By Erin "Billiard" Nappe
"Tell me I'll never have to be out there again."
In one of my all-time favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally, Sally's friend Marie utters those words to her new love Jess. By "out there," of course, she is speaking of that vast wasteland that is the World of Dating. I'm utterly convinced that dating qualifies as one of the levels of Hell.
Despite having been told, more than once, that I would never have to be "out there" again, I've been recently drop-kicked back into the singles scene. I decided to go at it with gusto, rather than wallow in my self-pitying misery for years the way I did after Ex #2.
So what's a newly-single girl to do? Why, hit the local bars, of course.
My first bar experience, sans-boyfriend, was not particularly eventful, but it was mildly amusing. I was propositioned by a gentleman who was clearly much younger than I.
"How old do you think I am?" I asked him. I'm often thought to be much younger than I actually am, and I figured he had mistaken me for someone his own age.
"Uh… twenty… four?" he guessed.
I shook my head.
"Lower?" he asked.
"Higher," I told him. This is sometimes fun.
I shook my head again.
"Close," I told him.
"That's okay," he said. "I love older women. My last girlfriend was, like, 30."
Sweetheart? Referring to me as an "older woman" is not going to win you any points. Now, run along and watch Spongebob Squarepants or something.
The next evening, my friend and I were sitting at a quiet bar having a drink, and I noticed a gentleman sitting by himself at the bar. He had a sort of Michael Vartan-esque quality about him that I found intriguing. That is, until he opened his mouth.
He introduced himself (we'll call him "Jim") as a "certified painter." He had a strange, oddly unidentifiable accent, and he lost me when he started talking about astrology. Not quite "hey baby, what's your sign," but it was only the tiniest of steps up. He gave me his card (yup, says it right there: certified painter) and asked if he could call me sometime. I ever-so-politely declined, claiming that my broken heart wasn't quite ready for that.
I thought that was the last I'd seen of Jim, but I was wrong. Oh, how wrong I was. We ran into him again a few weeks later. He remembered my name.
"Um," I stammered.
"Jim," he said.
"Right. Jim." I looked at my friend. "Remember Jim?" She looked back at me blankly. "The painter," I added.
"Oh. Jim," she said. "It's all coming back to me now. Like a bad Celine Dion song."
Now, some might have taken that as an insult. Not Jim. He took it like a trooper and kept right on going. There was only one escape--the only single gal's refuge--the ladies' room. I hid until it was safe, and then resumed my seat at the bar.
But sometimes it's even worse. Sometimes, you run into Stupid Men Who Can't Take a Hint. I was sitting at the bar, and this gentleman says to me that I look like some actress whose name he can't remember… finally, he comes up with Isabella Rosselini. Um, sure. I really wasn't interested, but I was polite. I made small talk. But as the night went on, I had to apply the "three strikes, you're out" rule.
Strike one: "Have you ever had your hair long?"
Okay, I am well aware that all men LOVE long hair and never want us to cut it. However, I have been wearing my hair short for years, and I like it. People who suggest that I should do otherwise tend to irritate me.
Strike two: (to my friend) "Do you always speak for her?"
Excuse me? I don't recall you speaking directly to me and her answering for me. Has it occurred to you that I may be tired of talking to you?
Strike three: This, my friends, is the clincher--the one that shifted me from mild annoyance into downright loathing: "So… are you two a couple?" (to me and my friend)
Huh? Oh, yes, I see… because if I'm not interested in you, clearly I must be a lesbian. (Oh wait! I get it! I'm with a girl, I have short hair, and I'm not into you. It's all so obvious…) I actually said, out loud, (foolishly thinking that he had sensed my displeasure and already walked away) "What the [expletive] ever." He was still standing behind me. But did that make him go away? Of course not. He still felt the need to say "So, you're not interested?"
And that, ladies, is just a small snapshot of what awaits us "out there." If you're in a committed long-term relationship, thank your lucky stars. Hug your SO and thank him/her for rescuing you from the fiery inferno of Dating.
If not, wanna meet me at the bar?
Billiard is ready for adventure on all fronts. As well as her recent foray into the dating world, she just started teaching high school.