Online Dating in Other Countries is Hardly as Embarrassing

We all know the stereotype of the young American who goes backpacking around Europe to “find herself,” to try new things and make mistakes that she’s sure will be hilarious in retrospect.  Well, readers, I am loathe to admit that, despite the fact I did not begin traveling around Europe to discover some abstract notion of selfhood I thought might be hiding across the Atlantic, I have done something I promised I would never do, something with all the potentiality for regret as wearing a Green Party t-shirt to a Going Rogue book-signing.

Yes, since being in Prague, I have taken up online dating.

I vowed never to do it while in the States, due to its highly inorganic nature (excuuuuse me for thinking people could meet each other face-to-face), but now I realize that, in a foreign country where I don’t know anyone and don’t speak the language, I need friends.

So, from my limited experience in but extensive contemplation of the subject, I bring you a List of Reasons that Online Dating is the Same as Animal Contests at the State Fair:

1.)  Contestants are judged based on signifiers of breeding capability.  In other words, it’s a beauty contest.

...Do I even NEED to comment on this?

Okay, so beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we all find different people attractive, etc. etc.  The unavoidable and irritating fact is that there are things society deems attractive, and there are things that the people of OKCupid (yes, this is the website I’ve been using) deem attractive.  Dr. Marquardt, a plastic surgeon in California, believes he’s found a formula for universal human attractiveness:


Now think about the fact that OKCupid has a feature called, “My Best Face,” in which users do nothing more than submit several photos to the website, and other users decide between two people, saying which one they’d rather date based solely on a single photo.  The website then gives you your “analysis” of which photo displays “your best face.”

On a more basic level, you look at profiles based on the photo each person uses.  Chances are, unless you’re open-minded or real desperate (ohGodpleasedon’tjinxme), you’re not going to date someone who isn’t physically attractive.  You’re not even going to read their list of favorite movies.  They’ve already lost the beauty contest.

How does this relate to animals, and/or breeding?  Easy: what we find attractive in humans are signifiers of their ability to reproduce, same as how dogs are judged on the length and sheen of their coat.  Check out the first part of this (offensive) article from Psychology Today here.

The article focuses on what men find attractive in women, but look at nearly any male’s profile on a dating website, at the proliferation of shirtless muscle pics and photos displaying abundant facial hair, and you’ll see it works both ways.

His face isn't even in the photo. I mean, I'm all about objectifying men, but not when they do it for me.

2.)  Contestants groom themselves for review.

Not only does this include deciding which of your best faces to put as your profile picture, it also includes the content and style of what you choose to write about yourself.  When prompted with the phrase, “I’m really good at…” what do you choose to say?  Do you actually include things you’re good at, like burping the theme song to Ren and Stimpy, or making children cry?  Or do you include things that you’re good at that you think others will find attractive, like writing love poems or having sex (I can’t tell you how many profiles I’ve seen where someone actually writes, “Sex,” with some sort of emoticon after it)?  Or maybe you take the intellectual route, and write something ironic, so people will know you’re both modest and funny?

And what do you put down for your favorite books, or music?  Do you put a long list, so people think you’re really cultured?  What if that just makes people think you’re pretentious?  Do you write, “I like all music, except country and rap,” because then you don’t turn people off with your taste in music, while still showing that you put some effort into distinguishing your sonic preferences?  Is that too obviously self-conscious?  How do you make yourself attractive to only the other attractive people who have deigned to use an online dating site?

"Please, I'll change anything--I'll say I like smooth jazz, I'll list my job as 'professional heartbreaker,' just please message me!"

3.)  Contestants can win awards.

Yes, OKCupid actually allows you to send awards to people, based on scintillating indicators of personal worth, such as “Eye Candy,” or, “The Perfect Mix.”  You then get to write an explanation of why you’re giving this award, for reasons I imagine end up reflecting an intimate knowledge of the person–reasons like, “U R Hot!” or, “You’re the perfect mix of cute and sexy.”

It’s the same way we award animals at the Fair.  Sure, that Border Collie could be a huge bitch, but you’d never know it just by looking at her flowing locks and coy expression.

Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Big Boy.

That said, I’ve also had a surprising number (read: at least one) of positive interactions so far.  We’ll see if I can get past my utter disdain for the inanity of the website, let alone the concept of checking out people online, long enough to actually make the time I spent creating my profile worthwhile.

Oh, and for the record–my profile is both self-effacing and hilarious.  Promisies.


