My friends had become the casting directors of their own lives, auditioning and selecting from a seemingly endless line-up of potential leading men. I could only imagine how empowering it must have felt for them to no longer have to wait for fate to smile down and cook up their next serendipitous encounter with some random guy.
Yes of course I envied their easy access to so many suitors. Some were creeps, sure, but others were not. The sea, apparently, is teeming with fish.
Our mating rituals have become very high-tech. However, paradoxically, (or perhaps only ironically), that same technology has transformed modern mating ritual into something that looks very old. The current dating scene is a cross between a Jane Austen novel and the practical customs associated with arranged marriages.
(Clearly, I'm not referring here to Tinder and other hook-up sites.)
From what I hear, today's mating ritual goes something like this:
First, you lay out the supposed facts about yourself in your on-line profile--providing information that any matchmaker in India or Pakistan would need to report back to the parents of your prospective brides. These are very practical matters, such as: Are you healthy? Are you gainfully employed? Are you allergic to cats?
If you meet basic criteria, and the prospective bride finds you attractive, she will give you a wink. Yes, a wink! Or perhaps an emailed note. A note! How quaint!
You may choose to acknowledge or ignore her wink, as you regard the image of her face--just as a king would want to set eyes on the painted portrait of Austria's proposed princess--her likeness encased in a jewel-encrusted locket.
If there's mutual interest at this point, you exchange more notes via email. This can go on for quite some time before someone proposes taking the next step, which is to meet for coffee in a public place.
(In my day, someone would have already taken the walk of shame and would now be watching the phone intently as though it were a pot of not-boiling water.)
If coffee is a great success, phone numbers might be exchanged, and that's no small step. You know how personal and significant phones are now. It's the same as giving someone the keys to your home or car.
Moreover, you know you're taking a chance that your potential mate will start texting you obsessively. Yes, lunch is the next step, but only if you can agree that you're able to have a balanced texting relationship. Texts can be witty, and that can be amusing; or, it can be exhausting. The expectation of wit raises the specter of failure and ridicule. Maybe you're not witty, maybe you're corny and cute. You really need to find someone who thinks that your cutesy texts (larded with hearts and emoticons) are adorable.
So okay, you've established a workable texting rapport, and now, lunch. OMG, suddenly you're supposed to speak extemporaneously while simultaneously eating??? That's some crazy pressure.
By the way, at what point in this process does a woman dare to show a little ankle? This is beyond Victorian, really. It's applying to college.
Recently, a friend of ours, I'll call him Buck, had a change in relationship status. He is available now, and cautiously seeking women for friendship and possibly more.
He let me read his on-line profile, as well as some of the profiles of the women who "winked" at him to express their interest in a possible coffee.
Eagerly, I looked at the profiles of Buck's potential beloveds. I saw a woman with a doctorate in philosophy begin her profile with the sentence, "I am slender." And the rest of the ones I saw were no different. They were all like this:
"Shiloh" Everywhere I go -
As an English Major myself, (reference Garrison Keillor), I am supposed to be very seductive on-line...but we'll never know. Assuming that I would be, I have some advice for writing on-line dating profiles: Don't describe yourself as a horse. But if you must describe yourself as a horse in order to catch a man, do your research and choose the breed of horse that describes you best.
For example, I could describe myself as an American Quarter Horse. I'm sorrel (red hair) and rather hot (which means I'm nervous and temperamental). I am proportionally low to the ground and powerfully built. I'm smart, learn fast, and I'm hard working. I used to be agile and quick, and though I'm not ready to be put out to pasture, these days I mostly graze and ruminate and stroll about. Having a lot of turn-out time is important to me; I don't like to be cooped up. Apartment life would be a deal breaker. Don't fence me in. Dogs are okay. Cats are fine. No lions or bears need apply.
Women who are sleek, have long legs, are fussier and more temperamental than even I am might see themselves as Thoroughbreds. Sure, they're gorgeous (and fast), but they can be prima donnas. And they're always breaking down physically or emotionally. (To be honest, they don't usually live very long.) Thoroughbreds are frequently exploited for their beauty and talent, so while they are admittedly fabulous, they are frequently tragic. If you want to hook up with a Thoroughbred or to be a Thoroughbred, good luck to you.
There are many breeds of horses, and choosing the right one for you can really bring your on-line profile into focus.
If you can't see yourself as a horse, then you probably have a stubborn sense of self esteem. Try to push that, and everything else that makes you unique and human, out of your mind.
If you want to hook a man, pick a horse.