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Oakland, CA

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Oh, My Words. Posted on 02/21/2002.

I've got a PILE of work responsibilities to attend to, so naturally I'm going to spend too long writing a post about my personal life. (Cue the sounds of mice clicking into the location/address field, keys typing in a new URL...)

In January I attended a retreat, and as part of the introductions, each participant was to put forth a word that had been particularly meaningful to them of late. They tended toward the thoughtful or profound, "optimism", "ethics", "grace", "transition", and often commented in a more societally-oriented way.

As introductions transpired, I pained over what my word would be. And then it hit me... And the word I thought of was immediately followed on by a companion, and the two become inseparable in my mind. And so when it was my turn, I spoke, "I have two words, a primary word and one that follows on it immediately and inextricably. My words are 'dating'.... and 'baggage'."

Starting the last couple weeks of last year, I began dating a fair amount. A number of my female friends related happy stories of dating through's personals, and I figured, "Hell, if the women I know are having a good time with this, I ought to try it out."

I met women first through Craigslist (it's free!) and then Nerve Personals. The rituals of online dating are pretty obvious--it all begins in a flurry of email. Flirty, funny, meaty, frank, you find you're spending an hour or so a day just firing off missives. With Craigslist, pictures are sent. Nerve ads usually have a picture, though it's common for more to be pointed to. (I would just direct the ladies to Which, yes, would "blow my cover"--I could care less about maintaining anonymity, though, understandably, women tend to be much more protective of such identification.)

Eventually, one person (in my case, usually the woman) says, "So, should we meet?", and plans are set. (Some women like to precede the meeting with a phone call, seemingly to more fully make sure the potential date is not weird or psychotic or utterly unsocialized or something). And then dating commences, much the same as it has for the last gajillion years.

One thing I found fascinating about my foray into online personals is that I had *no* bad dates. I've gone out with 6 different women (1 from Craigslist, 5 from Nerve), and the worst that happened was that there was no chemistry, but the interaction was still pleasant.

"But what about the 'baggage'?" you ask, if you've bothered to make it along this far. Well, before this recent dating jag, I hadn't gone out with a woman since my last relationship dissolved in September. Having been my Most Serious Relationship Ever, it left quite a residue that became increasingly apparent as I went out with new women--"These girls aren't nearly as great as her!" This might sound silly, but I'd never really had to deal with such baggage before (before my MSRE, the longest I'd dated someone was three months). So there was a challenge in coming to grips with it, in acknowledging what the baggage suggested, heeding its influence, figuring out what it meant. (Did I mention that this was all exacerbated by my continuing communication with the subject of my MSRE, which had been getting progressively flirty and, concomitantly, fucked-headspace-y? No? Silly of me to overlook that.)

So that's where I was in late January. Dating, with baggage.

The point of this post: if you're looking for dates, try online personals. Really. Don't be sheepish. It's fun. And, in my experience, Nerve is worth the time and money.

If you have a personal web site, don't assume it will get you dates. Mine never has. (Though, I believe my site has helped 'make the sale' after someone met me through other means.)

Epilogue: After more "dating around" than I'd ever experienced in my life, I seem to be focusing all my amorous attentions on one particularly delightful person, funny as fuck, smart as a whip, cute as a button--and happily, if perhaps atypically, it's not unrequited. She was the fifth of what I called "the Nerve girls". And I haven't bothered to look since.

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