Cyber Dating? Maybe…if you can weed out the toads….


Internet dating is a fad these days. Just about every single person over 25 has considered it, because the world is full of losers. Think about the people you know who are single. Most are not your type. So, Internet dating seems to be a way to cut to the chase, and find people who are compatible to your lifestyle and maybe find “the one.” However, you need to be aware that most of the people on Internet dating sites are also losers, and in addition to that, you will find a huge proportion of scammers. The scammers include people who pose as eligible bachelors or bachelorettes who are really a group of people working off shore, mostly in Western Africa, preying on unsuspecting singles who are looking for someone and desperate to find their fantasy person.

These low-lifes pretend to be your perfect man/woman, and then go into for the kill, asking for money or in some cases, for packages to be delivered to a third party. I am fortunate to not fall into the hands of such prey, but I have been contacted by more than one of them. How can you tell? Well, here are some things I have learned to protect myself. First, set up a dummy email account with gmail or yahoo, that does not identify who you are. Then, when you are contacted by a person on a dating site, refer them to that email so they can send you an email there. Then go to the “raw source” of that email, copy and paste the entire email, and then check its origin using this site:

The first email you get from them may be “cloaked,” meaning they are using a proxy site, most likely with a Chicago IP address. But this costs them money, and subsequent emails will be most likely true to their location. This is often Ghana, Nigeria, or somewhere in Eastern Europe. If this happens, just stop all contact. Whatever you do, never give your phone number or real email address to anyone on a dating site until you have met them in person and you know them. And, even then, you are not totally safe.

Some people are just playing games with you. I knew one man, for example, who admitted he was playing games with women on the site. The news reporter in me got him to talking, and he told me of instances where he actually met the women and then told them lies about himself to get them upset. One time he had a woman fly all the way from another state, only to tell her, when she landed, that he was a bank robber. The poor thing hid in the airport restroom until he left, and later wrote him and told him she flew back home, because she was afraid of being arrested as his accomplice. He actually thought this was funny.

But unfortunately, even when a legitimate person is found on these sites, they are often flawed human beings who have so much baggage, you should run. How can you tell? First, get to know them via your fake email and talk to them about things to feel them out. Anyone who has a long list of dislikes and seems to have an ax to grind is not for you. Also, anyone who is hung up on his ex, or is looking for a replacement for his late wife is best avoided. With any luck, you will find someone, but it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But it beats going to bars. My mother says a person should attend church to find a mate. Ha! For me that would be the worst place. Also, casinos. You can find friends there, but unfortunately, few dating prospects.

Another thing about Internet dating is, no matter what your interest, there is a site for you. But it costs money to get on the good ones. Typically, $30 a month. I’m not going to list those sites. If you are interested in dating on the Internet, do a Google search. But remember an old adage: “You have to kiss a lot of toads before you find your Prince!” So true. As for me, I’m not cruising the sites anymore. I found them depressing after awhile. I did find some people who ended up being good friends. The others are all catch and release. So go ahead, do it if you want to. But do not throw your caution to the wind. You are actually in more danger on the Internet than you are in a dark alley at midnight. So you have to play smart.

