A couple of weeks ago, I started to feel like I was never going to date again. That I was going to be single forever. So I did what I always do when that feeling strikes, I placed an ad in the “Women Seeking Men” section of Craigslist. I will be the first one to admit that Craigslist isn’t he greatest place to look for people to date these days, so swamped has it become with guys (mostly) just looking for a fast, easy hookup. But it’s simple and free, and typically pretty immediate in it’s ability to deliver responses, so I went with it.
The first time I dating through Craigslist was back in the summer of 2004, just a month or so after my last relationship ended. It was that period that led my friend Cindy and me to determine that there were never more than five single men dating in the city of Philadelphia at any one time. We came to this conclusion because every time I would give her the name of someone I was talking to from Craigslist, she would reply with a comment along the lines of, “he may seem to be smart and a good writer, but he’s 32, works at a bank and lives with his parents in New Jersey*” because she too had talked to this person during her travels through the list as well. This happened at least three times (although he was not always 32 and living with his parents in New Jersey. There variations on the theme). I went on some good dates that summer, as well as a couple choice stinkers. I did not meet anyone for the long term, but it was a good exercise in getting back into the world of dating, after spending almost two years conveniently coupled.
The ad I posted was a series of questions, my attempt to be mildly funny while also attracting responses from guys who I might actually be interested in. My favorite question was, “When you eat a Tastykake, do you eat it ironically or seriously?” This question comes from a time last summer when I was at an outdoor concert with a couple of friends and one of the friend’s boyfriend. We stopped at Wawa on the way to the show to get hoagies and snacks for the day, and the boyfriend bought a Tastykake for dessert. Only he did it with no humor, no irony, no recognition for the fact that the process of eating a Tastykake in your 30’s has to be infused with just the slightest bit of the ridiculous.**
My point in all of this is that the ad resulted in a date this week. I was nervous as I walked towards the bar where we planned to meet, worried that this was going to be another dud, that I was going to be sitting there wishing myself onto my couch with a good book. But life is sometimes surprising, and this was one of those times. Because I had a good time. I would even go so far as to say terrific. We sat and talk for two and a half hours about music, families, politics, history, books and the racial/class stratification in this country. At the end of the date, I said simply, “This was really fun” and genuinely meant it.
I have no idea where this is going to go, if it has any sort of legs, or if the next time I see him I’ll have nothing left to say. But I will always be appreciative of the date, because it helped me remember why people do it. Because up until last Tuesday night, I really had forgotten.