There are a lot of memoirs out there about dating, but few of them are by men, which is what made "Available: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Hookups, Love, and Brunch" by Matteson Perry feel so fresh. I recently interviewed Perry during his appearance on my podcast Story Worthy and his story, taken from a chapter of his book, was so funny, I couldn't wait to read the rest of the book. It did not disappoint.
After being dumped by his live in girlfriend at age thirty, Perry decided it was time to change the way he dated. For all of his adult life he'd been a serial monogamist, going from serious relationship to serious relationship, so he made a pact with himself to stay single for a year. This plan does not mean celibacy however. Though Perry's not looking to be a Pick Up Artist or have a string of one night stands, he does want to try casual dating for the first time in his life.
This of course means internet datings. While this makes many of us shudder with fear, the unique thing about this book is it's not a string of bad date stories. Instead of relying on "What a Crazy Date!" tales, Perry finds humor in modern dating and uses each date scenario to show something he learns. The narrative never veers into misogyny - an inherent risk when a man writes about dating - because the author mostly focuses on his own mistakes and short comings.
One of the funniest chapters sees Perry, a performer, goes out with an audience member from one of his shows (his minor version of a "groupie.") Perry is totally unprepared to deal with a "sure thing" stranger who already likes him while he's still figuring out who she is. In the end he breaks it off, failing to do the one thing you're supposed to do with a Groupie (have sex).
Another great chapter describes Perry finally getting a date with a high school crush he never had the courage to ask out back then. The first half of the chapter is a hilarious tale of teenage Perry's ineptitude with girls. At a party, Perry is unable to make a move on a girl despite multiple signs of interest (including her sitting on his lap in a hot tub for an hour) and she ends up going out with the asshole jock. Years later, during his single year, he gets a second chance when he gets in touch over Facebook. Though Perry feels confident, having been dating successfully for several months, he finds being the presence of the "prettiest girl in school" once again makes him feel his puberty has reversed and he's once again the tiny, shy, hairless boy he was as a teen, frozen with fear, terrified to make a move.
As the book progresses, Perry's skills at dating improve and we see him go from being a somewhat shy guy who'd always had a girlfriend, to a bold dater seemingly prepared for any type of woman. But of course, success can have consequences and the "Nice Guy" finds himself not being so nice from time to time. Thankfully, Perry's keen sense of himself never waivers, and he catches himself before he falls into full douche-mode. I won't spoil what happens in the end, but fans of romantic comedy won't be disappointed with how this tale wraps up for our hero.
As a recently divorced person who has dabbled in internet dating, I found this book to be a great look into the mysterious realm known as the mind of the single man. Seeing how Perry processed his singlehood helped me realize how much timing and state of mind have to do with how well a date goes. It's easy to blame ourselves when a date goes wrong - he didn't like ME; I wasn't good enough; He's got a date with someone BETTER lined up - but reading this book made me see that if a guy doesn't call me back or ask me out again, it might not have to do with his feelings towards me. Who would have thought that "It's not you, it's me," could actually be true? But that's a constant refrain in Perry's book - he finds few of his dates insufficient, he's just not looking for a relationship.
Though Perry's maturation and insight into the male mind made the reading compelling, most of all I recommend this book because it was really funny. The quick read had me laughing out loud all the way through. Combine that with a happy ending and you've got just what you want for a summer read.
Listen to Matteson talk about "Available: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Hookups, Love, and Brunch"" on my show, Story Worthy, Monday June 27th- www.storyworthypodcast.com