Monday, October 27, 2008

Filling the Pipeline

When I first started my "datus hiatus" I felt powerful. I felt I was in control of my happiness. Celibacy was a comfortable state of being. After all, in a pinch a sit-up or two will work to satisfy those uh...urges... Being standoffish and date free was almost fun...

Well, that "comfortable, fun" feeling has ended. My external body may be strong from yoga but my internals feel the tumbleweeds blowing around. Sit-ups or a sad quivering piece of rubber/plastic just won't cut it anymore. And instead spending Saturday nights sorting through my moldy chevre selection while reading 'overcoming overeating' or 'why being alone is powerful,' I would give my left kneecap AND a case of cherished vino to have a engaging dinner date with someone who, well, I found engaging. My socks want to be knocked off, and perhaps even my pants too! Enough failures--it's time to seriously tackle the pipeline.

Easier said than done. In some cities filling the man pipeline with decent specimens is easy for marathon-running, Manolo-savvy, and wine-literate gals like my female entourage. Not the case in San Francisco. Not only do most men stubbornly insist on staying in one of three categories: sensitive ponytail birkenstock man, overly-conceited triathlete guy, or gay (hey, love you guys but a girl needs some action!), but we seem to also mess up when the few good ones appear.

Task Number 1-Finding the good one. (you know, the straddle-worthy pipeline filler)
Task Number 2-Reeling him in (i.e., flirting: ensuring your cold shoulder bitch or dwarf lover tendencies don't scare him off)

Situation A: Task 1- Successful. Task 2- A bust.
Last week after deciding to have just "one more" glass of wine at a posh neighborhood bar, Alexis and I spotted a hot stranger sitting by himself. The 'stranger alone at a upscale bar' find! Woo hoo! "One more glass" turned into oh..."twelve more" as we delightedly made it our mission to keep the man company. However, much to my dismay, the wine took over my brain and I once again found myself overly chatty and talking Mr. Hot Man's ear off about orchestra camp and the desperate plight of 30 year old women in San Francisco. Alexis, alarmed even through her wine haze, hit me a few times on my left arm to make me realize I should stop talking. Now. Ouch. Getting hit by a martial arts black belt isn't fun. Mazz later heard the tale and told me that I am no longer allowed alcohol on first dates or first man encounters.....but I am do you meet a man without alcohol?

Sitation B: Task 1- A failure, Task 2-Passed but wish it didn't
I decided to listen to Mazz and agreed that my next date would be tea after a hatha yoga class. Mr. Earthy (AKA 'Mr. I'm OK with no alcohol as I am on a cleanse') and I chatted about vegetarianism and politics and hiking. Interesting but *yawn* no sex appeal. Well for me. Oddly, this man seemed to have fallen in love with my random spouting off. I actually got propositioned for marriage. Truth be told, he needed to extend his visa to stay in the country. But he also wanted to see me every day for the next week. Yikes. I'm back to least it eases the pain.

So how do we execute both tasks....and remain (relatively) sober?

Besides that shady site, where can we meet wonderful men that are educated, aren't afraid of alcohol (or afraid of me with alcohol), and like to hike, bike and paint? And then how do we reel them in?

A few ideas Alexis, Mazz and I are going to try out:

1. College sports game venues: Alcohol lovin' real guys that eat meat. Who cares which team they root for! We will wow them with our cheerleading abilities.
2. Art openings: The sophisticated intellectual or the poser who at least likes to look sophisticated and intellectual...we will brush up on the artists beforehand as to come across "learned."
3. Mingling at Whole Foods: At 'Whole Paycheck' you will find a man with a wallet who is produce savvy....I'll offer to help him pick out the 'ripe ones.'
4. This year's Halloween party: The only time when looking as slutty as possible works in our favor.
5. The line to vote at the polls: He must be politically savvy to understand all of SF's propositions...and I intend to ask everyone in line about them.

Once again I'll be practicing flirting. It's no longer a side hobby, it's a necessity for survival.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Flirting Take Two: Flirting Without Mauling

There is a fine line between acting unattainably mysterious and flirtatious. Apparently there is also a fine line between letting a man know you are interested (i.e. flirting) and flat out mauling him.
For some reason I have no idea where any of these lines are and just seem to make mistake after mistake. On my attempts to be flirty I have tried out different maneuvers and lines with new men. Sadly, they either come out 1)too standoffish or 2)freakishly stalker-like (alas my attempts to overcompensate for my "cold shoulder bitch" syndrome is not working). Below I have recreated snippets of conversations that detail both my pathetic attempts at wit as well as the lines I should have said. (you know the ones I think of the next day while in the shower). Read on and learn from my mistakes.

