The after work crowd has filtered out at Upland, an upscale restaurant in the Flatiron District, but the bar is still two deep at 8:00. I'm standing next to Ms. MK who arrived an hour ago and we have quickly bonded.
Just as things start to get interesting, the bartender realizes that she didn't get a credit card on file and asks me for one, which is a little awkward since my right hand is not accessible. Trying to access my credit card at this juncture is not only physically challenging, it could kill the nice little moment we've got going. I ask my lovely new friend to pull my wallet out of my back pocket and quip "just don't get too used to it."
Ten years ago I was married and planning to become a dad for the first time. I was doing all the things that were expected of me; remembering anniversaries, parent teacher conferences, blowing up balloons at birthday parties, etc. Then, while I was cruising through life, the faulty structure that my marriage was built upon collapsed into a pile of rubbish. Divorce followed. That happens.
My first foray into being a new bachelor was a drink date with a woman who spent years in the film industry in LA. Fifteen minutes after the first glass of Cabernet Franc arrived she excused herself to the bathroom. Upon her return she declared "I don't feel any connection to you. I'm leaving." And that was that. Presumably she was rehearsing her lines in the mirror.
Fortunately within 6 weeks of that episode, I met someone who I had strong feelings for — named ex-GF. Life with ex-GF was fun for a while. There was a lot of running around Manhattan doing couple things; theater, art, shopping, dinners, and a lot of wine. Then one day without warning — which happened to be Valentine's Day — I was unceremoniously decoupled against my wishes. In the movie version of my story, that wasn't supposed to happen.
And suddenly I was starting over again.
My platonic women friends were very encouraged about my romantic future. "There are 10 single women to every single guy in NY," they said. "It will be like shooting fish in a barrel. Because you're a guy!"
Naturally, they all wanted to write a book about their bad dates. One of them was actually doing it. A typical story went something like this: "We met for a walk in the park, he looked 10 years older than his photos and was definitely shorter and more overweight than I thought. And all he talked about was his job at the bank." No, that's not a book anyone wants to read; that's the literary equivalent of Ambien.
In the meantime, I joined Tinder. So did my European nanny apparently. During dinners at home both of our phones would be alerting away. Once you get a Tinder alert you have to check it immediately. Was it someone hot, or a late night drunken swipe? Congratulations! You have a new match. Evening meals at my house became very predictable. Cut the kid's meat. Drink a bottle of wine with nanny. Wait for a Tinder jing-jing to arrive and make believe it was a text message from a friend. It was all so civilized, this game of pretend innocence. That is, until Tinder unexpectedly changed the new match alert sound to something undeniably unique. In spite of that we couldn't break our Tinder addiction so our guilty swiping pleasures continued unabated.
My nanny's other cell phone activity of note, was a steady stream of Sex in the City quotes that came from a Facebook group she joined. I was sometimes called on to translate, which I did reluctantly. It was heartbreaking to see a young mind poisoned by such nonsense. Couldn't she get into drugs or petty crime?
The Sex in the City ethos translated into every culture flawlessly. Selfish behavior by shallow women seemed to have no geographical boundaries. Instead of displaying their individuality by varied interests, hobbies or creativity, Samantha and friends did it via vapid consumerism. If Seinfeld was a show about nothing, Sex in the City was a show about money. It may be the most American program ever made.
The false expectations created by those fictional characters continue to influence women today, and is probably responsible for more solitary lives than any other factor. As one Englishman put it, "the thing about Sex and the City is that in London it is satire. In New York, it's a documentary!"
I was giddy and idealistic at that point in time — like Austin Powers fresh out of the deep freeze — and felt totally optimistic about dating in New York. Yes, all the reports coming out of the battlefield indicated that dating was a vicious, brutal sport. There were broken egos, emergency therapist sessions, and nervous breakdowns. I watched it take its toll on even the most confident of my friends. But like a 15 year old who rides his skateboard down the spiral ramp in the parking garage without a helmet, I felt invincible.
I never had any intention to write about dating. It's just that I came to realize that every dating article out there was written by a woman, and the perspective was horribly skewed. They owned the narrative.
I'm not a writer, and to be clear, this is not a blog. A blog implies trying to craft coherent sentences, selling ads, and above all, giving a shit about what people think. None of that applies to me.
This is the guy's perspective of dating in the modern era. If you're in university taking a women's studies course or writing a sociology thesis, close your browser window now and go back to your safe space. Likewise, if your Saturday night consists of eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's and watching Netflix, there's plenty of click bait on BuzzFeed that will keep you busy.
What this will be is a mix of Cat Marnell, Hank Moody and some of Mexico's finest Agave tequila; a memoir hiding in the format of a mini-series splattered on the Internet.
And like any mini-series, it will probably be canceled by the time it's finished so don't get too used to it. In fact, fuck off.
In good health, wine, and tequila,
Dancing Queen. "I gave all my savings to the mafia so they wouldn't kill him"