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Cranston Writes

  • How To Find A Date Without A Shoe Fetish - Part 4 (Berry Sensitive)

    Posted on Thursday, May 6, 2010

    This is the fourth chapter in the series. If this is your first foray in this blog, you may wish to start at the beginning.  

    “It’s catastrophic, calamitous, cataclysmic!” I declared. I was on a roll now, my newly-roused fervor ignited in the throes of anticipated ruin.
    "Oh-Kaay. I think that pretty much exhausts the "Cs" in the debacle category. Are we moving on to the Ds now, or do you care to elaborate?" Ilene remarked somewhat distractedly. She was busy trying on a new shade of eyeliner and humored my mini-meltdown perfunctorily while we stood at the Clinique counter at Nordstroms. She paused to take a closer look at her face now, frowning into the magnifying mirror as she examined an imaginary line of crow's feet while her features were getting super-sized.
    “My life as I know it is over,” I exclaimed. “That’s it. Finnito, caput! My good name besmudged forever.” I paused while she persisted to examine her face.
    “Are you aiming for a full-blown, self-loathing complex?” I interjected. “Get away from that thing. It would make Halle Berry look like Godzilla on a good day.”
    “I think you mean ‘besmeared’ don’t you?” she corrected my terminology reflexively in true editor fashion. “There,” she declared, moving away from the mirror. “How does this look?” She turned to reveal one eye outlined in a ludicrous shade of lavender befitting Barney on Career-Day, and we both crinkled our noses and shook our heads. Without pause she reached for a tissue, and proceeded towards the eye-shadows.
    “It’s insufferable! I have developed an allergy to the Blackberry! Every time it vibrates I break into a sweat. My chest feels tight, my fingers feel numb. Look - I’m even getting a rash!” I said, thrusting my arm out for her to examine.
    “Why do they do this to us?” she proclaimed, impervious to my newly-discovered affliction.” Is this an evil scheme master-minded by some secret order of misogynistic architects? Are they trying to induce suicidal urges in all women over forty, forcing us to look at our faces in such ghastly lighting? You’d think they’d learn by now.” Exasperated, she put the tester back in its tray. “I think the hot flashes might be accounted for another way hon‘,” she added matter-of-factly, working her way down the display case while I trailed closely behind.
    “Every time another one of those insidious little invitations from “Counterparts” pops up on my screen, my throat starts to close up,” I went on. “I begin to cough and gag. I think I might be developing late-onset asthma. I swear. Oooaughoaua! See! Hear that? Maybe I should get my thyroid checked.”
    “I’m not a doctor, but I once dated a guy who played one on TV. Does that count? What do you think of this color?” she held up a cylindrical dispenser in a hideous shade of chartreuse.
    “For you, or in principle?” I asked.
    She waited.
    “Fine. If you plan on living on a chicken farm.”
    She put it back and continued surveying the rest of the collection.
    “And look at my eyes,” I persisted. “Do they look green to you?” Ilene turned away from the tester tray to examine them. “They do don’t they!” I lamented. “Maybe it’s cadmium poisoning. I’ve read about this sort of thing. They‘re always coming out with new studies like that - how we get brain tumors from cell phones - or exotic bacterial infections from soda cans. Or was that from the rats that traipse across them...? I forget now. Maybe I’m being poisoned!”
    "Hmm," she was looking into my eyes intently now. "Yes. You're right. They do look green. Now that I think of it, they've been that way for some time now. Like - since birth!" She turned her attention back to the eye-shadow case, exploring a new shade of plum. "Urban Wine," she read the label out loud. "Who do you think came up with that one? Can wine be urban? Or maybe they're talking about the screw-cap variety you can get at the 7-11- the kind bums at the bus station carry around wrapped in brown paper bags..." She drifted out loud.
    “And I’m jumpy!” I added, ignoring her musing. “Every time it chimes I twitch. See!” I demonstrated, my shoulder and neck jerking exaggeratedly. “It’s almost Tourettes like. I think I’m developing a seizure disorder. I can’t get any work done. I think I need to see a doctor, get my blood checked.”
    “That would explain the sudden incontrollable urge to curse. You know what I think? I think it’s nothing a couple of dates and a double Vodka Martini won’t solve.”
    “Oh no you don’t. That’s the kind of thinking that got me in this mess to begin with. I was doing just fine, thank you - perfectly happy until you and Jody intervened. Now look at me. I haven’t slept since this whole online fiasco began! Do you know that I got Twittered the other day? Uh huh. That’s right, Twittered. And don’t ask me to explain what that is, because—I don’t know. But - it’s bad, I tell you. And it was done to me! The whole thing is insidious. Just a heinous breach.”
    “AND?” She was motioning now, urging some obvious response which eluded me. “Do you have any hot dates lined up?” she finally interpolated impatiently.
    “I tell you I’m dying of the plague and all you want to know is if I have a hot date?” She repeated the motion.
    “I - I don’t know.”
    “What do you mean you don’t know?”
    “I don’t know. OK, I haven’t really checked,” I confessed somewhat abashedly, feeling inexplicably guilty, as though I was the one who somehow betrayed some fundamental tenet of sisterhood - let my best friends down - defied their efforts ungratefully. I cringed, waiting for the anticipated reproof.
    "You mean you're not reading your messages?!" Ilene exclaimed incredulously. "Are you insane? What are you waiting for?! This is a first-come-first-served business babe! You snooze, you lose. You gotta strike while the iron's hot, act while the meat's still fresh."

