Category Archives: Throwback Thursday

The Path We Chose

I walk along the path at the edge of the park.throwback_thursday1_large

It is a day of spring warmed grass and flower scented breezes. Assorted couples and strangers gather in their favorite spots within the fields and wooded hills. Pleasant conversation giggles in the air adding warmth to the cuddle of sunlight.

But I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

It is a path like any other. It has direction and destination. Precisely paved walls stand in strong contrast to the rambling bushes and the vine-covered fences that encircle the park; Quiet isolation accented by chirps and peeps of creatures, who too prefer the solitude. Daily I make my way along this path, glimpsing full view of the beautiful park that lies beyond the walls. I often slow to consider the park; sipping in the green soaked air or sampling the tickle of warm reflections. On other occasions I notice it not at all, and pay little attention to where my feet take me. Such distractions can even lead me astray and point me in the direction of a different path; the path that leads into the heart of the park itself.

But I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

I share the same powder blue sky and drift of white clouds that they do. The playful wind that brushes their hair and sets their kites soaring is the same wind that ruffles the leaves at my feet. Yet doubt still holds firm that my experience is in some way filtered by the lacy shadows covering my path. I imagine the feel of the fields on my bare feet and the crush of grass against my napping body,… the cool damp earth soaking into my back, the fiery glow of sunlight dancing on my closed eyes.

But I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

It is a path I know well. I know its direction. I know its destination. I know it will not lead me astray. I know it will not lead me through the heart of the park itself. In my dreams however truer passions emerge. Temptation provokes thoughts of the heart itself. The beauty that I behold within the park makes promises to my soul. Each night I envision crossing over the threshold of the park and being consumed by a shiver of happiness. I see every wish my heart has held suddenly realized before me. Mixed with the intoxication of night’s romance my heart cannot help but swell with the possibilities my dreams offer. I embrace the clutch of emotions and nightly promise to seek out the possibilities and explore the park from within.

But I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

Daylight melts my resolve and reason replaces romance. I try to convince myself that dreams are best left in the slumbering shadows of night and that passionate expectations cannot be realized in the heart of a simple park. I start to believe that I cannot risk disappointment dissolving the inspiration I hold so dearly to; it is the untainted view of the park that enriches my daily walk along the path I have chosen. I reason that promises of a sweeter existence will forever keep me reaching for my dreams. I am convinced I am doing the right thing as another piece of my soul begins to wither.

And still I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

 

FIN.

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Online Dating

From the male perspective, online dating is a completely different game. In the predatory world of the bar scene typically the male has the dominant role of hunter,… or so I’ve heard. In my lifetime I’ve probably engaged in this sothrowback_thursday1_largert of bar room drama less than a dozen times back in college and even that was under duress because friends and roommates, driven by alcoholic delusion, were convinced that their boyish charm would score them some dance floor groping if not a full-fledged one night stand. And since misery loves company I came along for the ride and was therefore blessed with the opportunity to bear witness to their drunken failure and inevitable shame. But despite me and my friends’ lack of success I was able to observe how the game should play out by individuals more dedicated to the craft. The perfectly puffed up male swaggers confidently over to well-positioned and well-manicured female and engages in some level of inane small talk for the sole purpose of stalling for time while they mutually access their sexual attraction; the woman evaluates his potential as a lover, a provider, and his ability to make her friends jealous while the man evaluates if she’s at that alcoholic sweet spot safely between “willing” and “passed out”.

Ok honestly, what do I know? I just admitted very little experience with this whole process so maybe I’m just jaded and there really is some soul searching being exchanged out there. My point, though, is that the role of the male in these situations is still very clear, regardless of the depth of conversation or the sexual end game. When this moved into the online dating realm the gender roles remained the same. Everyone fills out the same profile information, posts the same self-portraits in the bathroom, and pads their preferences with the same white lies – guys pretend to not be couch potatoes, gals pretend to be really in to sports, and everyone pretends to enjoy hiking.   But after all that it’s typically the guy that initiates the first contact. For the woman this plays out with them receiving a stack of invitations from a variety of suitors from which she can choose or simply ignore the lot. For the man this plays out with them firing off introductions in a shotgun pattern hoping that something will hit and trigger a random spark. Sure you can spend all your time combing through profiles hunting for your perfect woman, but chances are a dozen other Romeo’s before you have already filled up her inbox with the same attempts at witty banter and romantic propositions that you were so proud of just moments before. After a week of the virtual cobwebs and crickets you realize that your perfect woman, who the site promised was a 92% match with you, is not going to be writing you back much less bear your children or share matching rocking chairs on the porch of the retirement facility. “Ok”, you think, “how about this one, she’s an 88% match?!” This process continues until you find yourself, late one Saturday night, after one too many rum and cokes, writing to a 65% match that is 10 years, 60 pounds and 120 miles outside of your acceptable range, waking up the next morning with a hangover and a vague recollection of the romantic promises you made to this mystery woman only to reach the sad realization that she too has chosen not to respond.

Having exhausted my pool of prospects in this manner I start to consider perhaps it’s not me (of course, how could it be); perhaps I’m just not on the right site! In this age of online dating the variety of sites that has cropped up is staggering. Now days I can sign up for a specific site based on my age, race, religion, occupation (at least if I’m a farmer) or even my chemical composition. This all sounds like a fantastic idea until you consider that any restrictive classification only further limits the pool of available prospects. Think about it; you can fill out as many questionnaires as you like detailing your preferences and ideal qualities but if there are only three 40 year old, Jewish farmers in the Sacramento area how meaningful is any of that amassed information really going to be? It’d be like if I walked up to a vending machine looking to score a package of peanut M&M’s only to have it spit out a bag of stale trail mix with carob chips because that was the closet match. Did I benefit any from finding my own personal vending machine? I could have stepped into Costco and ended up with the same bag of trail mix but at least I would have had more options for substitution. I could have settled for a jumbo bag of Goobers,… like that night I had one too many rum and cokes.

So am I bitter because the online dating world isn’t just handing over the girl of my dreams? Wasn’t that subliminal marketing promise? Isn’t it written somewhere in the cosmic small print that your efforts will be rewarded?   Ok, so maybe it is just me. Maybe if Gerald Butler felt he needed online dating to meet the right woman he too would find a flooded inbox filled with provocative propositions. Maybe that’s the part I’m bitter about. Why can’t I lie down and be the proverbial prey for a while? I want the woman to abandon the old fashion traditions and take some initiative damn it. I did find one site that was basically the online equivalent of a Sadie Hawkins dance; it’s all about the woman being in control and initiating the selection process.   This sounds great in theory but doesn’t it come down to the same principle; woman having the ultimate power of selection over multiple suitors. I guess the only real difference is I enter into the process accepting my passive role in the equation hoping that perfect bag of peanut M&M’s is already out there just waiting for me to pick it up.

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