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“My name is Katy and I’m a zookeeper from Alabama” I say with my best southern drawl. Across from me was the thirteenth guy from Wall Street that I had already declared to be a douche. He leaned into the table ready with three minutes of questions before the bell would ring signaling that our date was over. The next guy sits down and I introduce myself as “Katy, the Gemologist from Egypt.” The next guy met “Katy, a Political Adviser for the Tea Party.” The girl sitting next to me couldn’t help but stifle a laugh after every introduction, as we had discussed and determined together that speed dating was the absolute worst. 50 dates in two hours had crept by and I had only circled three names. One of them I was sure was gay. He and I would later go on to be in a relationship for six months.
I have approached my journey for love as if it was a fifth grade science fair project. I have not ruled out any opportunity or venue as a possible meeting place. I have gathered intel from my friends on how they successfully snared in a mate. I have listened to the advice of my friends on how I’m doing it all wrong. Each guy has brought me a lesson, if I am in the mood to learn it. I throw a few variables into the mix in case my control group continues to strike out. I, by no means, have drawn out a conclusion but I have had a great time on singles cruises and meetups. My hypothesis has always been: try anything.
I recently read an article on how subcultures values are revealed by the first introductory questions asked when meeting a person for the first time. In the southern states of the U.S. it can be quite common to meet someone for the first time by saying “hello, how’s your mother?” In Northern California, one might jump to ask what someone does for a living. In NYC, people are immediately interested in what judgments can be made by the neighborhood they reside in. During my speed dating experience, I was able to test this theory. When I immediately opened with asking what people do for a living, these New Yorkers became slightly weary about what my intentions were. Asking New Yorkers “how’s your mother” threw the entire conversation into an immediate dose of awkward, which made it my favorite leading question. I also found that, although extremely entertaining to me, follow up questions requesting a complete list of their medications and police record were sure to send them into fits of nervous sweats across from me. With 50 first dates in three minutes or less, you can really try just about any approach. I found my favorite question was to ask them what they did on their last birthday. It was original, light-hearted and showed me what they value as a good time. When the question is flipped back on me, I watch their faces as I tell them about myself taking body shots off of a drag queen at a gay bar. This story has proven to be a valuable litmus test for whether this guy can hang or not
Through my experimentation, I have also found that I attract the most men when I’m in costume. Lucky for me, I’m often in costume. I was brandishing a rubber chicken while struggling to drink my wine wearing redneck joke buck teeth, when Bam!…guys are buying drinks. It’s possible they are attracted to the confidence I’m wearing, but I also have my suspicions that I am the freaks Pied Piper. Testing this theory even further, I decided to drag my friends out to a singles BINGO event in my neighborhood after attending the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. I was dressed up as Ursula from The Little Mermaid, but my makeup was inspired by the drag queen Divine. The bartender immediately took notice of our group as I gathered my tentacles to sit down. Scanning the room, we all came up short for any potential suitors, so I gave myself a weave-pat and focused my energy on the game. It wasn’t long before I noticed the severe case of side-eye that the moderator was giving my group. Within a few short moments, the mermaid at my table had drawn up a classic diagonal BINGO win. A table of boys next to us gave us a congratulatory high five as the moderator declared it to be a mistrial. What immediately transpired was a verbal altercation between the moderator, the mermaid and Ursula over the rules of BINGO. “BINGO can only be won if it is vertical and goes through the middle” she said as she stamped her feet. “In what country?” I would ask with a lifetime of refined sass technique. “Well, maybe if you guys weren’t so drunk, you would know the rules!” She had us there. We were drunk. Drunk and now riddled with injustice. Standing up for our rights as knowing and consenting BINGO participants led us to
leaving/being kicked out of the event. We had a series of high fives on our way to the bar as we shouted “Shenanigans!” several times. The night didn’t end as a bust, as a few of my friends actually met some cute guys as I put out a small fire caused by the s’mores kit on the bar. “It’s the costumes!!!” I say, pointing a stick with a burning marshmallow on the end of it at my friends. I squish the gooey mess into my prepared sandwich and mumble to myself “It’s always the costumes.”
