So here I am, 31 years old, separated, drowning in the stagnant waters of "single Toronto." This was not part of "the plan." Just over a year ago, at the end of one of our parties, my ex and I sucked back the last drops of wine and chuckled about how thankful we were that we weren't single like our friends. Guys' night out used to end with me crawling into bed beside my wife, feeling lucky I wasn't chasing the leftovers at last call. I'd sit on a sunny patio for hours, relaxed, consumed only by the frosty chill of my pint and the sexual deconstruction of my buddies' new girlfriends.
But just over a year later, I'm statistically normal and feeling anything but.
I find myself on the same sunny patio, but my buddies are now in relationships and I'm the odd man out. Uninterested in my chilly pint and their lack of sexual disclosure, which I'm guessing is cuz I think they're all afraid of me picturing their girlfriends naked, I search the tables around us. My gaze desperately darts around, tying to make eye contact with anyone of average beauty.
I am officially on the market.
So what is my market value now? Have I depreciated? Should I invest in high or low risk, "high" being a hot, horny, psycho girl and "low" being a stable, sweet, long-term businesswoman?
Do I attack the market alone or seek a broker?
Am I ready for the cumbersome, mood-killing ritual of wrestling with a condom again? Will I be like a fat kid pulling at a tightly sealed Joe Louis, with only seconds left of recess, when the moment comes?
Six pints and more than a few cigarettes - okay, a pack of cigarettes - later, I remember the words of my 26-year-old high school rowing coach who sat the team down one day and gave us the rules of dating.
1) Never put anything in writing.
2) Never tell anyone you love her, unless it seals the deal.
3) Always have a second girlfriend.
Come to think of it, I never saw him with a girlfriend. I guess those who can't teach.
I've watched Dr. Phil and Oprah enough to know that the answers lie inside. "The best indicator of future behaviour is past behavior." Fair enough. Past behaviour, eh? In college I racked up some impressive numbers, so all I need to do is connect with my former single self. I'll just sharpen my old tactics and make them current. I'll pop my collar,lean back and visit "the candy shop" and watch a little less BET.
Good in theory, bad in practice, since months later I'm still sitting in a pub with my buddies.
The bottom has fallen out of the market.
Months later, I've realized that it's very hard to meet new people, or any people at all, when all your friends are in relationships and work in the service industry. They work nights, so going out is a problem, and when we do, dark pubs full of women who need the darkness are their venues of choice.
If I'm really lucky, if they've had more than a few drinks and their girlfriends are with them, I might get to dance! But the "pickup" has become tacky in my buddies' girlfriends' eyes. I see them look at me, always judging.
At first they were supportive, even scoping out the hot girls for me. A few ladies later, they look at me like an enemy of all female kind, reminding them of guys in their past who didn't hang around. So now I'm not only single and have no female "wing persons," but I'm sleazy, too!
But isn't that what you're supposed to do?
I see you, you see me, we talk, dance, kiss, go back to my condo, you slip out of your clothes, I put on my Spider-Man pyjama's and we do things I'm going to tell my friends we did anyway.
On the way to the airport to drop off one of my buddies, I'm once again complaining about my dating situation. As if we were talking about a serious case of hemorrhoids, he tells me to try Internet dating. I'm skeptical, to say the least, and more than a little scared. I have a very high-profile career, and I don't know if I want secretaries across the city gawking at my headshots. He tells me to join a very popular site, stating, "Everyone is on it," and "Who cares that you're on a site - you're single!"
On the ride home, I hear my father's words: "Hang with a cripple, learn how to limp." Am I ready to learn to limp? Put myself out there in the abyss of cyberspace? What pictures will I use? What if no one writes me?
Later that day, I jump in head first, sitting at my laptop, uploading photos and writing my three profiles.
1) Dating: direct and confident.
2) Relationships: sweet and caring.
3) Intimate: sensual and passionate.
It reminded me of my first cigarette. After the first puff, I was hooked and smoked the whole pack.
Two days later, it's now my new addiction, like "dating crack." I'm main-lining e-mail's, snorting the sending and receiving of smiles, and jonesing for the search of new photos. The rush of getting attention from complete strangers makes me feel giddy like a schoolgirl.
Then, in the high of all this online foreplay, it happens. I have a date!