Dream Man
(and other creatures)

by Hannele Rubin

"...tall, muscular, dark..."

Dear Readers,

Back in the first column, we noted that fixups, newspaper personals, singles events, volunteer activities, travel and other efforts had all failed to hit pay dirt in my romance department. Then came my cyber-miracle.

I'd had an ad online for a couple of years and had met a number of guys that way -- even dated a few. I'd also made some novel uses of online personals: before a vacation in Paris, for instance, I advertised in the "France" section of an international dating site. During my two weeks in the City of Love, I met a Parisian photographer who was obsessed with freeing Tibet; an adorable Morroccan who took me dancing; and a mild-mannered accountant who introduced me to Friday night rollerblading (10,000 screaming Parisians looping under the Eiffel Tower and over the Trocadero and all around the Louvre).

Some time later, back home, I started dating a 26-year-old Chinese-Italian shoe salesman from Trinidad. I met him while -- what else? -- shoe shopping (which, for many women, is considered erotic activity). He was tall, muscular, dark and had a great smile. Three or four times I resolved to get rid of him to find someone more "statistically appropriate" -- but he was just too cute. He lived in Brooklyn with his brother, a gay hairstylist, along with two fluffy white dogs named "Mary" and "Cutie". And he made a great curry.

That's when Dream Man's missive landed in my in-box. It simply said he'd seen my profile and thought I might be interested in reading his.



Ax Murderers

Although the online personals seem like an easy way to widen your circle of prospects -- and there definitely are good people out there -- we all know that crazies and pretenders and opportunists also shark around in cyberspace. They generally target the lonely, naïve, the confused and vulnerable, but anyone who looks for love online must develop a really sensitive wacko filter.

I corresponded with guys who seemed normal, interesting -- even fun -- at first, but gradually revealed enormous social maladjustments (egomaniacs; sexists; pathological liars; addicts; neurotics; obsessives; control freaks, etc. etc. etc.).

There were guys whose needs I couldn't possibly meet. Some wrote me dissertation-length lists of their own attributes and even longer tomes about what they wanted in a woman. Submissives and dominants wrote offering to be -- or seeking -- slaves. Men from political hot spots around the world, like Bosnia, wrote wanting sympathy -- and a Green card.

I received complete curriculum vitaes (including links to publications); sexually explicit photos; proposals of marriage; a threat to put my very non-sexual profile and photo on a porn site; really bad poetry; really inventive spelling; and letters that cc'd a dozen other women's ads. Married men wrote looking for traveling companions or vacation affairs, "afternoon delights" or threesomes. New immigrants wrote offering to be gigolos for "financially generous females." Numerous requests arrived to satisfy fetishes -- from the mainstream -- feet, high heels, short skirts, spanking -- to the more offbeat -- like being carried and spoon fed.

Along the way, I did meet a few regular guys, but nothing ignited. I'd largely given up the idea of finding anything on the Web but pen pals and friends and research material. And at 38, after years of angst, I had become comfortable with being single.

"...gastronomic rapture."

Obtuse Anglo

According to his profile, Dream Man had diverse interests. He was intelligent. Athletic. Thoughtful. He wrote with humor and confidence. At 38, he was looking for a woman of 30-42 (no nymphette fantasies!?!); he didn't specify race or weight or looks of the woman he was seeking (a big plus -- no "model looks" in my house). He was adventurous and well-traveled and he wanted a serious relationship.

My usually cautious, skeptical nature gave way to a complete gut-feeling takeover. "Wow," I wrote back. "You're the man of my dreams."

Then I clicked "send."

"Good," he responded later that day. "I thought your profile was pretty dreamy too."

We met a week later. He didn't look at all like the art-boys or East Village poets or bronzed Middle-Eastern-Latin-American-North-African types I'm usually attracted to. His complexion was a sun-sensitive (as in: SPF 800) pink, and he looked terribly straight-laced in his short-sleeved button-down shirt with the single breast pocket. Since he's a scientist-type, I half expected to see a slide-rule -- or worse, a pocket protector -- there.

