Chick On a Date

adventures in online and offline dating

What’s Cooking, Hot Stuff?

Last night I attended a cooking class, a Stir ( event. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a very good cook. I get impatient, I throw things into pots and pans willy nilly and just hope for the best, so I thought this would be a good way to actually learn a skill while I meet some cute guys and have a good time. Mission accomplished. Well, except for that cooking thing, because probably the only thing I came away from it with is how to make gnocchi. Oh, and I will never eat anything but homemade caramel again.

This was a FUN class. The scariest thing about it was that the cooking school is in this weird warehouse area of Minneapolis. The streets around the building were actually deserted at six p.m. on a Tuesday, and the place itself doesn’t have any real signage until you walk right up on it, so I wondered at first whether I was even in the right place. I wasn’t the only one who thought that, either, because as soon as I walked in, the first thing I heard were people going, “Thank goodness this is it. I wondered where the hell my GPS was taking me.” But anyway, it was the right place — a very cool warehouse-y type joint with big open garage doors (you can kinda see that in the photo) and an industrial type feel to it. There was some soft jazz playing (because, duh, isn’t there always soft jazz playing at places like this?) and as soon as I signed in I was given a couple wine tickets. So of course I made a beeline for the booze and poured myself a nice big glass before starting the weird middle-aged mating dance that these things really are at heart.

Guess who the first person I saw was? Yep, Mr. I’m Gonna Kick Your Ass from the last happy hour thing I went to. He complimented me on my dress and boots and then refused to leave my side. It was a little flattering but a little weird. He said, “Oh, I decided to come to this because when I saw you last week you mentioned you were going.” Uh huh. And THAT was your reason? Is he not aware I’m not into him?


I am nothing if not a social butterfly, so I just jumped right into the closest conversation happening around me and ended up sitting with a great woman around my age (yes, we exchanged numbers; how does that always happen?) and two single men. The ass kicker noticed, I’m sure, that I grabbed the last seat at a table so I wouldn’t get partnered up with him, but he sat right behind me so I still had to talk to him for about half of the three hours or so we were there. The guy sitting next to me was cute in a nerdy sort of shy way, and we hit it off pretty well. In fact, after the class he walked me to my car and asked me when I was available to go out. Success! But my poor new friend across the table ended up with a much older, bleary-eyed gent who managed to somehow look creepy while he was mixing up the flour, egg, and potato for the gnocchi. For some reason, my table put me in charge of forming the little gnocchi balls and pressing them down a little with a fork before we threw them in the pot. Apparently I look like a hell of a good forker. I do love a good fork, I have to say.

It was fun learning how to cook, hearing about starch molecules and why Rachael Ray is a condescending twat. So we cooked and ate and laughed and talked and the time flew by. Midway through the cooking instruction, we were told we could swap tables if we wanted to. My new friend and I immediately made eye contact, raised our eyebrows, and started scanning the room for a couple of hot men we could sit next to. We moved down to the other end of the room, leaving our partners with new ones. It wasn’t the nerdy shy guy we were escaping from, though; it was mostly the guy who looked like he was raping his dough.

So now we were set to make some risotto. I love risotto and, although I’ve never made it myself, I consider myself an expert in how it should taste. So I was pretty interested in this part. Unfortunately, however, I got sidetracked by talking to the new people at my table and didn’t really pay attention (I know, big surprise, huh?) and therefore never caught on to what the hell we were supposed to be doing. I just let some woman at the table do all of it while I clinked glasses with the men around me and talked about politics and music. I did give the chick who did all the work a big smile and a “Thanks, this is awesome” while I ate her creation; I’m not RUDE, damn it. (She did forget to add the parmesan, though, and I could have called her on that, but since she did all the actual cooking while I got my flirt on, I kept my mouth shut.)

Finally…dessert. Chocolate cake with caramel sauce. Bliss. Again, though, I didn’t really do the actual dumping in of the ingredients or the stirring or any of that, I just basically chatted and had a good time while the women around me worked. I would have hated me at this thing. Our table’s caramel sauce didn’t turn out so great, so I turned to the next table and ate some of theirs. Hey, they let me, so whatever. There were no rules saying I couldn’t eat from another table or anything. And it was delicious. Best part of the whole night, really. And I was also pretty tipsy at this point, since I had two very nice gentlemen with good intentions filling my wine glass all night.

