Let’s say that when The Wife and I felt a pain in our ring fingers, we did a self-diagnosis and decided to go ahead with simple marriagectomy. We got the instructions online, followed them carefully and, a little cutting and scraping later, voila! The pain was gone! That’s not entirely true, but the fact is that we’re both healing. The procedure left a little scar, but maybe I’ll get a tattoo to cover it up. Soon, I’ll be back to normal.
But after being in a committed relationship for almost nine years — almost a full one-third of my life — the question is, “What is normal?” Though I am not looking to dash back to the altar (I didn’t even really want to type the word just now), a little dating would be good. I can’t help it — women just look and smell so nice. If they’d just be more like men then maybe I wouldn’t care.
My current situation presents a myriad of dating challenges. The first is that, because of the currently craptacular state of the housing market, The Wife and I will be sharing the house instead of selling (from this sentence forward, she will be referred to as The Roommate). As a result, we will both be privvy to each other’s dating excursions. This will most likely be painful at first, but perhaps the best way to overcome the unpleasantness is to stare it in the face. If it isn’t the best way, I will at least pretend since that’s going to be the situation for a while.
The second challenge stems from my unfamiliar surroundings. Having moved here less than a year ago and having spent the majority of that time either sitting at this computer working or at home resting to come back to work, my social network has remained very, very small. You might ask why I don’t choose a friendlier clime in which to recover from my marital surgery. To this I would reply: “Because I like it here. I like my job and I like my house and I like the fact that I don’t have to battle 9 million other people all driving to the exact same grocery store at the same exact same time as me.”
Which brings me to the third challenge of my newfound singlehood: How exactly does a guy meet people in this town and in this day and age? I once found myself in this exact situation (minus the marriagectomy): It was in the weeks after my college graduation and I had driven to Wisconsin to do an internship at a newspaper. In those days I had a lot more hair and naïveté, and somehow I convinced the editor of the paper to let me write a whole column about how I was a swingin’ single guy from California who needed dates. To my surprise, it worked like a charm. For the rest of the summer, I was not left wanting for female company. It was the one and only time in my single life I would ever say that.
Somehow, though, I don’t think my boss here at the Tribune would be very happy if I went for a repeat of that glorious column. Besides, I have learned that lightning rarely strikes twice. I should be happy it struck me once.
When I wasn’t attracting women with my newspaper-boy charm, I used to head to clubs or bars looking for potential mates who were as sad, and desperate, as myself. Do people still do that? I have done some asking and even gone out once or twice and, to my relief, it seems that tried and true method is still alive and well here in Reno. Now it is just a matter of going to the right club on the right night and waiting for the storm clouds to drop electricity at my feet.
There is also this newfangled way of meeting people these days called the Internet. This is a far cry from the club-her-over-the-head-and-drag-her-by-the-hair method that I am inclined to try. In fact, back when I had a marriage force field to protect me, I would make fun of people who spent their time looking for e-mates. “I can’t hold hands with a computer,” I would chide. One of the side effects of my operation, however, has been an uncontrollable willingness to give computer dating a try. I have tried out one of the free sites, but after a week of suave-yet-casual attempts to make contact with some women with on-screen appeal, no real luck. It seems that another truism has come back to bite me: You get what you pay for.
What is next, then, for Reno’s newest eligible bachelor? I can say with great confidence and enthusiasm, “I’m not sure!” But, I can say with equal confidence and enthusiasm, “I’ll keep trying!” During the tough times before my marriagectomy, I often fantasized about what my life would be like at this stage. In my mind, it was filled with wild, drunken orgies and non-stop adventure. Any minute now.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go work on a MySpace profile.
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.