RETRACTION:READY TO BE A CAT LADY (sort of)

A month or so ago, I wrote this:

Not Ready to Be a Cat Lady.

Then this happened. Two orange aliens from outer space invaded my place.

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Not quite a week ago, Cheshire and Charlie came home from the Fairfax County Humane Society.

$200

Since, I have made, at least, six trips to PetSmart for:

2 litter boxes, 2 kinds of litter, litter box liners, litter scooper, dry food, canned food, food dishes, cat carrier, pet gate, food bowls, half a dozen cardboard scratching things, cat toys, cat bed, catnip spray, don’t-pee-here spray, don’t-scratch-here spray, no-odor spray, cat-stain spray, cat brush, kitten collars.

$1,000,000 (approximately)

One trip to PetCo for:

Litter box #3, Kitty Attract Litter, Litter Scooper.

$50

One trip to Target for:

2 stainless steel lidded kitty proof trashcans, trashcan liners, 12 cans of gourmet kitten food.

$75

So, all totaled about a bazillion dollars.

A bazillion dollars spent in just five days.

The world, as we know it, seems to be ending. I wish I could save it — but I can’t. So, I decided to save Cheshire and Charlie. As Trump Nation implodes, it seems the least I could do.

So, I guess I am ready to be a cat lady (sort of).

Five days in. Feline companionship. So far, so good.

Hu(man) companionship. Working on it. Stay tuned.

Singularly yours:

Rev:Joani

 

The Last Man on the Plan(et)

“Do I have to go?” I plaintively ask.

“Yes,” Colleen, my life coach, says. “You have to give him a chance.”

“Him” is “Don” — the last man on my six man plan with DCSingles.

My matchmaker, Kelly gives me a heads up.

“He didn’t go to college.”

“That’s okay,” I say. “I like a man who works with his hands.”

“For politics he checked ‘other'”.

“‘Other’ indicates an open mind,” I opine.

“But just beware,” Kelly warns me. “He’s just a tad overly enthusiastic.”

“Okay, what the hey! I am game.”

Bring him on!

First phone call, Don describes in great detail his bout with the flu. So totally whoa is he, his world is just a nose blow away from coming to an end. Recovering in his recliner, he binge watches game shows in his basement.

(Hmmmm, not exactly intellectually curious, is he? But I do confess I have a Hulu binge habit myself.)

And so whiny. Why are men so whiny when they are sick? A doctor’s daughter, I have zero desire to play nursemaid to this guy.

Second phone call goes to message. I call him back. Not there to answer, his recording plays: Big Bad John possibly from an old eight track tape.

Sort of humorous, right?

Feeling better, his voice brighter, he asks me out to brunch. Maybe a walk in the city?

That’s better, right?

Okay. Sunday next. 2:00 PM, we will meet in the middle at the Eastern Market LPQ.

Saturday I text: “I’ll be wearing red glasses. And my hand is decorated! Will explain tomorrow.” Against the rules, I send him my red spectacled, right handed henna selfie — so he will recognize me.

“Such pretty red nails,” he texts back. “All the better to scratch my back” to which I have no response.

The Last Man on Earth movie poster

Creepy, right?

Unsolicited he sends me his: a framed photo of half a dozen clowns.

“Hysterical! Will you be the one with the red rubber nose?” I kid him, thinking this is a joke.

“Would you like me to wear my clown suit?

OMG, he is serious.  This clown really is a real live clown!

“Uh, no,” I reply.

“Funny, right? I am funny, right?”

“Uh, no. Not funny,” I reply silently to myself.

Weird, but harmless. Right?

guess I will still go. So I text simply: “See you at two at LPQ.”

But then it gets weirder still.

Out of the blue, a late night text: “Take a bubble bath. Have a glass of wine. Put on your PJ’s. Relax.”

Ew, right?

I make an emergency call to my life coach, Colleen. She puts me on speaker phone along with housemate and assistant coach Katie.

“Hmmmm, yes, that does sound inappropriate,” the two concur.  “But maybe just out of practice? You should give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s just brunch, right?”

“Okay, I’ll go.”

So today, up at sunrise, Sunday came. After a Holy Eucharist or two, I plopped myself down in the rector’s office: exhausted, hungry, and caffeine deprived. I was feeling nothing but dread for the date ahead.

