Online Dating: Finding Opera in a Chorus of Elmer Fudds

The view out from my bedroom window is a bit extraordinary – peering through frost-laced glass I see the sun glistening on Green Bay. PC wakes me with a fresh cup of coffee and our Sunday morning ritual of listening to Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me on #NPR radio. A Boom penetrates the bedroom and shakes me in my jammies. My first thought is “here comes an autumn storm” until I realize the thunder in the air is actually coming from Elmer Fudd in my back yard.

Beams of light cross the Bay, and dance in front of the hunters cruising in their viscous vessels of ducky death. I send my thoughts upwards towards Apollo; the Ancient Sun God, “Won’t you please, fair and just Apollo, please bless that hunter with a beam of light straight between the eyes as he lifts his gun and points towards our little feathered friends? Fly away, little birdies. Fly and be free.”

Living in Wisconsin, hunting is a way of life for many. I’m not opposed to the sport as I understand the need to control animal populations. I simply do not choose the rugged outdoors as a primary means of a food source or entertainment. I prefer to get my meat from my grocer’s freezer and my entertainment from HBO.

This morning’s hunting episode caused my mind to wander back to ancient Sunday mornings before PC was in my life – cruising through the Online classifieds of the ugly Singles scene. Those mornings were often dedicated to searching through the profiles of Match.com to see if any new specimens could peek my interest. Too often, however, my AM coffee and Danish was interrupted by an online photo stylings of a potential Match –

Screen Name: Mr. Bass Pro seeks his Little Mrs.

He clearly expectived that the ladies in waiting were anxiously awaiting a private viewing of his latest trophy buck from a hunting expedition.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, some men seem to believe that women are sexually drawn to the guy who can gut a wild boar with his bare hands, and use the tanned boar-skin to line the baskets we timid feminine creatures would use to gather and grind the grains. These men see themselves in the glowing image of Orion, the mythical hunter, and they think that women swoon under their protection.

Really? Why? Why would any person in their right mind think that posting a picture of a Gutted Deer hanging by twine from a rafter was sexy? Why would he believe a woman would get hot and bothered seeing the murderer himself poses next to the victim while toasting with a can of beer and a bag of pork rinds? Why?

People have asked me, how did I get lucky enough to find my Prince Charming (aka PC)? With all of the  unique  people online, how did I navigate through the herds of love-seekers to find my perfect Match? Well, while I truly believe that he and I are lucky in love, I will say that finding him took skill, planning and knowing myself.

I thought I might share some of my Match.com rules with you, my friends, so that you too may learn to enjoy the exciting people in the e-social scene. How do e-love seekers manage to find people in the online scene without trying to fit his square peg into her round hole? How does one avoid the after taste from the aroma of Elmer Fudd if she is more interested in the mindless babblings of PePe LePew?

First – you have to know and love yourself. Realize that you are entitled – not only what you want, but you also have a right to not settle for someone who you don’t want. I have said this before, and I will continue to remind you. If you aren’t happy with yourself, you cannot find true happiness with another person.

Next step – Build an Anti-profile. When I started building my online check list a couple of years ago, I was able to search for men based on hobbies and interests. At first, I started by naming the qualities I had hoped to find in a guy. I said I wanted someone who was romantic, intelligent, funny and who enjoyed travel, wine and conversation. I hoped for someone who liked books and music. I mentioned a couple of my bucket list items included learning to speak Italian or visiting Ancient Greece. Sounds good, right? Sure, but who wouldn’t want those things? It seemed that everyone online wanted some version of that exact thing – but each person had their own translation of how that looked.

I’d bet that profile matched probably 3/4 of the people who use online sites. I didn’t say anything unique or creative to stand out in the crowd, and I didn’t really give the men an idea of who I was looking for. How could I, right? I hadn’t found him yet. That would be like describing the a cozy little cottage in Ireland when you’ve never been outside of the United States. You haven’t been there – so you can’t do it.