A few weeks later, it was theme week for our Bocce Ball league. My team had chosen to dress up as characters from Clue. I was assigned to be Colonel Mustard with the wrench. As we got to the beer garden where we play our Bocce games, I noticed several people dressed up and wearing name tags. “Is this a reunion, or something?” I ask the closest person as my fake mustache drips beer on my chin. “No, its a Match.com event.” I immediately turned around and walked up to the table, grabbed a name tag and wrote “Colonel Mustard” on it. I made a quick pit stop by the table to eat some of their food before I zoomed in on my first targeted couple. “Excuse me, I’ve heard reports of illegal fire arms over here. Sir, I’m gonna need to see your guns!” I would stare at the man in the couple until he would show me his muscles, then I replied “Very well, carry on” and walked away only to repeat the very same dialogue to several other couples. I offered no explanation for my outfit or my line of questioning. I found my roommate, Miss Scarlett, roaming the party saying she was “looking for a rich man.” As we walked back to our Bocce game, we discussed the uncomfortable looks I was given when I rolled up on people holding a wrench in my hand. Not to stray from my theory, two different men told me that they loved my mustache and that I had a nice “cake”. One even offered to buy me a drink. For a point of clarification, these were straight men. I was dressed up… as a man.
I’m still working out the details of my dating thesis, but I have determined one route of meeting potential men as in desperate need of retirement…my online dating profiles. I found myself, as my friend KL calls it, “suffering a case of low standards” and I also found it distracting. I’m trying to go back to basics and meet people in person. Dating events and speed dating offer me to many opportunities to make trouble, but I won’t completely rule them out in the future if I happen upon one. The beauty of New York City is that most of my friends are in the same warped boat, each one of us encouraging the other not to throw in the towel. As I deleted each of my profiles, I said goodbye to the memories and failed romances. I lit my candles, initiated a seance and had a serious sit-down chat with my guardian angels, “In case there was any confusion, I have compiled a list of the qualities I’m looking for which I will read out loud now. Number 1: No weird body hair; Number 2: A touch of gay; Number 3: diplomatic immunity….”
New York City. The land of the quick fix. By the click of a mouse I can have cat litter, craft beer and my folded laundry be delivered to my apartment. Human contact has become optional, if you so choose. Within the hour I can have weed and pad Thai at my door. In that order, obviously. Applications can tell you the exact minute your train will arrive and exactly how many feet away your next sexual tryst is standing. Disputes are settled with instant access to Google and my bank checks are deposited by my camera. It’s a beautiful time to be lazy, indeed. It is also a beautiful time to be productive. I do all of my writing on my smart phone during my daily commutes as well as practice my foreign languages and learn new things through my beloved TED talks. Some of my friends have tried to sway me from using technology to meet men. “You don’t need it, you can find someone easily” they say. I argue that dating aps are just another tool I use, not exclusively, to meet people. Sure, I have met some creepers and crazies, but I’ve also had a lot of fun.
Today my employee was teasing me about my shoes. “You got a hot date?” I laughed as it is not uncommon for me to wear cute shoes to work. My nurse chimes in “you look so good these days, you must be in love!” The assumption that I am the type of person to be positively giddy in love made me laugh even harder. I caved and told them that I did, in fact, have a date tonight. “Oooh is it “Scorpio”? Is he cute?” People in my life sometimes forget that I long ago stopped being excited about dates, but their excitable faces made me satisfy them with “it’s a new guy and I can’t wait!”
