html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Second degree

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Second degree

The hardest comment for me to think through is from Macneil, whom I nearly always agree with. He wrote:
Here are qualities that I believe someone like me would be looking for: Intelligence, attractiveness, trustworthiness, dependability, consistency, and ready-to-commit. And: Instead, they would use terms like "serious relationship" or "looking to share my life."

He’s exactly right in one way. Those are the things I am looking for, and indeed, the things that I’m offering. But it would make me cringe to write an ad that used those words to describe my hoped-for, and the responses would be almost too painful to read. They would be sincere, which is just heart-rending in responses to personal ads, and not funny, so I wouldn’t even get anything out of them.

I talk about wanting to be with someone funny. There are lots of types of funny that crack me up, but the kind I love best, the kind I try to use, depends on a strong understanding between the speaker and listener. The unspoken trust is that we are both alike, and couldn’t mean the horrible things we say, and are therefore freed to laugh at the situation (and often our pretentious liberal reaction to it) and ourselves. I heard it last night at the party I was at; a white guy turned to his black friend and offered him watermelon. He turned it down, saying that what this party needs is some fried chicken. They all seemed easy and calm, but my shoulders were at my ears and my eyes were huge; that’s not a game I’ll play. You know what, though? With my Asian-Am friends I’ll bring that shit and more.

So, although it doesn’t have to be about sex, I guess I’m always hoping that someone who reads one of my personal ads won’t come in sincerely through the front door. I’m hoping he will instead leap to that level of trust and go with one of the riffs in the ad, or make fun of some aspect of it (and himself or convention or me). It is a dangerous game, and it can’t be forced, and the front door is open to a great guy who is funny in a different way. But when it is played right, it is a certain road to my attention and heart.

I won’t get that if I post a sincere personal ad. I just won’t catch the attention of some snarky man, who is also looking for a kind, trustworthy, ready-to-commit woman. He won’t see the edge or offer it in return. The talk about sex isn’t necessary and I would hate for guys like Macneil to run from me, but I don’t want to branch into phrases like “looking to share my life.” True as they are, they won’t get me where I most want to go.


Blogger Megan said...

Like much of what I talk about, this has been discussed before and better over at Unfogged, although I can't point you directly to their conversation on earnestness.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Macneil Shonle said...

I agree that a completely serious tone is both not necessary and not your style. You definitely will need someone who can "keep up" with you and you need to show your personality. But your personality is pretty hard to hide anyway.

And, anything that seems too sincere can also sound desperate, which is why many times in ads people keep up with that "LOL, OMG. I don't even know why I'm writing this" act. (For guys, the strategy seems more "if I don't spell check or fix my grammar, it won't seem desperate because it just shows I haven't put any time into this.")

I do have one question, though: You said that you "don't want to have a long correspondence" before meeting. Why is that?

1:49 PM  
Blogger Macneil Shonle said...

(And I'm sure there are plenty of bearded grad students just right for you who wouldn't be scared off by the sexy-talk. Limiting the pool won't limit your chances of happiness, but perhaps change the timing a little.)

2:10 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I think long correspondences are more likely to go wrong than right. If I like your first email, then I want to meet you. You've already won.

In most cases, writing more will only make you lose ground, be less clever, misinterpret some comment I make and get things complicated. Shoulda stayed back with 'I want to meet you.'

In some cases, the emailing is promising and I start to get invested, but when I meet the guy, I'm just not attracted to him (or he's not attracted to me). Then one of us is let down and later misses the person from the emails. I don't want to put that kind of time and emotion into someone I could just go meet.

There is the very rare case of someone whose emails are so good that they make a first meeting even better. But I don't think I would miss out on that guy by meeting him earlier.

That's why.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why bearded grad students? Why not standard, non-bearded engineers who had the good sense to leave school without a grad degree, realizing that, especially in EE, a masters is pointless.

And, don't you think it might be a bit much to expect to find a down to earth, kind of nerdy engineer, who will also be outgoing enough to try joking with you in an opening e-mail?

It seems like you want conflicting things.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Hell no she doesn't!

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And, don't you think it might be a bit much to expect to find a down to earth, kind of nerdy engineer, who will also be outgoing enough to try joking with you in an opening e-mail?"

If she was trying to settle, then yes, that would be asking a bit much. But settling is for bitches, and Megan's nobody's bitch.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't saying that there aren't funny engineers out there that meet most of Megan's criteria.

I just think it seems a bit much to expect a nice, engineer guy to go straight to joking/playful insults. That seems to be more the domain of people who went to business school.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Business school? That is the strangest conjecture I've ever heard. People who joke around right off the bat went to business school? You have confounded me.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

People who went to business school do that as a technique to build rapport, but not very well.

1:18 PM  

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