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

 

Clueless

clue-game-cardsCatching my therapist up on my not so successful DCSingles dates, Sondra pauses and thoughtfully poses the obvious question:

“So, Joani, what do you want?”

“What do I want?”

Well, not Bernie Sanders. I already wrote about him.

And not the guy who is afraid of his own shadow — who I met for coffee on Friday — who has barely been out of his neighborhood for the past forty years.

And not the thrice married widower of just one year who I met last week. A sixty-eight year old guy who has no idea how to be on his own.

My social experiments — so far — are a net negative — negatively defining what I desire in a date.

I am not looking for Friday evenings at home in front of the TV.

I am not looking for someone to keep me company.

I am not hoping to set up house.

I am not looking to couple up monogamously  anytime soon.

I am just looking for someone who can keep up with me.

And there is nothing I find sexier and more attractive in a man  than the organ found between the ears.

So, let me describe an acceptable gentleman.

Intellectually curious, reads real books.

Forward looking, hope filled, expansive world view.

Funny, laughs freely, and delights in the absurd.

Earthy and unorthodox.

Open to surprise.

Hungry for life.

Someone who can light up all of my little gray cells,

and for whom I can do likewise,

like fireflies.

“Go on,” says my therapist.

Not a spouse.

Not a housemate.

Not a guy friend.

Not all the time.

Someone with their own house, their own life.

Happy and whole.

An intimate,

available for adventure,

available for dinner,

available for a weekend.

Someone who loves a good argument.

Someone who makes me very happy behind closed doors.

Someone who gets back in his car and goes home —

until I summon him back again.

Yes, that sounds heavenly.

“Hmmmm,” Sondra says. “Is that really possible? Most ‘older’ men are looking for something more comfy and conventional.”

“Well, someone younger then! But how crazy is that?”

Sondra is not telling me to settle but she does encourage me to think this through.

The depths of my desire add up to  having a mad affair — while dates in my demographic double down on domestic bliss.

Which leaves me feeling clueless, somewhat unsettled, and unsure of myself.

I definitely don’t want “that”.

Maybe I don’t want “this” at all.

And I will be damned — if I ever let some nonexistent man — make me second guess myself.

Matchmaking is madness!

It makes my manic mind spiral and spin, trying to puzzle this f*ing thing out.

The smartest girl in the class waves her hands in the air but she has no answers.

Navigating an ocean of emotion.

Unmoored.

Without a compass.

At sea.

And I guess for now, that is just how it has to be.

For now, I remain

incredibly

clueless.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

 

Politics Makes for Strange Bedfellows

IMG_1234

Looking for bromance?

It seems Trump and Putin have been playing footsie under the table.

Putin flirts with Trump and Trump’s heart is all aflutter.

Tweet, tweet, Vladimir, strong leader. So handsome, shirtless and mounted on your horse.

Of course, we have much in common.

So Trump, a rank neophyte narcissistically plays the game — courting the love of a KGB thug.

Don’t cry over me, Crimea. The Ukraine? Take it. It’s yours!

NATO? You’re right. Too expensive. We don’t need it. Where is Estonia anyway?

The DNC and Hillary? Hack away, hack away. The server is in the basement.

What we won’t do for love.

Setting up my dating profile, my matchmaker asks me about my politics.

Liberal.

Definitely liberal.

Bleeding heart liberal.

Definitely a Democrat.

And in a mate, what would I find simpatico?

Definitely similar but not necessarily the same.

So in addition to all the above I add:

Moderates.

Centrists.

Slightly right of center.

Libertarians and reasonable Republicans are also welcome to apply.

“But NO Trump supporters,” I emphatically reply.

That would be a bridge too far, beyond the pale. A Hillary-Donald ticket is bound to fail.

My religious preferences, I should note, were broader than my political ones. This lady vicar checked “yes” next to:

Jewish. Check.

Buddhist. Check.

Christian. Check.

Muslim. Check.

Mormon. Check.

Spiritual but not religious. Check.

Atheist and/or Agnostic. Check.

I drew the line, however, at what I considered the outer limits.

Fundamentalist. No check.

It seemed best to steer clear of extremes.

Which, of course, leads me back to Trump — or should I say “Trumpism” – a blind faith that many embrace with xenophobic zeal.

Here I draw my line in the sand, so gentleman, please, play the political card early in the game. In this election cycle, there is no easier way for me to separate the sheep from the goats.

But my own choices make me wonder (Mary Matlin and James Carville aside) how is this election season  going down for all of those already coupled people out there.

The Civil War drove families apart: father against son; brother against brother; husband against wife.

Certainly the Hillary-Donald divide is putting a strain on relationships.

My therapist, without telling tales, of course, has confirmed that this is true. So who can I talk to? Who can I interview? It’s not like I am an actual journalist.

