I’m thirty-three, and I am single. That’s by choice, as I’m both very independent and very peripatetic. But about a year ago, now, I decided that I should try to put down roots, mostly because I love my job here in Pennsylvania and I wanted to try to make the state home. For while the job is a great fit, the place…not so much.
Anyway, that led me to embark on Internet dating. Which, a bare six months later, led me to declare a moratorium on dating, period.
This is not a slam on Internet matchmaking. I know tons of people who’ve met their SO over the computer, and I’ve had a long term, long distance, "not-a-relationship!" with someone who, for all intents and purposes, I met on Twitter.
Instead, this is about dating in my thirties, and how all us thirtysomething singles have left are the leftovers. Granted, I think dating in my thirties would be very different if I lived somewhere else—somewhere more ambitious, more productive, and more economically healthy, like New York or London. But here’s what I discovered make up the leftovers—what’s left when someone’s still single in their thirties:
· The Walking Wounded: Those men and women recovering from a divorce or separation so brutal, they’re basically an ambulatory sucking wound. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed these dates, as I am a writer. So under the auspices of being “a good listener” I probed for all the gory details, carefully filing them away for future use in my fiction.
· The Great Unreconstructed: This is the man (although I’m sure there’s a female equivalent) who adheres to a patriarchal view of the world that places him at the apex because he is THE MAN. Therefore, he’s certain he’s more successful than you, the woman. When he discovers he’s not, it’s like watching one of those bizarre New Guinean birds do a territorial display—all puffed chest and flaring comb(over).
· The Disaster: Just what it says on the package. He’s got awesome excuses for why he lives in his sister’s attic and has never achieved a single one of his ambitions, excuses which you totally want to believe, because at least he’s fairly liberal. Then you realize he doesn’t judge because he can’t, as he’s really a total loser.
· The Chameleon: That guy who tells you everything you want to hear. At first you wonder if it’s a Machiavellian plot to get in your pants, and you giggle to yourself because you’re actually rather easy. But at some point you realize that the poor sod actually has no idea who he is, and that he wants to be everything, anything, other than himself.
· The Marquis: He’s the guy who advertises himself as a warehouse of fetishistic carnal delights. Inevitably, he’s also 5’4”, with a potbelly, no hair, and coke bottle glasses. Or nine feet tall, 150 pounds sopping wet, with a ponytail trailing down his back like an anemic polecat. Either way, you’d be too busy giggling at the sight of him in a leather harness to choke out the word “Daddy.”
· That Guy Who Poses In Photos With a Python For No Apparent Reason: I still haven’t figured out that guy. Lemme know if you have any thoughts.
Meanwhile, the last thing Internet dating taught me was that I, Nicole Peeler, am myself a leftover. I might look good as a bullet pointed list, especially in terms of career success, etc. But in truth, I’m so successful because I am utterly, unapologetically selfish; I take the concept of “independence” to an obsessive, slightly paranoid level; and I ALREADY HAVE MY OWN LIFE, THANKS. So, anyone knocking at my door, trying to move in with their schedule and their (ugly) furniture and their (terrible) thoughts on home décor and their (stupid) ideas about where and how to live and their (crazy) idea I can’t travel whenever I damned well please and their (selfish) demands I give up my lover and their delusion they can cook sometimes and their propensity for moving my pots and their inability to put the shit back in the cupboard where it belongs and their leaving their shoes in the hallway where I trip over them and their………. Well, they can go fuck themselves.
I, my friends, am a leftover. Make some casserole out of that. ;-)