40 First Dates

May 20, 2010

13. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 6:50 am

Whenever I meet a new man, I’ve noticed they always imply I’m a slut.

This does not mean they are horrible mysogynistic arseholes. What they seem to be trying to ascertain with comments such as,

“I bet you know a lot of guys”, or “I’m sure you’ve dated a few people”, or the stellar, “your blog makes you sound like a huge slag”, is whether they have competition. Or not.

The truth is, I am the least slutty person I know. I’m talking numbers here. I mean I wonder what I’ve been doing with my time, frankly.

But I don’t actually tell guys this, because, well, how do you say to someone, “I don’t do this usually” without sounding like a giant cliche? And how do you let someone know you are not a slut, without sounding like you’re about to present them with a Jonas Brothers-embossed virginity ring? And what the hell is wrong with being a slut anyway? I wish I could be one, at least for a year maybe. So I’d know for sure I’d lived.

As my father said on the phone today, “do things before you’re old and decrepit”. Granted, he was referencing my desire to climb Kilimanjaro and also said, “watch out for the lions”, but I got his point.

The way of casual dating is well-paved for sluttiness. I mean, you can get away with sleeping around. A lot. But maybe my Britishness is indelible, like writing in a stick of rock. I find it very difficult to fathom some of these dating rules. Like how do you negotiate sex with someone you want to date seriously? Like I said in the beginning of this blog, it’s never been an issue for me back home. I mean, if you like each other, you go with it and they’ll maybe end up being your boyfriend. Mainly because if they’re seeing someone else, they know your friends will bludgeon them to death.

I know one thing not to do if you have rules and you’re heading towards sex. Do not wait until you’re naked to tell a guy you’re shy of sharing. As a guy friend of mine told me over lunch recently:

“We will say yes at that point and not even feel bad that we’re lying.”

I personally advocate either a) Not having sex with that person until you like each other enough to say so b) Just go ahead and have fun and if you connect and it’s meant to happen, it will.

So why aren’t I more slutty anyway? God knows, I live in the city of arguably the most beautiful people in the world. I mean the other day, just pulling up at the intersection of Santa Monica and Fairfax, I passed three supermodels in their cars (one female, two male), all idly being stunning and smugly aware of the fact. When you think that, say, the top 1% lookswise in any class in any given year of any American High School, moves to Hollywood to be ‘discovered’, that’s a lot of pretty people. Obviously most of those end up in porn, but what the hey, they still look good.

And it’s not just looks either. There’s this brilliant scene in Californication where David’s Duchovny’s whinging novelist is locked in jail on a DUI charge, busy lamenting ever leaving his beloved New York. He’s interuppted by a random grizzled man who tells him,

“Oh you complainers, shut the fuck up. There’s a higher concentration of raw talent here than anywhere else in the world. See that guy there (points to a deranged wino, with his arse hanging out of his jeans), that’s one of the best guitar players of all time.”

As for me not testing much of the goods on offer, I’ve thought about this and have decided it was most eloquently put by my friend Dave as we slurped noodles at Pho on La Cienega last week:

“You don’t like anybody” he said.

I just always think, when you know, you know, so don’t pretend. My problem is, even when I do really like someone, they would never know it because I would rather leap off a building than say so.

What I have learned so far from this learning-to-date blog experience is that:

a) Lots of people are nice and generous and friendly.

b) Some people are beyond stupid and patronizing.

c) I still know within 30 seconds, actually five seconds, if I am interested.

So,

d) Nothing has changed.

I am though, as a result of this blog, less likely now to tell a guy to ‘eff off’ right away. Not so Friday night at Jones Bar, when I shouted ‘bye bye’ at some guy who just didn’t know when to stop interuppting with commentary on our overheard girlie conversation. But I blame that on three vodkas and recent events.

Recent events being I was asked out by a friend and it scared me. Then I got annoyed with myself for that.

Then there was another someone I liked in a way that made all the previous wondering and questioning and perusing fall into sharp relief. But it didn’t work out.

Anyway, if one wants an actual relationship, it’s true that it’s kind of a sticky trap to wait to tell a guy when you’re already in his bed and he’s just thinking about the fun stuff. Not fair on the guy and stupid if you’re the one wanting monogamy.

But then, do you really want to bring that up over the breadsticks?

I personally have issues saying anything very much up front. I think it just ruins the romance, in the same way that going on formal dates seems way too stilted for me.

But not laying out your terms, your rules of engagement, can badly bite a person on the arse at this ‘free love’ point in history. If you really know what you want, you should probably be brave and put it out there in the beginning.

When I think about what I want, what my own terms would be, all I can ever come up with is what Joni Mitchell once sang. Like her ‘Free Man in Paris’, I want to feel “unfettered and alive.”

Better book that plane ticket then.

March 31, 2010

12: If You Just Smile

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 7:27 am

A few days ago a male acquaintance approached me at a bar.

“So listen,” he said, “when are we going on that date for your blog? I want to be in it.”

My first fully-informed victim is lined up! And so effortlessly too. I will call him, but lately I’ve had a friend staying, which, as we all know, leads to no action in the dating department. But it was more than worth it.

Having Chrissie with me has been a wonderful blast from my London past. Back home, we shared a desk at Mizz magazine, where we personally wrote the entire 66 pages by ourselves – a miracle unto itself. We interviewed terrible teen bands, created trivia quizzes and dreamed up coverlines (“Why boys are stupid!”, “How to be cool at school!”) We sipped endless ‘skinny caps’ (that’s a non-fat cappuccino to those outside London), flat-ironed our hair and stole from the beauty sample cupboard (“No you try the fake tan! No, you! I’m having the glittery bodyspray!”)

Chrissie greeted me cheerfully every morning with the words, “Love your look today darling,” at which point I would respond, “9.99! H&M!” or similar. We supported each other through everything. From uncomfortable elevator rides with that dodgy bloke from Nuts magazine: “Shit babe! It’s him. He’s so fit! What do I say?” Me: “Don’t look at him! Just wiggle your arse a bit”, to serious issues: “Do you think I can expense a cab to Top Shop at lunch?”

Chrissie is sort of like my sister. Our dialogue is constant, baffling to others and almost unchanging. She is exactly the person she was when we met six years ago. Just this past week she shoved the still-hot hair straighteners back in my wicker bathroom basket. “Ahh” I thought fondly, remembering the time she came home to her smoke-filled flat, still-plugged-in straighteners burning a hole in the wooden dresser.
The best part is that we both find these instances hilarous. I mean, who cares about these practical things anyway? We’d much rather worry about something else.

One of the traits I most value in other people is a capacity for kindness. Once she one-upped me at work with some cutting comment. Then literally a single second later, with complete sincerity, said,

“Sorry babe, that was really bitchy. Can you forgive me?”

