Dating in the Digital Age


red-phone1I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I am that I am not part of the current dating scene. This is not just because the idea of someone besides my husband seeing my 38 year old naked body immediately sends me into a cold sweat. (Or maybe I’m just pre-menopausal?) No, it’s because dating today involves modern “conveniences” guaranteed to turn what is already an impossible challenge to find everlasting love into a veritable minefield where you must tread carefully in order to avoid miscommunications, bruised egos, and blistered genitalia.

My husband, Bryan, and I met in 1999. That’s right – we started dating right before the turn of the century. We didn’t have cell phones; those were still pretty much reserved for corporate executives and drug dealers. Bryan did carry a pager, though. He’s an engineer, and in the beginning of our relationship he was often “on call” at the manufacturing plant where he worked. On one of our first dates, we were walking through the park when Bryan was paged. We had to stop what we were doing in order to find a pay phone. Suddenly, this guy I was with seemed very important, and I was quite impressed. (It really didn’t take much to impress a girl back in the 90’s. Or maybe it was just me.)

I don’t think young people today can grasp what it was like to not have a phone with you at all times. In my early 20’s, my girlfriends and I would go out to the bar and have a good time, but then what? At the end of the night, if I wanted to see a “special friend”, there was only one option: the pay phone in the bar lobby. Here’s the thing: in my day, if you wanted to make a booty call, it was going to cost you $0.35. You had better think long and hard about whom your first choice was, the chances of him being home, and count up how much spare change you had on you. This couldn’t be a capricious decision. If you reached an answering machine, you weren’t getting your money back. And let’s be honest here – a collect booty call isn’t sexy.

The best thing about not having to deal with cell phones while dating was that I didn’t have to deal with text messages. Text messages! Oh, the humanity! Text messages are destroying us all. “What does he mean by that?” “I texted him, ‘What’s up’ and it’s been 32 minutes and he hasn’t responded. What does that mean?” “OMG, IDK, LOL, CU L8R!” It all makes me head explode. Don’t even get me started on the naked pictures. Are you people fucking crazy? You know that shit is going to end up online, right? In my day, we had Polaroid cameras. To my knowledge, they were invented for the express purpose of taking naked pictures and this was all they were ever used for. You can Google it.

Once you’ve navigated the murky waters of dating via text messaging, don’t forget to update your Facebook status! “We’ve been dating for a month and his Facebook status still says, ‘single’. WTF?” “I see you’ve changed your Facebook status to ‘It’s complicated’ – is there something you want to tell me?” For fuck’s sake. How about if we don’t use a social platform invented by someone with no social skills to communicate our feelings to each other? Or you could follow in the footsteps of the broken-hearted and use Facebook as a means for contacting your old high school girlfriend, relive your nostalgic fantasies and be surprised when your marriage disintegrates. Yay, technology!

As I’ve said before, I’m not a technophobe. I have a smartphone. I haven’t had a landline since 2002. I’m just glad I didn’t have to try and navigate my fragile 20’s or God forbid, my teen years, using one. You know what I feel worst about kids missing out on as they grow up, as far as cell phones are concerned? I think one of the quintessential rites of adulthood is when you get your own apartment for the first time, and the phone book arrives, and you get to look yourself up and see yourself listed. That is one of the first things that made me feel like an adult. Maybe that’s why these little Millennials are having a hard time growing up; they don’t get to have these little experiences.

Well, one thing hasn’t changed since I was young and still dating: you still need to wear a rubber when you carry out that (now free) booty call. So get yourself to the pharmacy, kids. As far as I know, there is NOT an app for that. (Yet.)

What’s That Noise?


records1I know I’m officially getting old because I don’t understand this fucking music that kids listen to today. I realize that every generation says this about the following generation’s music; it’s practically a rite of passage into adulthood to hate your children’s music. (I don’t have children, but I’ve seen kids around, or whatever. And I have a radio.)

Here’s the thing: I’m not disgusted with these kids’ musical idols because they’re too vulgar or too loud – quite the opposite. Saccharine pop stars like Justin Bieber and One Direction are so flaccid and cheerfully nonthreatening they make me want to…well, I’d like to say they make me want to scream, but I can’t work up the energy to care that much. I guess they make me want to take a nap. When I heard that “The Biebs” was caught smoking pot, I thought with a yawn, “Well, that’s a start, but call me when you find him passed out with a needle buried in his arm a la Nikki Sixx.” Maybe then he’ll make a decent record. Nikki used to chase the dragon in a backstage bathroom and then light his leather pants on fire. That’s a rock star. I don’t know what Justin Bieber and his hair are doing before a show. Reading the bible? Finger-banging Selena Gomez? Annoying the fuck out of me just by existing? I’ll tell you one thing though: His dad is kind of hot.

