Match Guy Aptitude Test (MGAT)

If you want to succeed at online dating, everybody’s got to pass a test.

Sometimes, during my six month dating extravaganza, I just wrote the test myself:

(Click here to peek inside the book!)

Please complete the following Match Guy Aptitude Test (MGAT). When finished, please submit your answers to me for correction.

1. The guy on Match is

a) nice but insincere

b) bright but not brilliant

c) dull but not dumb

d) forward-thinking but not revolutionary

e) eager but not crazy

2. The guy on Match lives

a) too far away to commit

b) too far away to love

c) too close for me to see other guys

d) far away enough to miss me when he’s not here

e) around the block

3. The guy on Match is probably

a) a faithful and romantic man at heart

b) a two-bit sonovabitch at heart

c) a tranny

d) a trust fund alcoholic

e) a dangerous sociopath

4. I like the guy on Match because

a) he will eat of my hand, night or day

b) he’s cute enough for now

c) he’s original and daring, even at his own expense

d) he’s rich and famous

e) someone I know dated him already

5. Most guys on Match

a) suck

b) have great six-packs

c) are virgins

d) are cultured, worldly, and speak several languages

e) know how to make a girl laugh

6. The guy on Match probably likes me because

a) like me, he’s thinking about law school

b) like me, he’s thinking about medical school

c) like me, he’s thinking about becoming a chartered financial analyst

d) I wrote him back already one time

e) he just thinks I’m beautiful, funny, and smart

7. Going out on a date with the guy on Match would probably lead to

a) the feeling that I was being listened to by someone who cares about what I have to say

b) both of us seeing what the other is like

c) my talking to him about stuff that makes me happy as well as concerned

d) unexpected sex with him all night long until the pigeons are cooing

e) a belief in love, even if it doesn’t seem practical

8. Even if in the end it doesn’t work out for me and the guy on Match, I will be happy to have known him because

a) he will have been kind and gentle to me

b) he will have been a solid lover with a great body

c) he will have made me feel good about myself

d) he will have made me realize or affirm that not all guys are shitheads

e) all of the above

9. My number one reservation about going out on a date with the guy on Match is

a) I actually think guys are pretty yucky

b) he’s way older than I am

c) I don’t think he can really be serious about me

d) I’m actually afraid of finding a really good guy

e) I’d like to keep this Match-thing at a distance

10. If I were to go out on a date next weekend with the guy from Match, I’d tell him I’d be comfortable going to

a) that falafel place on Avenue A

b) the Pegu Club in Soho

c) Katz’s on Houston for pastrami sandwiches

d) just anyplace uptown for coffee

e) to dinner somewhere in the Meatpacking District

(Click here to peek at more inside!)

Match. Coming out soon!

Wild Turkey Gypsy Fall Off Point

wild turkey feather

The first time I passed the wild turkey feather lying on the ground I had wanted to pick it up. Its tell-tale stripes, its white and brown bands, make them easy to tell apart from any other. Any little kid would, and so would I. Now I have passed this same soft feather many times since then, and it has lain there all the while. It looks bedraggled now, having gone through dozens of rains. I myself grew old. The darkness of night had passed over me and my hair woke up gray. Seasons, too, went by and more creases formed along my face. Somewhere, far beyond these forests I have wandered all my life, I remember the stilly murmur of the distant Sea still murmurs there, and I am even a little bit older this dark new morning.

