Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A young man's fancy turns to thoughts of...

Fancy? I'm a little thrown by this new Blogger look. I like it, but it's so different, and it always takes me a little time to adapt to change. Especially visual change; Blogger has changed its editing page format two or three times, and it's front page once, since I started using it, but I haven't changed my page format once since I launched the rest of my site eons and eons ago.

So anyway... after my bitching about how useless personal ads were (two posts down), I got an ad in my email (when I was on Yahoo! Personals three years ago, I got signed up for Matches by Mail, and have received two emails a week ever since, each bearing five "matches" to the rather vague search criteria I left behind way back when) that piqued my interest, a guy with beautiful eyes and a sweet smile who had intriguing things to say about himself. So I followed the link and was even more impressed once I'd read all of his profile.

It took me two and a half days to get from that first initial thrill of interest to actually writing to him. First, I had to talk myself into responding to the ad and get an outside opinion on the profile (Caroline thinks he's perfect); then I had to create a profile of my own, which took quite a lot of effort and introspection; then I had to talk myself into paying for the Yahoo! Personals service, which was required if I wanted to respond to the ad, and decide how long a period I wanted to commit myself to (it's $20 a month, or $45 a quarter, or $100 a year... I went middle-of-the-road and chose a quarter); then I had to actually pay for it, getting all involved in my Yahoo! Wallet, none of the passwords for which I remember from the last time I used it; then I had to pick out five photos to include in the profile, scouring through the pitiful handful of digital photographs I possess of myself out of drag to find a few in which I don't look like an underbaked ham; and finally I had to formulate the response itself, then write out an incredibly long email that expressed my interest and would hopefully engage his.

Having accomplished all of that, I of course became somewhat emotionally involved in the possible outcomes, getting all in a flutter to hear back from him. When, shortly after I sent the introductory message, my interest's profile became unavailable, I immediately jumped to the worst conclusions: he was so offended by my response, he took his ad down; or else he was busy rewriting his ad and refining his requirements to specifically exclude freaks like me; or he was just lying low hoping I would go away. It turns out he was adding newer photographs, and the profile was unavailable while the censors at Yahoo! gave the pix a once-over to make sure they were decent.

He still hasn't written back, though, and I am now engaged in deciding how long to wait before admitting to myself that he's not going to write back, and making myself move on to other profiles. It is not the best of netiquette, but still perfectly acceptable, to merely ignore personal ad emails to which you do not wish to respond. Caroline, when I put this problem to her at the gym yesterday, advocated giving him a month, with a reminder email once a week, just in case he responds to persistence. I'm not so sure — I'm thinking a week is long enough, and I'm disinclined to write a second email... it seems pushy and needy (on the other hand, Caroline wonders what I have to lose... if he already doesn't like me, coming off as pushy and needy can't hurt my position).

In the meantime, I have been assiduously browsing through the Yahoo! Personals profiles, seeing what all is out there. I've altered my original search criteria (men between the ages of 25 and 40, within 15 miles of my home) to include more people and geographical areas (21 to 50, within 25 miles), and have read literally hundreds of ads. Aside from running across several people I already know, I have not found anyone that strikes me as much as that first guy did.

I have, however, compiled a short "List of Bafflements," recurring themes and phrases that mystify me. For example:

Outdoorsy: What is so damned special about outside? A good eighty percent of the men whose profiles I read profess to enjoy being outside and doing things out-of-doors. I don't really understand that. I mean, I am not averse to the outdoors, it's everywhere, so I try to keep on good terms with it. I love to walk around Lake Merritt, I like walking in the woods, traipsing about a residential or retail neighborhood is a frequent pastime, sometimes a beach or a park is a nice place to hang out, and every now and again I enjoy sitting out in my back yard. But I can't stand for the sun to touch my skin, I'm allergic to god-knows-how-many plants and trees, and the air isn't any fresher out there than it is in my bedroom with a window open. So what's the attraction? Even given that a person likes for the sun to touch him or isn't allergic to things, why do so many people prefer the outdoors over the indoors to such an extent that they cite this preference as a self-defining characteristic? I don't think it ever occurred to me that I prefer the indoors to the outdoors until I found myself confronted by so many Outdoorsy Guys in the personal ads. Baffling.

Sincere: What, exactly, is sincerity? Do so many people lack sincerity that one has to be very up-front about requiring it from potential new acquaintances? I can't think of a single person in my life who would strike me as being more sincere than anyone else; nor can I think of anyone I know who is insincere. To me, "sincere" is just a word you use at the end of a letter (Sincerely yours), or as an emphasizing modifier in a sentence (I sincerely hope you aren't planning to eat my last brownie). I guess I don't understand what these particular guys mean by "sincere," since it's not a word I use, so I find it very... Baffling.

Quality: This one sounds a lot like old-fashioned snobbery (reminiscent of the Victorian term for the upper classes, "The Quality"), but again I think I am not grasping exactly what these guys are getting at when they request a "quality man." And I have to wonder, am I a quality man? How will I know, if I don't know exactly what they mean by "quality"? Do they judge quality by income? by address? by education? by looks? by intellect? by ambition? or what? "Quality" is such a nebulous word, it can mean so many different things. Baffling.

Anyway, these are really failures of my own understanding, so I am trying to not be discouraged by all this outdoorsiness, sincerity, and quality. I also have to let go of the height thing and the age thing and the Living in San Francisco thing (the Bay Bridge isn't that great an obstacle, though it is, indeed, an obstacle)... and of course the race thing. I am allowed erotic preferences, certainly, but I think I need to be a lot more open-minded about whom I contact, and why I am in Yahoo! Personals, what I am trying to accomplish there. Do I not state in my own profile that I am looking for all kinds of contact, with no expectation about what sorts of relationships develop? Am I not sincere when I say this?

Besides, I am going to have to make a lot of contact in the next three months in order to get my $45-worth.

In closing, for your entertainment and edification, here is a link to my personal profile. Comments are, as always, welcome.

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