The Nondating Life

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Part Fourteen: Mixing it up

Previous post

"All I ever meet is douchebags," my friend whines to me. Repeatedly. "Douchebags" and gay guys.

There are many reasons for this, I patiently try to explain to her--I mean many reasons aside from the fact that New York is crawling with douchebags and gay guys.

The gay guys can be partially explained by her insistence on wearing really pointy shoes. I've had this argument with others before. And you can deny it all you want. But as much as you, dear women, might like your pointy shoes, the only other people who will really notice them and like them are other women and gay guys. Straight guys will not so much notice them-notice them. Rather, some vague, subconscious warning light will go off in their heads, alerting them to the presence of a pair of Castrato 2000s in the near vicinity.

That and pointy shoes remind us of witches.

The douchebags? Well, douchebag is a relative term. This particular friend, deep down inside, is a sorority girl (was, in fact, IN a sorority) who is trying to live the hipster life. She claims to despise "suits" but is destined to mate with one and produced baby suits. Still, she hangs out in Lower East Side and Williamsburg bars, trolling for too-skinny, geeky musicians who never fail to disappoint because, well, they're musicians, hipster-wannabes and she, deep down inside, is only now realizing she's not exactly compatible with those people. That's not to say she has to end up with a frat boy. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. She needs someone sort of in the middle. But, for now, like a lot of us out there, she's frustrated by running into the same type of guy over and over and over again.

And I found myself in the odd position of running out of advice. Then I met VittlesVamp the other night and she explained to me this experiment that she and a girlfriend have going on. She and a girlfriend, embarking on a girl's night out, decided to forsake the regular old stomping grounds and try some place new. And the trick isn't just to try some place new. It takes more than walking out of Welcome to the Johnsons, crossing the street and going into the Magician. No, the trick here is to try an entirely different neighborhood, a different genre, if you will. That isn't to say you have to go completely out of character and hang out in some rooftop bar in Times Square looking for lonely business men or divorced women on vacation, but perhaps you should at least THINK about going out above 14th Street or, if you're an Upper East or West Sider, switch sides or go downtown. Me? I go where I'm invited and, while I PREFER downtown or Brooklyn (partly because of the crowds, mostly because it's easier), I've never turned down invites to UES, UWS and, yes, even Williamsburg bars. (Oddly enough I find the annoying frat types of the Upper East Side MUCH less snobby about going out downtown than vice versa. They shriek a great deal less than supposedly cool people when they're asked to go anywhere above 23rd Street.)

VittlesVamp and her pal decided to try out spots in Midtown. And while the post doesn't necessarily make this clear, there was one other guideline. One of them HAD to start up a conversation with someone of the opposite sex while there. The results? Well, she's got two posts so far, here and here.

Will this solve all your dating problems? Of course not. It might not solve any. And if you're a tiny white girl and walk into the wrong Harlem bar, it might cause more problems. Or if you're a skinny black dude and walk into the wrong mafia run bar, that might cause problems, too. But, as in all things, use some common sense.

Of course, in a small town, your choices will always be limited. But one of the things that always amazes me about New York--and I'm completely guilty of this as well--is the ruts we dig for ourselves. Given a choice of a million bars, we'll go to the same four or five. Which is fine and good, but if your stated goal is to catch a man or a woman and you've been running into the same problems, you need to find a new rut--if you know what I'm saying.

And it's not just with bars. The same rule applies to races, creed and types. Don't simply write off a guy because he's wearing a suit or, conversely, he's wearing a trucker cap (although you should train him to ditch the hat and grow the fuck up already as soon as possible). Hell, I'd never write off a girl because she's a Democrat. Honestly, despite the (R) behind my name, hardcore Republican chicks bore and/or frighten me. I like to change it up. I'm not saying I'd date a filthy hippie, mind you, but I'd totally sleep with one (if she showered before hand). So, get out there and switch it up a little. Race. Creed. Type. And, yes, even religion.

As an atheist, the religion thing ticks me off sometimes. Now, I'm no longer an idealistic 17-year-old who'll make brash statements about love conquering all--even the racial and religious prejudices of your entire family. Relationships are often hard enough without adding social and cultural pressures. But out of curiosity, and I know I'll probably catch hell for this, why is it WRONG to say the following:

I'd never bring a black girl home to meet my folks.
A Muslim? Fuck no, I'd never date a Muslim.
My dad would kill me if I brought home a Puerto Rican guy.
My family would never let me bring home a Jew.

But it's perfectly acceptable when a seemingly rational, cool, enlightened person says this:

I don't date non-Jews.

