Tuesday, January 09, 2007

This is not about kickball, but I suppose it still involves balls, if we want to get all inappropriate, anyway

A few years ago, two very dear friends of mine got married, and as part of the wedding weekend festivities, they planned a Bride's-side vs. Groom's-side kickball game. They sent out a card a few weeks before the wedding, inviting family and close friends to participate. The front of the card featured a black-and-white vintage-looking drawing of a young woman kicking a ball, and floating above her was the the headline, "Know what's missing from most weddings?" The answer was printed on the inside. It said, simply, "Kickball."

At the time, I thought, "Awesome! What a fabulous idea! How fun will that be?!" It took until about five minutes into the game for me to remember something very important that probably should have occurred to me much earlier. Kickball is an organized sport. Never, under no circumstance, do I ever consider organized sports fun. It doesn't matter how many times people say, "Don't worry about it! You're among friends! It's just for fun!" I am tremendously uncoordinated and athletically under-confident, and even "Oh, it's just for fun!" games make me a ball of paranoid, nervously displaced energy. I do not do organized sports. End of story. That is all. And yet, I was lured and romanced into the whimsical idea of wedding-weekend kickball and actually thought, for more than just a brief moment, that I could overcome 30 years of being kinesthetically challenged and somehow enjoy a game like that. Ha. My team won, sure, but that had everything to do with my fellow teammates and nothing to do with me. My big contribution was getting pegged in the head with the ball by the bride's father, something that apparently remains a fun family anecdote to this day. Glad to be of service, I suppose.

I bring this up not because I want to talk some more about my athletic shortcomings, but because that story kind of sums up how I feel about my recent decision to put myself back in the matching database at meMarmony.

Yes, yes, I know. Don't even start with me. Guinness Girl wrote me a Match profile for a reason, and that reason was to get me on some other site instead of taking the easy way out and playing the ridiculous "guided communication" game with the trolls and the boring guys on meMarmony again. But see now, here's the thing. I actually sort of like that whole back-and-forth, ease-into-it-gradually meMarmony process. Some of you may not understand that, but some of you also like mushrooms on your pizza, so clearly this is not the only thing on which we don't see eye to eye.

meMarmony appeals to the lazy side of me (the side that wins out in probably nine out of ten scenarios in my life). With meMarmony, I'm not sitting there wading through pages and pages of profiles, then tweaking my search criteria to see how the results differ, trying to find someone worthy of contacting and then figuring out what to say in an e-mail to sound all clever and witty and interesting. That all takes time... time I'd apparently much rather spend reading blogs and knitting afghans and watching bad TV. So instead, I let the people at meMarmony be my personal shoppers, presenting me with a few matches at a time, as if to say, "What about these guys? Do you like any of these?" If not, I click that handy "Close" button and make them go away. If so, I have a few rounds of cursory Q&As and what-not before I actually have to think of something freeform to say.

I guess I've also gotten sucked into the mystery of the limited-access meMarmony database. Unlike Match and other sites, I can't see everyone who's out there before I sign on and pay for membership. Somehow there's always this hope that the smart, dreamy, hilarious guy who's meant for me is hidden somewhere in that database and will be delivered to me by surprise when I open my e-mail some day. Unfortunately, mystery and surprises are not always good. Sometimes, the contestants on "Let's Make a Deal" found a new car behind Door #3, but just as often it was a goat or a rusty tire iron as well. In this respect, meMarmony is no different from Match. There are a whole lot of rusty tire irons out there, so seeing four of them at a time rather than forty really isn't any less disheartening, I suppose.