I started getting into music in sixth grade. My first few albums were: Licensed to Ill (Beastie Boys), BAD (LL Cool J), Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi), and What the Cat Dragged In (Poison). That was back in the cassette days of course, but I still have the first two on CD and they’re in my car right now. I remember when Appetite for Destruction came out in seventh grade. It was exciting. Guns N’ Roses felt like something new and different and…dangerous. (Speaking of dangerous, if you want to see something truly frightening, look at a current picture of Axl Rose. Plastic surgery is hazardous to your rock cred, dude.)

My parents hated my music because it was rude, I played it too loud, and my dad thought that Poison, based on the album cover, were a bunch of “ugly women”. (Maybe Poison and Bieber have something in common after all.) The point is, bubblegum popstars don’t scare anyone. (Unless we’re talking about Britney Spears during her bald, umbrella-wielding period.) If you turn this Millennial dreck up too loud it just makes the autotune that much more obvious.

Come on, kids. Give me something worthy of my disapproval. Is that too much to ask?

The Writing’s on the Wall


pencilI work for a company that provides “educational services”. (My boss says that is as specific as I can be without getting sued.) In my line of work, I come into contact with the written work of students of various grade levels and abilities.

If there is one thing that haunts me endlessly about my work, besides the state of public education in this country and the fact that the children are our future and we aren’t necessarily teaching them well so they can lead the way (RIP Whitney Houston), it’s the ridiculously bad handwriting I see on a continual basis.

Their fucking handwriting! Christ. Some of them look like they wrote with their feet. Seeing as how I spent my first three years of college as a psychology major, I feel pretty comfortable making broad, sweeping generalizations about children based solely on their handwriting. Here are a few types:

  • Teeny Tiny Printing: Some of these kids can fit 50 words on a single line. I swear they can hand-print in a size 6 font. I don’t know how often these children’s helicopter parents (Dr. and Mrs. Teeny Tiny Printing) are making them rewrite their homework, but these kids must only have one bowel movement per month, that’s how anal retentive they are. Don’t get me wrong – these kids generally write pretty well, but damn. I’m 38 years old and on the verge of needing bifocals. Give me a break, kid.
  • Fat Loopy Cursive with Hearts Over the I’s: These girls don’t generally knock it out of the park academically. I’m sure they are popular, have their own credit cards and drive a Volkswagen Beetle, but they aren’t going to change the world. They will do an excellent job decorating it.
  • Doctor Scrawl: I don’t know if these particular kids will ever actually make it to medical school, but their careless, “I can’t be bothered” handwriting has me convinced that these entitled average-achievers already possess one of the personality traits necessary to sustain a thriving private practice: they don’t mind inconveniencing others.
  • Serial Killer Handwriting: The stuff written in this hand is either terrible or fucking brilliant. The pages look like ransom notes: the letters vary in size and sometimes the pencil presses so hard against the paper it’s amazing it didn’t tear. You never know what kind of manifesto this crazy bastard is going to turn out when you start reading this mess. These are my favorite.

Although those are the main types, sometimes I get bored, like today, and I have to invent games to keep myself entertained. I came across something unusual that sparked my imagination, hence:

  • Secret Encoded Message Writing: This occurs when, due to the student’s hand or a computer glitch, random words appear several times darker than the surrounding text. It might look like this.

In my post-afternoon-break haze, I decided that the student was trying to send me a secret message. I tried reading just the darkened words, but they didn’t make any sense. Damn. I thought about rearranging the words and trying again. (Hey, what do I know? Maybe they didn’t want to make their secret code too obvious.) Instead, I just let it go. I was ready to move on, but that was a fun 30 second diversion. I can’t wait for the next one.

If you’ve recognized yourself in any of these psychological profiles, you’re welcome. This is the first step. I’m sure if you “Google” or check WebMD or something, they’ll have some answers for you that will get your life right back on track. Or maybe you can just type everything from now on.

Disclaimer: When it comes to talking about children, schools, and education, it can sometimes be an “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” situation. I take my job seriously, and I’m awesome at it. I joke because I care.