I admit to dabbling in online dating fora, partly because okcupid and match.com seem like better (read: quieter, less irritating) places to meet people than bars, and partly because it allows me to feign proactivity from the comfort of my recliner while drinking a Fat Tire and eating microwaved popcorn.

I’ve met many a respectable dyke online–biologists, computer programmers, lawyers, professors, and the like.  And although True Love has yet to make eyes at me from cyberspace, I’ve made a handful of great friends after meeting them online as prospective dates.  This is all to say that I’m no enemy of web-based romance.

But.

IF you’re going to try your luck online, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t put up the best picture that’s ever been taken of you.  If you do, then when someone actually meets you, there’s nowhere to go but down.  Relatedly, don’t conceal your body type, statistically improbable height, cartoonishly large eyes, or missing limbs.  Maybe you’re planning to use the photo to get date #1, then let your sparkling personality win her over in person.  That.  Does.  Not.  Work.  If your physical imperfections would have kept her away online, they’ll keep you from scoring a second date.

2. Everyone likes “laughter” and “having fun.”  Such trite descriptors should not form the cornerstone of your profile.  No one thinks of herself as a mean person who likes to have a shitty time.  If I read one more profile that says something like, “I enjoy having a good time and laughing with my friends,” or “You should message me if you’re a nice person who likes to have fun,” I’m going to shoot myself in the throat.

3. Don’t plan long first dates.  No matter how awesome someone seems, how articulate her emails, and how delicate the collection of pixels that comprise her onscreen visage, keep in mind that you do not know her.  I made this mistake once.  We exchanged three or four long, riveting emails, then made plans to have lunch together, see a play, then have a cup of coffee.  Within five minutes of meeting this Yale-educated doctor, it became evident that she was the most boring person I had ever met–ever–in my entire life (and I’ve been to law school, kids, so that’s saying something).  This woman was like a vacuum.  She was the anti-interest.  I plied her with questions about her upbringing, med school, and her parents and siblings.  We went to the play, she laughed at all the stupidest parts, and I bailed on the coffee before she could kill me with her abyss of boredom.

4. Announcing that you are a “nerd” and love to “nerd out” and “let [your] nerd flag fly” is tantamount to announcing that you are most certainly not a nerd.  Occasionally reading a book when you are not required to do so, or liking a band that other people may not have heard of, or enjoying independent films, does not qualify you as a “nerd.”  Sorry.  Real nerds spent enough years getting the crap beat out of them in grade school that they don’t claim it as a badge of honor even now that it’s supposedly cool.

5. Assume that a certain level of awkwardness will ensue.  Plan accordingly.  Because, dude, you’re meeting someone you don’t know.  You’re both putting yourselves out there–saying, “I want a relationship badly enough to seek it online, and I’ve already gone through my friends’ friends, and nothing worked out.”  If you end the night even a tiny bit interested in a second date with this person, you  get to chalk it up as a win.

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Important announcement: “LOL” stands for “laughing out loud,” not “I am vaguely amused.”  Thus, it is appropriate to write “LOL” only when you are literally laughing out loud.  Unless you are (1) a hyena, or (2) terribly ironic, do not send emails that contain sentences such as, “It was great to see you last night–I love that restaurant lol!” or “Usually I’m not this busy lol!” Suggesting that you are laughing out loud, when you clearly should not be, will cause an intelligent recipient to think you are crazy, illiterate, or both.

My friend Jay, who makes terrific art, commented that–to paraphrase–my last post was a little bit slackery, since I didn’t write anything *about* the books, just listed them.  Very well, Jay.  Here are some preliminary thoughts, just for you.

My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler: Laugh-out-loud funny in 3-4 places, but that was about it.  She’s not about to join the ranks of David Sedaris, or (a hush falls over the crowd) Fran Lebowitz.  Then again, unlike Fran Lebowitz, Chelsea Handler is actually writing these days, which is worth many additional points.

Blue Shoe by Ann Lamott: Although I remember enjoying this book as I was reading it, and thinking that it was well-plotted, I cannot recall a single thing about it.  This seems like a bad sign.

God Says No by James Hannaham: I read this one with a book club.  It’s about a devout Christian who realizes he’s attracted to other men, then starts acting on these impulses.  When he sees an escape from his straight married life, he takes it.  Most of the book isn’t about his struggle to accept who he is–it’s about his struggle to somehow get around it.  Other members of my book club didn’t take to it, particularly, nor did they find it believable.  I thought it was interesting, though–it’s not easy to write a deeply religious, not-especially-bright-or-introspective character believably, and I thought Hannaham did a good job of it.  I would have liked to see more development of minor characters, some of whom seemed pretty two-dimensional, and if the book *had* to end with a whimper, I would have liked it to end with a louder one.