It's probably not a good sign that I'm feeling so pessimistic a mere 49 hours after signing on to Dr. Warren's services again, but considering the crop of matches I've received thus far, I do think it is justified. I'll admit, though, that it's not just the matches that have me feeling a bit dejected. It's the lack of communication as well. I am trying to keep an open mind here, to not close a match immediately because he is geographically undesirable or isn't six feet tall or included "reruns of The Rockford Files" among the list of five things he can't live without. But with my last run on meMarmony, a good percentage of those "meh" guys clicked that "Start Communication" button and contacted me anyway. This time, not the case. Of the 19 matches Dr. Warren has sent me thus far, I have closed only three of them, and of those remaining 16, only one has clicked that button to say I might be worth getting to know. That one is cute and possibly interesting, but he's also 5'7" (Five-foot-seven! Could I really get used to that?) and lives in an area of the metro that I try to avoid at all costs, as going there makes me want to veer my car off into the median or ram it straight into a guard rail just to end the madness and suffering. Yet, he is the only one interested in me? I'll admit, my ego is a bit bruised.

I did make some changes to my profile before reposting it this week. My photos were a bit old, so despite the fact that three separate men referred the version of me in those pictures as "striking," I still thought it best to replace them with newer pics. My hair's a bit longer now; I've got new glasses; it seems only right to present a more accurate representation, I suppose. But is this me...

Really so much more hideous than this me...

...as to account for the difference in response? It's hard for me to be objective about this, so I'll leave it for you to judge, I suppose.

If I can't blame the photos, then the problem is my text, of course, as I made a few changes there as well. I thought I was adding some more personality, tweaking answers to give a bit more insight into who I am and what I like. But what I like includes NPR and public libraries, so I mentioned both of those. I claim to be embracing my nerdery, after all, and how better to attract a fellow nerd than to out myself as one as well? I fear this plan has backfired, however. Clearly the men of the Twin Cities aren't ready for a woman with a girl-crush on Sarah Vowell*. And maybe it's best not to mention that the thing supposedly "only my best friends know about me" is that I'm entirely more bothered than I should be by spelling errors and misused apostrophes on menus and commercial signage.**

It's all a crapshoot, I suppose. That seems to be my motto the past year. That diamond-in-the-rough could be hiding anywhere, regardless of where exactly I'm posting or just what my profile says. I promised you some stories, however, so for your entertainment, if nothing else, I hope the tide starts turning soon.


* I didn't actually use the phrase "girl crush," but I did call her my "nerd hero."

** Before you go criticizing this one, I'd like to note that I had this answer during Round 1 of meMarmony as well, and I got plenty of responses nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

I started playing kickball when I moved to this town, and now all my new friends are kickballers. I also suck as a player, so I viewed the games as a 45 minute interlude before getting to the beer drinking. So if the online dating doesn't work, you could always join up with these guys.

I like the Grand Central photo. It shows that you're a well-traveled kind of girl. I'm sure there are some great nerds out there just waiting for you, good luck!

Anonymous said...

In my experience in the online dating thing I found that the pictures I used made all the difference in the number of responses I got, and that there was absolutely no logical correlation between what *I* thought was a good photo and a photo that got great response. I just kept changing them up until I found a few that worked.

Kickball is just a stressful game. Too many grade school horror memories associated with it.

guinness girl said...

Stefanie, I swear, in some ways, you are my Minnesotan alter-ego. I ABHOR all organized sports. And suck royally at them.

Alas, I am trying not to cluck my tongue and say "I told you so" on the meMarmony vs. Match thing. It is my theory that the meMarmony guys are ALSO lazy, and that laziness will transfer into your relationship, shoudl you start one. It's all well and good for the female to be lazy, but the male - no. Lazy men don't woo.

That said, my friend, you are a beautiful, charming, witty, clever, fascinating woman, and I know - KNOW - that you will find your ever-elusive diamond in the rough. And I know all.

Anonymous said...

You look equally pretty in all of those pictures, but you look more "career girl"-y in the older one. I read an article in Glamour magazine (so you know it's scientifically accurate and all) where they had a woman take different types of pictures of herself ("girl next door," "career woman," "nerd girl," "alterna-chick," "borderline skank," etc.) for posting on match.com to see which one got the most responses. "Girl next door" got far and away the most responses and everything else was pretty equal, although I kind of remember that "skank" had a slight edge over the others because, heh, oh guys.

