"Some days are just 'no days'," mom told me.

I saw him across the parking lot of Starbuck's. Two blah dates and an unreturned call flashed through my mind, and I immediately became enraptured by the contents of my trunk. But alas, destiny was to have the upper hand, and when I ducked into Ralph's as an extra measure, he was approaching. Like the ghosts that duck through those infuriating tunnels and corner Pacman, it was a lost cause and I had only to crumple up and die. I was cornered near the Coinstar machine, ziploc full of change in hand, my ear to my phone checking messages. He was going to play it like he didn't recognize me, but he did. I knew he did. [He hadn't seen me duck him at Jury Duty a few months back - that time I brushed my hair over my face and bent over searching through my purse] This time, I knew I had been spotted. I knew I was the non-caller, which gave him higher moral standing on the dating scale? I think. Caught in the headlights, I pretended to be very involved with the silence in between my phone saying "you have NO - NEW - MESSAGES!", and, without slowing my pace, wiggled my fingers at him.

A wave.

This wave was more than a him-me thing. It was the universal gesture of the auto-fail. It was Simon's smile before dismissing an American Idol contestant. The rolling of eyes at your friends after dismissing a lame guy who you'd seen working his way down the line of ladies at the bar.

I don't like to think of the Auto-Fail as a judgmental instrument. Rather, it is a sincere screening device for settling what you can and can not stand for, and, the way I see it, a tool to spare everyone involved some serious amounts of wasted time.

Often, people will just say "we didn't click". Or "there's just NO chemistry" with us. What is the formula, you may ask? (Or the guy who has just been dissed for the 2040299402th time may ask. I'm not saying you're him. Let's just say it's an example). The formula is personal. It is the formulaic result of data collected from people you've dated, people you wish you'd dated, people your friends dated, the girl at dinner next to you in the ugly jacket, movies, books... all of it. I believe your brain quickly snaps through the possibilities and your human limitations, and spits out a 'yes' or 'no' fortune. It's not super high-tech, but it happens and we do it every time we walk by someone on the street. "Scruffy shoes". Boom. Autofail. "Blowing by panhandler without eye contact or donation." Boom. Autofail. "Deep blue shirt under suit." Meep meep. *Come here, baby*

My formula involves bans on bouffant hairdos, mandals, a guy who slips in the door before me, proud declaration of bowel movements and other illustrious bodily functions, cheesy tattoos, and halitosis. Some may call this shallow, but hey, there are guys out there who won't kick it to a non-blonde or a girl who breaks a sweat at the height requirement signs at Magic Mountain. All's fair in love and war.

But. There's always a but, isn't there? (Unless you don't like butts. Which, again, is your prerogative.) In compiling this little list of my auto-fails, I realized that I have let repeat offenders through the door. More than that, I've nearly fallen for composites of things I didn't want. And the 'nearly' came after the autofail had, well, failed.


I'm learning a lot as I grow up. I've definitely espoused the belief in the past that "ohmigod, he likes that song TOO! What a SIGN!" I thought that the more you were like someone, the more random little interests you shared, the more it was meant to be. And I found that it was easy to focus on those little similarities and find comfort in them when, on a much larger moral scale, we were totally from differing planets. I used to think if a guy liked the same songs, it would be worth trying it out. Then I realized that when you love the same song, one person can love it for the lyrics and another is so caught up in the tune that they didn't even notice the words. Where does that leave you?

Now I wonder if it's possible that I'll fall in love with someone who can't dance for shit, hates sushi, only reads if the phone rings and he needs to click 'closed caption' on The Man Show (on "Girls on Trampolines"... just in case), and can speak about the Bush Jr. presidency without a wave of nausea washing over him.

Yin and yang. Day and Night. Opposites attract. Destiny. Fate. The perfect pair.

Sometimes I think that maybe I'm the sock that didn't make it out of the dryer.

But as for Auto-Fail? The happiest I've been is when it was on the fritz. Maybe I can handle the mandals.

But the halitosis is non-negotiable.