Dating by Catalogue

I’ve always been hard-to-fit given an Amazon’s inseam and chest, a soprano’s lung capacity, a weight-lifter’s shoulders, and a flirt’s this and that. Whatever disparaging remarks I may make here with regard to my mother, anonymously, are somewhat outweighed by her two core competencies that actually brought meaning to my life: cooking and sewing. I picked up on the cooking albeit not from her especially because she did not have the time. I had to reinvent cooking for myself. As for the sewing part, an undiagnosed vision disorder made such nearly impossible and so I took up embroidery instead. Embroidery is not as impractical as it sounds given that a stain or hole can be artfully camouflaged, with or without a patch.

Meanwhile, I am grateful for all the wonderful clothes my mother has made for me over the years and so I take excellent care of them. Although it’s usually only a piece or two per year, they do add up such that those that I have managed to tote since my escape from Venezuela, and those that she has made since, take up a foot or so in my closet.

As a professional technical writer however I learned that to appear suitably dressed yet studiously casual cost money for my structure, and the easiest way to obtain it was through catalogues. I could replace the shoulder pads of a jacket myself to a smaller set because I come equipped with my own built-in shoulder pads, put darts in the waist of a dress, and I was good to go. Naturally, I would return quite a few items but the time required to do this was enormously preferable to nosing around in a department store or boutique to usually end up not only empty-handed but disgusted with the lack of quality.

When I first discovered the online world it was through a BBS. Whereas word processing and various modes of data transmission via modem or even Telex were available in my various offices, social networking through a BBS was a revelation. Instead of just sticking to printed personal ads, which were responded to first by snail mail letter, and then followed up by either a letter or a phone call, and then later by voice mail services which cost the respondent money, now there was immediate typed verbal interaction or the forerunner of “chat”.

However photos presented various issues. Because of these issues, profiles on the particular BBS to which I became familiar were without benefit of a photo, and so respondents might request one to be emailed; however, refusing to do so was not considered anomalous.

Visual persons (largely of the male persuasion) wanted a photo in order to provide the encouragement to actually make a face-to-face meeting. However, women who refused to comply (such as yours truly) were not immediately eliminated from consideration as low value.

Meanwhile, men stepped up with a host of well-formed letters and script-generated bon mots with which to use to impress the ladies rhetorically. The more clever ones did not necessarily appear to be form letters. By definition, the male users were computer literate. Some of them had pagers. It was intimidating to me how clever were the men in terms of the arts of seduction through this medium. Distinguishing the married men from those truly interested in something more than a fuck was an art.

I gave up and went back to the written personals.

However, the newspapers who were printing them mostly stopped doing that. Can you guess why? Answer: The World Wide Web had exploded.

This phenomenon along with the ban on smoking in the bars in California were the two strongest incentives for me to become engaged to a man who I really didn’t know all that well. It was as if he was waiting for me, in my desperation, to come to this realization, at 37.

What kind of fun was I going to have if I were to rely on photographs of myself to attract the sort of men I liked to me? First of all, photographs are misleading and professionally made photographs are the most misleading of all. The women do not actually look the way that they appear therein. Moreover, men who were attracted to me “in the wild,” without benefit of actually getting to know me were invariably either fooled or distracted by the outer package. I do not know how to correct this misconception. Is there an image consultant who can recognize and convey “eccentric” today? How would that be done such as to distinguish oneself from the prevailing and youthful “modern primitives?”

Men tend to give me plenty of attention in person, however, invariably, the impression that they have of me is incorrect. Whereas, having a chance to sit, smoke, have a cocktail, over time, over several meetings, such as in a local bar, was (and is) a way more accurate way for me to meet men with whom there was a possibility that we would be compatible both sexually and philosophically.

Of course, most just cared about the former, with lip service about my “intelligence,” as panty grease, or lip grease as the case usually was.

Without smoking however the bars had nothing going on but drinking and television, which thus served to reduce the available selection to spendthrift alcoholic mediaphiles. The atmosphere, as a result of the dearth of loquacious smokers, was deadly to me, even when I didn’t smoke.

My favorite bar had been one that did not provide music and the television did not dominate the bar. The thing that dominated the bar was the prevalence of bigger-than-life smooth-talking manly men, with cigars. Naturally, of course, this demographic attracted the hopeful party girls, such as myself, even if I was faking it as a respite from my drab life as a technical writer.

The acoustics, with the red leather upholstered booths, and the painfully crowded bar, were such that it was possible to have a conversation with another person. As fodder, it was a whole lot of fun to observe the men engaging in just enough bravado to exude success (usually in the entertainment business) but yet also chivalrous, generous, and to brazenly carve out their territory with the ladies such as to activate our homing instincts. For some reason, the men largely policed themselves and so did the women. Class.

I would get into the habit of going to a BDSM meeting of some sort such as a demonstration or discussion group, socialize with my various contacts therein but be utterly disappointed in the level of masculinity at the place, and then head over to the bar to get my dose of testosterone, often wearing the very same tarty leather miniskirt and heels I had worn at the first venue.

It seems to me that the World Wide Web world of dating is suspiciously like a catalogue. Instead of perusing items by genre and size or as laid out in the catalogue with an artful sequence or table of contents, however, one merely (generally speaking) types in one’s specifications and out pops the lover/sex partner/mate/play partner/hook-up/swinger/etc. of one’s choice.

“Ah yes. There’s a good one, a 37-year old submissive masochist, with the appropriate physical specifications, who seems to like the same hobbies, sexual positions, and culture. Check!”

How is that supposed to work exactly?

Now, in the modern age, combine this phenomenon with the “smart phone” wherein the entire profile or conversation thread fits in one’s hand. Take those tiny keyboards and how exactly does one write a coherent sentence? Are coherent sentences oppressive to the viewers? How on earth do people communicate? By phone calls of course. The persons exchange the appropriate phrases to indicate their educational level and television viewing habits and this apparently results in enough comfort to meet? Oh no. They must exchange sexual habits as well, share erotica, and probably measure penis v. bra size.

If you don’t like what appears at the arranged rendezvous point, can you make an exchange? Is there a shipping cost?




6 thoughts on “Dating by Catalogue

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