Purple Mountain Wood Stove

mountains arizona

Already, my wood stove is burning. I stacked the cords myself. I fear six cords of wood may not be enough. Winter is long and full of deep snow. I had once had another pair of hands to help me. But they are gone. That was a time I do not regret, and have not seen that in a while, a life like that when the tandem knocking of each piece of wood laid against the growing long stack our wordless work kept the coldness of winter out. And I get on, je me débrouille, because I now must. That is the way with things, with spiders nested in the corners of bathroom shower stalls, soldiers stationed on a foreign front, or men and women somewhere listening to an easy-going book as they commute back and forth between their city office buildings and glass-lit evening houses lit up and down the streets. In any case, I’m not sure there’s enough wood to sustain me before the tubers in the ground have all grown (or rotted). I had better scour the deadfall with my saw and ax soon. The meager fronds of the ferns are already yellowing. The bears are circling wider and wider in these searching final days before they disappear until May. Cries of geese overhead, these are common. How with my jolly heart and glad-eyed ways I became myself here to be living at the foothills of the Rockies, it is no mystery to tell at all. It is only to be remarked upon, I think, that unexpectedly I made myself saddened by all the passing of everything that I had known and all there was standing once before such great purple majesty.

Leaves, Games & Other Treasure

fall leaves

As a kid, she had played a board game called Careers. It was a fun game to play. Arrows were spun, dice were tossed, paths were taken. Players became things. They became lawyers, or doctors, or engineers. They became businessmen. It was an old-fashioned game. And it was great fun to go down the different colored pathways and to turn up cards or hit spaces on the board that set you back. The whole thing was meaningless, and even the name of the game itself had no meaning at all. She grew up with a sense none of the things she had played when she was little had ever mattered at all. It was just fun. That’s all.

When she was older and leaving college all the kids leaving school were shouting at each other as they were leaving the bright grassy green campus for good, “Get a job!” That was funny. For who’d want to learn for four years and then just forget all that and go to get a job? She had heard her classmates joking that way and it was pretty funny for sure. Even the President of the United States of America, he said that people believed around the country today that if you worked hard you should get ahead. And he believed that this was a common creed across the land. What Alice had by this time discovered is that her particular world was ever slow and ever slowing. In this way when a leaf fell, she saw it. In this way when a bus pulled out, she had smelled the diesel fumes. In this way, when the equinox came in September, she felt the chilling cool inside her body’s bones. In this way, when she opened her mind she could hear own thinking. And this had happened more and more in life since her joyful days when she had had fun playing games on the floor that didn’t matter.

For so many others it had appeared to her, too, that from top to bottom, what she was experiencing as her own life might not be exactly happening to them. Instead, it was as if everything in their lives had been already mapped out, as if they had been appearing as performers in a theatrical performance of a scene of themselves. It was a game that everybody knew. A game where the dice were loaded. The war was over. The good guys lost. And that wasn’t a very fun game for anybody to play. Even for the rich winners it wasn’t very fun. That was no more fun than reaching blindly into a treasure chest and every time you put in your hand you pulled out pearls and gold. No, she knew that the whole point of a real treasure chest is that you don’t pull out pearls and gold every time you reach in your hand. That’s just the same thing every time. A known certainty that after a while isn’t very fun to do anymore. No, it was the doubt, and uncertainty, and the misgivings, too, which of course had to come along with uncomfortable doubt and uncertainty from time to time, that had made her life so far very fun and very playful.

Bluestone & Lichen Field

bluestone & lichen

The things he had loved were the things he had seen. And the things he had seen were so often the ordinary. He had once seen a shooting star shoot far across the sky in the Yucatán, so long he could say, “Look!” and his wife could turn her neck around and watch its burning glow burn across the night. He had watched the praying mantis babies, no bigger than grains of rice, dangling from dozens of threads, emerging downward from their cocoon in the middle of his backyard swamp as a wandering boy alone. He had seen herds of reindeer standing like a fields of stones in Lapland when he was a man. He had seen a single, small maple tree in the middle of the grass whose leaves had turned all red saying, “Fall!” He had seen the cobblestones of France, the cornfields of Wisconsin, and the beach sands of Monastir. He had seen the ferns’ patch moving across his yard for twenty years, the birch trees fall; and, up the hill, the multitude of sunspots glowing deep orange on the glowing brown-leafed ground. And he had even seen the wood thrush, that most reclusive of forest birds, sitting still just feet beyond his home, without song. He had been inside a cave in Pennsylvania once so deep within the earth that the beauty of lightless blackness he had seen that with his own eyes too. That cave might have been the most peerless vision of all, of all things in his life so far he had already seen.

