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.
Long before my second official date with The Playwright, he showed up at my door announced.
Playwright: I just found myself in your neighborhood.
Me: Nobody finds himself here.
Playwright: I needed to return a library book. And give blood. So you have ready access to platelets.
I wasn’t expecting company, but he invited himself onto my sofa for a chat. We talked about our mutual friend, The Composer.
Playwright: In grad school he walked right up to me and said, ‘You’re not straight. You think you are, but you’re not,’ and the implication was that he was going to prove it to me.
Me: He’s very direct.
Also, he was on to something maybe? There was something in the way The Playwright presented himself that didn’t read as entirely heterosexual.
Playwright: Do I seem gay to you?
He kissed me. He kissed like a straight guy. That is, he kissed with enthusiasm.
Me: I haven’t even known you a week.
Playwright: We’ll celebrate our weekiversary. I’ll make you 1/52 of a cake. When we’ve been together four years, I’ll make 208 weekiversary cakes.
He was very funny. That goes so far. And it is so rare.
Playwright: I can’t actually make you a cake. I can make guacamole. That’s what you get for 11 years of marriage. Guacamole skills and all new furniture.
He didn’t volunteer more insight into his very recent split. Maybe he didn’t have any? Or maybe this is how well-adjusted men get divorced, they just take it as fact: You’re married and then you are not. I have never dated a well-adjusted guy before.
Me: Are you in therapy?
Playwright: I was. I graduated with honors.
Me: Summa, magna or cum?
Playwright: To be honest, I was thrown out for smoking in the little boys’ room.
It was too soon to know much of anything about The Playwright at all. He chose a life in theater, where social norms are not those of main street. There could be a strategic advantage to straddling lines in an ambiguous world.
As quickly as The Playwright arrived, he left, bounding away to meet his dinner companion.
I was befuddled. I should have lighting-fast dating reflexes. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. This is my job, damnit. But I couldn’t figure him out.
I could, however, give him time to show me who he is.