Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dating Websites: The Real-Life Review.

It's not much of a secret that I've been mostly single for about two years now. Sure, I've been on some dates here and there, but I've identified myself as single since spring of 2012, when I split up with my last "serious" (the word is used so dang loosely nowadays - it's like "friend" or "cray-cray") boyfriend.

Anyways. I've tried my hand at a couple of dating websites. Both free and both terrible. I'm ashamed to name them here, but okay, I will: Plenty of Fish and OKCupid. And I've had epically rotten luck with both of them. Sure, I've gotten a few "winks" and emails. I've even joined a miscellaneous dude or two for a cup of coffee and/or margaritas. But it always went nowhere after our first meeting. Naturally, i started wondering, as any insecure woman would, what the problem might be.

Are my feet too large? Am I too talkative? Was my shirt too boxy? 

But tonight, in none other than Gene's, a classic Charleston bar, I discovered the truth. Dating websites simply don't work!

But wait, let me back-peddle, lest I offend the peeps who got married after they met on Match or EHarmony. Dating websites work if you are willing to follow to rules. Are you wondering what the rules are? Well, here you go:

1. Do not use a free dating website. If you do, be prepared for failure.
2. If you sign up for a dating website that requires a fee, be prepared to meet people who are ready to get serious (in the true sense of the word!) and get married fairly quickly.

The three men I spoke with tonight at Gene's Haufbrau in West Ashley were fully in agreement with these rules. What surprised me was how eager they were to share their own tales and experiences with me. They all wrinkled their noses at free sites - because, let's face it, all of us have been there, done that. And those of us who'd used the sites with fees had other, not-so-great things to report.

"I put up a photo of myself with long hair and a beard and NO ONE emailed me," lamented one guy. "Then, i put up a photo of myself in a short haircut and a dress shirt and the women went BANANAS! And the entire time my profession was listed as LAWYER! But it's all based on APPEARANCE!"

None of us could stop laughing. We knew he was right.

"We should all get together for beers again!" I declared, after the conversation continued to go swimmingly.

No one disagreed. In fact, we all exchanged business cards, Twitter handles, names and ages.
By the end of the conversation, we were fast friends. And I realized something important. I don't need any stinking dating websites! I need to HANG OUT AT THE BAR! With MENFOLK!

"You're going to be just fine," said one guy, after we clinked glasses for the umpteenth time.

I believed him. I went to Publix, got a pizza, came home and started pondering my current dating life. It's like my sister said one day - I can't meet men while I'm having dinner at my best friend's house (though those evenings certainly have their place). I gotta get out there and meet them in person! And dating websites don't count as meeting people!

But you know what does count? Hanging out on the patio at Gene's. Or whatever social atmosphere strikes y'all's fancy. The computer isn't real life. Go figure.

I know y'all like photos, so here's  one of the cider I was drinking.

Monday, March 24, 2014


So, I bought this skirt yesterday. It's a pencil skirt, which i don't normally wear. (i don't really have to follow a dress code at the office so i don't have too many dressy outfits, but I figured that you never know when you're going to need a sleek pencil skirt.)

Unfortunately, when I bought my size yesterday, I didn't try it on. Before y'all slap me on the wrist, let me explain that I tried on the size right below mine, found it to be just a hint too snug, and realized the next size up would be perfect. When i got my beloved skirt home and tried it on in front of the full-length mirror with my beige heels and a blouse, I felt totally beautiful. Then, I tried to unzip.

Nothing happened. The zipper was stuck.

Try as I might, the thing wouldn't budge, no matter how much I moved, sucked in my stomach, or fussed toward the heavens. I was home alone, and for a few panicky moments, I imagined wearing the skirt for the rest of my life. Then, I managed to wriggle it off my hips. Whew. At least I didn't have to call the fire department, right?

Upon examining my skirt, I immediately realized the problem: the zipper's teeth are somehow warped. So, I set my skirt to the side and went about my evening with the plan to visit my seamstress on James Island promptly in the morning. i had a feeling she'd fix it at very little charge. She's known for me ages - and has altered all the bridesmaids dresses I've ever worn.

But this morning, I was greeted with a rather unpleasant surprise: my seamstress is no longer in business! Her shop is gone and her number is even disconnected. I headed to Mount Pleasant with my lip poked out, wondering if my favorite consignment shop owners, or my friend Kim, would have a solution.

But this is ridiculous, i said to myself. Why don't I just get another skirt in my size at the North Charleston location? Why put more money into it and have it repaired?

So, after Brian couldn't fix the zipper during our morning coffee meeting, i gassed up the Saturn and drove to North Chuck, meeting Sarah and her sons for a harried lunch at Chick-Fil-A first. I arrived at the mall full of adrenaline and chicken, ready to remedy the problem - or so I thought, until they didn't have my size.

At customer service, after I sadly recounted my tale to the woman behind the register, she kindly offered to order me another skirt in my size and have it shipped to the store. It sounded like a splendid idea - except I don't live in North Charleston, so I wasn't sure I wanted to have it shipped there. I told her as much, and she agreed that I probably needed to go back to the West Ashley mall with my broken skirt. She put it in a bag for me and sent me on my way. I could not believe my luck.

