Check-Mate

I never imagined I would be single this long. In fact, I went to a college where a popular saying was “a ring by spring;” however, I am still no further along the road of mutual forever togetherness eleven years later. I would like to think I am a relatively interesting, relatively moral, and relatively attractive person, but maybe I am missing some key ingredient in this whole process. To my surprise, I discovered a book the other day which discussed some aspects of the dating process.

The title of the book is called Mate, and the basic premise is women look for certain traits in men to see if they are “mate” material. Supposedly the authors have studied this topic for years and claim these findings are scientifically proven. Ordinarily I would have never considered reading this book, but I guess I was intrigued by the concept. Granted, I was somewhat skeptical because I have always believed in a sort of God-ordained marriage process where a man and woman are somehow meant to be together. However, it does make sense that there are certain traits which make men more attractive/suitable as a life partner. So, onward I read!

I knew I was in trouble when the authors started discussing cleanliness. Supposedly women evaluate a man’s habitat for suitability for raising children, and a dirty environment is a major setback in the pursuit of healthy offspring. Whether a vehicle or living area, the degree of cleanliness seems to be directly proportional to a man’s fatherhood potential. (I guess I should clean that dried blood in my refrigerator and ensure my fruit fly problem does not worsen.) This point seemed rather harmless; just tidy up a little more to put your best foot forward.

Up next was the social aspect and much of this discussion revolved around a man belonging to a strong “tribe.” Supposedly in a Darwinian world of survival of the fittest, a woman wants to know her man will still be standing when times get tough. Three hundred years ago, this concept probably meant a man who could hunt, fish, farm, build structures, etc… Now, it probably means a man who can provide a steady source of income and relative physical security. Unfortunately, I’m afraid my tribe consists of distant co-workers, casual Crossfit acquaintances, and seventy year old fellow church members. If there were ever to be an event of apocalyptic proportions, I highly doubt my tribe would be the last standing.

One of the next topics discussed a man’s sense of style. Fortunately I am required to wear a uniform in my current occupation, so my lack of wardrobe acumen is somewhat disguised. However, I think my true colors might show when my default clothing options include JNCO jeans and a fedora.

Another part of the book discussed the ability to create things as an attractive quality. I don’t remember all the details, but supposedly a man who can build bookshelves or a kitchen table is viewed as creative and a problem-solver from a woman’s point of view. Unfortunately, about the only things I am creating these days are rudimentary meals designed to provide myself a minimal level of nutritional sustenance. I’m afraid the craftsman gene is not that strong in my bloodline.

Some of the other topics included picking the correct dating market, determining one’s dating goals, developing a sense of confidence, etc… While I’m not exactly sure where I stand on the spectrum of 100% God-ordained marriage to “the one” vs. man’s complete free will in the process, it never hurts to optimize one’s probabilities, right?

 

 

 

 

Tennis Revisited

So I played in a tennis tournament recently. I’m not exactly sure what possessed me to signup for the event, but I think watching a local junior tennis tournament a few weeks ago as well as the French Open both contributed to the decision.

I have actually played tennis for most of my life. Since my mom played college tennis, it was not unusual to play a few times per week during my childhood. I took some lessons during my middle school years and then played some tournaments and team tennis later. I was never too serious about the game; it was always more of a recreational pursuit with friends and family instead of serious training and dedication. Since graduating high school, I mainly play with family during breaks and holidays; nothing too serious, just some fresh air and exercise.

To my surprise, there a quite a few tournaments in the local area. After renewing my USTA membership and registering for the local tournament, I had to select the NTRP draw I would enter. I was not too familiar with this ranking system used for recreational players, but after reading descriptions online, I imagined myself as somewhere between a 3.5 and 4.0 level. I decided on the 3.5 level as I was new to the whole tournament scene and was not sure what to expect.

As for the tournament itself, my first match was primetime Friday evening. Sure enough, I was placed on the court closest to the central patio location with multiple spectators in the area. I must have been pretty nervous because I started hitting really hard; in fact, I think my serves were probably faster than ever. However, with this increased pace came lots of unforced errors. But you know what they say; go down swinging. After a rocky start, I managed to start playing better and finished with a respectable score line, even if it was a loss.

Not to be discouraged, I returned the next day for a ninety degree match. I definitely played better this match as I had analyzed my previous play and realized some adjustments were required. I then played two more times before on the final day of the tournament.

By no means am I going to be joining the ATP tour anytime in the near future, but it was definitely refreshing to once again play some good tennis. I think I could probably play in the 4.0 level and be competitive.

It is unfortunate that tennis is not as popular as it once was; the local tennis courts around  my place of residence have been transformed into a “bark park.” But in all honesty, they will probably be used more in this capacity. It seems like many other courts are crumbling, cracking, and neglected. It is not hard to see why as there are few top male U.S. tennis players, and if it wasn’t for Serena Williams, the U.S. professional tennis scene would be in dire straights altogether. But nonetheless, as long as there is junior tennis and weekend warriors, I think the game will march onward.

 

Bargain-hunter or Pseudovulture?

I’m not exactly sure how estate sales became a staple of my weekend routine. Rummaging through another person’s belongings in search of potential items to purchase may seem akin to vulture-like activity to some, but I generally do not feel guilty during this process. In most cases, a company is hired to sell household items at a discount when someone has died or moved into a nursing home.

At these sales, it seems like I normally purchase items from two categories, books and cookware. I’m not exactly sure why I buy so many books, but the cause probably stems from watching Jeopardy frequently and my introverted personality. History and foreign countries seem to be my favorite topics, and I have certainly become a bona fide armchair traveler for these reasons.

My accumulation of cooking products started innocently enough when I found a large multi-quart chili/soup pot at a sale. This pot was definitely an upgrade from my smaller ones as it is able to hold a larger volume of  contents and makes cooking homemade soups more realistic. Some of my next buys included a lettuce spinner and a large, wooden cutting board. I never really thought a lettuce spinner was a critical part of making a salad, but I think it does help eliminate that sogginess factor.

Up next was a Crock-Pot. I’m not exactly sure how I’ve managed to make it this far in life without relying heavily on this device. I am all about maximizing results while minimizing work, and this machine definitely fits the bill. Letting a piece of meat and some vegetables cook unattended for ten hours is definitely a winning proposition.

I then managed to progress to a KitchenAid stand mixer. Having never previously baked homemade bread products, this purchase was a slight gamble, but I do come from a long line of home bakers. My initial excitement of the $50 purchase was dampened a little when light brown fluid started leaking from the mixer attachment holder, but this problem was, thankfully, short-lived. I’m still not exactly sure what the liquid was, but I’m hoping it was harmless. Zucchini bread, banana bread, and pizza crust have been some of my better creations to this point.

I’m not sure what my next find will be, but I will definitely be keeping my eyes open. Maybe one of those crème-brulle torches… now that would be cool!