Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Imagination: I'm Grateful.

I had a heartfelt conversation with my friend Julia at another friend's Thanksgiving dinner party last weekend. Julia is 11 years old, and her mom and I have been pals for years.

We walked up and down the street after dinner, just the two of us, talking about life. I was amazed at how relatable and easy to talk to she is. But then again, I'm accustomed to being enchanted by the imagination and wisdom of children. Before our walk, we jumped rope, hula-hooped (well, she hula-hooped; I just attempted it) and basically ran around the house being silly together.

The quality time with Julia came right on schedule. I've been thinking a lot about what I should be grateful for, versus what I am grateful for. Am I grateful for all the days I spent lounging underneath oak trees and daydreaming as a kid? Or the elaborate games that my friends and little sister and I invented on Saturdays? Not often enough, until something happens to make me think twice.

For example, I went to the mall tonight after my usual tutoring session was canceled. I was feeling gloomy while walking around the mall, fretting about how I would afford all the gifts I want to buy for people; fretting about a friend of mine who's struggling with her health; fretting about life in general. Then I decided that instead of just sulking back to my car, I would try to perk myself up.

My perk came in the form of a conversation with the man dressed as Santa Claus in the center of the mall. It looked as though Santa was winding down for the afternoon (he works so much harder these days, what with everyone's holiday fever starting at Halloween) so I ducked the velvet green rope and asked him how things were going.

"Are the kids asking for iPads and iPhones?" I asked.

He nodded. "Yes. I tell them all they have to wait until they're older." Then he sighed, and I knew he wished kids still asked for simple toys made out of wood. He was an older Santa, with a legitimate beard.  He talked like he's been playing the role for years. I could tell he understands the importance of childhood and tries his best to pass it on.

A minute later, he was escorted by some of the elves off to his break, and he turned around and gave me a friendly wave. "I'll be back, and we can talk some more," he said.

My own childhood wasn't perfect, but I'm glad it was filled with imagination.

And I have people like Julia to thank for reminding me.

Me with Julia on her first day of first grade. We go way back. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tinder is the Night.

Don't laugh at me. Lord knows I've blogged before about how I can't stand dating websites -- and I've gone and joined the silliest one out there.

That's right; I've joined TINDER.

Before you wrinkle your noses and declare Tinder to be nothing but a meat market, hear this! I actually like it. I mean, it's a lot of fun, all the swiping right and finding out that someone else ALSO swiped right. Still, that doesn't mean there aren't any pitfalls.

Here's a short list of informative tidbits that I thought might be useful to others who are single and considering joining Tinder. Note that I just joined yesterday. Note, too, that I haven't been on any actual dates yet, but I have gotten asked out a total of three times and scored a phone number.

1. The ego boost can be significant. Simply put up a few decent pictures of yourself and collect the compliments. But beware -- Tinder is notoriously shallow and you'll be disappointed in yourself for swiping left when a guy has less than stellar teeth, a large nose, weird hair or the like. Since Tinder doesn't really do the whole extensive bio thing (bios tend to be short; all mine says is "wordsmith, social butterfly") people weed through the list based on looks. If you're uncomfortable with that idea, it might give you pause.

2. If you're anything like me and you simply like meeting new people to have a text-a-thon with, you'll adore Tinder and become an immediate convert. Heck, I've already alerted my ex-roommate Dana to the idea that she should join!! I'm a WITNESS, y'all.

3. Unless your fellow single gals are on Tinder too (shout-outs to my one friend, who shall remain anonymous, for suggesting it to me) they are going to tell you that it's all about sex, because that's what the media and everyone else says it's about. And my friends, in particular, are concerned because, well, we all know what an asexual diva I can be. Plus, some of them have their own sordid stories and are now anti-Tinder. Still, it's like any other brand of romantic bitterness; you have to learn from your own mistakes, not your BFF's mishaps. I've reassured my gal posse that I'm just having fun. It's like my mom's favorite song from the 1980s by Adam Ant -- "Desperate but Not Serious."

4. Like other apps, Tinder can take up a lot of time. The swipe game is like crack, and sometimes you don't even realize that you've swiped through every dang body in your area already. Then, once you have about a billion matches, you're stuck answering everyone. I made the mistake of sending messages to about six dudes yesterday -- and then about six more dudes messaged me. Right now I'm talking to more guys than I know what to do with, and they're all asking me the same "get to know you" questions. If I had a dollar for every time I've typed "I'm the editor of Mount Pleasant Magazine! I'm from Florence! I'm a writer!" in the last 24 hours, I'd probably be able to take the rest of the holiday season off from work.

5. As I've mentioned before, online dating is like renting an apartment in Charleston. If you don't answer these dudes right away, they're likely to swipe right on some other babe and schedule a lunch date for that very instant, leaving you in the dust of a forgotten conversation thread. Last night, for example, a dude asked me to meet him out somewhere, after I told him two seconds before that I'd just washed my face. I replied that I normally cleanse my face "in order to go to bed, not to put makeup back on and go hooch it up somewhere." He was mildly amused by my wit, but, as it is with most men, his need for booty was stronger than his need for a clever woman.

6. Since bios are not really important - or are nonexistent - on Tinder, I've been trying to be as real and as interesting as possible in my conversations with various dudes. I told one guy I liked his chicken wing picture, for example. I told another guy that I'm "an idealist with just the right amount of snark." I don't want people thinking I'm just another girl they swiped right on, ya know? I mean, they don't know WHO they're dealing with until they actually go out with me ...but I'll save those stories for another post.

So stay tuned, everyone. I think this is going to be fairly interesting. And if it all blows up in my face and I end up hating Tinder, I hope I don't rain on another newbie's parade.