But, if anything, I would say your new pictures are very "girl next door." So I don't get it.

In other news, I love kickball! Except for the throwing. And the catching. But I love the kicking part.

lizgwiz said...

When I am invited to take part in organized sports, I accept only if I'm allowed to "participate" by cheering from the sidelines. Where I'm drinking.

Maybe your new glasses make them think "Oh, this girl is pretty AND smart" and that scares them? That's what I would tell myself. And who wants a guy who's scared by THAT?

Anonymous said...

I think the new pictures are even hotter! Seriously, they are really good.

I know nothing about online dating, so I can't really add much except to say that maybe one of the duds will become a friend who will then introduce you to the guy of your dreams?

I have not played kickball since the time that I was accused of cheating because no bunting was allowed, and I almost started crying because I had kicked it as hard as I could. I was 11, by the way. Man, I am re-traumatized just remembering the shouts of "No bunting!"

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure your next post will have something to do with recent search engine activity due to the title of your post, and THAT will be fun!

3carnations said...

I wouldn't be discouraged by a lack of responses - That just means when you DO get responses, they will be people truly interested. I wouldn't change a thing about your profile, either. I think it's great that you say exactly what you want to say, and it's the perfect way to weed people out.

As for the pictures, to be quite honest, I do prefer the old picture. Not because you look better, because I think you look equally pretty in all of them. If you put the identical head shot in all 3, I think I would still like the old one best. I'm not sure why...Maybe the whole "tossing your head back" thing. The first picture you show in your post is my second favorite, though. For some reason, the second picture doesn't do much for me. I hope you don't take that as an insult, because it's not. You look pretty...I think it's the lighting. Something about it seems different.

You should post a whole bunch of photos of yourself (you can call the post "You're so vain" or something) and we can all vote on which one goes in your ad. Why you would do something like that, I'm not sure...But it seemed like an interesting thing to suggest.

I'm babbling here, that's pretty clear...

Anonymous said...

I like the long hair. You look really cute and younger than the shorter hair. I don't know why.

Are these bozos stupid? Too bad you can't have a Nabbs and Darren connection happen to you. :(

I have a friend in Denver who uses those sites and has met some "interesting" folk, but my bf's MIL found her husband so who the heck knows!

nabbalicious said...

Haha, on Paisley's comment. There has got to be some cute, smart, single male blogger out there! Or did I just get insanely lucky?

And I like the first picture best, just to confuse things further.

You go to a lot of shows...ever meet anyone at those? I think that can be a good place, because right off the bat, you already know you have something in common with the guy. And most people aren't at shows just to get laid, so it's not the same as hooking up with someone in a bar.

Babs said...

I'm de-lurking to say that I think it's so cool you posted about this! My two experiences with eharmony have been lackluster... and I totally agree with your perspective about it being the lazy way to date. Basically, I think online dating is just about as hit-or-miss as any type of other dating. Sure, there are success stories. But heck, I've had friends marry a guy they met in a bar too!

As for your pictures, I think they're equally cute. You may have just gotten more duds this time around? The pose of looking over your shoulder is way cute... but then, guys also LOVE long hair. So, go figure.

stefanie said...

Noelle--See, I tried taking that approach with a broomball team I was invited to join a few years ago. (I'm guessing most people outside the Midwest have no idea what broomball is, but just stay with me anyway.) I thought I could socialize, have drinks later... Yeah, that didn't work. It was still the most painful and nerve-wracking 45 minutes of my whole winter. Nice try, though.

Steve--I totally agree about kickball and bad memories. I don't understand adult dodgeball leagues for the same reason. As for the pictures... apparently (as evidenced by today's comments), I could ask ten people and get ten different opinions, so I think I will just try not to worry about it.

