Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's a Bloke Thing 5/17/09

Did I really need to travel 6000 miles across the Atlantic to learn that being a complete dickhead is not confined to men in the UK?

I’ve now had the opportunity to observe the male species operating in England, Wales, France and Spain, and now the US – all places where I have lived and, in the latter’s case, am living – and I now feel the same about men as I do about snow flakes: yes, every one is, as they say, different. But let’s be honest: an awful lot of them are pretty damned alike.

I really like men. I have great male friends, some of whom are exes, some of whom are future exes because I haven’t got my claws into them yet. Others are exes I never want to see again, and others are on hit lists (including mine).

But really: despite the number of men in my life, I am no closer to understanding a damned thing about them. In each of the countries listed above, I have, however, investigated the men who offer themselves up on internet dating sites and been able to draw some generalisations.

In Britain, for example, if you are a woman over the age of 30, it is pointless putting your real age on a site, as most men think that 28 is really pushing it – irrespective of whether they are 20 or 60. Large breasts are much in demand, as is blonde hair and no baggage. The men invariably have more baggage than a Louis Vuitton warehouse, but as a woman you won’t be considered unless you can fit yours into an overhead locker and still have room for a multi-storey car-park.

French men set more store by brains than breasts, and dating sites offer far more esoteric social activities than those on offer by their British counterparts. In Paris, I attended an evening where the subject was “So you think you know about love”, and for three hours everyone joined in the conversation without making a hit on anyone else. When the evening finished, it was not to the most obviously physically attractive women that the men flocked, but to the ones who had made the most intelligent contribution to the debate.

If there is a singles scene in LA, it has so far eluded me, hence my signing up to yet another internet dating site. I thought I would narrow my search to LA and, had I been able, would have narrowed it further to the distance between my apartment and the Jimmy Choo shop on Rodeo Drive, such is my reluctance to purchase the car everyone assures me I will need.

Television commercials informed me that 20,000 people a day join the site I signed up to (whose privacy I will protect, pending any lawsuit I might bring for the “guaranteed” matchmaking part of their pitch that I suspect will not happen); and, after filling in my details and adding some pictures, I waited for the computer to go into meltdown.

Now, what I’ve never understood about internet dating, is that when you specify you want a non-smoking, slim, health-conscious, funny, creative guy over 6 feet tall, every chain-smoking, overweight, alcoholic, humourless construction worker straight out of midget school, thinks that he is just the man for you. Oh, yes, and although you have narrowed your search to LA, they don’t think that their living in Texas will be a problem.

When they are keen, they are very, very keen. One man had recently moved to Washington but was all set to come to LA, if I just gave him the nod. Another contacted me from the UK, saying that he had decided to cast his net further afield (and then targeted the only single, British, LA-based woman on the site – weird, that. Big net. Fear of fish.).

Having also said, in my profile, that I did not want any heavy religion in the life of my soul-mate, I appear to have attracted the attention of every Catholic in America and, suddenly, “saved” men, who all but ask if it’s okay if the Lord comes along on our dates. I already feel a line about there being three people in our relationship.

This being health-conscious LA, there are dozens of men stressing their love of the outdoors. To be honest, I don’t like any place where I can’t see a Marriott sign just by standing on a small box, so I have pretty much ruled out what seems like 90% of the city.

Also on the health front, I foolishly ticked a box, indicating that I lifted the occasional weight. This has somehow become translated into something much more impressive than it actually is, and many men appear in my “Interested” box with the headline “Like you, he enjoys weight-lifting”, which isn’t quite the same thing as taking a couple of baked bean cans off the supermarket shelf a couple of times a week.

Compared to the UK, there is generally less emphasis on female physical attributes on the US site, and also the men seem more open to meeting women who fall within a much wider age bracket. But then some of them can’t be choosers, I imagine. Where, for example, is the man whose profile bangs on about “North Pole region warming” going to find a woman – well, apart from in the North Pole, obviously?

Only one man I contacted, and, afterI directed him to this blog, should he require more information about me, he declared it to be “WAYYYYYYYYY” too much; he also recommended that I “rethink” suggesting the link. I had “almost” had him, he wrote, adding: “Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Hilarious! One, that he thought he was so great a catch that he stood a snowball’s chance of getting me that easily (no one else has managed in five decades; I’m no pushover). And two, that he was criticising me even before the first date! Even British men wait a couple of weeks before doing that.

The great thing about the internet, though, is that you can find such things out about people very quickly; now, I won’t even have to go through the bother of dressing up and leaving my apartment to establish that the guy’s a nobhead.

Instead, I can stay in, watch more wall-to-wall House, and keep singing that jolly song that won Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest: I’m in Love with a Fairy Tale.

Unfortunately, it’s true.

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