SINGLEHOOD

SINGLEHOOD

Robbing From The Rich and Giving To The Pathetic

Curled up with a good book lately? Fallen asleep on the couch alone while watching yet another black and white Spencer Tracy movie? How many of us even remember the old movies? Weren’t they just great? The guy or girl would get lucky and you’d wish you were them, if even for a moment? Perhaps the hero galloped off into the sunset with the raven-haired beauty by his side?

Or maybe he saved the day, snuggled up to the bar, and poured himself a victory celebration?

Well, those days, when the single-life was the in-thing to have, and late nights, when private-intimate parties, resulting in hangovers in the Jacuzzi were the rage? Well… they’re over! Today, it’s a totally different story. This isn’t your father’s Dating Game. Today is something more like a scientific experiment gone horribly awry, than an art to be mastered.

Here are the new rules to Being Single:

For the most part, everyone starts out with the same control conditions. Young, single, ready to mingle, and hot for some action are all you need to be a success at dating in the New Millennium… that is, if you’re under thirty. But once you cross “The Line” everything changes.

Everyone becomes a pariah. Friends you once dropped in on unannounced, now require a 30-minute phone call so not to wake the baby. You suddenly become “The Single Friend” without a date and excluded from the couples-thing. Or you spend time with your married friends and their kids and wonder what are you doing wrong? What’s the missing ingredient?

Just as in a science experiment, survival of the fittest prevails. The bottom feeders are weak and the dominant of the species demonstrate their prowess in typical ways. Some do it by getting the sexiest women with the best figures and the lowest IQs, others by wearing the hottest new fashions. The controls are demonstrated time and time again with incredible consistency.

RULE: Don’t tell anyone your real story. Make it up. Make it big. Make it so believable that even you buy into it. Rehearse it in your mind so that if someone asks you a question, you have the answer ready without looking stupid and blowing your credibility.

“I’m brain surgeon by day, and by night, I write, produce, and direct. I have an overall-first look-holding-development at Liar Studios on Pico. Oh, you don’t know them? They’re an up and comer.”

RULE: In order to be successfully single in today’s dating marketplace, you have to lie, if even a little. Remember what you tell people. Remember who you tell what. Remember when you said it. People compare notes.

I have a friend Marc. We grew up together. Marc has a college friend Andy. Andy is the Patron Saint of All Players. He’s so good that he makes it seem second nature. It also helps that he’s great looking, has plenty of dough, and can pull it off. Why is Andy successful at Playing?

Because he keeps throwing it out. He constantly casts his lines, and when he feels a tug in any direction, he reels in the catch. If she’s too small, he throws her back. If she’s too picky, he’ll let her flop around before he cuts her loose. But in all these years, I’ve never seen Andy give up. Not once. He eats rejection like his dates eat diet pills.

THE LAST RULE:

Never quit. It’s like playing craps at the tables in Vegas or Atlantic City. It’s a numbers game. Get the number. Get As many numbers as you can. Never give up. She has to be out there somewhere. As horrible as it is to be looking, it’s more horrible to be single, alone, and — you.

Feeding time resembles a constant swirling motion. It’s a persistent evasion of stillness. Stand still and you may as well be dead. Stop the action, and you may as well go home and turn on the late night talk shows. By the way, who’s Fallon’s guest tonight? Oh, it doesn’t really matter. Most nights I prefer Colbert.

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It’s okay to be seen in motion. If you’re somewhere else every time someone notices you, you’re assumed important. The fact that you’re everywhere, all the time can work to your advantage, as much as against you. If you were truly in such demand, you’d be in one place engaged in flirtatious, eyelash batting, light banter.

Keep looking. Look like you’re active, even if you’re not. Look like you have something they want, even if you don’t. Do whatever it takes to focus attention on you and away from another bull. If necessary, lock horns and rebuff him from your prey.

Want another way to look at it? It’s like an atom. Everyone swirls around each other hoping to make some lasting contact. Eyeballs dart left and right. Hair tosses superficially over the shoulder, eyes squint, chortles bounce like ping-pong balls back and forth from one conversation to another, and still, the dance continues.

