Having older brothers forces a person to get a thick skin. Literally. I've had enough noogies, purple nurples, and indian burns to last a lifetime. My first-grade teacher once asked me if I had a problem at home since I always had bumps and bruises. Without flinching, I informed her that I had brothers. She must have had some too, because she never said another word about it. I was a clumsy kid as well, so half of said bruises came from door frames, stairs, and random pieces of furniture. I once ran into the stove. Yeah. In my college years, I tended to hang out with guy friends who are a little rougher with the psyche than girl friends. Several of them were my brother's pals. Spending time with them helped sharpen my wit, quicken my reflexes, and toughen my hide. They gave really great advice, too. I still reference some of their wisdom when I'm having guy issues. The fact that I'm labeling anything that came out of their mouth as "wisdom" is a little riot-inducing, but I'm sticking by it. Besides, several of them danced with me while I was wearing the green bridesmaid's dress. That's got to be worth something. I've been told that I exude the friend vibe when I'm around guys, which most often means I find myself firmly in the "friend-zone." I once had a guy friend call with an extra ticket for a concert. I quickly shrieked that I would love to go and he said, "Oh good. It'll just be a guys-night-out." Yep. That's me. Just one of the boys. By the way, from what I have learned, the Golden Rule of hanging out with guys is that if you dish it out, you have to take it. It's their code.
Online dating requires the thickest of skin. You are being judged constantly. Every site delivers profiles to your inbox that they have decided are a good match. Just like any girl whose life was changed by the seminal volume He's Just Not That Into You, I am prone to sit back and see who contacts me. I have done my fair share of chasing guys, and it has never paid off. Besides, there's nothing worse than finally catching someone who you immediately want to throw back. I found myself getting worn-down by the lack of interest. I edited my profile. Nothing. Uploaded different pictures. Nada. Crafted witty, open-ended questions to pique their interest. Zilch. I checked all of the cables, optimized my browser, and defragged. You could hear crickets chirping. Pretty soon you start to take it personally. After all, a profile is a minuscule version of your best-self. The polished-up, spit-shined version of you, put on the shelf with a blinking neon arrow. In one of my online dating episodes, I only got 3 messages in an entire year. It was a little painful. And one of them was a scam-artist who hacked my hard drive and hit me up for cash. Classy. His profile is still out there by the way. Don't say you weren't warned.
In my very first meet-in-real-life date, a guy I'd been messaging picked me up to take me to a Superbowl party. The St. Louis Rams are my team (don't judge), and they were playing that year. We were both fans. His name was Adam, and he decided we should go for some appetizers and a beverage at a local watering hole. I realized this had been the interview portion of the evening after he informed me over a basket of friend pickles (gross) that his friends were having a party at their house, and asked if I'd like to go along. I think it was my "bro skills" that landed me the extended version of the date. The party was fine, and there were some nice people there. It was mostly couples, and the food was yummy. I don't have much of a problem chatting with anybody. It runs in the family. After halftime, one couple ended up getting in a screaming match. I didn't pay too much attention, since I was pretty caught-up in the game. The party broke up soon after the argument, and Adam kept apologizing on the drive home. I had no idea what the big deal was. He called the next day to say that he was looking for a more girly-girl type. That's the rough thing about having thick skin. You have to have it to make it through the dating process, but what guys seem to want is a thin-skinned girly-girl.
Being a Ram's fan has in many ways prepared me for the disappointments of online dating. The most important lesson is that you never know what the next season has in store. But it's probably going to be disappointing and over way too soon.