Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Life Is Not a Romantic Comedy

If it were, random guys would not pull up next to me in their cars when I'm walking around, and they would not say, "Hey baby, why don't you come ride with us?" To which, of course, the only natural response is to say, "Get away from me or I'll go Jackie Chan on your face." I mean, seriously? Why would any guy think any girl would get into a car full of strangers? What do I look like, a hooker? What gave it away, the stack of college textbooks I was carrying or my sweatpants? Guys in romantic comedies are usually much more eloquent and prone to making long speeches about love while music plays in the background.

If it were, I would not be doing laundry on Friday nights, only to be confronted by drunk neighbors laughing at me, who look at me in the laundry room on their way up to their apartments or on their way out and say, "Looks like you've been having a fun Friday night! Ha ha!" To which, of course, the only natural response is to throw laundry detergent at them, preferably in the direction of their open mouths, so that they'll hopefully swallow some of the detergent and fall to the floor, gasping and gagging while I laugh and say, "How do you like me now? Ha HA!" (FYI: I don't actually want to poison my neighbors. I just want to, you know, make them throw up a little.)

If it were, I would not have to go on one awkward/bad/makes me want to run away screaming date after another. Have you ever noticed that when you see couples in public, you can tell which ones have been together for a while and which ones are on their first date? The ones on the first date are usually nervous and ask each other a bunch of questions as if they're on an interview, and there isn't that same sense of ease and closeness that you see with couples who have been together for longer.

But when I think back over all the dates I've been on just this past year, images from Saw II and Halloween start going through my head, because the level of terror and pain from those dates is more or less the same. I haven't felt that same sense of ease or closeness with any of the guys I went out with this year.

Whenever I watch TV shows or romantic comedies about people in their twenties or early thirties, they always portray dating as if it's one nonstop party. The only people that ever date on those shows, apparently, are good looking and physically fit even though they spend more time sitting around with their friends than working out at the gym. They have perfect first kisses and good chemistry within the first five minutes of the first date, it seems, and a few scenes later they're moving in together and calling each other cute pet names that make single people like me want to throw laundry detergent at them.

They also have plenty of time to date, and apparently only have to work about three hours a week at their jobs. And even at their jobs it's like one big meet market with other good-looking people and cute co-workers who have secret crushes on them, like the cute friend who's always been there for them and doesn't emerge as being "the one" until the big ending.

I, on the other hand, work on a college campus where 95% of the people I meet (the undergrads ) are out of the question as far as dating is concerned and where the only guys who are available think that it's cool to wear sweater vests and bow ties to bars and spend endless hours discussing the reasons why their dissertations are so awesome.

In romantic comedies, there's usually at least one running scene, where the guy or the girl suddenly realizes his or her love for the other person and goes running through the streets to find that person and make the big declaration. (And do you also notice how in those running scenes, there's always a big traffic jam or gay parade like in The Wedding Planner to slow them down? I'm just saying.) But in my life, the only running that occurs is when I'm running in the opposite direction from a guy who looks like one of the criminals on America's Most Wanted List.

What they hardly ever seem to show in romantic comedies is how difficult dating can be. Every time you put yourself out there, you're taking a risk. You could meet someone you like, but you could also meet someone you can't stand. You could fall for someone who has about as much interest in you as the stars of True Blood have about keeping mum on their relationships (I mean, seriously, is there anything the public doesn't know about Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer's love life? They are just WAY too open about what goes on behind closed doors.).

You could spend a lot of time waiting by the phone for someone who's never going to call. You could spend hours on a date with someone who thinks that his ex-girlfriend is an appropriate topic of conversation to focus on. You could go on a date with someone who looks like Beavis from Beavis and Butthead (and laughs like him too), and then spend the remainder of the date thinking of believable excuses to end the date early, such as you think you may have suddenly become infected with leprosy.

Yes, dating can lead to true love. But what happens if it doesn't? What if, twenty years from now, I'm still single? Am I going to have to keep going on bad first dates for the rest of my life? What if I never get my happy ending?

And yes, I know it's not like you can't have a happy ending if you're single. Of course you can. But eventually, I would like to get married, and maybe even have a family. And I don't think it's so bad to want that. I don't expect my life to be a romantic comedy, and I know that guys in real life don't measure up to movie heroes; I'm okay with that, because it's not like I'm anything like the leading women in those movies. But on the other hand, I do want my life to change. I'm just trying to figure out how to make that happen.

I'm thinking about trying online dating again, but this time with a different site. I haven't decided which one, though. But I might have to wait for a while. Ever since one of the classes I was supposed to teach got cancelled, I haven't exactly been able to be a big spender. I still have some bills to pay off, so it may be at least a couple months before I can afford to sign up for another membership.

