Perhaps I waited too long to write my follow up on InvestiDate and figured the news segments would speak for themselves. Since at least one of my friends seems to believe that Maria Coder is brooding fear by teaching people tools to investigate their potential dates, I think the time has come for me to speak honestly and clearly about my experiences and her class. When I met Maria Coder and decided to attend her first of likely countless classes she will teach, I didn’t know what to expect. With an intentionally open-minded outlook on life most days, I thought it couldn’t hurt, and perhaps I might learn something, as a single woman living alone in a big city. I did.
Two classes and two interviews later (Catch my Today Show segment here and my meeting with ABC Eyewitness News anchor Sandra Bookman above.), I have an opinion. Crazy or cautious? Well, the psychologist who commented on my segment of the Today Show would have you see me as one of the “paranoid” types of women who would take “that kind of class.”
Although I’ve never before admitted this in public, I have had some difficulties here and there, growing up, dating, and even just going out with friends in public spaces. Despite having had some incredible experiences meeting, loving, and knowing people in my lifetime, I’ve also loved someone who lied to me for many years, had someone slip a roofie in my drink (thankfully without the intended outcome, thanks to the presence of a very dear friend), and suffered a separate date rape many years ago. In reality, I’ve chosen to leave plenty of equally trying experiences out of this discussion. Were I afraid now, I would have every right. I suppose, not knowing me closely enough to see the personal growth I’ve experienced since then, one might easily suspect me of at least paranoia.
If, however, you’ve read any of my other blog posts or know my life, you know I do not tend to err on the side of paranoia, no less caution. I went skydiving because it scared me. Singing a cappella opera, nude, as all of the other models leave the stage in Sarah Small’s Tableau Vivant of the Delirium Constructions and publicly writing about it has left me with an incredible influx of amazing fans and some less flattering folks exhibiting some stalker-like behavior. Not exactly the action of a paranoid woman, and certainly one of the most challenging but meaningful things I’ve done in my lifetime thus far.
Anyway, I won’t lie and try to say that dating hasn’t presented its share of challenges too. Sure, sometimes I need to regroup after a hard breakup and take a little time. Skeptics of InvestiDate, now is the time to read carefully. Initially, after Maria’s class, I questioned my readiness to restart dating. When a dog leaned up against me on the street that night to get me to pet him, I thought, “May be I should just stick to dogs.” Surprisingly though, over the course of the next two weeks, the seed that had been planted at the first class began to sprout thoughts in my head about dating websites and that really nice guy in the neighborhood. Before I knew what had influenced me, I had already updated my profile on okcupid and started checking out new sites. I again somehow had the confidence to date.
Maria teaches tools to keep people informed and safe, not hidden away in their apartments, afraid of a connection with another human being. She actually approves of dating on Craigslist and recommends ways to do it safely. These are not the actions of a fear monger. She is not teaching us how to put duct tape and water bottles in a box in case Al Qaeda attacks. Like a teacher of a self defense class, she instructs each student regardless of gender, background, confidence or fear.
If a somewhat fearful person attends InvestiDate and, by making sure her date isn’t a sexual predator, feels better about allowing a little more trust and vulnerability when meeting a stranger in the city, good for her! For the record, I don’t intend to use most of the tools she teaches, but I will employ some. Honestly, when a video of me singing nude has circulated to hundreds of thousands of people already, on its way to a documentary, I think I’m a fool if I don’t take any precautions here or there. Still, even Maria Coder admits on the most recent news segment that the point is “to give you the power to make an informed dating decision.”
On a day like today, when the whole world seems bent on having an opinion, let’s make them count. Be clear, be unified where you can, and above all, please don’t waste time worrying about people who only want to empower us to move forward with our lives. While we’re at it, may be we can figure out some ways to help each other live our lives together more easily and fruitfully. I don’t have the answers. I don’t know who does. I do know there are better things to question. I wonder, “What will happen at the Brooklyn Bridge at 5pm, and what happens if the super-committee doesn’t reach its deadline?”