It’s this genuine sweetness that makes me think she deserves the guardian angel that most definitely rests on her shoulder.

Take for instance this week in LA, in which she left her Blackberry full of unrecoverable work contacts in the back of a random cab. Gone forever. Obviously.

But it wasn’t. Not for Chrissie. We went back to the mall where she’d picked up the cab and after chatting up the very nice security manager, found ourselves in a windowless room in a parking lot, fast-forwarding through through two days of surveillance tape, in the hope of identifying the cab company she’d used.

It seemed hopeless. Chrissie’s memory that the cab was “maybe grey” wasn’t working well since there are no grey cabs in Los Angeles. Her description of the phone, “It’s really big and grey” was also problematic.

But weirdly, at that moment, a familiar-looking cab pulled up on one of the live camera screens. It was green-and-white but it jogged her memory. A quick call was made to the on-site concierge. He leaned in the cab window and asked the driver if he’d found a Blackberry. He had. We ran to meet him and he said, “I’ve been trying to find you!” Of all the many thousands of cabs that service that mall! In LA! A cab driver trying to find her to return her phone!

But that wasn’t all. When the time came for Chrissie to go to the airport, I happened to be working (if you can call watching Matt Damon receive an award work.) I left her with a cab number and instructions that as she planned to pay her cab by credit card, she should forewarn the driver, so they couldn’t pretend not to accept cards, like they always do.

The next morning I awoke to many text messages. It emerged that, unable to use her credit card in the cab due to some international bank glitch, she’d spent over an hour trying to get her bank on the phone, negotiating with the foreign exchange desk at LAX and trying to give her dad’s credit card details to the cab driver. Basically she made every effort to pay the man, who kept the meter running up to $140 as she scrambled for cash. Did he accept her information and passport number in order to ensure she would send money? No. Did he take her dad’s credit card details? No. Did he phone the police and get them to help sort it out? No. What he did was refuse to give her her luggage. Yes, he left her at LAX, to board a flight alone to London and drove off with her suitcase.

He was however, kind enough to give her his name, cab number and cell phone.

I called him. No response.

I called the cab company switchboard and spoke to a nice man called Frank.

“I will call the cops on your driver and will report your company for theft unless you resolve this. Right. Now.”

Ten minutes later, the driver called me. He was on his way with the suitcase. I went to the ATM. Chrissie was going to reimburse me and had urged, “you can just offer him more than the fare. I really want my stuff back.”

Hell no, I thought. He’ll be sorry and he won’t get a cent more.

But just in case, I called in the big guns for protection.

OK, I called in Paula. And our friend AJ.

As I walked out the door to meet the cab, I told the dog “look vicious”. She rolled her eyes.

The driver looked quite a lot like the pervert in The Lovely Bones and from the way he behaved it was clear he hadn’t experienced much human contact.

He remained in the cab, engine running. The case was locked in the trunk. “Here’s the receipt. it was $141″ he said.

Me: “I know she gave you $30 cash at the airport. You can have $100.”

Him: “It was $141.”

Me: “It’ll cost her $300 to ship her case back home because of you. What you did was theft. $100 and that’s it.”

Him: “Give me the cash”

Me: “Give me the case first.”

Him: “Cash first.”

Me: “Why would I hand over the cash without the case, when you know where I live and you can just drive away?”

Him: “Why would I give you the case, without the cash?”

Paula: “I’m calling the cops.”

AJ: “What’s your problem man? Hand over the case!”

Him: “I’m not popping the trunk until the money’s in my hand.”

Me: “Case!”

Him: “Cash”

By now a small crowd had gathered.

Eventually we came to an arrangement. AJ stood by the trunk and I handed over the cash but didn’t let go until AJ got hold of the suitcase handle.

Later, over a glass of champagne, AJ said,

“He probably just wanted to keep her panties as compensation.”

Case closed, you’d think, but no.

On the flight, Chrissie kindly switched seats with a woman who wanted to sit with her husband. Sadly she forgot her passport in the first seat pocket, only realising this in the queue at immigration. She called the airport security and persuaded the guy to return to the now-closed plane. He couldn’t find the passport.

How does one enter a country without a passport? Do you remain in no-man’s land while they decide on your identity, like that weird film where Tom Hanks lives at JFK? Not if you’re Chrissie. If you’re her, you go up to the immigration desk, tell them the whole story, they laugh in your face, say, “good luck with your life, you clearly have issues” and then they let you into the country – with no form of ID.

At breakfast the next morning, Paula said,

“I wish I could be like that, a person where good things just keep happening and nothing ever turns out bad. It’s like if you think nothing will be bad, then it isn’t.”

“Exactly” I said. “Many bad things happen to Chrissie, but she keeps smiling and if you do that, even if things don’t turn out right, it seems like they sort of did. It’s a choice you have to make.”

That day, not only did Heathrow airport call Chrissie to say they had her passport, but a mutual friend traveling from London to LA agreed to bring her stuff back to London free of charge. I wasn’t surprised.
Chrissie called to thank me.
“Babe it was like a scene from CSI!” she said.
We laughed for a good ten minutes. After I hung up, I resolved to find everything, from dating to decision-making, a lot funnier.

March 24, 2010

11: Une Affaire to Remember

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 7:39 am

Since I started this blog I’ve been getting a lot more random attention from men. It’s like the magic that makes you more likely to get a new job when you already have one, or simply, like I said to my friend Sophie,

“Men can just feel it when someone else wants you.”

Her eyes didn’t waver from the ancient episode of Sex and the City we were watching at three in the afternoon on a weekday.

“Yeah, they can smell it,” she said.

So it’s about pheromones and territory marking? They want to piss all over you. Great.

But then, when I think honestly about it, I am 100% guilty of the same thing. I get an disproportionate kick out of knowing I have someone other women, or men, want. Over the years I’ve been variously berated for being looksist, vain, shallow, short-sighted…the list goes on. Once, I invited a boyfriend my family hadn’t yet met to a friend’s wedding. Afterwards, my mum said, “We knew he was yours the second he walked in.” “Yeah,” my brother said, “he was the prettiest. You’re so predictable.” I was a bit pleased until a few hours later when my brother added, “He doesn’t care about you, I can tell by the look on his face.”

Anyway, I digress.

My friend Anthony in London always used to call me out on my attraction to men-in-high-demand. “Antonia,” he would say in a grave tone, “you do this because you are looking for validation due to your massive insecurities.”

“Yes, I know” I would say. But then, I can’t suddenly pretend to be a worthy person and make myself fancy boring, unattractive people out of nowhere, can I?

