Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wedding Dresses

A few years ago, I was at the Gap trying on dresses to wear to the wedding of my (at the time) boyfriend's friend. The zipper on a particular dress was stuck when my phone rang. Letting the dress hang on me, I answered the phone to find a good friend from Connecticut on the other end. We hadn't talked in a while and when she asked me what I was up to I replied, "Oh just trying on wedding dresses." There was a shrill squeal coming from Connecticut that I could almost hear without the help of my phone. "Who is he? Where did you meet him? How long have you been together because it couldn't have been too long..." 

"Connecticut! I'm not trying on wedding dresses, I'm trying on dresses to wear to a wedding."

"Oh, well, that's fun too."

The impossible search for the perfect dress to wear to a wedding is one I have endured many times. When you're lucky enough to be a bridesmaid, you have your dress, (usually) your shoes, and sometimes even your jewelry picked out for you. If you're really lucky, the bride even takes care of making sure your hair and/or make-up look pretty. These weddings are the easiest in the world to go to as a single friend. Not only are you there to support a very good friend on a very important day, but you usually look hot in a (again, if you're lucky) pretty dress and have jobs to keep you busy during the slow songs. At Last comes on and suddenly you notice the bride needs some water. Let's Stay Together starts playing and candles need to be lit. The DJ decides What a Wonderful World now needs to be heard and the bride's mother needs help putting gifts in the honeymoon suite. There's always a job to be done!

When you are getting ready to go to a wedding that requires nothing more of you than showing up, looking presentable, and with a gift in hand, the dress shopping becomes more difficult. Perhaps it is a maturing mentality, maybe a committed relationship, or maybe a new baby, but as many of my friends have moved ahead with their lives as married ladies, their clothing has changed to reflect their new status. There is no question that they are beautiful, successful women, but there is also no doubt they are going to go home a man they adore. The single (and when I use the term "single", I mean no attachments) women are always dressed a little differently. 

Weddings, like any other party, are opportunities for single people to meet, make fun of their married friends, and drink free alcohol. They are also occasions to make first impressions. The dress you wear can make all the difference in the world. 

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Results

Wednesday morning I wake up to my phone buzzing. I roll over to see the little red light flashing, but no one is calling, must be an email or text. I roll back over and try to go back to such luck.

As I pull myself out of bed, I pick up the annoying little device that seems to rule my life, and check to see what sort of a message is awaiting me. Sure enough there are the almost daily Piperlime, Gap, and Nordstrom emails telling me about the latest and greatest that I still can't buy at this time. Seeing Rachel Zoe's picks on Piperlime make me want to cry because I know I will never feel okay buying a $600 pair of shoes, no matter how fabulous they are. At the very top of the list, however, I see it: Your PreDating Match Results! I can almost hear Heather* squealing with delight as she enters information into her magic dating computer that instantly spits out matches for the dateless. I go to my computer, open up my email, and there it is, waiting to be read in its full glory. For a minute, I'm not sure I want to open this. Despite the fact that I didn't really feel any connection (yes, I hate that word as much as the next girl who has watched too many episodes of the "Bachelor", but it woks here) with most of the guys, what if none of them put me down?

When you sign up for this event you are told that only those people with whom you have mutual matches may contact you, but you will see everyone who circled "Let's talk again". A sinking feeling settles into my stomach. What if no one circled "Let's talk again" for me? What if that happened to someone else? An uncomfortable sense of rejection makes me back away from my computer, refill my coffee cup and drink it all before going back to my email. 

I take a deep breath and open it up. I feel so silly for being nervous or, really, for caring what-so-ever. The purpose of doing this was to have the experience, not to find someone to spend the rest of my life with. I exhale as I see that the two men for whom I circled "Let's talk again" had done the same for me. That former feeling of rejection turns to guilt as I imagine the very nice guys my friend and I giggled about, and had circled "No thanks", looking at their results and seeing that not everyone they had wanted to talk to didn't want to talk to them. If the person or people you wanted to talk to don't chose you, it's like being dumped by multiple people all at once. 

My new dilemma: Do I actually write back to the two guys who have contacted me?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

30 x 30

Last August, it hit me, I was going to be thirty in 13 months. I was at the end of an on-again, off-again relationship, had a mortgage, a dog, and could count the number of single friends I still had on one hand. Nothing exciting was happening to me by chance, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. On the day that things finally ended with Jeremy* I sat down with friends and had some strong drinks, then came home and wrote my list of thirty things to accomplish by my thirtieth birthday. The following is the full list:

1. Learn to play tennis -- done
2. Read War and Peace
3. Get a tattoo
4. Take a Wine Snob class -- done
5. Run a half-marathon -- done
6. Learn how to windsurf
7. Complete the Portland Bridge Pedal -- done
8. Finish US Government class
9. Learn about interior design
10. Ask a guy out -- done
11. Learn how to sew -- done
12. Run Race for the Cure -- done
13. Complete the Lucky Lab Ride -- done
14. Pay off one credit card
15. Go to a movie by myself
16. Go to lunch/dinner by myself -- done
17. Finish laundry room
18. Go Christmas shopping at 6 AM on Black Friday -- done
19. Watch The Godfather -- all three of them -- done
20. Go speed dating -- done
21. Go to First Thursday -- done
22. Visit Kelly in Ashland -- done
23. Make a souffle
24. Finish my childhood scrapbook
25. Finish my European scrapbook
26. Clean out belongings at Mom and Dad's
27. Start a book club -- done
28. Go to Roller Derby -- done
29. See DMB at the Gorge
30. Go to a free movie in the park -- done

I have just a month to finish, follow along on the journey!