The perils of dating when you are old, old, old

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Dating when you are widowed, divorced or over 50 or YIKES over 60, is far from the experience we remembered when we were young, and yet, it is very much like that. Let me explain. I know that sounds contradictory. First, we don’t expect it to be like it was when we were young. We believe that we have lived our lives and gained much experience in these matters and should be able to deal with dating easily. Not so! We come to dating again about the same age and experience level that we were when we last dated. In my case, that makes me 26. However, it is more complicated than that. We also have years of experience living with someone, and if that was a good experience, as in my case, we expect that dating will also be good. Not so!
First, we forget that those we might be dating probably had diverse experiences other than ours. Maybe their marriage or marriages were not so great. Maybe they were good, but got set in a pattern somehow that makes new experiences and meeting people scary and unsettling. And sometimes, actually, oftentimes, we run into situations we weren’t expecting. Like the crazy guy I had coffee with at McDonald’s on a blind date, and found him creepy and shifty-eyed and annoying. Also scary, because he was very critical of how well-dressed I was, and kept asking if my jewelry were real or not. (Answer: yes, it is real jewelry. Nice costume jewelry, but definitely tangible. It does exist on this dimension.) The biggest problem is the comparison with their ex-wife or late wife or last girlfriend. Sometimes this is a good comparison. Sometimes it is not. I find it unnerving and hate to be objectified like that. Of course, I am also comparing them with my late husband and my first husband (now also gone to the Great Reward, but not my doing, I assure you.) But that is OK. Because I would never tell them that I am doing this. But men, oh, men, they tell all. What is with men, anyway?
Well, I’ll tell you. They haven’t changed in 35 years. They just got older. And less flexible, and their personality traits are more pronounced, and they also often lack class and the ability to be subtle. For example, you would not believe how many tightwads there are out there who audibly gasp if you order the expensive item on the menu, even if you have told the wait person to bring separate checks. And you also would not believe how crass men can be. Some come right out and say that they are looking for sex. No preliminaries, mind you. They simply state it. Others are so gentlemanly you would think they are virgins. It’s a mixed bag.
Also, and here’s the sticking point about sex – few men over 50 are that good at sex, or so I’m told. (You do realize my personal experience here is somewhat limited?) But I’ve been talking to other women, and it is amazing how many men need that little blue pill before they can function even halfway. And others never learned about foreplay, or so I am told. One woman told me she dated a man who came over to her house, demanded coffee when he walked into the kitchen, and then, once served, announced he was “ready for bed.” Now, this is a funny story. She thought he was tired, so she went back to the bedroom and pulled down the comforter, fluffed the pillows, and went back and told him the bed was ready if he wished to retire. “Aren’t you coming?” he asked. She suddenly realized she had missed a cue, and he was totally without a filter. Needless to say, that relationship ended soon after.
So, with all these problems, how does a woman over 60 begin to date? Does she ask her potential dates about their sexual prowess, and whether they need medication? Does she buy a box of condoms and have them at the ready, just in case (Answer: Yes, most definitely. Never leave this one to chance. ) And, how soon is too soon, and who does the asking, and etc.? My suggestion is to leave sex on the back burner. Actually, most men over 60 will be relieved. Those little blue pills are costly. No need to waste one on something casual. Also, most likely, they are more nervous about sex than you are. If you want sex, probably best to find a man 20 years younger. But if you are looking for companionship, find one who has similar values to yours, and who has a past similar to yours. No need to settle. This may be the last chance you get to make it right.
I will write later about Internet dating. I have several friends who are into this right now, and the stories they tell are riveting.

