Chanticleer #24

I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up. 

Henry David Thoreau


February 1, 2001

“Chanticleer Calls”, an aperiodic newsletter for discriminating readers, thinkers, feelers, speakers, listeners, and cogitators.


From the September 17, 2000 files … I commented on the Texas Department of Transportation’s approval of a $134,000 re-striping project to add an additional exit lane from Woodall-Rogers Freeway around downtown Dallas onto US 75 North Central Expressway. The project was to take six weeks.

Nineteen weeks later, the six week effort has yet to begin.


You probably don’t subscribe to the “STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART” email list. I mention it because the guy who runs it contacted me a few weeks ago and asked permission to re-print an anecdote I wrote called “The Girl and the Match”. This story about Alfred Korzybski’s encounter with a college student reflects his unique approach to teaching a few pertinent points about general semantics.

I had forgotten about it until yesterday, when I received the newsletter and there it was – “The Girl and the Match”, by Steve Stockdale. I’ve already received four nice emails today from readers around the country, so I thought I’d mention that if you haven’t read it, you can on my website.


I saw the movie Chocolat. I highly recommend it for anyone who considers him/herself to be the least bit “open-minded.” And I think its message applies to dating and relationships … no matter how tolerant or open-minded we are, we’re each driven to some degree by preconceived ideas and assumptions about what we’re “supposed to do.” We each carry our own personal bag of “shoulds”. “I don’t like somebody who ….”, “I don’t enjoy ….”, “I would never …”, “You’re not supposed to ….”, “You shouldn’t …”

In some cases these apriori premises are appropriate. In other cases, however, we’re like children who say, “I don’t like asparagus.”

“Have you ever TRIED asparagus?”

“No. But I know I wouldn’t like it.”

Last spring I drove to Chicago. While passing through St. Louis, I called some friends to meet for lunch. They gave me directions to a particular freeway intersection. I looked at my road atlas, the one I’d had for 20 years, the one that I’d used to drive all over the western U.S., the one that had all kinds of notes and mileage and phone numbers scribbled on it. The one I wouldn’t THINK about leaving at home when I traveled.

This intersection wasn’t on my map. My map was out of date. The freeway system had changed, but my map hadn’t. I needed a new map.

Chocolat is about giving yourself permission to try new things, to make new ‘maps.’

You might ask yourself if you’re carrying around any old ‘maps’ that need to be replaced, or at least updated.

What DELETE ‘Means’

I’ve been offering some commentary about dating-while-adult and recently addressed the hot topic of, what does it mean when you see that a recipient has deleted your email (which one online service offers as a “feature”):

I’m still getting mail about the “DELETE” button, and what it means when you see that someone has “DELETED” your mail.

First, does everybody understand that on “DELETE” doesn’t really mean “DELETE”? When you “delete” mail, it goes into “Old Mail”. (Actually, even your “New Mail” is in “Old Mail”, but I’ll try to keep this simple.)

Even within the Matchmaker documentation and Help file, there are references not to “deleted mail”, but “archived mail”.

So how much difference does that label make? Would you feel differently if the button were labeled “ARCHIVE” instead of “DELETE”? What does “archive” mean?

Well, it kinda means, “SAVE”, doesn’t it?

So all the guys (and some women) who moan and groan and whimper that “she DELETED my mail without a reply” … would you then moan and groan and whimper, “she SAVED my mail without a reply”?

Perhaps not.

Sometimes we need to recognize a label as merely a label, and not as a premeditated action with specific intent.

Close Encounters of the Rented Kind

Do you remember this scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The one where Richard Dreyfus is led to Devil’s Tower, and he stumbles into the government staging area where they’re preparing to receive the aliens?

He’s taken into custody, then you see him in the back of a van with about a dozen other befuddled civilians. The camera pans around the inside of the van and you see each individual, one by one, only as a pair of huge, wide-open eyes, peering out from behind the thick, murky glass lenses of a gas mask.

Each set of eyeballs desperately searches the others for some clue as to why they are there, together, at that particular place and time. They each realize that they share something, but they don’t know what.

I see some similarities between that movie scene and the ‘real world’ that many of us find ourselves in – the world of ‘adult’ online dating.

We find ourselves – some led by intention, some by accident – thrust together in the back of this online cyber- ‘van’. We struggle to look for some reason, some commonality, some communal sense that “we’re all here together, and somehow everything’s going to be okay.” We don’t know these other eyeballs that are peering out, searching our eyeballs for the same assurances we seek in theirs.
We don’t understand, but we accept with some fear, and much uncertainty.

Which makes it all the more difficult for me to understand why some of ‘us’ choose to engage in such vicious, personal attacks against others of ‘us’ who are a part of this group.

Here we all are, peering out with bug-eyed suspicions and curiosities, at each other in the back of this online cyber-van … and a few of us decide that another one of us doesn’t belong here. And some of ‘us’ say things via email to me, and to others, that we would NEVER consider saying face-to-face, or in front of our kids, or in front of our boss, or in front of ANYBODY – if there were any possibility of personal accountability.

Isn’t that …. ‘special’?

Now migrating east from Wyoming to the Lower East side of New York City….
I love the musical Rent. From the song, “I’ll Cover You”

“I think they meant it
When they said you can’t buy love
Now I know you can rent it
A new lease you were, my love – on life.”

From “What You Own”

“And when you’re living in America
At the end of the millenium
You’re what you own.

“So I own not a notion
I escape and ape content
I don’t own emotion – I rent.”

We ‘rent’ time on Matchmaker. We ‘rent’ someone when we spend time reading her profile. We ‘rent’ someone when we choose to spend time writing, responding, reacting to her. We ‘rent’ someone when we meet her, when we’re out on a date. We ‘rent’ her when we daydream, when we fantasize, when we tell our friends about her. What we ‘rent’ is temporal, ephemeral. And when our ‘rental’ period is over, “she” remains.

And yet … many of us write as if we ‘own’ the person we’re writing to, or talking about. We make use of what serves our purposes, and then we discard the rest as we discard the wrapper around a Payday. We throw out people like we throw out trash, as if we feel we are doing everyone else a favor by “putting the trash in its place.”

There’s also this phrase from “What You Own” —
“Connection, in an isolating age.”

Some of you might not know what the reference to “The Third Kind” means. An encounter of the “first kind” is a sighting; the “second kind” refers to physical evidence left behind. An encounter of the “third kind” refers to actual contact.

In the semi-alien world of Matchmaker, we might draw parallels. A “first kind” encounter, a sighting, correlates with spotting someone’s profile. A “second kind” encounter could be considered as actually exchanging correspondence with the someone. And an encounter of a “third kind” relates to “contact” – a meeting in person – connection.

I’d like to think that most of us within this community are about establishing “connections”, moreso than we’re about “throwing trash”. I’d like to think that most of us think in terms of ‘renting’ our time spent with others, moreso than we think we ‘own’ them. “There’s only this, there’s only us.” Unfortunately, SHE-SAID and I have corresponded with almost 900 individuals in the past two months. We know too well that there are still an awful lot of folks out here who need to start developing more post-Neanderthal civil sensibilities.

When would be a good time to start? “No day but today!