Apparently not, because here I am on a different continent, some years later, still being dysfunctional and still really enjoying it. I recently introduced my best guy friend (who is gay) to a new paramour of mine. As soon as the latter got up to go the the loo, my friend turned to me smiling and said,

“I just want to smash your face in.”

See? It’s that kind of jealously that makes me squirm with pleasure.

This increased interest from men has definitely been a feature of the past few weeks. From the guy who has suddenly appeared in my life in a fantastically illicit way, to another work friend (married, late 40s) who keeps pestering me to go out. I asked Paula of the latter, “What the hell can he possibly want?”

“Some people are just delusional” she said. I’m hoping she meant him.

But all my needing of an added frisson-factor makes me wonder yet again what happens when you settle with one person? How to maintain that ‘wanted’ air into the future? Will you always need to flirt a little bit with the mail man? Or maybe let that crap guy at the office think he’s in with a chance so your husband sees it at the Christmas party and remembers, “Ah yes, my wife is a hot ticket.”

And what about me? Will I still have the hots for a husband who never gets a second look from anyone else? Is this a normal thing to need? Actually, don’t answer that. I remember realising at school that I did not have normal, healthy expectations as I looked at the other girls who seemed really in love with their boyfriends, while I was dreaming of Indiana Jones crossed with Rob Lowe (it was the late 80s). Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini – by all accounts flighty, superficial, in two minds about everything. And then maybe I really am just shallow.

The thing is, I don’t worry about it anymore. Especially since Sandra Bullock.

Sandra is someone I have always admired. Talented, funny, charming, she has said she never thought she’d get married and most winningly of all, didn’t seem all that bothered. Until one day, aged 40, she walked into Jesse James’ motorcycle shop and bam, that was it. Love and marriage. Ahhhh, women everywhere thought. If it’s meant to be, it will be! But it wasn’t, because he cheated on her.

When Paula told me about Sandra’s misfortune, we were walking with our friend Marisa through a parking lot to a bar.

I stopped suddenly.

“Are you alright?” Marisa asked.

“No” I said. “Sandra was my guiding light!”

So what to do now?

Following much discussion with friends and a little influence from the film, ‘Coco Avant Chanel’ (the very fabulous Audrey Tautou smoking like a train, having affaires and never marrying), it has been decided that taking lovers is the way forward. For me, anyway. No permanence, no everyday, no predictability. A Lover shall be enjoyed as if in a French movie. As I told a recipient of this title recently, “There will be wine and conversation and nudity and that’s about it.”

After all, how can that possibly disappoint?

February 24, 2010

10: A Bike Made For One

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 2:14 am

During a, shall we say, compromising moment with a friend recently (sorry mum, dad, grandma), he suddenly asked, “is this going to be in the blog?”

See it’s a problem writing about dating – this blog’s very nature is personal, what with the whole auditioning people for sex thing (see Post #1). In fact, I’ve been struggling with this subject for weeks. What can I write about now? One can only go so far discussing first online dates, I mean it’s kind of a one-note wonder, going something like this:

There’s been something wrong with all of them. Job done, nuff said, case closed.

Admittedly the different varieties of mentalist available online have amused me so far. There’s been sad guy, geek guy, psycho guy, hideous guy, straight-up-stupid guy, whore guy, bigot guy, sweet-but-dull guy…but now I’m bored. Are we there yet?

And then there’s my secret, other life. The real one. Where I go out with people because I like spending time with them, or they’re hot, or funny and sometimes all of the above. The life I can’t write about because, although Lauren Conrad has made a fortune, a clothing line and a three-bloody-awful-book deal out of exposing the intimate details of her life in an Ed TV sort of way (only with a crappier script), I don’t wish to join her. I also don’t have that kind of swishy blonde hair that looks good on TV. So what to do?

As a girlfriend told me, “you need to find a way to sometimes just write about normal people, maybe tell them about the blog for full disclosure and incorporate their reaction into the post.”

This seemed scary and a mile away from my love of secrecy. So far I’d been incognito. A journalist under Deep Cover. Every time I entered a bar or restaurant to meet an online date, I felt like shouting, “I’m going in!” Or to quote the doomed Captain Oates:

“I may be some time.”

But before I orchestrate a date with a mutual friend and then advance warn him that everything he says will be subject to publication (so looking forward to that), I had another match.com date.

Harry was a 35 year-old film maker. We met at a very cool little bar in Echo Park. But then he let me buy my own drink. I know I know, I’m a modern woman, but he invited me, plus I went to his neighborhood. He was also a teeny bit sniffy that I was late – I was stuck behind an accident on Sunset, then got waylaid trying to catch a stray dog (I know, I wouldn’t have believed me either). He said it was alright but it wasn’t. He was definitely sniffy. If I wanted passive aggressive, I’d be dating my college room mate.

After ten minutes, he said, “God! You’re such a great conversationalist!”

I’d said about three words.

“Oh I love other people’s stories, that’s all,” I said.

And he was off again.

He also had this air of uncertainty or sadness, or something. After two beers he’d mentioned his father eight times, including how his dad was disappointed in him. I opened my mouth to try and make this better for him somehow but then shut it again, having realised, beyond the delusional age of 22, that nice words don’t help that stuff much.

Then there was the multi-mention of his best friend, who also happened to be a “beautiful, amazing” girl who was about to marry “a total dickhead.”

We swapped match.com-from-hell stories. His involved a last-minute phonecall from the woman asking if he’d bring his vacuum cleaner over. She then cleaned the entire house in sweatpants, before inviting him to retire with her to the bedroom, where she flicked on CSI and told him about her crystal meth addiction. (No kidding, obsessive clean much?)

“You want another drink?” I asked.

“Ok, but only if you’ll go out with me again.”

I made some vague affirmative noise, all the while plotting the honest e-mail I would send if he asked again. He was a good-hearted guy, a smart guy, but I didn’t feel even a flicker of attraction.

He walked me to my car and then he asked again.

“Let’s talk later in the week,” I said.

My e-mail two days later said, “I had a great time, but I’m looking for chemistry, even if that sounds unrealistic, I’m holding out and I didn’t think we really had that going on.”

Three days passed and he responded: “Totally understood. But I enjoyed hanging out with you. Maybe we can be friends?”

In my limited experience of this official dates business, when the guy asks to be friends after you’ve given him the soft brush-off, what he means is, “let’s go for a huge amount of drinks, after which I will lunge at you in the hope of winning you over.”

Sure enough Harry did ask me to go to a concert with him soon after (romantic, classical). I was busy.