GG--"Lazy men don't woo." Ha. I've told you before that I'm not real comfortable with this double-standard you keep laying out, but at least it's a double-standard that works in my favor, so whatever. And thank you for all those kind words. I'm "fascinating"? Wow. You're sweet.

Other Girl--"Glamour" IS a highly reliable source of valid and trustworthy advice. I would never question their wisdom. Well, unless it conflicted with the wisdom in "Cosmo." Then it might be a tough call. And yes--kicking is fun! :-) Just everything else about the game is not. Particularly the catching and the running. (You forgot to mention the running. Yuck.)

Liz--You know, I hear that "Men are intimidated by smart women" crap all the time, and I don't buy it. Or, I don't want to buy it. You are right; if that is, in fact, the issue, then it's likely a guy I don't want anyway.
Also, drinking and spectating is definitely the best way to enjoy team sports.

R--I have actually considered the same "friend potential" idea with some of these matches... I just don't know how the men will feel about that.
And I have similar childhood scars that still come up every now and then, so I totally understood that "No bunting!" thing. Poor -R-.

BMc--At least I didn't use the "t" word again. I get enough hits for that already. (Of course, putting it in my sidebar right now isn't helping matters either, I suppose.)

3Cs--When I first read your comment, I thought, "Hm. Not a bad idea." I've asked friends for input on my photos, so why not you guys? Aside from the fact that it would be totally self-absorbed, however, I think I will also refrain from doing that just because of what the comments on these first three pictures have already shown me: that every one of you will have a different opinion, and it will just make me even more indecisive and paranoid about strange little aspects of each photo. Thanks for the offer, though. ;-)

Paisley--Considering I know of only four men who read my blog regularly (all of whom are real-life friends and/or "unavailable"), I don't think that is going to happen. Even if there is an eligible male lurking out there, he would likely never go on a date with me, as he would be afraid he'd just end up in a story here. :-)

Nabb--You know, I used to meet dates at shows fairly regularly (I totally agree with you that it's entirely different from meeting a guy in just a regular bar), but I think I am too old for that now. All the guys my age at shows are either married or are there with their married friends and therefore not scoping around for women. That's just my theory, of course. It could be that I'm just not eye-catching or approachable anymore.

Babs--Welcome! (Actually, I think I've seen you in the comments once or twice before, but thanks for delurking anyway.) I fully agree with you that our odds are pretty much the same no matter where or how we're looking for our dates. Like I said, it's all a crapshoot.

stefanie said...

Holy cow; that was my longest reply-to-comments ever! That was a whole post in itself. Terribly sorry about that. I doubt any of you wanted my thoughts on your thoughts quite that badly! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Au contraire - I like the feedback. Makes it more conversational. I feel guilty if I don't reply to comments that seem like they should get one in a timely manner.

Anonymous said...

I honestly happen to think you look great in all of them. The one at Grand Central is my personal fave, if for no other reason than the lady to your right, yelling at her boyfriend/husband; I'm guessing he was late?)...good luck, Stefanie!

Anonymous said...

Oops! Sorry for the errant parenthesis in my post. (OCD, much?)

Jasclo said...

Good luck!! And sniff. I like mushrooms on my pizza. And sometimes pineapple. Yeah, I take a lot of crap for that one. :)

stefanie said...

Steve--Ah, good. Glad there was at least one of you who didn't say, "Damn, woman..."

Metalia--Ha. I think sometimes about how many strangers' family albums I'm probably in, because I was in the background of their shot in some public place. Little does that lady know that her apparent open argument with someone is actually documented in a meMarmony profile for some girl in Minnesota. Oh, and correcting a typo with another comment is totally something I would do, so no worries there. ;-)

Jasclo--I have no issue with pineapple, actually. Just mushrooms. So if we ever find ourselves ordering pizza together, I'm sure we'll find some common ground.