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Friday, May 24

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Dating Thu Dec 08 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: "We Met on Match..."

Previous Entry: To Be Normal
Next Entry: Making Yourself Happy

Over lunch one day, a co-worker regaled our department with the best "how we met" story I have ever heard. She met her beautiful Spanish husband in the airport at the money exchange hut. She attempted to help him via her one year of Spanish language study and he attempted to thank her in newly learned broken English. When she said "I'm from the States," his still novice English-hearing ears heard "I'm Swedish" and so the Spaniard began to woo the "Swede" in broken English. The Swedish/American lady and the Spanish gentleman fell fast for each other and within the year she was his media naranaja.

Over the next decade they followed each other around the world, got married and created one of the most beautiful babies to grace the playgrounds of Chicago. It is the kind of perfect fairy tale that makes Catherine Heigl drool.

Of course this perfect story prompted my other coworkers to quickly pipe in with their own "how we met" stories and lunch quickly turned into a bit of a contest to out-cute each others' first meets. Each story had its own little twist, oddity or pleasantry. Although none of them outdid meeting a Spanish lover in an airport; something that in my Midwest, adventure-starved mind resembles a Lifetime movie starring a young Antonio Banderas circa 1986. But each story did reflect a certain type of truth about the couple itself.

All of this "couple" talk made me ponder how my own potential Match meet story would mesh into this labyrinth of romantic (and most likely idealistic) first meet stories. And more what would a Match meet story say about a potential future relationship.

Any story that starts with "We met on Match..." seems to immediately lose at least 5 cuteness points. And if I was truly honest, the meet story would have to go something more along the lines of this: "Well I first saw Potential Match Boyfriend's profile on my "Match of the Day" list and checked "maybe" because although P.M.B. was cute, his profile was a little lacking in personality. But after a few brief emails, I thought what else am I going to do on a Tuesday night and met up with P.M.B. at a local dive. And while I was intrigued after said Tuesday night, I wasn't sold and then dated 6 other P.M.B.'s before I got drunk one night and made out with P.M.B. 1 and then, well, then I just knew...or at least knew I wanted to make out with P.M.B. 1 again." If I was that honest, I think my meet story might get a negative cuteness rating.

And thus why perhaps, I didn't, and maybe still don't, give much credence to online dating; because, as possibly ridiculous as it sounds, I want a cute meet story.

I want to wander into bar on a Monday night and end up spending the entire night with an Aussie Rugby player who is built like a brick house, as my mother would say. I want to meet my boyfriend at the neighborhood football bar while a friend is attempting to set me up with another guy. I want to meet my future lover at a friend's wedding, on the dance floor, in a dance-off I win.

I don't want to vet hundreds of profiles, date five of those carefully vetted 26-30 year olds and, after a careful calculation of attractiveness, mutual interests and physical proximity, decide on my P.M.B. This is not the story I want to tell the grand kids.

And why not exactly?

I don't want to be that feminist that blames fairy tales... but, who am I kidding, I am that feminist. I blame you, Sleeping Fucking Beauty. Because of that blonde biotch, I want to meet my future partner by following a group of talking animals to my prince. Of course it is not just fairy tales but modern media that exasperates the myth of the cute meet. For Christ's sake, it is the seventh season of "How I Met Your Mother." No meet story is worthy of seven years of primetime television.

Our culture is obsessed with the cute meet primarily because we are also a culture enthralled with the idea of romantic fate. As much as we like the idea of a self-made man and pulling ourselves up by the boot straps, when it comes to love, we need the intervention of the gods, we need fate to step in and show us who our soul mate is preferably in a way that makes for a short but sweet story for our wedding invitations.

This is probably because love is terrifying and seemingly all-powerful. It is also completely out of our control and unpredictable for the most part. Love is scary shit.

We can't make someone love us and we can't make ourselves love someone. And more, we can't trust ourselves to pick the right person. Love doesn't just involve one person putting in a little perspiration and lubrication. It involves two people and a ginormous leap of faith. We don't want to trust that leap of faith to the internet and our own judgment; we prefer fate step in.

We want a guarantee. We want birds to lead us to our prince.

On our way back to the office after lunch, Mrs. Fairy Tale, laughed as I gushed about her romantic meet and greet. She said rather simply, "After a decade, how you met doesn't really matter anymore. It is just the day to day that makes a relationship."

When relationships are stripped of all their romantic novelties, they are really just two people making an honest for goodness go at it. It does not matter where they met, how drunk they were when they first kissed, or who else they were currently dating. What matters is how they communicate, how they share their lives and how they mesh to create a new relationship. That challenge does not come with fate-backed guarantee.

I'm not going to lie and say I'm totally fine with the "We met on Match..." meet story. I'm not. I think it sounds boring and like an advertisement for online dating. What I am going to say is I'm getting more comfortable with the idea that everything fades in a decade; that I won't really remember an online meet story if in 10 years I'm blissfully married and living on a farm in Ireland with my three freckled chilren.

And more importantly I'm getting used to the idea that nothing, not even fate-like meets, are 100% guarantee for a life-time of happiness. Relationships are not George Forman grills.

Also I'm getting more comfortable with the idea of lying as a socially acceptable and occasionally necessary way to survive our culture. I have already concocted potential stories for P.M.B.; one involving mustaches and mistaken identities and another involving public urination. Perhaps I will find a way to combine them both and have a story our grandkids can really be proud of. It may not be a fairy tale lesson but what the real world and Blago have taught me, is that if the truth sucks, just fucking lie.


So I just spent an entire article spewing about cute meets and I seem to be completely out of ideas for any new ways to meet mates in our fair city. At one point last week I seriously considered following a cute man with a guitar into the church by my house. (Maybe this was the Episcopalian saints trying to lure me home via some very worthy bait.) But short of following strangers into churches, 'tis the Christmas season and nothing makes for a cuter meet than a little holiday cheer.

In theory, I'm a fan of skating by the bean. (In practice, this seems like a miserable experience not worth the frost bite or skate rental; unless of course you are having a serendipitous meet with John Cusack.). For some thing a little less cliché, I recommend a Christmas sing-along at the Music Box. There is nothing liking meeting a new mate via your mutual realization that you are both tone deaf.

Previous Entry: To Be Normal
Next Entry: Making Yourself Happy

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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