Stupid things that have happened to me since my husband died

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As most of my followers know, I became a widow in January. Since then, it seems I have lived years. Probably because of the dumb things that have happened to me since my husband died. Now, as is normally the case, most of these were my own fault. But some were not. I’ll let the reader weed out the difference. Also, be aware that I’m not spilling all the beans. Some things are meant for my conscience alone, and I would not want to shock my readers with everything stupid that I have done since January.
Let’s begin with my ill-fated trip to see my sister Martha Serna, in March. My daughter, Desara and I boarded a plane in Tulsa and went to Houston, Texas, where we planned to stay in a hotel downtown for a night, shop at the Galleria and then join my sister and her husband in Humble, Texas, a suburb. Martha and Pete were in Florida when we left Oklahoma, attending a Red Hot Peppers Concert in Miami. Desara and I got to the hotel, a wonderful downtown spot with clean rooms and an excellent coffee shop and bar on Thursday morning, and after checking in, decided to hit the Galleria. Getting there was easy – we took the bus outside the hotel to the mall. But getting back was another thing. We accidentally got on the wrong bus and spent three hours riding it before we realized we were back where we started. The bus driver asked us, “Where are you going?” We finally got back to the hotel in time to hit a local German restaurant for supper. The next day we checked out and drove to the airport to leave our rental car (yes, I know, you are wondering why we rode the bus. Don’t ask) and meet up with Martha and Pete, who where just arriving from Florida. That went smoothly and we got to their house, dressed for dinner, and their driver brought the limo around to take us to a trendy jazz place in Houston for supper. Martha and Pete have a limo that they use in their business, both for themselves and for clients. Nice car. We had a great time, and that night back at the house, I was playing Pete’s Taylor guitar and drinking some wine, and decided to go downstairs for an ashtray. I missed the bottom two steps somehow and ended up breaking my left foot – the metatarsal and about 100 other little bones that hurt like hell. The next morning I hobbled to the nearest emergency room where they X-rayed the foot and fit me into a boot cast and gave me strict orders to stay off the foot. They gave me some pain pills, and I dutifully took them. However, they made me unsteady. I also had crutches. I was pretty sad, because I had missed out on the most exciting part of the trip – the Houston Open, happening right there on the Redstone Golf Course where Martha and Pete lived. They had VIP tickets, and I missed that, too. So there I was, drugged up and in her kitchen, and needed to pee. So I got on the crutches and tried to make it to the bathroom, and I slipped and fell backwards. My left arm slammed against the rock floor, breaking both forearm bones at the wrist. As I lay there, I contemplated my wrist. It was obviously broken – the ulna and radius were both clearly broken off and askew. So I did the wise thing and pushed them back into place and tried to figure out how to get back to the bar in the kitchen. I crawled, sideways, on my right side. Once there, I hoisted myself up and got my cell phone and began texting. Nobody believed I had broken my arm. The next day was April 1, and they thought I had gotten a jump on it. Ha. That night I went home, with my wrist in a makeshift cast, made of a plastic knife and a scarf.
Desara got me home to Mom’s house in Neosho about 2 a.m. and the next day I went to Fayetteville for more X-rays. “Good job on the resetting!” they told me. I was unable to do much for two weeks, but now I’m almost all better. Sometimes I get a twinge in my foot or my wrist, but at least I can type again and I have my sanity. The only cool thing about this mishap is the removable leopard skin arm cast and using a cane. I think I looked cool with the cane, sort of like a female Bat Masterson. Or at least that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

My cast and cane.

Now, let’s tell another tale. The night the oak tree fell, we were having a violent storm just after midnight. It was mid April. The wind blew hard, in 90 mph gusts, straight line winds. It sounded like a tornado. The cats and I hovered in the hallway, afraid the roof would blow off, but luckily, that didn’t happen. What did happen was the back door blew open and I couldn’t get it closed. The wind was too strong. Then I heard a giant crash in the front yard. The oak tree blew down, thankfully away from the house, but taking a power line to the shop with it and tearing up the yard. Today that wood is firewood for next winter, thanks to a man who came and cut it for me. But the rotten stump remains. This was not my fault. But it was a challenge. It took me several weeks to figure out what to do. My husband would have had it taken care of in no time.