Then just as I was hoping I hadn’t hurt his feelings, because he didn’t deserve that, he sent me something truly genius:

Dear Antonia, after our conversation about worst Match.com experiences ever, I just had to show you this e-mail I received yesterday from a 48-year old woman. I have never seen this woman’s profile, clicked on it or had any contact whatsoever. But she sent me this:

I unlike you do not have grey, nor do I look my age due to being an athlete all my life.

You act like a person who is “politically correct”, yet you drive 5 miles to cycle, wasting gas.

You’re not a very nice person and you have a long way to go before you can gain entry to the kewl club I belong too. Maybe your lack to want a child makes it difficult for you to care about a generation in need of help. Have fun trail riding on a bike made for one.

I suggested he report her to the admin people at Match, but he said,
“Why? When I can start a dialogue with her, publish it in an award-winning blog, get a book deal, a movie deal, then retire?”
Good point.

December 12, 2009

9: Running With Scissors

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 1:44 am

Sitting watching the new Clooney movie Up in The Air, I was mesmerised. It features a sad, lonely guy who’s travelled around all his life, avoiding commitment. There’s also a disillusioned late-30s woman and a college grad girl full of hope and false confidence. The latter, in a moment of righteous-womanhood rage, yells at the slippery player Clooney, telling him he’s “a twelve year-old.”

Watching that scene, my friend Matt leaned over in the darkness and said,

“How does it feel to see yourself in a movie?” He meant the girl. I meant the guy. I was already gripping the handrests in recognition.

It got even scarier.

Vera Farmiga’s older woman character reels off a list of mate-requirements for a woman in her 30s, “…You hope he’ll be taller than you, maybe he’ll have a little hair left”.

God. Had I spent so long avoiding guys that I now had to lower my looksist expectations? Surely not! My thoughts turned to the single 30-something female celebrities I see around town so often. They’re on a worldwide pedestal and they’re my age or older!  Eva Mendes, Cameron Diaz…I’ll throw in Kate Hudson too – A-Rod hardly counts as a boyfriend. But still, those ladies are perfectly-packaged and protected by the Hollywood bubble. Hell, if they can’t find someone, their agents will do it for them.

Panicked, I leaned over in the dark.

“Matt, oh my god, is this true?”

“Almost” he said.

Hell no, I thought, chucking back popcorn. I refuse to settle. I won’t. My mother always told me that if I went out with someone with great personality, the rest would fall into place. Obviously I rejected that idea. It sounded like an arranged marriage.

But maybe it was time to think sensibly. So for my next date, I was all ready to ignore looks and hear personality first.

Then he showed up and all I heard in my head was this:

OH MY GOD HE’S GOT A RAT TAIL!!!!

He did. He actually did. I nearly fainted.

“God, did you leave right away?” a friend asked me later. “Did you take the scissors to it?”

I should have. He would have gone from freak to mere geek in one snip. This had obviously not been evident in his picture.

I managed an hour. On the phone earlier, I’d suggested coffee but now he was all about ordering food. So while I downed one cappuccino, he plowed through eggs benedict.

As for personality, this guy was a scientist from South Germany. He asked the waitress for a ‘milk coffee’. I explained that in the US, this is known as a latte. He has been in Los Angeles for over a year. I imagine he doesn’t get out much.

When my mum fell in love with my dad, it was, she says, because he had dry palms when they danced. The guy before him was clammy apparently. Luckily my dad had other great attributes, like a charming personality and an ability to recite Shakespeare’s sonnets.

But still, she would have given him the boot for sweaty palms. I therefore reserve the right to reject the rat tail and pack a pair of scissors in my purse in future.

December 11, 2009

8: Blonde Ambition

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 12:54 am

Since I started this experiment, several friends have joined match.com because, they say, “you did it!”

I feel like a fraud. I have zero intention of getting involved with any of the guys I meet online.

“It’s just for the blog!” I tell them. But with selective hearing, they just smile at me.

The thing is, they might have a point. It is hard to comprehend why anyone would put themselves through this, just because. Because what? Because I’m a Brit and I’m learning about US dating culture? Does that topic really warrant this kind of torture?

Honestly, by date number five I was already thinking, “If only I’d named it ’20 First Dates’ or even better, ’10 first dates.'”

I went to lunch with a guy friend this week and he said,

“You know, people are going to get to the end of your blog and think you’re just using these guys. You need to inject a bit of emotion, at least look like you’re trying. You need to pick people you might have an outside chance of having a relationship with.”

It was true. My date selection process was sort of limp. I never searched for men, I just occasionally got around to responding to guys who contacted me. But I know why that is. It’s simple. I’m really not sure about this relationship business. I know other people have them and seem happy forever, but I’ve never been privy to how that happens. To me, it’s an amazing high and then something goes wrong. It’s terrifying and committment-ridden and sometimes claustrophobic and wait, what if I want to move country again? And then someone else will have expectations of me. Horrific.

As I told a friend the other day, “it took me two years to get over having a dog. It had expectations. It wanted walks and food and stuff.”

This is also why, after my last breakup, I announced, “I’m going to channel Joni Mitchell and just travel around being groovy and not needing anyone.”

(I mean, really. Poor Joni. Her house must be like a homing beacon for emotionally-unstable, weepy women everywhere.  Mind you, a large percentage have probably defected to Robert Pattinson’s hotel by now.)

I’m not painting a pretty picture of myself am I?

So anyway, my uninvested and thoughtless date-selection was how I ended up going out with John.

I’d had some misgivings about this guy from the moment he sent me this text message:

“Antonia: Did you still want to meet tomorrow evening? Let me know.”

Call me picky but who starts a text message with your name followed by a colon?

Then there was the phone call. 20 minutes of him waffling about how HILARIOUS it is that I work for a celebrity weekly mag, because HOW FUNNY he’d said on his profile he wouldn’t even mind dating someone who read those mags! Haha!

And then the monologue about how Los Angeles is surprisingly business-centric and industrialised. By this time I’d set the phone on the counter so I could flat-iron my hair. He didn’t notice.

But I went out with him. For the blog.

As I screeched up to the valet of Toast, a scene-y brunch spot on Third, I spotted him at a patio table. Really good-looking, in a clean, Scandinavian way, he had light blonde hair and navy blue eyes, tall and muscular, square jaw etc. etc.

He gave me a hard squeeze hello.

Then, as I perused the menu, he said,

“So you won’t be finding any brains or anything on there. Haha.”

“Huh?”

“Don’t you Brits like to eat brains and stuff? Isn’t that why the mad cow disease?”

“Well no, we don’t eat brains really.” I explained a bit how mad cow disease came about through farming and slaughtering techniques. I sort of hoped it would put him off his lunch.

“Yeah I know cows got it but actually some people got it too didn’t they?” He said. “That must have been because they were eating the brains, right?”

“Um, no. It’s a virus. It’s complex.”

