How dating is like BINGO … And Other Random Thoughts

So, I should definitely be doing homework right now and NOT writing this blog post, but I did do some homework earlier this evening, so I haven’t been totally irresponsible.

I spent this weekend with my step-grandmother who still lives in my hometown.  She lives in a retirement community, which is in fact the same community where my grandparents had been since 1998, so it’s almost like a second home to me.  I couldn’t even possibly count how many meals and events I have attended there over the years.  But it’s always a new experience, and it has changed a lot particularly over the past 3 years as I lost my grandmother (2009), witnessed the re-marriage of my grandfather (also 2009) and then lost my grandfather (2012).  But some things never change, and BINGO is one of those things.

I don’t particularly love BINGO, but I can amuse myself playing it for an hour.  Despite the fact that I had 6 cards to watch (for the low, low price of $2 for the whole evening), I couldn’t help but let my mind drift to BINGO as a metaphor for dating.  It’s not as well thought out as some of my observations are, but I think there are some interesting parallels.

1. The more cards you have, the better your chances at winning.  In the dating game, if you put all your focus on one person, you have less opportunity to find the right match for you.  Certainly it’s important to focus on one person eventually, but I think people get tied down too quickly.  In our parents’ and grandparents’ generation, casual dating was much more common.  I think there should be a revival!

2. If you don’t play, you can’t win.  The two young kids next to me got bored after a few games and lost focus…and then they had no chance of winning!  This goes without saying, but if you don’t date, you have zero chance of finding a girlfriend or boyfriend.  This is a lesson that particularly applies to me; as a person who would like to find a healthy, committed relationship, I really need to start searching for one by dating.

3. Timing is everything.  You could have dozens of cards in the game, but if you’re not the first person to shout BINGO, you won’t win.  You have to be paying attention and staying on top of the game to win the round.  Furthermore, I always see losers in BINGO lamenting that they “only needed one more to win.”  To those people, I remind them that being “close to winning” doesn’t count for anything.  With dating, I think this just speaks to the random chance involved in meeting a compatible partner.  You could be attending the club on different nights, or be recently out of a bad relationship and not ready to date again when the other is available.

4. You have to be playing the right game to win.  If you don’t play BINGO a lot you wouldn’t know this, but in each round, the caller announces the type of BINGO game.  It can range from simple BINGO (5 in any direction), to picture frame (only the edges), to an X or to blackout (all squares covered).  If you think you’re playing simple BINGO, but that round the object is X, your “win” is invalid.  I think this applies to dating in that if you’re seeing someone with the intention of marriage, and your partner is only interested in a casual relationship, then neither of you has really succeeded.  You’re looking for different things, so what you need to do is find a “round” that fits the “BINGO” on your card.

5. A lot depends on luck.  Let’s face it, there’s no real skill in BINGO, other than having a long attention span (unlike the 5- and 7-year-old kids near me).  I mean, I have a few particular strategies, but they do nothing more than make playing easier for me.  The only real thing you can hope for in BINGO is a lucky card relative to the type of game and the order in which the numbers are called.  Now, there is certainly some skill involved in dating, but there is also a big aspect of luck.  You have to be in the right place at the right time, or know the right people, or come across a certain way to meet a compatible partner.  Once you’ve found each other, it takes work to stay together.  But that initial meeting is really up to luck, timing, and putting yourself out there.

And then we switch gears completely.  I am so fed up with the other heterogeneous members of my gender.  I’ve ranted about makeup before, but I’ve come to a few new conspiracy-type conclusions.  First of all, makeup absolutely plays against having a high self-esteem.  If you really felt good about how you looked, why would you need to cover or modify your appearance with makeup?  And the makeup companies absolutely play a role in all of this.  I was witnessing my grandmother’s consultation with the saleswoman at the makeup counter, and she very subtly implied how much my grandmother NEEDED the makeup to IMPROVE her looks.  For goodness sakes, my grandmother is over eighty years old!  Who is she trying to impress?  What is she trying to hide?  I’m pretty sure that when my grandfather married her, he wasn’t fooled by a little bit of powder and rouge.  She looks like and 80-year-old woman whether she wears makeup or not.  I feel certain he loved her with or without makeup!

Also, I can’t help but wonder if there is a physiological effect of wearing makeup.  As far as I know, the products are not very strictly regulated.  Have there even been long-term studies of the effects of makeup?  What is there to stop the makeup companies from embedding their products with hormones or other chemicals that alter your mood or state of mind?  I’m not trying to say that makeup is a drug or changes who you are, but perhaps the chemicals in makeup subtly influence women to buy more of it?  I’m just trying to come up with a possible biological explanation for the dependence so many women have on makeup.  And this logic is not outside the realm of marketing realities like fast food joints.  They absolutely prey on our visual and olfactory senses to convince us to buy more of their products.  When was the last time you walked past a pretzel shop in the mall and didn’t have the urge to buy a snack?  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I just think makeup companies might be using similar techniques.

I honestly feel free without makeup, in spite of the fact that I am very well aware that my face would look more traditionally beautiful if I wore it.  I know I could cover up my blemishes and hide the shadows under my eyes.  But you know what…that’s not how I really look!  Some people equate makeup to hygiene or part of your outfit, and argue that if I want to go all natural, I should also stop wearing clothes.  But I don’t consider that to be on the same level.  Primarily, clothes offer protection and warmth.  Secondarily, clothes are not clogging my pores or changing my basic physical appearance.  And of course, going without clothes in public is a legal problem…public indecency or exposure.

Finally, as my friend Purcella pointed out, wearing makeup is a nod to gender inequality.  At first glance, this may seem like an overstatement, but bear with me.  Think about all of the heterogeneous couples you know that are married or in serious, long-term relationships.  In how many of them would you classify the woman as being physically more attractive?  In how many of them would you say that both partners are equally attractive?  In how many of them would you classify the man as being more attractive?  In my experience, the vast majority of couples fall into the first two categories; I know very few men who are dating women that are less attractive than themselves.

But how can this be?  Presumably, there are an equal number of attractive vs unattractive members across the sexes.  So how is it that both the attractive and unattractive men are dating only the attractive women?  Is it because the women settle for any man that will have them?  Is it because women do not value physical attractiveness as highly as men?  Is it because men objectify women?  Is it because women feel insecure and hide their real appearance with makeup in order to appeal to men?  I can’t really answer any of these questions, but certainly the cultural expectation is that only the attractive women will get married and be successful.  And in order to ensure their success, women will do almost anything to improve their appearance.

I think makeup is a bad idea for so many reasons.  It wastes time every day for application and removal.  It wastes money.  It is relatively unsanitary (because you’re dipping your hand/brush in a container for weeks or months on end and then rubbing it on your dirty, oily face).  It can dry out your skin, requiring you to buy more products (moisturizer).  And it exposes you to unknown chemicals.  Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it is very capable of absorbing what you put on it.

In case you don’t know me, I’m not some dirty hippie; I was my body and hair daily, and I shave where appropriate.  I just don’t believe in wasting my time, energy, and money on makeup.  And I’m either going to find someone who accepts that about me, or I’ll end up alone.  But I’m not going to change to conform, and I’m not going to pretend I look like something that I’m not.  True beauty is on the inside.

I guess that’s about it for the observations and rants.  Do you think I’m off my rocker, or do you agree with me on the main points?  Let me know!

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