So, thank  you New York Times for putting a real reporter on the job. In the August 13th edition there was a great piece by Sridihar Pappu: He Likes Trump. She Doesn’t. Can This Marriage Be Saved?

This is the divisive tale of Dr. Stossel and Dr Maguire — husband and wife.

“If you vote for Trump, I will divorce you and move to Canada,” she tells her husband.

“He tried to laugh it off.”

“I am serious,” she replies.

“Before this spat for nearly twenty years of marriage, politics had never caused such friction. Then came the 2016 election, a political season that has made for some hot debates in the pubic arena has also seeped into private lives…”

In 2012, Dr. Maguire and Dr. Stossel planted opposing placards on their front lawn: one for Obama; one for Romney.

No problem.

Politics were very low on the list of priorities when we met,” Dr. Stossel says.”Therapists say you have the best relationships when you are clearly separate people. And I like to think we are emotionally centered, so that we can have a major disagreement and it’s not a big problem.”

But Trump? Trump is proving to be an insurmountable problem — a downright deal breaker, you might say, relationally speaking.

(I am pretty sure the supposed author of The Art of the Deal would not like being called “a deal breaker”.)

As a woman, I cannot even entertain the thought of dating a man who would vote for a man so misogynistic and vile. A man  who reduces women to their physical features. A man who has hurled at women the ugliest of epithets. A man who has alluded “to doing his daughter” if she were not his daughter.  A man who belittles his opponent as “not sounding presidential” or “not looking presidential” or “playing the woman card.”

This week Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, was promoted to the top tier of Trump’s campaign. Part of her impossible job is to increase Trump’s desirability to women voters.

“The more people keep repeating the same insults, the more it invites him to very legitimately defend himself. Women, look at the full measure of the man and not just one comment.”

So a New York Times commentator, Anna North in Taking Note, did just that.

“In the last month, Mr. Trump has not publicly called women ‘pigs’ or insinuated that they treated him poorly because they were menstruating.”

He has, however, asked Russian hackers to break into Hillary Clinton’s email, doubled down on the insinuation that Ted Cruz’s father was friends with Lee Harvey Oswald, implied that gun-rights activists could respond with armed rebellion (or assassination) if they don’t like Clinton’s Supreme Court picks, and called President Obama the founder of ISIS.”

“It’s not that Mr. Trump’s insulting remarks about women don’t matter anymore. Rather they now look like evidence, not only of sexism, but of a broader tendency to malign anyone he sees as standing in his way — with no regard for the truth or the consequences of his statements.”

Trump is most definitely a deal breaker for both myself and my country.

Politics makes for the strangest of bedfellows…

or no bedfellows at all.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

Dating Bernie Sanders

bernie sanders with champagne cartoon

First date advice from DCSingles:

Dress up. Keep it short. Don’t talk about politics, religion, or your ex.

Hmmm…not talking about politics is a bit of a challenge especially when you live inside the Beltway. And not talking about it in this Trumpian election cycle seems really hard. A political  junkie, with seven news apps on my iPhone, this is going to be almost impossible. But I will give it a try.

Hmmm…religion is off the table too. So what kind of kabuki theater will this single vicar have to perform to avoid this topic? Well, I will obviously have to state the obvious about my profession.  But I will try to table the religious debate as I am able.

And not talk about my ex?  This one is way easy for me. William and I parted ways amicably more than a decade ago. Since then Joani has cherished her independence, loves being mistress of her own domain and master of her time and space. Joani also thoroughly enjoys her own company.

Only men of a similar ilk need apply.

This week, my DCSingles matchmaker matched me up with my very first match: a guy named Glenn.

5 foot 8 inches, dark brown hair, a retired environmentalist, Jewish, and age appropriate.

What’s not to like?

A quick conversation on the phone, we make a Starbucks date and to coffee we will go.

Guardedly optimistic and game for my new sport, I consult my fashionista- dating coach daughter Colleen. She passes muster on my chosen dress and flats.

“Necklace or no necklace?” I text her.

“Necklace.” she decrees.

I Uber downtown to case out the joint and grab a table near the door.  I try to look nonchalant as I read my book and also as attractive as I can. I sit and wait for this first blind date.

There is a Santa Claus looking guy checking his phone anxiously by the door. “Waiting for someone?”  I ask. “And you might be?” “Steve,” he says. And in my head I say, “Thank God, I thought that was him.”

And then right on time, in walks Glenn.

The date is blind. So sight unseen, I was not sure what to expect.

But I wasn’t expecting Bernie Sanders.

First impressions matter most they say.

Uh oh, so here we go.

I am pretty sure he slept in his clothes: grunge jeans, baggy shirt, shoes older than my children. He sported a fisherman’s cap and carried a grocery bag that looked like it had washed up on the beach. If he hadn’t been my date, I would have mistaken him for a homeless guy. To call him rumpled would have been a compliment.

