Monday, October 01, 2012

The deck chairs on a sinking relationship

“I can’t believe she dumped me for a LAWYER!” my friend Johnny said last week.

“What does it matter that he’s a lawyer?” I asked.

“It just makes it worse,” he replied.

Johnny is my connection to the dating world, a strange and fascinating place where complete strangers meet online, then come together over sushi to discover that they don’t like each other.

“Didn’t we spend our last three conversations going into great detail about how insane this girl was?” I asked.    

“Yeah, but I still thought I had a chance,” he said.  When you reach your mid-thirties and you’re looking for a life partner, insanity is no longer a disqualifying personality trait.

A few weeks earlier, I talked to Johnny after he’d just gotten back from his first date with her.  While we were talking, he received a text that read: “I think we can both agree that didn’t go so well.”

From that inauspicious beginning, things somehow got even less auspicious, with their brief relationship degenerating into multiple text battles, ugly words exchanged and, most bafflingly, more dates.

The rules must have changed since I was on the dating scene.  My wife Kara and I have been together since the year 2000.  Back then, cell phones were still used for making phone calls, and the Internet was still primarily used for circulating naked pictures of Jenny McCarthy.

Technology and dating seemed to purposefully have very little overlap.  Dinners, for example, were often served by candlelight, even though light bulbs had recently been invented.  

Back then, text and friend weren’t verbs, and “getting to second base” didn’t mean telling everyone on Facebook that you were “in a relationship.”  That’s still not what “getting to second base” means, incidentally, but one could argue that tagging someone as your significant other on Facebook should at least count as a ground rule double.

After listening to Johnny’s stories from the front lines, it’s clear that I wouldn’t survive long in today’s dating world, especially if Kara found out.  I don’t even have unlimited texting on my phone, so it would be especially disheartening to receive insulting messages from my dates afterwards.  I’d have to pay twenty cents for that salt in my wound.  Please break my heart via email, so that I can save the twenty cents to apply toward my next ill-fated spicy tuna roll.

“When we were in college, nobody had a real job, so that wasn’t even a factor.  Now, if you’re not a lawyer or a CEO, you’re starting out with one strike against you.  Why did that guy have to be a lawyer?  Why?” he asked.

“I’m not sure being a lawyer is as awesome as you think it is.  There are plenty of miserable lawyers.  I suspect there’s one more in the world right now,” I said.  Never mind that Johnny only knew this guy’s profession because he received a text stating: “I’m dating a lawyer now.  I’d say good luck, but I’m not sure you deserve it.”

 There are plenty more fish in the sea besides jellyfish that sting with their text messages.  And Johnny’s back to trolling for them, hopefully in saner waters this time.

Meanwhile, the biggest drama in my life is that our three-year-old might be starting to figure out what’s happening when Kara and I look at him and say, “Maybe it’s time for him to take an ennaypee.”  He might not know that we’re spelling N-A-P, but I think he’s starting to catch on, and it’s only a matter of time before ennaypee and bee-ay-tee-aytch lose their clandestine power altogether.

How do parents communicate with each other after their kids learn to spell?  Successful parenting is all about love, and also subterfuge.  Maybe I need unlimited texting after all.  

After reading this column over again, I can see why Johnny and I spend more time talking about his problems.

You can stand up Mike Todd at


  1. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)

  2. I bet Johnny would be a little embarrassed if he knew that you announced to cyberspace that he has resorted to online dating - and hasn't exactly been successful...Hey Heather, you wanna go out sometime?

  3. Ha, dude, every single person in the universe has resorted to online dating. You and Heather should definitely get together - for your first date, you could cook her some Spam. I think she's into that.