Friday, May 13, 2011

online dating part eighty

or "the problem with thanksgiving."

I realized, when in conversation with a friend the other day, that I never did tell the story of my parting ways with my most recent potential boyfriend (PBF), Mr. Ironman.   And darn am I bored today and wishing I were outside doing anything but accounting on this beautiful 70 degree May day.  So here goes:

The short version:  As my therapist pointed out, I had him nailed from the first email he sent me from, as an arrogant narcissist who was not particularly cerebral, "but then", she continued, "as you always do, you managed to find something endearing about him," and she rolled her eyes with a smile.  And that is the definition of a good therapist, one who gives you a dope slap when you deserve one, without fear of offending your ego and thus your pocketbook.
Anyway, we had some fun, but ultimately despite insisting that he was not as self-absorbed as his actions indicated that he was, finally one day those actions betrayed him and he became more trouble than he was worth.  So I said 'bye. The end.

If you would like the details, read on.

PBF had a less-than-endearing way of telling me that I was going to do something with him.  He pretty much assumed that if he wanted to go to an opera, or to a party on his street in Society Hill, or to his Sea Isle shore house for the weekend, then I would be going with him.  He soon found out that that was not the case, and learned to correct himself and actually ask me if I was able to go with him. The one thing he did claim to respect is that my schedule had to be busier than his, because I was a poor fool who had to work for a living, and he of course had retired at the age of 40 so he could travel around the world competing in triathlons as an age-grouper.  Of course this meant he had to watch his every penny, so the entire 12 weeks we dated he always had an excuse not to take me out to dinner.  I remember our first meeting at a dive bar in SH called The Artful Dodger.  As we were walking back to my car we came upon two acquaintances of his, a gay couple whose names I cannot recall.  I do remember the taller of the two men smiling with delight to witness PBF actually out on a date with a woman no less, most likely because there had been discussions about when he would finally come out of the closet at the age of 53.  At any rate, perhaps to facilitate this process, the Queen cast a look of pure pity upon me and said, right in front of PBF, "He's cheap."  I laughed and we moved on.

"I can't believe he said that to you," my date said shaking his head with a wry smile.  I find levity often is a poor shroud for those kernels of truth.

One day in the first week of November of last year, shortly after the grand Henri David Ball where I got to witness that PBF could duke it out with any college freshman in an all night pukefest, he announced that on Thanksgiving morning I would be running a 5K race with him and his friends in non other than my own backyard, Forbidden Drive in the Wissahickon Park.  Since as you may remember I had my perineal nodular induration and was off the bike since early July, so had been doing a good bit of running, and continued to do it once a week even when I started riding again.  A few weeks earlier after mountain biking for 3 hours in Delaware on a beautiful October morning I raced up I-95 to compete in the twilight 5K, and came in 2nd overall for women [or as PBF would say "I won" (my age group )].  Anyway, I guess he was reasonably confident I would not embarrass him in front of his racing buddies.  I said that since I was happily riding again I would probably indeed be there that day but I would be mountain biking instead, but he insisted that I give up my ride; you know, forfeit the opportunity to burn 2500 calories before the Turkey day pigfest and opt instead to train for a mere 21 minutes with him. Whatever.  He also invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's, because his parents are deceased and he did not feel like driving out to East Bumblefuck to hang out with his brother who had married a, well, country bumpkin.  No disrespect to her of course, he would just rather hang out with my educated, cultured family.  I'm not making this up.

So Thanksgiving, true to form, was on a Thursday as you may remember.  The Sunday prior to it I get a phone call from PBF around 1pm.

"Hey, what are you doing?" he asked.  Something was up.  I could hear a bit of tension in his usually carefree voice. By that point I had stopped calling him altogether, so when we talked, it was when he took the initiative.

"I'm just getting out of the shower. I had a great ride."

"road or mountain?"


"that's good....what are you wearing?"

"well, I'm going to be doing chores the rest of the day, so of course I'm wearing my latex catsuit with the nipple clamps."  What a stupid question.
just hanging out waiting for you to call dear

"I thought you were allergic to latex."  I was shocked he had remembered this.  I laughed. But then I realized he probably remembered it less for an interest in my health and more likely because condoms and sex toys are often made of this versatile rubber.  Whatever.  He's a guy.