He leaned forward. “So why do you have such great teeth?”

“What?”

“You’re a Brit and you have good teeth. Did you spend a fortune on veneers or what?”

I looked up from the menu and laughed. “Well I see you’re wheeling out all the stereotypes today.”

“You’re taking the good-natured ribbing in good part,” he said. (He actually said the phrase, ‘good-natured ribbing.’)

“You know, not all British people have bad teeth,” I said.

“That’s not what I found. I’ve been there and they do.”

Oh, OK then.

Then he told me all about his Literature degree, his law school, the wanky books he liked to read. He recommended one about Africa that is probably excellent, but was written in the 50s. The whole thing smacked of self-congratulatory crap to me. Why did he need to tell me he’d read Tolstoy? He talked like he’d swallowed a dictionary. At one point, discussing the energy of New York city, he said,

“London is nothing compared to New York! London is almost bucolic in comparison.”

Almost bucolic? Oh just piss off.

Then he asked me about my match.com experience. How was it going for me? So I ummed and ahhed and then vaguely mentioned I’d been approached by a few younger guys.

“Oh that’s just the cougar thing.” He said.

Cougar? Aren’t cougars by definition 40+ women deliberately preying on 25-something guys?

“It’s just guys getting a kick out of telling their friends they made out with a cougar. It’s a sex thing.”

“But,” I said, “these guys weren’t trying to make a move, they were perfect gentlemen. In one case, he didn’t realise I was even 30.”

“Nah,” he said, “it’s definitely a cougar thing.”

While we waited for the check, I said,

“Did you know that the BBC published a German scientist’s report saying blonde hair would become extinct in the next 200 years?”

He cocked his head to one side and just looked at me.

“What? You don’t believe me, do you?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I’m not a geneticist.” He wasn’t smiling.

Lighten up, dumbass.

I looked this up when I got home and turns out the report has recently been called a hoax. But whatever, Mr Boring Intellectual Snob didn’t know that.

“You know,” he said, “You should change your profile to ‘never smokes'” (It says ‘occasional social smoker’.) “You’d get a lot more hits.”

Then he asked me to go and re-read his profile.

“I’ve made loads of changes!” he said, all excited. “I just scrapped the old one and now I’m really extreme! It’s shocking, some of the stuff I put!”

Later, I looked at it. It said things like,

“I like a girl who can cook”, and “I go to church occasionally.”

Here’s the thing. I realised I’ve learned something good from dating already.

A few years ago, in London, I had a two-year relationship with a man who can only be described as a closed-minded, patronising bigot. (I know! What a winner.)

He didn’t want a woman who knew things he didn’t, or who earned more than him. But due to the British nature of the situation, i.e relationship first, really tricky questions later, I only found this out when we shared a house and it was hard to unravel our partnership.

In the beginning, I’d thought only of how hot he was. And he was definitely hot. One (straight) guy friend described him as being ‘hewn from stone.’ I was a sucker, endorphins were flying. Who was I to check if his idea of funny was to quote Joey from Friends? It was also way too late by the time I learned that he often dismissed women as ‘ugly’. Then when finally, he told me I was ‘a bit stupid’, I was hardly surprised.

Now with this guy, I already saw the signs. As my friend Paula later suggested,

“He was looking for a wife to stay home and cook, then attend corporate events with him and not say much.”

I’d had the chance to ‘interview’ John and find out that he would definitely not be getting the job. Cold as that may sound, it actually does seem like the right order of things. While I’ve always poo-poohed dating as a clinical approach to forming a relationship, I’m finally beginning to see its logic.

Now all I have to do is invest. A bit. Maybe.

November 25, 2009

7: Forever 24

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 10:52 pm

I was reading in my local coffee shop today when a random girl – normal-seeming, skinny jeans, plaid shirt, moccasins – turned to me and said, “What year were you born?”

She was holding a Chinese astrology book.

Oh no.

“I’m a dragon,” I told her.

Now, normally I might enjoy a little thrill at a bizarre conversation with a stranger. But you know when you can feel the vibes of crazy from a person?

This was one of those times.

“Oh, where are you from?” she asked, registering my accent.

“London” I said, glancing back to my book.

“Really?” she was leaning forward now. “I have English and Irish decendancies. My mother’s side of the family came from England generations ago.”

It never ceases to amaze me why people want to tell me their heritage. Do I go around saying, “Oooh! Let me tell you where my grandma’s first cousin once lived?” No I do not.

I was gripped with the need to tell this girl that a) There is no such word as ‘decendancies’ and b) An awful lot of people in the States came from the UK ‘generations ago.’ In fact I believe there was some sort of commemorative tea party and a turkey dinner.

But I gave her a closed-mouth small smile, and looked determinedly at my book as though we were seated next to each other on a long plane ride.

I always like to let people know up front that I will not be speaking to them during a flight. Apart from that one time when the turbulence was so bad I turned to the homeward-bound soldier on my right and said, “I’m going to need to hold your hand.” He seemed pleased. But then he did say he hadn’t touched a woman in ten months.

I’ve always been good at getting rid of people. Once, when backpacking, a friend asked, “How do you do it? Annoying people never hassle you.” Given that we had mistakenly chosen to stay in a remote redwood forest log cabin, otherwise occupied by Evangelical Christians on a Bible retreat, my ‘eff-off’ skills were out in full force.

My friend sat in awe as I remained unbothered and alone while she was beseiged by bespectacled, shiny-faced new friends, anxious to chat about Jesus.

As the fifth chorus of Kum Ba Yah started up, I said, “You just have to radiate hatred.”

I’ve been reading a lot about vibes lately. Dan Brown’s latest blockbusting Da Vinci Code follow-up, The Lost Symbol, is about Noetic science, actually the science of ‘vibes’. It’s the logical reasoning behind that Japanese artist who changed water particles by thinking about things. It’s the subject of the film, ‘What The Bleep Do We Know’ and the explanation behind that new-age wish-dispensary, The Secret.

I believe in that stuff, that thoughts can change the direction of your life, that you can perform a kind of magic with belief and hope. That you can draw people and things to you with vibes. God knows, I’ve been doing a good job of keeping people away with them for years.

When I was a kid, wishing and believing and hoping was a lot easier. At 15, I never worried about how I would meet a man who really ‘got’ me, or how I would combine this with my dream of living in California. When you’re little, the ‘how’ is not weighing heavy on your mind as you picture yourself walking the red carpet at the Oscars.

That came true, by the way. The Oscars thing. And the California thing, obviously. Only not in the way my child-self imagined.

My friend Ingrid says her life is governed by something called The Becret. “It’s like The Secret, only it’s a bit off,” she says. Like she dreamed of walking the red carpet, being surrounded by eager, clamouring press. Well now she is, only she’s on the wrong side of the velvet rope, holding a tape recorder.

