The New Dating Game

29 Apr

Single Woman Seeking Man No smokers Hopeless Romantic A few extra pounds

Single Woman Seeking Man
No smokers
Hopeless Romantic
A few extra pounds

The New Dating Game


How to tip-toe through the hopelessly romantic bevy of available women

and a few suggestions on what not to do and what to do on online match-maker sites

By L. Stewart Marsden


I’ll admit I’ve not been at this new dating game long. Just a few months. But long enough to figure out three important facts:

  1. It’s very difficult to tell what value online matchmaking provides.
  2. It’s very difficult to tell what value online matchmaking provides.
  3. It’s very difficult to tell what value online matchmaking provides.


I haven’t tried every dating format, but some of the companies that pat themselves on the back and tout themselves as industry leaders., Zoosk, and Plenty of Fish are three. I haven’t tried the big Christian match-making company because they, like Ted Cruz, have diluted their purity by allowing anyone onboard.

Of course, it’s probably very difficult to verify whether or not a member is truly Christian, as the litmus tests are as biased and broad as the definition of Christian these days.

My experiences with the three above is that they are difficult to distinguish. The exception is POF provides a pretty in-depth questionnaire on its members’ needs and desires. One assumes this complicated algorithm somehow filters out a variety of mismatches, but it doesn’t seem to work its way out into reality, unfortunately.

For the un-indoctrinated, the process is to sign on for FREE membership. Of course, free means limited by what you get and for how long you get it. Systems are designed to tease the freeloader into either upgrading to some higher status, Golden, Platinum, or Stratosphere (whatever sounds best).

The price for a month or longer as an upgraded member can be steep. And, gosh, if you’re on more than one site (I’ll bet many are, thinking they will draw from a wider pool), then it’s a car payment!  But with a car payment at least you end up with a car.

So, I suppose it’s more like playing the lottery. Another tax on many who can ill-afford the money. Few ever strike pay-dirt.

Why do people do this?

Many are like me, older — and don’t want to go through the bar scene, or the Singles Ministry at their church, or whatever social stepping stone. We hope against hope that the one (and there are many euphemistic adjectives for this person) will magically find us among the tens of millions of members and be so captivated it will be a matter of texting “Hi there!” to start an avalanche to the altar.

I have met some very nice people, who have interesting pasts and stories to tell. I remind all I meet that everything they say may end up in one of my stories! They laugh, not suspecting how true that really is. Having just written this, and because I direct potential relationships to my online writing studio, I recognize this disclosure will probably have adverse effects on my finding THE one.

Below are my recommendations to those who seriously want to separate the chaff from the wheat in this process:

  1. Keep your expectations low. You see a profile photo of someone and you go, “Wow! She’s/he’s really attractive!” Then reality sets in when you meet for a cup of coffee. The photo is several years old.
  2. Read the profiles and pick up on nuances. Things like, “If you are a jerk I will find out and kill you!” Or, “I really like to travel abroad, like evening strolls down the Champs-Élysées, or fine 100-year-old champagne.” Prepare to spend.
  3. When you make text contact and begin communicating, don’t drink and text. Like the bar scene, everyone looks better after the second or third glass of wine.
  4. ASK your friends and family members what they think of someone you are intrigued with. One story I am aware of is of an attractive and sexy woman who did not heed the warnings of her friends. The guy took advantage of her sexually and left her in a shambles. That was within a three-week time period from “Hi” to “Bye.”
  5. Don’t give information out, like phone numbers, emails, Facebook sites or other contact information until you have established the person has earned that information. Trust is one thing. Foolishness, another.
  6. Represent yourself honestly. “A few pounds extra” is, in most cases, not representative of most members’ body types. I put a disclaimer at the beginning of my POF account, and response has dramatically decreased. The problem is, probably the women I’d like to meet click on by. But, hey! I’m not looking for a harem!
  7. Limit the number of people you are in contact with. I was overwhelmed at first, and took the time to concentrate on one person. In the long run it wasn’t a fit, but I felt I gave it an honest shot.
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask any question and expect an answer. When the relationship warrants, do a background check. Expect and even encourage others to do the same, unless you are on the FBI Most Wanted list. Then you wouldn’t do this anyway.
  9. Consider the long-term versus the short-term. Take your time and be deliberate.
  10. Photos: don’t get me started! Your profile shot should be the best photo representation of what you look like today. If you want to show off how you looked when you were Homecoming Queen, or Captain of the football team, don’t use it as your main pic, and be sure you put a disclaimer. Update your profile photo often. Avoid the following in your profile picture: With other people. It’s difficult to tell which one you are. If you’re a woman, don’t have a man’s arm draped around you. I actually saw someone take a pic of a picture where someone had been cut out of the picture. Avoid selfies, or shots into the mirror. Don’t take a “come hither” shot — it cheapens you. No booby shots. No bikini shots where there is a suggestive pose. Your photos should give someone an idea of who you are and what your life is really like. NEVER take a picture of yourself from below looking up your nose!
  11. Remember that you are the person you are. Don’t try to be someone else. Bear in mind MANY on these sites are sharks. They want something. They sense vulnerability and go in for the kill. Don’t be a statistic in that regard.

