Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hello, Fellow Human!

Can we all agree that dating sucks? When I hear stories about dating from single friends -- men and women -- I look at Rayne with a little extra love and gratitude. Thank the Energy-of-the-Universe I'm now exempt.

New York is a special kind of dating hell. People are so busy and there are so many potential distractions -- it's hard to commit to getting to know someone long enough to decide whether you want to get to know them.

I did some online dating in 2004 and 2005. That was awesome. In concept I am totally on board with online dating. In practice, it just didn't work out for me.

There was the guy who picked up a meat tenderizer off the street in Greenwich Village, brought it to dinner with us and then put it on the table. He then had the gall to call me a germophobe when I asked him to take it off the table. Guilty as charged. Also, he took his shoes off under the table because "his feet hurt."

First date, people. Get it together.

Then there was the sort of stalkerish guy who was initially vague about his employment. When I met him for dinner, I found out that he was not a "fund manager," but instead an unemployed day-trader who went on an unprompted tirade against "Ivy League MBAs" who supposedly took his job at Citigroup.

"So, what do you do?" he inquired, catching his breath.

Oh you know, I'm just a financial analyst with an MBA from Columbia. Check, please!

How about the guy I was dating for a few months who left me a voicemail soliloquy in bullet point format about why we should stop seeing one another? Way to put that PowerPoint presentation seminar to good use, buddy.

And those are just the funny/crazy stories. Let's not even get into the hurtful and traumatic stuff.

Of all the dating scenes, I hated the bar scene the most. I disliked the inevitable small talk, the awkward flirtation, the distractions, the posturing. To relieve myself of the anxiety and boredom, I would actually pretend to be different characters. Laura from Long Island City, opera singer. Sarah, New York Times staff writer.

I'm not sure, but I think if you are trying to meet people, this is not a winning strategy. Anyway, I reasoned, I wasn't going to meet my future life partner in a bar, for Christ's sake.

Then in 2006, suddenly and happily, I left the life of a dating New Yorker behind me for good.

Or so I thought.

People keep telling me that this stage of life is the easiest time to meet people. I beg to differ. At school or on my running team I shared at minimum one similar interest with others in the group. When I go to pre-planned mommy meet-ups, the only thing I definitively have in common with these people is that we are humans. With similar-aged offspring. That's it.

Hello, fellow human! May I interact with your similar-aged offspring?

I'm not going to make any friends that way.

Of all the new mommy (and daddy) scenes, though, Babies and Beer is the closest analog to trying to meet people in bars. Basically, a beer garden in Fort Greene opens its doors two afternoons a week and puts down mats and toys. (Only in Brooklyn.) As their children play, parents attempt to finish a beer while simultaneously feeding said children organic puffs and having the same small-talky, distracted conversation with every other parent there. Women nurse with their boobs hanging out, much to the thinly veiled chagrin of the poor, enlightened daddies who attempt to avert their eyes while still engaging in conversation.

Here. I've made a chart so you can see the parallels:

I don't even like beer. Last time I had a lemony soft drink, which, the bartendress informed me, was the official drink of Austria. What luck! (According to Wikitravel, it's true. It's called Almdudler. It was tasty, actually. I'm a fan.)

And did I mention this beer garden is nearly a half hour walk from my apartment? By the time I get home, I'm exhausted by the over-stimulation and underwhelmed by my chances of ever seriously, successfully dating again. I swear to myself I will never return.

But Henry needs the interaction. He's not used to having other kids paw at him while he's contemplating the wooden block in his hand, turning it over and over and over until he's uncovered the secrets of its soul. That's probably the biggest downside to having him home -- he doesn't get the same level of socialization that he would in daycare. So I have to create it for him.

Alas, Babies and Beer is permanently on my calendar through the fall.

But wait, here's an interesting twist. I met Rayne at a bar. Weren't expecting that, were you? Me neither.

Granted, it was a private event with our marathon training group. Otherwise I never would have told him my real name. Or given him my real business card with my real phone number.

Still, it was a bar. In Manhattan's uber-trendy Meatpacking District. The last place on earth I expected to meet anyone.

Then he didn't call me, that jackass.

As luck would have it, we met again a couple of months later at a mutual friend's party. The rest is history.

I guess if I met the love of my life in a bar, there's still hope for Babies and Beer. Prost!