Topic #1: Hobbies

For some reason my hobby of writing has come up numerous times (second to the fact I played the cello in orchestra camp). However, I am unable to present this hobby well.

Unattainable: “Oh writing? Well, currently I write a dating blog that discusses how random ALL my dates are. Will you be featured on it? Perhaps….but there are just so MANY to write about.”
Plain Mauling: “I wrote a poem about you last night. I rhymed your last name with the Algerian term for love.”
Flirtatious would have been: ‘Yes, I do write on the side….maybe someday I’ll write about you. “(wink, wink).

Topic #2: Sports
Another topic that has come up is athletic hobbies. We all love our exercise...some more than others.

Unattainable: “I thoroughly love the San Francisco tendency to get into triathlons…in fact I know a lot of men that have done an iron man. Plain biking just seems wimpy now, doesn’t it? “
Plain Mauling: “I had a dream that we were on the same relay team for the Wildflower triathlon together. We had matching outfits……” (go into dream details…..)
Flirtatious would have been: “You like to bike? Well you DO seem fit….I bet you could do an iron man if you wanted!” (light touch on bicep)

Topic #3: Wine

And lastly the wonderful topic of wine…for no conversation in San Francisco would be complete without it.

Unattainable: (after going to bar solo) “ Ok—I have two glasses of wine for us…one a Syrah and one a Zin. If you guess which is which you get 10 points. If not….well….hmmmm….”
Plain Mauling: “Oh I’d love a second pour…..but I seem to have a low tolerance these days and may grope you if I have another….so in that case…..” (odd laugh)
Flirtatious would have been: “I adore deep seductive reds. Why don’t you pick out a good one for us?”

As indicated the “flirtatious would have been” lines were concocted in my head the next day. In real life, I either uttered the unattainable ones or the mauling ones or some terrible combination of both. It’s a mystery why I do this. When I leave the house in pearls and heels to meet my date I FEEL mysterious. I feel sexy. Then upon enterting the date venue, my confidence runs away (to the chocolate store for safety, no doubt) and I am left alone and helpless to utter ridiculous things.

How do we combat this? How do we become more appealing? Do we downplay our talents? Do we need to up play theirs? Or do we just need to make more seductive sighs and arm touches? And most importantly how do we gain the COURAGE to do all this? Is flirting really a confidence play or an art form? I think I know what flirting is when I see it, but I cannot seem to do it myself. For some reason I freeze up and cannot so much as touch the outer sleeve of a man's jacket to save my life. It is likely due to a fear of intimacy, the fact that my confidence is at the chocolate store, and my plain retarded-ness in speaking to another human being. No longer am I Juliet, who with “any other name would remain just as sweet.” Sadly no, I have transformed into the female Steve Erkle.

But practice makes perfect…..I have just ordered some dating books for outside help on the matter. Stay tuned for their learnings and more attempts to be coy and alluring. Of course, dear readers, any tips are welcome on the comment form here too!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

In the Waiting Room, Learning to Flirt

So... it's been three days since my first date w/ 'Dr. Luv.' AKA- the date gone awry. Awry aside, by now I still would have expected the usual invite for the second date, so I was becoming a bit unnerved after three days of radio silence. I debated my potential courses of action.

1. I could send a nice message with a thank you for the evening.
2. I could expand upon the thank you with explanations of why my friend Eva randomly appeared there and why I felt compelled to overdose on vino and stories about my childhood trips to Orchestra Camp.
3. I could do nothing…following the guidance of the bible “He’s just not that into you.”

I decided upon course of action number three. Mainly because this poor man is likely scared of me. But also because as is typical with most men, I am not really into them unless it is safely apparent that they are not into me…so even if option one or two provided a decent response I would likely find a way to self sabotage again. And with my current work schedule a second date wouldn’t be able to happen for another two weeks anyway. Sigh.

