I'm sitting cross-legged on my therapist's couch 4 months after my husband's announcement that he wants a divorce when my therapist informs me that he thinks I should start dating again.
I had told myself and others that I was going to take time off to concentrate on myself for once. Between a husband and three boys, I didn't know who I was anymore. I just wanted to hang out with my girlfriends, drink martinis like a fish, and let the hair grow long on my legs if I wanted. I had even gone so far as to announce to my friends that I was going to take a full year off from any kind of relationship.
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Ms. MDP Attends a Singles Party, Part 2
Armed with a Manhattan and words of advice from the tall, loud man in the kitchen to, “be sure to try the cayenne pepper popcorn,” I headed back out into the main rooms of the house to give mingling with the other singles a try. I scanned the living room, looking for someone who wasn’t already in the middle of a conversation with someone. It appeared people had already begun to pair off.
I walked, pink paper in hand, from the living room to the dining room where the food table was set up, bypassed the food for the time being, and ventured into the front room of the house. It seemed like everyone was already talking to someone. One of my friends was talking to a very handsome, tall man, and I couldn’t help but think that I probably wouldn’t have the guts to talk to him. I noticed one of my girlfriends across the room and commited the cardinal sin of networking/mingling. I went over and started talking to someone I already knew.
“How’s it going?” she asked.
“Not well,” I said with a sigh.
“Well, who have you talked to so far?”
“Well, there’s this weird guy in the kitchen,” I said, “He’s not part of the party, but I’m supposed to try the cayenne pepper popcorn. It’s supposed to be really good.”
“How many men have you found on your list?” she asked.
“None. I haven’t really tried yet. I don’t think I’m very good at this.”
“YOU’RE not good at this? Oh, come on. What’s your problem?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’m just not sure how to start,” I said.
“Just pick a guy, walk up to him, and say HI, give me a hint to which one of these things belongs to you,” she coached, referring to our long list of tidbits from the men at the party.
“Really? Is that what you’re really doing?”
“Huh,” I said.
“Now get back out there and get away from me. You’re blocking my action,” she said, “I’ll talk to you later.”
I felt like I was back in little swimmers class when the swimming teacher forces you let go of the side of the pool, pushes you out, away from the wall, into the water, and tells you to blow your first bubbles. I needed a fucking snorkel and a mask. I started to figure there would be nothing wrong with noshing on some party food, drinking a few Manhattans, and calling it an evening.
I started to move through the house again, and realized that a slight bottleneck existed at the base of the stairs and between the dining room and family room. The space there narrowed, and as people passed through, it was almost impossible not to at least say “excuse me” to someone. Opposite the bottom of the stairs there was also a little alcove. This was my spot. I put my back to the alcove and stopped there for a moment. The location offered me both prospect and refuge.
Within moments, I was face to face with a little Chinese man, looking up at me and asking, “Are you a top or a bottom?”
“What?!!” I asked.
“Top or bottom? Is your quote on the top half of the page or the bottom?”
“Oh,” I said, “I actually don’t know. Let me look at your paper.”
He held his blue piece of paper out so I could scan the tidbits offered up by other women and find my own.
“Well, I guess I’m a bottom,” I said.
“Does yours have anything to do with travel?” he inquired.
“Sadly, yes,” I responded. Obviously, this guy had figured out how to narrow down his choices by cutting them in half and then in half again. Smart. I made note to use his tactics on the next person I spoke to.
He quickly asked me a few more questions and narrowed the tidbits down until he was certain that I had “lived in Rome and taken cooking classes while there.”
“What kinds of things can you make,” he asked.
“Well, homemade pasta, ragu Bolognese, different kinds of risotto, limoncello…”
“Cool,” he said, “Ok, now do me.”
“You have to find my thing on the page.”
“Oh, yeah, ok. Well, are you a top or bottom?”
“Perfect,” I said.
This would be more difficult. At least with the travel-related tidbits you could then move to narrowing things down by hemispheres or continents. After some work, it turned out he, “is known as such a big eater that a couple of coworkers think he can shut down a buffet.”
“You don’t look like a man who can put away a buffet, but I believe you.”
“Oh, I love to eat,” he said.
We stood there, mushed into the alcove, talking for quite a while longer. He was a smarty-pants, engineer and was very easy to talk to. Although I could have stayed and spoken to him for much longer, I finally figured I had my technique down, and I was ready to try it on another person. Plus, my Manhattan was gone, and I needed another, key word being needed.
As I was standing, waiting for a drink, a tall, handsome, blonde man approached, and started talking to me. He said he wasn’t too worried about the contest. He was just interested in having a lot of different conversations. I wished I had his confidence and could navigate this party without my pink piece of paper. One more Manhattan and baby steps, that was what I needed. We talked for a few minutes and then moved on. As he was walking away he said, “oh, by the way, I wish I was in a boy band.”
I looked at my pink piece of paper and sure enough, there it was, near the bottom, “wishes he was in a boy band.”
Second dose of liquid courage in hand, I decided to finally go check out the infamous cayenne pepper popcorn. It was good, but not really my thing. Plus, party food that requires dipping and scooping does not mix well with people who are starting to get drunk. The guacamole, which I had also been told to try, was a disaster. It was starting to brown and had become the burial ground for a few chips, which had met their demise in mid scoop. There were some bleu cheese, bacon, and date things that were ok, but over all, I decided I could do without the party food.
I spotted The Buffet Boss across the table.
“Are you working on this?” I joked, waving my hand over the table.
“Mm, yeah, sort of,” he smiled in mid chew.
I decided to head back to my alcove…