And then The Saturday Evening Post canceled the Dating Project.
The brass says it has nothing to do with some piano guy’s predatory phone call, but instead a new editorial direction for the magazine. My editors are geniuses, some of the best I have been privileged to write for. They know what they are doing.
But I prefer to think that The Saturday Evening Post doesn’t want me either.
I hoped the column would end in a happily ever after, with a prince and a chick-lit book deal. Among the disappointments of the Dating Project is that after 18 months of writing and 25 years of dating, I don’t know how this story ends.
I could fictionalize the prince and sell it anyway, but I’m a reporter at heart. I speak non-fiction.
Editor: Tell us what you have learned on the Dating Project?
I learned just how wretched dating in New York can be. There are men with restraining orders; who keep $100,000 in loose change around the house; who stiff freelancers on dinner bills; who send women to the ER; who speak to candles; and who phone your boss after a second date.
Why am I alone?
It must be something I am doing wrong.
But I also learned that there are only two possible outcomes for any date: success or failure. With a success condition of one*, every date is a failure right up until Mr. Right. There is no way to conquer dating by dating harder. I can’t make a marginal dent in the number of available men on the planet, so oodles of first dates will not impact my chances of success. They will keep me busy. And drain me dearly.
Maybe I don’t want to be married hard enough. Back when I had friends in Manhattan, I knew a woman who fantasized about owning a Kitchen Aid mixer but wouldn’t buy one because it is a wedding registry benchmark. Buy a mixer, die a spinster; you jinx yourself into eternal loneliness. I bought myself the mixer. I take honeymoons alone. She is married; I am not. I thought partnership was its own summum bonum. I forgot to care about the accessories, and I cursed me.
Or maybe someone else put a hex on me. When I was about a year old, my parents hired a clown for my brother’s birthday party.
Clown: Does everybody believe in magic?
Me: No way.
Since then, it’s been nothing but clowns. All the way down.
Maybe it’s time to believe in magic.
Fans of the Dating Project insist love will find me when I am not looking for it. This is magic thinking. But like Tinder, speed dating, and asking random strangers if they know anyone single at all anywhere, maybe it is my reportorial duty to try magic too.
Could I do any worse? I can’t fall off the floor.
I am so looking forward to not looking.
Maybe someday I’ll find a better ending for this column and for me.
I have been dating the emperors of New York to the point of exhaustion; I can always date them again. They will always be naked.
*If x = number of successes in n attempts, then the probability of no success, p(x = 0) = 1/ 2n, or n!/n! = 1
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