ISO Love
by Hannele Rubin

illustration by BG

Bachelor girl watches as another date self-destructs.

"I've been pursued, propositioned, passed over."

It's not that I have trouble meeting men. I just have trouble meeting good ones. I've met men in bars and cafes, in dance halls, at work, in crosswalks, at parties and dinners, on airplanes and buses and subways and through friends and relatives.

Among the highlights of my recent love life: a Gen-X-pro-life punk supermarket bagger from New Jersey; a bisexual Dutch cruise-ship-gigolo; a Trinidadian shoe salesman of Chinese-Italian descent; and an unemployed Israeli truck driver with brown teeth and an oral fixation.

I've had a blind date (he really was blind) and psycho/stalker dates, ugly dates and stupid dates; dates who were too good looking or too rich or too smart (or thought they were). I've been pursued, propositioned, passed over. I've been dumper and dumpee; I've had one-nighters and repeat-flings, long-distance and long-term relationships. From my first boyfriend to my last, I have loved and been loved -- but never at the same time.



In my never-ending quest for synchronicity, not long ago, I placed my first personal ad in the Free Press, an alternative weekly newspaper. It read:

Dorothy Parker

without the vices. Cute, fun, witty SWF, appreciates quirky people, offbeat places, magical moments, a good couplet. ISO a smart, fun, attractive SWM, who appreciates a good woman.

"Negativity/nerdly-sounding -- out."

In the two weeks "Parker" ran, seventy-eight men left messages. At first I called them all back, thinking that for the $1.75 a minute they spent dialing the newspaperās 900 number, they deserved at least an acknowledgment. But as more and more responses trickled in, guys who sounded even remotely unstable were out. Garbled grammar/thick Long Island accents -- out. Negative/nerdly-sounding -- out.

In the end, I met about 15 guys through the ad.

Some of my favorites, in brief:




Childrens' Books Editor

First Phone Conversation:
Complained that someone called him a "faggot" that day.

Best Line:
"Before I got married, I was an IV drug abuser."

"...but not aesthetically..."



Newspaper Columnist

Phone Message:
"Yellow is my favorite color, spring is my favorite season, I like pinball better than religion and long conversations in dark bars better than anything else..."

Eight (8) hours of conversation in a dark bar...

Best Line(s):
12 a.m
.: "So," putting his arm around me, "what do you think of US?"

2 a.m.: I make it clear heās not coming in. He says: "We connect emotionally and intellectually, but not aesthetically and culturally."




Third-Grade Teacher

Best Line:
"Thank God you're not ugly."

At dinner, he looked down the waitress' shirt and commented on the size of her breasts.




Political Pollster

First Impression:
Quiet; conservative brown suit; loud tie.

Best Line:
"Sometimes I like to wear women's clothing."




Fiction Writer

First Impression:
Amazing how a personality can ruin someone's looks.

Best Line:
"My last three girlfriends were lesbians."

"...admitting to desperation and deviance."

Let's just say newspaper personals were not entirely successful -- which was not entirely unexpected. Until my mid-30s, I thought personal ads were for desperados and deviants, and using them was somehow a statement of defeat. But when I couldn't find HIM in bars and cafes, dance halls, crosswalks, at parties, dinners, on airplanes and buses and subways and through friends and relatives, I had to do something -- even if it meant admitting to desperation and deviance.

Here I was at 38, still single, spending long days home alone freelancing for corporate clients, getting out infrequently to meet with Risk Management executives, Information Processing supervisors and Software geeks. I had to face facts: I wasnāt gonna find HIM there, and Iād become a love slave to my Mac. If the real-life personals didnāt do it -- and I'd already admitted defeat -- I figured I might as well go on-line to look for the man of my dreams.




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