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Backpage Story: When It Rains, It Pours

But when you live in California, sometimes there’ll be droughts that last so long you start forgetting what rain even feels like. The dry spells seem to last forever and a day. “Water that falls from the sky??? Are you sure…”

And we’re talking about men here of course. Do I look like a weather forecaster to you!? (Even though I do love me some ‘Anchorman’ and will find a way to fit “Stay classy” into the conversation anytime San Diego (a.k.a. ‘a whale’s vagina’) is even remotely referenced.)

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Yes, in California, and elsewhere if my extremely informal studies are correct, it’s either raining men, or… it’s not. There’s no middle ground really. You’re either a man magnet and they’re coming out the woodworks forming queues to vie for your attention, or you’re getting lost in the shuffle. It’s either a time of A plus pluses and magna cum laude graduations from Man Attraction Camp, or the situation is so dire your friends start suggesting the ‘man pillow’ for you.

Have you heard of this new all-the-rage bedroom item? The hundred-dollars-a-pop pillow with a fake arm attached to it that you can snuggle up to? Must be kinda hard to advertise though, because when you get down to the nitty gritty, they’re essentially reducing a man down to a pillow. “No ladies, you don’t need a man, you just need a pillow!” It’s crazy talk if you ask me. Just a quick fix band-aid that’ll never solve the real problem. Western medicine talk and thinking. I’m holistic if I’m a day.

I really don’t get it though, this feast or fa(man) pheno(man)on. See, sometimes they’re everywhere I tell you. Is a happy medium really too much to ask? It’s enough to drive a girl (boy) crazy.

Why do you have to be either Man Central or BFE? And apparently geographical location does play a role in whether a guy pursues you, as I learned when this guy I was dating told me he initially liked both me and this other girl, but she lived “all the way out in Pomona, so …” (and then he trailed off.) Which basically meant I won by default and my competition forfeited by virtue of living in The Boonies. “Wow, thanks. What a proud victory. Makes me feel oh-so-special.” Hence the “guy I was dating” moniker.

The droughts always start out innocently enough too, with you having no idea you’re about to enter into a full-blow man hiatus. And they begin for any number of reasons:

1.) You decide to opt out because the sheer effort involved gets overwhelming. “You know what, I’m gonna have to pass. Carry on everybody, don’t mind me!” Because this dating activity ain’t no walk in the park, that’s for sure. There’s due diligence to be done. An inordinate amount of primping and daydreaming to be had. Not to mention countless Do’s and Don’ts surrounding the practice that should be committed to memory. “Don’t use the ‘c’ word (commitment for all you dirty minds out there), do ask questions, don’t wipe your hands on your jeans after dessert (am I classy or what.)

2.) You’re not so much overwhelmed as you are legitimately working with serious time constraints. Because ‘when it rains, it pours’ applies not just to men, but to life too. All of a sudden you have a dating book to write, a bikini body goal, work people harassing you during normal business hours to ‘work’ (the nerve!), and everyone and their mother (including your own mother) wanting a piece. When you’ve got too many motha uckers ucking with your shii, (your dating shii), certain frivolous time wasters inevitably get the axe.

3.) You get tired of one too many backpage dates gone bad where you’re sitting there thinking, “Now I know I’m not missing The Office for this.” (Even though it’s still being recorded by the DVR, you’re not completely insane.) Still though, there’s just nothing like fresh off the press Office. So maybe after the umpteenth time of dumbing down for a Lowest Common Denominator or listening to a Talker’s soliloquy and politely nodding your head while censoring your backpage comments, you just can’t muster up the pretend enthusiasm any longer. You decide to stop the weeding through and take a little breather. Save yourself. And you know what, you deserve it.

4.) You need a little time to get yourself together and do some spring cleaning. Take care of home. Perhaps, and this happens to the best of us, (especially Supertasters like myself), you’ve been eating everything in your path with a vengeance and have slapped on some serious winter weight. You’ve added numerous lbs. to the repertoire, and now need some time to get your ‘A’ game back. Maybe throw in a makeover or a haircut while you’re at it. At the very least get your nails did.

