Monday, September 29, 2008

The Men We Dream Up

I was about to throw in the towel for online dating and cancel my subscription to once again hit up the bars, clubs, and other cheesy groping spots of San Francisco. As I was on hold for a "end my subscription now before another 50 year old hairy man contacts me” representative, I got an interesting ping in my inbox. A seemingly normal, well-traveled man wrote me. He was in my age category, had ski racks on his car, spoke French, and what’s this…was a surgeon who had volunteered across the world in international medicine brigades? I immediately hung up the phone.

What is it about doctors that bring women to their knees? Even hedge fund gurus cannot compete. There is something alluring about a man that is not only intelligent, but also does something positive for the world. Perhaps it is because I really don’t…unless you count making peanut butter cookies for a barbeque as a good deed. Although you can bet that in my response email I am going to mention how I volunteered with troubled youth in the slums of Guatemala back in ’99. (This is a true story...kind of...I also spent a lot of time in Guatemala salsa dancing, which can also be considered being a good Samaritan depending on whom you dance with).

I am doing what I advise women to never do which is extrapolate one tiny first contact into a full blown relationship. I cannot wait to bring my new doctor boyfriend to cocktail parties. "Marcia, you know that sore throat you have been complaining of? Well, you should let my doctor boyfriend look at it. He is an expert. In fact he treated village dwellers with the random Morlionopoliosicko virus in southeast Asia for two years.” “George, is that a paper cut on your right hand? Let’s let my boyfriend doctor look at it to ensure it is not infected. You never know these days…while my doctor boyfriend was in the remote island of Hunu Hunu, he saved thousands of lives by merely disinfecting common injuries.” "Yes, Portia, my new doctor boyfriend not only saves lives but he also is on the ski patrol, writes a column for the New Yorker, and didn't invest in any funds with mortgage-backed loans."

Okay, I know this is ridiculous. Not only am I sketching out annoying ways to present (i.e., brag about) this potential guy to my friends, I have not even met this man and I already deem him perfect. Time to cancel my dating subscription now before this daydreaming gets the better of me.

Why is it that when women first meet a man (or in my case, read a two paragraph email), they immediately take one tidbit of information and concoct a perfect man out if it? Why can’t we wait patiently and let things develop (or not)?

As usual I poll the peanut gallery.

Mazz (single with multiple crushes herself): After being out in the dating cesspool for a few months, it’s easy to get excited about someone halfway normal. As long as the fantasy stays in your head (no more writing the new man poetry, Shoe Girl) there is no harm done. Crushes are a good thing—it is what motivates us to keep putting ourselves out there. Remember my fantasy with Gabriel, the bartender in NYC? It didn’t go anywhere but it did keep me excited to wear Manolos every time I went to The Modern.

Eva (married and concerned about my dating future): Yes, Shoe Girl, you do really need to stop writing poetry to men who you barely know. I am not sure letting your fantasies get the better of you is a good thing. Stay focused on your life, your two thousand sports and let the man slowly reveal himself to you before you plan your wedding theme song. Think of him as a flower unfolding…isn't reality more exciting? It certainly is more sustainable.

C.B. (single, male): Why do women do this? Men don’t. In fact after we send you an email we don’t think about you until we hear back from you. The we spend four minutes picturing you naked and another two minutes writing you back or calling. That’s it. Perhaps you should start a fantasy football league. Now there is a fantasy worth spending time on.

Sigh…okay okay. I’ll pace myself. No extrapolating. No fantasies. Although the one with the hospital gown is pretty darn good…

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Online Dating Show

We buy our groceries online, we pay our bills online, why wouldn’t select a mate online while we are at it?

Ahhh…remember the days when everyone wrote paper checks and online dating carried a stigma? During the 90s the only people who found love via their computer monitor were cyberdorks with tape on their glasses. Well those cyberdorks were light years ahead of us in terms of the new dating scene (not to mention everything else involving the internet). They are also now Silicon Valley millionaires.…but I digress.

Yes, the online dating industry has passed the ‘early adopter’ stages and gone to the masses. is about as mainstream as Starbucks, Facebook and Gardenburgers (soy based burgers are mainstream in California anyway).
Even if we don’t publically admit to have browsed the site, we all secretly have while in the privacy of our own home. Most of us have free profiles posted. And about a solid third of us have actually made the leap and paid for a subscription, showing our cheesy smiling profile picture and “love to laugh” headline to the world.