(Please note, when asking the universe for something, be specific people.)

So maybe I’m not sending out the right vibes. Is this why much younger men keep being drawn to me? It makes sense, because I don’t give off the air of a grown-up. I shop at Forever 21, can still be found occasionally singing into a hair brush, am glued to Gossip Girl and have a ridiculous job that involves strutting around Hollywood parties in high heels.

In search of answers, I went out with the other 24 year-old at the weekend. Let’s call him Ed. A classically-trained child-prodigy violinist (“I’ve been playing since I was three”), he has a full-time job session-playing for stars like Carrie Underwood and the LA Philharmonic. He’s also witty, well-dressed and smart.

But things were a little off-balance. I, for instance, downed two goldfish-bowl glasses of Pinot Grigio. He had ginger ale. (His excuse: “I’m a musician, I’ve been drinking in session all day” seemed pretty high school). I ate the entire plate of ‘to-share’ curly fries. With two sides of ranch. He had nothing.

But the conversation flowed. It’s not that we didn’t have stuff to talk about.

“So why are you asking out an older woman? What’s that about?” I said.

“Um is it weird to say that doesn’t matter to me?”

I waved that away. “No, I mean really, really, why?”

Long pause. “Well, OK the truth is, I sent an e-mail to someone else and afterwards, you popped up as a match.com suggestion of someone I might like. I read your profile and you seemed smart and funny, and you are.”

He really didn’t care. It was me. I was the only one who had the age problem.

He dropped me home and we laughed the whole way.

As he drove off, I felt pleased. In accepting dates with much-younger guys, I’d tried something I would never normally do. And I’d learnt something else. I just wanted someone older and was going to have to start putting out the right vibes. So, instead of ignoring his second-date invite, I am currently composing him an e-mail tactfully explaining this.

It’s time to grow up.

November 14, 2009

6: Pride and Prejudice

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 9:13 am

Last night I was at a boutique opening on Robertson. As I idly watched The Hills cast reapply lipgloss and take tiny single bites of cupcakes, my friend Catie told me about her latest conquest:

“So he was so cute! And we kept running into each other all over town, like five times. He was nice and funny and successful and sweet. It seemed like it was meant to be!”

I nodded. “Like serendipity?”

“Exactly. Then up at his apartment, I asked him if he ever watched True Blood. He said, ‘No. I try not to do anything Satanic.'”

It’s hard to know about people’s hidden psycho until it slaps you in the face. Like tonight, when I went out with Josh – yes, that’s his real name, he deserves it. Admittedly I had a little heads up he was going to be, shall we say, interesting, during our phone call earlier in the day.

He said, “oh my god your accent is amazing!”

I laughed, “well just so you know, I always tell people not to imitate me because I hate it. Ha ha.”

“Oh good that you told me that because I love imitating people! Now say a few words so I can guess what city you’re from. Go on.”

“Well actually” I said, “I don’t have a regional accent at all. A lot of British people don’t, even a local person wouldn’t be able to…”

“Birmingham!” he shouted.

“Er no, as I was saying, you can’t tell which city I’m from, no one would be able to tell from my voice.”

“See?” He said. “I listen to the Rolling Stones and I always try to gauge it off of the way they talk. It’s a really deep British accent they have.”

What? Ok, think of the blog, think of the blog. I have to do this date.

“So what’s the plan? I can do Tuesday drinks or tonight early evening.” I said.

“Let’s do tonight. I want to get it over with.”

Yeah I can’t wait to meet you too.

But I tried to keep an open mind, and when I saw him, he seemed nice enough, ok looking, close-cropped hair, big blue eyes, looking older than 34, but decent. A little short for me at 5’8″ but whatever, I could maybe have a fun chat with him. He might just have been nervous on the phone before.

Then as we sat down with coffee, paid for on his expense account (“if anyone asks, we talked about business! Haha!”), a woman wearing a headscarf walked by, talking to herself. She seemed a bit eccentric, so I smiled at her craziness in an ‘oh, Hollywood!’ way. Josh then opened his mouth and said the following:

“Yeah I hate all those people too.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Yeah all Muslims. She was probably saying she was going to bomb us all. You know, suicide bombers and all that shit. I’m Jewish so I have feelings about it.”

I stared. I believe non-fat latte may have dribbled from my mouth.

“You’re a liberal aren’t you?” he said.

The blog the blog the blog. “Really? That’s interesting, what made you realise that?” I asked, sweetly.

“You have tattoos.” He pointed to my wrists. “You’re in the business of entertainment and let me tell you, Hollywood is crawling with liberals, with too much facial hair. And the Jews in Hollywood! They’re the worst. My god, so fucking liberal.”

“What else makes me a liberal?” I asked.

“You’re offended. See? I could tell you were a liberal. I could tell by your face when I said that thing about the Muslim woman.”

“Yes, you deeply offend me. But go on, I’m curious. What else told you I’m liberal?”

“It’s a feeling. I bet you have gay friends.”

I sat on my hands so as not to smash his face in. My heart was pounding. My legs ached to walk out the door. But I stayed. I wanted to understand this prejudice, to tackle it.

He was still talking.

“I mean I’m conservative, but I’m not that conservative. I’m not the Christian Right.”

“You are very conservative,” I said.

“No I’m not.”

“Yes. You. Are.”

He ignored me and said, “Look, I  actually know a few gay people. I mean I wouldn’t go for a coffee with one, but my mom’s decorator is a fag and sometimes I let him hug me.”

I tried to gather a response, but he was going on.

“Let me tell you, you flew into Los Angeles with all the other little birdies and you took on their liberal ways…you got sucked in like everyone else in the industry who’s trying to be cool, liking Obama and all that environmental shit. My buddy drives a, what do you call it? A Prius? He tried to give me a ride. I said I’d rather walk.”

“So you don’t care about the environment?” I was busily pulverising my empty cardboard cup.

“I love animals.” He said. “If I saw a person shot in the head, I wouldn’t give a shit. But a little squirrel with a broken leg? I’d be crying, for real.”

“Right but what about the environment animals live in? If you love them?” I said.

“That’s all bullshit. That Al Gore movie? Bullshit. I never even saw it. It was just a campaign tool. We humans have no control over the weather whatsoever.”

I took a deep breath.

“Oh I’ve offended you again, haven’t I? I shouldn’t have brought up politics.”

Yes, bringing up Al Gore was the problem.

“What’s that thing that everyone talks about? That climate thing?”

“You mean global warming?” I said.

