Tuesday, May 4, 2004

What A Queen Wants

I've recently reopened my mind (as you may have previously read) to the possibility of dating. I haven't really given this topic much concentrated thought since I deleted all of my online personal ads about three years ago; but as I have perused and/or contributed friendship and dating profiles lately (on Queer Day, Friendster, and Yahoo!) I see that very little has changed since then. It's the same guys (or guys who look very much the same) saying the same things and wanting the same things.

It appears that every ad has a deal-breaker in it... either they love the outdoors and sports, or they drink and drug, or they insist on dancing, or they are too ugly or too good-looking, or they belong to some crackbrain religion, or they love Madonna and/or Celine Dion and/or Mariah Carey, or they have cats, or they can't spell, or they have a penchant for sushi, or they live on the other side of the planet, or something.

Am I being too finicky? Outside the strictures of personal ads online, I find that most of the men to whom I have been attracted possessed two or more of the abovementioned deal-breakers. Shiloh, for example, loves the outdoors and has cats, is notably better-looking than I (not to mention a lot younger), craves sushi more than any other form of food, and prefers the late-career jazzy scatting Ella over the mid-career big-band songbook Ella... yet I nevertheless fell ass-over-teakettle for Shiloh.

On the other hand, Shiloh didn't work out the way I wanted, so maybe I should have paid more attention to the deal-breakers before I fell in love. I wouldn't trade the experience of falling in love with him, mind you, I learned far too much from that relationship to count it an all-around failure... but among the things I learned, wasn't there something about compatibility?

The problem with online ads is the necessary objectification of the subject... when you're looking at a fuzzy webcam picture and an arbitrary list of characteristics, there is no physical or spiritual sense of the person that would override the potential deal-breakers... no animal attraction to balance out the intellectual objectification. All you can work with is whether or not you think your objectified qualifications are compatible with his objectified qualifications.

And how accurate are those objectified qualifications, anyway? When a person chooses a picture to put in the ad, he usually picks something that resembles what he looks like in his own head... which often has little resemblance to what he'll look like across the table from you, in broad daylight, perhaps after a long day at work. When he describes himself, he will describe the person he sees in the mirror, or the person he sees in his mind's eye; again, that person may or may not be the person you actually meet for coffee someday.

Another problem, of course, is how one formulates one's own objectification. You have to practice a good deal of self-assessment, first; then you have to present your findings in the restricted formats of the personal ad... but not only do you have to attempt to accurately describe the Product that is you, in as few words as possible, but you have to sell it, too. I for one find that very difficult — in the final analysis, I'm not so sure that I would date me, so how can I possibly begin to convince someone else to do it?

Then, finally, once one has managed to objectify oneself and learned to interpret the self-objectification of others, one has to objectify What One Wants. What characteristics do I find attractive in a man? What kind of a man do I think I want? What characteristics are definite deal-breakers, and which ones are only potential deal-breakers?

Physical characteristics are fairly easy, because all you have to do is consult your cock: Mr. Manhood (yes, my penis has a name... his first name is Sebastian, but in respect I always call him Mr. Manhood) likes small waists, pretty eyes, smooth skin, and flippy hair; Mr. Manhood does not like obesity, mean mouths, blotchy skin, or back hair. There are always exceptions, of course, and Mr. Manhood doesn't have a particular type he requires... but he knows what he likes when he sees it, and he relays that information to me without demur. All fairly simple and straightforward.

But the internal characteristics are a puzzle. When I look at all the men to whom I have been attracted, I can't really find any definite characteristic that they all have in common; and like I pointed out before, a physical attraction can override any number of deal-breaking internal characteristics.

And even with the characteristics I know I like, it's hard to express them. For example, I am always attracted to vulnerability... but not necessarily emotional vulnerability. Sometimes a slightly weak chin, unconsciously pleading eyes, a certain need for attention in the voice, a little sadness around the mouth is enough; but pouring out your feelings all over the place is too much. I like a man to be intelligent enough to assimilate and synthesize ideas quickly, educated enough to be able to catch at least two-thirds of my references without my having to explain everything as I go; but I don't like hopped-up intellectuals who read nothing but nonfiction and spout out the sayings of the saints and demigods of pop academia... the minute you start talking about literary theory or quoting some hip Anglo-Buddhist philosopher, I'm out of there.

Kindness is a must-have, and consideration, and generosity... but what person doesn't believe himself to be kind, considerate, and generous? Even when they are brutal, thoughtless, and selfish? Furthermore, I like men who aren't boring; but what man thinks that the things I find boring really are boring? If they were boring to him, he wouldn't be interested in them, now would he? Conversely, people who describe themselves as boring quite often are not boring, they are only boring by the standards of the dominant paradigm: a circuit-dancing gym-bunny party-boy would find my lifestyle of quiet enthusiasms and intricately communicated observations extremely boring, as I would find his excitement-focused event-a-minute hoppity-hop lifestyle unbearably tedious.

Well, the thing is that I don't find personal ads useful in meeting people (and wasn't that such a long time getting around to a point). But then, as I have recently shared, meeting people in person isn't so terribly efficacious for me, either.

So what do you think? Those of my readers who have partners, how did you find him/her and how much role did animal attraction play versus the role of intellectual objectification? Those who have found romance or at least nifty new friends in the personal ads, how'd you do it? Tell me! That's what the comment box is for, you know.

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