    I was still awed by the unlikely barrage of cliches she had just unleashed, when something somehow managed to filter through. Apparently not only was I the dreaded “meat“, but now I could go stale too? I shook my head in hopes it might unjumble the muddled heap fogging up my brain.
    “What are you saying? I have a limited shelf-life - a virtual expiration date?” I probed incredulously, still struggling to grasp the new precepts. I wondered if there was a virtual equivalent to hydrogenated fats - something that extended ones cyber shelf-life.
    “Honey,” she wrapped her arm around my shoulder, steering us towards the perfumes. “You don’t want to become a Chameleon, do you?”
    “A Chameleon?”
    “You know, one of those lizards that changes colors and blends into the background...
    “Yes I know what a Cha -
    “One of those poor schleps suspended in cyberspace-neverland—vanishing into the abyss, turned virtual wallflower? The sort who lurks about in wait for so long they just dissolve - disappear - merge into their surroundings undetectably like insipid hotel-art, only to be glossed over - bypassed, fading into cyberspace and dating oblivion forever? You’ll turn so inconspicuous you couldn’t get noticed if your gorgeous mug were broadcast on America’s Most Wanted and there were a million-dollar bounty on your head, much less get asked out. Trust me on this. It’s the ultimate online gaffe darling, tantamount to cyber-dating suicide. You‘re better off looking like Quasimodo.”

    I stopped dead in my tracks. Turn invisible?  Online? That was a possibility I had never even conceived of. All this time I had been horrified with the notion of so much exposure, such colossal exhibitionism, when in reality what one really was supposed to worry about was going unnoticed? Was that even possible? My head felt like it was about to explode. Suddenly I was a greenhorn on a perilous expedition navigating uncharted territory minus a GPS, and my entire world had just been turned on its head. My learning curve had just been thrust into warp-speed, and I was plunging ahead at breakneck velocity, having to absorb that this new universe was a far cry from any I had ever conjured up, while the skin on my face blew back to my ears. This was "not you parent's" Mars Rover. This one came with its whole own unique set of paradoxes - and one that clearly defied any concept of metaphysics I had ever entertained. In this universe apparently the real threat wasn't about being hung out on display. It was about being hung out to dry! In the realm of cyber-dating the real transgression wasn't 'getting posted.' It was getting posted and then doing nothing about it! -- allowing one's cyber-presence to stagnate to a point of invisibility, of becoming overlooked - going unnoticed. Or worse, being ignored! And in the dating world this was a fate far worse than death. It portended virtual spinsterhood!  