"What's going on with you?" I figured he should just get to the point.  Talking on the phone with him was usually tedious if I did not feel like talking about working out.  His workouts that is.  There was a pause.  He took a deep breath.  Wow, now I really was curious. And amused.

"There's a problem with Thanksgiving."  Well, yeah, I'm sure millions of turkeys feel the same way.  Speaking from my vegetarian viewpoint of course.

"Ok....?"  I prodded.

"Well, remember how I told you that when I go away, my ex's mother takes care of the dogs?"   The "dogs", if you can call them that, were his two repulsive old lady dogs, a decrepid 12 year old Yorkshire Terrier with bad teeth, horrible breath, and a nasty disposition who terrorized Madison and Chloe in their own home.  The other filthy little thing was a half-blind Shit-Tzu [sic] who always smelled and who seemed sweet but also growled at my girls when PBF brought them over to my house one time.  He thought it was funny.  Poor Madison, who can charm ANY dog with her grace, intuition and accepting disposition (towards members of her own species that is) was so stressed out that these animals would not calm down.  The Yorkie was a nasty little yipper who never shut up.  OK, I can't stand toy breeds in general, but these two were particularly offensive to me.  I could not believe he took these poorly socialized brats wherever he went. As a purportedly straight man.

what real dogs look like
So of course I remembered that PBF dated a Diana (he never used her name but it did not take long for me to find her on FB, peruse her blog and realize that her lack of substance matched his quite nicely, it's a pity that didn't work out) and that Diana's mother lived in the North Philly somewhere and PBF would drop his dogs off before he went on his many travels and she would pamper them for free.  PBF repeated the lament he had told me several times that he did not like the arrangement because it kept him in a way "beholden" to Diana's mother, who of course would love to see PBF and Diana reunited, but she had moved to San Diego.  But he was too damn cheap to pay for someone else to watch them when he went away like I do. Well lo and behold, Diana's mother's mother up and dies on Friday, so Diana is flying in for her grandmother's funeral.  And of course PBF is going to the funeral; as he should, I mean he dated this woman for five years.

"OK, so what the problem with Thanksgiving then?" I asked innocently, even though by now I had figured it out.  I just wanted to hear him sweat as he laid it all out.  This was going to solve my problem about not wanting him to come to Thanksgiving with me anyway, as well as the one about missing my team mountain bike ride in the Wisshickon, all in one fell swoop.

"Well....." Another deep breath.  "My ex is going to be here--"

"Why don't you just call her Diana?" I said curtly, "I'm not going to stalk her for God's sake."

"yeah yeah, Diana" he seemed relieved that he could use her moniker, "....and we always did that race together, and she is expecting to do it with me." He hastily added, as if in anticipation of my question as to why Diana would even be with him that morning, "They don't even have a car, I'm driving them around while they are here."  I did not even bother to ask who "them" was, but if Diana's mom lives in North Philly, it did not surprise me that she did not have a car.

"So what's the big deal, why can't we all do it?" I asked.  Now I was starting to get annoyed.

" no no no.,.....I can't have you there while she is there.  That would be totally uncomfortable for me.  I would not even put myself in that position....." he seemed shocked that I would even suggest this. "I mean Diana knows all of my friends, she will be talking to them the whole time....."

"PBF, I don't get it--you have been telling me I'm doing this race with you for over a month.  Are you DISINVITING me to the race?"  This was too just much.

"I know...I know....I am so sorry but how was I supposed to know her grandmother was going to die this week?  I mean it's just a weird situation, what are the chances?"

"Are you still sleeping with her?  Not that I really care, but-"

"no no no no!" he shouted into the phone, "it's not like that at all!  It's just that...."

"so this is the girlfriend you told me about that is psychotically jealous and insecure?"

There was a pause.  "You got it, " he said quietly, "she's just really tough to deal with in these kind of situations."

"Well I understand  if you guys are dating, but...I  mean is she dating anyone else?"

"I have no idea.  I don't care.  We don't talk about that kind of stuff."

"So she does not know you are dating anyone else?"

"I have no idea."  Well give me a break Dufus, you either told her or you didn't.  She sure didn't read it on my blog.