Okay, eleven is an odd number to stop on. But I could go on.

I’ll continue to use these sites as a filter, and a way to meet people I wouldn’t have ordinarily. My goal is to remain transparent, and able to live with myself.


Here’s a quote I like from Brontë:

“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

Perhaps you will like it, too.

Mr. Goose

29 Apr

Mr. Goose

by L. Stewart Marsden

The other day I had an experience that reminded me how rude those in positions of authority can be when they wield such power.

One of my sons, who is well on his way to a record-setting traffic ticket all-time high, needed me to cover his attorney’s fee. Yes, I know all the reactions to this, believe me, from enabler to bad, BAD Parent!
Regardless, I drove to his lawyer’s office to make the payment. As I stood at the receptionist’s window, the primary attorney of this small father-son firm wandered into the area, looked at me, and said, “Thank you.”

“For what?” I returned.

“For helping me to make my mortgage and car payments,” he grinned.
“This is for my son,” I explained, not anxious to be cast in the role of an offender/client. “And we’’re going to do everything in our power not to pay for any more of your expenses.”

I was pissed! The anger steeped in my head all the way home and into the night until it split from the ends of my fingers onto my keyboard.

I knew what he meant. He meant I am a fool for doing something I needed a lawyer to defend me for, or arbitrate with a judge. Which is basically true.

It was the way he said it.

We will call this lawyer Mr. Goose. It rhymes with his real name. I’d run into Mr. Goose in the past, when I used to cover court as a reporter. A fine spectacle of a man who honked and bleated his way around the front of the court, Mr. Goose waved his arms and basically demeaned his clients before black-robed judges.

“Your honor, a plea for judgment! My client, who is an idiot and who may or may not learn from this experience, looks for mercy from the bench.”

Then he would turn to the poor waif of a man/woman//teenager, dressed as well as Goodwill Stores allowed, standing and awaiting judgment, and say,

“And he will not EVER dare to repeat such an offense again!”

To which the waif would look down and nod with repentance.

I can only imagine how Mrs. Goose tolerates her husband’s patronizing ways. Maybe the money is good. His is the first name that comes up when those who run afoul of the local law, or Highway Patrol, find themselves charged with various blue-collar crime. While he’s not an ambulance chaser, he’s damn close.

I suppose Mr. Goose to be a one-time wannabe who had aspirations to be a partner in a multi-million-billion-gazillion legal firm. Or, be elected to the district DA position, and then state attorney general and then governor. Or not. Perhaps he’s a settler, and prefers his role in court, twirling about and sashaying on the small stage before an audience of offenders and their parents and girlfriends and such.

Mr. Goose
Played it loose
Until he strangled on his noose.