‘Blame It On A Simple Twist Of Fate’

He knew she did not want a scholar. He knew she didn’t want one who could quote Thucydides and Marx. He knew, too, that even though his conversations were aptly (and ironically) peppered with this and that funny reference to George’s declension in Albee’s great Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, she didn’t want that either. He knew that what he was for many women might not be enough, that as a pianist, he was a hack. Not good enough there, oh well. Then off she went (some other) with another who held concerts at Lincoln Center. He spent so much time with his fingers in the dirt, plucking tomatoes he had tied up with strips of old bedsheets, that he did not have hours enough to understand her growing pains. He could not abide her learning curve (which admittedly was very long, and very steep.) Like J. Alfred’s hair parted behind, his patience was as thin as his time became brief. His mind’s harvest became all-consuming, and his heart’s willingness unforgiving. He became the inverse of the man he once had been. And as I looked at the lengths of heavy timber dropped off at the backside of my yard, I could feel the aching in my wrists to come, the splitting season about to begin. Above all else, I had to do this—chop wood—lest I be cold and also alone throughout the many lonely months of the days soon approaching winter.

To Build A Fire

fall trees

I would have imparted to him secrets in whose keeping was a burden. And so I ran and ran. I ran for miles. Next, when I saw him, I said to him, “When’s the fire?” He put up his arms, held out his hands and asked me, “Where?” I ran away again. He wandered the countryside slowly, portly and gnomish, gazing at the underside of brooks and the backside of knolls where he could. And me, I just ran by it all. I kept my breath and myself away from him, as much as I could. Our paths kept crossing. “Hello, again!” I said to him running over a hillock one day. “Hello!” he said, “I like your shoes.” True, they were bright orange, as bright as the sun’s orange spots at dawn, but I was embarrassed by this. “I’ve got a fire pit,” I told him. “You do?” he said. “I do,” I replied. “Well, ok.” he said, “You’ve got a fire pit.” “We could build the fire this weekend,” I said. He told me that he couldn’t that weekend, that he was busy that weekend, but that he could the next.

I knew I would have told him that I had four, maybe five more pairs of these same orange shoes he had admired, all the same, stored in boxes. I knew that I would have told him this and everything. I would have told him everything else, more important things about myself that he must never know. And I knew that were he to come over, and were we to sit by the fire for hours, that secret things would come out, not the way dust is beaten out of an old rug, but lightly and effortlessly, just as the smoke and flames would rise and disappear in the nighttime sky. I knew that there were things this near stranger, this queer little man was apt to understand. Even though I knew this man might himself know the heart of things, I had to run, and keep running, lest he and I build a little campfire.

A Swinger of Birches

birches 3

A young woman had once told him he was mad “but in a good way” when near midnight he tried to board a wooden ship docked in Stockholm. Aged Tibetan monks being guided by female assistants in the metropolis had more than twice stopped in their tracks and run a finger across his brow. “Good forehead lines,” he had been told slowly and carefully by them, and then they moved along on their way. A local painter he painted houses with one season for 10 dollars an hour as a grown man believed and joked about his being a millionaire and that he was just doing this for a little fun in life. (Little did he know the truth of his gratefulness for this job and his boss’ good humor on the ladder beside him.) One of the brass numerals of an older woman’s street address across the road from him had fallen off and he nailed it back in with a tiny hammer and brass escutcheon pins he got at the local hardware store; they became fast friends ever since. A lady he had dined with remarked, after he was done chatting with the blond waiter about mechanical engineering and how he had been told by the young man that soldiers broke their steps when marching across a bridge, that people seemed to like him. When he saw men driving their chrome yellow Hummers passing him on the road in the opposite direction that he was going, he had ceased to give them the middle finger and, if he could roll down his window fast enough to project in a flash to them the socially shaming Facebook thumbs-down sign with his real hand’s left thumb pointing down, he was happy to do that. He was hardly perfect but he was becoming lighter. He could still hear Pieter crying after him in his memory, after Pieter had dined and wined him night after night for nearly a week in Amsterdam many years ago, “Rudy! Rudy!” but, having already turned his back on the old gentleman and walked away some twenty paces, he never became his lover. Indeed, he had already walked alone and seen so many human things there are to see, he knew that one day soon, he would be forever closing his eyes before the quiet face of God.

