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Odd Man Out

By Tom ďLothario for dummiesĒ Waters
March 1st, 2003

Just look at Larry King. Heís been married 85 times and if someone can look at his crocodile face and find love, Iím sure that someone out there can have the genuine courtesy to do the same to me.

Romantic dating in your mid-20s is like a visit to the proctologist: Itís painful, humiliating, and very necessary. Itís a tough old world out there, competition is thick, and most women my age have more baggage than a Prada garage sale. I havenít gotten around to settling down yet. I donít know if I ever will. Iím not entirely against the whole idea anymore, though, and Iíll be damned if I can figure out when this shift in thinking occurred. Most of us who are still single after the age of, say, 25, have tremendous issues. Or weíre just plain awful at dating. Pull up a chair, wonít you? Letís grab a table for two to this melancholy disaster.

Kids or no kids? Iíve dated people with kids before and itís difficult. As a matter of fact, itís psychologically scarring. Of the two women Iíve seen, I missed the kid more than I did the girl after we broke up. Youíve got to watch out for that kind of predator. Some women are hunting in full camouflage gear looking to bag a five point man of the house. Thatís not me. Donít call me daddy, princess. Iíd prefer to have my own children and not have to deal with esteem issues and so on. And I would like to have children...sometime. Whenever I stop being one myself. Or, if that never happens, whenever I can afford one. If all else fails, Iíll have kids around forty.

I never thought Iíd reach a time and place where I found 30 year olds attractive. But maturity enters the picture eventually. Iíve done the 19 and 21 year old thing. It never lasts. Itís a lot of fun while it does but itís a bad idea. Iíll get back to them when Iím cleaned out from a divorce, nurturing a bald spot, and actually going to routine proctology check-ups around the age of fifty. 19 year olds seem like babies to me. Theyíre too young and innocent to foul up with all my bad craziness. Not to mention the fact that a woman of that age would probably kill a man of my constitution. I donít have the energy to keep up with a wild force of nature like that. Not without a vigorous nap and a cup of coffee first.

Plus thereís the sad truth that a lot of women out there are still around due to the fact that theyíre stark raving mad. I picked a beautiful redhead up for a date once and she was shit-faced drinking cranberry juice and vodka before we even left for the bar. That should have been a big blinking warning sign to the subconscious, but I went ahead with the relationship anyway because Iím fond of seeing a good train wreck from time to time. I dated another woman of 40 who was in pharmaceutical sales or some nonsense who picked me up at a bar once. It was fun while it lasted. And even another who was so good looking that I tried to look past the fact that she was totally wrong upstairs. I attract the fun ones.

And a lot of us are just awful at dating. Iíve never had much experience with it, really. The majority of my relationships were longstanding friendships or cataclysmic and sudden trysts. The courting process is almost completely alien to me. I know how to open a door or pull up a chair or offer up a rose to a woman, but the rest of it, the subtleties, the novelties, the sheer finesse of it....Iím a stranger in a strange land. Grown up dating is an animal of a different color. A quick trip to the movies and a fast grope in a car are a thing of the past. Going to a kegger in the woods and rolling around in some brambles...no more. There are meals and concerts and picnics. There are walks and poems and long phone calls about religion and politics. I have a romantic side, donít get me wrong. I just do my best to strangle the life out of it before it gets too headstrong.

The patience is the tough part. If Iím interested in someone, every day is like Christmas. Iíll pine away to cheesy old love songs and bounce around with a spring in my step penning fifteen page sonnets and trying to form the perfect picture of the intended in my head dreaming of blissful scenarios. I can barely contain myself. This is all well and good sometimes, but never acceptable all the time. Women my age canít handle that sort of thing. Most people arenít in the mood for that intensity. Women my age want consistency. Stability. Financial largesse. And I suppose I can see their point. The stars that shine brightest donít last that long, or something like that. I never seem to make it to the stage where things are cozy and established and regular. And thatís sort of sad.

All of my relationships (if you can call them that) for the last five years have rarely made it past the month mark. Itís a curse. A voodoo hex. I always find a way to botch the whole arrangement and gum up the works. I have impossibly high standards for friends and loved ones but what it really comes down to is this: I want someone to do the crossword puzzle with me on a Sunday afternoon. I donít even care much for crosswords, but that image has stuck with me for ages. I want someone to look after me when Iím sick. I want someone who stays the night even when they have to work the next day. I want someone who understands my high tides and low tides. Someone who gets that Iím distant and introverted six months out of the year and so outspoken and sociable the rest of the time that I can draw an entire roomful of people together and put them in stitches. Itís a lot to ask. Which is probably why Iím still alone.

I never thought Iíd reach an age where I started checking for wedding rings before I decided to be interested in a person. The bar scene gets tired. I donít go to church and I donít take courses at university. I work around a bunch of guys and cater to a bunch of guys. I went on my first date in two years last week and it felt good. Rusty, but good. Iím sick of hanging out with my friends and their significant others. It sucks going out to social functions and having the distinct feeling that people are going out of their way to keep you from feeling like youíre a third wheel. Going over to peopleís houses and getting to be friends with their kids. Iíd rather not be the funny uncle down the road. Some days I feel like walking around with a t-shirt that says Ďunattachedí. Thereís a big difference between that and single.

Iíve got a childish streak a mile wide. I watch Batman cartoons and read comics and play video games and Iím almost thirty. I get drunk with the guys two days a week and get loud and boisterous. I have a designated desk drawer for my butterfly yo-yo. And I will never lower my standards. Thereís someone, or some one(s) out there for everyone. Just look at Larry King. Heís been married 85 times and if someone can look at his crocodile face and find love, Iím sure that someone out there can have the genuine courtesy to do the same to me. Thereís somebody out there. I just may have to hire a private detective to find her, is all.


 

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