Eye contact is maintained, until something shinier, more appealing, and yes… better, enters the peripheral field. They want to connect with someone, anyone, but whom?

The Singles Game is not for the light hearted. I tell my married friends thinking foolishly of ending a good thing, “Stay away from the light!” It’s shiny and glitters from afar, but up close in person, when you’re in it day after day, and night after night, the Single Life gets old real fast, and so do we.

It’s not for the weak-kneed. It’s for those that are willing to play the game until its ultimate conclusion. Everyone is out for something, but no one is exactly sure of what. It’s a constant sales pitch to an ever-changing clientele. “Other people who have bought this line also liked my dazzlingly white teeth.”

What do they want? Is it the lasting romantic, monogamous relationship, so rarely seen in the big cities that it is jokingly referred to as Sasquatch? Is it the elusive family dynamic we knew in the 1950s, with two parents, two-point-five kids, and a station wagon filled with groceries? Who is to say?

It’s like taking the SATs. You can’t afford to spend too much time on any one equation. “Can I spend the rest of my life with this person? How about the rest of the conversation?” I wonder as she drones on about how her cat ate an entire tennis shoe while she was wearing it? Then she mentions something about her mother and a diaper. I politely move onto the next prospect.

“Well, this one’s nice”, I’m thinking, but she’s been married. Next!

“Hey, she’s cute, and she has a good job! Ooh, she thinks I’m funny! Look, she even bats her eyelashes when she’s done laughing. That’s cute. I like it. But what’s that I see? Yes, I think it’s a light mustache and maybe chin fuzz. NEXT!

This one seems like a possibility, but she smokes.

Listen for keyword give-a-ways. Things like twelve-step program, it was a big mistake, and my friend told me to, but I didn’t listen, are just a few examples of nightmares waiting to unfold. The one I let slip by was the casual dropping of the mention of her parole officer. Talk about lights and sirens on the first kiss?

Find out the necessary details early. Is she into exercise? Does she like the left side of the bed or the right? Is she a Garrison Keeler fan? “Who?” Next!

Has she traveled? Does she want to have children? Can she have children? Does she ask simple questions, or does she scream at the top of her lungs like she’s doing now to be heard over the crowd?

There’s my friend Ken. I don’t know his last name, but he’s a friend. He’s in data entry. He is at every event, party, charity function, and singles gathering I have been to. He’s a character. Sort of what you’d get if Weird Al Yankovic and Kramer had a child.

He knows everyone, yet boasts he’s never gone on a date with anyone he’s met at one of these things and then reminds me that he’s been coming to them for over ten years. If he were a dog, I think he’d be a basset hound. If he were a dog, we’d put him down out of sympathy.

I guess it’s the thrill of the hunt for him. For me, it’s the kill, and savoring the flavor of victory.

Hey, there’s Tina. She’s an old friend. I met her at a concert in ’05. We dated twice, until I realized I couldn’t stand her. So now we’re telephone friends. She used to spend hours venting the angst that is Tina, then abruptly hang up as though I were her therapist. But I put a stop to that.

So now I impose the 2 minute rule whenever we speak. If she goes on about something for more than two minutes, I hang up and we can’t speak for three days. By then she’s forgotten why she was ranting.

In my mind I think it gives her time to compose her issues, but in reality, it just gives her time to think of new things to complain about.

We talk on the phone and she tells me how she can’t find a decent guy. But if a guy goes out with Tina, he should plan on dropping a hundred or so on dinner, then an evening at the theater, followed by desert at Spago’s or late night drinks at The Ivey, and of course, flowers. They’d better be red roses, or you’ll hear about it all night.

“I like roses,” declares Tina. “Roses say that you like me. Tulips are good. They’re pretty and they smell ok, but roses are what a real lady wants to receive when she goes out with a fella.”

Fella? Who does she think she is? Judy Garland? Tina is no Judy Garland! Toto maybe, but Judy Garland, definitely not!