At dinner, his British accent made him sound as if he had marbles in his mouth. He noted that Americans sometimes had trouble understanding his English. "But that's not immutable," he added.

"Hmmm," I thought to myself. "Willing to accommodate. A plus."

Oysters on the half-shell arrived. We each placed a salty morsel in our mouths and looked across the table to see a reflection of our own gastronomic rapture.

"Cool," I thought. "A foodie! Another plus."

"Oh boy," he thought (as he later told me). "She must be good in bed."





A few dates followed, and while Dream Man was sensitive and perceptive and funny, I also found him awkward (and I was distracted by the prospect of discount shoes). He must've gotten the message, because when he went off to Ireland to attend a friend's wedding, he had a fling with a bridesmaid. By the time he got back, I had dumped the shoe guy -- without getting any discounts out of the deal -- and decided to clear the decks.

"I just want to be friends," I told him.

"Yes," Dream Man replied without missing a beat. "I've been thinking the same thing. In fact," he said, "I've some friends I'd like to set you up with."

I was stung. He could at least have been a little upset. It was my choice, but I still felt a pinch of rejection.

About a week later, my friend Joe and I took Dream Man out for his 39th birthday. We went to dinner and a movie and stopped to play ping-pong in a pool hall. On the way home it rained and we all got soaked, and, splashing through puddles, sang a waterlogged medley of songs -- "Singin' in the Rain" and "Oooh, I Hear Laughter in the Rain," and "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head."

At my place, Dream Man pulled out my guitar. His playing was beautiful, moving, seductive -- I've always been a sucker for a serenade. When Dream Man left, Joe turned to me and said, "he's a really nice guy."

I rolled my eyes. Nice? I didn't want NICE. I wanted wacky, artsy-fartsy, struggling, exotic young rebels with boundless unrealized potential... I wanted complication and turmoil and pain and guys who didn't know what they wanted... didn't I?

Well, didn't I?

Two days later I called Dream Man. "Can I revise that 'just friends' thing?" I asked. And by the way, I wanted to know, what was he looking for in a relationship?

"Three things," he told me: "someone to be intimate with, someone to face the world with, and someone to play with."

There was something generous about Dream Man's demeanor; something sweet about his laugh; something solid in his approach to the world. Suddenly I could imagine falling in love with him; weathering changes with him; feeling safe with him. I could imagine finding him interesting, exciting, fun and challenging for far longer than a week or a month or a year.

It's been nearly a year since then, and I often marvel at how I could nearly have passed him by. He's the kind of man I longed for but thought I'd never find: Kind. Loving. Stubborn. Clever. Accepting. Giving. Opinionated. Loyal. Difficult. Passionate. Energetic. Brilliant. Witty. Handsome.

A quick learner. A sensitive optimist. A good soul. And a real grown-up.





Dear BG,

I am 35, single, never married, no children. I took a business trip to Salt Lake City this week. I felt so alone. I have never had a relationship work. But I have standards like: must be wise like Joseph Campbell, cynical like P.J. O'Rourke, analytical like Stephen Hawking, earthy like Harvey Keitel, and selfless like Woody Allen. Do I ask too much? All men seem to be interested in is what you look like anyways... help.


[This was the signature Kathryn chose to be sent automatically at the bottom of her email:]

"Everyone in the place was so heartless, there was nowhere to have a decent cry."

--Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "The House of the Dead"


"Compromise, dahling."

Dear Kathryn,

Oh poor, poor you!

Joe Campbell may have been wise, but he was also an anti-semite. P.J. O'Rourke is not sexy. Stephen Hawking is locked inside his own mind -- and even he left his wife for his nurse. Harvey Keitel is a former Orthodox Jew from Brighton Beach who likes his schlong a little too much, judging by how often it appears on film. Woody Allen -- selfless??? Well, ok -- if you're a teenage, Asian female in need of a college scholarship.

So what does that all add up to? Compromise, dahling. Everybody says it, but it's true. I tell Dream Man I would have been happy with a fraction of his qualities -- I feel like I hit the romance lottery. But even Dream Man is not perfect. No one is.

