Friday, June 27, 2014

To Stalk or Not to Stalk? That IS the question.

We are living in an time in which everyone and their mother can be (and probably is) a bit of an Internet creeper.

"I just happened to be driving by his house...five or six times...completely NORMAL THINGS!"

Now that 80% of our lives (the photogenic part, anyway) is available online for public consumption, it seems that it’s practically expected that there is going to be some serious Facebook stalking going on. Or Twitter stalking. Or Instagram stalking…I guess LinkedIn stalking too, but that seems like a last ditch effort to find dirt (plus, the object of your surveillance receives notification of it on LinkedIn which kind of defeats the purpose—keep that in mind the next time you’re desperate for intel on a blind date).  Potential paramours will scour your profile for common interests; former classmates will read up on your current whereabouts and activities; someone for whatever reason will probably hate-read your posts.

And if you’re being honest with yourself, you probably do the same things too. I know that I have.

My question is this—in the Internet age, what amount of reconnaissance before a date is considered the new normal?

I had coffee not too long ago with a new acquaintance who was telling me about an almost date she’d had recently with with a guy she met through mutual friends; however, after hanging out with him a couple of times in a group setting, she was getting a weird vibe. He wanted to take her out, but he wanted her to meet him at his place first. And maybe they could take her car because…reasons. It all seemed a little off to her, she said, and her gut was screaming, “red flag!”

Now most of us would probably take to the ‘book to find out more information (yes, I just referred to Facebook as the ‘book—I am ashamed), or maybe even do a closed quotation search on Google if you’re fancy, but this girl was resourceful. And by that, I mean she was literally full of resources; as a lawyer, she had access to all kinds of databases, which she used judiciously and found out that this guy had not one, not two, but several DUIs on his record. Suddenly his insistence on her driving made a lot more sense, and she backed out of the date…because reasons.

Now, in this case, a bit of background checking paid off. I would want to know if the guy I was going out with (and especially riding with) had multiple drunk driving offenses on his record. Granted, probably not all pre-date stalking would turn up that kind of information. So what should be considered over-the-top versus what is simply doing your due diligence as an Internet savvy woman aware of the dangers in the world around her? When should mystery trump history?

I’ve talked before about the dangers of getting to know someone online as it gives us a false sense of intimacy—we may think we know a person because we’ve scoured their various social media profiles, but we don’t.

I read an article last year on Relevant in which author Shauna Niequist summed up this idea well.

“My life looks better on the Internet than it does in real life. Everyone’s life looks better on the internet [sic] than it does in real life. The Internet is partial truths—we get to decide what people see and what they don’t. That’s why it’s safer short term. And that’s why it’s much, much more dangerous long term.”

Those partial truths are hella tempting though, and I have (on more than one occasion, I regret to say), become besotted with someone’s Internet presence before I really got to know them as a person.

Sidebar: The reverse has happened to me too—it’s a new kind of depressing to realize that you don’t live up to the unrealistic expectations set up by your own Facebook profile.

What we choose to put online often is not a well-rounded picture of who we are as people—we are so much more than the sum of our Facebook likes and Instagrammed photos of inanimate objects.

Sidebar: My Instagram account is almost exclusively pictures of books, food, mugs of tea, and alcoholic beverages. Read into that what you will.

So, in the spirit of turning over new leaves and out of respect for the damage it can cause a relationship before it even gets off the ground, here’s what I’m going to (try) to do. No more pre-date stalking. I promise not to Google prematurely*, or read three months worth of backtweets, or analyze the body language displayed in every picture Mr. X was tagged in with a person of the opposite sex in 2010. I am going to choose mystery over history—at least for the time being. I’ll let you know how it goes ;)

*Unless I’m going out with a relative stranger with no one to vouch for him, in which case I deem it perfectly acceptable to contact a lawyer friend to do a little digging on the TxDPS databases.

Friday, June 20, 2014

I'm a worthless worm because moving

So here is a cute video of a hedgehog and a kitten meeting for the first time. FYI the kitten's reaction is basically me when I realize someone is hitting on me.

Happy Friday! 

