Sweatpants Guy Meets Ponytail Girl

If you’re between 25 and 45 and single or know someone who is, then you’re probably familiar with online dating.  The Internet makes it easy for singletons to find people who, on paper, are a perfect match.  We seek our mates online because as we say to each other “How else will we meet someone?”  Yes, we’re all walking around out there but unless we log on to one of our many interweb gadgets, we’ll simply never meet.

I’ve had many experiences with online dating.  Some good, some bad and some downright hilarious (fodder for a future blog post perhaps) but the problem I continue to run into is authenticity.

Let me explain. For those of you who aren’t familiar with online dating, here is a download:

You log on to your favorite dating site, find someone attractive, and then you chat via email and instant message with chosen attractive person (sometimes for a very long time). In these emails and IMs you flirt. You use your best vocabulary, you talk about all the smart things you’re both into and how clever, yet grounded and normal you both are and then, finally, someone bites the bullet and types, “let’s meet”.

You meet somewhere not too romantic but not too casual and then the interview begins:  “What do you do?”  “Wow, what an interesting name you have.”  “I’ll order wine if you do” and so on.   At the end of all of this conversation you walk away feeling it went fine and then four out of five times you never talk, email or IM that person again.  I think it’s because even though you were both respectful and somewhat interesting you don’t really “see” the other person. You know a whole lot about how much he loves NPR and running marathons but you have no idea how he treats old ladies in grocery stores or how he looks in his sweatpants on a Sunday.  But we have to online date right?  After all, how else will we meet someone?


I was in Whole Foods a few weeks ago when I noticed this guy in the checkout line next to me.  He was smiling and chatting with an older lady behind him and helping the lady in front of him pick out some sort of chocolate bar.  He was charming, funny and helpful and he had these ladies beaming.  Actually, he had quite a few shoppers beaming.  Folks would pass the line and smile or make a remark about a conversation they had with him earlier in the produce section.  It seemed like he affected the whole store with his dynamic personality.

Sweatpants Guy wasn’t overly attractive and per my colorful nickname, he was wearing an old tattered sweatshirt and yes, sweatpants. Normally a guy in sweatpants at the grocery store would be a red flag but not this guy.  He seemed like a lot of fun.  He was happy and true.

As I left the store I seriously thought about saying something to him. I wanted to say, something about how his personality was contagious or how I thought it was nice the way he treated the older lady in the check out line. Instead, I just walked out of Whole Foods and into the store across the street. While waiting in the check out line at the second store, I saw Sweatpants Guy again.  He was heading up the aisle next to my check out section. I thought, ‘okay this time I’m going to say something to him, this time I’m actually going to communicate.’  I was about to reach over and tap him on the shoulder when a super cute girl wearing a long, straight ponytail approached him.  She was extremely nervous and her voice shook just a little when she said “I never do this, I swear, but I think you’re amazing and you seem like so much fun and, well…here’s my number.”  I stretched my neck to see what she had in her hand and it was a yellow Post-it note.  She had written her number on real paper!

We waited, the ponytail girl and me. We waited to see how Sweatpants Guy would respond to the numbers on the Post-it.

He looked her straight in the eye, gave her the most authentic and lovely smile and said, “You just made my day. Thank you so much, wow.”  She giggled a laugh much younger then her years and repeated what she had said before. She told him he seemed like a nice guy and to have a good day.  Then she half skipped out the door.

As fate would have it Sweatpants Guy and I left the second store at the same time so this time I turned to him and said “It’s not every day a gal asks you out in the super market.”  He flashed that amazing smile and said, “I know, she really made my day.”

I have no idea if Sweatpants Guy and Ponytail Girl got together but I love that I was there to witness their real life encounter.  As I walked home with arms full of groceries I decided to make it a goal to ask a complete stranger out on date in person before the end of the year.

Thanks Sweatpants Guy and Ponytail girl for reminding me there are other ways to connect, ways that are spontaneous, true, real and a bit magical.

Have you ever asked a total stranger out in person (in the last 5 years)?  How did it go?


The Last Day of Winter

This morning I counseled three women who desperately want to work but until recently were having a tough time finding a job.  Now, all three either have scheduled interviews or are in training programs.  All are doing everything they can to show their kids that they have what it takes to provide for their family.  All three reminded me that sometimes life is a struggle but if you keep focused and upbeat good things will happen.

After my career counseling session, I had two productive business meetings and now I’m sitting on my deck in the perfect 75-degree temps typing away on my laptop.  I feel a breeze on my face and I have a view of the early blooming trees.

See ya winter, and helllllooooo spring!

When Men Were Kings

My grandfather (Poppa) turned 103 this weekend.   In his lifetime he lived through wars, prohibition, the depression, the first moonwalk, the invention of talking motion pictures, Penicillin, television, credit cards, and so much more.  He also held over twenty jobs in his lifetime including taxi driver, mechanic, and he even ran the player piano at a local roller skating rink.

Poppa was lucky enough to be of sound mind until he was about 101.  Even today he remembers things from his youth with the clarity of someone much younger.  Once I was old enough to understand how fascinating Poppa’s life experiences were, I began to ask probing questions hoping to spark a story. “Tell me about making home brew,” I would ask.  “Did you know any gangsters, members of the Black Hand perhaps?”  These questions would start Poppa down an enchanting path full of characters named Zig Zag and Gooch.  He told of hiding men in barrels, smuggling them out of town to safety and of high stake poker games behind iron doors in Pittsburgh. He also spoke of a time when men were kings.

When Poppa ended a story with “but that was when men were kings” the story sometimes involved accounts when women were considered less than men.  Stories about a time when men expected their wives and children to walk behind them when they walked into town.  Stories modern women would consider shocking. However, more often his “When Men Were Kings” stories were about how hard everyone worked and how respect, kindness and chivalry were fundamental qualities that men possessed.

My work and lifestyle enable me to meet many new people, sometimes up to fifty or sixty a year. The more I meet, the more I notice the lack of fundamental qualities men possess that, in my eyes, make a man a king.

Things like really listening to the person across the table – the conference room table or the dinner table.  Complimenting how someone looks. Taking an interest in someone’s life, or friends.  Treating people with genuine kindness and dare I say, even displaying a bit of chivalry.  Opening a car door, paying for a first date, leading a lady through a door, not cursing like a sailor and dressing like a man, not a boy, for a formal occasion are things I find less and less the norm.

Please understand, I know there are many men out there worthy of a crown.   I know a few personally.  I’m simply making a broad observation.   It just seems that genuineness and chivalry are slowly becoming obsolete and sometimes I wonder, should I ever have a daughter, will she encounter a king or will she only find them in the tales I tell of time when men were truly kings.