Some of my mistakes:

  • I didn’t specify that when I spoke of books I meant the drunken mystique of Ernest Hemingway
  • I failed to describe the music I wanted to hear was the romantic and velvety tones of Frank Sinatra
  • I never pointed out that the wine I wanted didn’t involve cardboard recycling

I did get what I asked for though – books and music. For my first coffee date, I met a man in the Starbucks part of Barnes & Noble. Before he arrived, I positioned myself near the front door and watched the types of books each man coming in would pick up and thumb through. As my guy pushed through the crowds and made his way over to me, I saw him touch his fingers to the Bargain Bin where he lifted a copy of Beer-Making for Dummies. He grabbed onto the book as if it were the last true message from a Prophet, and he made a beeline for the empty chair next to me. Oh no!

As we began our cozy little chat, he went on to quote the literary genius from his recent copy of You Might Just be a Redneck. He continued to entice me with promises of visiting the world’s largest ball of twine as we toured the NASCAR museums around the country.

OK, so this guy wasn’t going to cut it for me.

What did I need to do differently in my search? I took a new approach. I needed a little fine-tuning of my strategy. Instead of describing what thought I wanted in 50 words or less, I learned to be proactive. I read into and behind what was in the pictures and the bios of the men on Match rather than waiting for them to come to me. I reached out with a wink and a smile, and I started making tracks with men who had real “Heidi Potential”.

What I found  as I searched through the profiles with a new awareness was that our personalities do really come through the computer screen. I targeted my search more in line with my specific interests. I kept I excluded the characteristics I couldn’t live with –  hobbies that included firearms for example. I only started communicating with the men who could fit outside of my Anti-Profile – well – for the most part anyways.

Typically, an avid Wisconsin hunter makes his passion clearly known through pictures and language. Although I didn’t learn immediately that the online poster boy of Brawny Paper Towels was not my dream man, over time I understood how to use profile images and language to sort through the guys I didn’t want. If their pictures and language resembled Mr. Brawny, then I didn’t try read something between the lines that didn’t really exist.

I’ve heard people say that you can’t tell much from a one-page profile on Match or eHarmony. But you can. True, you won’t find your Love at First Site – but you can figure out how to find the obvious deal-breakers before you get started.

When I went online that I couldn’t say,” I want…a, b, and c”. I it was that simple, I probably would have already found him already. In the past, every man I had chosen to be my Happily Ever After turned out to leave me as Heidi Happily Even After…and on my own.

I believe that we hurt our chances when we lock ourselves into finding the image of the perfect man or woman. Our preconceived ideas create blinders on us against other possibilities. This means we limit our choices to only people who fit inside of that box whether by looks, by career, by education level, by whatever…. But I say, get rid of what doesn’t fit at all – then work your way into finding something better.

Through trial and error, I learned to ask myself,” What are my deal-breakers from the start?”. For me, I knew I could never be a Hunter’s Widow – the Wife who loses her husband a couple of weeks every November to the guys at Deer Camp with several cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Images of Christmas shopping in the Taxidermy aisle; thoughts of batting my eyes as I open my new formaldehyde and pine scented anniversary gift –  simply not a chapter in my Happily Ever After. I’d stopped encouraging further winks and emails from profiles that led with the Outdoor themes, and I looked to isolate hobbies such as camping and fishing. While I like the the to take in a bit of nature, men who lead with these activities probably enjoy it way more than I ever would.

And even though the Wisconsin Hunter’s Widow Tradition involves a Tour Stop from the Chip -N- Dale dancers, I’d rather take a trip to the city with my best girl friends to drop the singles into the g-string-covered genitals of the golden Adonis. And I’d top the trip off with a day of shoe-shopping.

Knowing what I truly wanted in my Prince Charming took time. Women and men both build images of their perfect love, but those images are built on dreams and wishes – and often likenesses to one’s self. Quite frankly, I could never put up with dating me – I’m too high-maintenance.

The man who I fell in love with is nothing like the image I created over my 40 year search for happiness. Instead, he is someone who I could have never imagined. While he enjoys taking me to the Theater, to Concerts and to the Ballet, everything he learned about Opera he learned from Bugs Bunny. You would have never looked for that written into a profile, huh? His love of Wagner evolved over many episodes of the tragic conflict between Bugs and Elmer. What a guy!