    My head was throbbing. I wondered, how I had ever been thrust into this position. But worse, what did it portend for my future? One thing was certain. My friends’ Karmas had just been fast-tracked. Reprisal machinations were in the works. If I had to go through this, I wasn’t going down alone. It was payback time.

    To Be Continued... Copyright 2010.  

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  • How To Find A Date Without A Shoe Fetish - Part 3 - (Counterparts and Collusion)

    Posted on Saturday, April 24, 2010

    This is the third installment the series "How To Find A Date Without A Shoe Fetish." If this is your first foray into this hub, you may wish to start with the original title.  

    "So- there's something we've been meaning to tell you," my friend Jody dropped casually. She had just uncorked another bottle and was filling our glasses with more of the exquisite Pinot Noir we had been sipping for a better part of the evening, and I was feeling good. Too good to suspect any subterfuge. Until I looked up and saw it. That look. The one that hinted that that she was up to no good- the one that made me slightly queasy. I knew it all too well. Trouble was in the air. I quickly glanced over at Ilene, who was sporting her best poker face, the one she had taken to an art form, generally reserved only for the toughest boardroom meetings, but while she nonchalantly took a bite out of another cracker with Brie, my antennae were doing the Merengue, the soundtrack in my head reverberating "dah nah, dah nah" to the rhythm of Jaws. Something was definitely up.
    “What?” I asked, curious but wary. We were seated poolside at Jody’s hillside home on a fabulous southern California night, all the rough edges lubricated away by an unsavory amount of alcohol, when Ilene unceremoniously reached down and pulled out her laptop. She set it on the cedar table in front of us.
    “OK, so don’t be mad,” Jody prefaced carefully. The panic slowly crept in. “About what?” I urged.
    “Well -”
    “We created a profile for you,” Ilene interjected abruptly like she was pulling off a band-aid. There was a pause as I squinted momentarily with confusion. They were both looking at me like Wiley Coyote seeking cover after he had just pressed down on the detonator and was waiting for the dynamite to go off, only the event had failed to occur.
    “A profile?” I questioned, shaking my head slowly with incomprehension. What were they talking about? And what was I supposed to be mad about?
    “On Counterparts,” Ilene added, both of them cringing once more as they waited with apprehension. I looked at Jody and she briefly nodded at me, hesitantly, as if prompting the inevitable response.
    “You-did-WHAT?” I suddenly bellowed, hit by the full force of what they had just revealed. “Shit SHIT!” I was up on my feet now, pacing in horror, suddenly squealing and shaking my wrists with dreadfulness like I had just been slimed by a creepy-crawler.
    "No, this is a good thing," Jody tried. "Really. Then turning to Ilene, "She cussed. She cussed. She never cusses."
    "I know ," Ilene responded in wonderment.
    “Well this seems like a darn good occasion to start!” I bellowed once more. “What were you thinking?”
    “You‘re going to thank us once you get over the initial shock,” Ilene quickly recovered and perked up with authority.
    “She will, won’t she? ” Jody agreed as they nodded at one another in unison.
    I was staring at them dumbfounded. It had finally happened. It was true. The world had truly gone mad. The apocalypse had arrived.
    “Wait until you see it,” Ilene declared proudly, now eagerly opening the laptop. “We did a great job. It’s magazine worthy. We didn’t even have to Photoshop it.”
    “Totally fabulous,” Jody agreed.  