Chuck, my colleague, listened to my litany of complaints: “He’s whiny. He’s goofy. A bit creepy. And quite literally, he’s a clown.”

“Hmmmm,” Chuck says. “Sounds like you don’t want to go.”

“NOOOOOOO, I don’t want to go.”

“Listen to your gut,” Chuck says.

“YES, my gut screams NO.”

Sorry, Don,

Last Man on the Plan,

I text:

“I am canceling.

I can’t go out with you.”

And even if Don were the Last Man on the Plan(et), I still would not want to go.

I far prefer my own company and conversation, the comforts of my sacred space and the singular luxury of the time I call my own.

It’s really quite splendid, you see.

But I am still quite open to find just the right man who might like to share this with me.

So stay tuned to S&TSV! Maybe crowd sourcing next? We’ll see!

Singularly  yours:

The Rev: Joani

 

The Man on the Plan & The Uber Driver

DCSingles.

Six man plan.

Expensive.

Man #5.

Mark with a “k”, not to be confused with Marc with a “c” – who was Man #4.

Confusing, I know. As texts for coffee flew back and forth, I nearly blew off the fifth before I had even met him.

“Ooooooooo! January Mark with a ‘k’. Sorry, I got you mixed up with December Marc with a ‘c’ — a Debbie Downer, who I had decided, did not merit date #2.

(Date #2 is a planet, I have yet to visit.)

Now here is the wisdom of DCSingles  — for a woman of my alluring demographic.

They match you with an actual man, who has an actual job, who has no actual felonies on his actual record, and he is actually the guy pictured on his actual driver’s license.

Background checked. Actually.

BUT, no photos, are exchanged, so we meet sight unseen for coffee after a friendly phone call and a text or two.

So Mark with a “k”, Man #5 on my six man plan: Funny. New Yorker. Proud father of three. Catholic. Volunteer. Top secret clearance. Homeland Security.

Did I mention funny?

What’s not to like?

Poor guy, his right hand is in a cast and being right handed, he tells me he is not able to drive.

“No problem,” I say, “I will come your way! It’s on my calendar for Sunday next.”

The night before, he confirms with a funny little text message about the dress code: “Casual/neat. I’ll be the one in the overalls with a straw hat. My goat will be parked out front.”

Double, double points for making me laugh.

Psyched, a little.  Decked out in adorable Anthropologie red, I Uber over, to the other side of town, for Sunday brunch. Twenty minutes early, I take a seat in a corner booth with a clear view of the front door. I order sparkling water and a cup of decaf coffee.

Waiting coquettishly for Man #5.

Please, please, please, be easy on my eyes!

Hmmmm…..

The hostess escorts Mark with a “k” to my table.

He’s short. He’s round. He’s bald.

Hmmmm…

But so was George Constanza on Seinfeld, I tell myself. And I LOVED George Constanza. So let the conversation begin.

Mark with a “k” settles into the booth, adjusting the table for his girth. For some bizarre reason, he unbuttons and buttons the middle button on his button down shirt — no undershirt — flashing his hairy, pink midriff.

Looking anywhere but there, I avert my eyes, as he tells me, he just came from working out at the gym.

Hmmmm. Really?  Yuck! Let’s move on.

“Walking is my exercise,” I tell him. “I’ve done a couple of half marathons. I am planning on signing up for another one soon.”

The waitress takes his drink order.

“I’ll have an Irish coffee with Jamison whiskey – the good stuff.” He pauses. “But maybe I shouldn’t?” he says.

“Well, you didn’t drive, so no problem, right?” I say.

“Well, I actually did,” he tells me. “So maybe just one.”

Hmmm. Okay. Fib number one.Let the small talk begin.

He tells me about his three children. I tell him about mine. Catholic, he tells me about his parish. Episcopal priest, I tell him about my job.

We order food: breakfast burrito for him, scrambled eggs for me.

He tells me about his ex: bipolar, alcoholic, a mess!

“I am really sorry to hear about that, I am. I know all about that. Because — surprise, surprise, I am bipolar too! The healthy, bouncy, balanced, and non-alcoholic kind.”

He orders his second Irish coffee with Jamison whisky.

The waitress tops off my decaf.

“Sooooo? Homeland Security? Top Secret clearance? I guess, you can’t tell me what you do? But with the Muslim ban and the craziness at the airports, it must be very challenging.”

“Well, I am in procurement,” he tells me.