So my advice to you, friends, Why try to fityour perfect match into an incomplete image? If you limit yourselves within what you think you need, you leave out a whole other world of interest and intrigue. Once you figure out what you don’t want, Let yourself be surprised by what you might find. I did, and I’ve put a new man into my dreams who actually fits there.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Side note: I realize that many people – men and women alike – are passionate about the sport of hunting. My thoughts are, if this is your primary passion, save the blood and glory stories for Date #3 – at least.

Love through Vicodin Colored Glasses

Hey there! Please let me beg your forgiveness today and possibly for the next few days. My wonderful doctor just performed surgery on my poor little arthritic foot so that one day I can get back into my Stilettos and Slingbacks. While I am comfortably recovering, that’s because I’m simply doped-up, my friends. God forbid this Vicodin wears off and I actually feel my mangled, rheumatic limb.

Yesterday afternoon in the recovery room, I had quite the Epiphany about love and my Prince Charming. Having recently read Deanna Fry’s love-related-tales, a stunning lady with similar romantic challenges (and a new favorite blog) helped me to firm up my  analysis. As a result, I’m even more excited about the man who I chose to share my life with – my handsome, witty, and considerate Prince Charming.

The truth is, I was frightened about the looming surgical redesign of my slowly deforming foot. Not only was I freaking out about potentially crippling long-term complications from my Rheumatoid A.,I was also fixating on Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) from poor aseptic technique. (Fact: Over 50% of hospital related illnesses are preventable when a health care worker properly washes his or her hands the Right way – but that is a whole other blogging experience.)

Needless to say, taking care and keeping me calm was no picnic. My PC mastered it with graceful aplomb.

To explain, let me take you back to 2006. I spent the majority of my 30’s dating and eventually being engaged to The Wrong Man. We’ll call him Tom. Tom was a divorced dad who had both of his teenage girls living with him (and eventually with us).

He had established his beliefs, behaviors, and bad habits – I certainly wasn’t going to change him. His daughters were his princesses, and I, as their stepmother, did the work of Cinderella – backwards did you say? Where is that Fairy Godmother when you need her?

These girls got to stay home from school for 3 days a month when they had their periods, and he would stay home from work with them to bring them chicken soup. Sweet girls, but they clearly played their best Daddy-take-care-of-me Card when they didn’t want to take a test.

When I was 36, my loving doctors finally decided that I should stop suffering from one of my many ailments – my feminine curse. I’d had several surgeries over the years for cysts and for endometriosis – in short, my reproductive system was the Devil incarnate and Lucifer saw to it that I suffered regularly. In the worst of my monthly demonic sufferings, Tom would find me curled into the fetal position, perhaps weeping with a glass of red to ease the affliction.

When Tom saw me this way, he saw me only as a burden: He had to do the dishes and cook dinner. He couldn’t understand why I would cry while folding laundry when my feminine cramps or my Rheumatoid or other medical challenges acted up.

Momma always said I was a walking Medical Dictionary. I always said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother <wink>.” Love ya, Ma!

I felt like a burden even asking for a glass of water. You can imagine, then, the trouble that brewed when my doctors advised me to undergo a total hysterectomy. Not only would I lose the works that the Good Lord gave me, but I would also be thrown into menopausal trauma far too early in my ongoing battle against sanity.

I was to be laid up for 6 – 8 weeks. I begged Tom to stay with me and my son, Cole (age 8 at the time), while his daughters stayed with their mother. He agreed but … only …after … a … lot … of … hesitation. He finally admitted that didn’t want the extra drive time to work – roughly 20 minutes more one way. And, he didn’t want to do “your housework.” He thought that if I was able to walk, well,  I should be just fine to carry the laundry up 2 flights of stairs.

What a burden you are, Heidi Lee, I told myself. But I was his burden, and he was going to marry this burden – and I carried a kingdom of guilt. My health has never been stellar, but I am ambitious, motivated, and active in spite of it. I don’t let my physical challenges own me. Occasionally, it would have been nice to feel supported by the man in my life, but something even better happened, dear reader. Tom did me the favor of dumping me for an Online Affair when I was 38. Talk about the other glass slipper dropping! Wow.