Lonely? My dear, just because you've never had a relationship work doesn't mean you never will. But in any event, you know how nosy relatives and friends always tell you "it'll happen when you least expect?" That's just another way of saying "live your life to the fullest; find your own joy." That way, if Mr. Right happens along, it'll be the chocolate-macadamia-nut-whipped-tofu topping on your Chunky Monkey. And if Mr. Right doesn't show up, you will have had a great life.

(It's one of those "win-win" things.)

As for men caring only about looks, sorry to disappoint you, but it ain't true. Sure, looks have something to do with attraction -- for you as well, I'd guess. In the mating game, you just gotta make the most of what you've got, which means, with few exceptions, we're all pretty ok.

But what really counts is kindness. Would you rather be with a gorgeous guy who isn't very nice? Or an evolved, average-looking guy who treats you really well? If you want the former, well, you have only yourself to blame.

Someone recently asked me how my life would change if I were supermodel beautiful. Yeah -- I've fantasized about being a "head-turner" and felt jealous of gorgeous girlfriends who got far more attention than I. But I guess it's symbolic of how far I've come: I realized I wouldn't change a thing. That, Kathryn, is a point worth getting to.

Yours truly,




Dear BG,


Are you surprised?

For most women, men are a waste of space.

For most men, women are a waste of space. Well, except for that one bit, and that (strangely enough) is a space {;-)

Didn't you hear: Men Are From Mars and Women are From Venus?

I'm from Vulcan -- if you want a quickie once every seven years.

Live long and prosper.


"But once every seven years?"

Dear Kris,

A waste of space? I think not. All of nature abhors a vacuum (Rabelais). As for Mars and Venus, John Gray goes a long way toward explaining why men are so bizarre. (Dream Man would say: "I used to think all the people I went out with were strange. Then I realized they were all women.")

I once had a crush on Mr. Spock -- his pointy ears, his cold, logical, analytical nature. But once every seven years? If that's Vulcan, dahling, I'm thrilled to be an earthling.

Yours truly,



Dear BG,

It's almost 10 Sat. eve. My wife's working, I'm lolly-gagging on the PC, answering questions from a presumptive writer/wroter (as in 'I wrote a story once') and half-watching "Sabado Gigante" which is a Spanish-language program we get in FW and which is in fact better than most of the crap on T.V.

My passing question is this: Jung talked every once in a while about "soul mating" or perhaps his term for it was "recognizing the anima in the other" or whatever he was working on [... ] that year. It is a fact that everyone goes through some kind of 'soul-mate' experience which usually is, at least, memorable, if not definitive, i.e. terminates in marriage. Obviously, at least to judge from your column(s), you haven't experienced this phenomenon yet. Care to comment on its significance, its variety, its validity?



"...soul mates over time..."

Dear armac,

I suppose you mean FW as in Fort Worth, in which case, it warms my heart that there actually are one or two literate, self-aware people in Texas. One wouldn't know it from your state's current political leadership...

As for your question, see above. I think real soul mates are rare, but over the course of your life, you may find more than one. People also can become soul mates over time -- as Jung once wrote, "For two personalities to meet is like mixing two chemical substances: if there is any combination at all, both are transformed." Or, in a long relationship, that feeling of having found your soul mate may alternate with wondering "who IS this person and what did I ever see in her?"

My experience has definitely been memorable, and I'd like it to be definitive, but at this very moment, Dream Man and I are in period fraught with peril; a passage through the romantic equivalent of Scylla and Charybdis. We'll either get sucked into the whirlpools of our own unfulfilled childhood needs or be dashed on the rocks of each others' fears and insecurities. Or we'll realize that every relationship has tough times, and to get through the perilous points and find our way home, we just have to trust in our love.

Yours truly,




Cyber Love Update

I'm sad to report the demise of a romance between Jeff, who wrote to ask Bachelor Girl out, and the woman I fixed him up with (whom I've also never met). From what I've heard, after a couple months of dating, they broke up amicably over some kind of technicality. I still have hope.



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