"I finally buy a professional item of clothing - and spend decent money on it - and it breaks the second I put it on!" I lamented to Sarah and Marie on the phone. "This is a sign from the universe. I'm never moving forward in my career. I might as well dress like a disheveled hippie at a Phish concert for the rest of my life!!"

Marie and Sarah both thought I was overreacting a tad.

"Maybe I can fix it," Sarah suggested. "I'm pretty sure it's easy to replace a zipper. And they cost about eight dollars."

But at this point, I question whether it's all even worth it. Like I said to Brian on the phone, if this skirt doesn't want me, why should I want it? It's like a relationship that just isn't working out - except it's with an inanimate object!!

I suppose I'll give it one last shot at the Citadel mall and try to order my size. Or should I just take the refund and consider it a failed mission?

What would [insert name of someone other than Jesus here, since I'm pretty sure he wasn't a slave to fashion] do?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday (In Da Club).

Last night was Cullen's birthday celebration - he's one of my writers - and I assured him earlier in the day that I would come out and have a drink. Well, imagine my ...hesitation when he texted me that he and his crowd were at Mynt, a bar/nightclub known to be for the under 25 set. (Cullen is 24 this year, so I can't blame him, but yeah.)

Nevertheless, a drink obligation is a drink obligation. So I put on my sparkly tank top and headed downtown to Mynt to rub elbows with the college kids. It's not like I do it that often, really. Mostly I have a very adult-like evening of red wine and chat with other adults.

Fortunately, it turned out to be a wildly amusing and interesting time. I kept myself fairly sober - but frankly, anyone would be more sober than a shot-saturated, pill-hopped college junior - and soaked up the atmosphere. Naturally, there were a few times when I remembered my age. Here are a few examples of those moments:

1. When I asked the bouncer, who was also in his mid thirties (we had a chat outside; he's 35 and a fire fighter), for a squirt of antibacterial liquid after touching the stair banister along with about 100 other kids on my way to the outdoor lounge.

"Do you have hand sanitizer?" I yelled, over the roar of house music.
"I wish," he sighed.

2. I asked the deejay to play "nineties rap." Then when he supposedly did, I didn't recognize any of it. I concluded he must be playing rap from the late nineties, when I'd already entered my "hippie shit" phase in college. So, I asked him if he could play me some disco.

"Uhhh, I have some disco mixes," he offered.

3. There is nothing more age-affirming than being in a bathroom with a bunch squealing girls. Also, it was pretty funny when I casually commented to the line of ladies that "a bar this packed should have more than one restroom."

"They do have more than one," said one chick, gesturing at the 3 grimy toilet stalls. "One, two three!"


4. I hate to list this example, because it means I'm telling everyone I smoked a cigarette, but while maneuvering around the thick, drunk crowd outside I held my smoke high above my head, so as not to burn anyone. One girl leaned over and said, "You are so respectful! Thank you!!"


5. I kept checking the time, feeling sure that I would turn into some form of pumpkin at midnight. After all, today's a weekday. And the crowd was getting so heavy and boisterous, I knew it was my cue. Plus, I need my sleep.

But overall, it was a terrific night - and I got lots of compliments when I revealed that I was over thirty  but enjoying Mynt for my first (perhaps only) time.

"Well you look 25," said one girl heartily. I returned the favor and told her she looked 18.


Monday, March 10, 2014

The Lit Geek's Tour of Nashville.

I decided to check out Nashville for a post-magazine-deadline long weekend. I'd never been there and it seemed like a cool place to visit, possibly consider for relocation one day. It's one of the only cities I've never heard anyone say anything negative about. Plus, I found a mega-cheap guest house on The only minor challenge was that I knew nothing about the place and I was traveling alone.

Fortunately, I used my resources and had a killer - not to mention writerly - vacation. I scheduled appointments with a couple of local publications and met their editors, inquiring about whether Nashville might be a cool place to live if you're a wordsmith. (They said yes.) I visited the FABULOUS public library and snapped pictures in the courtyard and the Grand Reading Room, which was like my version of church. I camped out in two bookstores: a used bookstore called BookManBookWoman and Parnassus, the charming book emporium started by writer Ann Patchett.
All the locations were brimming with readers and writers who were eager to talk to me. It was paradise. Oh, and I enjoyed a latte at a well-known coffee shop called Crema, ate everything from farm-to-table veggies to caramel gelato and got into a St. Vincent show for free after befriending the bouncer. I also gathered local publications from grocery racks, restaurant tables and a guy on the sidewalk selling newspapers. (I tipped him extra.)

I have to give credit where it is due. I discovered most of my itinerary through the two literary city guides that I printed from the Internet before my trip - one from a blog called Eat This Poem and another from Poets & Writers Magazine. I kept both of them stashed in my purse, referred to them often and pretty much kept my GPS plugged in 24/7 while on the prowl for inspiration.

In the end, my trip was a huge success. I think I'm ready for my next literary city tour. Suggestions?