*Here's the link in case you're on your phone. I tried to embed the video but Blogger/Safari/YouTube hates me and I gave up.

Friday, June 6, 2014

It was Miss E in the kitchen with a pot of chili!

We’re only six weeks into our relationship and already I’m making promises I can’t keep.

That sounds about right.

Mea culpa, dear readers (all half-dozen of you), mea maxima culpa. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with you, I’ve just been suuuuuper busy with work lately, but I promise I’ll make it up to you. Forgive me? Thanks, peaches. You’re too good an audience for me and I don’t deserve you.

Now that we got that out of the way, on to this week’s story.

I’ve never really felt like I had a specific type when it comes to guys I’m interested in dating. A brief list of types I’ve gone for in the past:

·      “Cocky…would we call me cocky?” guy
·      “I’m just high (but not literally) on life” guy
·      Stereotypical musician guy x3
·      “If I wasn’t friends with him, I’d think he was a despicable human being” guy

Unlike some people I might mention, I also don’t really have a set physical type either—beards have even begun to grow on me (also not literally) of late. 

Sidebar: No, Joey, your epic, Plays With Squirrels beard does not count. 

I’m sure if I felt the need to construct some sort of elaborate Venn diagram, I might discover certain commonalities, but it’s summer and my brain has no desire to do that kind of analysis while it’s raining out and I’m still in my pajamas at 11 AM.

So way back in the way back during my first foray into the world of online dating, when I dipped my proverbial toe into the relatively safe waters of Catholic Match and I came across Kurt’s profile in which he described himself as “zany,” I thought, “Why not?”

Kurt was a goofball, but less in a dumb frat guy way and more in a quirky verging on dorky way; however, as I’m sure many people would call me quirky, I thought we might be a match.

Kurt and I chatted for a few weeks—he lived in Dallas, whereas I was in Houston at the time. Eventually, he told me he was going to be in Houston, and would I like to get together?

I remember him telling me that he was in town because his grandfather was ill, and I thought it was a bit odd to want to schedule a date in the midst of a family emergency of sorts, but I agreed to meet him for dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant he chose on the outskirts of my neighborhood.

I got there early and killed the time in my car reading Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? on my iPhone, giggling like mad. I walked in the door at 6:30 on the dot, where I looked around awkwardly for Kurt for about a minute before he emerged from behind a screen, sucking down a giant glass of water from a straw and fiddling with his glasses.

There were precisely two other couples eating in the restaurant at the time, and as we sat down, I caught a glimpse of some old Western film projected onto the wall behind him.

In the grand tradition of odd first words on first dates, Kurt’s initial words to me were these: “So…did I ever tell you about my food allergies?”

Indeed, he had not.

He proceeded to tell me that he was allergic to corn. Tomatoes. Chocolate. And peanuts.

His reason for telling me this? Our waitress would soon bring out our complimentary chips and salsa, and he wanted me to feel free to chow down. Because, you know that’s all I want to do on a first date—gorge myself on free Tostitos (and you know, you ONLY get that one basket before they cut you off, no matter how many people are sharing).

While I dipped a delicious, hot-from-the-fryer chip into some pretty subpar salsa, I mentally ran through all of the foods I could never cook for Kurt for fear of sending him into anaphylactic shock. I marveled at the vast number of recipes in my repertoire that hinged upon the robust sweetness of a can (or two) of petite-diced tomatoes. I mourned that sweet corn on the cob as a summertime supper staple would be a thing of the past.  Don’t even get me started on the lack of chocolate I foresaw in our potential future relationship.

I also wondered why the hell someone who is allergic to corn and tomatoes would choose Tex-Mex for dinner.

Our waitress took our order. Kurt ordered what amounted to some sad plain, diced chicken on a flour tortilla—I don’t even think there was cheese involved. I ordered some killer tortilla soup.

Our date lasted forty-five minutes, as Kurt’s quirkiness online proved less endearing in person. When he texted later, I made some excuse, but I fervently hope that Kurt found someone whose dietary needs dovetailed with his.

As for me, I’m going to go whip up some Texas caviar ;)