Dry years have accumulated on us, and the yard is suffering as well as the ponds and our water table. One night I decided to water the front lawn, and hooked up a fancy hose with an attachment. Ninety minutes later, I heard a strange hissing sound coming from the utility room. Hmm, I thought. Wonder what that sound is. It was coming from the washing machine. So I went out to the pump house – I had pumped our well dry. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I pulled the switch on the pump and let it regenerate until the next morning, when I went in and miraculously remembered how to prime the pump and get it back into service. Another water problem I have had is putting salt in the softener. Because I live alone, I don’t have any way to get the salt into the softener without bribing someone to do it, and I’m tired of doing that. So I decided there had to be a way to hoist a 40 pound bag of salt into the softener. Two years ago I tried to do this myself and I slipped, and the salt hit the pipes and broke them. Water gushed everywhere and it took my husband and stepson hours to repair the mess. So I didn’t want a replay of that day. I figured it out: I open the bag, scoop out salt and put it in the softener with a large bowl, until it is light enough for me to hoist. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Because I’m a girl.
Getting a dog is something I have thought of since Larry died. A good dog is protection from intruders, vermin and is company. But I wanted a dog that is scary looking and sounding, not just any dog. So I got a pit bull. Pippa is a very pretty pit bull lass, 50 pounds of pure muscle and bone. She looks mean but is not. At least I think she is not. Visitors would be wise to let me come get them out of the car. When I got Pippa, I knew I would have to orient my cats to the dog. She is house-trained to a point, and I bring her in occasionally – actually twice or three times a day. She and the cats did not get along right away. Regis, in particular, was about to lose his cool. And he actually lost his cookies a time or two, he got so agitated over the dog. Both for the cookies and the dog’s occasional lack of bladder control, I’m the thankful owner of a Bissell Green Machine. But I digress. One day I was trying to get the animals to like each other, and Regis started in after the dog. The dog cowered down, terrified of the 20-pound yellow cat who obviously wanted to do him harm. So I picked Regis up. Big mistake. He bit me good on the hand, in two places, all the way to the bone. The next day I went to the doctor, my hand swollen to twice its size. “If you hadn’t come in here today, you would have been in the emergency room tonight,” the doctor said. Apparently cat bites are far from harmless. I was infected badly, and streaks were running up my arm. But at least this was my right hand this time. LOL. It took two weeks to heal. And I have scars. But on the positive side, the cats and dog have learned to coexist. Right now, as I’m writing this, Pippa and Annabelle are playing tag in the library. Regis, however, is in the closet, hiding. He is still not a fan.

Pippa in Mom’s kitchen during a recent Cates’ family get-together. The dog travels like a pro.

My hand is actually halfway healed here. You should have seen it a week before.

It’s a running gag in my household that any time I buy a new car, I kill a dog within a week or two with the car. It has happened twice to me. So, when I buy a new car, everyone says they feel sorry for the dog. Well now they should say they feel sorry for the dog AND the ramp. Last week I was driving down my bosses’ driveway, a one-lane road, and his daughter was coming home for lunch, driving up it. So I backed up. And backed up. And backed up right over the bosses’ wooden ramp that has a nice wooden handrail; I took out the handrail. My car sustained damage to the right side. I decided I needed to extricate the car from the ramp, so I carefully went forward, watching the right side of the car, until I hit something with my front bumper, hard. A tree. The tree is fine. The car was now in bad shape, though. Try explaining this one to your insurance company. It was about as hard as explaining the fall at Martha’s and the second fall at Martha’s. Nobody believes this stuff. Unless it happens to me. Tomorrow I take the car in for repairs. Thankfully, the insurance company is waiving my deductible because I’m such a good customer. They don’t know about the dog I killed two years ago, because I replaced that bumper myself without telling them.
I hope my mishaps are winding down. I cannot afford to break anything else on my body, or sustain any further injuries. As for the house, I’m replacing my old locks with deadbolts that no wind can tear asunder. I’m also having the water from the public water system brought up to the house for emergency use, plus a hydrant so I can water the yard and the flowers without taking out my pump. And I’m planning to take a little more care when I’m driving. Now that I’m a proud dog owner, I don’t want to take out another dog.

Today’s Lesson: Dealing with a Sociopath


Good morning, Class. You know how some people look better in photographs than they do in person, and how some people look better in person than they do in pictures? Relationships can be like that, too. For example, sometimes the most attractive, seemingly personable and charming folks when you first meet them – later become downright ugly when you get to know their personalities, and often we learn to realize that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Until lately, I never realized how naïve I am about people. It’s easy to get sucked in by a beautiful face, kind smile, and personable demeanor.

While some fake personalities are easy to spot because the owners don’t have enough savoir faire to cover up what they are doing, others are more cunning and subtle. Later, of course, looking back, you realize there were clues and cues you missed, because smooth talkers learn how to read a person and give them what they want in the relationship, so that later you will be vulnerable enough to give them what THEY want, without question. Of course, this has never happened to me.

Afterwards, we also feel somewhat foolish and simple, and wonder how smart folks like us can be controlled by people who are unable to feel any remorse for their actions. The sociopathic personality is an excellent example of this – sociopaths are not capable of feeling remorse. They are missing a vital piece of their mental anatomy: empathy for others.

