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Blast Minnesota Bureau

There are many things I've learned in my brief, but not always brilliant career as a rural Minnesotan. First off, even if someone who disliked an earlier column labeled me the town whore, it doesn't necessarily mean I am. Sure, I've gone on a few blind dates lately, but that hardly justifies such a harsh moniker.

You see, since returning to my hometown of Brainerd, I've been doing unusual things. Not unusual for most folks necessarily, but certainly a break away from my normal social patterns. I've been dating.

Now that I've brought up the topic that I hate discussing, but my therapist thinks is good for me, I think I'll attempt to explain these "life lessons" I've been figuring out. As it happens, I've always considered myself a bit stunted in terms of dating, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I never quite got over the trauma of junior high. Or maybe it's that it took me until after college to realize that my gay friends weren't in love with me.

At any rate, living here in the Toolies has made me want to shake it up a bit. And in this process I've developed some definite opinions, some that I’m not so proud of, about who I want to be with.

For instance:

  • Cowboys. Though I have nothing against cowboys per se; I just don't want to date one. I'd even venture to bet that line dancing is a joyful activity, good exercise even, but again, not for me.

  • Seatbelts. I admire a man who uses a seatbelt. It says a lot about him. Like the fact that he enjoys his life and wants it to continue.

  • Transportation. I admire a man who actually has a car. Having to pick a guy up is a little fishy. Due to the complete dearth of mass transportation in Brainerd, it can often mean there's been some trouble with the law.

  • Glasses. I'm quite particular about the issue of glasses. Small and the right shape work well for me, but if they go anywhere near a square and over three to four inches tall, my enthusiasm dwindles. (I'm quite aware of how shallow I'm sounding. Really, I'm a decent sort. Large, square glasses are fine for my uncle or my grandpa or the grocer, but in terms of a potential mate, they’re not my ideal.)

  • Smells matter. As it turns out, metallic licorice types of smells do not appeal to me. Neither do excessively manly colognes. Clean, soapy scents or woodsy, incensy campfire types of smells do appeal to me.

  • Shoes. Again, I realize I'm showing the shallow side of myself here, but cowboy boots that make a man appear to be teetering on high heels don't do it for me. Solid loafers that don't make clicking noises on the floor work nicely. I'm OK with certain types of sandals. And outdoorsy boot-shoes work for me big time. Call me crazy.

  • Hair. This is a very precise category. Feel free to take notes if you must. A man who spends a lot of time on his hair does not appeal to me. My motto is hair can be gorgeous without lots of work. (Motto may be a bit strong, but the thought has crossed my mind.)

    While I'm not sure gorgeous is an adjective that can be used to describe my hair; at least I don't end up spending inordinate amounts of time in front of the mirror, cursing and wracked with self-doubt. I can get my cursing and self-beratement done in about five minutes.

    Any man who spends more time than it takes to watch an episode of Boy Meets World, back combing, teasing or adding products of a fruity nature to his hair turns me off.

    Not unlike the issue of glasses, the hair should not be more than three or four inches in height.

    Next issue: Lack of hair. This works. Only if the hair that does exist is not used to overcompensate for the lack of. This shows a certain self-confidence. I also have found that long hair is not my favorite. It should, however, be all one length. Layers or bilateral "hockey" cuts -- short on the top and sides but long in the back -- do nothing for me. Actually, they make me want to run to the nearest restroom labeled "does" or "bucks."

  • Height. This category is a freebie. I'm only 5 feet 1, so while I might be uncomfortable with a man less than my height; statistically that does not occur very often. Other than that, I'm pretty open.

  • Weight. Actually, I'm pretty flexible on this too. Mostly because I'm no Ally McBeal. Not only am I not Ally McBeal, but sometimes I have seething anger about how Ally McBeal (i.e. the media's representation of the ideal bulimic woman) can make me feel like the body I live in is wrong.

    OK, so I guess Ally McBeal can't actually make me feel that way, but there's definitely a link of some sort. So, in hopes that I will not be judged as harshly as I sometimes feel, I am pretty open about size. I like men who are active yet are not obsessed with fitness or the size of their "pythons." It is for this convoluted, irrational rationalization that weight is not an issue with me.

  • Questions. I need someone who asks them and then listens to the answers. Go figure. This in turn makes me want to ask questions and have real conversations. A definite necessity.

  • Touching. Too much touching right away is confusing and not so good. No touching whatsoever is also confusing. No real verdict on this one.

  • Reading. Let's just say this is a good thing. And no, I do not consider porn actual reading.

  • Age. So far, I've been dating men older than me. Some much older. Telling someone your real age is good. Hedging and answers like "I believe you're as young as you feel" are not good signs.

  • Humor. As it turns out, this one of the biggest pluses by far. By humor, I don't really mean jokes. Stand-up comedian wannabes who consider one person a way to try out new material do not appeal to me. But a wry skepticism of the world at large is rather quite nice.

    What I've also come to realize is that dating is not my forte. My usual calm demeanor has been replaced by anxious fretting and neurosis. While I think it's been fun for my friends to witness, it's not always so much fun for me. For one thing, I'm a terrible judge at how things are going. When I think it's not going well, it's usually fine. If the dates seem good, it's a near guarantee from George Zimmer himself that I won't be hearing from them again. It's akin to driving and me. If I have a gut instinct to turn left; it almost always turns out that I should have turned right.

    And I don't have a real firm grip on "the rules" of dating. From what I've surmised, I'm supposed to wait a specific amount of time before calling a man. Actually, I think maybe women aren't supposed to call at all. And although it's OK for me to want to see someone again, I should appear to have a really full schedule that might just possibly have a little time for him in it. And I definitely should not discuss or propose future dates, to keep up the "hard to get" persona that apparently reels the guys right in.

    My problem is, for the most part, I think the dating rules are a bunch of bunk. Yet I'm not confident enough to completely ignore them either. I think what I have to figure out is what I want out of dating. Is it to bag a future husband, find a temporary boy toy, or just meet someone I'd like to hang out with?