On Friday night my group male and female friends ordered a round of $2 beers and discussed why women self sabotage and the various self sabotage types:

The Cold Shoulder Bitch
This woman uses the cold shoulder as a defense mechanism. Even if she has been pining away for a man, reading Pablo Neruda poetry for months in his honor, she will appear about as interested in him as a girl in a orthopedic shoe store. God forbid he ever have the slightest clue that she may fancy him for more than a doormat. The cold shoulder bitch NEVER initiates conversation. But once in one, she may even go so far as to disdainfully make comments that highlight her indifference or even contempt. “Oh you graduated first in your class. Hmm…likely didn’t have a social life did you?” Or “So you think you are sporty? Well I bet you haven’t done an iron man like most of the men I know.” In conversations she may make a point to stare at her watch or out the window, anywhere but into the man’s soft brown eyes. Why, if she did that, she would lose all composure.

The Pathetic Introvert
The Pathetic Introvert is actually quite gregarious in other settings. But when approached by a man she likes she simply cannot stop staring at her shoes. When asked a question by her dream man she may mumble, stutter, and say, “Ack I am so sorry…..I am just such a word klutz today” and then dismiss herself to go to the bathroom where she will try to give herself self affirmations in the mirror before bursting into tears. IF she manages will wipe clean her mascara tracks and reappear she will be tempted to talk about the weather rather than anything cool, feeling it may be safer. ‘Soo…’s been really humid hasn’t it?”

The Dwarf Lover
The Dwarf Lover prevents herself from talking to normal decent men by getting engaged in conversations with dwarfs—or unattractive Lord of The Ring Enthusiasts — just because it seems a safe bet. The Dwarf Lover doesn’t want to appear rude and extract herself from the conversation, so she sits talking to them for hours rather then be whisked away by a shining knight. Oh yes, she will patiently listen to the dwarf's latest video game championship tales and fondness for Vienna sausages while trying to find something remarkable about her current predicament. If a non-dwarf (i.e., shiny knight) tries to rescue her, she won’t allow it, thinking that she will go to hell unless she engages in her fair quota of dwarf conversations for the week.

The Show Off
The Show Off masks her feelings of inadequacy by feeling a compulsive need to let her current flame know ALL her achievements. Oh no, there is no gradual ‘unfolding of the blossom’ in this case. On a first date the show off will let a suitor know her SAT scores, marathon time, favorite winery in Napa where they know her by name, as well as her fondness for daredevil stunts. She hopes to woo a man by intimidation and will never let it be known that she has two left feet on the dance floor or that it took her three years to be potty trained (well actually no one really does need to know that).

To figure out what type I was, my lovely friends (male and female) put me to the test. We picked out a cute guy in the bar and I was to “go get ‘em.” I thought I was having a great time with witty banter until my friends pulled me away.

“What on earth are you doing?!”
“You looked like you were at a funeral”
"Your hands were clenching the bar in distress"
“You made no effort to do anything flirty and did that annoying haughty laugh thing”

Oh. I thought that “haughty laugh thing” WAS flirting.

It was time for flirt remedial school. I was taught how to give light touches on the arm, stroke my neck, and look into eyes seductively. This was all done in a dive bar over Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. I was feeling ridiculous….but then again I have been single for a long time. If it takes dive bar flirt training to once again make my bedroom fit for two, then so be it.
I will put my lessons to good use this week. Touch, stare, laugh non-haughtily. Got it. Now how to multi-task? Hopefully I manage to find a few places to practice my 'come hither' moves inbetween my hectic work schedule, spin class, and of course blog writing! Boys, watch out!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

An Overdue Unveiling

In response to reader request to identify the persona behind Shoe Girl, I have decided to reveal myself. If you do not need the intro feel free to skip down to my latest dating encounter "Too Much Wine"

My name is Juliet Webb. I am a native San Franciscan that has spent enough time in New York to appreciate designer labels, yet also enough time in the mountains to ditch them for hiking boots when the need arises. With a heart for adventure I have explored ashrams in India, basket weaving co-ops in Africa, and now this crazy dating scene in my home city. By day, I act as a consultant to San Francisco technology start ups. By night I "moonlight" as a consultant/field researcher in the dating battleground of SF. I do not wistfully sigh at my window Friday evenings waiting for my Romeo to suddenly appear, but rather proactively explore different options to find him, from speed dating to social hiking clubs. It's not easy! Too short, too cocky, too gay....I feel like Goldilocks! Plus dating is time consuming! In between business meetings, wine bar outings, triathlon training runs and sleep, it's hard to find energy to meet a decent guy. Luckily for me, I am equipped with a sassy entourage of women who indulge me in this quest.

a New York transplant, is a fashion diva who looks for the creme de la creme in everything from organic restaurants to designer dog leashes. She can accessorize a man, a bulldog, and a motorcycle helmet with her outfit.

