When you start running into family friends and the first thing out of their mouths is, “Last time I saw you, you were about to write an expose about my son!”, it’s hard not to ask yourself some questions.
Questions such as: was said son even more horrified than previously thought? Are his parents more horrified than, three years ago, I ever knew? And: am I just as oblivious to my perception among young and creative New York men as I am to middle-aged, intellectual Jews in suburban New Jersey?
Such questions–in addition to their unsavoriness–are, I suspect, not very interesting: so far as I can tell, most of you don’t publish your love lives online, and therefore have likely limited interest in the ramifications thereof. Well, fine.
The subject you may be interested in, though–my dating life–is, these days, an unusual commodity. Today, I thought to encourage my neighbors to collect points when they spot me with a single straight man–the way (I hear) one does for an especially rare species of bird. (Perhaps, too, I thought, such activity may aid in my–still embryonic–Campaign for Brooklynites to Say Hi on the Street.)
So, sorry about that. I would like to have a boyfriend. I just seem to find myself rather conflicted about, um, finding one.
“Whatever you do, don’t get yourself into any romantic entanglements.”
I was having drinks with a former public radio colleague, one who–like most of my former public radio colleagues–dispenses pithy wisdom with the ease and humor of a multitasking Sorkin character. He took a sip of Cabernet. “Bad idea.”
“I know,” I said, emphatically, as though in full agreement. We’d just been talking about the fact that I’m trying to work on my book this summer, that I’m not working in order to work on my book this summer.
And then, oddity of oddities, I hopped on the F train to meet someone for vaguely romantic drinks: someone who I assured myself I wouldn’t really like–it had been ten years since we last saw one another–but, of course, did.
The following afternoon, as I sat at my coffee shop, trying to write, but instead pondering the likelihood that I would see this guy again, grasping for an adolescent memory he swore I’d suppressed, my friend’s comment rung in my ears.
“Shit,” I thought. “This is exactly what he was talking about. Boys are fucking distracting.”
So distracting. Especially when the “job” you’ve got is not one anyone is paying you to do, but rather, one that, should it never get done, zero people will actually care and a few may experience genuine relief.
And yet: boyfriends are nice! They go on walks with you and your dog! They help with your computer problems! They provide attention–physical and otherwise! I like walks. I like technological assistance. I like (!) attention.
The problem, as you know, is getting there: all those nights of leaving your house, staying out too late and drinking too much beer so that you sleep half the next day and by the time you’ve gone for a walk (alone) and eaten breakfast (also) and sweated your way to the cafe, you only have a few hours until it closes, at which point you tell yourself you should go someplace else and keep writing but then talk yourself out of it because, really, there isn’t any spot around where the staff are so nice and the coffee so tasty and all requisite conditions are assured for you to get your work done.
Which is simply no good.
And so, I seek a middle ground: a place of being social enough so I don’t drive myself crazy and become an overweight spinster, and yet not so social that I sacrifice productivity because then I feel like a real ass.
And I tell myself that I can have some control over meeting someone, that I can plan it, swear off “entanglements” for a season, or a year, or a few–whatever it takes–and that for all my longing to be have a relationship, ultimately, intimately, in a reliable-and-relatively-soon fashion, I can put it off if I want to.
And I try, mostly, to want to.