“Yeah. I used to work in real estate development and I loved facing down those stupid liberals with their facial hair, holding their signs to save their rare trees or their stupid insects in the rain forest or whatever. They were jobless you know? Morons. I love driving my gas-guzzling car. It runs on Iraqi oil. I love that!”

“So you enjoy fuelling the Iraqi economy?” I asked, confused.

“We took that shit over, we own it now!” he said.

“Not exactly, but anyway, let me ask you, why did you choose to go on a date with a liberal girl like me? I think it said on my profile that my beliefs were liberal.”

“Didn’t read it.” He said. “Look I only date liberal girls anyway. Conservative girls are boring. I once was on a date with a girl and I told her I hated Obama, this was during the election, and then she said she was working on his campaign. I screwed that one up. I should never have mentioned politics.”

“Maybe you should have read her profile.” I said.

“Yeah but then if I read every profile, that takes a lot of time and anyway, she was pretty.”

How did she react?” I asked.

“She got up and walked away. I don’t think she even said good bye…”

Right.

“So” I said, it seems that you’re very passionate about your faith. You’ve mentioned it a lot. Is it important to your family that you marry a Jewish girl at all?”

“Yeah, it is. I mean my brothers would kill me if I didn’t. But I don’t want to date Jewish girls.”

“Why not?” I said.

“They’re ugly.”

I stared.

“By the way I’m in AA” he went on.

“I guessed.” I said.

“Wow. How did you know?”

“Well I offered going for a drink and you said twice you’d prefer coffee and it’s the evening, so you clearly don’t drink.” I said, knowing someone on a first date will mostly opt for mind-numbing alcohol.

“You’re quite a smart little thing, aren’t you?” He smiled.

I had had enough.

“You’re like a caricature of everything that’s wrong in society.” I said.

“What?” He smirked.

“First of all, there a huge chasm between someone living peacefully as a Muslim and the extremist suicide bombers you refer to, the two are not really related. Secondly I know people, and since some people are gay, I also know some gay people. Finally, Jewish girls are like any other girls, just like you are like any other guy. They are neither one thing or another, they are people. By the way I didn’t form my liberal opinions by living in Los Angeles either. I grew up in the English countryside, I lived in London, in Australia, in Paris…”

“Yeah but you know, that’s Europe, you people are all liberal.” He waved vaguely towards the Atlantic.

“I also lived in Colorado before here. My opinions were formed by meeting people with an open mind. I’ve always tried to be compassionate, so no, I was not sucked in with all the other ‘little birdies’. You are in the minority, that’s why you see yourself as surrounded by liberals. It’s because most people are more open-minded than you.”

“Wait” he said, “is that that actor? I know him! James Franco?” He pointed to a guy a few seats away.

“No, it’s not,” I said. “It’s people like you who cause problems for Americans in this world. You’re a terrible prejudiced stereotype.”

“You racist!” he said. “You made a generalisation about Americans!”

I laughed. It was true.

“But it’s funny you say that,” he said. “When I travel, I’m sometimes ashamed to say where I’m from. And when I go to places like Georgia, I hate saying I’m from Los Angeles. They all think I’m a fag.”

He went to the bathroom. I grabbed my bag and headed for the door, but he caught me.

“Oh there you are!” I said.

“There was a homeless person in the bathroom.” He said. “You don’t know what I had to go through.”

“I’m going now. This was hilarious.” I said. I sort of meant it. I was laughing. He looked confused.

Then I crossed the street to the Red Rock bar and downed a glass of wine like a shot. It was a night to forget all that is wrong in the world.

Did I mention it was Friday the 13th?

November 12, 2009

5: Ain’t Nothing But A Number

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 11:25 pm

I was on the elliptical at Equinox this morning – a Hollywood-ridiculous gym with more human growth hormone inside than a scientist’s rat cage –  having a good laugh at the Snuggie commercial on the overhead TV (www.getsnuggie.com) when a cute boy approached the 40ish woman next to me.

“Does my hair look too blond?” He asked, his spray-tanned face twisting with anxiety.

The woman looked bored.

“It’s a good look for you” she finally said, before plugging her headphones back in.

He went away, satisfied.

Now, maybe this woman was the guy’s surrogate mum after he moved to Hollywood with stars in his eyes, got a crappy apartment with mouldy bathroom tile and five other wannabe-famous roomies, but it intrigues me, the younger man/ older woman relationship.  These two seemed like just friends, but still, it was interesting.

For the past two weeks I’ve been seeing, texting, e-mailing and IMing with a very cute new guy. A journalist who’s traveled, 6’3”, amazing body (I’ve seen pictures ok?) he’s driven and successful and interesting and clever and funny. And keen. Oh and he’s 24 years old.

Why does a guy that age go out with a woman in her thirties?

I called my brother.

“Dunno. He’s probably got issues with his mum” he said.

Then I asked a girlfriend.

She said, “Men don’t think ahead about viability, they date you if they like you and that’s it. Women weigh up the future consequences more.”

But still, there was something wrong. The very fact that he’s so into this, there’s always a reason for a much younger man chasing an older woman, isn’t there? There has to be.

Another friend said, “you don’t look or act your age, he probably got to like you before he realised.”

It’s true I didn’t meet this guy online as per my blog rules, so it wasn’t until late in our first meeting that he knew. I gabbled away about places I’d lived and jobs I’d done, feeling his eyes on me and trying to put him off with obvious evidence of our age difference. Frankly, I’m so firmly on the blog-track that I discounted meeting a guy organically, a guy I might like.

“Would it be very rude of me to ask how old you are?” He said.

“I’m 33”.

“How old do you think I am?” He asked, laughing.

“25” I said.

“I’m 24. Do I look really young?” He seemed worried.

“It’s not that, I figured it out when you said how recently you started working,” I lied.  He did look young.

This is not the first time this has happened. I once met a Belgian guy who seemed intensely nuts about me. I asked him what he’d done since college.

“Just this, living here,” he said.

“When did you move here?” I asked.

“Last February.”

When I finally responded to his 17 texts (that is not an exaggeration) with ‘sorry you seem nice, but I’m looking for someone in my own age group’, he went nuts. In fact he was outside my house the next morning. He was actually insane.

See? There is definitely something wrong with these guys, isn’t there? A few years is OK, but an entire generation?

Recently I asked Ashton Kutcher on the red carpet what he loved about Demi. They started dating in 2003. He was 25, she was 40.

He said “she gets more beautiful every day.”

I mean she is beautiful, and youthful, maybe $200,000 of surgery later, but Ashton, do you have issues? What are you looking for? Is this your starter marriage? Will you divorce once Demi is 65 and in retirement and then marry a 22 year-old starlet instead? I wanted to ask these questions, but of course if I had, his rep might have bludgeoned me to death.