All the other groups at least have the decency to hold out a LITTLE hope for a brother. Most Catholic, Irish, Italian, Episcopalian, African-American, Jamaican girls (and guys) have been trained to say, in public at any rate, they'd consider ALL options. They might be lying through their teeth, but at least they say the right thing in public. But Jewish girls (and guys)? They can stand there in public and write off the bulk of the population.

I think I might be a little jealous that they can get away with saying something like that--something that, on the face of it, is un-PC--in public.

But honestly, the only reason this pisses me off is because I know a lot of hot Jewish girls. And it breaks a guy's heart when they put out a shingle that says "Goys need not apply."

But that's okay. This is all about switching up, right? And if they won't switch up, I sure as hell can. Just the other night, I found myself at a party talking to AND, more important attracted to a plain old white girl with blond hair and blue eyes. She even had a plain old one-syllable, white-girl name. Typically, I get tangled up with Hispanic and Jewish girls (but no Hispanic Jewish girls... yet). But, for maybe the second or third time in my life, I found myself getting a little moony about a blonde. Hell, the girl probably lives on the Upper East Side, of all places. She may even have been in a sorority at some point.

Absolutely nothing came of it--one of those times I let the moment slip away--but it did remind me that sometimes, a change of venue can provide a change of perspective.

So, maybe this weekend, I'm gonna go hang out in Bay Ridge. I just KNOW the girl of my dreams--and her really big hair and her 89 IROC--is out there somewhere.

(Next post)


  • I read an article a while back encouraging singles to go atypical places for their gender. For example men going to yoga classes to meet women. So i think changing up your environment makes sense a whole lot of sense (except i would never date a dude in a trucker's hat).
    As to the Jew thing, i can understand how it can be off puting to the gentiles, but it's not so much a discrimination of a particular group, it's everyone (and if your really want somebody there is always the little solution of conversion - although i don't endorse that view) so i feel the discrimination is not as bad as the other example because your not disliking something in others you just know what you need. (As in the argument: it's not you, it's me). My (v. Jewish) cousin was relating a story about how she wanted to date a particular guy who was from a very restrictive Hindi(?) sect and when he told her he couldn't date because she wasn't ____ it made her really upset, but then she realized she does the same thing - in not dating gentiles seriously and it made sense. (See we're not the only ones!)

    By Blogger PetiteDov, at 1:32 PM  

  • petitiedov said, "you just know what you need"

    Isn't the whole point of this column, though, that sometimes you don't know what you need (especially when you think you do)? And sometimes you have to open your mind a little in order to find it?

    By Blogger Caryn, at 2:12 PM  

  • also, and i'm just playing devil's advocate here, cuz ultimately you gotta do what you gotta do... but racist rednecks "know what they need" as well. they don't necessarily discriminate against a "particular group" ... just everyone who isn't in their own group.
    there are all sorts of arguments for such exclusionary behavior, most of them silly and none which would hold up under any sort of secular/we're a great global village/open-minded "logic."
    basically, the only acceptable reason for any of this is "life's just easier that way."

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 2:58 PM  

  • NYC you have to love it! Yes, it rubs me the way my jewish brothers/sistas say that...but in a very small way I understand. Because if that were the case why don't we just set up jewish bars where only jews go to hook up with jews...wait...there are some of those in the city...haha! no serious, I really enjoyed your article and will send it to some of the homies on the UWS.

    By Blogger Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa, at 4:07 PM  

  • Hmmm... Personally, i don't have a problem when people say, I have to marry Catholic, or Jewish, or Muslim. Culture is very imporant as is religion - if that is how you have been brought up. For a Russian Jew, this makes matters even more complicated. There's the Jewish cultural upbringing, and also being brought up in a russian culture, with specific childhood experiences, language, food, etc. It's just easier to relate to people from a similar background. And as someone who claims to date Jews only, i've had my fair share of non-Jewish dating experiences. Heck, my longest relationship of nine, yes, nine years was with a guy who wasn't Jewish and I actually considered marrying him too. So, sometimes the heart cannot help it. Sometimes you fall exactly for whom you say you'd never fall. And since, as Ken aptly points out, many Jewish girls are hot, that makes it a bit more frustrating for the gentile gentlemen. :(

    By Blogger writersbloc gal, at 4:09 PM  

  • I think culture's important, too, but I've never dated a Cajun girl... But that's mostly because they wouldn't date me. Jerks.

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 4:17 PM  

  • Yes, it is whole lot easier when your dating a Jew b/c usually you starting from a similiar base. But when looking at a potential Jewish partner you have just as many variables as any other potential mate. Mixing it up is all fine and good but if you know the person your going to end up with will compromise what is important to you why even try to be "open minded". I wouldn't go looking for a date in a neo-NAZI bar thinking, "hmmmm, as long as he likes the same music as me i'll just ignore all that crap about the Aryan race" (sorry for the extreme illustration - brain not working properly at work). Because no matter how you dice it a person's beliefs and background do matter, especially if you enter children into the equation. Sometimes you do need to test the old "i know what i need" mantra but there is also core things that should not be willing to change for anyone, the core that makes you - well you. And for many Jews (and other groups) part of that core is being with someone from the same "tribe" or someone who allow them to be "Jewish."