It is amazing how many people in the world are sociopaths. Not all sociopaths are dangerous people who kill other people, rob banks, etc. In fact, very few sociopaths end up in jail, because they are too smart to end up there. It is only the stupid sociopaths, those without sufficient mental capacity to know how to evade the law, who usually go to prison or jail. And they are legion. If you think about it, probably a fourth of the people you know have a little sociopath in them, of varying degrees. They are the people who lack the ability to feel the pain and sorrow of others, and who really understand what it is like to be hurt. Their main purpose in life is to obtain gratification for themselves. If you are hurt in the process? Collateral damage. No biggie. We are all human, they say. And we all have to go after what we want. When they lie, they feel no need to do anything but make sure they cover their lies and remember the ones they told.

This is where most sociopaths that end up in prison fail, most often. It takes a super intellect to carefully cover your lies. In fact, even better, the intelligent ones will psyche themselves out enough to believe the lie, themselves, in order to be more convincing. I knew a man like this once. He spun a beautiful web of lies, and did so, so well, that if our relationship had been a movie, he would have won an Oscar. Oh, and I also remember this: one of my “remembered” cues was something he said: “I would have made a wonderful actor. You have no idea.” Another clue was this: after he found out how good I was at remembering conversations verbatim (a holdover from when I was a news reporter). He remarked, “Oh, you have instant recall! That’s quite a talent you have there.” And when he said it, he got this worried look on his face. But sooner or later they all mess up: they tell you more than one thing that doesn’t jive with what they told you before. Here’s an excellent example: suppose someone tells you their father died in 1980, but later shows you a picture taken of his father in the 1990s? You might wonder at the discrepancy. And, if later, they tell you, say, that their ex-wife’s name was Anna and then later called her “Marie?”

I think you get the picture. The above was purely hypothetical, you know. This has never happened to me.

Ok, class. So if we now understand how often we run into these sociopathic personalities, how can we protect ourselves from them, especially if we are unable to realize we have been duped until later?
Good question. Shows you have your thinking cap on.

Hang on a second and I’ll go to the Internet hidden behind the podium while pretending to think your question over.

Ah. Found something:
“True enough, psychopaths are sometimes skillful in pretending a love for women or simulating parental devotion to their children. What part of this is not pure (and perhaps in an important sense unconscious) simulation has always impressed this observer as that other type of pseudolove sometimes seen in very self-centered people who are not psychopaths, which consists in concern for the other person only (or primarily) insofar as he enhances or seems to enhance the self. Even this latter imitation of adult affectivity has been seldom seen in the full-blown psychopath, although it is seen frequently in those called here partial psychopaths. In nonpsychopaths a familiar example is that of the parent who lavishes money and attention on a child chiefly to bask in the child’s success and consciously or unconsciously to feel what an important person he is because of the child’s triumphs. Although it is true that with ordinary people such motives are seldom, if ever, unmixed, and usually some object love and some self-love are integrated into such attitudes, in even the partial psychopath anything that could honestly be called object love approaches the imperceptible.”

Discussion of Psychopathy Traits, from The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley, 5th ed.

No answers? I searched and searched, and found no answers. The truth is, you can’t spot a sociopath until it is too late. So, what can you do to protect yourself? Here are some general guidelines I find useful:

  • Never give or loan money to anyone you don’t know well, for many years, to be reliable.
  • Do not be led into living with or marrying a person until you have known them for a long time. Years, if possible, or at least more than a year or two.
  • If a person you are dating doesn’t “check out,” or if you are unable to find anything about them on the Internet that jives with what they tell you, then cut all ties. Run like Hell.
  •  Look at relationships as job interviews. Put your relationship to several tests, to find out how the person deals with disappointment, how they argue and fight with you over differences of opinion, and how they treat other people in their lives. Examine their sincerity, trustworthiness and honesty.
  • Think with your head, not your heart

Of course, nothing like this has ever happened to me.

OK, Class dismissed!