How about the man thing, you ask? Well, that was good too. Again, I met two men I probably wouldn’t have given the time of day by looking at their profiles online, but talking to them and getting to know them a little in a real-life setting showed me how attractive they really are. So there are at least two dates that are going to come out of this, and a possibility for a couple more. And yeah, I got two women’s phone numbers as well…somehow I think I’m getting different stuff out of these things than I’m supposed to, but I have nothing against making new friends, no matter their sex.

I still can’t figure out how we get invited to these things, as about half of the people I spoke to last night have been invited to the next happy hour and half have not. I seem to be invited to everything. No idea why or what criteria Match uses to figure out who to invite. One of the women I met didn’t get an invite, but I can bring a couple guests, so I went ahead and added her so she can go to the next event too. See how this “chicks sticking together” thing works? I’m actually looking forward to the next event. I just hope the ass kicker guy won’t be as hard to shake next time.

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Romantics Among Us

I admit it: I haven’t always been the most romantic woman on earth. I’ve forgotten my share of anniversaries, and I’ve never been good at remembering the date of a first kiss or what he was wearing the first time I saw him. But I’m often shocked by how romantic many men seem to be, and how they DO remember what I was wearing on our first date, or the name of the goofy waiter at that restaurant we went to on December 12, 2008. I’ve never been in a long-term relationship with a guy where he wasn’t better at remembering our anniversary, and I’ve never loved a man who has forgotten to get me a Valentine’s Day gift. I haven’t (yet) sprinkled rose petals on our bed, but I’ve been sent a card a day for the month before my birthday, and even though I haven’t (yet) spent hours slaving over his favorite childhood dishes on my lover’s birthday, I have been the recipient of a handmade, heart-shaped pizza and a cake with my likeness on it for mine.

It seems, therefore, at least to a semi-non-romantic like me, that men are much more romantic than we women give them credit for. Recently, I was on a date with someone who mentioned that for our third date he wanted to do something “unique.” I asked him why it should be unique, and he replied that he wanted it to be special and memorable in case we fall in love and people ask us someday down the line what we did the first few times we went out. Awwww… right? I mean, how cute is that?

And that’s not the first time I’ve heard that. I can’t tell you how many first dates I’ve gone on where the guy says something like, “I wanted to bring you somewhere special because that way it might become ‘our’ place,” or “I always want to remember that I brought my wife to a Twins game on our first date.” No, these guys aren’t creepy stalkers, but they ARE forward-thinking romantics who are hedging their bets.

It’s also sort of flattering that a man thinks enough of me when he first asks me out to make it special for me. I’ve been given flowers, books, cards, drawings, and other items on first or second dates. And you know what? I’ve kept all of them, just in case that guy turns out to be The One and I can someday show those dried up daisies to my daughters and say, “He gave these to me on our first date. I loved that he remembered that I like daisies.” Know what I mean?

It’s surprising and wonderful to see what romantics those big, strong guys can sometimes be. They give me hope, every single time, that there’s a guy out there for me who will always see me as special enough to go out of his way for. And they also give me hope that, over the years, I will become a better romantic myself.

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What’s the Deal With Pretty Boys?

ImageI’m pretty much like other women, I think, when I say I enjoy me some eye candy every now and then. What chick doesn’t like a good looking man hanging around? Although I like to think I don’t have a type, I often find myself attracted to tall, dark-haired, muscular men. I know, who isn’t, right? And if they have a beard or goatee….mmm.

But here’s the thing about really fantastically good looking men: Mother Nature must try to even stuff out in some ways, because a lot of these guys are just sorta dumb. No offense to handsome men out there, but what’s with so many of them just being outrageously stupid? And boring. And sometimes they’re even completely ridiculous.

