Speechless? Can’t think of what to say on a date?

Er, uh, hmmm….

Suddenly Single in Marin

Spelling Game tiles spell out Help MeFeeling Tongue Tied and Shy?

First Dates

Let’s say, you haven’t been on a First Date – since college. Or 10 years ago… and you really want to ‘Break the ice’ get and a conversation started.

What do you say after “Hello?”

Psychology Today has “36 Questions” to ask to get the Dating Conversation ball rolling.

Here are my Top 20 Conversation Starters

The Top 20 Questions to Break the Ice

1. Tell me about your best friend.

2. Tell me about your very worst job.

3. What was your very first car?
4. What was your very best job?
5. Tell me about your family and where you grew up.

6. Tell me about your very favorite relative.

7. Tell me the Top Five places you’ve worked

8. Who is your all-time favorite female movie star?

9. What passions / hobbies do you spend money on?
10. What’s you very favorite song?

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Now is the time for prayer

The Napa Sonoma fire – 20,000 acres ablaze – pray for the winds to stop, for the brave firefighters and for the hundreds of families impacted.


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One Man’s Story: Dating Mojo Dead?

Lost: Dating Mojo Man– last seen 2007

After another eight dead-end, awkward dates, Kevin swore off dating. His original visions of wild and sexy affairs with lurid, wanton women weren’t happening.

He had watched one too many eHarmony television commercials and thought everything was going to be a bed of roses…well, at least a bed of something.

Confused and Confounded

He was confused by things women wrote: “Not going Glamping” What the heck was glamping? “I only drink Holy Water?” What? And what was a “Burning Man- Lover?”
Always one to defer to research, he read a few “How-To” dating books and slowly realized he was out of his element and not quite in the 2017 swing of things

One woman, “SF Frisky,” responded to Kevin’s opening, email, with “TLTR.” He had to Google the acronym to learn it meant, Too Long to Read. Really, one paragraph? Kevin had lost his patience and knew he had no mojo. None.

Try, Try, Again? A week later, Krissty from Sausalito contacted him. She was bubbly, friendly and wanted to meet him. She said she really liked his picture.

Nobody had liked this picture-until now.

According to her profile she was blonde, 39+, loved skiing, tennis, wine tasting and the opera. What’s not to like?

He wrote back immediately and agreed to meet her Saturday morning at the Starbucks in Corte Madera.

Kevin was ready! Finally, a woman found him attractive and had contacted him. Things were beginning to look up. He found the Starbucks and scored a table. He sat next to a brunette woman and pretended to read his Wall Street Journal, his eye on the door.

Only a few minutes went by before the woman on his right tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he was “Kevin SF Giants.”

Startled, he nodded slowly and she announced that she was Kristty from Sausalito. Kevin stared. He was supposed to meet a blonde-39-year-old-tennis playing- opera buff.

This woman was 50 – if she was a day and she had long dark hair. She couldn’t be the blonde, tennis player- there had to be a mistake.

Kevin, flummoxed – mumbled and fumbled. Again, not knowing what to make of this total stranger.

“You play tennis?” popped out of his mouth. She laughed. It was a raspy, smoker’s voice and said, “No, but I love to watch it on TV.”

In time, Kevin calmed down and went through the motions. His mind was flapping back to the online photo he had glanced at, just this morning, and the woman sitting across from him.  There was absolutely no resemblance. This would be a one-time-only event.

Flash Forward: Six Months.

Kevin had a total of 32 first dates and no second dates.

Was he was tenacious, driven, or a hopeless romantic? Was he a klutz, a slow study or just striking out?
He claimed he had met every “possible” 35 to 55-year-old woman (under 200 pounds) within 30 miles of his ZIP code.

Kevin Learns the Ropes

In time, with practice and a spread sheet- he eventually became a more “astute dater.”

First, he devised, a formulaic introductory e-mail. Statistically, five out of 10 women responded.
Second: Two e-mails later: he invited a phone conversation and included his telephone number. He even suggested a good time for the woman to call him. Six out of ten women called him back.

Feeling  confident: Kevin developed  a “Top-Five Question List” that he nonchalantly pitched to each woman. He thought he was getting really good at this.

Never mind about the person on the other end of the phone was feeling like she was on a proverbial job interview.

Note to reader: Predictable questions are a buzz kill. They indicate no joi de vivre – no spontaneity. Consider canned questions:Dull times three.

PART TWO- Kevin the Romantic Scores…

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Psst! It’s time…to explore the Marin Singles Scene

Wake up and cross the bridge, Binkie

Suddenly Single in Marin


Now is the time for all cool Singles to come to the…

Other side of the Bridge.

Leo (Phd, Single, 50, San Francisco resident, self-proclaimed Match.com savant)  says all the women in Marin are alike. When asked to expound upon this, he rattles off a laundry list of observations: Marin girls are all blonde, very needy, showy, they collect boy-friends and husbands; the newly divorced are “dating like crazy,” and know ‘older men’ are good for a free drink or two.

Clueless in the City

Leo only knows the Buckeye Roadhouse and Poggio in Sausalito.