Karma. One can only hope he and his ilk are indeed rewarded in kind.

They’re like turkey vultures, I guess — providing a necessary function in the cycle of life. You just don’t want them too close.

Is a Puzzlement!?

5 Mar



Is a Puzzlement!?


I’ve been writing and posting to what I call my “online writing studio” since November of 2011. I don’t call it a blog. I think the word itself is less than poetic or literary or romantic. Online writing studio infers you can enter and look around at the messy corners, the stacks of paper, the crumpled self-rejections of my efforts.

Over that period of time I have posted 599 pieces of work. I have a modest 23,925 views, which sounds impressive until you divide the totals by 4, which is the real total of my full years online. 8,737 people have stopped by, but many of those are repeats, so you can’t really trust the figure. The number doesn’t distinguish between one-time and repeat visitors.

  • 2012 was my best overall year for stats, with 2,263 visitors and 9,645 views.
  • My very best day ever was December 15, 2012, with 1,085 views.
  • Most people visit my site on Wednesdays. The most popular time is 1 pm.

It’s interesting to look at the data. I’m really not sure what to do with it.

What has struck me, though, is that one poem I posted back in May 2012 is consistently viewed. In that year it was viewed 13 times. In 2013, 25 times. In 2014, 133 times. And last year, 212 times. This month it has been viewed an average of 2 times a day.

Not a lot, I know. Not thunder and lightning impact. But consistently growing in who reads the poem, and very likely who comes back to reread it.

And I scratch my head over that. Nothing I have written appears on my stats consistently like the poem.

Here it is:


I'm Sick Today

I’m Sick Today

by L. Stewart Marsden

Today I didn’t feel so well —
My throat was very sore;
And Mama took my temp’rature
And stroked my hair some more;

Then measured out my medicine
Into a silver spoon,
With “down the hatch” she smiled at me,
And then she softly crooned …

“I love my girl, my pretty lass,
Who doesn’t feel so well,
You know I would — if I could —
Ring loud the healing bell!

“And up you’d jump and sing straight out,
‘My gosh! I’m ME again!’
And dance and play and laugh and shout
Until the long day’s end.”

But, sad to say, I’m sick today,
All nestled in the bed,
And I will sleep the day away
And rest my fev’rish head;

And dream wild dreams of Faerie lands —
Of castles, kings and queens;
Then of the prince who’ll take my hand
And fly to lands unseen . . .

Where he and I will rule with care
The lowly and the proud;
And when a subject isn’t well
We’ll ring the bell aloud!

And all’ll jump up and sing straight out
“Oh gosh! We’re US again!”
And dance and play and laugh and shout
Until the long day’s end.
Until the long day’s end.


Perhaps it’s the photo I took of my daughter, who was sick on the day I wrote the poem. In truth, it was I who watched over her, and not her mother, but I made the choice because — face it — how many dads really hover around their sick children?

Perhaps it’s that every parent resonates with the scene. Or the poem hies back to days when we were small and sick.

Or maybe the fantasy of a sick child’s dreams.

As the King of Siam said in The King and I, “Is a puzzlement!?”

So, I wonder, can YOU tell me why this poem continues to show up in my online writing studio stats?

The Best! Valentine EVER!

12 Feb

Ahhh…it’s that time of year again!

Writing Odds n Ends

The Best! Valentine EVER!

By L. Stewart Marsden

In the many years I have given and received valentines, there remains one gift that will forever come to mind on this auspicious occasion.

It was my freshman year at college. I’m not going to tell you how many years ago, but suffice to say it was a few years ago.

A girl I was dating at the time and I planned to spend Valentines Day by going to the fraternity I was pledging. That in itself is a story. I firmly believe that the classic film, Animal House, was modeled after Delta Pi Zeta, but I understand a west coast location was the honored frat.