Cleanliness is Next to Seriously Annoyingness

I think it’s safe to assume that at this point in human history, what with a global recession, the end of capitalism, overpopulation and a proliferation of extreme bullshittery (see: the existence of doggie butt covers),

People buy these. With money.

that everyone will end up working at least one job that they really don’t give a rat’s ass (cover) about. For a lot of us, especially those with college degrees in the arts, they will probably be the only “real” jobs we ever have. I’ve been working jobs like this ever since I was 15, when I interviewed for a position as a cashier at a chain grocery store and the new manager–a transplant from Alabama named Woody, who was married to a woman named Candy–asked me if I saw myself having a career in the grocery business. And, like anyone who was looking forward to a career as a maybe-successful-but-ultimately-still-starving-artist, I said, “Yes,” because I knew it was the first of many, many times I would have to pretend to care more about a job than I actually do.
Today, however, I almost stopped pretending entirely, and would have probably been fired on the spot for it. It’s because my manager, and the owner of the restaurant/bar at which I currently work, compared her slightly dirty restaurant to a “shithole.”
Picture this: You walk into a bar. The staff–good-looking girls, all–greets you immediately. You sit at the bar, or at a table, and within seconds you have a drink in front of you and have ordered food. This place seems pretty chill: cool artwork on the walls, fun music, the staff is friendly and everything seems pretty clea–ho. ly. shit. What the HELL is THAT?! Is that a fucking FRENCH FRY on the FLOOR? What kind of place IS this? Who the HELL runs this SHITHOLE?!

I can only imagine this is what my manager assumes runs through the minds of customers who come in after our lunch rush, before we’ve had a chance to sweep the floor, and causes them to determine right then and there to never come back to this heinous insult to the hospitality industry again. A single stray fry was enough for her to tell us that customers don’t want to come back to a place that looks like a “shithole,” so we really need to up our game and keep the place clean.
It took all my self-control not to burst out laughing, because I have seen shitholes, my friends. Literal holes into which piles of shit have collected. Toilets in rural Haiti that I had to stand over because cockroaches were crawling out of them. Holes through which I shat while maggots matured in the feces below.

Seriously, this place is clean.  I don’t care where you’re reading this right now–you could be reading this in Aaron’s room (which really isn’t as messy as he makes it out to be) and it still does not merit the term “shithole.”  There are places in the world much, much dirtier than anywhere in the United States (save those cities that our national conscience has decided to forget), and guess what?  People still live there.  Yeah, they do.  They even thrive there.  You know why?  Because our standards for cleanliness are, honestly, way too fucking high.  At the risk of sounding like a dirty hippie:  Do you need to shower everyday?  If you’re sweaty, if you’re covered in dirt, if you threw up on yourself because of that last Jagerbomb, then you should probably at least give yourself a good rinsing.  But showering everyday is a luxury, granted to those of us with consistent access to clean water.  Sanitizing our floors and washing our windows three times a day (again, something I have to do at this job) are luxuries granted by the affordability of cleaning products and the fact that we don’t need to think about chemical runoff from such products getting into our groundwater.

So, America:  get over being clean, please.  And please tell my manager that, when I arrived at work today, I hadn’t washed my hair in about a week.

Parents These Days

Last week, just after Boston took another strong-armed snow beating, I walked down the steps of a subway station next to a man carrying a stroller with a young boy in it, whom I will assume is his son, though I may be giving him the benefit of the doubt.  The boy was probably just over a year old, old enough to say simple words but could hardly understand the complexities of sentences, let alone dry adult humor.  Yet his father was saying,

“Huh, Connor?  Can you say, ‘Disgusting?’ ‘Revolting?’ Huh?”

The child was looking at a blank point, whatever happened to be in his line of vision at the time, probably thinking the same thing I was–Really, Dad? “Revolting?” Isn’t that word kind of visceral for what you’re trying to describe, which is really the type of shitty New England weather you should be used to by now? Except the child couldn’t have thought this, because he does not have enough life experience to know that this weather is common, and his father was being a dramamama.

“Can you say, ‘Miserable,’ Connor?”

At this point I was annoyed, if not highly amused, on two levels:

1.) As a lover of words.  This man was using whatever adjective struck his fancy, without giving any real consideration to what it was supposed to mean.  He did not consider, for example, why the word “miserable” might more accurately describe a child in the throes of a malarial sweat vomiting blood, instead of this moment in his life, when “self-pitying,” or “privileged whinging,” might be more accurate.  Because “miserable” is actually a strong word:


1. (of a person) Wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable.
Like when you sit in a wretchedly uncomfortable chair.

2.) As a lover of humans and their future.  The little boy did not look old enough to remember this incident (Shiva be praised!), but, unless this man only likes to appear as a shitty parent in public, this kid’s going to get a heaping dose of Daddy Downer until he’s old enough to slam the door behind him in an angsty teenage rage.  Which probably means the kid is going to suck–literally.  He’s going to suck all the happiness out of any room he enters and replace it with a festering hole of bitter, caustic humor.

I know, because that boy is me.