I'm a little reluctant to try again, because I'm wondering how many dating sites I'm going to have to try before I finally meet someone. But even though the whole dating game can sometimes be about as much fun as getting my wisdom teeth pulled out, at the same time I'm thinking that maybe it'll be worth it this time around. Maybe I'll actually meet a guy who's worth knowing. And maybe Paris Hilton will get into Harvard Medical School.


  1. Wow! Thank you for this brilliant post. Karen G tweeted about your awesome blog. I had forgotten why I'm taking a break from internet dating but you reminded me very well in this post! The Beavis comment had me laughing. I think I've gone out on very uncomfortable dates with Butthead, though. ;)

    I have a Ph.D. and I'm a workaholic, so I can relate to that aspect as well. And now I'm trying to find time to write . . . where in the hell is time for dating? For the record, I've tried eharmony (hated it) (the best one I think), (pretty good), yahoo personals (no longer exists), and It's Just Lunch (not worth the expense). I haven't tried speed dating though my sister met her husband there. What are you thinking of trying? Good luck! Jen

  2. This is what worked for me. Go to a bar with a low cut top on and drink. Works everytime. Well the one time for me..and then I got pregnant and then I realized I did this whole dating thing bass-ackwards. Oh well, you will find someone because you are smart, funny and quirky. I'm not going to say 'good luck' because it seems weird. So, best wishes!

  3. Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you! I got a couple dates from eharmony, and I liked how it worked, but I decided not to renew my membership since several guys disappeared after the second or third e-mail with no explanation. I also tried and okcupid, and got dates from those too. But now I'm thinking of trying, so hopefully this one will work.

    Hi OfficeGirl,
    Thanks! It'd be nice to meet a quirky guy, because I think those types are interesting. I'm not good at drinking, though; I usually end up falling down and knocking over people after the first drink.

  4. yes I tweeted this before I commented, and look Jennifer Lane found you! I also emailed my 2 daughters with your link because even tho they're married now *thank heavens* they would be able to relate. Great post! I am definitely going to be much nicer to my husband from this point on.

  5. Hi Karen,
    Thanks again for the tweet! That was really nice; it made me smile. :)

  6. I hear ya sister. It is a long, arduous process to find a mate when you're awesome and have standards.

  7. I wish romantic comedies were written from a more realistic perspective. I haven't seen any I really enjoyed lately, but I have a feeling I'd get a kick out of one that you wrote.

  8. Hi gem,
    Thanks! You're right about the importance of having standards. I suppose if I didn't have standards it'd be a lot easier to find a mate, but then I'd end up with someone really weird.

    Hi Jane,
    Thank you! I haven't seen any romantic comedies I've liked lately either; lately it seems like they're all written according to the same formula.

  9. Romantic comedies are always Hollywoodized. They have to be otherwise we wouldn't pay good money to see 'em!

    Just keep being honest and decent and it'll all work out for you. gem says it very well indeed!

  10. You had me at : "Get away from me or I'll go Jackie Chan on your face."


  11. Hi notesfromnadir,
    Thanks for the encouragement. I like the romantic comedies that don't follow a Hollywood formula, like 500 Days of Summer. It's the same thing when I read chick lit; it's always refreshing to find a story that hasn't already been told a bunch of times.

    Hi FB,
    Thanks! Too bad I can't get Jackie Chan to go Jackie Chan on their faces.

  12. I'd have to agree. My life is not a romantic comedy either. I would not classify myself as a workaholic but I have not met any people to go on dates with. So which is better, a bad date, or no date at all? I've lived in a small town where there was no one, to now where I'm close to a big city but I don't really have friends nearby, so all of my venturing is by my lonesome. And the people in the big city nearby don't want to come to where I am. So one compromise after another. But hey, there's got to be some bigger picture in it for me, right? So I'll keep holding out.

    As far as online sites I have tried plentyoffish (stupid, sleezy guys), okcupid (ehh, ok), (ok), eharmony (I'd pass), chemistry (sucks because no ones "really" on there because it's so new) and more recently (not impressed so far). As I said, I haven't actually gone on dates with people from these sites. Maybe I'm too picky (I doubt it) or something, but I'm thinking the way to go is real life and just putting yourself in situations where the type of people you want to meet will be there - conferences, volunteering, sports, etc. I've had much better success that way.

    And I actually wrote about guys running after you. Sounds good in the movies, but in reality? Blah =

  13. Hi Lissa,
    It doesn't sound like you're too picky. Especially because you wouldn't want to settle for some guy you're not really into. I did try okcupid and too, and I had more success with those sites than I did with eharmony. But that doesn't mean I'm willing to try them again. :)