“Okay, Joani,” I tell myself, “Bernie Sanders is awesome! Don’t judge the book by his cover. Maybe this guy is riveting. So yeah, let the conversation begin.”

An environmentalist, maybe his clothes are recycled? Hmmmm….no. Maybe he drives a Prius? Hmmmm….no. Solar power in his house? Hmmm…no. But he did once work on a solar project for water treatment plants. The globe is way too short of fresh water so this is a very good thing.

Do-gooders are definitely up my alley.

Okay, my turn.

“Well, I serve a local church,” I tell him. “It’s a happening, progressive parish.” Being a lady vicar is a tough sell, you know, so I give Bernie points for just showing up. His being Jewish though, I knew he would have questions. But I wasn’t expecting this.

“You know I am a biologist and we believe in evolution,” he says somewhat condescendingly.

“Well guess what? So do I. Episcopalians believe in science.”

Surprised by my answer, it seemed he had never met an enlightened Christian before. Possibly  he thought we were some rare species that had gone extinct.

Wow, Bernie, this is going great! Let’s move on.

“So now that you are retired, Bernie, what do you do?”

He leans forward in his chair smiling and definitely trying to impress.

“Well, I go the the gym twice a week and I swim half a mile, turn around and in an hour and a half I am back home!”

Satisfied with his answer, he leans back in his chair.

“Well, Bernie, I’ve walked two half marathons and am getting ready for my next at Nagshead in November.”

“You have to go out of town for those?” he asks.

“Yes, Bernie, I love going new places.”

“Hmmm, well, I don’t get much out of my neighborhood anymore.”

“Well, Bernie, good luck with that.”

I don’t want to belabor the point but  Bernie proved to be quite a suburban fellow for my urban tastes. He had never heard of Uber, SXSW, or the Rock n Roll Marathon. Though in his favor, I am pretty sure he did know how to use the Internet.

By this time, I am definitely eyeing the exit. Keep it short, remember?

Bernie slides his card across the table, not so subtly asking for a second date.

I in turn do not slide mine. Not so subtly telling him no.

“Thank you for the conversation,” I say shaking his hand. “Gotta go to meet my daughter Colleen.” (Yes, Colleen, you were my made up escape plan.)

Tucking out the door, I duck into the book store down the block. Ah, in here I can breathe. I order a latte at the coffee bar, sit down, and think.

If nothing else, it was interesting. A social experiment. A learning experience. A good first try.

But bye-bye, Bernie, you’re not getting my vote. You lost the primaries.

One candidate down. There’s five more in my plan.

Its still early in this election season.

Let’s see where it goes.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

Truth or Consequences

 

vintage-dating-game-board-game-tv-show-1967-39536de1cb4709f405743f90b74693b6-2

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

 

Anonymous Advice

the winning dating formula book cover

What is a bibliophile to do who knows zilch about dating?

She reads a book, of course.

So bibiliographically, I do a little research to discern who is the current expert in the field.

Which means I googled: “book dating over 50.”

Up pops a popular blogger on the Huffington Post: Lisa Copeland  of www.FindAQualityMan.com. On my Kindle account, I happily download her e-book for free. Good thing because  “Spoiler Alert!”  this reviewer counts it not worth a dime.

And what is the name of this best selling book?  “The Winning Dating Formula for Women Over 50: 7 Steps to Attracting Quality Men”.

Published in 2013, it’s schlocky; it’s simplistic; and its retro advice rings of 1970’s sensibilities. Or maybe the 1950’s.

I confess I have only read a quarter of the book (24% according to my Kindle) and I am not sure I can stomach the rest. It seems to be written for women who have not poked their heads out of their houses since they first dated in their teens.

Here’s sort of how it goes.

Ladies, set aside your worn out wardrobe and freshen yourselves up. This includes ditching your K-Mart underwear and your Crocs, of course. (If you ever catch me wearing the latter just take me out and shoot me. I have totally given up.)

Step #1. Long done.

Feminists, you need to get in touch with your frilly feminine side. If you are an Alpha at the office, you need to play Beta to snag an Alpha man. He needs to know he is needed so play a little helpless if you can. (Yuck, I am not making this up.)

Step #2. Ew.

Okay, this is as far as I have gotten and it’s really as far as I think I will get. But glancing over the table of contents, the final step, Step #7 stymies me. In part it’s about the etiquette of whether a woman over 50 can email a man! Apparently you have to read the entire book to find out. You have got to be kidding me!

I am not sure what Lisa Copeland’s credentials are. There are no impressive letters after her name like LCSW or Ph.D. She styles herself as a professional dating coach, dishing out  expert advice. She has a considerable following on the Huffington Post.