I tried to explain to him that if what he was interested in was a relationship with ANY woman,  that he should be more concerned about HER feelings than of those of his ex, but it soon became obvious to me that Mr. Selfish saw it as a matter of not wanting to jeopardize the sweet free dog sitter deal he had.  He had two women, one who he saw as easygoing and understanding (believe it or not that's me) and the other as a problem that he would only have to endure for a few days.  He figured I would just be OK with it. I soon gave up even bothering explaining to him how outrageous it was to break a longstanding plan with me so as not to stress out his lame-ass ex girlfriend, although I have to admit I was pretty pissed off.

"What are you doing for Thanksgiving dinner?" I asked.  I needed to make sure there were no loose ends before I hung up the phone.

"I thought I was spending it with you" he said sheepishly.

"The hell you are."

"oh c'mon baby, you don't have to be like that..." it sounded like a whine now, so unattractive from a 53 year old man.

"You made your choice...... Do you even know what they are doing?  Don't you think the subject will come up at the race?  What are you going to tell her, that you are going to your brothers?" the whole thing struck me as so childish.  "Why don't you take your out of town guests out? I'm sure they will need a ride to the IHOP or something."

He decided not to fight this battle, not realizing as I did that there were not going to be any chances for redemption.

Ever the optimist, he retorted, "I will probably just go over to my neighbor's, she always has a great spread."  Good for him.

And that was that.  I ended up riding with my team on Thanksgiving morning, and when we got to that end of Forbidden Drive I tried to get the boys to ride that extra little stretch of trail with me across Bell's Mill so I could do a driveby of the running race to make PBF squirm a bit, but everyone was in a hurry to get home and eat.  And I needed a posse around me for it really to have any effect.

I told the story at Thanksgiving dinner itself and had my whole family rolling on the floor.

Nine year old William looked at me and said, "Aunt Andrea are we ever going to see that guy again?" After all PBF had hung out with William at the house one night, even sitting on the bench with him as he played piano.

"I would say not." I said, and his mother rolled her eyes and smiled.

PBF did try and reconcile after this, and seemed totally confused when I refused to entertain the concept of dating again.  He eventually stopped coming to my Tuesday morning classes at Cadence.  I received a Snoopy birthday card on Valentine's day, and when I called to thank him I asked him then why he stopped coming to class.  There really was not much else to talk about.

"I only went there that early so I could see you,"  he said, "Why should I get up that early if I don't have to go to work?"

Why indeed?

As for me, I have given up on online dating for now.  I've been cultivating my own garden a la Candide, which means that I will have even more reasons to be disgusted with what I find next time 'round.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

a different kind of season this spring

last week's news and the big changes that are happening in my life

Last week was quite the week in the news.  Osama Bin Laden has been executed by elite Navy SEAL Team Six, Obama released his long form Hawaii birth certificate to quell the inane utterances of the Donald, Prince William and Catherine Middleton tied the knot, [and actually appear to be in love--gasp!] in a Royal Media Feeding Frenzy the likes of which the free world has not endured in three decades,  large swaths of the Southeast, mostly Alabama, Missouri and Georgia, were devastated by a Katrina-level outbreak of 216 tornadoes over 2 days,  by some accounts the worst tally in US recorded history,  and  the flooding in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys prompted the Army Corps of Engineers officials to blast open a Missouri levee and flood 130,000 acres of prime farmland in order to protect small towns from being smothered by those rising rivers.

The week's events were maligned at the White House Correspondent's dinner last Saturday night, with President Obama roasting potential GOP Presidential candidates, including Donald Trump.  If you missed that, take two minutes to watch it below.  His comments about Trump were actually much funnier than Seth Meyer's.

An interesting historical footnote: Since the evening's events were readily viewable in real-time to those four of you who are regular C-SPAN watchers, Seth Meyers, the Head Writer for Saturday Night Live and Anchor of Weekend Update, could not resist making light of the fact that the evening was being broadcast live only on the lowly channel dedicated to the coverage of our very entertaining Congresspeeps.  His monologue included a joke about the soon-to-be-the-late-Osama-Bin-Laden.  He did not realize the irony, but of course the President had already issued the order for the Seals to make the move on the McMansion in Pakistan the following day.  As the camera focuses on Obama laughing at the joke, one can only wonder what is going through his mind.  Apparently the CIA/Special Ops folks were only "60 to 80 percent sure" that the intel was correct and OBL was actually still residing in the place.  Yikes.