She continues: “You like me don’t you? I mean we’re having a nice time and all. Even though you don’t say much.”

How can I? You won’t stop talking about yourself long enough for my lips to parse.

Tina continues: “I think I like you. Of course, I don’t really know you yet. I mean that could take some time.” I sit there and I wonder, “How many words does this person know?”

But all this still doesn’t mean you’ll get anywhere at the end of the night. Tina doesn’t put out. And she can’t figure out why men don’t call back. My guess is that they’re out of money and can’t find a quarter to spend on the call after dropping a couple of hundred dollars on the Queen.

Rhonda Schwartz. She’s sweet. She’s been on the Single’s Circuit even before me. I can’t figure out why she’s not married? She seems so ‘marry-able.’

There’s Eileen. I’m convinced she’s crazy. I’m not just saying that. If I see her with a cake knife at a party, I must intervene. I’m not joking. I really mean I think she’s certifiable! The first time I met her in the first five minutes, she was confiding in me things that I don’t even know about people I’ve known for thirty years. She talks five thousand words per minute and it is exhausting to listen to her.

The irony is, she’s really nice — even pretty. But she’s crazy. And if I want crazy, I’ll visit my parent’s house. Here I’m on the hunt.

There’s ‘Lynda with a Y’. Lynda is a confusing one. She’s older, but she’s the nicest person. Except that everything in her life is a tragedy. She can’t do anything to change her circumstances. I want to help, but I already have a fulltime job. She can only complain about how terrible people have been to her. It’s too bad. I really like her. But she eats up my prowling time.

And of course there are the faces you see over and over again that have no names. People you’ve met over the years but your entire relationship consist of exchanging insincere glances at the occasional swar’e.

You remember their face. You know you’ve met them, but you also remember not to engage even in light banter. They might say something and you’ll have to stand there and listen to them drone on, which is why you can’t remember who they are in the first place. It’s moments like this that conclusively proves that Charlie Brown’s teacher had siblings.

Hey, there’s Doug. He’s a player. I met him last week. He said he’s going to set me up with his sister. We’ll see.

There’s Steve. He’s a player, too. But Steve gets lots and lots of girls. In fact, I have seen him sweet talk a girl for hours, soften her up until she’s goo in his hands, and then, once he gets her number, he throws it away before he even leaves the bar. He’s a numbers guy.

He’s good looking, tall, has a great smile, and flashes around lots of money. I saw him in the courthouse last month filing a restraining order on one of the girls here. This could be a good party if the circumstances go right. He gets like twenty numbers a week, can’t remember who any of them are, and calls one of them and hopes she’s the pretty one he spoke to.

But what’s it all about? Why compete in this endless, mind-numbing, contest of ignominious ingénues, predators, and parasites? Because, eventually, if you play long enough, the odds dictate that you will win. Win what? Marriage. Theoretically, everybody will win, eventually … if you live long enough.

There are two basic reasons people stop showing up to these events.

1) They finally meet someone, though not likely through this process, or

2) They die. It’s like a fish bowl and you’re one of the fish. You wake up one day and your friend Flipper is missing. No one knows where he went, or what happened to him. So you assume he jumped through the round hole in the sky. Then one day he reappears with horrible stories of the other side of the glass.

In this ever increasing society of cell phones, email, faxes, digital cable, pictures transmitted over your wrist watch, and shuttle launches every few weeks, it is harder than ever to connect.

The most popular venue for dating today has become the online meet market known, the Internet.

I started dating just after the Internet was becoming a reality.

It’s about finding someone and attaining that ever elusive relationship that makes others go, “Awe!” The good news is there is hope. The good news and the truth is that there is always hope.

It’s funny. Dating in the Single World today is the only thing I can think of that the more you do it, the worse at it you become. It’s as though we dumb-down when we’re on the prowl.

Michael J. Herman is a professional writer and speaker, and the author of 14 books, including the million selling Becoming the Complete Champion: One Motivational Minute At a Time.