Part 1 In A Series About A Lazy, Divorced Male Forced To Leave His Neighborhood In Search Of True Love
After my marriage ended I did what most sensible men do. I neglected my basic hygiene, watched a lot of "Judge Judy," and drank Vodka alphabetically by brand name. But after awhile I thought it was time to get serious and find a woman who might compel me to shave, shower, and stop watching a daytime court show to learn about the judicial system. But I'm a writer and work from home so smart, witty, adorable women weren't dropping by my apartment unannounced to meet me. So I joined the world of online dating. I wrote a pithy profile, took a decent picture of myself, whipped out my credit card and hit "enter." I sought someone smart, cute and funny. But I also had one more unique requirement--my someone special needed to live within a one mile radius of my Boerum Hill, Brooklyn apartment.
Yes I know this was extreme. But I was both practical and romantic. Sure it would be great to leave my apartment at 7:55 for an 8 PM date but I also saw it as the ultimate connection. We'd mock our friends who still chose to live in Manhattan, bond over the outrage at the insidiously high price of milk at our local bodega, and debate which subway line was the closest.
In truth: I was lazy. The tail end my marriage had gotten hard--like working on a chain gang hard. I had put so much effort into saving that thing I really wanted the next go-around to be positively effortless. And while I didn't think finding love would be as easy as sitting on my front stoop, I really wanted to find love by sitting on my front stoop.
My in-box came apart at the seams. I was excited for the first time in more than a year. This was going to be great! There seemed to be no shortage of available, initially appealing women mere blocks away. But there were unintended consequences when it didn't work out. I'd awkwardly run into past dates at the dry cleaners, the post office, or where I'd get my haircut. After a month or so of some pretty serious dating, I'd surmised that I'd been out with every available girl around. So reluctantly I changed my parameters to: "within a 5 mile radius of my home." Perhaps love might be if not on my block, then at least one or two 'hoods over. Round two wouldn't be within walking distance but I owned a bicycle and at the very least I'd get a good cardiovascular workout.
My extra effort didn't pay off so well. I biked to a girl in Prospect Heights--a former defense attorney turned law school professor where every conversation turned into a cross-examination. There was the sign language interpreter/professional poker player in Brooklyn Heights who was (as she described it) "sexually adventuresome." On our first date she asked me what my "safe word" was. "Disinterested," I replied as we split the check. Suddenly, I'd exhausted South Brooklyn. The idea of dating three of four zip codes away frightened me.
But my newly divorced friend David had found love with Jessica and they'd managed to make it work despite the time change of his Tribeca and her Washington Heights. One night at dinner Jessica casually suggested: "There're other boroughs besides Brooklyn." So I changed my parameters to: "within a 10 mile radius." Gone were the walks and bike rides to my dates. I bought an unlimited Metro Card.
My romantic search brought me to an actress in Hells Kitchen, a journalist on the Upper West Side, and a paralegal in Spanish Harlem. But love didn't come in those neighborhoods either. When David and Jessica got married, I'd lost the only single, male friend left I could bitterly complain to. Believe me I wanted to stop my search but couldn't quite bring myself to do it. I'd felt quitting would be giving up and love doesn't come when you give up. She's gotta be somewhere, doesn't she?
So I had changed my parameters yet again to: "within 20 miles" which included a middle school teacher in the Bronx, a dog walker/masseuse in Queens and a professional tutor on the Lower East Side. Whatever happened to that fantastic ratio of single women to single men I'd been hearing everyone talk about? Was having to cross a body of water to find love really worth all this disappointment?
I had heard my entire life that a woman would be the missing piece to the puzzle. That love made all things good and all good things had to be earned through hard work and dating certainly was hard work. I became obsessed with the search. I wasn't writing. I avoided my friends. I stopped going to parties for fear I'd be the only single person in attendance. The idea of being around happy couples made me anxious that everyone in the room was thinking, "what's wrong with him?" Maybe love wasn't in the cards for me? Sensing my frustration Jessica didn't (as I wished she would have) talk me out of continuing to look for love but suggested that I work even harder at it. So I logged on and changed my parameters "to within 50 miles." Then I bought an EZ Pass.
There was a yoga teacher in Westchester, an insurance adjuster in Stamford, Connecticut, a divorced mother of two in Teaneck, New Jersey, a school teacher in Rosslyn, a hairdresser in Washingtonville. I'd been looking so long, so hard, so far, racking up so many miles on my car in the process. The more I dated the more angry, bitter, and disillusioned I became. I felt like a big ole' steaming pile of failure. So little fun was I to be around that my friends started to avoid me knowing what the tenor of the conversation would be. And who could blame them? When the real estate agent in Dobbs Ferry told me I had a desperate aura about me she was right. And so on the drive down the Saw Mill River Parkway later that night I decided to pull the plug on this thing. The next morning I logged onto all of my online dating accounts---cleared my inbox, deleted my profile, and canceled my memberships. So what if this is it. Now I can stop looking around every corner, borough and municipality for love. Perhaps I'd be happier. Perhaps more at peace with myself. Perhaps I'd have more discretionary income for things like rent and bills. Judge Judy's new season was about to begin. Is she single? I called all my friends and told them I was through driving myself crazy to find what didn't seem to exist anyway. The collective sigh of relief was deafening. Then life happened.
To be continued...