Saturday, March 17, 2012

Oversharing

When I was a little girl, my family went to Sea World for a vacation. One of the exhibits was this pond where you could catch your own fish. My younger brother wanted to try it, so my parents took us over there. The man gave my brother a fishing pole and a few pieces of bait. Then my brother threw his line into the pond. Within about 2 minutes he miraculously caught a fish! 

I stood right beside the man when he took the fish off of my brother's line. It was sort of wriggling around so the man wrapped it in a white cloth and hit it over the head a few times with a pair of pliers.  I was absolutely mortified. The man asked if we wanted to pack the fish over ice and take it home but we lived 5 hours away and we were staying in a hotel that night. So he just threw it into a bucket. 

I must have asked my Mom how my brother caught the fish, because she explained that the fish in the pond were really hungry and when my brother put the bait in the water, all the fish wanted to eat it. Before we left, I made my Mom give me a nickel to put into the bait machine and then I threw a handful of bait into the water to "save" the rest of the fish. 

Then I asked her if that is where my McDonald's fillet-of-fish sandwiches came from and she said yes. I declared that I would never eat seafood again. And to this day, I still don't eat anything that ever lived in the water. I really can't stand the smell either.

To me, that is a great story. It defines who I am as a person. Passionate, sensitive and even a little stubborn. And always trying to save the world. All of those are great qualities that I am proud of.

As I have mentioned before, I started dating on Match.com a few months ago after I broke up with the Boy. Recently, I realized that I have told the fish story on each of my last three dates. That may sound weird at first, but consider that I arrange to meet each guy at a bar or restaurant. After a glass of wine, we inevitably turn to the menu to split an appetizer. When the guy points out anything with seafood, I explain that I don't eat seafood. Then he asks me why and I say "Well, it's a funny story..."

Last weekend I was having dinner with my Best Friend from college. He knows me better than anyone in the world and he has heard the fish story on more than one occasion in the past 20 years. When I told him that I have been sharing that fish story on all of my first dates, he had a different reaction.

"After hearing that story, I would be wondering if you had six cats at home," he explained. "Don't get me wrong, I love that story. But I think it is a better story to tell once you get to know someone." 

The next day, I thought more about what my Best Friend had said. I was using my fish story as a shorthand way to tell these guys all about me. It was like giving them the Cliffs Notes version of my life instead of letting them figure me out for themselves. And I am not the only one who is oversharing on Match.com.

For example, the Militant Vegan who wrote me a few months ago. He seemed somewhat intriguing until he boldly announced in his profile that if you think hunting, fishing, the circus, a rodeo or a zoo is a cool place to hang out, then you are not the girl for him. I can understand about the hunting and fishing, but why can't we go to the zoo?

Then there was another guy who disclosed in his profile that he liked exotic pets. When I asked him what he meant by that, he explained that he has two cats and three cockatoos who have the run of the house during the day. Then he has a fish tank where he raises pleckos (I had to look that one up, they are also known as sucker fish.) Finally, he revealed that his spare bedroom is a reptile room where he breeds boa constrictors and geckos. I politely turned him down and explained that he lost me at "reptile room".

Those of us who are dating in our 30's and 40's have already had a lot of serious relationships. We know who we are and what we are looking for in a partner. Sometimes it is tempting to just lay it all out there and let them take it or leave it. But that can diminish the fun of dating. And the excitement of slowly discovering a person, layer by layer.

Once you like someone, there are lots of things that you might accept about them. My Mr. Big had been married three times, had two children and he was a smoker. If anyone told me that I would end up dating someone with those three traits I would have said no way. But we met and became friends and then we fell in love. And none of those things mattered anymore.

That said, I think its time to retire my fish story for awhile. It may be a great story for my family to embarrass me with when they meet a guy that I have been dating for six months. But it's probably not a great story to share on the first date.

And the next time a guy asks me why I don't eat seafood, I'll just tell him "I don't care for it." And then change the subject.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a great post! Love the seaworld story - I have to say I think the mythical "right guy" would find it endearing, even on a first date!!! But I think you're on to something with the whole 'lay it out there' theory. I wonder if it's being in your 30/40s or if it's an Internet thing? People seem to expect they can order anything online to their particular specifications!

Anonymous said...

Love this quote "I still want somebody to share the rest of my life with, share my innermost thoughts and my intimate details. Someone who will side and give me support and in return get my support. I want somebody who'll care for me passionately with every thought and every breath. And when I'm asleep, I want somebody who'll put their arms around me and kiss me tenderly." - Depeche Mode

Cupcake said...

One of my favorite songs...