Case in point: I recently went out with an extraordinarily handsome guy. I mean, this guy could be a middle-aged Abercrombie & Fitch model. I’m not even exaggerating. Piercing gray eyes, dark, curly hair, and 6 feet 3 inches of pure lusciousness. But as I walked over to where he was sitting, I realized he was dressed like a bro: sports logo t-shirt, baggy(ish) jeans, and shoes with no socks. (I hate the shoes with no socks look on men. Their feet and shoes have to smell like dead ass after a couple hours of that.) Not altogether a bad look, but definitely not first date material, especially when you’re 45. And especially at a fairly upscale restaurant, where everyone else is dressed in shirts WITH COLLARS and WEARING SOCKS.

But sometimes guys just don’t know how to dress themselves. Not a deal-breaker in itself, but what came next was.

“Ain’t you just a sight?” he asked, while remaining seated. I’m not a big etiquette person, but it seems rude not to get up and either shake hands with (if you’re One of Those) or hug (if you’re like me) a date upon first meeting. Am I right? So I just seated myself and awkwardly reached across the table to shake his non-extended hand.

It continued to get worse. He talked extensively about the Vikings this season, and then we moved on to his summer fishing stories. At one point I asked him if he had read some book or other (I thought of it because of what he was talking about) and he said, and I quote: “No, reading takes too long.” I. Am. Not. Kidding. He also informed me that he thinks Jersey Shore is “a hoot.”

Around this time I was starting to wonder why I’d agreed to meet this guy. I thought back to his profile. I thought it must have been okay. I mean, I was here on a date with this guy, wasn’t I? And, of course, he was beautiful. But how was everything spelled right in his profile? And why did he seem interesting, when in real life he wasn’t at all? Then it hit me: I remembered seeing some ad on the side of my own profile: “Want to get more visitors to your page? Have our experts write your profile…” Ah HAH, motherfucker. I am so on to you.

The rest of the evening was a blur of talk about The Dukes of Hazzard (his favorite show of all time, I kid you not) and how he fell off the back of a pickup truck a few weeks ago. At about the Dukes of Hazzard portion of the evening, I was slamming back drinks like there was no tomorrow. I don’t kid myself that I’m some great genius or an expert at scintillating conversation, but it really was unbearable. Worse yet was the earnest look on this guy’s face while he was talking.

At the end of this what-seemed-like-eight-hours-but-was-really-only-two evening, I made some weak excuse about having to get going as I had an early morning the next day, and he followed me out of the restaurant. He walked me to my car. He leaned over to kiss me… And even that was dumb. His lips felt like they were covered in slimy spit. Needless to say, I got the hell out of there as fast as my stumpy legs could carry me. I may have even burned rubber on my way out of the parking lot.

Bless his good-looking heart, I hope he finds a woman who finds him beautiful AND interesting. I’m just not that woman.

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Mingling with Match

Online dating is annoying. It’s also a good way to meet other single people, at least for someone like myself, who isn’t interested in picking up potential life partners at a bar. I recently rejoined, and within the past month I’ve been invited to a couple Stir events.

Stir events are Match’s way of bringing us lonely online hunters into the real world — all together, at the SAME TIME! Revolutionary, right? There are a variety of Stir events planned, including happy hours at a variety of venues, cooking classes, dance lessons, and other stuff single people are into, I guess. (I think these Stir events are being held all over the country in major metropolitan areas, but I’m too damn lazy to look it up at the moment.)

Here’s how it worked for me:

I got an email inviting me to a Stir event, a happy hour at a downtown Minneapolis wine bar/restaurant (Spill the Wine). I thought, “What the hell; it’s not like I’m going to do anything else on a Monday night in October” and RSVPd. You can also register to bring two “wing men” or “wing women” if you don’t feel like going alone; they don’t have to be members of Match, but they have to be single. I didn’t invite any friends to go with me, mostly because, yeah, I don’t have any single friends. Sucks to be me sometimes. Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea if I went alone; it would force me to mingle with people I don’t know instead of just hanging out with people I already know, right?

So last night I went.

And guess what? It was actually kind of fun.

