Thursday, July 30, 2009

Drug of Choice

The computer is my crack. My mom's crack is cheese. My best friend makes crack berries (strawberries dipped in sour cream and rolled in brown sugar). The Internet is mine.

The Internet is a wonderful source of information and entertainment. If you're bored, play a game. If you need to know something, Google it. If you're lonely and shy (as I am) strike up a conversation with random strangers.

I've met people from all walks of life. A wrestler training for the summer games. A divorced gentleman from South Africa who tells me of his travels. A repo man apprenticing to be a bounty hunter. A guy who graduated from my high school two years before I did. Fathers, divorcees, bachelors.
And every time I respond to one of their messages, I find myself eagerly awaiting a response. I lurk on the websites, constantly refreshing my screen. I constantly check my email. I restart my browser, in case it has frozen up and I am missing some vital piece of communication that my whole future happiness depends on.
You would think that this was only a problem when I was at home. You would be wrong. I have unlimited web access from my cell phone. I can check for messages when I'm at work, out with friends, waiting for a movie to start, sitting at the drive thru, while watching the angelfish at the playground. I check my email as soon as I get home from work and leave my computer on until my eyes will no longer focus on the screen at bedtime.
And the more messages I get, the worse it becomes. I need to hear from people. New people, old people, it really doesn't matter. The more messages I get, the happier I become. Every message is like validation that I am not completely unlovable. I savor the moment before I open each message, like a little rush.
In my defense, this does not keep me from getting out in the world and meeting people. I didn't do that before I got addicted to the web. In fact, it has led me to get out more.
And before you suggest I start going to meetings to get over my "problem", consider that there are so many bad things in life, shouldn't we grab at any little happiness we can?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Clown Fish

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that, up until a few days ago, I had not been on a first date in about 13 years. I met my shark my senior year of high school and married him a year after graduation and we had two lovely angel fish shortly after that. Now we are going through a divorce that was supposed to be amicable, but has turned blood thirsty.

While my shark and I were together, I swam in a very small pond. Thousands of miles away from my family, friends, and home waters. And while I loved my shark with all my heart, without the balance of having other fish to swim with, I lost a part of myself.

Now I am finding it again. But it took a kick in the butt to get me going.

I met the clown fish on one of my dating websites. His opening line to me was "you have the nerdiest smile I have ever seen. I like it." Really wasn't sure how to take that so responded that I thought I was offended. His reply, "don't worry. It will pass."

In all honesty, I was ready to write this one off as a jerk. But then, he wrote me again. And again. And eventually I found myself writing back and laughing at the things he had to say. Looking back, his opening line did get my attention.

Eventually he asked for my number. This was enough to set off a panic attack. Did I really want to talk to these people on the phone? Was I ready for this? Was I in over my head? So I put him off. He was persistent. We started instant messaging.

I have to say I love instant messenger. I don't have to ask the person to hold on every time one of my angel fish is demanding my attention. I don't have to lower my voice to the point of whispers to keep what I'm saying from being overheard. There are no awkward silences. And I can read over what I want to say before hitting send, giving me editing options.

As I got to know him, I discovered he had a great sense of humor and liked to tease. We talked about family, work, the dating site we met on. Eventually, he asked me why I was afraid to give him my number. I tried to play off like I was being cautious, not scared. He asked me if I was actually looking for a relationship. That made me think. What was I looking for? Did I even know. And I told him as much. Something about the tone of the conversation at that point made my defense mechanism kick in. You know, the one that urges you to leave before you can be left. I told him I didn't want to waste his time and no hard feelings.

He laughed at me.

Laughed at me! I wasn't sure if I should be offended (again), relieved, or amused. Maybe a combination of all of the above. He said that even though he had not yet met the love of his life, he'd made some good friends from the dating site. He liked my sense of humor and I could carry on a decent conversation, so he didn't feel like time had been wasted.

The things he said bounced around in my head all that night and into the next day. When I got home from work, I had a trip to get ready for, but took the time to send him a message. First, I called him a pain in the ass for getting into my head. Then I gave him my number.

He called while I was driving to the airport. He sounded totally surprised that I'd given him my number, but we had a great conversation. We talked on and off until I had to get on the plane. Then again when I landed. And again when I got to my hotel.

The next day I had divorce court. It was the first time I'd seen my shark in 6 months. My heart was pounding in my throat when he walked in. Just then, my purse vibrated. The clown fish had sent me a text wishing me good morning and good luck in court. The timing couldn't have been better and I actually smiled.

Court was a disaster. I called the clown fish on my way back to the airport to come home. He listened and helped me gain some perspective. Court was much worse in my head than it was in reality.

Since he lived near the airport, he asked if I'd like to have coffee or a drink when I landed. This was another huge step for me. My first first date since my senior year in high school. But, I'd already gone this far, so I told him I would call him when I landed and we'd go from there.

