Sometimes I have a reoccurring conversation with myself. This usually takes place after a particularly disturbing date, when I'm left suspended in disbelief.
It goes something like this: Am I being too picky?I then pause, reflect briefly, and always arrive at the same conclusion: Nope.
For instance, last week I went on a date with a guy who asked me if I was clean. Like this: "Are you clean?" I had a momentary bout of worry. Organic deodorants work, don't they? Then I thought he might be inquiring about my drug history. We were in Alphabet City, after all. But I don't look like a heroin-user. I don't even have high cheekbones. Thankfully, he clarified. He meant "STD-free." Mind you, this is before the tiramisu arrived.
Speaking of drugs, I also went on a date with an enraged steroid-user who looked like Hulk Hogan. He was literally bursting out of his clothes. The buttons on his polo shirt were about to pop into my plate of scallops and I was afraid I would swallow them and that would be the end of everything, including my love life.
Then there was the guy who offered to pay me $5,000 for an act of fellatio. He said he was kidding, but it ruined the mood. That was followed by: the coke addict with the facelift, the pint-sized asexual with a penchant for eyebrow waxing, the doctor who informed me within fifteen minutes of meeting me that he had "no interest in erectile dysfunction" (he was a doctor but still!) and the megalomaniac on Weight Watchers who took me on a date to Starbucks where he nibbled on a fruit parfait and talked to me about his motorcycle collection.
Add to that the guy who wore an old, woolen beanie throughout dinner. Like he did not take it off all night and I swear it had a special odor. I am not going to blame the poor cheese plate.
And finally, there was the guy who told me he dreams of a Range Rover full of offspring (gulp) and called his mother "insufferable." Handsome as he was, I Absolutely Cannot Date a man who doesn't have a healthy relationship with his mother, can I?
So I ask myself: Am I being too picky?
All of this does not mean I hate men. I love men. Some of them. Sometimes. Just not the ones I've been out with recently.
Because these encounters have me left me wondering: Where are the normal men? *
(I really don't mean this in a rhetorical sense. Where are they?)
This isn't about being superficial. Or about being a so-called feminist. This is about self-preservation and sanity. This is about looking to meet someone who has manners. Even if I can embrace some mild eccentricities, why would I willingly breed with a total weirdo who has no concept of how to behave with a woman?
I'll admit -- there were a few okay dates, ones that had me feeling relieved that not everyone has lost the plot, but I felt very meh about them. Meh just doesn't cut it. Once you've experienced the evasive spark, it's hard to shack up with someone you feel humdrum about. I guess a meh guy to me is akin to Mr. Good Enough. But I don't want to feel meh about my lifetime partner. Does anyone?
And frankly, this is all very disheartening for me, too. Because I met some of these men through friends, so it's not like I picked them up off the street. If this is what New York women have had to put up with all this time, no wonder they complain about it!
You see, no matter what the media is spewing at us about settling for whoever or whatever if we want to have kids, it's still important to have standards. Most of us would rather be alone than be with someone who freaks us out, has a psychological disorder or fails to inspire us in any way. It is hard to argue with that.
And although I am happy for that recent wave of women who have declared they are content to be single forever, it's just honestly not what I want for myself. Because I know myself. I just won't be. I will always feel like something is missing.
There, I said it.
Granted, my upbringing probably has something to do with my unwillingness to give up on love. My parents are still in love, so I know it exists (and can last, provided you choose the right companion). When I was little, I was repeatedly told that I "would marry a prince." This was followed by a teenage-hood spent devouring romcoms. I now realize a lot of women grew up with these fairytales, and it's hard for us to shake off the idea that we deserve someone respectful and thoughtful, someone with self-control and good grooming. And frankly, why would we want to? I would argue it's just as hard to shake that off as it is for a person who grew up in a religious household to shake off their religious beliefs. It becomes sort of engrained in your psyche, and no matter how much you tell yourself God doesn't actually exist or that Prince William is now off the market, it's hard to really believe it. Beneath the dating despair, a smidgeon of hope endures.
But even if you toss the prince fantasy aside (sigh) and simply look for a kind, intelligent person with a decent sense of humor who was "raised well" (and is attractive on some level), it's still hard to find him, unattached, at least in a big city like New York. And I'm not enough of a shark to circle around the eligible men, waiting for them to become single. Maybe this is what strategic women do, but it's not my style.
Besides, I don't care about money -- that stuff comes and goes -- but I would like someone who automatically walks on the outside of the sidewalk, in case a New York taxicab should fly over the curb and graze one of us (yes, someone who's willing to take a grazing for me). Or a man who puts his hand on the small of my back as he opens the door to a restaurant, and guides me in, like Cary Grant would do. I know where the door is, but shouldn't it be him catching swine flu, not me? Is that so horribly twentieth century of me to want these basic things?
If so, who cares!
I like it, and I want it. And I don't want to settle for anything less. Why should I, or should any woman, for that matter?
This is not about desperation. It's about intent. It's about knowing what you want and recognizing what's not going to cut it.
And I sure as hell ain't gonna settle for the dregs. So men, when I say "No Weirdos Please," I just want to tell you now, once and for all, I kind of really mean it.
* By normal, I mean a well-adjusted individual with a grasp of social etiquette who has very little in common with your average psychopath.