Late Nights With Linda

Linda

There was something about Linda. Never mind that her show, NBC News Overnight, was perhaps the most intelligent and entertaining news program that I’ve ever watched. Something about ending my day watching her deliver the news put me to sleep happy.

It was 1982. Late night TV was something very new. I had in the past watched until a loud rendition of the Stars Spangled Banner was played, and the image of the American Flag was replaced by the color bars and the obnoxious, jolting high pitched squeal. Try to sleep after that!

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Then, one night in the summer of 1982, at 1:30 AM when David Letterman was over, I didn’t turn off the TV, and on came a brand new news show. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch news so late at night, but this show was different. It was softer, more of a news magazine style, with longer segments, which were possible because of its one-hour length.

Linda was both writer and anchor. She knew what I wanted to watch just before I slept. She was low key, soft spoken. She didn’t have the phony wall-to-wall smile that many news anchors had. She delivered the news mostly in a serious, almost deadpan style. But when something was funny, which it often was, her natural smile came out, and it was charming.

She was a combination of funny, intelligent, entertaining, and comforting. It wasn’t just the quality of the news program. There was something about Linda. I looked forward to ending each day watching her on the TV. The face. The smile. The hair. The glasses.

In ‘82 I was twenty-one. I didn’t date much, and I had never had a romantic relationship. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that one of the things most important to me in a relationship was to end my day with the comfort of my partner, either talking, or listening, or just being there for each other. I didn’t understand it at the time, but ending my day watching Linda fulfilled a good part of that need.

My mother was also a night owl, and she watched Linda too. I remember discussing Linda with her. Being a fan of Linda was one of the things that she and I bonded over. Mom had a Brooklyn accent, which drops and adds Rs, and she would say “Lin-deR EllA-bee”. If there is a heaven and Mom is looking down on me and reading this now, then she is still laughing about that.

People who know me well know that I sometimes have trouble sleeping at night. I’ve read lots of literature about sleep hygiene. It’s good to have a routine. Do something passive. Wind down. Meditate. I had it down pat, back in 1982-1983 when News Overnight was on. Until the executives as NBC decided that ratings were too low and canceled the program.

And so it goes.

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A Rose By Any Other Name

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Friend. Partner. Lover. BFF. Boyfriend. Girlfriend. Close friend. Casual friend. Acquaintance. Casual acquaintance. Confidant. Relationship. Romantic relationship. FWB. Frenemy. Ex. BFAM. SFAM. Female friend. Male friend. Platonic friend. Platonic relationship.

People like to put names on the relationships they have with other people. These names perhaps give them a sense of safety and predictability. You know what to expect. You know what the boundaries are. You know what is expected of you.

There is just one problem. At least for me, no relationship fits neatly into any one of those categories. In fact, think every relationship I have with those people I know is unique.

Let’s use the word “friend” as a generic term to describe all of the above. Because Facebook. It won’t even try to classify every one of my friends with one of “the words”. I’ll try something simpler: closeness. I know that some of my friends are closer than others. But even the way closeness is measured is unique for each of my friends.

Miss T and I are very close emotionally. We text a lot. We understand each other. We always have each other’s back and are always there to talk when the other one needs to talk. But we rarely see each other in person. And that’s fine.

Miss G and I were very close physically, but not emotionally. We could have a hug and a kiss that makes everything in the world seem OK. But we are incapable of taking about close emotional subjects.

Miss L and I are close emotionally and were close physically, but neither to the extent of miss T or Miss G. We don’t talk on the phone, but we see each other in person, maybe once or twice a year, and it’s always pleasant.

Mr. A and I get together in person quite often. We can discuss anything, and we can give each other advice. But the discussion never gets deep and personal and emotional.

Mr. W and I used to talk every day about everything. But, we drifted apart and now we only write on each other’s timelines on Facebook. But we still both care deeply about the other, would be there if the other one needed us.

Mr Y and I text with each other from time to time, sometimes about personal stuff. We see each other in person in group activities. But never alone just the two of us.

Miss R and I used to be very close physically and emotionally. That was over 25 years ago. Now we talk on the phone sporadically. But when we talk, it is always for hours and is very deep and intimate.

Miss E and I only see each other at group events. We’ve talked on the phone maybe once or twice. We never text. We’ve never been together just the two of us. But we have a closeness that lets me know that we genuinely care about each other, and would always be there to talk if the other one needed us.