In case you don't feel like watching the whole 10 minute video (Seth's material is a good test to see if you're current with your popular culture)  the roasting of C-SPAN followed by his remarks about MS-NBC, his employer, start at 1:50 on the above video.  There, I've made it easy for you.

madison out cold next to me
So just as it seems the world has gone crazy, there has been a sea change at 3434 as well.  Spring is here and as a cyclist of course it is the start of bike racing season.  As a gardener it is the beginning of the growing season, when my front bed boasts a riot of tulips, daffodils, and literally dozens of perennials that are poised to enter the stage in a six month show choreographed by the sun, rain, wind and soil.

During the long cold winter this year I did more than a little introspection.  A major change in my routine was thrust upon me, one could say, and this offered me a rare view of the way I spend my time.  The upshot of this was I have made some decisions about the shape I would like the rest of my life to take.  Starting in the past week, life is different, my perspective has changed.   I am retired from bike racing, for one.  Yes, this is big.

I have come to the conclusion that I am never going to achieve my goals if life keeps on rolling along like it has been the past several years.  I'm just not satisfied with the status quo anymore.  I've reached a plateau in my life and I need to move on. In all honestly, it's not really in my nature to be satisfied with anything, although I have finally realized that you can be satisfied with your life as it is without being doomed to becoming complacent and stagnant.  I had always believed that contentment bred complacency, and so from a very young age I have been that restless soul who could never stand still, who was always searching for the path to excellence and enlightenment, but who sometimes paralyzed herself with too much introspection and the desire to do too many things really well.  But I've learned, with the help of experience and therapy, (one could argue that therapy speeds up the organic aging process by which we weave our experiences into a usable perspective) that I can be thankful with my good fortune AND at the same time I can greedily plot, plan and shape my life into a journey better suited to facilitate the evolution of my desires.

chloe looking over my shoulder
The decision about whether or not to continue bike racing for the time being has also been complicated by the health issues I have been struggling with this winter.  I guess you could say they are an extension of the health problems I've been struggling with for the past several years, although the endocrine issues, despite the fact that they were there all along, have not appeared much on the blog.  Yes I thought they were behind me, but in fact my biggest stumbling block has been my sputtering thyroid gland.  Broken collarbones, heart arrythmias, and perineal nodular indurations aside, the overarching nightmare preventing me from achieving radiant health has been the disruption of my endocrine balance brought on by my years of birth control pills.  I will elaborate on this in another post, but since I know I will never make a dent in my over-stuffed to-do lists without my usual boundless energy, and I will accept nothing less than the optimum health that I know is obtainable with a plant-based diet, and balanced exercise and stress reduction techniques, achieving this state of health has to be my priority right now.  How fast I whiz through the woods on the Yeti will have to take a backseat to these more pressing concerns.  It's not like I'm going to stop training, but climbing is so hard in this perpetual fatigued state that I can't even imagine dealing with the rigors of an 8 hour race.

The other major area of discontent is my lack of satisfaction with 3434.  I have outgrown not only my city dwelling, but also my patience with city dwelling.  I yearn to be in a rural area, where my nearest neighbor is a mile away.  At least. I love Philadelphia, but I don't want to live here anymore.  I'm never going to be able to buy 100 acres somewhere if I keep up the same routine year in and year out.  To tolerate the cars and trash and traffic and pollution and lack of respect for the planet and each other that the city and surrounding suburbs bring, you really have to want to live here.  And I just don't anymore.  I love the culture, the nightlife, the restaurants, and so many other perks of this great birthplace of our nation, I really do, but it's time to leave it all behind and go where my heart can really find a home.  I know it's not here.  I understand now why I've never allowed myself to settle down with anyone here.  Deep in my heart,  I've always known that I would leave, and my partner would not understand.

So I am refinancing my house this month, and then I start fixing it up so I can get it on the market when the market finally turns around, which does not look like its going to be any time soon.  I'm giving myself 18 months to get my my affairs in order and head off toward greener pastures.  I'm not sure where those pastures are going to be yet, but I'm hoping some of you out there might be able to help me find my next home.  Here is what I know: 100 rural acres, within 2 hours of a decent sized city with a university. I visualize a converted barn when I close my eyes. Deciduous trees are a must.  No desert, no coastline.  As for what I'm going to do for a living, well, as long as I can get the internet I think I can make something work.  Please comment if you think you know just the place.  I know it's out there, now help me find it.