So what exactly happens on these sites? Can true love be found in cyberspace or is it still reserved for the cyberdorks? I decided to find out.

After a few weeks online, I have made a few noteworthy observations that may serve to assist other men and women out there.

1.Cancel your weekend plans to devote to time to profile writing. Setting up the profile is a bitch. Be prepared to labor over text and multiple editing sessions from your pals. And when it comes to pictures, just select a few good ones (not the one of you in a Sombrero kissing a pinanta, no matter how ‘fun’ it makes you look)

My first attempts at writing a profile were attacked mercilessly . ‘Shoegirl,” Holly chided me, “you cannot say you are fluent in five languages. Number one, it’s too intimidating. And number two, ordering sushi in Tokyo doesn’t really count as speaking Japanese!” (Hmm…what about making love in French then? ) Alexis then found fault with my attempts to be humorous ‘Writing limericks may be witty, but I do not think rhyming ‘anatomical’ with ‘economical’ is going to get you a date “ And Mazz didn’t like my Mad Lib approach when I let the reader fill in blanks how he wished. “But I am a chameleon! I can be and do anything!” I protested. After hours of edits, the final profile was specific enough to describe me, yet vague enough to have them wanting more. I gave a few examples of my hobbies, (must sound active and literate), my job (must appear to have one), and a descriptions of places I like to go. (If you are not well -traveled, don’t bother posting a profile or just lie—everyone on this site seems to be Rick Steves).

2. Winks are for wimps. Hold out for an email. I have heard from male friends that they cannot be bothered to write everyone, so they just give an easy wink to women they don’t care as much about. In fact, they may wink at as many as 25 women during one session. So if you get a wink you are not special. You aren’t special either if you get a cut and paste email that could easily be sent to 25 women. ‘You seem cool. Nice smile!” If a guy likes you, he will actually *gasp* read your profile and write you an email that references things about you in it. “I like that you speak 5 languages, I myself speak 4. Let’s make love in French.” These are the guys worth writing back. Mais, bien sur!

3. Weeding them out takes patience. For every halfway decent man that writes you, about 50 not-so-decent men will. They are either 56 and bald or 35 and four feet tall or are 23 and have had “some college” and misspell the word ‘college’ (A ‘collage’ is a collection of photos, dummy). I don’t think people bother to read what you are looking for before they contact you. There are also just some plain weirdoes out there left over from the chat room days. I recently got an email from some man in Idaho (geographically undesirable) with this message ”Look into my eyes! I have been telepathically willing you to respond to me.” Along with the other pariahs, I ignored him. When a good one writes you, take the time to write back. Don’t become a winker yourself.

4. As women lie about their weight, so do men lie about their height. I do not know if men seriously all believe they are 6 feet tall or they know they have a higher chance of a write-back if they pretend to be. It really works against them. I once was excited to finally meet an engaging 6 footer out. However, when we shook hands for that important first hello I realized that he was actually my height (in flats)! He was a cool enough guy that I could have gotten over the tall thing had he not lied! Was he lying about his Ivy League education as well? Guys—be honest. And women too—do not say you are 115 llbs when that was your weight when you were in junior high. From body stats to incomes….unless we stay in a virtual relationship we’ll find out sooner or later.

5.Casual please. Although most men behave casually, some men are REALLY READY to get married and have kids and see as their last chance. I am not a baby machine. If a man asks me about kids on date numero uno, he’s out. I mean yes, someday I hope to be a mother….but please we met ONLINE…isn’t talking about daycare options a bit premature for the first outing? I think that everyone who goes on an online induced date should go thinking of friendship only. Anything more than that needs to develop from in-person encounters. Chemistry is the one thing that the internet cannot predict nor control.

