an essay for Solo in The 2nd City on the occasion of their first anniversary

This is what I read at the first anniversary party for Solo in The 2nd City, which happened at Beauty Bar on February 13, 2013. This is as written, not as delivered.

Solo in the 2nd City! You are a year old, but you don’t look a day over, um, 9 months.

Solo in the 2nd City! Thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak my mind about being a spinster, excuse me, I mean a single lady, to a room of friendly (or maybe just drunk) strangers, instead of my fellow riders on the Broadway bus.

It probably would have been nice if I had come prepared, maybe with a chart or a PowerPoint presentation, to tell you about every important thing I’ve learned about being single in the year since Solo in the 2nd City, have come into existence.

But to be honest I have learned nothing at all. Not one thing.

Okay, one thing. I learned one thing.

Being single… is different for everybody. There are as many ways to being single as there are single people.

And, from what I can tell, I have been doing it all wrong.

Like, when you’re single, you can go on actual dates; or, if you are like me, you can go on elaborate pretend dates with cute guys you see on the bus.

You can take yourself out to a cool bar (like this one!), and meet some cute thing who will buy you a drink. Of, if you are like me, you use a “buy 1, get 1 free” coupon at Chipotle to buy two burritos – one for you, and one for you again at 1 in the morning when you have a totally crucial burrito emergency.

You can be assertive and unapologetic about fulfilling physical needs. By which I mean, you can go out and get laid. Or, if you’re me, you can stick to tweeting about how you just walked past a dude who leered at you while he was peeing in one of those glass bus shelters, and you can’t stop laughing about how you totally saw his penis.

And then you tweet again when you realize that his dick is the only actual in person real live penis you have seen in a really long time.

What is the hashtag for that?

You would think that after being single for so long, I would have learned to change my ways or maybe change (by which I mean, LOWER) my expectations.

But I haven’t.

I don’t think I’m any braver or bolder as a single person than I was a year ago. But just so you don’t think I’m a total douche, I’m pretty sure I’m not any smarter, either.

Definitely prettier, though. Uh huh.

Like, I know that the key to getting better at something is to get over my fear of being bad at it first. I should practice dating like I practiced playing handbells in high school, or practiced reading this essay in the ladies room at work.

Maybe I could get the ball rolling by responding to one of the few eloquently written messages I get from potential suitors on OKCupid?

But I never quite know how to follow up a message from an online dating service that says

Hi how are you doing my name is Edgar* and I am a 29 m Puerto Rican from Chicago and I wanted to know if you would like talk sometime I hope to hear from you soon take care

[*Not his real name!]

Or I should definitely talk up one of you dudes later and, after it’s been established that you are 1. single yourself, and 2. are not completely repulsed, I should, give you my real phone number.

But maybe you shouldn’t call me just yet.

Just let me take care of a few errands, like, um, doing my laundry, returning these library books, getting my teeth cleaned, refilling my prescriptions, renewing my lease, going to the mall to get resized at the fancy lingerie store so I can buy new bras, harvesting my eggs for the children I’m pretty sure I’m not having, and when that’s all done I’ll have discovered that you, theoretical dude, will have already bought a manhattan for the other chick who is way more fun or at least less of a hassle than me.

One year ago tonight, I got up on the stage at Solo in the 2nd City’s first reading and read an essay which was basically a history of my singledom, and how that singledom was grounded in a weirdness that I don’t think I’ve yet managed to shake.

I wrote about how excited I was to be coming to Chicago for college after years spent at an all-girls school. I was so excited to get there that it never occurred to me that I should figure out what it was I wanted to do once I arrived. I was totally clueless.

This is what I wrote last year:

I had no role models for dating… Where was the romance (or at least just the sex?) I’d been expecting? Whenever I saw people huddled together on campus I’d get excited because I thought they were necking but then I realized they were just standing together to keep warm.

The difference between then and now is that I feel like I do have some role models, like my fellow readers here, who will bravely share the triumphs and the tragedies of their own dating lives in public for my amusement and edification.

I have friends who will commiserate with me when my latest attempt to try to chat up the that hot ginger with tattooed knuckles on the North Avenue bus goes awry.

People are still huddling up, standing close. It’s winter here in Chicago, and winter in Chicago is fucking cold.

But while our friend the groundhog predicted an early spring a few weeks ago, we’ve still got a way to go until the warmth, the joy, and the light of springtime comes back into our lives.

And into our loins.


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