(instrumental break to accentuate the meta nature of your recent mind-blowing)

Top Ten People Americans Forgave in 2010

Best/Worst of 20## lists are boring; let us instead list the personalities that We, the People, opened our hearts and wallets to in the past year.  Some of the people on the following list have been graciously forgiven by the American public, while some have been forgiven for things I think most people just got tired of caring about.

1. Katy Perry, for writing a song about bisexuality that basically trivializes the entire identity.  Her second album, released in August 2010, debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200.  In other words, she exploited bisexuality as a means of making money, and this is the response the American public gave her:

This photo is so quickly going to backfire on my point. DO NOT BE AROUSED.

2. Kanye West, who finally caught on to hipster-style irony: if you point out just how much media critics and the general American public think you reign supreme in the Kingdom of Assholery, pretentious music websites (lookin’ at you, Pitchfork) will give your album a 10 star rating.

(Though I’d like to point out that I stood by my boi Yeezy 110 percent.  When this blog blows up and he reads it religiously, he’ll know I was there for him the whole time/ask for my hand in common law marriage.)

3. Bill Clinton, but for all the wrong reasons.  Sure, I don’t want to see the guy’s legacy forever tainted by getting a bj under the newly-polished oak desk in the Oval Office, but I also don’t want to see him become Golden Boy U.S.A. because he has this “great” plan to rebuild Haiti that involves forcing their economy to depend on the import of sweatshop jobs and the export of goods created through cheap labor.

4. President Obama.  After getting flack from both parties alllll year, Obama & Co. finally got their metaphorical shit together and signed off on DADT and START, proving that you can get things done even if people don’t like you.  In fact, it might even be better that way, because then you can sign off on real issues instead of pandering to everybody.

Don't know who this guy is? Read Garrison Keillor at his finest:

5. Annoying teenagers.  Damn you, Justin Bieber, for capturing the hearts of women who would normally be old enough to become concerned/enraged that you text while driving, and chastise you for ruining your childhood just like that Gary Coleman (R.I.P.), but are instead helpless before your puppy-dog-eye implants.  Nobody else got respect, much less admiration, from adults at the age of 16–why should you?  [Shout-out here to my mom, the only woman over the age of 30 I know who inexplicably loathes the little brat.]

Look into my dead eyes and TELL ME YOU DON'T LOVE ME.

6. Mark Zuckerberg.  People complain about how much Facebook sucks, the fact that he owns every photo and video you give him, but no one’s going to stop using the site because of it.  I know I would immediately lose track of any and all social events, my friends’ birthdays and my birthday, become a hermit and forget that I ever “liked” anything IRL.  Not only that, but the douchebag is Time’s Person of the Year, and the movie about his life is up for 6 Golden Globe nominations and was voted Best Film of the Year by every newspaper you’ve ever read.

"I'm trying to make the world a more open place by helping people connect and share."--Mark Zuckerberg's FB page. Fine, but according to the kid from The Squid and the Whale, you were actually just trying to pick up chicks. The latter sounds a bit more plausible.

7. Ellen Page, for starring in three mediocre movies as an annoying brat (Juno and Whip It, and the lesser known The Tracey Fragments).  Here’s another person on the list that I didn’t personally hate, even though I’d gladly see anyone involved with the contrived The Tracey Fragments trade places with one of the Chilean miners stuck underground for two months.  But Page actually earned the forgiveness of the American people with a great performance in a brilliant movie in 2010’s Inception.

"Wait, wait, wait--it's called 'The Tracey FRAGMENTS,' so what if we, like, FRAGMENTED the screen?!" = Reason #1 this movie sucked.
Another reason it sucked--Ellen Page's character wears a shower curtain while riding a city bus for much of the film. Eeeeeeedgy!

8. Elizabeth Gilbert, the lauded author of Eat, Pray, Love, for being the worst best-selling memoirist at representing herself.  For those of you unfamiliar with E,P,L, it begins with Gilbert’s descriptions of sobbing on her bathroom floor because she realizes she and her husband need to get a divorce– descriptions that, as one of my writing professors put it, make it sound like “no one has ever been divorced before.”  She decides to go on a world tour to discover herself, to become the strong, self-sufficient woman she knows she is, as any wealthy and newly single adolescent girl would, except this Bildungsroman follows a middle-aged woman.  And, by the end of the book, she’s fallen in love with someone else…whom she marries.  She says she’s “ready to love again,” but I can’t help but think it’s impossible for her to live without a man.  Her book about marriage, Commitment: A Love Story, was a New York Times Bestseller in 2010, and the movie version of E,P,L, starring Julia Roberts, premiered not long thereafter.

I was going to put a video of Elizabeth Gilbert speaking here, but I honestly couldn't get through the whole thing. Besides, this says more than the woman ever could.