    My jaw was still hanging open. They had posted my picture... On the Internet. This was it. I now had a profile. I was now officially 'posted.’ On a bulletin board, hunting for dates! Lure! That’s what I was. Mutton, bait, meat - subject matter for leering, lascivious eyes - number 44092 - my mug all over cyberspace. A criminal record was now more appealing.
    “Oh God,” I moaned painfully, sinking back to the chaise in dismay. “Why didn’t you just write my name and number on the bathroom wall? It would have been more discreet.”
    “Don’t you even wanna know what you said?” Ilene prompted excitedly, completely unfazed by my cataclysmic take.
    “Just shoot me now. Put me out of my misery,” I murmured in a daze.
    “Oh, you‘re gonna love it,” it was Jody’s turn to spew enthusiasm. “You‘re gonna be the hottest thing since sliced bread. You should see how many responses you already have.”
    “Why do people always say that?” my words drifted out in a stupor - “I don’t want to be bread...” I suddenly stopped, her last words penetrating my daze. “Responses? SHIT!”
    “She’s doing it again,” Jody said.
    “I know,” Ilene shook her head in amazement.
    “Well maybe you should add that to my profile! Curses like a drunken sailor! And 'responses?’ What responses? How long exactly have I been out there?” They looked at one another, considering the matter.
    “What is it, four days or so?” Jody offered.
    “Yeah, that sounds that’s about right,” Ilene agreed.  I was officially homicidal. {Look for the next chapter ‘How To Find A Date Without a Shoe-Fetish Part 4 - Berry Sensitive‘)

    Copyright 2010

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  • How To Find A Date Without A Shoe Fetish - Part 2 (The Best Sex Is All In Your Head Anyway...)

    Posted on Friday, April 23, 2010



    "I'm a member," my friend Ilene offered matter-of-factly, barely pausing long enough to look up from her plate as she continued to eat her salad with relish. "Mmm. This is so good," she raved," as if the bomb she had just dropped meant nothing. "Are these dried cranberries or cherries?" she inquired, oblivious to my bewilderment. Taken aback momentarily, I promptly shook myself out of my fleeting stupor. For a second she almost had me going. "No you're not," I countered.
    “I am,” she insisted. “I’m a veteran.”  

    I choked on my drink, spraying a mouthful of berry smoothie all over the table.
    “Are you alright?” She filled my glass with more chilled lemon-water from the glass carafe on our table, and then eagerly went back to her organic salad. I sipped from it, and was just about to take the bait, when I stopped myself. No way. I wasn’t falling for this. “Right,” I said, joining in on the gag.
    “Aren’t you?” she asked. Something about her expression made me pause. Surely she wasn’t serious?
    “The sex is fantastic,” she stated simply. My mouth turned into a fly trap.

    Ilene was the editor-in-chief of a trendy, home-design magazine, and she had just flown into L.A. from NY for an important photo shoot for the next issue’s cover. They were doing a spread on a real-estate-obsessed, Hollywood celebrity’s latest home renovation - the most recent purchase in a series of compulsive home-hopping, but surely not their last. We were lunching in a bustling cafĂ© on N. Robertson, chowing down on typical oh-so-healthy, California organic fare, catching up, when searching for commaraderie, I told her about Jody’s new online-dating venture. The last thing I expected was a casual declaration that she too was a proud card-carrying member of an online-dating site.  

    “Get outta here,” I said. This chic fashonista, a powerhouse of a woman, well known in the publishing and design worlds, on Find-Me-A-Soulmate? I could just see it now - “Prominent, divorced, forty-something, NY hottie, looking for Mr. McDreamy to share candlelit dinners, sunsets, and walks on the beach with. Oh, and no roommates please (that includes parents) ...”  

    “So what picture did you use for your profile,” I asked, playing along.
    “Well at first I was a little skittish about the whole thing, you know how it is - so I didn’t use any. But then you quickly learn that no one responds unless they know what you look like, so I used the one from my editor’s page - you know, the headshot?”
    I stopped dead in my tracks, just inches away from the next bite out of my pita sandwich.
    “Well don’t look at me that way!” she said rather defensively. “You have to sell yourself you know. Hey, I’m competing with photo-shopped versions out there! It’s tough.”  

    Unable to contain it any longer, I finally burst out laughing. The idea of her shopping for men this way was just too preposterous. “It’s not so bad,” she said. “Look, I’ll show you.” I realized just in time she that was only talking about the picture. Without batting an eye, she quickly pulled out her Blackberry and logged onto the webpage. There she was in full color - airbrushed to perfection. “I have a profile on My Space too,” she added proudly. “All this Web 2.0 stuff is just so fabulous you know - the social networking - so many opportunities.”