So Mark with a “k” is not an actual spy or intelligence guy.

Sigh.

“So what about that award you received for your volunteer service? Wow! What an honor!”

Hmmmm….

Turns out he got an honorable mention in the company newsletter and a lapel pin for his lapel — later misplaced in a taxicab long ago.

Not exactly the august accolades he had boasted of. Fib number two.

My scrambled eggs have grown very cold. The hour is up. I pay my half of the check.

It is definitely time to go.

He wonders aloud if he can take his second Irish coffee, with Jamison whisky, with him in a to-go cup.

People don’t do that, do they? Take their leftover alcohol home with them? That’s not a thing, is it?

He sinks back into the booth to finish his drink.

It is definitely time to go.

I pull out my phone and tap on the app.

UBER DRIVER!

UBER DRIVER!

TAKE ME AWAY!

Four minutes later, I climb into the backseat of Alfredo’s Toyota.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

“Thank you for picking me up, Alfredo!  I just love Uber. You know actually  who is picking you up. You know actually who is getting in your car. And I have met so many interesting Uber drivers: artists, entrepreneurs, students.”

Buckling up in the back seat, I can see from the rear view mirror, that Alfredo is long and lean, bearded and distinguished.

Yes, Alfredo is easy on my eyes.

Let the conversation begin.

He tells me about his three children. I tell him about mine. All the same ages. What a surprise.

Just three years in the States and from the Dominican Republic, his accented English is easy on my ears. I use the Spanish, I learned from three year olds, to flirt with him in his native tongue.

My life sounds almost exotic — described in a foreign language.

“Yo soy una sacerdote de la iglesia Episcopal.”

“Yo trabajo en Alexandria.”

“Me gusta leer libros.”

“Me gusta mucho bibliotecas.”

“Me gusta caminar en la ciudad.”

“Esta casado?”

“No.” he answers.

“Esta divorciado?”

“Si,” he answers.

“Yes! I say and in English he flirts in return.

Alfredo tells me, he is a retired engineer, a university professor in the DR, and a professional photographer, a reader, a tennis player, who loves the theater and drinking coffee.

What’s not to like?

(“What the hell!” I say silently to myself. “Go ahead and ask him out!)

“How about a cup of coffee with me sometime, Alfredo?”

I give him my card with my cell number scribbled on the back.

He gives me his, listing his website, email, and phone.

“Alfredo Marquez Rodriguez, Photographer.”

I like the sound of that.

So coffee, at Starbucks, this Friday, 10 o’clock sharp!

ALL — thanks to Uber —

the ride sharing,

friend making,

man locating,

latest, greatest,

dating app.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

Four Weddings & a Christening

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Hatch. Match. Dispatch.

Twenty-two years, I have been in the baptizing, marrying, and burying business.

Ordained an Episcopal priest in 1994, I have long lost count of how many people I have sprinkled, laid to rest, or joined in Holy Matrimony. It is a rare privilege to be with people at such junctures – both the most joyous and the most grief filled times in their lives.

Married, myself, most happily for twenty-eight years, and happily divorced for thirteen, wedding bells do not in the least bit tempt me. I would much rather wear cassock and surplice than a wedding gown at a wedding, any day.

Three weeks ago, a picture of priestly me doing just this – presiding at someone else’s wedding – showed up in the Sunday morning Washington Post! Where? In the LOVE section, of course, on page E14. A total surprise to me!

At Saint Paul’s Memorial, in Charlottesville, Virginia, there I am vested and standing at the altar between Andrew and Kelly: in the photo beneath the fold.

I LOVE presiding over LOVE.

Andrew and Kelly’s ceremony, though large, was intimate, lovely, and tender. Having written their own vows and being close friends of my daughter Colleen, it felt very personal to me.

And personal is that mystical and magical word that describes the most meaningful weddings I have done – regardless of the number of bridesmaids, or guests, or dinner courses at the reception. Weddings with a personal and intimate touch are the ones that I cherish.

Sarah and Nate’s wedding, Valentine’s Day a year ago was a parish wedding.  Together with my rocking colleague, Chuck, we celebrated the “SOHO” marriage, at a lovely little Virginia golf club.  So many Emmanuel friends were gathered round the tables, it felt like family.

At least, the way I think family weddings should feel:

The way, very much, my brother. Joseph and his partner, John’s wedding felt three brief weeks ago. Quite a love story, Joseph and John reconnected on Facebook after having dated way back in the ‘70’s and again in the 80’s.