My date, let’s call her Linda, and I went out to the local hamburger joint where the absolute best hamburgers ever were made. Two slices of Texas toast nicely browned, spread with Miracle Whip on…

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7 Feb


By L. Stewart Marsden


I know the elixir of a fine aged wine

that transforms the ordinary into precious gold

and prolongs ecstasy beyond normal heights;

enhances all it touches,

enriches all it bolsters

and creates such magic

as delivers deliriously.


It seems I stumbled on this fine old cask

quite unexpectedly;

and how I see its rich deep worth

is more the evidence of taste and touch and smell

for well it casts its magic charm,

completely and disarms me now,

how long I wonder till I might be loosed

from its mad and magic spell;

or not,

and linger, vanquished, in its pure and holy hell.


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 7 February, 2016



On the precipice once again

6 Feb

 EPSON MFP image

On the precipice once again

By L. Stewart Marsden


Years ago a pastor, friend, and mentor shared a parable during a church service on a farm in rural North Carolina.

He has passed on to better grounds long ago, but his metaphor still lingers, and is resurrected at special times in my life.

Now is such a time. While my words, which dare to remember, the heart of the message is the same.

Imagine you climb the ladder on a 10 meter diving platform. You are blindfolded. Each step and thrust brings you closer to the top of the tower. While you cannot see it, you can see it vividly in your mind’s eye. You have been there before. Many times.

You reach the top of the platform and grab the side rails. You carefully make your way out to the edge of the concrete platform, and curl your toes over the front edge.

Ten meters.

Every other time you have performed a dive you have not been blindfolded. You could look around and see the spectators, or empty bleachers, to the left and right. You could hear the soft spray of water across the water’s surface to even the surface. You could see the water below, and knew when you performed your jump, in fractions of seconds your hands would hit and divide the water’s surface, and you would pierce the pool with your body.

It was rote.

It was something to which you were accustomed.

This time, however, you are blindfolded, and see nothing. It is by the feel of your toes and feet and hands you ascend the cold stainless steel ladder.

You know the step count from hundreds of previous climbs. But this time, your mind is muddled, and you cannot remember the number of steps, and it seems your very first time.

On the edge of the platform, a soft buffeting of air pats your chest.

You listen carefully for the sound of the spray of water down below, but your heart pounds so loudly in your ears it is discernible.

You realize the pool might — in fact — be empty, and what awaits you is the hard reality of concrete as you hit it from ten meters up.

Ten meters. 32.81 feet. About the length of a three-story building.

You see nothing.

“Jump!” you hear someone shout, the word echoing throughout the empty arena.

“Jump!” you feel your heart urging, realizing the words, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

It is a fearful moment.

Yet there have been many times in life prior to this particular standing on the precipice. You have jumped many times. Sometimes the results have been good. Sometimes not.

What are the odds there is no water in the pool below as you stand on the edge of the 10-meter platform yet once again?

When I was a child, I would climb the ladder to the high diving board, and people would warn me, “You know, you can’t go back once you go up!”

Life guards with zinc-covered noses and dark sunglasses and deep summer tans.

A springboard lacks the solid feeling of a platform. There I was, lost in swim trunks too large, bouncing at the end of the oscillating diving board, my arms over my head, looking down at the water which may as well have been a mile down — like the Colorado River from the edge of the Grand Canyon.

And I would jump. Feet first. And plunge into the water, and dog-paddle my way to the surface for a much-needed gasp of air. I had done it!

Blindfolded. On the edge of the 10-meter platform. Unsure whether there would be water or concrete to break my fall. And my fall would be head first.

“Jump!” the voice taunted.

That is the essence of faith,” my pastor, friend and mentor explained. “You jump, without any guarantees.”


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 6 February, 2016


The Meat Locker

3 Feb


The Meat Locker

By L. Stewart Marsden



Do you hear?

Do you see?

Am I impaled by your wretched allurements?

Do I bleed in the dark?

Do I gasp to deaf ears?

Am I meat for the stripping?

Hooked and hung to drain?

To be cured and carved,

ground, devoured and digested?