Ladies, if you want an ego boost, go to one of these deals. You will have men swarming all over you like flies on poo. As soon as I walked into the place and headed over to the bar, there were guys eyeballing me and heading over to say hi. And the cool thing was that I knew all of these guys were single (well, at least I hope so; I guess we can never be too sure at the start, huh?) and were all around my age range. Nice. Know what else? There were some damn good-looking ones in attendance! Fo shiz.

Sorry about the quality of the photo. I actually forgot about taking more pictures as the night wore on, so I guess that’s a sign I had a good time, right?

It was a pretty good sized crowd. Maybe, at the peak of the evening, about 150 people or so. There seemed to be around an even number of men and women, and most appeared to be in their 40s and 50s. There were a couple of guys who seemed a little elderly, but they might be ex-rock stars or something, so what do I know?

The first few guys I talked to were nice enough but not ringing any “this guy is hawt” bells, so I kept moving. I happened upon a little group of women who let me join in their conversation. We actually ended up hanging out off and on all evening and made plans for a girls night out later in the week. Who knew a dating mixer could bring me some new girlfriends as well? In fact, the first phone number I got was another woman’s. So, as women are wont to do, we started scoping out the crowd for each other: one of the women in our little group is looking for a guy fairly close to retirement, as she’s in her late 50s and thinking about retiring and doing some traveling in a few short years; another woman is newly single and really just looking to date, nothing more right now; and a third only wants guys with no young kids at home. As we were talking to guys, we’d steer ones that weren’t good for us toward the women we knew they’d match up better with. One of the women even has a friend she says would “be perfect” for me (I know, uh oh). And yeah, a couple of times we “accidentally” pushed each other into cute prospects.

Of the guys I met, there were maybe five that were pretty damn interesting and that I will probably see one-on-one at some point. I got a lot of business cards and numbers, and this morning I had quite a few messages on the site saying, “Saw you last night but was too scared to come over and say hi.” Because, you know, I’m fucking frightening. A couple messages said things like, “You look even better in person,” which, like I said, is a total ego boost and I felt cool for about five minutes until I realized I, sir, am no Mary Tyler Moore.

There were a couple of weirdos I came into contact with during this thing. One guy, who had me cornered for about 15 minutes, went into a tirade about how women are rude and they should just come out and say they don’t like you rather than leading you on. He also told me about the funny time his ex-girlfriend called the cops on him. “Oh, ha ha. I think I have to go now.”

Another fella informed me that when he moved out of his marital home, his ex immediately changed the locks and bought new computers for herself and their children so he “couldn’t hack into them.” Was hacking into their computers a real threat? And why would he tell me, a perfect stranger, this story? It really didn’t win him over in my eyes.

Just as I was preparing to leave the event, another guy came swooping in. Sorta cute, tall, with a lanky build. Nice, right? Nope. “You rejected me twice and I want to kick your ass!” he yelled at me. And yes, that’s a direct quote. This had actually been a fear of mine going into this thing. What if I came face-to-face with some guy I had said no to, or worse, not even responded to? It happened. It was happening. I laughed and said, “I did?” I mean, what do you really say to that kind of thing? In retrospect, an evil sneer might have been more appropriate, but whatever. He looked slightly familiar but I didn’t really remember him. We had some awkward conversation, he tried to give me his card, he hugged me several times, and I must have looked like a frightened deer because not one, but THREE gentlemen came to my rescue.

In sum, and even in spite of the weirdos, this was a worthwhile experiment. I had a good time and met some people I may not have normally given the time of day online. I also met some interesting women that I can hang out with, which is always a good thing. It was a low-pressure, non-competitive event, and a good time seemed to be had by all. I wasn’t completely impressed with the venue (no music? no food in the “lounge” area? Wtf?), but that’s not really the fault of Match.

I’ll be going to some of these things again in the future. Until I meet someone as intensely cool as myself, of course. And next week: a smaller (15 men, 15 women) Stir cooking class. I’ll report back.

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Online Dating’s Code Words

It’s been quite a while since my last post. Rest assured, dear friends, that I have been continuing the awkward, painful dance that is online dating. No, I still haven’t found My Man, but I have met quite a few very nice guys and a few weirdos. I know it’s the weirdos you want to hear about — more about them soon.

