My parents met at a singles dance hosted at a local country club. I have heard my Dad tell the story so many times, it is etched in my memory. He would go to the dances every week with his friends. He got used to seeing a lot of the same crowd, until one night he saw my Mom out on the dance floor. It was her first time at the country club, so she garnered a lot of attention from the guys.
My Dad had to wait a few songs until she was open before he could finally ask her to dance. Once they got together, he kept her dance card filled for the rest of the evening. My Mom went home that night and told my grandmother she had met the man she was going to marry. My Dad called and asked her out the very next day and the rest is history.
Back then it was simple. Meet a man, fall in love and get married. And after 43 years, my parents are still together. Whether or not they are still happy is another question. But with four children and six grandchildren, I think they have settled in for the long haul.
This week I went to another happy hour sponsored by Match.com. It's the modern day equivalent of the country club dance. Except there is no dancing. Just some people standing around in a hot, crowded bar with a slight hint of desperation in the air.
The first person I ran into was a guy who went to my high school. I had already seen him two months ago at the last Match.com happy hour. He is socially awkward and not particularly attractive, but he is a really nice person. He decided to appoint himself as my "wing man" for the evening.
We chatted for awhile and he explained to me that people are too focused on the initial excitement in a relationship. And when the excitement wears off, that is when people get divorced. He was of the opinion that if you really take time to get to know someone, the connection you build will outlast those relationships that are based solely on excitement. I'm not sure if he was trying to sell me on the concept or sell me on himself, but either way I wasn't buying it.
After two hours of intense single mingling, I came to the conclusion that the dating pool is pretty shallow. I had more connections with the women at the event than I did with the men. In fact, I think most of the other women felt the same way. The majority of us were fairly attractive, energetic, socially appropriate and gainfully employed.
Meanwhile, each of the guys I spoke with had an immediately obvious "fatal flaw" that would be hard for most women to get past. One guy was at least six inches shorter than every girl in the bar. Another guy had the same name as my sister's ex husband, which immediately eliminated him from further consideration. Aside from that, he was pretty unkempt with a mangy blond beard.
One guy was bald with a really big nose. Another was super skinny and stared at me like a stalker, but never came over to say hello. There was another guy who was painfully shy to the point that he couldn't carry on a conversation. A few older guys fell into the generically creepy category. It felt like I had wandered into the land of misfit toys.
Out of the entire group, there was one guy who seemed remotely interesting. I struck up a conversation with him while we stood in line to get drinks. He had a friendly smile and he seemed pretty laid back. I learned that he owned his own business manufacturing and distributing dog treats, which he had invented himself. His products were sold in pet stores across the country.
Everything was going smoothly until he started talking about his ex-girlfriend and how she moved out and stole all of his stuff. They had dated for over 15 years. I might have been able to look past that, but apparently he then dated another crazy girlfriend for three years who also moved out and stole all of his stuff. And they had a son together. The more I learned about his situation, the more I wanted to slowly step away and disappear into the crowd.
By the time I got home that evening, I was grateful to just sit on my couch, eat a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats and watch How I Met Your Mother re-runs.
Every time I venture out into the dating pool, it inevitably leads me right back to the Boy. He may not be perfect, but at least he fulfills my basic requirements. And he exceeds my expectations in at least one key area. But whenever I think we have come to a mutual understanding about our relationship, we have another set back.
We both like to maintain a sense of spontaneity in our weekend plans. So this morning I decided I was going shopping at the mall by his house right after work and I asked the Boy if he wanted to meet me for a late dinner. Everything was all set until he texted me around 4:00. It said: Would you mind terribly if I bailed on you tonight? Some of my floor hockey people are gathering.
I was trying to get some last minute things done at work so I didn't answer him right away. About 20 minutes later another text came in. It said: Ok never mind that. Apparently that plan went sideways.
So to summarize the day's events: The Boy made plans with me, then cancelled them because more exciting plans came up with his friends. Then those plans got cancelled so he was free to go out with me again. Wow, he sure knows how to make a girl feel special.
I know that we are not officially dating, but we are unofficially sleeping together. I don't ask much from the Boy, or anyone else in my life for that matter. Yet even with my low expectations, somehow he managed to disappoint me.
The longer I stay with the Boy, the more I feel like I am cheating myself out of the opportunity to find something better. And even if it doesn't exist, I still have the hope that it could.
A few years ago, they tore down the country club where my parents met and built a Super K-Mart. Maybe I should head over there and try my luck in the frozen food aisle.