My head cold is making me tired, so I’ll switch gears and make a quick plug for paperbackswap.com.  It’s a good site for swapping books (not just paperbacks), both fiction and non-fiction.  Sign up immediately.  There’s a really great selection, and I’ve had good luck with the condition of books, as well as people’s promptness in mailing ’em.

A friend recently suggested that I blog about the books I’ve read this year.  I’ve been short on blogging impetus (impetuses?  impeti?) recently and decided to take her up on it.  I’m including audiobooks, though we could debate whether I should, and have decided to keep all the books on the list, even the handful that are so lowbrow I’m loathe to admit I read them.

My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

How To Eat Like a Hot Chick by Jodi Lipper and Cerina Vincent

Family Planning by Karan Mahajan

Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon

The Descendants by Kaui Hemmings

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

Last Night At The Lobster by Stuart O’Nan

Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman

Sway by Rom Bravman and Ori Bravman

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perotta

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechtel

Sway by Nick Hornby

No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

Blue Shoe by Ann Lamott

A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

Normal by Amy Bloom

Book of Illusions by Paul Auster

The Good Wife by Stuart O’Nan

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

God Says No by James Hannaham

The Enthusiast by Charlie Haas

Though I don’t include them here, my handwritten list also notes the date I finished each book.  January and November were dry spells; no books are listed under either month.  This doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t read during either of those months, only that I didn’t finish anything; thus, it is probably not an especially useful statistic.

The authors I am most pleased to have discovered this year are Stuart O’Nan (thanks to Adam Johnson and Tom Kealey for this) and Amy Bloom.  Miranda July’s short story collection was also stirring and gorgeous, and Paul Auster’s Book of Illusions stayed with me for days afterward.

All in all, a good reading year.  I may finish another book or two in the next few days, and if I do, will update the list.

I read part of Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree, in which every month, he noted which books he’d bought and which he’d read.  Would it interest any of you, dear handful of loyal readers, if I did a similar monthly entry?  Books bought/books started/books read?

I would just like to highlight that one of the top five searches that leads people to my website is “where to rent a Clydesdale for low price.” Who are these people who want to rent Clydesdales?

Background: I don’t like fast food, with the exception of a Taco Bell taco or a Wendy’s Frosty about once every 2-3 years.  But I was driving in a very hot car with my dog, and needed to get her some water, so I needed to go through the Drive-Thru [sic] and felt obligated to order an actual food item, not just two free large glasses of water.

Drive-Thru Person (hereafter, DTP): Can I take your order?

Me: Uuuuh… (Scanning menu, uninspired) I guess maybe, like, some kind of dessert.

DTP: Excuse me?

Me: A shake.  Can I get a shake?

DTP: A triple-thick shake?

Me: What are triple-thick shakes?

DTP: They’re three times as thick as regular shakes.

Me: Oh.  Um, no, I guess I just want a regular shake.

DTP: What?

Me: A regular shake.  I don’t need a triple-thick one.

DTP: We don’t have regular shakes.

Me: But I thought you just said the triple-thick shakes were three times as thick as your regular shakes.

DTP: That’s right.

Me: But you don’t have regular shakes.

DTP: No, ma’am.

Me: So your triple-thick shakes are your regular shakes?

DTP: No, ma’am.

Me: (Confused) Can I have a McFlurry?

DTP: Anything to eat?

Me: An Oreo McFlurry.

DTP: Nothing to eat?

Me: Besides the McFlurry?

DTP: Yes.

Me: (Realizing that McDonald’s actually considers a McFlurry a “drink” and feeling dispirited.  Sighs heavily.) No.

O Fancy Goodwill,

I love you for your generous selection of brightly-colored men’s shirts,

For your proximity to the Peets that the cute girl manages,

For your pedestrian yet inspiring selection of fiction at low prices.

Were it not for you, Fancy Goodwill,

I would own nothing J. Crew,

No Kenneth Cole,

No North Face fleece vests,

No high-quality French shirts with other people’s names penned on the collars in indelible ink.

.

O Fancy Goodwill,

I forgive you for your limited selection of size 6 men’s shoes,

And your long dressing room lines,

Because the people who work for you are so oblivious

Or so stoned

Or so magnanimously accepting

That they don’t look at me funny when I take ties into the dressing room,

Or when I try on shirts in the aisles if there’s a line,

Which is more than I can say for the people who work at Macy’s.

.

O Fancy Goodwill,

My first-edition Middlesex,

My American Eagle oxfords,

My stylish yet practical Banana Republic jacket–

All because of you, Fancy Goodwill.

.

O Fancy Goodwill,

My Fancy Goodwill,

How I cherish thee.