I’ve become sensitive to la langue d’online over the past couple of years, and I figure it’s time someone posted the code words that appear often and what they really mean. I mean, it’s my obligation to help you navigate the deep dark waters of the dating ocean, right? So here you go.

When Men Write:

  • “easy going” – This actually means one of two things: 1) They are either so laid back they are nearly dead and their idea of a good time is watching seven episodes of Sons of Anarchy back to back; or 2) They have a mean streak a mile wide. This second “easy going” guy can be a little intense. This summer I went out once with a Federal Agent guy. Yeah, he said he was “easy going” in his profile. On this first date, he told me I was “flirting” with the bartender (I asked for a drink), he questioned me about the men in the room I thought were attractive, and he cornered our server to ask him whether he was just coming back to check on us or if he thought his date (me) was attractive. Be careful with those “easy going” guys; that’s all I’m going to say.
  • “athletic” build – This one rarely pans out. I did, however, have a recent meet-and-greet with a guy who almost fit the “athletic” moniker. He was just a little skinny, but he was probably the closest I’ve seen for a while. Most guys who say they are “athletic” looking have what appears to be a beer gut. I have no idea why that is, but I now associate the word “athletic” with “pudgy.”
  • “average” build – This means, almost always: Fat. Although, when you think about it, obesity rates in this country are, indeed, skyrocketing, so who am I to say they aren’t actually accurate in claiming “average” status?
  • “good dad” or “great father” – Both of these descriptions are usually followed by an explanation point, and they often appear quite early in the profile. What this detail means is often “I am overly concerned with everything my children do every moment of every day and I do not really have the time or the will to date but I sometimes think it would be nice to have sex with something other than my hand.” Not that a guy can’t be an excellent father and a wonderful partner; I truly believe those guys are out there. But the ones who balance the various aspects of their lives usually don’t go on and on about their kids or post 10 photos of their children on their dating profile.
  • “financially responsible” – I don’t know what this is code for, actually, but I have noticed that these guys often drive 10-year old rust buckets. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • “highly sensual” – Code for “pervert.” A couple months ago I was on a date wearing closed-toed shoes and the guy requested that I show him my toes. Um…okayyyy.

When Women Write*:

*Note: I don’t date women or peruse their profiles, but from talking with a LOT of disillusioned men over the years, this seems to be the consensus.

  • “easy going” – This often means she is a couch potato. She gets scared at the idea of doing anything that will raise a sweat on a date (or maybe ever). She’s sometimes (often, from what I hear) a bit of a pushover, and may be so lonely she’s willing to put up with a lot of shit from the men she dates. (Needless to say, my profile does NOT say I am “easy going.”)
  • “average” build – Apparently this often means “chubby” or “overweight.” In the spirit of full disclosure, I put “average” on my own profile, and I’ve had a number of men say I’m smaller than most women who say they are average. I’ve heard from quite a number of men that this is code for “I don’t take very good care of myself.”
  • “athletic” build – From what I’ve heard from a good number of guys, this means “I worked out once, about 10 years ago.” I bet it sucks if a woman really is athletic (with those muscly legs I wish I had) when most of these jaded gents think you are probably going to be hideous.
  • “curvy” build – Seems like this one means “big and beautiful.” So I’m not sure what BBW would actually be code for. The whole thing is rather confusing, isn’t it? I would actually put “curvy” on my own profile, since I think that description kind of fits me, but I bet I would get fewer guys looking at my profile (even with my pictures as evidence of what I actually look like). I always assumed “curvy” meant you had bigger boobs and a good-sized butt…not necessarily overweight…but I guess I’ve been mistaken.
  • “independent” – A couple men have mentioned that women who put this word in their profiles often have photos of themselves fishing or hunting or otherwise wearing camo. Maybe “independent” means “I can kick your ass.” This one confuses me.

There are a lot more words out there that seem to mean something other than the definition I’m familiar with. I’ve become fairly adept at figuring out who the crazies are and who seem to be relatively normal, but every now and then a freakball sneaks in. But if it wasn’t for those freakballs, I wouldn’t have nearly as much fodder for this blog, now would I?


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