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Single Man – Dating in the 21st century …..

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Welcome to your life. We’ve packed your bags, given you an overview in how things work, and now it’s time to fly. Kicked out of the passenger side door going 60mph, nobody said it was going to be easy. We spend our entire youth gathering information, creating opinions, morals, standards of living, and now we set out on our own to create a life that seems full and/or worthwhile.

For many of us, this involves finding a companion– or at least a good shag for the weekends. This is where dating comes in and where even the most brilliant and confident of us have been known to get a little confused once in a while. Let’s not kid ourselves, sometimes we get down right lost.

Over the years I have met a lot of women. I have fallen in love, tripped on lust, drowned in infatuation, and endured heartbreak to various extents. I have bought coffees, drank expensive wines, strolled in parks and lounged on beaches and yet still no conclusive answer. They range from blonde to brunette, and sometimes neon pink; they come from all walks of life: no dad, scary dad, artist, English student, and jock. I have been sweet, I have been cold, I have acted enthusiastic, and I have waited a week to call when I wanted to see them tomorrow. This is a glimpse into my life and many: the wild ride of love and lust, the journey to the center of the earth, or was that just a banana in your pocket? How do we get dates, how do we keep them, and how do we survive the whole process should it not work out the first time around?

There is no right answer and if there was, it’s been long forgotten. Dating isn’t as simple as mom and dad meeting at the ice cream shop anymore. People have cell phones, texting mixed with video, twitters and Facebook. Welcome to a world of multi faceted communication, e-mails with about as much emotion as a happy face can create

“Last night was fun…” What is that suppose to mean…?
“Last night was fun :)” BINGO! She loves me!

I don’t lose touch with people anymore; the internet has made damn sure about that. Looking down my Facebook friends list you can find my high school sweetheart, my overseas girlfriend, and everything else in between. I go out to a party on a Friday night, schmooze, dance and giggle. I check my e-mail the next day while drinking cold coffee. “2 new friend requests” blinks wildly on my screen. It seems the pretty girl who works at the library has found me through a friend of a friend of mine… not so bad. The scary, dark-haired chick who called me Marky Mark all night has also found me “not so great”. Accept, deny, then time to have a smoke and reflect on this new turn of events.

Do I Facebook her or do I text her? I guess I could phone her, but who does that nowadays? I want to seem interested, but not too interested. I thought she was the one but it turned out to be the girl behind her. If I’m lucky I’ll find my future ex-wife today. I daydream about what our children would look like. I flip my cell phone open and decide to give her a phone call, not the day after, not a week after, but somewhere in between, I think that’s when your suppose to do it, right? The phone rings, and rings, and finally an answering machine picks up. Things are suddenly nerve-racking, and I hear myself leaving the dumbest message ever– I can’t stop the words from floating out of my mouth.

“Um, Hi. This is uh, Marc…boy has it been hot out lately? I had fun meeting you the other day. I was thinking we should get together sometime for coffee or a drink…give me a call and we’ll arrange something, or I guess I could call you back if I don’t hear from you just to make sure, I mean it’s not like…”, (this is where the machine cuts me off).

I press the # button, listen to my message, laugh at the miserable person humming and hawing on the other line, think better of it, and delete the message. She’ll see that I called her through call display, and in turn, that will be much better than any dumb old message. An hour later she texts me and I sigh with excitement, maybe she does like me!

We text back and forth, and I get arthritis in my thumbs. After an hour and a half and a total of 6 messages, we’ve set up a date for next weekend. I feel relieved, and maybe a little nervous… but mostly relieved. It’s amazing how good it feels to have a hot new prospect, and a world of endless possibilities leaks a thread of light across my nose. I tell my friends the story, and they commend me for my tact and wit.

The week passes slowly, and finally the big day is here. We meet up for a coffee, we smile at each other, act awkward, laugh to compensate, and repeat. By the end of the walk the vibe in the air is good, I hug her goodbye and propose another meeting sometime soon. She agrees, then leaves and now another game starts. So many questions left with nothing but moments to obsess over them. When should I call her again? Was she sincere? I think I really like this girl, which means I have to pretend I don’t because everyone knows girls are attracted to guys who don’t like them. I stare at my bedroom ceiling; another game of trick or treat, love and lust, and I go to bed.

Getting girls in high school was different–life just gets more complicated as you get older. What are my intentions and what are hers? I know what I like now and so does she, do we fit the bill together? While younger people tend to be naïve, older people seem to have more baggage. The week carries on like usual and I get my second date on a Friday night. Cocktails mixed with live music, we share a pizza the size of my fist and drink nine-dollar Strongbows. The night seems to be going where I want it to. I catch her smiling at me from the corner of my eye. Even with solid approval I stand there with a strange stage-fright, down goes another beer. I’d really like to kiss this girl by the end of the evening.

The music hits my eardrums like a slow trickling river of smiles, dancing with a dumb grin on my face I see the perfect moment to snag a smooch but hesitate into obscurity. Time passes, drinking clouds my mind, and eventually I find myself at her place. More questions, less answers: the clock is ticking. I’ve wasted all my perfect moments and I’m left with nothing but a handful of desperate actions. Moments before we pass out I close my eyes and leap headfirst, a first kiss two minutes before bed isn’t exactly romantic, but it seemed a good as time as any. We smooch, we sleep, and I wake up at 8:30 to the lovely smell of awkward. We exchange formalities, she says she’s busy all week and then we part ways.

Some say dating is easy, I would have to disagree. Sometimes it feels like I’m climbing a mountain into eternity, the quest for knowledge where no one solution prevails. It’s like speaking French in Japan, reading the dictionary in the dark or singing opera with peanut butter stuck on the roof of your mouth. I’m fortunate enough to have the frequent opportunity to spend evenings with new women and still I remain as confused as the rest. My advice for all those in my shoes is to never quit trying. Each person you meet has a valuable lesson to teach you, no matter the outcome. Keep healthy thus sexy, stay positive, and try to break out of your box once in a while. Hang out with new people, try new things, and learn to shut up about your bug collection around new leads.

Although difficult, I wouldn’t go as far as to say impossible. Get out there and write your own embarrassing story. After all, it’s in the doing that we take advantage of this amazing life we’ve been given. Better to have spent a nice evening with a girl and botch it then brag about one’s high score on Xbox Live. Get out there and live.

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