And what about Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry? She’s 43, he’s 33. Ok she’s stunning and could easily pass for ten years younger. Then there’s the godmother of older women – Madonna, 51, with Jesus Lutz, 23. Yes those new plastic cheeks and frenetically-honed arse enable her to pass for late 30s, but really, Jesus? What gives?

So maybe my girlfriend was right. Men don’t think ahead so much when it comes to dating, they just like what they find attractive and that’s it. Obviously there are some grey areas in these celeb examples, I mean Jesus’ career and lifestyle have gone nuclear since he enrolled as Madonna’s concubine. Gabriel has gone from hot French model guy to the celebrity Mr Berry. But then, he wasn’t doing too badly on his $30,000 a day as a Hugo Boss clothes hanger and ownership of that trendy East Village café. Ok his album is not exactly on everyone’s ipod, but what the hell, he didn’t really need a leg-up from Halle. The allure of fame may be so strong it leads to crazy behaviour – as all of us in Los Angeles know – but I’m not buying that as Gabriel and Ashton’s sole reason for dating these ladies.

Does age-difference really matter anyway?

I think it doesn’t have to matter for a while, then comes a crucial point when the chasm widens. Like in a late-30s woman with a late-20s guy, for example. Is he going to want kids because her ovaries are on the outs? Maybe not. Does he feel the impulse to get married very soon because she’s going to turn 40? Not necessarily. If she’s already 45+ and marriage and kids are off-menu, maybe he’s just in love with her elegance, her attitude, or her wisdom. But how long until some girl his age whisks him away? The point of a partnership is to be able to have a life together, in tandem, surely?

I don’t believe in lying about your age. I think you’ll only seem deeply weird and desperate when they find out the truth, like those mad facelifted Beverly Hills ladies who look like they’ve been locked in a wind tunnel.

One of my girlfriends adjusts her age from 26 to 24, because “25 is the fun threshold”. I remember being 26 and having that fear, that the fun was slipping away. It didn’t though. It’s a choice to keep doing all the things you ever wanted to in life I think. And when you’re settled, you can still be spontaneous and fun, even if you have to remind yourself to be.

I once met the British ex-Editor of Cosmopolitan, Marcelle D’Argy Smith. This woman’s career is legendary. Yet she told me how she fearlessly dropped her editorship in London to take a creative writing course in New York. Afterwards, she got a job again without trouble or anxiety. She didn’t fear an age threshold, she just followed her dreams and did exactly what she wanted to.

Last week a friend from work wrote this on her blog:

“Estee Lauder sold her first cosmetics at Saks at 36, Lucille Ball debuted in TV favorite ‘I Love Lucy’ at 40, Marian Anderson, opera star, sang at the Lincoln Memorial at 42. You have plenty of time.”

I love this idea and I believe it’s true. But when it comes to love, age is a compatibility factor – if your life-stage is radically different to that of your partner, then look out.

So back to what’s wrong with this guy? Does my demeanour say ‘Mrs Robinson’ or what?

I have yet to ask the man himself. Instead, I am going out with a different 24 year-old this week. One who approached online. Maybe I’ll ask him. There was this 22 year-old asking me too, but I ditched him after he said, “I like older chicks, I’m just going to put that out there.”

I mean, that’s no way to talk to a lady.

November 2, 2009

4: No More Mr Nice Guy

Filed under: Uncategorized — 40firstdates @ 9:58 pm

Since writing about anyone I actually know is a no go, I have to rely on dating websites for this experiment. Men reduced to words and pictures.

So, guy in the orange tank top and visor, that’s a no. And you, posing next to the Lamborghini, also, no. To the man who put an apostrophe in the word “car’s”. No.

Dude who wrote saying, “I’ve never been with an English girl, but could be into that.” They have freephone numbers for you.

And the guy who mailed me, waited until I checked his profile, gave it five minutes, then sent me this: “I saw you looked at me. Was there something you did not like?”

Great.

Also wanting to speed up this 40 dates business, on the advice of a friend, I joined plentyoffish.com. It’s free, so there’s a lot more traffic.

I may as well have posted naked photos of myself on Craigslist.  Every two minutes my iphone bings with another e-mail from Sleazebags R Us.

So what is the point of online dating? It’s not really the story you want to tell your grandkids is it? On the one hand I have massive respect for the people who are genuinely trying to find love online, putting themselves out there, being open and receptive, honestly admitting they haven’t found anyone in person.

But after paddling in the online pool for a month, it just feels like a giant bar. One that’s about to close. There are a couple of lonely guys drinking through breakups, a socially-inept geek and a slimy bottom-feeder circling the overserved chick who just dropped her keys down the toilet.

There are a few exceptions, of course. Like at the bar, you get your normal, well-adjusted people who just fancied getting blasted tonight. They happen to be hanging around, because no better plan came along.

Sadly this was not the guy I went out with last night. Last night was socially-inept geek guy.

Sweet and shaking with nerves, he seemed like he wanted to run from the moment I sat down. I applaud him for making it through a whole hour in fact. I had to restrain myself from patting him on the arm reassuringly. He had things to offer, a great and interesting career in movies, a history of adventurous travel and award-winning musical talent. He wasn’t bad looking, ruggedish, tallish, nice eyes. But he was terrified of me.

I’m not ready to forgo finesse and chemistry. I know everyone says that stuff disappears in the long-term relationship anyway, and maybe one day I’ll be ready to settle for less, but not yet. Call me unkind, immature, cold even, but I don’t ever want to coax a guy through a date.

Friends say I need to consider the ‘nice guy’. Actually scratch that, my mum said it. My friends still believe in looking for fireworks, ‘pizzazz’, or as Carrie Bradshaw put it, ‘the za za zhoo’.

Ok so my mum has turned out to be right about everything else, but for some reason I can’t give up on the kind of player who keeps me guessing, who doesn’t care that much.

Recently my brother asked me why I suddenly showed interest in a guy I’d previously thrown on the ‘nice guy’ pile. I gave it some thought, then finally traced the moment my interest flared.

“He started acting like an arsehole”  I said.

It’s not just me. Men have so often asked, ‘why do women like pigs? Why does the player get the girl?’

It’s more than simply, ‘we want what we can’t have’. It’s that we want someone who likes themselves, someone with self-respect. That’s attractive.

But what looks attractive can easily be a cover for rampant misogyny. And in women, steely resolve and high standards might be the thin paper over some serious fear. Or she could be someone who reels a guy in, only to move onto the next ego boost.

Dating is a high-risk, high-stakes game. Luckily my cards aren’t genuinely on the table.

Geek guy wants to go out again. I’m ignoring him. If nothing else, there’s plenty more sleaze in the sea.

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