Interesting because many of the experts she quotes are anonymous — “author unknown.” For good reason I believe. No self respecting author would lay claim to some of these quotes.

“The Perfect Guy is the not the one who has the most money or the most handsome one you’ll meet. He’s the one who how to make you smile and will take care of you each and every day until the end of time.”

Gag! I think I just threw up a little.

Your worth does not revolve around what others think. Your worth is what you put in yourself and know in your heart.”

Thank you, anonymous. I already knew that.

“We were given two hands to hold, two legs to walk, two eyes to see, two ears to listen, but why only one heart? Because the other one was given to someone for us to find.”

Cue the violins. Disneyesque, don’t you think?

Okay, not all of of anonymous’s advice is so bad. Here is one which I like very much:

“There’s a guy out there who’s going to be really happy that you didn’t get back together with your crappy ex-boyfriend.”

I would like that one on a t-shirt. Yes, that one is gold.

But I do doubt some of Ms. Copeland’s anonymous sources. They don’t seem to come from scholars of the human heart or even from Psychology Today. They sound a lot like she looked them up in “1001 Inspirational Quotes on Life, Love, Work, Truth and Motivations With Questions to Ponder”.

It’s also available for 99 cents on Amazon Prime.

And while I am far from being the expert here, I think it might prove a better investment.

At least that’s my anonymous advice.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

Reach out and touch…

Reach out and touch someone ad

Professional cuddling.

No, I did not make this up.

Yes, this is a real thing. How do I know?

No, not from personal experience.

I know because I read it in the June 19th New York Times: Pillow Talk with a Professional Cuddler.

Besides dog walker, barista, and bookshop clerk, this apparently is the latest and greatest way for newcomers to make their way in NYC.

“…billed as therapeutic, nonsexual touch on sites like the Snuggle Buddies and Cuddlist — professional cuddling has become the latest thing in wellness, beyond yoga and meditation.”

News to me, the movement dates back more than a decade. The nonprofit group Cuddle Party, organizer of snuggle mixers, “has morphed into a cuddle-for-hire industry of one-on-one sessions.”

“For $79, practitioners who sign up receive about 10 hours of training.”

Yes, for less than $80 and in less than a day, you too could become a Professional Cuddler.

And what do you do exactly?

“Once trained, pro cuddlers promise a physical and psychic salve through spooning, arm tickling and deep embraces. Think of it as a blend of talk therapy, yoga and improvisational bodywork, the free jazz equivalent of massage.”

Full body, totally clothed, on a yoga mat, with pillows and blankets.

And what does this cost?

About $80 an hour.

And where does this happen?

In yoga studios, conference centers, hotel rooms, and people’s bedrooms.

So just about anybody can hang out a shingle and call themselves: a “Professional Cuddler”. No background checks. No regulations. No accreditation of any kind.

Trendy, treacherous, and sad, yes? But I believe it’s also very believable.

Alone and lonely in a city of eight million strangers, one’s desire for intimacy can long go unfulfilled. Yet the simple longing for human touch, a basic human need, is the same everywhere. Its as real in small-town Mannassass as it is in downtown Manhattan.

“Being touched and touching someone else are fundamental modes of human interaction, and increasingly, many people are seeking out their own professional touchers and body arts teachers – chiropractors, physical therapists, Gestalt therapists, Rolfers, the Alexander-technique and Feldenkrais people, massage therapists, martial arts and T’ai Chi Ch’uan instructors,” writes Sharon K. Faber, Ph.D. in Psychology Today.

“And some even wait in physician’s offices for a physical examination for ailments with no organic cause – they wait to be touched.”

I don’t know what all of those things listed above are. I, like you, will have to go to Google to figure that out. But I do know that many of these make sense: physical therapy for wounded shoulders; a deep tissue massage to decompress from stress; a chiropractic adjustment for an aching back.

Supportive, therapeutic touch.

But professional touch is not the same as personal touch. The former does not suffice to satisfy the human heart. All God’s children have a deep-seated need to reach out and touch that special someone’s hand.

Personal, intimate, relational —  human touch is sacramental and sacred.

I am not talking about marriage but I am talking about something deep and holy – something that I believe I wholly deserve:

Something that no “Professional Cuddler” could ever deliver.

So this woman is on a quest. I will be borrowing a friend’s dog to hang out at the dog park. I am signing up for “Book Talks” at Mount Vernon and wine tastings at Grape and Bean. I started volunteering on occasion for Story District and also on Saturdays @LOC. I am changing my traffic patterns. I have uploaded my profile to Zoosk.

”Sex & The Single Vicar” is a very personal quest that I will very publicly post one week at a time.

A personal quest maybe not unlike your own? So dear readers,  I invite you to click “follow” and come along on the search.

I promise not to disappoint — at least I’ll try.

Singularly yours,

 The Rev: Joani