Sometimes it strikes me as useful to feel shocked that I'm single. I'm so attractive, I like to assure myself. My skin is so soft. Once, with a straight face, I insisted to my parents that all my romantic troubles stem from the fact that I'm just so likable.
Needless to say, a person -- even a rather narcissistic person -- can only sustain this mode of thought for so long.
At which point, I turn to an alternative coping mechanism: feeling shocked that anyone isn't single.
Seriously, though: does it not seem miraculous that things ever work out?
And I'm not even talking about 20 to 50-year marriages. I'm not even talking about relationships that last six months to a year.
I'm talking about two people, both single, somehow meeting and feeling a simultaneous attraction, who are able to recognize that mutual interest and maintain it beyond two dates.
Can someone please explain: how does that happen?
Because right now, I can only think of a lot of reasons why it shouldn't. A sampling:
1) It is impossible to communicate through text message.
The other day I consulted a friend about whether to send a text or call a guy I wanted to make plans with. "Text," he instantly demanded. "These days calling is, like, confrontational." Sad, but true. Which, in short, means we are trapped in a world where the dominant mode of communication makes it impossible to understand feelings. I mean, when was the last time you really understood what someone was trying to say via text? (Not counting those that end: "Love, Mom.") Which, in turn, means one can no longer discern whether a guy wants to date you or, like many 20-something men who moonlight as insufferable preteen girls, is just very enthusiastic about dashes and semicolons.
2) You only ever meet people when you aren't around.
Recently, after not being asked out for an entire season, I experienced a sudden burst of male attention: as we all know, when it rains, it pours. But the corollary to that scenario is that I was also about to leave the region for close to four weeks. Proving: men only find you attractive when you're a) dating someone else or b) in a securely separate time zone. By the time I get back home, I'm fairly sure that all the guys who were into me before I left will have found girlfriends or STDs or, at the very least, new phone numbers. Or maybe not. I can't be sure. I can be sure, though, that none of this will be clearly communicated via text.
3) Dating is unpleasant.
The other day I heard an anecdote about a woman who decided to, essentially, turbo date: she went on three dating websites, slept with something like a dozen men, and at the end of her three week experiment had her field narrowed down to two. "Maybe we should try that!" I told a friend, neither of us sure how much I was joking. "Yeah," she replied. "It's just that I hate dating. Can't guys just, like, come to my door?" It's a really important question. (Note: this conversation took place curled up on her couch, drinking red wine and watching Louie. But, for the record, the night before we had spent 45 solid minutes dancing at a reggae bar called "Paddy Paddy Boom Boom." The results of these two evenings are entirely indistinguishable.) Also: dating = not fun.
4) Biological clocks: Unreasonable.
Has anyone written about this concept before? No? Great: let me be the first. If I weren't a woman with ovaries set to expire in 2017, I would be perfectly happy to sit around, watch comedic sitcoms and periodically "stir the pot" with my narrow, white girl hips at especially diverse dance clubs, waiting for a tall stud with moderate rhythm and the good sense to adore me to come along. Oh wait, that is what I'm doing. Well, if not for those ovaries, I could do it without the guilt. Which, I imagine, is what men get to do. Unfair.
5) Men have an approximately two month window of marriagability.
"It's going to get better, right?" another girlfriend asked me recently. "Sure," I told her. "I mean, at some point guys our age will have to get more mature. But by then they'll have baggage." Which brings me to this particularly elusive problem: there is a very narrow window of time between the point at which men arrive at the requisite emotional stability to have relationships, and the point at which they get side tackled by one of those mysterious, often terrifying creatures I like to call Women Who Always Have Boyfriends. Post-tackle and subsequent two-to-ten year relationship/marriage, they emerge with nothing short of children, high rates of irritability, and something akin to PTSD. I am still working to pin down exactly when this window occurs, but at the moment I'm convinced it takes place some time between the ages of 28 and a half and 28 and three quarters. (I arrived at this number via a complex mathematical equation deriving principally from two facts: one, I am 28. Two, my mantra for 2012 is: Be Positive.) Point being: this year, don't forgo the strength training.