I know I sound pessimistic, but I prefer to see myself as a realist. I am a career-driven 30-year-old who doesn’t count chickens before they hatch. If I base my life on my current working theory that I will keep dating until I find the “one”, my math says that I will have dozens of break-ups under my belt when that day comes along. Forecast for a potential break-up? Likely. I have not completely thrown in the towel, as I do put my best foot forward on every date and occasionally my heart melts a little revealing my abandoned romantic side. Unless someone really special comes along who is worthy of my monogamy, I typically do date multiple people at once. This way I keep my heart and expectations in check. I also have noticed that I wax and wane through dating phases. Sometimes, I want a real boyfriend. Other times, I participate in what I refer to as “expiration dating”.
“Expiration dating” is reserved for that hot guy from Barcelona who is in New York for the summer. My mind is in a completely different head space when we get together. We will never work out long term, but we can have a blast in the here and now. “Expiration dating” is reserved for the guy you really don’t like, but you got drunk and invited him to your cousins wedding. “Expiration dating” is for the summer flings, winter spooning partners and anything with a limited shelf life. I have dated many men solely on the prospect of a good story. I even dated a guy once because he crafted the best date scenario ever: a library date where we make pop-up books, eat apples, duct tape each other to rolling chairs and push each other down the aisles.
I caught myself fancying another “expiration date” the other day. Kendall and I were discussing a recent date with a man that I hated within the very first sentence I knew him. There was literally nothing redeeming about this guy. I had gone against my better judgement and agreed to a date with an “actor”. I have learned this lesson one to many times, but I went anyway. He met me at a nice-enough bar and said “you are four minutes early, you couldn’t wait to meet me, huh?” He then talked non-stop for two hours. He spent the first thirty minutes telling me about staring contests he had been in and won. The rest of the time was spent telling me about how his dad was killed by an oncoming train, his pituitary gland issue got him bullied in grade school and about his intolerance for tickling. I had been double fisting red wine and shots of whiskey and decided that I was drunk enough to stick it out. As he was later walking me to the train, we took a shortcut through the park. It had rained that evening and the grass was so slippery and sloped that I was falling down constantly. He pulled me close for a hug and whispers in my ear “I had a lovely time. Did you know that touching is my love language?” I saw his wet lips coming at me for a kiss as I pulled away. I yell “no touching” as I belly flop on the grass and slide down the small hill. It was, truly, a new low for me. I had ran out on dates before, but this was the first time I would have road rash because of it. This guy asked me out on another date, and I got my ass back to my apartment. Kendall asked “so, are you going on another date?” Without thinking it through, I responded “ugh I hated him. But, probably.” I knew that I was on the verge of a story-date situation and I had to resist the urge to drink that Kool Aid again. Just because I hadn’t dated someone I hated before doesn’t mean that I should. This newfound logic is one of the only signs that I’ve grown-up a little. The “I’m dating this guy because he has gun shot wounds” attitude was super fun for a while, but it’s also gotten super old.
Currently, I am somewhere in-between the land of “expiration dating” and wanting something real. I find that a summer romance is exactly what the doctor has ordered, and if something grows from that then all the better. My heart vacillates between the land of the living and the land of the dead, but I am just fine with that. My favorite thing about being in my thirties is that I don’t have room in my life for shitty relationships- friends, lovers or family- and I’m ok with walking away when needed. I’m happy just where I am in life and don’t really give a damn if I’m following some arbitrary time-line for my love life. I may still enjoy my “expiration dates” from time to time, but I let go of my own expiration date on love. One of the most inspirational people in my life, Anne, told me about how she didn’t find her “honey” until later in life. She looked over a table at me and my single friends and gushed over pictures of her husband on her phone with the enthusiasm of a schoolgirl. If that kind of love is worth waiting for, then it’s time I throw my “egg timer” out the window and stop stressing so much. I can always adopt if I want to, and my life is fantastic without a perennial plus-one. Who knows what tonight will bring, or what will happen with the Scorpio, or if I will live as an international woman of mystery for the rest of my life. At least I know I have cute shoes and can handle my liquor. So, off I go….