9.  Michele Bachmann, who was somehow re-elected in the 2010 Congressional elections.  Sorry to be referencing another Minnesotan politician on this list, but if you’re not familiar with Bachmann (and especially if you are), read this list of the top ten nutso things this Tea Party-er has recently uttered:

10.  And, finally, let us not forget: ourselves.  We’re still at war in the Middle East, still allowing people who have no working knowledge of the Constitution/humanity to represent us in Congress, still won’t allow homosexuals to get married, still having petty arguments over whether the government should provide necessary services like health care–and still making New Year’s resolutions like, “Join a gym to get hot abs like The Situation,” and, “Buy sexy lingerie.”  And, of course, still making Top Ten lists of the year before, so we can wrap it up with a nice HTML bow and pretend none of those things will still be happening in 2011.

Well done, America!

We Did It!


Uh, Excuse Me–Is This the Love Lost and Found?

So I was waiting in the Boston Logan Airport today for my flight to Minnesota, and had the following conversation with the woman sitting next to me:

“I’m sorry, do you know if I should be boarding yet?” she asked.
“Uh, I don’t know, what boarding group are you in?” I asked, because, as much as I may tell men in bars, I am not actually a psychic.  We determined that she was not boarding yet, and that she was sorry for being so distracted.  I said I didn’t mind.  Lull.
“I’m going to see an old flame,” she confided.  This woman had to be at least 45 years old, though she could have been 55.  I really can’t tell women’s ages past 16 or so.  She wasn’t bad-looking, in any case; her eyes were quite expressive, which I always thinks makes people more attractive because at least I don’t need to guess how they’re feeling.  And the joy!
“I haven’t spoken to him in 20 years, and he looked me up–it’s so strange, we both got married, then he got divorced and I got divorced, and so he called me and we got around to finding out we’re both single, and here I am, flying across the country to see him!”
“Wow, that is awesome,” I said, thankful I didn’t need to make insincere small talk.  This woman was totally badass.
“I’ve never done anything this adventurous before,” she said, “I don’t even know what he looks like!”
“I’m sure you’ll recognize each other,” I said.
“Yes, yes, I’m sure we will.”  God, she couldn’t keep the smile off of her face.  Then her boarding group was called and she wished me happy holidays.

Surely, this was a freak occurrence–not just the fact that this man looked up this woman after so many years apart, but they both happened to be single, and she decided to fly across these here United States to spend a few days with him before Christmas.

“Well, you know that happened to your Aunt Lorinda and Uncle Dwayne,” my mom said.
“Ahem, gah-what?” was roughly my reply.
“Yeah, they were high school sweethearts.  Then Lorinda’s mom moved the family to Florida, and they didn’t see each other for years.  Then Lorinda moved back here, and married her first husband.  Well, that didn’t work out.  Then she married her second husband, and that didn’t really work out, either.  She was visiting her mom in Florida, and Dwayne had moved down there for a job.  I don’t know if they bumped into each other or what, but they reunited, and now they’re married.”

So, besides pointing out my obvious ignorance of family history (“Yes, Mom, I’m listening…uh huh, yeah, Grandma was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic…uh huh…listen, I have to, uh, feed my cat…”), this just proves my theory that my family will always fulfill that 1/1,000,000 chance.  In any category, really, except the fun ones, like winning every lottery in the state on the same day, or getting struck by lightning 5 times.

But then I found this:

Dr. Kalish found that reunions with former boyfriends or girlfriends were common in all age groups. Two-thirds of the participants had reunited with their first loves from when they were 17 years old or younger. Their success rate for staying together was 78%. For the overall sample, the staying together rate was 72%.

Apparently, Dr. Nancy Kalish, a psychologist, did a survey of 1001 people from all over the world who had rekindled with lost loves.  And, for the most part, they ended up going really well.  One resounding response was that the sex was great, and many of the respondents reported feeling a deep, soulmate-like bond with their lost love.  []

Well, I’ll be damned.  I wish nothing but the best for that cross-country divorcee with enough pluck to frighten a flock of seagulls.


Allow Me to Do Anything but Actually Introduce Myself

Right, so I’m the new contributor/ADMINISTRATOR, and you just know I’m going to bring a sense of legitimacy to this virtual pile of media vomit with a last name like “Loserman,” the same way a young folk singer knew everyone would respect him with the last name “Zimmerman,” but changed it to “Dylan” anyway, just to fuck with people (by whom I mean his parents, who probably felt distanced from their little Bobby.  Nothing sets parents stomping around the house in an impotent rage more than forsaking their name and saying you’ll never go back to your hometown again.  Psh, parents.).

So strap yourselves in, space cadets–this recent college grad has no prospects besides basic unemployment, a constant hangover and a chip on her well-formed shoulder.  That wasn’t an off-handed compliment to myself, it’s just science.


The famed folker, after he "grew up"