*Name changed

6 Minutes

There is a common belief that you can tell a lot about a person within the first six minutes of meeting him. Chemistry, compatibility, connection and all of those other ideas that we look for in a partner are supposedly apparent within those precious 360 seconds. Who knew it was that easy to meet someone that could possibly be the love of your life? 

I walk in to the tavern hoping to see my friend quickly so that I'm not all by myself. She is standing at the bar, beer already in one hand and a bingo card in the other. I am instantly struck with the realization that I am about to play one of the torturous ice breakers I make my students play during the first week of school. Sure enough the coordinator of the event, lets call her Heather, yells my name, plants a name tag on my shoulder, and hands me my very own bingo card. Right off the bat I notice that Heather is not wearing an engagement or wedding ring. A little ironic that the coordinator of a speed dating event is not obviously otherwise engaged. I know this is a bit presumptuous but I can't help being a little cynical. Almost thirty, still single and surrounded by friends who have found and claimed their better halves. 

I quickly saddle up to the bar to calm the butterflies that have surprisingly developed in my stomach. A few minutes later, I'm happily sipping on a vodka and soda with lime trying to find someone who has a bell or basket on their bike. This is Portland, Oregon for God's sake, there has to be someone! As I slowly branch out from my friend to find more people to fill in my bingo card, I begin taking notice of the people who are around me. We range in age from twenty-eight to thirty-nine and are all looking for someone. It is a little comforting, calming and even a little upsetting. 

We are ushered into a sectioned off area of the tavern and Heather begins welcoming all of us to her event. She is brimming with enthusiasm and peppiness; I have to stop myself from laughing a few times. Each person is given a score card, the bottom half for note taking while the top is going to be given to Heather with our choices. The ladies are told to go to their assigned table and wait for their first dates to arrive. When I see my table, I am happy. While most of the other women are seated at regular tables next to each other, my table is in a kind of wooden bee hive complete with open spots conveniently located so I could turn and see how my friend was doing after each six minute date. 

Date #1
Sam* sits down and is exuding nervous energy. I put out my hand, introductions are made and the small talk begins.
"Is this your first time doing this?" I ask. 
"Second time actually."
"Are you from Portland originally?"
"Yes, born and raised. Then went to school in Eugene."
"Me too! U of O?"
The small talk continues and the bell rings. "Wow six minutes goes fast! Nice to meet you, Sam." 
I flip the status card over to "NOT READY" and write down information about "Sam". 
Rating: No thanks

Date #2
Michael* takes a seat, and introductions are made. Almost instantly, Michael reaches for the suggested questions and asks, "So, do you like to travel?" Small talk, uncomfortable silence, small talk, and the bell rings. "It was really nice to meet you Michael. Have fun!"
Rating: No thanks

Date #3
George* pokes his head in the bee hive, smiles and sits down. With a thick Indian accent, George begins to question, starting with, "What do you do?" Blah, blah, blah...Six minutes and nothing except for a nice man who laughs after every statement. 
Rating: No thanks

Date #4
Kyle* enters the bee hive with the red "NOT READY" sign still on the table. He smiles, nervously laughs, and backs out like a little kid who has just seen Santa putting presents under the tree. I turn the card over and Kyle comes back in. He sits down and writes my name on his card. His forehead is a little sweaty and he looks nervous. Kyle smiles, looks down at the table, looks back up and begins to tell me about the first time he went speed dating. At the request of a friend, he attended an event, even though his girlfriend, yes his girlfriend, asked him not to. 
Rating: No thanks

Date #5
John*---that's enough to know...I've dated too many men named John. 
Rating: No thanks

BREAK TIME: As I'm waiting for my second vodka and soda with lime I have realized that I am able to picture all of these guys as awkward middle school students. I suddenly start feeling very sorry some of them...I've seen younger versions of each of them in my classroom. 

Date #6
Patrick* is a very nice, non-golfer who works for a golf company. Six seconds and I know there is nothing there. 
Rating: No thanks

Date #7
Ryan* looks like a 35 year old frat boy.
Rating: No thanks

Date #8
I'm getting tired when a gay straight man boisterously enters the bee hive, tilts his head, and introduces himself. We soon learn that we are both teachers and instantly have something to talk about--just in time for the bell to ring. 
Rating: No thanks

Date #9
Robert* is one of the older men in attendance. I actually find him interesting with a story to tell. A minute before time is up he starts to tell me about his time in Africa at the beginning of a civil war. Finally someone who has left the country and done something worthwhile! 
Rating: Let's talk again -- if nothing else I want to hear more about Africa!

Date #10
My final date takes a seat. He is a pilot who has been furloughed and is making the leap to fall back career. Like my history with men named John, I have a history with pilots. Seriously not sure what my deal is with these themes. 
Rating: Let's talk again -- old habits die hard

Heather does a final bell ring, promises to have our matches up by the time we wake up in the morning, and as we file out I hand her the top half of my score sheet. She is so excited about everything it is almost disgusting. I meet my friend at the bar, close out my tab, we walk around the corner and start laughing about the evening. 

Sixty minutes of 10 first dates, two vodka and sodas and one more item checked off my 30 x 30 list. 

*Names changed