People make lists for a variety of reasons. There are grocery lists, errand lists and to-do lists. Candace Sanders is a 30-something with her own list – a list of almost 50 qualities she wants in her future husband. She's excited when she finds her Mr. Right, as he earns check after check on her love itinerary. However, when she starts to fall for another man that's the opposite of what she thinks she wants, she wonders: can perfect be put on paper?
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Excerpt from THE LIST by Carmen Shirkey:
Why was I here? I knew this guy was so far from being right for me that he was in another time zone. What a total waste of time – that's an hour of my life that I'd never get back. I was too nice to just get up and leave, but there was the added incentive of not having to listen to my friend Monica's pestering if she found out I bailed on the date. I really didn't want to go to start with, but when I made the mistake of mentioning the invitation for said date while on the phone with my best friend, she had gotten all giddy with excitement. When I said I didn't want to go, you could almost hear her thought balloon pop over the landline.
"You're too picky," she had said, and I could hear her sigh. "You'll be an old maid if you keep up these shenanigans."
"First," I said, "Who uses the word shenanigans anymore, and second, I don't consider it being 'picky.' I considered it being 'discerning' or 'not settling' for what was best for me."
"You've got your expectations too high with that damn list of yours," She told me, yet again.
The list that she was referring to is a set of 50-or-so criteria for what I want in a man that I just happened to write down. I'm a type-A personality, I have lists for everything, but I've set down these, um, guidelines, in an ordered manner so that I can easily see whether a man would be perfect for me.
There were your standard items, which any self-respecting woman would consider necessities.
1. Chemistry – which is not definable by it's nature
2. Attractive – See #1
3. Has a steady income (not rich, just not a moocher who expects me to pay his way)
4. Animal-friendly (Hey, the cat was here first)
5. Good sense of humor (Yes, all women really do want that.)
These are the basics. You can't argue with the basics.
Then there are the other 45 items that serves as more of a filter for the bad eggs than anything else. (Don't make that face – that surprised face when I tell you this. All the women I've talked to have a list of some sort. I'm just more – thorough.)
Some items on the list are absolute deal-breakers (white collar job, #7), while others are more nice-to-haves (not tone-deaf, #31). Come on, I'm not that strict with the list. I mean, I don't expect that Mr. Right will have a perfect score with a check in each box.
A lot of the items on the list were added thanks to the bad date experiences of my past. I don't have baggage; I've got a whole baggage department.
How did I manage to find such non-quality men? To quote Mr. Kenny Rogers, I was definitely looking for love in all the wrong places. Mostly the "wrong places" could be summed up as online dating.
I must've had a momentary lapse of judgment that led me into the online world, but it was hard to meet quality, single, not-crazy people. I lived in the 'burbs of Washington DC, which was always listed as one of the best places for singles to live. I don't know what criteria that survey used, but clearly no one on that panel had actually ever tried dating all those single people in DC. Yes, there were plenty of things for single people to do, but the singles were usually working 18-hour days to afford the $300,000, 700-square-foot condo they were living in and didn't have time to date, or they were too self-absorbed in their "I-work-on-the-Hill-for-an-Important-Person" attitude to enjoy them.
Plus, I just felt that I needed to do something – help Fate out if you will. My dad is always telling me that Mr. Perfect was not going to jump out of my closet. And if he did, there would be bigger issues to deal with. So rather than just wait – which I'm not particularly good at anyway – I thought I'd give Cupid a shove.
Let me tell you about some of these Internet dates of mine. The first guy had a nice photo (I learned the hard way that these are often fake or old). He wrote literate emails (where he used capital letters when needed, appropriate punctuation, limited emoticons and none of those ROFL acronyms) and he had a pleasant phone voice when he called. However, when we arrived at my favorite little Mexican hole-in-the-wall restaurant, I thought I was being directed to the wrong table. This man couldn't be the one whose picture had been so clean-cut. He looked like something out of a bad episode of I Love the 70s on VH1. He reeked of polyester. He was wearing a shirt with lapels bigger than my arms opened mid-chest to reveal a pile of hair that would've made Austin Powers take notice. (Hair in the right places in the right amounts is #6 on the list). On top of that fur patch lay several gold chains (Doesn't wear more jewelry than me is #36). When he wasn't impersonating Saturday Night Fever characters, he told me that he dressed up in chain mail and went on fake medieval battles. Believe me, the waiter couldn't serve dinner fast enough. I'd never eaten a burrito so fast in all my life. When he offered to walk me to my car after dinner, I politely declined and tried not to run while trying to get my keys ready as fast as possible.
Monica, who never calls any man we've ever dated by their actual name (as a matter of fact, I don't know if I can remember any of their real names), dubbed this fine specimen "The Pimp," and we have referred to him as this ever since.