Mary Minerman knows that dating can be hard work, so why not help lighten the load with some humor?
Minerman, a former teacher at Top of the World elementary school, will be discussing her new book, "The Spinster's Guide to Dating," from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Laguna Beach Books.
Eight years in the making, Minerman collected tidbits from her own experience of online and "regular" dating, along with friends' input.
"I think I have found in difficult situations that the best way to deal with it is finding the funny parts and connecting with other people," she said. "That was my main goal."
Using a mixture of short anecdotes and illustrations, which she drew herself, Minerman hopes that the book may bring a smile to those who are trying to find a partner — and perhaps ease the transition along with the way.
"I think a lot of people as they get older in real life think that they're maybe not going to find someone — or haven't found someone — and there's a real sadness that comes along with that," she said. "So the main goal of my book was to just make people laugh."
Minerman taught second and third graders for 25 years, so she leans toward polite, believing that not much is gained through harsh stereotypes.
"Having been a teacher for so long, I avoid stereotypes like crazy," she said. "For every person who would fit into that stereotype, probably half my friends would not and I would hear about it later."
Nonetheless, it would be rude not to point out obvious, recurring patterns of behavior.
"I do compare one of the local 'meat' markets to the African Serengeti and the mating rituals, and it kind of fit pretty well," she said.
For example, she admits to noticing that some men obsess over looks, giving this synopsis from the book.
"A woman is set up by her friend on a date. Her potential suitor is very insistent about seeing a picture of her. She says she has no problem providing the photograph. She will even send a picture of herself clad in her tiniest most revealing bikini…so long as she can have copies of his three most recent bank statements."
She makes other observations about how times have changed, especially with the advent of social media selfies, chronic lifestyle posts and increasing pressure to raise the bar.
"Halloween costumes have changed a great deal over the last couple decades" she said. "In the past, a cat costume was a cat costume. Now, it is a sexy cat costume. A witch is no longer a witch, she's a sexy witch. And a pumpkin is no longer a pumpkin. It's a sexy pumpkin."
Other sections in the book include: dating in the OC; online dating; hypocrisy in dating and red flags.
"Sometimes if you've been out there for a long time, everything looks like a red flag to you," she said, wryly.
It's these little asides that make the book easy to identify with for readers.
"Nobody is more vulnerable or more goofy than when they're dating," she said.
For Minerman, she learned during the dating process that friendships can be just as beneficial.
"I think a lot of importance is placed on finding the one, that special someone, and I think a lot of times maybe people don't realize that they already have a bunch of special someones that are their friends that you need to value too," she said.
Despite it all, it's best to keep your chin up and smile.
"The main goal was to connect people with humor and heart," she said.
When asked what is better, online dating or meeting someone in the proverbial produce aisle, she said, "whatever works."
"I can't pretend that I have great knowledge about this. I can just tell you what I thought was funny."