    “But...Why...How-?” I stammered. I couldn’t get my head around it. Was I the only one who thought this online thing was just a tad outrageous? Had the whole world suddenly gone crazy - all my middle-aged friends falling prey to such lonesomeness they were suddenly driven to total cyber madness, or was I really that out of it?
    “But you go to so many parties, meet so many amazing people, have so much access,” I said. “What about your professional status, and safety? Aren’t you ever worried?”  

    “Oh darling, where have you been? It’s a brave new world out there. Everybody’s online. Who do you think is responding? No one has time for live dates anymore. This is so much more efficient. And the sex? - it’s fabulously dirty. I have met more scrumptious men this way than I could ever hope to meet at any event or party. Of course, there is the occasional creep. And then there are the married ones... Oh, and then there is the occasional gay guy, you know, just experimenting. But one doesn’t really have to worry about any of that. This opens a whole new world of possibilities.
    “Sex?” I repeated.
    “Well of course,” she said. “That is where all good dates lead eventually, isn’t it? Only you don’t have to deal with the snoring and morning breath, any awkward exchanges - worry about coffee in the morning if it didn’t work out, or change the sheets after. It’s all very tidy. And after all, the best sex is all in the head anyway, isn’t it?”  

    Was it? Was I really the only forty-something single person living in the dark ages? And was sex online - whatever that meant - really that fantastic? How did one even get there! My head was reeling. And what about intimacy, romance, love? Was there still such a thing? Two fallen friends in one week.... Was this where it was all leading - was I next, I wondered? (Look for part 3 - ‘Counterparts and Collusion‘)  

    Copyright 2010     heart heart heartbreak  

    Cranston, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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  • How To Find A Date Without A Shoe Fetish - Part 1

    Posted on Friday, April 23, 2010

    I’m quitting,” my freshly divorced friend ceremoniously announced. “That’s it! I’m going to pull out of this silly race while I still have a scintilla of self-esteem intact.”

    “No you‘re not,” I retorted. “Quitting is not permitted. You‘re just having a bad day. You‘re blood sugar’s low. You‘re hormonal. Go have a double cappuccino or a gargantuan Coke-Slurpee” (my fix for everything lately.) “You have to be patient,” I then offered more gently -“not set these impossible deadlines for finding someone. It doesn’t work that way.

    Stylish, urbane, and youthful both in her appearance and demeanor, my friend Jody had just ended a twenty-seven-year marriage to a man, and decided to come out of the closet at the tender age of fifty. “It’s now or never,” she reasoned. And attractive, looking more like thirty-five than her true age, next she decided to take life by the horns and put herself out there for the first time since her early twenties. “I signed up for one of those Internet matching sites,” she suddenly declared one day. “You did what?” I asked, stunned. “Well how else does a clean-cut, honest, successful woman meet other single eligible women in a huge metropolis these days?” she demanded.

    And how did they, I wondered. Was this really the only way? A new arrival in L.A. myself, and single, she suddenly gave me pause. I hadn’t really faced the dating issue yet. I was still too busy bemoaning the impossible traffic, and adjusting to the fact that my grocery bill had doubled. But she got me thinking, “How do people meet?” Gay, straight or otherwise, how does one find a date in a new city, especially when you‘re no longer thirty-something? Was online dating really the only answer? It was hard for singles everywhere, I knew. But I considered my friend’s predicament. Slender, beautiful and exotic, she was the Lucy Liu of gay women. And still, for a successful, beautiful, gay woman - middle-aged- it had to be a hundred times harder. It’s not like she could join a church group, or hang out in the frozen-foods section at Whole Foods and flirt with a hunky guy on a Saturday morning - employ one of those pick-up strategies one reads about in Cosmo. And does that ever really ever work anyway? I mean who does that? Anyone?

