The wasteland called romance

 It was Valentine’s Day two Sundays ago – always an interesting date on the calendar.  Every year, without fail, varying opinions about February 14th start to creep into conversation at the office and social gatherings about two weeks before the big day arrives.  Inevitable cynicism is the frontrunner, but I wonder in the end who buckles under the pressure to keep the household happy and the couch spouse-free?

It’s been a long time since I enjoyed that rare planet alignment of actually being in a relationship over Valentine’s Day.  Lincoln had just been shot…  But seriously, it always seems to be my luck (or a well planned strategy on the man’s part) that I’m single over the important dates such as the above, my birthday, Christmas and New Year’s.  It’s all going along so swimmingly but then September rolls around and they start to break out in a rash.  Before I know it, it’s not me, it’s them, and they’re bolting for the door with their credit card intact.  Foiled again!  I’m trying to remember my take on Valentine’s when romance was in the air.  I hate to admit it, but I think I was kinda expecting something to be delivered to the office, and if it wasn’t, I was kinda ready to make my disappointment extremely apparent somewhere along the lines of telling him exactly what he could do with my non-existent roses.

Now I’ve been single for a while, I’m more practical (bitter) about the whole thing.  A dozen roses = a decent deposit on a bicycle.  It’s hard to justify spending that kind of money on a beautiful display that will be dead within a week.  Ask me when I’m dating again.  Britney Spears has just been elected President…

So what about this whole romance thing anyway?  It’s a bit of a wasteland out there, lemme tell you.  I don’t know if Global Warming has anything to do with it, but I find myself going on about eligible bachelors like the demise of the Dodo.  “Back in my day there were hundreds of them, roaming free, and now there are only a handful left.”  I think we need to start a Society for the Preservation of Eligible Single People.  They’ve got to be right up there with the Blue Iguana.  You see these matchmaking websites advertising all the time, including that guy who resembles Orville Redenbacher trying to sell us on eharmony.com, or is it chemistry.com…or match.com?  Like he knows what it’s like for us young folk (ahem) out there in the trenches.  Do you know what I’ve noticed?  They always show the same five couples that found love on their sites.  There’s the younger couple where she was too busy to go out and track someone down, then the guy who plays hockey and his lady, and a few others.  Based on how long these services have been in business, I find it hard to believe that they’ve only managed to talk five pairs into being on TV to promote them.  I therefore conclude that it ain’t as much of a sure thing as they purport it to be.  I like the If-you-don’t-find-someone-in-the-first-month-we’ll-give-you-three-months-free guarantee.  Yeah, that’s what we need; three more months of futility.  You can’t put a price…

Down here in Cayman there have been a few dating events advertised over the years.  A singles club was organized back when West Bay Polo Club was still in business, and HELLO MY NAME IS… sticky badges were dispensed to anyone who attended.  I don’t know if it still exists, but it was certainly going strong for a while.  Bars were keen to sign up as the meeting place because there’s nothing like a bunch of nervous singles getting together in one location to make the cash register sing.

I attended a speed dating evening a few years ago, as the organizers were considering me as a host (because I’m SUCH an expert when it comes to reeling in the opposite sex) and it was a fascinating dynamic.  Self-assured attractive women socialized and chatted whilst a good number of the men stood together, trying to decide who would be the lead wagon in the circle.  It ended up being a fun event, but probably more geared towards newbies to the island.  I could have participated, but considering how long I’ve lived here, I doubt there would have been many surprises.  “Oh, it’s you,” would have quickly become old.  The difficulty in Cayman is the lack of anonymity.  Putting yourself out there will never remain a secret for very long.  Perhaps both parties could don burkas at the beginning, and then if the personalities gelled, looks could be revealed later!  I don’t know where I come up with this stuff, but it’s no surprise that I was always in the top percentile for raw intelligence.

I frankly think that the florists and restaurants should get in on the act.  It will only behoove them to have more couples brought together so that when next Valentine’s Day approaches, their sales will rocket skyward.  Casanova Restaurant could have a Night of Casanovas!  I’m thinkin’ late January, just after payday and a stone’s throw from Feb. 14th.

This year I celebrated Valentine’s Day by going to brunch with friends – it was great!  There was no pressure to say or do the right thing, or be constantly witty and attractive (although there are some switches that simply cannot be turned off, no matter how I try) – it was just a bunch of people enjoying some laughs and each other’s company.  It makes you realize that’s really what it should be like when you’re dating someone.  We all attempt to be on our best behavior because it’s natural to want to be perceived in the best light, but in the end, if we can’t be ourselves in the company of a potential Significant Other, then what’s the point?  Too many times I’ve tried to be demure, quiet, modest and even (gasp) shy!  It never lasts, and leaves the other person wondering when the potion wore off.

Less than seven months ‘til September 10th.  Tick, tick, tick…

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