After about 6 weeks online, I really did meet some amazing men. I had enjoyable drinks and dinner dates on Tuesdays when I would have normally been in my PJs watching ‘Love Actually’ for the 14th time. However, I can’t say I found anything resembling true love...or even mild interest for a fling. To be honest, I find online dating daunting and quite time consuming. I know many men and women have had much luck on this site and I would love to hear from them. (In fact I know two married couples that met on one of these things!). There is also a new site that has gotten press from You don’t actually have to be a millionaire (I obviously am not), but I do think it weeds out the “some ‘collage’” educated and high school janitors. Apparently Charlie Sheen met someone on it. And we all know what good taste he has in mates. I may try it out and meet a movie star or just throw in the towel on cyberdating. Perhaps I am old fashioned but something in me prefers the good ol’ sleazy pick up bars. I guess I’d rather have a hearty ass grope and ‘yes no’ dance than a string of “so you rock climb too?” emails

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Wish I Were a Power Lesbian

Oh, just another Friday night in San Francisco.....wearing the cashmere "it" scarf in the middle of summer, pairing wine with sopressata sausage, and debating being set up with one of the city's new power lesbians.

Yes, you heard that right. I ate pork and debated dating women on the same night.

Mazz and I went to a fabulous new wine, cheese and salumi paradise last Friday. While waiting to be seated, we met two amazing women-Bonique and Lisa. The two well dressed ladies knew their wine better than the sommelier at Gary Danko. Mazz swooned as Lisa hand picked the perfect matches to our upcoming plate of aged chevre and fenneled fancy pork bits.

We assumed Bonique and Lisa were like us, fashionable females out for a friendly dinner and hoping to meet some (male) eye candy toward the end of the evening. After laughing over city tales, we decided to join the ladies for dinner. Four girls is always better than two, right? During the first course we chatted about B&L's shared hobbies, shared art collections, and shared Sonoma real estate. Shared? It finally dawned on us that Bonique and Lisa were much more friendly than friends...

The two were the dynamic duo of the 2000's. Sexy, wine savvy, and well invested even in the worst of financial crises. And they were gay. Gay, however, seems to evoke more clout these days than stigma. Today the word "lesbian" does not mean butch or jock or drab. Rather it means power, sophistication, and open mindedness. Svelte Bonique and Lisa could somehow reference art, politics, manolos, and stinky cheese in the same sentence. While chatting to B&L, we noticed another lesbian couple across the room giving each other a dainty kiss over a $200 bottle of wine. They were also wearing Chanel boots. Lesbian women rock.

Could I too enter the realm of the hip homosexuals?

Perhaps it was all the wine, but it appeared that this category of women had everything on my list. They could deliver where no man had been able to. Now could I just convince myself to be okay kissing a girl's cherry chapstick mouth?

Bonique read my tormented mind and offered to set me up with a friend of hers-Someone who was a 5 star restaurant regular, owned a yacht, and competed in biking. This person was also a woman; a tall blond-haired blue-eyed leggy woman.

My mind raced to the Sex and the City episode where Charlotte tried to get in with the city's power lesbians. It seemed such a beautiful world. I remember she was so ecstatic to be in a world where everyone had her same interests and dreams. The magical place where people talk Wall Street AND Vogue. But I also remember that in order to stay in this world, she had to be okay with a little beaver. And I do not mean the woodland creature. Could I beaver it without cringing?

I pondered Bonique's offer for a set up. Let's face it. While a yacht ride may be nice I don't think I can be more romantic with a woman than crying together during "Love Actually." For when it comes to a partner's sexual equipment, I sure am biased toward the male version. Sadly, I had to give Bonique and her entourage the "Let's just be friends" line. But unlike my statement deliveries to most men, I sincerely meant it. These women are too much fun to lose completely.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Damn the Hang Ups

Argh. Okay so I promised that I wouldn't let the "no ski rack on my car" statement deter me from a potential Mr. Right. But sadly I have found a new slew of hangups that keep me from falling for an otherwise perfect man.

Meet Stu--VC genius, dirt bike racer, tri-lingual with a summer house on the Italian Riveria. Trust me, there are very few of these types in the San Francisco Bay area. Over a plate of sinfully stinky cheese and decadent red wine, I wanted to swoon and promise to have his tri-lingual children. I couldn't wait to discuss our wedding plans. Sadly, Stu ruined the dream by standing up. He was 5'6". I knew if I dated him I would have to forever relinquish my collection of perfectly heeled Manolos.

Stu or high heels? Well, since I have had a long term relationship with the latter, it didn't seem seem right to abandon them for a mere romantic notion. And my shoes speak Italian too.