Deeply touched, I was invited to officiate. They set the date for June 3rd, 2017 – what would have been our Mary Lou and Bernard’s – our parents’ — 66th wedding anniversary.

But then November 8th happened. The election results bode the possibility that newly won LGBTQ rights to marry might be overturned. So on December 18th, in Hyattsville, Maryland, in my baby brother’s dining room, in his adorable little house, I joined Joseph and his beloved partner John in Holy Matrimony.

Just seven (a very biblical number!) people in attendance, it is just about the loveliest wedding I have been a part of — so far.

And now, my own firstborn son, Zachariah, over Thanksgiving, proposed to his seven-year beloved, Jen. (Again, a biblical number!) The date has been set for the Saturday after Thanksgiving next.

It too, will be a very small and intimate affair, maybe on a boat at sunset, somewhere on the water. Defying tradition, it will still be a sacred occasion but of a more secular kind.

Zach is an atheist who does not darken the door of a church (though he is very proud of his mom!)

Home over Christmas, I ask him gingerly,

“So, Zach, what kind of ceremony are you going to have?”

 And I get a most unexpected answer:

“Well, mom, we were wondering if you could do it. But with two conditions.”

 Knowing him well, I blurt out,

“No mention of God, right? YES! I can say whatever you want me to say!”

 “And the second condition, mom, is can you do it without crying?”

 “Whoa! That will be really hard. But, YES, YES, of course, I can!”

 And now, of course, I am crying like a baby; happy, crazy tears.

So, by my count, that is four weddings. And this week, I have a Christening.

Misty eyed, I am jumping on an Amtrak train to New York City, to baptize my first great-niece – little Virginia – firstborn daughter of my niece, Lauren and her husband, Gordon; firstborn granddaughter of my brother, Tim and his wife, Martha.

I LOVE presiding over LOVE.

The love of these four weddings and this Christening blesses me. It blesses all who share in the celebration. It blesses all the souls connected by these sacred (and sometimes secular) rituals.

Be it in good times or bad times. Be it in hello times or goodbye times. In all the ups and downs, of this mystical magical thing we call life, such love can bless us all.

At little Virginia’s baptism, we will read the same sacred scripture that was read at her parents’ wedding: good old First Corinthians 13 – read at thousands of weddings for hundreds of years.

And though, I have heard it a million times, I pray, I never tire of hearing it or reading it.

God bless you, Saint Paul.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Faith, hope, and love abide. And the greatest of these is love.

Yes, the greatest of these is love.

 

Singularly yours:

The Rev: Joani

Truth or Consequences

 

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I am dating myself in more ways than one.

A child of the sixties, I grew up in the heyday of game shows. Before Match.dot.com,  Cupid worked his magic on The Dating Game.

 Remember?

Three handsome, groovy guys sitting on stools behind a screen; one wide eyed young woman in mini-skirt and go-go boots; a list of cute questions written down on index cards.

Bachelor #1 “First date: burgers, barbecue, or beef bourguignon?”

Bachelor #2 “Which describes you best: knight in shining armor, handyman, or boy next door?”

Bachelor #3 “Tell me about a time when you were a bad, bad boy?”

Cue the fizzy pop music and the tick and the tock of the clock. Sixty seconds later, she chooses and its love at first sight.

From the technology of TV to the app on your phone, the dating business is still pretty much a game show.

So pick up your TV Guide, friends, and come along for the ride. I am filing my field report for the last seven days.

To Tell the Truth aired first in 1956. Remember? Three guys claim to be astronauts. Two are lying. One is not. Hmmmm, dating app, how do I tell the difference?

Well, read between the lines.

The profile says he lives in DC but he messages you from LA. FAKE.

The profile is erudite, witty, and well written but in his messages he can barely write a sentence. FAKE.

His profile picture appears to be clipped from a Calvin Klein ad in GQ. FAKE.

Will the real astronaut, please, stand up?

Uh, oh. Sorry, he never showed up. He was never really here at all. FAKE.

Queen for a Day was first a radio and then a TV show. One lucky lady gets flattered , and pampered, and showered with gifts. And we all know that flattery will get you ___________?

“Hey Beautiful. Hi Gorgeous. You look younger than your age. How is it possible that you are still single?”

