Sometimes I fantasize about never dating again. The thing about dating is that it’s sort of like an endless annual review with a salary negotiation tied to it, but with more tongue.
Then I realize that even if I quit dating, the constant decision-making, gut-checking, instinct-questioning and sweat-producing feel of it would still lurk in every corner of daily life. So I might as well stick with it and get a handsome man to buy me French fries every once in a while. Here are nine things that almost make dating look easy.
1. Going to the gym
I talk about it excessively before working up the courage to go.
“Maybe it won’t be that bad once I get there,” I tell myself. I’m unsure of what to do once I’m there, but I’m definitely not dying. Yet. I can do this.
I look around. Someone is moving in a way I have never seen a human body move before. Someone else is grunting like a dying pig. What are all those towels for?
It’s worse than I thought. I back away into the bathroom and sit quietly in a stall to slow my breathing.
2. Buying shoes
Well, hello there, I think the first time I see that hot pair of shoes. I try them on. They look really good on me. That one spot rubs a little, but they’ll probably break in. Maybe a Band-Aid will do the trick.
I take them home. They feel okay so I decide to take them out for the night.
Halfway through dinner, I can’t stop thinking about my feet. Something doesn’t feel right. Are the shoes too small? Too big? Too wide? Too narrow? I can’t tell. Why do my toes itch? That doesn’t seem good. My feet have never been so sweaty.
This was a terrible decision. I need to get out of here.
3. Finding a psychologist
We sit in her office, which has a lovely view of the lake. We make sustained eye contact. We shift in our seats.
“I think we should increase our sessions to twice a week,” she says right as I blurt, “I don’t think this is working.”
“I can’t put my finger on it. You’re lovely,” I say, looking at the sailboats floating by on the lake. I’m going to miss this view.
“This isn’t about me,” she says. “It’s about you.”
I nod, already fantasizing about my pajamas.
4. Going to the dentist
How can something so innocuous and boring actually be so painful? This is 2015. Isn’t there a magic pill I can take? I’ll pay anything not to have to do this. Wine would help. Why didn’t I drink before I came?
5. Hiring someone to work on your house.
“Come on in,” I say as I open the door to a man I’ve spoken to but never met. I really hope he doesn’t screw me over, take my money and steal my TV.
I should have a witness here, I think, as the strange man looks carefully around at my worldly possessions. He trails a gentle hand over my rotting fireplace mantle. I need someone else’s opinion. Would it be weird if I invited a friend over?
6. Getting a massage
The lights dim. The music is soft. She places her hands on my shoulders. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this naked in front of someone else. She touches me gently. I exhale a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
Just as I’m about to fall asleep, she asks if I like the pressure. Is that her hand or an elbow? I can’t tell and I’m afraid to look. An ear, maybe? “Yes, it’s great,” I say.
Is she still talking? I don’t want to talk. I just want to enjoy this. Is that a nose whistle? That’s definitely a nose whistle.
Move along, people! Don’t wait for someone else to leave. That’s not your spot. It’s awful to watch you waiting when there are so many other good spots just around the corner.
Oh, not that one! Honey, you’re not going to fit there. Even I can see that. Quit trying to make it work.
8. Going to the farmer’s market
I’m on the phone with my mother. She tells me to buy vegetables. Vegetables are so boring, though. Won’t there be time for vegetables later?
“Vegetables are good for you,” she argues. “They’re filling and they’ll stick. They won’t give you that sugar crash. You’re an adult now. You need to make smart choices and follow your head, not your cravings.”
I agree and spend an appropriate amount of time pretending I will buy vegetables, lying both to her and myself.
Are those flowers? I love flowers. Croissants! Two or three croissants won’t hurt. Maybe a cookie.
9. Looking for an apartment
Why isn’t that apartment calling me back?
I have good credit! I know there are other apartments out there, but this one feels right. I don’t want to keep looking forever. I can be happy with what’s right here.
I do want to change the curtains, though. And that tile in the bathroom was pretty ugly. Okay, it’s a bit of a fixer-upper. I always thought people who went for fixer-uppers were chumps.
Now I hope the apartment doesn’t call. If the apartment calls, I’m locked into the lease. Yes, it’s only a year. But I don’t have a year to waste! I’m looking for my forever home. I just moved. I can’t ever do it again. It’s too hard.
This apartment has to be the one.
I check my phone to make sure the ringer is on. I text my friend about the apartment. She texts back that it’s only been an hour since the apartment and I first met.
So now I know that my phone is working, and that no one understands me.