Online Dating in the Mountain West: A PSA

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Everyone says that when you keep getting the same message from the Universe, you should pay attention. This past spring, I had three dates in a row who said to me, “I can make time stop by using my mind.” Hah, I thought. What are the chances that all three of these men could really pull that off? Such bravado! Or, was this just some strange pick-up line I hadn’t heard before?

While I was considering these important questions, I met several gentlemen who believed they were victims of alien abduction. According to the Roper Poll, they’re among a group of 4 million Americans. Who knew? The real possibility of alien contact is very scary to me, so, after politely rejecting their offers, I tried to just be proactively selective by adding a disclaimer to my online profile: “If you think you can stop time with your mind, or have experienced alien abduction, move along.”

Then, I happened to attract the attention of a guy from Lincoln, Montana, who was friendly with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, back in the early ‘90’s. Although he was a very good dancer, it became clear that, after the seduction phase, the only people I’d have contact with would be my sister wives. But at least this very brief relationship gave me my safe word: “bunker,” and I’ve started asking a lot more questions on first dates. I’ve also started catching up on Netflix documentaries. Who knew there were so many terrific films on cults

In my four years of online dating in the Mountain West, I’ve learned not to ask a guy I’m dating how many guns he owns. It’s a loaded question—and I don’t really want to know the answer if I’m ever questioned by the FBI. Do you have a pistol? Do you have a hunting rifle? I’m good with that.

I’ve learned that there’s a fine line between a rustic lifestyle and hoarding behavior. It can be easy to cross over that line, but here’s a tip: No one really needs that many vehicles, no matter what they tell you. And, it’s not three hundred miles to the nearest hardware store. Even in a small western town, there’s usually an ACE hardware right around the block—and you can buy things there.

I’ve learned that if a guy can’t pick you up for a date because he has half an elk carcass in the back-seat, he’s probably not good at prioritizing or time management. Or, possibly, hygiene. And it’s certainly not worth driving all the way to Great Falls to meet him, at least not in February. At the very least, wait for the passes to clear. Black ice is something no one can control. And it’s invisible.

Everyone in Montana, where I live now, has a dog—they’re useful for scaring away bears and mountain lions on mountain trail runs. But I’ve learned to avoid men with big, mean German shepherds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. (This should be completely obvious.) Men with labs are just the sweetest, but not always so bright. And they can sometimes be a little OCD when it comes to sports—anything with a ball, really. Men with huskies are OK, but they tend not to listen to very well, and sometimes they run miles away and never come back on their own. I recommend keeping them on a short leash, and giving them a good yank once in a while.

I know a lot of single women in small western towns, and what I think we really need is something like an Angie’s list or a Neighbor-to-Neighbor for people we’ve dated. We could rate them with a number of stars and list any special skills they have. I’m going to sign up for the service that tells me, “he’s very good at what he does—and he’s pretty handy at fixing stuff around the house, too.” I’d also go for a guy who could get a deer tick off my neck in under ten seconds using the contents of my purse. What isn’t Vick’s Vapor Rub good for?


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