Once he took the ferry to the Sausalito Art Festival, didn’t like it. He has never been to Mount Tam, the Mill Valley Film Festival, China Camp, Fairfax or Blackie’s Pasture. He thought the Dipsea was a restaurant. Steep Ravine, Stinson and Muir Beach and Why There are Words are not on his radar. He says he will never Sweat his…

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She thought she was glorious

Helen started wearing  glasses in second grade. In fifth grade, she had to get braces- on her teeth for four years. She whined her hair was the color of dishwater. In high school, her complextion took a turn for the worse and she battled acne.

By the time she was ready for college, she could not wait to escape her tiny town and start a new life- far away. Her grades were stellar, her SAT was almost perfect; she scored big time with a passel of generous scholarships.

At first she thought Michigan, no Duke, then decided Stanford would be perfect. When Harvard sought her out, she was seduced and decided to go Crimson.

The summer before college, she returned to the summer camp she had first attended as a girl and later became a counselor. That summer, Trixie Travis from  Southern California  was the Pottery Counselor. She had long blond hair, really cute clothes and a bushel of make up and hair products. And, she loved to share.

Who know if Trixie was planning a pygmalion- but every other day,  Helen had a makeover du jour. Frequently,  the two senior counselors claimed they need something from town: chalk, balloons, art supplies. They ran a token errand and made a b-line to the Hair and Cosmetic area of the mega store.

Helen opened her wallet, and Trixie showed her how to spend money on more cosmetics, hair color, product and “cute clothes.” By the end of the summer, people looked twce – no one really recognized Helen. She went from vapid to va-va-voom!


Helen’s best buddy, Andy, told her she looked glorious. It was then and there she decided to change her name.  Goodbye to Helen and hello to G L O R I A.


Daily Prompt: Glorious

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Dating 101: Is he vain and impulsive? Run

Exit Sign

Dear Page Larkin,

I recently met a man online; his photo was taken from afar and was a little grainy. Let’s call him John Miller. Apparently, he is very wealthy, has homes in a number of places. His kids are married and all work for him.

He is much older (70) and bragged loud and often about his accomplishments. I figured he was insecure ( flaccid?)

We met once at a dive bar – he said he had to be “discreet.” It was dark – he called it romantic – I called it creepy. I instantly noticed his

  • Impulsivity,
  • Extreme present focus
  • Levels of narcissism, (every sentence was “a brag”)
  • Lack of trust i(n the waitress, the bartender, me)
  • And, a whole lot of paranoia.

What do you think? Run or Remain?

Wanna B Wed

Dear Wanna B Wed,

I feel I have a “duty to warn” about any dangers he poses because of his psychological make-up. The characteristics you note are enough to get a man impeached, much less tossed off the island. Put on your Nike’s: Run – don’t walk. He is trouble.


Page Larkin

garden party 2017 003Bragging about yourself violates norms of modesty and politeness – and if you were really competent, your work would speak for itself.

Adam Grant


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Make America…

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Dating 101: How to read a Profile


Expect a little “To Tell the Truth, ” a bit of  “I’ve Got a Secret”  and some “Dark Shadows”

Reading Dating Profiles on Chemistry.com, Match.com, or Plenty of Fish can be confusing.  As you wade through a minefield of clichés and brags, you wonder how to decipher this barrage of data. Is there some kind of code? Where do you get a romance Rosetta stone?

The answer? Read between the lines and take it all with a grain of salt.

Due diligence and deciphering? Yes, that too, Binkie!

Steven D. wrote that he ‘hailed from the Citrus Belt of California’  (Orange County, Republican). He reads the New Yorker and legal stuff (lawyer).

He “loves debating” (argumentative) and says his two kids are his best friends (uh-oh.)    He says he’s “tired of restaurants” (cheap) and prefers TV dinners on the couch (yawn)     In his profile photo, taken from afar,  Steven D. commits a grave error by wearing the egregious hat and sunglasses (Hiding what?  Bad hair, no hair, squinty eyes, tattoos). More red flags.

To Tell the Truth

Margo C writes that she ‘Likes Jenga and Scrabble (Couch Potato Girl) and her cats. She says she  “a big woman, with a big heart and big fun.” No mystery there; her candid photograph indicates the same. Give her credit: she is honest and to the point.

‘Walter Mitty Mike’ should be a Fiction Writer.

Despite his friend’s protestations, Tommy writes that he is “A doctor with three North Bay offices; he collects old cars, has a place in the mountains, and  a pied-a-terre in the City, in addition, he collects French wines.”

His best friends will tell you, actually, the Veterinarian business is slow, so Tommy works three days a week all over Petaluma and Novato; he drives a great old truck; has a Rambler and a Corvair; and he has a big tent, in the summer, above Truckee. His place in the City? He camps out with a buddy in a studio apartment in SOMA, where the two like to party and paint the town beige. Tommy likes a good story and tells one — after another.

Someone has to tell him Ménage a Trois is not a French wine. And, that there is a time and place for everything.

