Sex and the City's four main characters can take their Manolo Blahniks and shove them where the sun don't shine. Yes, the show was amusing at times, but did it truly represent the lives of most intelligent, attractive single women who are looking for love in New York City or any western city in this world? As a real-life NYC native, I'd like to set the record straight and give a more realistic take on the wacky world of coupling in the Big Apple.

Like many single gals, I have tried my hand at online dating. But since the popular Web site of the month has become pretty dull and fruitless for me, I figured I might try a site that might help me find a guy who not only shares my pop cultural interests (music, books, movies, activities), but also a mutual Greek heritage with similar ideals. I made my profile on a Greek singles Web site as specific as possible and got a 100% match. The Pixies lured him in and the photo I sent led him to say: "You are my type of Greek gal." But, am I? After some promising initial contact through e-mails, two days went by and he didn't return my phone call. How busy could he possibly be? Maybe I should have included "returns phone calls" in my list of preferences. Maybe the Web site's rating of us as a "100% Ideal Match" wasn't so accurate. Maybe I should stop checking to see when he last logged in.

Internet dating offers an endless number of possibilities which can be good and bad. Good, for the obvious reason: The profiles give you a glimpse of the person so you can decide whether or not you're interested before you even approach. Bad, for less obvious reasons: There are a lot of folks out there addicted to dating every single person in the inbox and thus refusing to commit to anything at all. Popular dating sites like Match, Nerve and lavalife usually provide you with "last login" dates and times that are enough to drive anyone who hasn't gotten a reply batty. Then finally, when it's over (too often handled by no more replies), you still come across his profile and are constantly reminded of him and how he's out there dating, making someone else happy or miserable.

Modern technology has nothing on the age old dating tactic of "networking" where friends and family weed out the undesireables to unearth a boyfriend. This method of using friends as a dating avenue used to be a good, classic way of getting matched up with someone, but it doesn't seem to happen as often anymore. In my case, it seems like everyone within my circle of friends already knows everyone. I've been trying to expand that horizon, but it isn't easy discovering new interests and befriending more people when it's already hard enough keeping up with the friends I already have. Add the fact that everyone has their guard up (as one should in a big city) and you've got an entire city filled with strangers who are too paranoid to get to know each other.

Meeting prospective partners in bars seems to have turned more traditional in U.S. and European cities, but that hasn't worked well for me or most women I know. Men who pick up women in bars only want to take you home that night instead of just taking your number to chat at some point in the future and truly get to know you. Unfortunately, most one-night stands do not end up with a couple living happily ever after.

School is another option popular with the love-seeking masses of NYC, but I've come to realize continuing education classes consist mostly of women following the same "take a class" advice. In one course I took recently, the only men in the class were an older gentleman and a young man who had a girlfriend (although, that didn't keep him from following me to the bus stop after our last class and talking to me even though he's never taken the bus in the several months he'd been taking classes at that college). I've heard similar complaints about the absence of men in classrooms from other single women out there looking for love as well.

Then, there's work. This isn't the best idea since gossip spreads like wildfire and if things fizzle, you have to face the ex every single day until one of you quits, gets fired or transferred. Besides, with today's politically correct mentality, the risk of sexual harassment charges may not be worth it.

Finally, we have arranged marriage. Oh, we don't do that anymore.

The reality is these avenues often turn into dead-ends for cosmopolitan single women. So what else is there to do? Let's see what advice Elle advice columnist E. Jean Carroll can offer us in her book, Mr. Right, Right Now!, where she writes "how a smart woman can land her dream man in 6 weeks." Pfffft!

In some parts she just states the obvious (obvious to me, at least) paths to finding a boyfriend: "be yourself" (of course!) "place yourself where there are hordes of handsome men" (duh!).

In one chapter she lists the "seven deep and essential truths at the core of the Man Catching Mind-Set" where she tells her readers not to think about men, not to care what men think, not to "adopt anybody else's way of doing things," not to care whether men love or hate them, and not to worry "about the male beast and what he is 'doing.'" If that's her advice, then what point is there in reading this book? Riddle me this: How can one not think about men or not do any of that other stuff when they're reading her book on how to catch a man?

Throughout the book, E. Jean advises that her readers do things that most women can't afford and/or don't have time for: sleep 10 hours a night for seven days for "that wide-eyed look that everything's right with the world," or go to your local batting cage and swing at 50, 75, 100 balls in your "sporty" little outfit, hit your local motocross track where "you'll see an unbelievably dense concentration of the opposite sex," go rock-climbing "at an indoor/outdoor, mostly male rock-climbing establishment" where all these manly men will come to your aid when they see you struggling. Now, wait just one minute, "doll!" How am I supposed to be myself while doing things I have absolutely no interest in? Also, don't you think the guy will soon realize this very fact?

Then, there's the hello-I'm-desperate-self-centered-and-ridiculous tip where she advises a single gal to invite three gentlemen of different ages and backgrounds to her house for a meal and a fashion show of sorts. They are to be shown photos of clothes, hairstyles, etc. the gal has picked out to her liking and asked what they think she would look good in. The guests are then asked if they'd like to sit through a fashion show of the gal modeling her "three killing-est outfits" that she had pulled earlier from her closet. Ummm, E.Jean, can you please provide me with something useful like what to do when a guy who had expressed great interest just a few days ago doesn't call you back???

I have to admit, I never finished reading the book. Ms. Carroll completely lost me in "Week Three" when she and "Fear" exchange a painfully long and boring dialogue. Here's the gist of it:

Fear: We're getting a turdload of your thinking, aren't we, Madam?

Eeee: Anyway, if we maintain a comic attitude toward you, toss off a well-aimed laugh in your face, and so on, I believe you'll run like a diseased rat.

Fear: Look, you got any more stupid questions? This is beginning to look suspiciously like a FORMAT to me.

Eeee: If you answer the next question without lying, Mr. Falsie Man, I'll let you run the Craftmatic up and down a full minute.

Who gives a rat's ass? I don't know about the rest of the world, but I'm with "Fear" on this one. "Turdload" of thinking indeed!

While she does give some basic good common sense advice about wearing color and not looking frumpy, the author's tone can be patronizing and therefore her advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Carroll is beautiful, has dated a prince and a news anchorman, has been married more than once and has "lost the itch to be joined." These facts about her automatically put her in a different category than most women who would read this book. People who have no desire to settle down attract different partners and play a whole other ballgame.

Dating in NYC may not be as glamorous as Sex and the City (for most of us, at least), but it isn't completely hopeless. At this point, a few days have passed since I started this piece. Mr. "100% Ideal Match" from the Greek Web site finally returned my call with what sounded like a legitimate excuse for his lack of promptness. We met three days ago and, I must admit, he is quite dashing. Our next date is scheduled for two days from now. Where will this go? Who knows?

In the meantime, I'll just remain hopeful, do what makes me happy and try not to obsess over falling in love. I'll still keep all my different social avenues open because, hey, you never know.


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