After we parted ways, I spent some time alone in my closet second guessing my choice of 'sole' mates. I wondered what on earth was wrong with me. Why do I need to date a jolly green giant? Smaller versions seem to have a lot more to offer on the checklist front (i.e. personality, European homes, etc). I knew Stu could make me happier than any larger versions if I could just be okay crouching....

I asked some other girlfriends what had prevented them from falling for a perfect man.

"Joe was balding. Our first date was outdoors as he looked adorable in a baseball hat. However, when we went out to dinner on date number two and the venue had a strict 'no baseball hat' policy, I saw more of his scalp than I cared to. It shouldn't matter...but I found myself overly focused on his extended forehead when I should have been enjoying my filet and our conversation. 'What's that? You took Rogaine to Las Vegas? Oh! A plane A plane. Got it.' Ridiculous I know....but I need hair! I need to run my fingers though it!"

Mazz reported on her too stable man that she recently dumped while on the phone in my living room..."Maybe it was that all around he was too stable...but the real clincher...the real hangup was that he kissed like a guppy! I don't want to train a 38 year old man to kiss! Kissing...honestly it makes or breaks them."

Another girl reported that she had a thing against stale breath. What exactly IS stale breath?? "It's not exactly's the smell in your grandparent's closet. Even though Charles was an accomplished and very sexy attorney, I didn't want to be close to him when he exhaled. He later met a girl that was an open mouth breather (she couldn't smell and I think was pretty stale herself) and they got engaged."

Eva told me that when she first met her husband he had a bad haircut. "I couldn't look at him straight on, let alone go on a date with him. A few years later he went to a new barber and drastically changed his appearance. I promptly talked him into a redo date...and now we are married. I do oversee his hair stylist appointment schedule though. Don't need to ruin the marriage over his hair."

Why do such silly shallow things keep us from true love? How much should trivial things matter when everything else rocks our world? And it's not just complain of cankles, flapping upper arms, and women that always seem to get salad stuck in their front teeth. (Oh dear, I think this is me).....

As I dig into my stash of dark chocolate, the item that never lets me down, I question if we can ever get over all of our dating hangups....It certainly would widen the dating pool if we could.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Alpha Male

The elusive alpha male has repeatedly been mentioned in comments on this blog as well as in conversations out with the girls. It's time to dissect him. Online.
The alpha male--Everyone covets him, yet is made miserable by him.

How many times have you ordered the heart healthy fruit platter for dessert when the flourless chocolate cake was next on the list? I see. Than why would you rather pursue something simple and good for you than the attractive, thrilling, yet all together heart unhealthy alpha male?

Sigh. Even though we know we would likely be better off with a 'beta' male version that comes with a conscience, we remain stubbornly attracted to alpha model--dangerously high testosterone levels, confidence bordering on cocky, power that stems from said confidence, and career and car to back it all up.

Who is this unique species?

The Alpha Male's Natural Environment
The Alpha male, when not in important board room meetings, is found doing deals on the golf course, winning a race in some elite sport category, and frequenting trendy bars with beautiful women.

The Alpha male goes to these trendy bars for one sole purpose: hunting. The Alpha male is a supreme hunter and easily captures his target prey within minutes of buying them a glass of wine. "Easier" women fall victim to his charms instantly and are often confused as to how they ended up in his bedroom. Sadly, they really do believe he will call them the next day. Experienced women stay far away and monitor from a safe distance. They do not want to be pulled in by his charm.

The Alpha Male Psyche

The Alpha male cares first and foremost about himself. You certainly won't see him volunteering with one armed children in Uganda.....unless there are either major business connections to be made or a slew of Brazilian models on the same project. The Alpha male won't do anything unless there is some personal value to his world.

The Alpha male thrives in any setting that presents challenges and competition. Although he is pretty damn good at anything he chooses to do, he will still seek out the latest and greatest sport to keep his adrenaline levels high. If you want to hang out with the alpha male, you must be prepared to indulge his need for challenges on double black diamond ski slopes, high stakes tables at Vegas, and new miles per hour records in his car.

The Alpha Male in Relationships
The alpha male views everything in his world as a conquest--from ski slopes to business deals to the new hottest woman. However, sometimes the Alpha male gets confused either from accidentally watching 'When Harry Met Sally' or talking too long to his mother. He decides to try to form a relationship with the current women he has For a while he does well, tries to make compromises, and may even replace his Saturday night boxed seat Giants game tickets with an outing to the ballet. But then sure enough the glitter of a relationship wears off and the alpha male becomes restless. He decides to let the girl go...and focus on himself again.

