Good Stories and Bad. Or, Why the Word “Dating” Sucks.

“I think he might date a lot,” I said to S recently, by way of attempting to articulate what my reservations might be about someone I’ve seen a couple of times and altogether like.

“So?” she replied. “You kind of date a lot.”

My instinct was to respond indignantly: “No I don’t.” But before I could even find the words I mentally checked myself: actually, I realized, I kind of do.

I shrugged my shoulders.

“So, what’s wrong with that?” she asked.

It’s not only that I didn’t have a good response to her question, it’s that I didn’t have any response.

In telling the anecdote yesterday to my friend E–the sometime biking buddy I’ve hardly seen since she started medical school in August–we wound up having a nearly identical exchange.

“I knew you’d have boy stories,” she exclaimed with unbridled enthusiasm, crossing her legs and turning to face me in the corner booth at Flying Star–where’d nominally come to study. “Tell me stories!”

I obliged, telling her first the one about the nasty text.

“See? None of my stories are good!”

“Yes they are, they’re great stories!”

“Okay,” I clarified. “They’re good stories. They just never end well.”

E was right: I do always have stories. It had been less than two months since I’d last seen her, and she wasn’t wrong in assuming I’d have a handful of anecdotes to share–stories that took us, intermittently, from an afternoon of tea and brown rice at the Star, through the Lobo game at the Pit, up until she dropped me off around ten o’clock.

So fine. I have stories. The ones I share with girlfriends aren’t the same ones I blog about, but without one I wouldn’t have the other. I’ve basically made it my vocation, in other words, to have stories from my romantic life.

And yet. And yet I’m still uncomfortable thinking of myself as someone who frequently “dates.” It’s as though I insist, at the same time that I make a public habit of looking for it, that love is just going to fall into my lap one day–as though the notion that I have to go out and look for it is somehow insulting.

It’s the same reason I reacted with horror when my friend J told me that I would have better luck than her dating online because I “like” to date. (“No I don’t!” I told her. “I hate it!”)

The conclusion I drew from that exchange is that no one wants to date: everyone, as my friend V then put it, just wants to get to the point where you can spend Saturdays cuddling on the couch. It’s just that, you know, it takes a minute to get there.

But like the reality of dating itself, this is one I am hard-pressed to accept.

Perhaps it’s because the word “dating” seems to connote some sort of sport, some occupational activity that is a means in and of itself–as opposed to a means to an end. (The end being, you know, the couch.)

But like most people, I don’t want to think of myself–because I don’t think that I do–date for the sake of it. Or even, lest there be any suspicion, for the sake of my writing.

The other night that guy I’m currently seeing, who knows I’m a writer but not yet about the blog, said: “you’re just using me for material.” My reply came out slightly above my breath: “You have no idea.”

The irony, of course, is that that is all I’m going to tell you about him. I like him so far. I don’t want to use him “for material.” I want to get to know him. If things come up that I’ll be able to write about sooner or later, great.

If not, it’s probably a good sign.

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1 Comment

Filed under Love Life

One response to “Good Stories and Bad. Or, Why the Word “Dating” Sucks.

  1. At least going on lots of dates makes sure you’re well-fed.

    And unless you’re one of those progressive Women’s Rights types who demands on going Dutch (which, given you’re a Creative Writing teacher, you might be), most of those meals come free.

    Sometimes I wish I was a woman…

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