Thinking about going out with him largely distracted me from my anxiety, both about court and the flight (I hate to fly). When I called him from the airport, he asked if dinner would be okay and we agreed to meet at a Mexican restaurant right off the highway. He gave me a hug when I arrived. We were both exhausted so agreed to keep dinner short. We had a great conversation. He was a perfect gentleman.

However, having just watched the movie, He's Just Not That Into You, I was picking up on that vibe. And surprisingly, that was okay. While I wouldn't have minded going out with him again, it wasn't the end of the world that there was no huge spark. In fact, he was the kind of fish I could get to be pretty good friends with. And he was a great first first date.

We still talk on the phone from time to time. He still makes me laugh. And more importantly, he gave me the courage to take a chance again. Not every date has to lead to a second. Not every guy has to be Mr. Right. And it never hurts to have more friends.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Match

If chat rooms are the meat markets of the Internet, then online dating sites are the classy bars and restaurants. Yes, there are still some sharks swimming around, but there's a greater number of fish looking for the same thing you are, be it friends, dating, or long term relationships.

There is a plethora of choices out there when it comes to online matchmaking. Some of them are quite expensive. As a poor little fish, I have been steering clear of these and sticking to free sites, some of which are little more than bulletin boards. I have found at least one site that gives those bigger sites a run for their money. It's completely free and you take a compatibility quiz at the beginning (just like those big money sites you see on tv). You can filter your results by age, location, or what kind of relationship they are seeking, be it friends, dating, long term, or just someone to hang out with.

One of my favorite features allows you to see who has viewed your profile. Maybe you weren't what they were looking for, or maybe they're just shy, but it gives you the option of reaching out and touching someone you otherwise may have never noticed.

And the profiles give some good information. Where the person lives, what kind of relationship they're looking for, if they have/want kids, profession, religion, pictures (in most cases), if they smoke/drink/do drugs/have a car. Then there is the About Me section where they try and sum themselves up. Sometimes these are really fun to read. I suspect these are the people who get the most responses.

You can give as much or little information about yourself as possible. Hit it off? Swap email addresses or chat messenger screen names. Maybe even phone numbers. Make a date in a public place. From there, who knows. I am learning that you only get out of it what you put in. It's important to be honest, with the people you're talking to, but more importantly, with yourself. Be open to possibilities. Keep an open mind. And most of all, have fun! Fishing is supposed to be a pass time, not a chore.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chat Rooms, Meat Markets. Same Thing.

Chat rooms are the meat markets of the internet. There may be the occasional good catch, but mostly it's just people looking for some nookie. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm a big believer in a bit of hanky panky between consenting adults. But good grief!!!

There was the 50 year old who loved his wife, but just wasn't turned on anymore. Was looking for a younger woman for sexual escapades.

Or the furry, slightly chubby guy, who out of the blue, in the middle of a decent conversation, asked if I wanted to see him nakie (his word, not mine).

Or the guy who wanted to talk in depth about my panties. At least he wasn't asking to wear them.

It's enough to make a fish pull out all her scales and go screaming into the night. I should add, that I did meet one pretty nice guy in a chat room. We chat on a regular basis and have not once talked about sex. So there are some good fish swimming around the chat room pools. It just takes some diving.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Big Fish

I met the big fish on my first venture into the chat rooms. He was a 27 year old student living not far away. He asked for a pic, so I sent him one I didn't hate. I asked if he had one. He said he didn't have a pic, but did have a web cam. By this time I had already established my no standing up rule on the web cam, but he was agreeable to a headshot only. Not bad looking, tall, broad shoulders. Promising.
We had a fun conversation. Then, as with most chat room chats, the topic turned to sex. Before I go any further, it should be noted that it's been awhile. And a girl has her needs. And, as guys are prone to do (especially in chat rooms where you really can't check), he proceeded to tell me about his member. Naturally, claimed it was 10 inches and thick. Ok, now, not even I am gullible to fall for that. But, why ruin his fantasy.
We continued our nc-17 conversation and I guess he must have gotten the impression that I wasn't totally buying it. So once again he invited me to view his cam, to prove himself. Ok, fine. The rest of him wasn't repulsive, so how bad could it be? I fully admit I expected him to be average sized.
Then I looked at the cam. OHMYGOD!!!! Clutched in his big paw of a hand was the biggest you know what I have ever seen outside a porn movie. Not only was it long, but appeared to be as thick as my wrist.
Gave whole new meaning to the movie quote-"is it bigger than a baby's arm?"
P.S. The picture above reminds of him for some strange reason.

The Dogfish

I have a MySpace page, and before you begin harping on me for being too old for MySpace, I mainly use it to play games and keep in touch with friends I otherwise would lose track of.

The other day, I received a message in my inbox, out of the blue, from someone I didn't know. I checked out his profile. Reasonably good looking, close to my age, lives within half an hour. What the hell?

