Tag Archives: Dating


Heidi and I watched The Bachelor finale, then looked at each other wordlessly as the credits rolled.

“Right!” she exclaimed as she leaped up.  “Looks like we’re not gonna make it to the laser light show, so it’s time to watch that Aussie slang video I’ve been meaning to show you.”

We watched two Aussie guys rattle off slang, like:

Reno—house renovation

Eggs benny—obvious

Salvo—Salvation Army

Sweet pots—sweet potatoes

Spag bol—spaghetti Bolognese

“I noticed one of your Lebanese coworkers referred to herself as a Leb—would it be okay for you, as a non-Leb, to use that term?” I queried Heidi.

“Hmmm…it could have a negative connotation … I think Leb is worse than Lebo, but personally I would avoid both just to be on the safe side.”

“And do you call Aboriginals Abos?”

“No!” Heidi said emphatically, as if I had used the N word.

“We make up new ones all the time,” she looked at the list of abbreviations I was compiling.  “We call the PM Sco Mo.”  Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

There were other Aussie slang bits I learned later, on my own, like that a squatter is not someone illegally taking over a property, but a property owner, and a bush ranger is not a forest ranger, but an outlaw.

Our convo (see how I did that?) pivoted to some old TV shows that had been on in the UK during our time there.

“I saw Jonah from Tonga in Scotland late one night,” I said.  “It was so shocking—the most politically-incorrect show I’ve ever seen.  I thought maybe I was having a dream.”

Jonah from Tonga—in which 40-year-old white Australian comedian Chris Lilley plays a 14-year-old Tongan boy, in brown face.

I continued. “If you replaced Tongans with Native Americans or African Americans and showed it in the US, the stereotypes would have people rioting in the streets, demanding it be axed.  The F bombs alone would make sure it would never air.

“That said, I thought it was really funny—maybe in a ‘Borat, I’m so shocked I’m having a knee-jerk laugh reaction kind of way.’”

“You should watch his first show, Summer Heights High,” suggested Heidi. “Chris Lilley plays Jonah, and a gay drama teacher, and a posh exchange student from a private girls’ school, and it’s hilarious.”

As it happened, the next show after The Bachelor was Black Comedy, a sketch show written and performed by Australian people of color. It was clever, but not shocking or side-splitting.  Maybe I was too tired to appreciate it.

At brekky the next morning we talked about dating.  We’d both received much unsolicited and often conflicting advice from well-meaning people:

You’re trying too hard.  When you stop looking, He will appear (He, always pronounced as if the “he” in question is God)

You’re not trying hard enough.  You should try (fill in the blank) speed dating, shopping at the most expensive grocery store in town, late at night, in heels; hanging out in coffee shops/libraries/sporting events/hardware stores; trying dating apps/sites, etc.

You’re too picky.

You’re not picky enough.

Don’t try to be funny. Men don’t like women to upstage them.

Men love women who make them laugh, so act cheerful and tell jokes.

Once you resolve all your issues, He will appear!  (Some of the most f-d up people I know are married.)

Find someone who has similar issues to yours so you understand each other.

You travel too much.  You should stay put so you’ll meet someone local.

You should go work in a refugee camp so you can meet a doctor.

You’re young looking and acting, so date younger men.

Men are only interested in younger women, so date older men.

Take up snowmobiling, even though you aren’t into it.

Pursue your own interests so you’ll meet men you have things in common with.

Maybe, unconsciously, you don’t really want to meet someone.

“I hate that one,” I said to Heidi as we got up to leave, “Still, it could happen—you could turn a corner and bump into Mr. Right.”

And just as we turned the corner there stood one of Heidi’s 17-year-old students.

Be Mine, Be Thine

This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.

On the heels of Valentine’s Day and the last story about my worst trip re-entry ever, and having arrived home late last night from a group trip to Central America, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day.

The composition of the group tour was typical of other such trips I’ve taken.  There were 10 of us plus the guide.  It was two married couples, three married people whose spouses hate the outdoors so they had come solo, and three single women.  I used to spend a lot more time wondering, “Why are so-and-so married and I’m not?” or wondering if I would meet a guy on one of these trips.  It could happen.  But all I could think of by the fourth or fifth day was “I want to be alone!”

I’ll write more about this trip once I’ve covered Spain, but for now I just wanted to repeat the theme I’ve written about annually on Valentine’s Day.

According to all the standardized tests I’ve taken, I am an extrovert.  I am sure that I’m not.  I get along well with people, I think.  I like meeting new people.  I like spending long blocks of time with certain people.  But when I am exhausted or stressed or just need to recharge, I want to be alone.  I think that’s the definition of an introvert.  Maybe because I’ve always worked in communications and development, I’ve learned to be comfortable being “on.”  But come Saturday, all I want is to hang out home alone.

Society has names for introverts: Loner, recluse, hermit, withdrawn, antisocial, wallflower, solitary, shy.

I am struggling to come up with a list of similar negative words for extroverts. The ones that come to mind are neutral or positive: Larger than life.  Life of the party.  Outgoing. Sociable.  Genial. Affable.

Think about it: The police catch a serial killer. The TV news interviews his next door neighbor. What does she always say? “He kept to himself.” As if that explains why he murdered people.

I happened to catch a TV show about eccentric people in Minnesota.  Apparently we are number one in that regard. They were interviewing the sister of Frank Johnson, maker of the world’s largest twine ball. When asked what she thought motivated her brother to undertake such an endeavor, her answer was, “Well you know, he never did marry.”

I never have married, but I’ve seen plenty of couples here and while traveling who look miserable together.  I just don’t buy society’s message that you have to be partnered to be fulfilled, happy, a valid person, whatever. It’s not that I’m opposed to it, I just don’t believe that being part of a couple fixes life’s problems. It’s like any other of life’s big choices—both being single and being partnered contain different trade offs.

I have often wondered if I could adjust to living with a partner.  I think I could; after all I’ve adjusted to living in other countries and had housemates and am in general an open-minded person who is comfortable with who I am.  I’m usually good at speaking up for what I want and don’t want, which seems like the basis of good communications.

Yadda yadda yadda.  Have a good Valentine’s Day with your sweetie, even if it’s your kid, or a friend, or your mom, or yourself.  Lord knows we can use all the love we can get in this angry world.

A Bumpy Landing

This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.

I decided to write one more post before I leave for Belize.

In my last post I noted that I have sometimes returned home in bad shape or to dicey situations.  This post is about that worst time ever.  There was that time I got bumped up to first class on a London to Minneapolis flight, was seated next to a handsome, single, and presumably rich man my age—but I had a terrible cold and I went through an entire box of Kleenex blowing my nose.  He expressed sympathy at the start of the flight, then faced away from me for eight hours.  I can’t say I blamed him.

This was worse.  I was dating a guy I’ll call Jed whose parents were Italian immigrants.  He had been to Italy many times.

Before I met him, Lynn and I had made plans to meet in Venice, and Jed was excited for me to see the country he loved so much.

By the time the trip happened, Jed and I had been dating for about two months.  By this point in a relationship, things have usually … erm, progressed … but not with Jed.  He made the trek from Minneapolis to St. Paul every Saturday night to pick me up, sometimes with flowers or a nice bottle of wine, Italian of course.  We would go out to dinner, have great conversations, maybe see a movie, then he would bring me home, kiss me good night, and leave.  There was no groping, no heavy breathing, no frustrated desires.

It kind of felt like a first date, every week.  It was all very nice, but there was no sizzle.  I thought that maybe if I was gone for a couple weeks, he would be dying to see me—and more.

So I went to Italy and Lynn and I had a great time as usual.  I bought a purple felt deco-style hat that Lynn said looked very “fetching” on me.

I had an early flight home from London, so I booked myself into a Yotel at Heathrow.  Yotels are cool little hotels in airports.  The rooms are tiny but mirrored all around to prevent claustrophobia.  For once, I was good and didn’t drink a bottle of wine the night before a long flight.  Instead, knowing Jed would be picking me up, I hydrated like crazy and went to bed early to get my beauty sleep.

I started feeling funny as soon as the plane landed.  I stopped in a bathroom to check my makeup before meeting Jed, and my face was ashen and gaunt.  The purple hat that had looked fetching the day before made me look like some sort of demented Dia del Muerte skeleton dancer.  Still, I had plane hair so I kept it on.

The look on Jed’s face told me I hadn’t just been hard on myself.  He asked if I wanted something to eat and I said yes, thinking if I got some chicken soup it might make me feel less queasy.  It didn’t.  It made me want to hurl, violently.

“I need to get home,” I said weakly.  But I couldn’t remember which ramp my car was parked in.  We drove around for a very long 15 minutes, me Trying Not to Throw Up in Jed’s SUV.

Finally, we found my car and I made a dash for it without even kissing Jed goodbye.  Thankfully he drove off so he didn’t have to witness me blowing chunks in the parking ramp.

Oh, did I mention it was the coldest night of the year, around -20F (-29C)?  Shaky, I managed to drive out of the airport before I pulled over, threw open the car door, and chundered on the side of the road.  This happened three or four times more before I reached home, where the heat was turned down to 55F (12C).  I cranked up the thermostat then started a bath of scalding hot water and lay in it shivering and shaking.  What a long night.

And Jed?  I broke with him a few weeks later after a couple more Groundhog Day-like dates.