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The Dating Project | ‘The Playwright’

Sarah Rose

Dating with a view to marriage is no other thing than work. I am a writer in New York, but Sex & the City this ain’t. Carrie had friends who weren’t repopulating the planet. She had fancy shoes. I have fuzzy Crocs. I get commuter rail and Brooklyn birthday parties. She got limos and glam soirees. I actually exist.

This is a project and it is a schlep. I used to believe in surgical strikes, now I’m carpet bombing. I’m on three different dating websites. I ask total strangers if they know anyone single because I have dated the pool of my friends’ friends’ friends dry. Somewhere, someone is going to make me laugh and swoon. I haven’t met him yet. I’m trying.

I hope it will end. Happily.

We were members of each other’s tribe but didn’t know it. After a mutual friend set us up, we discovered his best friend from college was my buddy, while my best friend from college–The Composer–was a colleague of his from grad school. We were friends in three directions. We had gone to the same parties our entire adult lives but never talked because he was married.

Now he’s not.

He took me to a date bar, dark and cavernous with seasonal cocktails, and we caught up for the first time after all these years.

Me: We have so many friends in common, I would want to be your friend even if we weren’t on a date.
Playwright: I think I might want to be more than your friend.

His wife had walked out six months before. She started a new career and with it a new life without him.

Playwright: At least she ripped the band-aid off quickly. Mostly I’m hurt by the broken promise. Marriage is supposed to be about working through the bad times too, right?

He shrugged, as if he had no idea what hit him. He had started dating immediately and had already made the rounds of eligible New York. He was a catch: funny, bright, cute, and didn’t seem bitter, spooked or ruined. Most divorced men talk like refugees from the Killing Fields.

After our third round, he suggested we might grab a bite. I glanced at my watch: 11p.m. Four hours had happened while I was on a good date.

We went to a late-night restaurant, a watering hole where chefs eat after cooking all day. Then we shut it down. There was plenty left to say, but apparently the city that never sleeps was hitting the pillow. With nowhere left to drink at 2a.m., we walked toward a cab. He stopped short of the curb to kiss me.

Stranger: Oooooohhooooooo! Kiss, kiss, kissing! You give it to her nice. You go, man.

We got heckled.

The Playwright: This is our first kiss. How do you think I’m doing? Am I doing ok?
Stranger: That was your first kiss? I’m so sorry! Keep going. You doing real good.

New York was rooting for us and The Playwright returned to the task at hand.

Me: I don’t want to be your practice girlfriend.
Playwright: You won’t be.
Me: You’ve been slutting it up all over New York City.
Playwright: I’m ready to wake up next to someone I’m excited about.
Me: It’s only been six months. You haven’t even said Kaddish for your marriage yet.
Playwright: You’re complicated.

It was just opening night. He got good reviews.

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