Middlebury, Vt.

Life in the middle of Vermont.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Online Dating: Sites for Lonelyhearts


Darling --- you really must understand this isn’t just ANY website for online dating. You need to accept that it’s intended for a certain kind and style of person – our kind of person.

Ivy League, if you must know. Well, actually just Harvard and Yale, not the entire Ivy League. I mean, those common types from Penn and Cornell – who let them in, anyway?

Well, as I was saying, just Yalies and Hasty Pudding wannabes on this site, please. And please note that through the end of this extremely dreadful fourth quarter only, we are offering a free month’s membership. But only to those of you who can produce a convincing geneology tracing your family back to the Mayflower and/or American Revolution.

Those of you who went to Princeton and had one of those unfortunate marriages where it just didn’t work out? Please be patient. We’ll let you know if we’re able to open up the waiting list for a special few.

As for those of you who went to second-rate schools like Middlebury, we’re terribly sorry.

But really now, you Midd Kids made your choice back in high school, didn’t you? We’re just not able to accept people who concluded -- however rashly and at a very young age -- that it’s more important to have a full and satisfying life than it is to summer on the Vineyard and know the right people. What were you thinking?

And as for those of you who live in integrated neighborhoods, we have a very nice little link for you. Click here and go to www.NotOurType.them.

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Honey, I know you’ve tried all your best recipes and that hot little thing you do when you kiss him.

But face it. He’s moved on. He’s already in Massachusetts somewhere. You’ve been defriended. Elvis has left the building. You’ve got nothing more to do than go back to your pathetic little life.

That’s why He’sJustNotThatIntoYou is what you need to be into now. This is the place to find exactly the right rebound guy. Here at HJNTIY, we’ve pooled our resources with the biggest and best of sites on the other side of that equation.

What does this mean for you? It means you’re sure to meet the right (rejected) guy who knows just how you feel. You’ll bond together -- temporarily, but it least it will get you through the winter. You can share your most heartfelt nasty remarks over that last significant-other who just couldn’t appreciate all you had to offer. You’ll show them!

We’ve aggregated the hottest rejects from sites like IfOnlyShe’dForgiveMe.com and IShouldn’tHaveSaidThat.org. Combined with our exclusive database from ConfirmedBachelors.picky, you’ll be sure to find just the man you’ve been looking for.

You know. The guy who’s exactly wrong for you.

Sign up now to punish your old boyfriend with all that pent-up rage you’ve got for the entire male species. Which BTW and just between you and me, richly deserves it.

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Welcome to the site where every body is a tight body. Where your age, intelligence, educational background and personality type just don’t matter. The only thing we care about here is your Lake Dunmore triathlon record and body mass index.

Are you one of those people who can’t converse for more than five minutes without talking about your latest workout at Vermont Sun? Anxious to share your new free-weight routine? Got a tip on a hot nutritional supplement that is, like, totally legal, natural, holistic, and adds astonishing definition to your triceps in only three days?

This is the place for you.

We’ll turn you on to the hardest bodies in your neighborhood. The most anorexic women in Addison County. Those terminally self-absorbed guys you can’t meet at the gym because they’re too busy doing sit-ups.

Please note that your profile must be approved by our Body Surveillance Team before it can appear on our site. Try not to tuck your tummy in when you have the photo taken. And don’t forget to include that all-important letter from your personal trainer.

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Ayuh. Can’t get theah from heah? Then sure as the sap’s gonna run in the spring, mebbe you’ll find a fella or some not-so-bad-lookin’ girl on this site.

(Profound silence.)

Not too sure. We’ll have to see how it sugars off.

This is a site for Vermonters who mark their calendars by hunting season. For ice fishermen and people who use worms, not that fancy fly fishing gear. If you shoot your fish, all the better. We’re all about matching up folks who know that a wood-cutting permit is a lot more important than a haircut.

Now about that profile. If you’ve got a photo of yourself next to some large dead animal that you’ve just exterminated, be sure to include it. Photos of your truck, your dogs and your cows are also encouraged.

For you gals, you might want to include your favorite recipe for bean suppers. Guys, please note that we do not allow any photos in which you are not wearing a gimme cap or bright orange hat with ear flaps.

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It’s not your fault that you were born in Connecticut or Massachusetts. Or, God forbid, New Jersey.

Isn’t it enough that your family came skiing here when you were a kid? That you once went to summer camp in Vermont? I mean, how many years do you have to live in this godforsaken state, anyway, before you can be considered a Vermonter?

Maybe what’s missing is a relationship with someone who shares that same scarring. Someone who knows the history of American Flatbread and the best route to Boston, but who’s a little unclear on where exactly Lyndonville is.

A tip for women on this site:

If you went to a college no one has ever heard of, best just to note that you’re “college educated.” But if you went to UVM in the 1980s because you couldn’t get into Amherst and didn’t want to stoop to going to UConn, be sure to mention your deep affection for Vermont’s university. Guys dig the UVM thing. They think it means you were a party girl.

For you guys:

It will increase your chances if you relate how you came to love nature by hiking the entire length of the Long Trail and nearly being eaten by bear. Best not to mention it if your family used to ski at Stratton or Killington. But if you’ve been carving turns for 20 years at Mad River or Jay Peak, be sure to highlight that. It will make you seem more genuinely inauthentic.