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Because nails and hands are an important part of the body. They’re easily spotted wrapped around a glass or doing some light flirty touching. And they speak volumes about a person too. Don’t you notice a guys’ hands? They’re usually one of the first things I look at myself during my cursory once over, when I’m hoping and praying for a nice pair of strong manly man hands. Mands. There’s few things worse than small girly delicate fingers. Which is why you always want to put your best foot hand forward.

Regardless of the reason you’re ‘off’ though, the outcome remains the same. You’re down for the count. For a minute. It’s a risky place to be actually, since not keeping yourself abreast of the latest backpage dating nuances can have serious repercussions indeed.

Just last week I committed a faux pas I would have never done had I not been so rusty. I’m a little embarrassed, but yes, I fell for the ‘restricted number’ trick. You know, where a guy who you’ve been avoiding gets you to answer the phone by blocking his number so you think it’s your mom? (Since all moms have restricted numbers for ’security purposes’. ;0) ) So mad when I realized it was him. At myself mainly though, since the only reason for my blunder was because I got lax. Had I been ‘on’, there would have been a heightened sense of phone security, (especially on a Saturday night!) which would have set off an instant alarm to heavily screen that ‘restricted’ call the second it came in.

Faux pas deux - (oooooh I feel so ‘French’. Well, this is Cherie Amour you’re talking to after all.) I also forgot the ‘I have a boyfriend’ line the other day. Who forgets a staple like that? Helllooooo, it’s textbook ‘Letting Them Down Easy - Rejection 101′. Page 1, line 1. Unacceptable to blank out on.

This guy I wasn’t interested in was talking to me about Chaya Venice and suggested that we hang out there sometime. Should have been a no-brainer where I said my piece without skipping a beat, but instead, I went with, ‘Uh, that sounds fun, I’ll see you there sometime!” Uh, what? “I’ll see you there sometime?!!!” Terrible. The second I said it I wanted to take it back, especially after seeing the look on his face. Snap. You know better than that Cherie.

When I was “on” sometimes I would even have to bust the “I’m married” line, reserved for only the most serious circumstances of course. If the offender would ask why the ring on my hand was conspicuously absent, I would say ‘he’ (and then I would give a little smile into the air) was working as we spoke to buy me the perfect one.

You stop trying when you’re ‘off’ though. I heard of this girl who was so out of practice that she did everything wrong wardrobe-wise. Tried to impress her sexy beautiful man yoga teacher by wearing what she thought were her brand-new cute black stretch pants but turned out to be more like her brand-new cute black see-through tights. Which she only realized after class was over and she’d done I don’t know how many downward facing dogs and happy babies. Commando no less because that’s how she rolled. Flashing “her front, her back, her ____ and her____” like she was wearing perfectly acceptable yoga attire. It was an egregious error that never would have happened had she been more with it.

Okay, it was me. did that. And one of my friends insisted I put on the exact same outfit the next time she came over so she could laugh and see exactly how humiliated I should have been. The answer was “Very.” Thanks J.T. Where’s your compassion?

But whatever. Mistakes like that come with the territory. What I really consider alarming is how your self-esteem takes a nosedive and your view of the world becomes skewed when you’re in a slump for too long. In the initial stages, you’re thinking, “Hey, this isn’t so bad after all, I kinda like this!” But the only reason you think that way is because you believe as soon as you change your mind and want a man in your life again, you’ll have one, easy as pie. (So naïve.)

But when that doesn’t happen, and the days turn into weeks/months, the doubts start creeping in. “Now waaaaaait a minute. You wait just one minute. I used to be somebody! What’s going on… is it me?”

You start wondering if your best days are over. Yeah, you definitely reach a low point. Sometimes you even hit rock bottom and start considering drastic measures, like getting out there to furiously pound the pavement. Which unfortunately isn’t really the answer either, since it’s kind of exhausting, not to mention depressing. One time I went out with a couple of ‘the girls’ when all three of us were in a bad way. One friend went to take a seat and the other said, “Don’t sit down, you’ll take us out of the market!” It was so sad. Has it really come to that? Where you have to be thinking about the ‘the market’ 24/7 and can’t even ’sit one out’ every now and then? Yuck.