“So you’ve looked at my picture, I see, but have not read my profile.”

“O yes I have and we have so much in common.”

“Really? What?”

And they respond with adjectives and generalities copied and pasted from a script somewhere.

They pledge their undying love after a text or two.

Flattery will get you NOWHERE.

FAKE.

The Gong Show was an amateur hour that first aired in 1976. Remember?

Contestants get up on stage and it starts out well. And then very, very quickly it goes south. Very, very quickly, the act gets really, really bad.

Attractive, well read, doctor guy goes from attractive to creepy to scary in just three texts. GONG! BLOCKED!

Middle school music teacher and bandleader turns out to be just a sleazy guy looking for sex. GONG! BLOCKED!

Soldier guy serving in Kabul is really a sixteen year old on his computer in his basement. GONG! BLOCKED!

As I said at the beginning, I am dating myself. Not just showing my age, but I am learning to know and value the datable me.

I am learning very quickly to weed out the scammers, to discern who is genuine and who is not. Sadly it seems that equates to practically everyone on these sites. You’re left pretty much left scraping the bottom of the barrel to discover anyone real at all.

The bar gets set very, very low.

This kabuki theater is not worth my time.

There is virtually no TRUTH here but the potential for dangerous CONSEQUENCES is very, very real – especially for romantic types in my demographic.

The Internet is full of “Digital Lotharios”. To learn this, you need only go the Internet and Google it.

Read all about it at Consumer Affairs or at The Huffington Post.

“Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” scripture says.

Face the truth.

Avoid the consequences.

Love is not a game.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

Practice Makes Imperfect

Sorry to disappoint but S&TSV is not about “kiss and tell”.

Hopefully you will find it wickedly funny, brutally honest, but not indiscreet.

And well, so far there has been no kissing so there is no need for telling.

But I have been practicing. No, I have not been practicing kissing myself in the mirror! I have been practicing communicating with the opposite sex.

Online mostly at OKCupid and Zoosk.

First Zoosk.

Advertised as the dating site for the over 50 crowd, Zoosk might better be described as the senior site for the over the hill crowd.

On the up side, Zoosk verifies profile pictures via your smartphone.Via Facebook, it verifies  your identity – if you can call that verification.

On the down side, their clientele seems to be older than dirt. That’s not very nice of me, I admit. I know that I am 61 and I am totally down with that.  The men they match me up with though are definitely from the geriatric demographic. Grandfatherly types, some use stock photos from central casting or pictures of themselves golfing on the green. Others take scary selfies of themselves reflected in restroom mirrors or with their buddies drinking a beer at the bar.

So attractive.

While these gentlemen may be genuine and appear to be real, they are really not what I am looking for at all.

Zoosk, you disappoint me.  I want my money back. I am breaking up with you.

Ok, off to OKCupid.

In seven days on OKCupid, I have had more success than in all my  earlier attempts combined.

And by more success, I mean more practice: the more imperfect art of practice.

And so far, who have been my practice partners?

The Rabid Libertarian. In a stream of very long texts, he  made the case for small government and argued for fiscal restraint. He debated the culture wars and quoted Ayn Rand. A compassionate conservative, he cited facts and figures against the welfare state.

Such a romantic.

Okay, I see that you are very passionate in your beliefs which I passionately do not share. Bye-bye and thank you for the conversation.

The Eager Evangelical. As an Episcopal vicar, I am sworn to love Jesus. And yes, I do love Jesus but this guy loved Jesus way too much. He loved singing about Jesus. He loved teaching about Jesus. He loved volunteering for Jesus. There wasn’t much room in the conversation for anybody but Jesus.

While I work for Jesus, in my free time the last thing I want to talk about is Jesus. (Sorry Lord!) And I am pretty sure that his Jesus was not the same as mine.

Okay.  Bye-bye and thank you for the conversation.

The Flirty Egyptian. Now he happens to be Muslim, so I know he doesn’t love Jesus too much. Handsome and just 47, he is both a flatterer and a gentleman. After friendly texting for a week, I am definitely intrigued. I am not naive and I am certain he flirts with all kinds of older women online. I really have no expectations of any kind but I DO want to lay eyes on this man. So yes, I said yes to coffee at Carluccio’s.

If it doesn’t go well, I will let you know how it goes.

If it does go well, I won’t.

One week down.

Practice makes imperfect.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani