As you know. I have a New Year's resolution to be braver, more social and less reclusive. I do believe Trappist monks would look at the past 10 months of my life and think, 'crikey Moses, that bird doesn't get out much!' There are death row inmates who had a more active social life than me last year. Maybe I needed that quiet time to cocoon myself at home and convalesce. I am so pleased I got Hetty, animals are very healing. It occurred to me the other day that gentle Hetty rescued me much more than I rescued her.
So, I have started the dreaded internet dating again. It really is the only way, I'm not one for hooking up with fellas in bars (I'm always deeply suspicious of them), I work in an industry that is 97% female. There is always the chance of snaring some handsome, rich single dad, I suppose, but, at the SOHK that is extremely unlikely. Dads are something of a rarity anyway, dads with jobs, their own teeth and no criminal record are unheard of. Also, the denizens of the sink estate where I work do start reproducing very young. All the dads are about 20 years too young for me. I am not going down the tawdry Sam Taylor Wood route!
I have dipped my ballet pump in the murky water of internet dating before: it is how I met Rochester, Senor Boldon (i.e. the brothers Grimm) and various other ne're do wells including:
* Dr Harry Potterer
* G Spot Joe
* Atticus the lawyer (who was later renamed Ratticus, when he proved less than reliable)
* Rumple le Bon
* The Grangetown Graduate
* The Parsimonious Yorkshireman
* The tourettes afflicted forensic psychologist
You can read accounts of many of these disastrous dates here.
So, I am currently inundated with emails and 'winks' (shudder) from various shady types. Here are a few observations about the motley crew of reprobates I appear to be attracting thus far.
I am particularly unimpressed with the term 'soul mate', yet it appears to grace every profile I read and every email I receive. The term is mawkishly Hallmarkesque, shows a distinct lack of imagination and infuriatingly, is often misspelt 'sole-mate'! Men with 'soul/ sole mate' in their profile are eliminated first.
Milk Tray Men
These are the miscreants whose profiles are full of abseiling, shark-wrestling, hang-gliding and parachuting . . . I am not sure that those things impress girls, you know. Most of us would just settle for a bloke who turned up on time, put the garbage out occasionally and made us laugh. Plus, I could never have a relationship with a man in a black polo-neck sweater: that 60s beatnik/ mime-artist look does nothing for me. And, in my house, he'd be forever picking dalmatian hair off his jumper. I haven't been able to wear black for 12 years. Milk Tray men, take your cheap chocolates elsewhere please.
This time round I seem to be attracting lots of men in the armed forces. Nothing wrong with that, I have a huge amount of respect for men in that profession. But, why, in the name of Ross Kemp, are they opting to post pictures of themselves proudly cradling their enormous guns?
There also seems to be a subsection of these guys who like to pose topless with their weaponry. Do you remember that very naff Athena poster from the 80s, topless man with baby? Well, these pics seem to be a warped version of that: all rippling muscles, tenderness and testosterone.
Brothers of Borat and Klu Klux Klutzs
Now, although I have specified I am looking for someone relatively local (maybe 50 mile radius). I am flooded with mustacheod, swarthy middle-easten, Borat look-a-likes. They usually start their badly spelled emails with a salutation such as 'hulloo prittee ladyee'. They go on to talk about their deeply held religious views, their respectful treatment of women and their profitable goat trading businesses.
I've also had many an email from the US of A: born again Christians, New York businessmen. A favourite was a retired police officer from Louisiana. He spoke of his passion for huntin', fishin' and self sufficiency and how he believes in women respecting and serving their men. Dear God, can you imagine Miss Underscore shackled to some trailer on the bayou, cooking up raccoon fritters and grits for some redneck klan member!
Bald BNP taxi drivers
This appears to be my main demographic. I wonder what it is about me that attracts the bald, BNP lovin' taxi driver. Is it my milky-white skin, do you think?
Irritatingly chipper Keith Chegwin types
I know it is a slightly odd idiosyncrasy of mine, but I love terse, grumpy and dour men. When I first met Senor Boldon he asked me how I was finding life on match.com.
'All the men are so bloody cheerful. I can't stand it They're like Keith Chegwin!' I moaned.
'Fucking hell, Miss Underscore! Don't worry. I don't think anyone, anywhere has ever accused me of being cheerful.' the surly misanthrope snarled.
Senor Boldon's remark me indescribably happy. It is not that I don't love laughing and wit, it's just I particularly love black, dry and sardonic humor. I want to be with someone who acknowledges the bleakness and absurdity of life. I don't want some bouncy, chirpy, Andrex puppy of a man. I mean, listen to this email I have just received.
Decent guy reporting for duty and seeking to be the teacher's pet - here's a virtual apple for you :-) Why don't you mark my profile (lol), and if it makes the grade, get in touch and give me a gold star!!!!!
This was written by a 44 year old man. Words fail me.
So, men who type 'lol', or :), or overuse jaunty exclamation marks are immediately crossed off my list. It is just the way I am.
I do seem to be attracting a disproprotionate amount of fellas with jobs in IT. Perplexed, I asked my friend, Lord M why this should be. Lord M works in I.S. - which (apparently) is NOT THE SAME AS I.T! (he is a bit touchy on this point!) According to Lord M, people in IT just open boxes and plug things in. He has yet to explain what people in I.S. do. Lord M has a theory as to why so many I.T. men opt for internet dating.
'Shy antisocial ugly types are drawn to I.T. as it is a job in which you don't have to deal with people.'
It IS interesting how many of the I.T. guys sound so apologetic about their chosen career. They always seem compelled to include some kind of disclaimer at the start of their emails:
'I work in IT, but I'm not a nerd/ Star Trek fan/ 42 year old virgin who lives with his mother.'
I'm not apologetic about being a primary school teacher. I do not preface my emails with:
'I work in a primary school but I am not a bossy bluestocking in a Laura Ashley pinafore and Deidre Barlow specs.
Just a theory this. I always get 'em. Men who are incredibly prescriptive in their very first email about how they want their potential partner to look and dress. It usually seems to go along the lines of:
'I like ladies to dress like ladies. High heels, stockings, dresses and pencil skirts, lipstick, silk underwear.
Would you really say that in an email to someone you'd never met? I find it quite incredible. My only conclusion is that some of them must be transvestites. They are making sure that their potential partner has a wardrobe full of flouncy feminine clothes for when they transform themselves from Edmond to Esmerelda. Often, they do also include preferred dress sizes. Most strange.
But, in amongst all the cross-dressing, gun toting, redneck taxi drivers there have been a couple of normal sounding blokes. I am forcing myself to keep an open mind. . . . Something tells me though, that in my heart I am not too optimistic. I was shopping with Madam Noir in John Lewis today. We were in the underwear section, I was looking at a rather sensual, cream lace bra. It was very Elizabeth Taylor, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Suddenly, something so much more appealing caught my eye.
'Oooh, Madam Noir. Look at that. Tartan, flannel pyjamas half price.'
(by the way, the rather wonderful title for this blog post is a quote from that lovely film, As Good as it Gets)