Alexis, is a type A adrenaline junkie who has a black belt in karate and a list of savvy titles on her resume. Although passion is the main prerequisite, Alexis also needs a man that is able to take her on in an arm wrestling competition.

Eva, my childhood friend, is happily married yet loves the single gossip and mishaps. Eva, having successfully secured the love of her life, provides solid advice and saves me from sending out yet another photo collage of myself to a man of interest.

is a single mother of one who surprisingly has more sex drive than the four of us combined. Holly's new weakness is the bartenders of our favorite watering holes. Her nanny is about to intervene.

And now, with the introductions in place, I can tell you about my latest adventure....

Too Much Wine

It was time to meet my over-concocted fantasy man and turn him into reality. As much as I wanted to Google, Facebook, and sleuth him to death over the internet I decided to actually wait and see what he was like in person. Well, ok maybe I did a tiny bit of internet research (and sent my findings immediately to Mazz for her opinion) but I was much better behaved than in my past stalking endeavors.

8.55pm: I went out to meet John, the surgeon found on, at my favorite winebar/restaurant/art gallery. For some reason it is very trendy to have eateries double as art shows these days.

8:58 pm: I ignored all text messages from Mazz and Alexis taunting me about meeting Dr. Luv. Please!

9:01: I arrived, safely one minute late (I just cannot do that fashionably late thing) and gave John a hug. John was "good looking in a nice guy way" as was later described to me, and an engaging conversationalist. Now just because John graduated Ivy League with honors and solved infectious disease crises in Sub Saharan Africa doesn't mean I was about to be intimidated. Or that I would feel like a sell-out because I decided to pursue a career that would guarantee me a shoe collection (soles) rather than anything altruistic (a soul).

9:03: Well, forget about what I wasn't going let happen. I realized that the only way to solve intimidation was to drink heavily. Alcohol is lovely, isn't it? My date gets better looking, I become funnier, and the world rearranges itself in harmonious order. I promptly ordered a large glass of red.

9:30: After downing the first glass of wine and failing to keep the conversation about current events (as recommended by 'The Rules'), I remembered that alcohol ALSO tends to make us talk nonstop about ourselves ("While in Orchestra Camp in the 9th grade...."), become overly emotional at the cheese plate selection, and suddenly have a soft spot for Sarah Palin.

10:00: After the second glass, I also noticed that wine also inhibited my ability to walk in a straight line to the bar for round number three. I wouldn't have needed a round three had the following not occurred:

9:45: Just as I was starting to get comfortable talking to John without nervously flipping my hair three times per sentence, my friend Eva strides into the bar with her husband. "Jules! How fabulous to see you! And who is this?!?" she asks with a wink.

"This is John."

"Oh John, I have heard all about you. Let's are from New Jersey, you love jazz, and weren't you just in Senegal...." Eva stops abruptly as I purposely kick her.

I had no idea Eva was going to come to the winebar turned art gallery. I mean, if I had WANTED my friends to spy I would have sat them in the back and given them speakers to my microphone set up like any normal first date experience.

Sigh. So yes, I felt this deserved a third round. I told John I had an amazing tolerance, praying he didn't note my signature trip on the way to get more vino.

10:15: I came back with new wine confidence and decided to finish telling John my life story. When Eva interrupted us I was only up to the part where I ran for election in college....

11:00: It was time to go. In between my life story tales, John and I DID have a lot to talk about including favorite steak frites venues, why mountains are cool, his medical emergencies in the jungle, and my personal emergencies in fashion. I THOUGHT we were having a good conversation??

But I was praying my tipsyness wasn't obvious. That's when John asked me if I would mind giving him a lift home to a neighborhood close by. Oh dear.

11:10: After a walk to my 'not cleaned in three years' car, I started the engine and prepared to drive. I shouldn't have driven....I was high DUI material. I ground the gears, did some interesting U-turns navigating the city, and almost went the wrong way down a one way street. Upon finally finding John's house, he gave me a quick hug, LEAPED out of the car (it may have been still moving), and ran away.

Realizing I could not just go home to ponder the evening alone, I drove back to the wine bar, and discussed the date with a microscopic lens with Eva and hubby. " are a terrible driver anyway so driving a man around even sober is probably a deal breaker. And as far as talking too much, Juliet, that's you! And so is drinking too much wine! If he likes YOU, he'll love the sequence of events. And if not, well, move on to the next. That whole hospital gown fantasy was creepy anyway."