The Trouble With Dating

I haven’t been single for too many periods of time in my life. You know, outside of my teenage years when I was generally seen as a pariah by both girls and boys. It was so easy to be celibate back then that I could have been the poster boy for virginity. I used to imagine going down into the subway and finding a huge advertisement for just that, with my face plastered all over it.

I was single for several months back in 1997 that somehow stretched into 1998, and in that space of time I had dates with several women, but none of them were particularly special. Perhaps because I still wasn’t over Amanda, but that’s another story for another time. That may have been part of it, but the other part is what I never really wanted to admit. I’m just not that good at small talk.

Did you know that dating is mostly made up of small talk? At least the early dates are, when you’re feeling each other out and figuring where you might fit in the long term. Which is ironic, considering that making a long term decision based on small talk is like getting a cat when you know you’re allergic. You need something to build off of, and small talk is the last thing that can help with that.

That’s why I was never good at being single, but also why I was never really good at dating either. I’ve never been good talking about the weather, or the price of tea in China, or how high gas prices have gotten. I generally skipped straight to “Have you ever been in a serious relationship?” or “How many kids do you want?” And I was surprised when they didn’t ask for a second date.

It was either that or my jokes, I’m sure, that turned them away. I think I’m ridiculously funny, but somehow I don’t think every single woman feels the same way. Especially when they give me a look that says I’m probably only a step up from an amoeba. That’s not good, particularly when I was on a first date. When I saw that look I knew there wasn’t going to be a second.

I was single for several months back in 1997 that stretched into 1998, and in all that time I went out with no less than 10 women on first dates. Only 2 of those first dates turned into seconds, and on those dates I withheld my jokes. Coincidence? Probably. But there were certainly no thirds, and I’ll take some small measure of blame for that. I know now, though, that none of those worked out because I’ve never had patience for small talk.

Because I was waiting for a woman who would appreciate my jokes, who would talk to me about big things right from the start, and who would understand that I need to be the center of attention more often than not. None of them lived within my radius in Philadelphia back then, and I’m glad of that now. Because I never would have found the woman of my dreams if any of those dates had led to more.


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