And remember: We created FakeVermonter.net out of the recognition that there are thousands of wannabe Vermonters out there – longtime residents of the Green Mountain State who, in their heart of hearts, are just more comfortable with people who weren’t born here.

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Taking New Roads with Robert Frost

Until I was in my 50s, Robert Frost’s poetry didn’t mean much to me, beyond roads not taken and sleighs stopping by snowy woods.

I blame a high school English teacher, who spent a tedious week pounding into us -- a roomful of bored, horomonally possessed adolescents -- “The Death of the Hired Man.” It took me decades to recover. Who really knew what Frost was up to, anyway? His true intentions, the “real” Frost like the real Bob Dylan, have always been hard to fathom.

Indeed, Frost disliked the line-by-line explication of his poetry, the endless muttering over what it all meant.

Middlebury English Professor Jay Parini, speaking last weekend at a Vermont Humanities Council conference, recounted a story told to him by a woman who had heard Frost read from his poetry one evening in 1954 at the college’s Bread Load campus.

The elderly yet still vigorous poet closed the event by reading his famous poem “Fire and Ice,” which begins, “Some say the world will end in fire,/Some say in ice.” The recitation of this final poem of the evening was greeted with thunderous applause, and Frost swept himself out into the darkness of the nearby meadow, lit occasionally by summer lightning.

This young woman, eager to truly understand what she had just heard, intrepidly followed Frost out into the darkness.

“Mr. Frost?” she said timidly.

“Yes?!?” boomed the old bard.

“Could you please tell me what that last poem meant?”

“You want to know what it meant?” he replied. “Well, I’ll tell you what it meant:
‘Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice…’”

He proceeded to recite the entire poem again. There was her answer.

Other noted speakers at the conference at the college included Prof. John Elder, author of the wonderful book “Reading the Mountains of Home” which discusses Frost’s poem “Directive.”

Elder gave a talk at the Frost Cabin, on the Homer Noble Farm in Ripton. The bard lived there for many summers when he taught at the Bread Load campus, just up the road from the residence of Ted and Kay Morrison (the latter his secretary and perhaps more).

But it was the prospect of hearing Jay Parini’s talk that brought me to the event. Jay and I share a love of yoga, Carol’s Hungry Mind Café, and Frost himself -- though as the author of the definitive biography, Jay has forgotten more about Frost than I’ll ever know.

Parini’s probing talk found me feeling woefully unprepared to understand the nuances, but invigorated by the intellectual challenge.

I suspect as I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. There seemed to be many people in the crowded auditorium who had come with no special claim of expertise, just a love of the poet.

So much of adult life is consumed in getting and having, acquisition and maintenance and doing the laundry. How refreshing it was to be asked to think on the roots and branches of Frost’s work – and what they drew from the deep-running brooks and mended stone walls of Vermont and New Hampshire.

A couple of years ago I recited the poem “Birches” to the many people who had assembled in the Ripton Community House, for the 50th birthday party of my friend Win. The poem, which evoked a youthful exuberance that I still saw in my friend at the half-century mark, begins like this:

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

The poem, after contemplating other birches felled by ice storms -- and a boy’s temporary escape from earthly woes by playing high in a tree’s branches -- ends with this simple sentiment:
“One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.”

But reading recently in Parini’s life of Frost, I learned that I had it all wrong. The poem isn’t at all about birch trees and a young boy’s outdoor pursuits.

It is, Parini wrote, “as much as anything, about an onanistic fantasy.” It “recreates the curve of desire found in the sexual act, from anticipation, exhilaration and fulfillment to the letting down at the end.”

Silly me. To think that all this time I thought it was about a boy, “too far from town to learn baseball,” who liked to amuse himself by swinging on birch trees.

Having bumbled through “Birches,” I won’t even attempt here to summarize Parini’s talk of last weekend.

But I will say that I was touched by a little story he told about his son and “Nothing Gold Can Stay” -- a Frost poem that is short enough to quote here. Memorize it and you’ll amaze your friends, and win bar bets that you can recite an entire poem by Frost:

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

In these words I hear my own father’s voice. Though he was a country doctor, he loved poetry in general and “Nothing Gold Can Stay” in particular.

When I visited my father last December, sitting by his nursing home bed, I read him that poem and several others from Frost.

Dad asked me to read “Nothing Gold Can Stay” to him twice. It was the last time I saw him before his death.

In the educational fashion of his schoolboy days, my father had been made to learn great gobs of poetry by heart. He never forgot the lines he’d learned.

Of a weekend, we’d be driving out to the lake or crunching through an autumnal wood, when suddenly Dad would start spouting poetry, Yeats or Wordsworth or Frost.

It was virtually incomprehensible to my brother and me (what the heck was he talking about, anyway?) and – this barely needs saying –deeply embarrassing. Why couldn’t he talk about sports like a normal guy?

In Parini’s talk this past weekend, he fondly recalled that he would often recite “Nothing Gold Can Stay” to his young son when the boy, age four or five, would be getting ready to go to sleep. Whether it mattered to his son or whether the boy could understand the poem at that age, a father never really knows.

Then one day in early spring when Jay’s boy had reached the age of six, father and son were outside observing the early buds on the trees. Jay’s son pointed to a branch that was just bursting with yellow and exclaimed, “Look, Dad! Nature’s first green is gold!”

And so it is with golden children. Fathers and sons, scholars and ordinary Vermonters, united by poetry.

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