Monday, May 13, 2013

The New American Normal

I might outdo myself today. One can only hope.

So exactly a week ago, I was sitting in the foyer at church, waiting for Sacrament Meeting to be over so that I could teach my Sunday School lesson. That is my calling in my home ward even though I am also attending the Singles Ward. Weird. Anyway, as I was a-sitting, a twenty-something couple and their toddler son intrude upon my solitude as the little boy proceeds to do human donuts in the middle of the carpet. I was mildly distracted from my lesson prep, and since unlike his mother, I wasn't attempting to enforce a reverent silence upon him, he seemed to slowly but surely magnetize over to my neck of the foyer. What happened next put one of those stupid smiles on my face that lasts long after the event has passed. This little tyke hobbles over to the table next to where I was seated in my armchair, and notices there's a single yellow lily bulb resting atop it. He looks from the flower to me, picks up the flower, grins, and hands it to me shyly before rambunctiously returning to his parents.

Now all things considered, this is an extremely cute incident, but it caused me to ponder on the act itself, especially considering the young age of the boy. He couldn't have possibly had romantic notions in mind, (I'm NOT some sort of creeper), and yet, his actions seem to indicate that there is an instilled instinct in the male sex to show affection towards the female species. Now who could find something wrong with that? Well, I'll tell you who- those of us who, for whatever reason, are lacking in the male attention department. The occasional toddler and elderly gent aside (and to be fair, most of the men in the Dominican Republic), my male interactions have always been unsteady at best. Talk about your perpetual "best friend" candidate. Let's just say the big 'F' word- flirting- has never been my strong suit. Now many girls with this curse, plague, gift, however you want to look at it, might feel like they've been wronged- that the world is somehow against their chick flick happy ending. They might even feel impulsed to say
Anne Hathaway It Isn't Fair In Love & Other Drugs
I've seen this around on the interweb a lot lately, and it tickles my funny bone.

Well, maybe it's not. Ok, it's definitely not. I was one of those college girls that had an uncanny amount of attractive roommates. And working on your personality and hearing about how "intimidating"  you are starts to grow stale after awhile. You start to wonder what is going on and become suspcious of any girl you assume may be less attractive than you but still seems to have a sling full of dates and men folk at any given moment. Anyway, all of this is really just background information to demonstrate why my present situation is what it is.

So once upon a time a few weeks ago, I was a fresh meat return missionary. Let's face it: we're an awkward, backwards bunch. I STILL get weirded out sometimes when guys try to hug me. Anyway, a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless for my own protection), suggested that I try an Internet dating site called The thing that kills me looking back is the little off-the-cuff comments we made to try to justify our endeavour. These include (but are in no way limited to):

1). It's just for something to do
2). We're definitely a step above the rest of the desperadoes on here
3). This is SO embarrassing
4). What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet
5). I'll probably erase my account in a couple days anyway

These are the things we tell ourselves so we don't feel pathetic in looking for some sort of connection with the opposite sex in a virtual world. Another list sums up the assumptions made about people who seek their secret love using technology. They are:

1). Creepy
2). Super creepy
3). Socially awkward
4). Can't get a date any other way
5). Lost a bet/accepted a dare challenge
6). Are in last resort stage

The other brilliant biases would suggest that the person on the other side of the screen has to be:
And these assumptions are not without precedent. There are a wonderful selection of true creeps online. But how does that differ from the creeps we are forced to/allow ourselves to be in contact with in real life? As I have become more open to friends/family about my new browsing habits, the most common question I have received before actually meeting my fantasy beau for a real-life date is, "but what if he's, like, a MURDERER or something?" To which I respond, "have you ever seen Sleeping with the Enemy? Or Enough? You can be attracted to/intrigued by a person that you met in an honest-to-goodness real life situation, fall in love with and marry them, and still be blind sighted to who they really are. Going on a date with someone from the online world isn't much more dangerous than going on a date with someone you just met but don't know well. You just have to be smart. Meet in a public place, get to know what you have in common, and if they ask for the location of your favorite dark alley or your Social Security number... check please!

Perhaps my favorite reaction is the "have you thought through all the tried-and-true traditional ways of meeting somebody?" But nobody upon being asked seems to be able to give any really good suggestions to their own query. When pushed, they might feebly add, "well, there's always the grocery store..." Right. Should I put the Coco Puffs into my cart or the hottie on aisle 6? As if it were that easy. Who are all these single sassy lads and lassies roaming the Safeways and Food Maxx's? And how do you even turn a mundane chore such as food shopping into a romantic encounter? "Hey, I see you're buying Swiss cheese. Niceeeeeeee. I like Swiss, but it gives me gas." (It doesn't, for the record).

But running with the shopping analogy in the other direction, we use the Internet to look for and find the things we like best and want most: clothes, food, memorabilia, furniture, news, etc. It's convenient and it allows more options to be available to us. So why is it still so taboo and absurd to apply this same philosophy to the facet of our personal lives that seriously affects our happiness? Well, the short answer is, 'it just is.'  If I've said it once, I've made it my slogan: I have no problem being single. For a comprehensive look at some of the fringe benefits, make a click here. But as my good friend Cyndi Lauper has stated, "girls just want to have fun." And sometimes, it's nice to have fun with someone else, whether or not you're looking for something serious.

Now a couple week after creating our accounts, the selfsame friend that got us both into this whole mess to begin with responded to my text of "how goes the hunt?" with "EEh. I've had a few hits. Nothing that great. I feel pretty lame that I'm even taking this sorta seriously." I responded, "dude, it doesn't make us lame. It make us the new American normal."
We do what so many other people are doing nowadays, but then why are we still embarrassed to admit it? It's seems to be the stale fart in the room that no one wants to fess up to. All these gas analogies, according to my mom, would probably be the reason why I am Internet prowling to begin with. And while I don't proudly wave my "I'm sexy and the Internet knows it" baton in the air, I'm not hiding it in my purse either. Not anymore. In the "real world" (wherever that is), the people most lauded are the ones willing to take a risk, take the initiative. O sea, it's a classic case of Muhammad going to the mountain when the mountain doesn't have the balls to go up to Muhammad and ask him out. As my favorite candy bars poses the question so well, "why wait?" Why indeed.

Well, that about wraps it up for this time around. That's one long entry. I don't want to seem overly-passionate about the issue (heaven forbid). I do want to drag this on for another entry, when I will talk about different dating profiles: the good, the bad, and the "are you freaking serious?!" Til then, may everyone find what they're looking for in the manner in which they are looking for it.




  1. My long lost love,

    I loved this blog post...! I hear you on so many levels! Love the dating world and looking forward to hearing some of your stories! If you are ever in Provo give me a ring and we will hang out!


  2. For the record, you were always good at flirting with me. Just saying. Also, I love your blog. Please write more. Maybe you can even include some original short stories like "What Nora Needs". ;) Come visit Utah.

  3. Andrea! It's been far too long. I miss you, and didn't know you were in Provo again. Tessa... I believe it is you that came on to me. Not that I blame you. But you're a married woman now, and you should probably be careful of publicly displaying that you still have the hots for me. I will visit you both when I go up to the big rock candy mountain, hopefully sooner rather than later.