Or ignored,

turning brown in the bin?


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 2016

Failure and Success

3 Feb


Failure and Success

By L. Stewart Marsden

My dad used to tell a joke about a father who had twin sons. In all ways they were indistinguishable, except in their outlooks on life. One was a die-hard pessimist. It didn’t matter what was going on, that son always expected the worse. The other was the extreme opposite, and believed that the sun’ll come out tomorrow, regardless.

Those traits nearly drove their father mad until he struck upon an idea to cure each of his sons of their extreme postures.

On their birthday, he told them to go out to the barn and see what their birthday presents were.

In one of the barn stalls was a magnificent stallion — an animal of rare beauty and strength. Above that stall was the name of his pessimistic son. When the son discovered his gift, he immediately began to moan and complain about the inevitability of an accident or even death when he took the steed out for a ride.

In the other stall was a ceiling-high pile of horse manure. The optimist son immediately grabbed a pitch fork and began slinging the manure away.

“All this shit— there’s got to be a horse in here somewhere!”

My dad also always told me, be happy and content in whatever you do. If you are an engineer, be the best damn engineer there is! If you collect garbage, be the best damn garbage collector there is.

The Problems with Dreams

In Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical, South Pacific, the character Bloody Mary sings the song Happy Talk, when the young lieutenant and her daughter meet and fall in love. In the lyrics is the line, You got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?

Few discover or even follow their dream. Even if they do discover what they truly care to do, failure dissuades them. They end up, sadly, doing something else. Making things do in life. And at the end of their lives, look back and wonder, what if?

Our McDonald’s culture has conditioned us for instant gratification. We want it now. Tap in the pin number, get the cash. I’m guilty of that. And guilty of being dissuaded from my dreams, as well. Nothing good comes of that, I can assure you.

Statistics, schmastistics

Did you know the great Babe Ruth had 714 home runs in his career, but also 1330 strike outs at bat?

Did you know one of the all-time greats in basketball, Michael Jordan, didn’t make every basket nor win every game? He says, I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. Read more at ( He even failed when he tried to play professional baseball, and in his last come-back in the NBA.

Thomas Alva Edison said of his own work, I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

It’s redundant, but not trite. Ask any of the team members of either the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers about success and failure and I’ll bet you nearly to a man, each will concur they have learned as much or more from their attempts that have failed, than their successes.

Whatever passion or vocation you have set your mind to, failure will be part of the ratio. A good salesman who receives a rejection replies, “That’s one less ‘no’ I have to face before I get a ‘yes.’ A writer, trying to find a literary agent or publisher says, ‘that’s one less rejection before my work is accepted.’

Pie in the sky? Pollyannish? Unrealistic?

I guess that depends on how big a horse is in your pile of shit.


Copyright © Lawrence S. Marsden, 3 February, 2016

Match dot com and the Tortoise

21 Jan

Match dot com and the Tortoise

By L. Stewart Marsden


I subscribed to Match dot com today,

and immediately rued the decision.

Is it like admitting defeat?

Is it like becoming a teacher and not a doer?

Is it like casting a line in the deep sea waters off North Carolina

and hoping beyond hope that somehow, some wandering tuna will bite the bait

and jerk and firmly set the hook?


Who is hooking whom?

Perhaps I’m the tuna, and all I want is some comfort food,

and someone to stroke the nape of my neck

and say, “There, there. It will all be okay?”


The biters didn’t fit my “partner” profile.

They were too young, too far away, too eager and ambitious.

They were too scary.


Just a three-month subscription.

The price of a couple of pizzas home-delivered.


But not at all like home-delivery.

Something more ominous, more creepy.


And I was worried I was the creepy one.


The tortoise carries its own protection against attack.

It can withdraw its feet and tail and head at a moment’s notice.

It can survive for more than 150 years.

What’s so wrong with that?


And I subscribed to today.


Copyright © Lawrence S. Marsden, 21 January, 2016

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