    Would I be posting my picture on the web next, I wondered - subjecting myself to God-knows-what-kind-of-freaks out there - someone sitting halfway across the world, pretending to be normal, and ogling my picture, while reading my profile without any underwear on? Maybe someone in prison! Would I soon be reduced to writing one of those canned descriptions, I thought - the kind where you try to sum up who you are in five pre-set categories - the sort that allocates space for only two-hundred-and fifty words or less each? I could just see it - Favorite TV shows.... C-SPAN and Charlie Rose of course. Diet... I keep it healthy. Vegetarian. No junk. Never mind that I gorge on Malomars in front of the TV while watching “The Bachelor.” Who’s gonna be impressed by that? And that is after all what it’s all about right - impressing? I mean, you only have one page in which to sell yourself. And the competition is stiff! “This is your sexual resume,” my friend said. “It’s no time to be modest! There’s no space!”

    So what were these profiles like, I wondered. The ads on TV made it sound like these sites had it down to a science. Finding your soul mate’s just a matter of taking some personality tests, and then it’s happily-ever-after, they seemed to promise. So, I decided to investigate - take a look. I logged on and read a few samples....

    “I am honest, sensitive - love long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners...” After the sixth one, 'All of you, I wondered?’ So how come you‘re not dating each other? After a while it was rather remarkable too, I thought, how none were alcoholics, or even smokers. They all exercised at least three times a week, drank only socially or never, which, unless they were all gay Mormons, kinda defied the odds, I reasoned, didn’t it? No one ate any junk food - everyone ate “healthily.” (That explains the rate of obesity in this country.) Oh, and none wanted you to have any emotional baggage either. “No drama please,” was the common phrase used, I believe. “I have had my share of that,” they stated. Dating and no drama? I pondered the likelihood. What alternate universe are they living in, I wondered.

    “So what kind of responses are you getting,” I asked my friend. “I told you. I am quitting,” she said. “If one more flannel shirt, mullet-sporting golfer, who lives five-hundred miles away contacts me, I swear, I’m gonna hit something! I mean there have to be some normal, attractive, successful, mainstream woman out there, who just happen to be gay, don’t there? They can’t all be attending Sapphic poetry readings, on the golf course, watching women’s basketball, or marching at gay rallies. Where do I find someone like me?” she lamented. “I miss being held. Like a Rhesus monkey.”

    Was there an answer? Was this virtual realm really a step up from bars, I wondered? Did the breadth of the pool really outweigh the glaring disadvantages? Or, however flawed, was there still something to be said about at least being in the presence of a live, breathing person? “C‘mon, give it a chance,” I tried to sound encouraging. “Surely there are some nice people out there.” Maybe it was a mistake to approach this with immediate expectations for romance, I considered. Maybe the process was far more valuable. “Be open for now - just get your feet wet. Maybe meet up casually, make some new friends,” I suggested.  

    “I have been trying to approach this casually, but despite my most valiant efforts, I keep slamming into a brick wall,” she insisted. “All I wanted was to go out on a few dates. Not even anything terribly serious. Just something to help me forget ‘The Cracked One,’ she said, referring to her first very painful foray into the single’s world. “Is that too much to ask?” “The Cracked One” was her moniker for a closet obsessive-compulsive film-editor, who as it turned out, also happened to have a slight shoe fetish, and despite just a few short weeks together had left her picking up the pieces. Ironically, they had actually been introduced through a friend. “I offered my heart and she readily bypassed it for a new pair of Manolo Blahnik’s,” Jody sardonically recounted. She still hadn’t recovered.  

    “I have a healthy self-perception, but it ain’t getting me anywhere these days,” she stated. Clearly being traded in for a pair of high-heels, however fabulous, could make anyone feel dejected. So what was the answer, I wondered? Where did an eligible, single, gay woman, or any clean-cut, mature, single person, meet good people in a large city these days? Were there any options? I wondered...
    Look for part 2 - ‘The Best Sex Is All In Your Head Anyway...’

    Copyright 2010    heartheartheartbreak    

    Cranston, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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