Bullet Hole Sign

bullet hole sign trimmed

For the most part he considered the law his foe. When signs were put up posting this or that sort of prohibition, he’d get up on moonless nights and take them right down. When the colors of license plates on cars changed across the state, he’d keep his old one on until a trooper had pulled him over, right in his own dirt driveway. “It’s rusted right in, right where I bolted it,” he’d told the officer, pointing to the four screws he’d screwed in to hold it in place. When notices for jury duty arrived in his mailbox he tossed them in together with the junk mail. He never opened one of them, never let his fury rise by reading one of the questionnaires that preceded jury candidate selection. When presidential elections came he voted for the candidate he felt some disfavor toward just to show himself how pointless the whole thing was. Why, if he’d had one, he’d marry his own sister just to show how meaningless that was, too. The law was bunk. History was bunk. You couldn’t believe in such lies as a free market system when all the gas stations within an eight mile radius overnight had the same gasoline prices within 1/10 of one penny with each other without the whole entire thing being a racket. And so long as they skimmed their taxes off the top, like cream, the government played along with the whispering conspiracy that had to go on in the bleak nighttime hours between Exxon, and Chevron, and Lukoil, and whoever else was playing. It was all one great big lie, one big hoax. Just for fun, when he’d take a drive in the wee hours of the morning, he’d find a road with double yellow solid lines in the middle, cross those lines, and drive for as long as he could on the other side of the road. He took it in stride the several times he’d been arrested, and felt no animus toward the gun-carrying men themselves. It was the law itself he abhorred and which he had abjured. He had nothing against people.

Sunstones & Sagebrush

sagebrush and dirt

At night, silent military jets dropped slow blue flares from the sky. These lights would fall gently in slow downward curves, eight or nine flares falling from the sky at once. Soon afterwards, more jets would pass silently through the airspace and more falling blue flares would glow in the night sky like the first ones. This maneuver might occur a third time and then the sky was black again as if nothing had happened. All was silent that night and any other night. Sometimes, too, in an enormous “V,” blue lights would hover overhead, too huge and moving too slowly to be any known, or even any imaginable, human aircraft, for sure a top secret military program no one outside of the military would ever know about.

By daytime, the campers camping in the aluminum shell of an abandoned trailer would sift through sifters looking for sunstones that would be caught in between the grates of the wire mesh. The boy and his father took turns sifting in the heat all day long. Later in the afternoon, the handful of stones they had caught sifting would be handed over to one of three men who lived six months out of twelve in trailers that had not yet been abandoned there. After the sunstones the boy and his father had collected had been weighed on a scale and examined under a jeweler’s loop, and then rated and priced, the father paid for the stones they had sifted out of the dirt and wanted to keep; those the boy and his father did not, the men swept into one of the four bins, according to their weight and quality. The best of these stones flashed brilliant copper from the inside. The three bearded men whose mine this was allowed the boy, as was their custom, to allow the youngest member of any team, to pick for free any one sunstone from one of the four gray plastic bins filled with them laid out on folding tables among the pale sagebrush and barren dirt. The boy’s pick was the very best sunstone in the bin. It had the most shiller, the bearded man told him. It was worth more than the total sum of all the stones they had bought together.

In the evening, after making supper and cleaning the dishes with as little water as possible, the boy and his father played chess outside. The boy always won, trying game after game to make his father a better chess player, however mediocre the father’s mind was in this. They played until it was nearly dark, just before the jets returned. For the son and his father, it would well be said, many years later, that these indeed were the best times in the best of times.