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Monday, April 07, 2008

Dating 101

I suck at dating.

You need only click through previous entries of Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven (2003-2005) to fully understand my sordid dating history. Sure, there were some bright spots (Pony!), but I also dated some black holes. But I don't mean black. Another word goes there.

But that is all behind me now. After years of bad decisions and "desperation dating", I took a couple years off from dating. I didn't even think it was possible for me to restrain myself from my driving desire to hook up, get crushed out, fall in love, and be swept off my feet.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Eat, Pray, Love, describes her series of dating missteps this way.

"... let's be honest -- it might be a generous public service for me to leave intimacy alone for a while. When I scan back on my romantic record, it doesn't look so good. It's been one catastrophe after another. How many more different types of men can I keep trying to love, and continue to fail? Think of it this way -- if you'd had ten serious traffic accidents in a row, wouldn't they eventually take your driver's license away? Would you kind of want them to?"

I revoked my own dating license in the summer of 2005, and I have taken some remedial classes (self-study) on relationships. So here is where I am now. At 41, I'm so happy with my life. I enjoy my days and nights in my own apartment without a roommate or live-in boyfriend or partner. I love my own company. I make myself laugh. I like burning food in the oven on purpose because I think things taste good when they're crunchy. I use a lint brush as my vacuum cleaner on the rugs. I have a framed picture of Nellie Oleson on my wall, and a marionette hangs from the ceiling of my kitchen. Sometimes I play music on my computer while the radio is on in my bedroom, and then I flip on the tv and mute it just for visual stimulus. I keep crazy hours. Sometimes I like to go to bed at 9 p.m., and the next night I might feel like staying up till 4 a.m. just to drink wine and stare out my kitchen window at the spinning loaf of bread on top of the bread factory a couple blocks away.

Pippi Longstocking used to walk on the furniture and never let her feet touch the floor. She'd jump from the kitchen counter to the kitchen table. She kept a horse and a monkey in her house. She did whatever she wanted. Pippi had the right idea. (And if you say my name fast, it's funny too.)

But I also have a heart that wants to connect with a man in an amazing way. I want to love again. I want to turn my light back on and say that I'm open for business. But I don't ever want to give it all away until there is nothing left of me. I did that too many times for too many people.

So, it is back to the drawing board. I'm starting over with the dating thing, and this time I know what I'm doing. My intention is to enjoy the company of many different men. I will respect them all, and I will make every attempt to show them a good time. But I do not need anything to "work out". There is no end goal in all of this. I'm not secretly hoping to get someone to fall for me, and I am not plotting to get laid or even get a goodnight kiss out of the deal. I just want to open myself up to new experiences with new people.

I recently took a guy I like to see a show. We had appetizers and cocktails and then saw this really great play. And last night I asked out someone else. I also have tentative plans with two other guys in the coming weeks. I have no expectations and do not feel particularly attached to the outcome of these dates. My only hope is that we enjoy shared experiences and have a good time together.


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