‘I’m a Barbie’ writes her entire profile in uppercase letters.

Those in the know say, beware: possible anger issues here.  Barbie says she’s “spontaneous to a fault” (red flags flashing). This generally translates to disorganized, ditzy, and unpredictable. All are qualities some men might … cherish. Or not. Clever Barbie writes she is looking for a Ken doll with a Maserati…or Porsche…Millionaire.com didn’t work out for her. Tsk.

There are a lot of stories in “The Dated City”

Remember: Honesty is the best policy and the truth will set you free — and help you avoid embarrassing situations. He will know it a minute that the cute  photo take ten years ago is a fake…She will know that your 5’6 height is not 5’10…what are you thinking? 

Give online dating a whirl, take it all with a shaker of salt,  and have fun out there.


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Personal Ads really work- see here:

Jade: 48, divorced, two kids launched, decided to start looking for her ‘Date for Life.’ No more speed dating or coffee dates and buddies – she wanted a relationship.

One small drawback

She lives in a very, very, small town nestled in the redwoods in Northern California. A writer and an English major who loves the Pacific Northwest and the Arts, she subscribes to the New York Review of Books. Last year – a little lonely and fuelled by one too many espressos- she decided try the NYRB Personal ads.

For months, she had been amused and intrigued by the ads and – in a C’est le guerre kind of mood – she crafted a succinct and attractive ad.

 $5.00 will buy you one word

She ponied up $150 for a well-crafted, 30-word ad and sat back. Who would respond? George in Brooklyn or  Thomas in New Haven? JohnE-Be-Good in San Francisco?

The ad ran for one week and produced one, single, beguiling response from ‘Rusty Rings.’

Stranger than fiction?  Quelle surprise: Rusty Rings lived 15 miles away! They met for the first time, they clicked, and have been together ever since. It happens.

Writing your Personal ads – avoid dangling your participles…

When you are paying a hefty $5 per word for a Personals Ad, one tends to choose their nouns carefully. On the other hand, if you are writing a Craigslist ad – free of charge – you might be a little less discreet about your word choice and message.

How much does that Love Letter cost?

Here are samples of two recent NYRB Personal Ads  (She wrote / He wrote)

Note: To be fair- both Ads are mildly edited for the sake of the singles.

COST: NYRB Personals – Hers: over $500.00

His: over $750.00

She writes:

Hello, darling: Me: sexy, sophisticated striking natural beauty and completely real at the same time. Adventurous, curious; artist, low-key humanitarian, trailblazer. Fun loving, athletic. Slender, lean, really cute…unassuming playful smile. Nature, outdoors-lover. Appreciator of beauty, creativity, spontaneity, delights in exploration, I am Spicey hot!  Love skiing, hiking, sailing, New England, photography, architecture. Great cook, great conversationalist …Crazy about making a difference, giving back… Seeking adventurous, verbal, secure, man, 45–59, values generosity, authenticity. Your pic gets mine. Your love gets mine

He writes:

Color me: TALL, SLIM, late 50s, City Boy—More Ryan Reynolds meets Ed Norton than Tom Cruise meets Vin Diesel. Educated at Harvard and New Haven… working with non-profits and on Wall Street. Passionate about music and even played (around) in Carnegie Hall; enjoy: hiking, biking, yoga, tennis, art, spicy gourmet food and wine, and black-tie dinners …reading, stimulating conversation and cooking…my spicy tastes range from punk to ballroom…Attracted to young slim figures and dynamic personalities, reading, stimulating conversation and cooking. Love to travel and have lived abroad.. Looking for LTR and kids with a woman 20 years my junior who is spiritual-yet-grounded. Please send letter and photo to: Box 007

What price love?

Both candidates have very long shopping lists of “Must have qualities” for their dream dates. Some would consider their Personal Ads somewhat ego-centric and vain – others might flock to such a well-spoken, confidant singles.

One would hope that Mr. Spiritual-but-grounded $750.00 Personal Ad – would find his 20 years younger, lithe, divorcee with kids. Sounds like he would be the ‘perfect daddy’ perhaps, a real sugar daddy.

Bon chance!

And, Bravo to the singles who – every day – put it out there- who take a chance for romance.











via Daily Prompt: Spicy

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Single Once Again…a short story…

Just say Hello….

Suddenly Single in Marin

This wonderful account: From Annie S  via the e-mail bag

Dear Page Larkin,

We met in Mill Valley at the Depot in 2010

He was an espresso. I was a double latte.

We each sat at our individual little tables soaking up the rare December sun. Each sipping coffee, our faces to the sun.  Puccini ‘s Tosca was playing in the background.

I had just written the last gigantic check to my divorce attorney and the ink was finally dry. A long sordid  chapter in my life was over.

I was elated, shocked and relieved. I knew I should be surrounded by friends sipping Veuve Cliquot champagne.

But, this felt right. I had a huge wave of relief wash over me, followed by a burst of happiness.

I remember it felt  like a 1000 watt light bulb ignited…I was drenched in cliches and epiphanies. And it wasn’t the caffeine.

You know…

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