The thing about dating, and being single, is that it’s really hard not to spend a lot of time feeling hopeless. You meet someone, you reject them or they reject you, and–no matter how many times it happens–you always manage to feel as though there is absolutely no one else around.
This feeling can be particularly acute in a smaller city, where it sometimes seems as though you’ve seen everyone in town at least once, and the ones you find attractive–you’ve already dated.
Perhaps, in some very small towns, this is actually true. But, as I reminded S last night, it usually is not the case–and for us, it definitely isn’t.
“I think we forgot how big this city actually is,” I said. “Just because we see the same people over and over again we assume that we’ve seen everyone. But I think there are a lot of men here who we haven’t yet come across.”
“It’s true,” she said, attempting morale.
The thing is that I only thought to say this because S said something very similar recently to me. Her words, as they often do, resonated so much that I wrote about them–not on the blog, but in a nonfiction essay I’m working on.
This essay, which is the closest thing to a blog post I’ve attempted in longer form (much longer: my average post is 700 words, this piece is close to 5,000) got workshopped last night.
For the uninitiated, this means that a group of about ten people sat around a table telling me–sitting by with a virtual piece of duct tape over my mouth–a lot about what’s not working (and a little about what is) in what I’ve written.
As you might imagine, there’s a lot in this essay that’s not working. But that particular moment, the one in which S imparts her wisdom, is one that many people agreed worked well.
It takes place right before going on a date with a man I’d met online who I’ve convinced myself must have a fatal flaw because he seems so perfect.
I say to S, “He might not be my husband.”
She says, “That’s okay. There are a lot of men in the world who are not your husband. He might be one of them.”
This made me–both the author me, and the narrator of this piece me (forgive the distinction, it helps)–feel a lot better.
Last night S was the one feeling the fresh disappointment of realizing that someone she’d thought might at least be in the running, probably isn’t.
And so, somehow, we decided that it would improve both our moods if we sat down and took some stock.
Walking home after class, S announced that as soon as we got back she was going to google the number of men in the world.
“We’re going to make a list,” she said. “Of the men who we’ve ruled out. And we’re going to figure out how many there are left.”
So, sitting at the kitchen counter last night with a notebook, a pen, and the remnants of our workshop snacks–smartpop, jalapeno chips and cheetos–we did.
We divided the men of the world into three categories: Men Who Are Definitely Not Our Husbands, Men Still In The Running, and All the Other Men Out There.
Between us, we brainstormed over fifty names to put on the Not Our Husbands list: from gay friends to married colleagues, bad dates to serious exes to high school crushes to one-night stands.
The second list was less impressive–together, I think we totalled around five men we know who have yet to disqualify themselves completely. And I think both of us were being generous.
More encouraging, of course, was that giant number on that last list: because as many names as we keep adding under Definitely Not (this weekend we plan to purchase a whiteboard, for continual additions), I’m pretty sure that it will stay north of three billion.
I know: half of them speak Chinese, thousands will die tomorrow and thousands have just been born.
But it’s nonetheless comforting to know, at least, that there are a lot of men out there who have not already jerked me around or been a really dull date.
A lot of men, in other words, who I haven’t yet met.