And when the stakes are that high, standards get lowered and bars get dropped. The bottom of the backpage barrel starts looking perfectly acceptable, and you entertain the possibility of the backpage guy with the ‘unfortunate nose’ that you would never have looked at twice before. Who would be great if he had the bomb personality, since that’s 95% for you, but that’s unfortunate too unfortunately. Which takes you way too long to decipher, since even your personalidometer is effed up from lack of use.

During my last hiatus (which ended pretty recently actually), I found myself literally batting my eyelashes when I met my new neighbor. When he said, “I’m Mike by the way”, in my head I responded, “I love you by the way.” It doesn’t take much, huh? One little salutation and he has me eating out of his hand.

Just as an aside, (since this post doesn’t have enough already), G-d played a fast one on me on April Fool’s Day and had me thinking that ‘Mike It Doesn’t Take Much’ was moving out. Turns out he was just being nice and opening the door for the movers. It was terrible though. I saw my life flash before my eyes. ;0) Just kidding, but I really have high hopes for that one. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted in the posts.

Sometimes when you’ve been on the bench for so long though, getting back in the backpage game start to seem pretty daunting and scary. You start wondering if it would just be easier not to play at all. But when you do decide you want out of being ‘down and out’, there are things you can do to facilitate your re-entrance. One of my friends highly recommends sleeping with a harmless ex-boyfriend to give yourself a little jumpstart. She sees them as ‘palate cleansers’ (™ N.J.) Kind of like ginger.

It’s actually not a bad practice, and can work like a charm if done properly. My friend took her own advice, and next thing you knew, she was the brand new ‘It Girl’. Men who’d been notoriously silent started asking for titles, and even ‘blasts from the past’ were trying to pop back in the picture for a second go-round. Just scooting on in like they’d never left. She had Joes in different area codes and the whole nine yards.

I love being in that position personally, I can’t lie. It’s my favorite. D*mn it feels good to be a gangsta! It’s so on when you’re ‘on’. You’re a star. And who doesn’t love guys sidling up to you left and right? Even Moms you meet want a piece of the action, “You know, I have a son about your age…”

So what’s the explanation? Let’s get to the bottom of this once and for all, shall we? One theory is that men thrive on competition from back in the olden olden days. They want to feel like they’ve won you from the masses. They sense your status and then behave accordingly. Because what fun is playing the backpage game all by themselves when there’s no opponent? Big whup when you win against… yourself. Plus, I think men can tell when you have multiples, because you’re not as hard-pressed and can so give them the boot the second they start acting up.

Another friend of mine, a ‘manformer’ (man + informer), a.k.a. a man who tells you all their dirty little gender secrets, told me that if a woman’s ‘off’, it’s by choice. We turn ourselves off. I acted appalled, (how dare you insinuate it’s my fault!), but deep down I knew he was right. We make a conscious decision every single day how we’re gonna live our life. It has everything to do with confidence and ‘putting yourself out there’, as much as I despise that phrase. I like this theory though, because it implies that you then have the power to change the situation and choose your own destiny.

And to tell you the truthsss, I LIKE being on the outskirts looking in sometimes. You can reflect on your past and learn from your mistakes. If you don’t know your past you don’t know your future. (Okay Cherie Marley.) The downtime lets you really, truly figure out what you want in a man without any distractions, making it that much easier to recognize what you’re looking for when you see it. Plus it makes you stronger. Builds character.

Every yin has a yang, the grass is always greener, etc. etc. etc. It’s gotta get tiresome being ‘on’ all the time anyway. It’s fine. You’re like a moth who cocoons up for a while and then becomes a beautiful butterfly.

And maybe it’s better to just go with the flow when you’re ‘off’ instead of wasting valuable energy fighting against it. Just ride out the ebbs and flows and conserve your energy for when you’re back ‘on’. The tide will change soon enough anyway. Always does.

Plus the world keeps on turning, so you’ll entirely never fall off the map. There’s that whole gravity thing working in your favor. Think of it like jump rope. You’re just waiting until the time is right to jump back on in there. Just be sure not to let fear prevent you from taking that leap eventually. Because dating isn’t really meant to be a spectator sport. What’s the worst that could happen? The rope gets tangled and you have to start over again? BFD. Who cares. Life is for the living after all.

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