I could go on and on describing the rest of my friends, and they would all be different, unique in their own way. I could try to label each of these relationships with one of the words. But why? I know what each person means to me. I know how we interact. I know the boundaries are (for the most part). I’m just happy to enjoy them for what they are. Who cares if it has a name?

Dream, Dream Away

I usually don’t remember my dreams. But this one was so peculiar, I couldn’t help but remember it when I woke up this morning.

In the dream, I had a partner or a wife or whatever. I don’t know if it was my ex or some anonymous possible future partner. She seemed familiar, so it must have been SOME ex. And she was living with me in a house. It wasn’t my house, because there were things I didn’t recognize. But, there were also things I did recognize. So it was some kind of amalgamation of my house and perhaps some future house with some future anonymous partner.

She came home with some plants to put in the garden. She wanted to plant them between my blueberry bushes. But I told her that I carefully spaced them apart at the minimum proper distance so they would have room to grow and bear fruit. There was no room in between.

So she found a place “on the side” where there was room, and she got a shovel. But it wasn’t a normal place in the garden. It was somehow a room inside the house. Yet it was also out in the garden. Another one of those amalgamations. And she started digging.

It wasn’t normal soil that she was digging through. It was hardwood floor. She destroyed the hardwood floor in the “room/garden” to get to the soil below. I don’t know why the hardwood floor was placed right on top of the soil, rather than on a concrete foundation. It was a dream!

The next thing I knew, all the hardwood floor was gone, and all of her plants were planted. But when she dug up the hardwood floor, she dug all the way up to the chest of drawers where I keep all my clothes. And she planted right in front of it.

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I had to complain to her. How can I open the drawers and get my clothes out, when your plants are right in front of it? And I’m going to get my feet dirty with mud in the morning when I get out of the shower and walk over to get my clothes.

She obliged and dug up her plants and moved them a few feet away. And she placed the loose individual wood planks that she had dug up, in front of the chest of drawers in their proper place. She wasn’t upset or angry, just emotionless and oblivious to the effect that her digging and planting had on my life.

I woke up and saw the chest of drawers with my clothes in its proper place, with the clean carpet in front of it, on top of a solid floor in my bedroom. I was relieved to be in my own home, comfortable, single!, and in control of my own life. Then, as I always do first thing in the morning, I grabbed my phone and checked out eHarmony for today’s new matches.

Curiosity Killed The Cat

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OKCupid is one of the “free” dating sites. Most members don’t pay to join, however, it offers certain perks if you do pay. One of the perks is the ability to change your profile name. Another perk is the ability to see who “likes” your profile. There are other perks, such as the ability to browse invisibly–they call this “going incognito”–but I don’t care about those.

I was not completely happy with my screen name, “Philly-to-OC”. It represents the city where I grew up and the county where I now reside. But it doesn’t say anything about me. Plus, it’s not a really manly name. A filly is a female horse, and “philly” sounds like “filly”.

The cost for a month’s worth of premium membership, or as they call it, “A-List”, is $19.95. Not a huge amount of money, and something I can certainly afford. But I refused to do it because of the principle. And it doesn’t seem like a good value.

The issue of the “likes” is another story. Every so often, I could get an email saying (and I paraphrase), “Someone new likes you. We can’t tell you who it was, because you didn’t pay. Na na na na na!” Of course, they are trying to manipulate me into paying.

Today, I got one of those emails. “Someone likes you! You now have 29 likes. And we won’t tell you who they are, because you are not A-List. But, if you take advantage of our offer, which expires at midnight tonight, you can upgrade to A-list at 20% off!”

A dilemma. First of all, does it really matter who liked my profile? I’ve already hidden all the potential matches that would show up in my search results. Whoever liked me, I must have already decided she was not a match and hidden her profile. But the curiosity was still there. And I can change my profile name. And save four dollars!

Well, I couldn’t take the suspense anymore. I got out my credit card and upgraded to A-List. And TA-DA! The forbidden fruit of hidden “likes” was exposed.

The most recent “like” was from March 31 of this year. Her profile name indicates that she likes Corvettes and she lives in Camas, Washington. So she wouldn’t have shown up in any of my searches–too far. I read her profile, and apparently, she doesn’t drive a Corvette anymore. Traded it in for a Hummer. In any case, not a match for me. Why did she “like” my profile? Nice photo of her, though, standing next to Donald Trump. Or is it a cardboard cutout. Doesn’t really matter.