Yesterday, many of those old Tom-like feelings resurfaced as I waited with my Prince Charming in the hospital room. I was a basket case by the time the nurse wheeled me away to the OR, and I hesitantly looked to PC for an unfamiliar hint of moral support. He squeezed my hand and leaned in for a kiss.

“Will you be here when I wake up?” I managed to whisper.

“Of course, Dear. I’m right where I am supposed to be today.”

“I’m sorry that you have to go through this, PC.”

“Heidi Lee, will you get into that room and get your foot fixed already? I want to take
ballroom dancing.”

After I woke up, he was waiting in my post-op room to dress me and carry me home.He never left my side, and he’s still home with me today – helping me to shower and bringing me soup and cookies. His only complaint last night: “Heidi Lee, you’re not in your spot tonight. Hurry up and heal up so I can sleep with my arms around you again.”

Now that we’ve got a bit of background, it’s time to share my Relationship Epiphany. Is there only one person, a Soul-Mate for each of us? I think we need to break this
question down more accurately. Can we be happy with more than one man or woman
for the rest of our lives? I think some of us can. Does this mean that he or she is the person we are meant to be with? No – that’s  something more special, and we can’t know It unless we are lucky enough to find It.

I think I could have been happy with Tom for several reasons. Although I’ve described him as being an insensitive and unsupportive jerk, he did have many good qualities. We were friends. And we could have been relatively happy – but I would have been
settling for less than I deserved.

Do I think that many happy marriages /relationships exist without the head-over-heels love factor? You bet! Do I think it’s possible to marry your best friend and be content? Of course.

But … Do I think optimistically that there’s another level of love that transcends so many of us? Do I believe that we miss out on It because we lose patience or settle for what is quite clearly not in our best interest? Absolutely! Do I think that certain marriages are bad or doomed because of this? Not at all.

Picture by Sara Hendrix

I believe now, as I miss my “spot” curled up in the nook of PC’s arms feeling cherished and protected, that there is one perfect person. I am simply very lucky to have found mine. I witness PC’s parents as they grow old together – and they are perfect together. They laugh together, play football pools, and they sneak away to gamble at the Casinos nearby. They know each other’s best and worst, and they love each other more for their eccentricities. They are what I call Legacy Toad Kissers.

Flipping through the news channels, I see this same sort of love in the eyes of #MarkKelly as he watches the graceful and formidable #GabrielleGifford come back stronger than ever. I envy their love story, and I admire them both personally as well as a couple. She is not, and never will be, his burden. His love helped her through, and he was right where he was supposed to be – with her. When you are truly with the one you are meant to find, you know you are in your “spot.”

Wow, this Love-Drug retelling of yesterday makes me feel like I don’t need another Vicodin – well, almost. PC, Honey – will you please bring me my medication?

He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me – oh look, a Vicodin. He loves me. Time to sleep.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Moxie – For You

My Dear Friend,

Today my message is especially for you, and inspired by simply knowing you.

You once gave me a book of quotes to help me find focus and encouragement in your absence. This book sits front and center on my desk and in my world.

This morning as I read through the wisdom in this book of “Moxie”, your inner spirit jumps out to me yet again. I see your strength shine through as I read what I hope you begin to understand:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. As we ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the universe. You were born to manifest the glory of the universe that is within us. It’s not in nust some of us; it’s in everyone.” (#mariannewilliamson as quoted in Moxie)

This, my sincere friend, this is how I see you. This is how others that matter in life see you. This is how I hope you see yourself.

Please own the talent within you that others seek to takeaway. They likely are afraid that once you know this in yourself, they will lose control. Please recognize your inner strength, your intelligence, and your incomparable beauty. Learn to soar. Learn that you are magnificent.

This is my wish for you. I ask only one favor in return. Please go and stand in front of the mirror and repeat to yourself the words of Margaret Thatcher – because you can!

“If it’s me against 48, I feel sorry for the 48!”

And know that you are admired and you are loved. Most importantly, you are not alone.

Love always and with lots of Moxie,

Heidi

PS…Please feel free to share these words with someone who may need to hear them. And remember to thank the people who inspire you – always!