We strike up a nice conversation. Talking about work and family and pets. I commented that I was living with three dogs, two females and a male. He proceeded to ask lots of questions about them. In my head, I'm thinking, great, another dog lover like me. The only thing I like talking about more than my dogs, is my kids.

Talking with people on MySpace is not all that different from the chat rooms. The conversations tend to follow the same branches. So a change of subject to a sexual undertone was not unexpected. The topic of the conversation was. Here is an actual excerpt from the conversation.

Him: i suppose you know what a dog's knot is? :)

Me: unless you're referring to some strange obscure sailor's thing, yeah. i know what it is.

Him: a sailor thing. lol nice. cant say i was referring to that. suppose you know a bit about it?

Me: a bit. why?

Him: kinda a fetish thing really...hoping that's okay? could be interesting if we were to talk more about it.

Me (trying very hard to be diplomatic): i think everyone's got their weird turn ons. that one's not really my cup of tea though.

Him: nice...did you say you know much about beastiality?

At this point I stopped responding, and yet I find an email from him almost daily. I know I should probably block him, but this made for a hilarious story to share with my friends.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chatroom Rule #1-I will view your webcam but you're not allowed to stand up

So my angelfish were at a family reunion in Kansas with my parents (I couldn't make it because of work). Once I was done with work, I was left the rest of the day to entertain myself. In theory this sounded like heaven. I never had the house to myself. But when it came down to it, the house was too quiet, too empty, and I was bored out of my mind without the constant interuptions.

What's a shy single fish to do? Check out a chat room of course. It should be noted that the last time I was in a chat room was about 13 years ago, so the rules have changed, as I was to find out.

First off, you don't actually have to say anything when you're in a chat room. Your mere presence is enough to start a frenzy of instant messages popping up all over your screen, like zits on prom night. As soon as you reveal that you're a real person and not a bot, it's on.

The conversation almost always begins with the asl request. For those of you who avoid chat rooms like the plague (good for you), this stands for age/sex/location. Okay, totally understandable. It's good to know if you're talking to someone close to your age, the sex you're interested in, and if they live close enough for dinner if things go well.

At this point, the conversation forks off in a couple of different directions.
1. You discover you're talking to a bot. A mindless device that sends you requests to view their webcam as they writhe around in various stages of undress and doesn't actually respond to anything you say. These are immediately ignored.
2. Small talk. Likes and dislikes, profession, marital status, family.
3. Cybersex. This is usually after the small talk, but not always. This can be anything from what kind of underwear are you wearing to how do you feel about guys who wear your underwear. This fork of the conversation seems to happen in 95% of conversations.

One odd thing about chat rooms, is the number of younger guys who want to talk to you. By no means am I over the hill, but I was totally shocked at the number of guys in their early to mid twenties who have no qualms about an older woman. It's actually a nice ego boost.

At some point in the conversation, comes the question-Do you have pics or a cam? I have a couple good pics I keep on my computer, mostly to post to MySpace or Facebook for my friends. I don't have a cam. A webcam just invites trouble. Even if I had a cam, I'm not sure I would admit it. I'm usually willing to share a pic if the other person will share theirs. About half the time, they don't have a pic, but they have a webcam.

In all my gullible glory, I have agreed to view the webcam. It usually starts with their face, but then they stand up! And let me tell you, I have seen an amazing array of anatomy. Big, small, crooked, straight, snipped, natural. Note to guys, unless a girl in some way indicates they want to see your male parts, don't stand up! It's like opening a box of chocolates and reaching for what you're sure is your favorite flavor and biting into a severed finger. Not a good suprise.

So this has become my first rule of any chat room conversation. I will view your webcam, but you're not allowed to stand up.

Diving in

Let me just start by explaining how this little fish ended up in the shark pond.

Was married for 11 1/2 years to a huge shark. An alcoholic, drug addicted, motorcycle riding, cheating shark. He was selfish, old fashioned (in a bad way), terrible with money, and still tied to his mommy by the apron strings. We have two beautiful little angel fish, but he spent the majority of their lives ignoring them. Now that the divorce is in process, he's fighting for 50/50 custody. I know this is because of his mother, but that doesn't make it any less of a threat. Because we live 2000 miles apart, 50/50 custody is not really an option. So it has become a fight to the death for full custody.

It's been 6 months since I left him (with my best friend). I have spent a lot of time alone and have reconnected with some old friends, which i have to say has been the most wonderful thing about this whole divorce disaster. And recently, I have been feeling a little lonely. So, I have started dipping my toes in a new pond.

And let me tell you, there are some WEIRD fish out there. I have tried chatrooms, online dating sites, and talking to random weird people on MySpace. And since my friends have been so entertained by some of my fish tales, I thought I would share with all the other single fish out there.