Next is someone actually from Orange County, Anaheim. I’ve seen this profile before. 98% match, and she answered 530 questions. So I did what I always do when I see a high percentage match. I looked at the “Unacceptable answers”. First one: She’d rather go dancing than play Scrabble. Maybe that’s not a deal breaker. Next one: She likes to go camping. Again, not something I like to do, but not a deal breaker. I went through several pages of her unacceptable answers. There were 17 pages of them, and 10 unacceptables per page, for a total of 170 unacceptable answers.

“When texting with a potential partner, is use of proper grammar and spelling important to you?”

She said “No” and I said “Yes”. My “Yes” answer was unacceptable to her. I’m guessing it’s not a deal breaker for her.

As I looked through the 17 pages of unacceptables, I noticed that almost all of them were my answers being unacceptable to her. (There are two kind of unacceptable.) Wow, someone who is more selective than I am! Here are some examples.

It’s unacceptable to her that:
1. I need a great deal of alone time.
2. I keep a budget of my finances.
3. I would dump her if she cheated on me.
4. I don’t believe we’ve had past lives.
5. I like Thai food.
6. I don’t eat in bed.
7. I completed graduate school.
8. I am Jewish.

OK, if #7 is not a deal breaker, then certainly #8 is. But why did she like my profile? I don’t really care to find out. I don’t like her photo anyway.

On to more of the women who “liked” me. Number 3 lives in Canada. Number 4 in Oak Park, CA. I don’t even know where that is. Number 5 is 34 years old and lives in Jackson MS. Number 7 is someone who previously contacted me and we’ve become only online friends because she lives too far. Number 8, New Jersey. Number 9, La Jolla. Number 10, Portugal! And so on up to number 29, who lives in San Clemente, CA and is a 97% match/15% enemy.

Wait a minute! This one might actually be a match and doesn’t live that far. But, the list is ordered by the date of the “like”, and San Clemente liked me on June 19, 2010. That’s a long time ago! Almost six years. She does have nice photos. Let’s see how many questions she answered. 282. And I have not hidden her. But she doesn’t show up in my search. Must be the “logged in within the last year” condition. Well, if she hasn’t logged in for a year (or six), then she’s not checking her messages. Wait, what’s this? I can check when she last logged in. April 18, 2015. Well, that’s almost a year ago. But why doesn’t she show up in my search? What’s missing?

Non-smoker? Check. Single? Check. Less than 5’9”? Check. Logged in within the last year? Check (barely). College? Aha! She didn’t answer the question about education. Must not have gone to college. But she liked me, and her profile looks OK.

Can I email her six years after she liked my profile? What will she think? Anyway, she wouldn’t see my email if she hasn’t logged in for almost a year. But, I’m still curious.

On to her unacceptable answers. Nine pages of them, at ten per page, means 90 unacceptable answers. I’m up to page 4, and so far no deal breakers. Next question:

“Are you a Christian”?

My answer is “No”, and that’s unacceptable for her. Again, why did she “like” my profile? She must have done that before she read it and found out that I’m not a Christian.

Enough of that. Time to change my profile name. What’s a good name? This is not an easy decision. Let’s get some help from Google. Google, what’s a good dating site username? Surprisingly, there are lots of sites with suggestions. There is even one that asks you questions and then generates a list of possible names. I gave it a try.

What’s your name? Steven
What do you like? Sushi
What are your hobbies? Yoga
What things do you like? Board games

Spin…..

Thirty names generated! GamesSteven. GamesSushi. Sushigh. Gamesgi. StevenSuave. Sushinger. BoardYoga. StevenSushi. Sigh! I don’t like any of them.

New idea. I’ll post a status on Facebook asking my friends to come up with a name for me. I’m sure they’ll think of something. They know me. What would my friends say about me? They’d probably say I’m kind. And fun. And smart. Eureka! I thought of a new name: smart-and-fun.

I immediately went on to OKCupid and changed my name from “Philly-to-OC” to “smart-and-fun”. Cool. Happy. $15.95 well spent!

Next, I had to change my name on Match.com as well. Because my two usernames have to be the same.

Login to Match. Go to name changing place. Type “smart-and-fun”. Click Save.

The username you entered is invalid. Remember to use only letters, numbers, and underscores in your username.

No problem. I can use underscores instead of dashes. With a little editing my new username on Match is now “smart_and_fun”.

Of course, now I have to go back to OKCupid and change my name there from “smart-and-fun” to “smart_and_fun”. Because the two name have to match exactly. Because OCD.

Login to OKCupid. Go to name changing place. Type “smart_and_….” Wait a minute. I can’t type. It’s read-only. And there is a little message for me:

“You can change your username again May 15”

I can’t change my username again until the day after my 30-day membership expires. No!!!!!