, etc. then post a recent picture that looks like you or a reasonable facsimile of what will show up on our date.

If I can’t tell if the picture is showing you or the ever elusive Sasquatch then post a higher quality picture. Again, warning bells are set off by someone who puts grainy, out of focus shots of himself as if he’s intentionally being vague about his looks. No, I will not give you the benefit of the doubt. I will think Sasquatch is a safer bet.


Big Foot or Friday’s hot date?


Have you heard the expression, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day?” Well, same goes for just posting one picture. I am suspicious if there’s only one picture because I’m sure somewhere there’s one photo of Mike Tyson with the right lighting and a great angle that’ll turn me on. This is especially true for hat guys; the ones who are ridiculously cute in their hats but fail to mention the receding hairline or thinning hair that the hat is covering. I need more than one picture but this leads me to…

Don’t post too many pictures. It feels like I’ve sat through a vacation slide show when you have more than six pictures and I’ll honestly get bored, yes bored, from looking at all the pictures. I will also think you’re a narcissist.

Hey look! The gang’s all here! All of them right in the photograph and I can’t tell which one is the person of possible interest. Group photos are cool for posting on Facebook but not such a great idea for your profile. Beware if you post a picture with you and your boys it’s only natural for me to compare them to you and if someone’s outshining you… Oh, and as an aside, posting pictures with you and another female, even if she’s not your ex-girlfriend, is a turnoff.

Whew, I think I’m finally done with pictures. Oh, there’s one last request. Don’t post scenic pictures. I don’t mean a picture of you in front of a beautiful sunset; I’m referring to the shot of a beautiful beach with crystal clear blue water lapping gently along the shore while the sun quietly sets in the background. Who cares?

I know it’s difficult to come up with a tagline but you’re screaming “BAGGAGE” when it’s filled with negativity. Here are samples of headlines from men who’ve contacted me:

“Women complain there’s (sic) no good men”

“Where are all the good women?”

“Looking for someone real”

“Good guys finish last”

And you’re not getting anywhere if I can’t understand it:

“tall seeks confident”

“hey nice brother coming youre way meet”

“Special man seeks special woman” – okay, I understand this one but it makes me giggle.

 

Yahoo! Personals scores pretty high on the unintentional laugh scale. They give this great option where you can respond “I’ll tell you later” to items that, well, you get the idea. This option is completely acceptable if you’re responding to salary. I find divulging my salary as a criterion for dating repulsive. If I share that information with a guy then we’re definitely beyond the “getting to know you stage,” so I completely understand when a guy uses ITYL as his response. However, if you reply ITYL to “do you have any kids” guess what? I already know the answer and my only question is how many? And under no circumstances am I touching a guy who lists ITYL with marital status. Are you kidding me? And why would you need to tell me your age later? Are you so old that you forgot it?

Guys, honesty really is the best policy because I’ll find out you “stretched the truth a little” in your profile especially if you’re lying about your height. Listen, I’m a legit 5’9″ so I know the difference between 6’0″ and 5’7″. Stop giving me your basketball height. It’s so disappointing to show up for a date in my funky chunky heels to stare at the top of your head. This lie is so common that I have a theory there must be an alternate gender-based measuring system where 5’7″ = 6’0″ for men and 165lbs = 130lbs for women.

A close second is body type. Many, many guys list themselves as fit or athletic and many, many guys are obviously lying or just have an inflated sense of self. And because you play a sport once a month doesn’t automatically give you an athletic body. You are not allowed a fit body type pass based solely on drinking diet soda instead of regular. Again, the moment we meet in person the jig is up so cut to the chase and use “average”. No shame in that.

Yahoo! Personals (as do many sites) allows you to see “who’s viewed me” and on what date, which is a pretty cool feature. You can disable this feature and view profiles anonymously. With this in mind, if I see that you are viewing my profile on a daily basis I’m not sure how to feel about it but I can tell you it ain’t warm and fuzzy. In fact, it’s more the call is coming from inside the house! feeling. Stop freaking me out. Say hi or move on.

I am not a rude person. In the real world I say hello and smile and I’m generally pleasant. However, in the virtual world if I didn’t respond to your first communication move on. I understand that silence can be interpreted as many things but most times a reply, even a negative one, encourages a rejoinder. I don’t want to engage you in a conversation as to why I don’t want to go out with you. People are paid by the hour to deal with such issues; I am not one of them. Here’s an example (verbatim) of a recent one-sided exchange:

On 10/01/2008 11:39 am EDT, Alton wrote:

Hello Cheryl,your profile caught my eye and if you email me i will respond back.My family means everything to me cause when others are gone they will still be there.

On 10/02/2008 12:48 pm EDT, Alton wrote:

Hello Cheryl,my name is Alton and i’ve email you a couple of times waiting for you to respond,all i’m asking is that you hold off on judging me until we’ve went the course.

On 10/04/2008 12:37 pm EDT, Alton wrote:

Hi, there!

On 10/06/2008 10:07 am EDT, Alton wrote:

Hello Cheryl,how you doing?

 

There was a better example but this guy stepped out of bounds so I blocked him from contacting me again and deleted all of his IMs and e-mails before I realized how perfect his craziness would’ve been for the blog.

Oh, speaking of craziness, you will be Googled. Period. There’s not much you can do about it except remember whatever half-truths you told on your profile may be revealed via the Internet. For example, my co-worker searched the name of a potential suitor and came up with a few disturbing entries. It also revealed his profile pictures were at least ten years out of date. (As a side: I realized that he had contacted us both when she showed me the Google results. He also had a very distinctive name. I dodged a bullet on that one!)

 And here are just a few more things to be mindful of:

  • There is a difference between a compliment and a come-on. Let’s say one is nice as in “you have pretty eyes” and one is creepy as in “you know I’m a leg man.” Yuck.
  • Please check the spelling of your profile. Big turn off when you say you own a jewelery (sic) store. Leads me to believe otherwise if you can’t spell it.
  • The last one is age. It is quite apparent you’re not 39 so stop it. Now. You know what really gives it away? Your out of focus picture.

The journey continues. Next…my first date!