As a public service to my fellow men, I asked Mel and her friends what guys they meet do wrong. I'll skip the blindingly obvious don't talk about sex right away, don't start a conversation with "You're hot" or "Nice ass". Here's my report from the field. Don't make the usual conversation or ask women out to the usual places.
Say something I haven't heard before," Mel suggests. Have an adventure in mind when you ask her out, at least for once you're past the awkward first date: rock climbing or canoeing or some other surprise.
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One guy invited Mel on a full-moon walk in the Metroparks, "one of the most memorable dates I've ever had," she says. Your work is part of bar talk, but if you lean on it too heavily, they notice. It's great if you have things in common, but don't fake it. This should be obvious, but pickup lines don't work. Mel says she hears, "Don't I know you from somewhere?
At least be specific. Last but most important: Don't, really don't, ask her why a smart, beautiful woman like her doesn't have a boyfriend or isn't married. You may think it's a great compliment, that you're gushing over your amazing luck at having met her.
What do you mean you're not married yet? What's wrong with you? I suspect guys rarely use that line in a bigger city where people marry later. I ask Mel if she hears it from guys in other cities.
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Her strikingly pretty face, framed by long, wavy, brown hair, telegraphs her personality: She has a big, wide smile and a mischievous look in her blue eyes. She's friendly, energetic and sunny, sarcastic more than sweet. Her T-shirt, partially hidden under an off-white suit coat, re, "Make like a tree and leave. So, one by one and two by two, guys try to catch her attention or navigate toward her through the ever-growing crowd.
Studied nonchalance and steady grips on their pints cover up their eagerness. A bespectacled guy in a checkered shirt hangs back while his dark-haired friend in a brown jacket, the alpha male for the moment, tries to guess Mel's age. Alpha, wisely, lowballs it. As Mel's friends-- Tonia, blonde with big green eyes, and Dani, part-Asian with a lovely round face-- arrive on the scene, she tells them she's going to Hawaii with him.
Mel reveals she's No response from Alpha; he's cool with that. Mel's a Liquid regular, drinking here up to three nights a week.
She works here on Browns home Sundays, selling bottled beer on the back patio while perched on the edge of a hot tub in a bathing suit. Other regulars nod a greeting, buy her a drink. The bartenders know her favorite: Jack-and-ginger.
Her smile also draws in guys who don't know her at all. A guy with short, almost-buzzed hair comes over and tells Mel he's new in town. He must wonder why she waved at him on the way in.
No good reason-- "Just a 'Hi, have fun' wave," she explains later-- but Buzz doesn't question his luck for long. They settle into conversation, tuning out the chatter, the alternative-rock thump-and-thrash and the wide-screen TV's jump-cutting sports show. Buzz asks what Mel does for a living. She says she works at SouthPark Mall. He asks which store. But Mel's too careful for that. She knows the drill: "They stop by. Guess, Banana Republic, The Gap She works at Limited Too. Sensing her boundaries, Buzz gives up after a minute and moves on. Mel talks to about 20 guys on a typical night out.
She meets them at Liquid, where she starts drinking around 9 or 10 p. She'll exchange phone s with six or seven guys, programming her cell into his phone, typing his into hers. Most often, she won't go out with any of them. Sometimes, she just wants to talk to a guy once more. Or she takes a guy's to get out of a conversation then pretends she accidentally deleted it.
She's gone on dates with 10 guys she's met at Liquid and seen two of them for a couple of months each-- but most of her first dates fizzle. Stuck with a stranger for an hour, without alcohol's buzz, she feels awkward. Mel seems like the Cleveland guy's dream date: a loyal Browns and Tribe fan who watches ESPN SportsCenter every morning, who can match guys drink-for-drink at the bar and always stays past last call. Yet she's despaired of finding the right guy in Cleveland. None of it worked.
She knows that Clevelanders marry young, draining the dating pool; a lot of her friends are settling down. She also thinks the city has a big, confining "bubble" around it, too settled and quiet to contain her thirst for adventure.
She's asked guys she's dated to spend a night camping with her, but they've never gone, except for the stoners who wanted to get high in the woods.
She wants a boyfriend who'll go rock climbing with her, who'll take her places she's never been-- but she meets guys in such ruts that they've never even been to the Rock Hall. By Thanksgiving Eve, she's had about enough of Cleveland dating. Craving "change-- change all around," she's moving to Phoenix in three weeks to enroll in a new college, live with her sister and see what life's like outside Ohio.
The single life
She says she's not moving to find a man, but she hopes it'll be a nice side effect. She's well aware that she's leaving the eighth-worst city in Forbes magazine's "best cities for singles" survey for a town in the dating a man out of your Cleveland Ohio OH Out-of-town guys she's met seem more worldly, outdoorsy, adventurous: cowboys on a road trip to Nashville, guys visiting Cleveland, Arizona men she met online, one of whom wants to take her to the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle. None of these guys know that once they meet Mel, they're cast in a drama with an audience of hundreds.
DuringMel became the most entertaining chronicler of single life in Cleveland, the literary voice of the Warehouse District party girl, through her Web log, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Your Boyfriend. InMel was living in Solon with her boyfriend and their dog, Niko, drifting toward domesticity.
She wanted a ring, but she didn't want this: He didn't like going to the bars, didn't have that itch for crowds, chatting, drinks with friends, being a cute couple on the town. Then, he made one of those guy mistakes that drive a girlfriend away. Paranoid that a male friend of hers might be a threat, he read her diary. To hide her secret thoughts, Mel moved them somewhere more private: the Internet. She created a Web log blog for shortanonymous at first, about her nights at the bars, "meeting new people, realizing that there were people out there that were better suited to me, that I was having a lot more fun with.
Mel put her name on the site after she and her boyfriend broke up in October Since then, her online diary has recounted all the disappointment and heartbreak of a year of dating. But she's rarely sad and never alone. Actually, she's having the time of her life.
On Mel's site, Cleveland's singles scene looks endlessly fun and dramatic, full of clowny but charming boys and tipsy, pretty girls. Mel takes her digital camera everywhere, snapping pictures and posing: licking the Buddha at Funky Buddha, buzzing around downtown on Halloween wearing only a little bee-striped bikini and a headband with antennae that guys liked to play with. Her funny, fast, clever writing captures a six-hour club crawl in a few fun paragraphs. If, at 3 a. Mel swoons online over guys she likes, such as Clay "what a cutie!
She quotes guys' stupid pickup lines and rude passes at her. She's demure about her relationships' intimate details, but she drops the F-word into the blog enough that some friends can't read it at work; it's blocked as a sexual Web site. Her site comes up when Web surfers, using Google as a love oracle, type in topics such as "ways to get over your boyfriend," so Mel obliges with racy jokes and sarcastic dating advice.