Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The List

Over the past few months, I have had a personal revelation. And I have chilled out. I previously considered myself to be completely composed of that famous Virgo type-A perfectionism and anal-retentiveness. I realized about six months ago that these traits simply weren’t serving me well in my life, particularly as it pertained to my relations with men. A wonderful artifact from those more high-strung times is a document that is located directly in the Bethany file on my computer, no subfolder required: Dating checklist.doc.

I typed up this list for the first time when I was about 19 years old. I figured that if I could quantify all of the qualities I was looking for in a partner, he’d magically appear, as if dating were like looking for the perfect secretary. I probably haven’t looked over this list in about 2 years now, and I just re-opened it on my laptop screen tonight. It contains 4 categories:

1. “Automatic, no second date offenses.”

This is the most stringent. Some of these, like the “no smoking as a habit,”“must not insult or degrade my sense of style, artwork, or beliefs,” and “having a weak handshake” are still good rules to follow. However, I’m not so sure that my “must not have a strong accent of any kind” rule isn’t just a case of admitted xenophobia. I believe that you are allowed to profile people in dating: physically, intellectually, etc. For example, if you aren’t attracted to a French accent, then by all means, don’t date a French guy. But it still seems a bit un-PC to put it into a checklist.

2. A list of items he must “possess or perform in order to stick around” because “constant further evaluation is needed.” [I kid you not, These are my exact quotes.]

This section is where the list becomes a bit confusing. It seems as though my 19-year-old self had her priorities a bit out of whack. “Wearing a lot of cologne” is in the 1st section as a terrible offense, while “must not use racially offensive language” and “must have good tattoos if he has them” are both ranked in the middle of the 2nd section. I would love to have seen the scenario of me choosing between the Scottish social worker with a good handshake wearing Cool Water and the bigot with great tattoos who doesn’t smoke.

3. Addendum of things that will only curry favor, but are “neither deal-breakers, nor deal-makers.”

Here we have a bit of wishful thinking, and it contains things like, “does yoga or meditates,” and “if he cares about fashion but not quite as much as me.” These things still impress me about men, but like I documented, they have neither broken more made any deals so far.

4. Physical characteristics.

And the 4th category was simply observations about the physical characteristics to which I am drawn. If I am to be perfectly honest, it should just contain one word: skinny. I think that the incredible thinness of the men I’ve dated and liked is just about the only thing they have all had in common physically.

In my junior year of college, this list was extremely important for me to make. I needed to have it documented for the universe that I had standards. That I was a woman who knew exactly what she wanted in a man and exactly how to know when he appeared. But alas, in the realm of resilient but still fragile hearts, a glowing resume doesn’t go all that far. I'll happily take the cologne-wearing guy with bad tattoos who makes me laugh over the non-smoker with a firm handshake who doesn't pay attention to me every single day of the week.

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