Many times the alpha male tries out a relationship for the sole purpose of re-creating himself...that is alpha male speak for having children. Many times this urge is so strong a marriage occurs. (In addition to creating children, a marriage is also positive for business--married men are deemed more successful). However some alphas still try to get around a life commitment. I once had an alpha male approach me about having his children. He promised lifetime child support check as long as he didn't have to stay faithful to me or deal with the gritty parts of child rearing. We stopped dating after that comment.

But why do we even date alphas in the first place? I ask around the city...

"We are drawn to testosterone. Pure and simple. We want the strongest and most powerful. That's what mattered in cave man days....not sensitivity or willingness to see a Sarah McLaughlin concert with us."

"Hey, we like the chase too! An alpha male is more of a challenge. He won't just do what we want how we want.....but trying to get him to on occasion sure is fun!"

"Power is sexy. Listening to our feelings isn't."

I wonder....and ask my much alpha do we need? Obviously not the 100% alpha male model...but is a hybrid version available? And is it possible to have an alpha male that has a chance of being a decent guy?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day and Night Barbie

San Francisco women live two lives. By day they are savvy career powerhouses driving sales and thought leadership for their firms. By night they are dancing divas in fashionable heels.

The Day Woman Profile

The Day Woman appears not to have a social live as she answers her blackberry messages at all hours of the day and night. The Day Woman dresses smart, yet conservative enough as to not cause suspicion that her neckline got her the job. Sad but true...all the press on Sarah Palin confirms we still think women cannot have boobs and a brain at the same time. Knowing this, the Day Woman is sure to exude sophistication, organization, and some degree of prudeness. Day Woman does not shoot vodka...or know who Kanye West is.

However, once the sun goes down over the Pacific, the Day Woman transforms into another creature all together.

The Night Woman Transformation
Once she enters her home, throws down her laptop, gym bag, and those non noticeable 2.5 inch pumps, the Night Woman starts to emerge. The stiff white button down is replaced with a shimmy top. Dramatic 4 inch heels are pulled out of the closet. The Night Woman pours herself a dark sensual glass of wine, applies crimson Chanel lipgloss, and prepares to meet her friends. During the course of the evening, the Night Woman will still answer her blackberry as to protect the Day Woman's cover. But she will also throw back martinis and dance with unscrupulous men. Work Hard, Play Hard has taken on a whole new meaning.

How Long Can a Dual Identity Last?
Sometimes however, the unthinkable happens. Someone from the office appears at the club noticing the Day Woman in her Night Woman form. It is as if Superman's true identity has been discovered. "My God---Day Woman is mortal!" "In Day Woman a bit drunk?"

Night Woman cringes as her double identity has been detected. She fears her powerpoints will lose credibility now that she has been spotted rubbing her bum up against the bar to Justin Timberlake. Good thing she didn't make out with the hot young bartender. Her analysis of new growth markets would never be seen in the same light.

Why must women have a double life? Why do we feel a need to hide our urges for both wine and sex while men flaunt their vices blatantly in the office? And vice versa--why when we are out having fun, we never care to admit what we do for a living thinking it may scare off potential interests? Does Night Man want to date Day Woman? Likely Not!

Says one worker bee female "I like to have fun on weekends....being silly with friends cuts tension from my hectic week. However, I would be mortified is the office knew I love dancing the Roger Rabbit to 80s tunes. They would take photos and decorate my office with them."

Another successful women points out, "I just like keeping my lives separate. Work is work. Fun is Fun. The guys I meet out won't buy me a drink if they knew my title outranks theirs. Conversely, the career crowd prefers to assume I am a sober sod. If they knew my tolerance level, they'd assume vodka had erased all my analytical capabilities.

What's a girl to do? Well if it's a solid excuse for having two wardrobes, fine. But can't there be a way to let worlds collide? Can being mortal be a good thing in the office? Perhaps we will be more approachable if we are known to have fun every once in a while? ( long as we don't get so drunk we do face plants on the dance floor..not that this has ever happened to me). And as far as hiding our career savvy in order to meet men- I am not sure I would want to hang out with a guy didn't at least equal or outrank my professional level..... although it is pretty easy to outrank a blog writer.