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Archive for September, 2008

Or: Make like a Boy Scout and always be prepared

About a month ago I met Elevator Guy and I always hoped I’d see him again. He was cute, he smiled at me for the entire elevator ride in that way, and, most importantly, he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring.

One day this week, public transit issues resulted in my getting to the office about 15 minutes late. I was bitching about said transit issues to a co-worker who was on the same train when who enters the elevator? Yeah, you guessed it, along with about three other people. Elevator Guy grins from ear to ear when he sees me (he must have remembered me!) and when I got off the elevator and the doors closed, my co-worker said, “He was lookin’ at yooouuu!”

So other people noticed. This is good, this means I’m not imagining the whole thing.

In hopes of seeing him again, I will have a business card in my pocket at all times when going to work. A 10-second elevator ride is not long enough to pick through my messy purse. It sounds a bit intense, but think about it: Elevator Guy gets a card that lists three ways to contact me, and the ball lands in his court. I ran this idea by my brother. He agrees that it’s just the right amount of chutzpah.

Anyway, this brings me to my point: If you’re single and looking, always be prepared to meet someone. Carry business cards or a pen and some paper. Don’t go out in public looking like you have the flu unless you actually have the flu (and you’re on your way to the doctor). Go to the supermarket when it’s crowded. Take public transit if possible, because you’re not going to meet anyone sitting in your car. If choosing between reading or studying at home or at a coffee shop, go to the coffee shop. In other words, brush your hair, put on some nice clothes, and get out of the house!

We’ll do this together, okay? You go out there and smile at some cute strangers, and I’ll have the audacity to slip my card to Elevator Guy in front of his and my co-workers. Provided I see him again.

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The things we put up with

During a lunch conversation with a co-worker, we came to a realization: We take a lot of crap from friends, but we wouldn’t tolerate that same behavior from someone we date. By “crap” I mean stuff like not retuning calls and e-mails, showing up late without warning you about it, or canceling plans at the last minute on a regular basis without a good excuse. I’ve had experiences where I was let down by a friend and I thought, “Wow, if a guy treated me this way, I’d just stop trying with him.”

So what’s different about friendships that allows us to put up with more unreliability? After all, friendships are extremely important, and they rely upon the same give-and-take. Like a romantic relationship, a friendship can’t be all one-sided, with one friend always providing the shoulder to lean on while the other constantly stirs up drama. Yet all too often, one-sided friendships go on for years, while the same person in those friendships might be quick to get rid of dates who treat them the same way.

I think we hold onto these friendships because you can always scale back. Close friends can become an aquaintance if, for whatever reason, you grow apart, just as acquaintances can work their way into your close circle if you start to hang out more often. If you’re dating someone with the intent of forming an exclusive relationship, you’re either together or you’re not. Maybe if it doesn’t work out you’ll stay friends (and you might even hook up once in awhile), but if you’re both not willing to make it work, it won’t work. As for friends, if you both slowly stop trying, but you still remember each other fondly enough to phone a few times a year, you still consider that person a friend, but not necessarily a close one.

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The New York Times recently put out a special section on personal finance, and while much of it is geared toward people of great wealth (what part of the Times isn’t?), there’s a great article about talking finances with the person you’re going to marry.

Money is still a pretty taboo subject, but it seems as though it’s becoming something that people are okay with talking about more openly. Maybe it has to do with the bad economy or the rise of personal finance bloggers, or maybe it’s because I work in financial journalism so I’m constantly surrounded by people talking about investing.

I think this new openness about money is a great thing. Like the article says, marrying for love is a recent phenomenon, as marriage has long been simply a financial union. Many people don’t realize that it still is!

By getting married, you are legally tying yourself to another person. If you’ve spent your single years saving money, investing well and keeping your credit in good shape, that can all be undone by a spouse who hasn’t been as strict about their money. This isn’t to say that just because someone has student loans and some credit card debt means they’re unmarrigable. But if you’re going to marry someone, or you’re already married and trying to improve your financial situation, you need to discuss spending habits.

How does this translate to single people who aren’t close to getting married right now? I’ve mentioned before how I’m a fan of talking about controversial stuff, even on a first date, as a way of really getting to know a person. You don’t need to tell them your salary immediately or anything, but talk about long-term plans. Are they saving up to buy a condo? Do they read up on what’s going on with the economy? Have they recently given up their Starbucks habit in order to save an extra $60 a month to be put toward a trip to Europe? (I have!)

Some people are more stringent about their money than others. Your spending and saving habits, your tolerance for risky investments, and your fear or acceptance of debt are some of the things that make you who you are. Rather than rationalize a person’s inability to part with a dime (or, on the other end, a person’s uncontrolable spending), work to find someone who shares your financial goals.

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I took an unplanned hiatus from this blog. My only excuse is that I have none, I simply ran out of ideas, and ran out of the drive to brainstorm new ideas. Mea culpa! But I’m coming back, ideally on a weekly-ish basis, to continue to share with you my musings. This post is dedicated to three men who have hit on me in the past two weeks:

1. Elevator Guy. Elevator Guy works in my office building on the floor above mine. I had never seen him before, and upon arriving one rainy morning we exchanged pleasantries about the weather. I haven’t seen him since, but wherever you are, Elevator Guy, I arrive to work at the same time every day and you don’t need an ID badge to access the forth floor. Think about it.

2. Creepy Old Guy. Creepy Old Guy was selling estate jewelry at an antiques festival I went to with my brother last week. He said we made “a lovely couple,” and, sickened, we both promptly informed him we were siblings. “Oh,” he said to me. “Are you single?” He told me he had just gotten divorced and asked if I could particiapte in an informal survey he was conducting. Fine, whatever. Upon confirming that he is 40 years older than I am, he asked if, for $100,000 for every year apart we were in age, I’d be willing to date him. That would mean I’d get $4 million. I said no. He smiled and said the older a woman was, the more mature she was about such things, and the more often she said no. What can I say? In the words of Ivana Trump, I’d rather be a baby-sitter than a nurse. Meanwhile, my brother was lassoed into a conversation about collecting cigar wrappers and he, too, looked like he’s rather be elsewhere. We avoided that area of the convention center from then on.

3. Public Transit Guy. Public Transit Guy was checking me out last week while I was on my way home. He made no secret of looking at me but somehow managed to avoid looking pervy. I like that in a man.

So, random guys, thanks for inspiring me to post again. And thanks for checking me out. Nice to know I’ve still got it.

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