    By Blogger PetiteDov, at 4:19 PM  

  • "But honestly, the only reason this pisses me off is because I know a lot of hot Jewish girls."

    As in almost all things in life, it is rarely about lofty ideals such as tolerance and diversity. For men, it almost always boils down to getting with the women.

    By Blogger Matthew, at 4:23 PM  

  • hear hear! what's the dating life worth if you never take risks? i like risks. even if you can't necessarily bring them home to papa, you may learn a thing or two.

    By Anonymous candy girl, at 4:36 PM  

  • I feel like I've changed it up quite a bit, still no luck.

    serious relationships include 2 jewish boys (one HAD to marry a jewish girl, of course), an american-pie blonde-haired blue eyed farm boy (who is now gay), an italian, and most recently a tall dark and handsome dominican.

    no dice.

    one thing about new york that still makes me laugh: you and a guy friend are walking down the street and there is this beautiful girl with this totally unattractive guy, and the guy friend says, "HOW DID HE GET HER!?" and the response: "He's probably jewish." ahhh, I love that about the city.

    By Blogger citygurl, at 4:55 PM  

  • I dated a Jewish girl once. The best part though was that she was a Japanese Jewish girl (honestly, I'm not kidding). She was truly a JAP. It was a helluva combination too. She also studied diving physiology in Antarctic seals, so she pretty much had it all (in my humble opinion). Ah, those were some mighty good times...

    By Blogger on Bushmills I stagger, at 8:25 PM  

  • Look, if religion is important to the person, they're going to want a mate from the same flock. It's not the same as race or nationalities, those things are not belief systems. I just can't imagine my kids believing in Jesus. It would be funny. I would laugh at them. :-)

    By Anonymous Karol, at 9:08 PM  

  • So, Ken, are you willing to convert? No? I have a beautiful meaningful culture/spirituality/ mythopoetic system/philosophy/heritage (there is no word for "religion" in Hebrew). I want to see it continue. There are only 14 million of us and a lot of people want to eradicate us, and have been trying to for 2000 years.

    If you aren't willing to raise Jewish kids, then stop complaining.

    This is one of my pet peeves. Everyone loves their ethnic restaurants and exotic knicknacks and world music and Lonely Planet adventures, and they bemoan the MacDonaldization of everything, but they have no idea what it takes to perpetuate a culture and language and anyone who refuses to submerge themselves in bland globalized goo gets called a racist.

    By Blogger Judith, at 8:14 AM  

  • Having said that, I will add that soon after I arrived in NYC I realized that I needed to get out of the stuffy incestuous Upper West Side Jewish singles scene where everyone has known each other for 15 years. I go to social events all over town (even other boroughs!) and I love meeting new people and I hate social ruts. So I do agree with your basic premise.

    I will date gentiles, but they have to be willing to go to shul with me occasionally. If I were of childbearing age, I would insist on raising the kids Jewish and the guy would have to actively assist in this, if not convert.

    By Blogger Judith, at 8:20 AM  

  • Judith,
    Would I convert? Highly unlikely. Aside from not being willing to convert back to the religion of my own youth, there's the kosher thing. People think I'm joking when I say I'd never give up pork, but in the little games we play in our heads, I've had less problem going through life lying about believing in a religion than in agreeing to dietary restrictions. Food is a key part of my culture and it would have to be one hell of a woman to get me to agree to give up my bacon. And while that's meant to be funny, I'm not joking.
    And as far as raising the kids Jewish, I wouldn't protest and I might help on the cultural aspect, but I'd have to reserve the right to say my piece on the religious aspect. And believe me, I understand the reasoning behind much of this--especially the threat of extinction. (I'm not a globalist who thinks we should all be one big beige happy family. But neither do I cry when another language drops off the face of the linquistic map)

    As it is, I'm already going to have walk that particular minefield with my son, who is being raised Catholic and, no doubt, will soon enough ask me why I never go to Church and such.
    Wow, who went and made the Nondating Life so serious.

    Oh, I did. Sorry. Won't happen again.

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 11:45 AM  

  • I don't live in NYC, so maybe this has something to do with a crowd that I'm not familiar with; what's the problem with a trucker cap?
    Around here, we call those guys...truckers. Or possibly some other tradesman.
    Are they beneath you? Or are you talking about some other crowd that wears the hats for some reason?

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