What I Need is a Pamphlet

Why is dating so hard? It seems to me that things are rarely equal. If you are into the guy, he’s not into you. If he’s into you, you’re not into him. And if you are both sort of interested, you still have to jump through all these awkward “Getting To Know You” hoops before you can really be comfortable.

I wish I could fast forward some of it and just, you know, be happy with someone. Thekind of happy where you're on the couch together, your legs over his, just, you know, comfortable. Relationships, though, aren’t just based on chemistry. They’re also based on time and shared experience. It's not like you can just add water and there you go: Instant Relationship.

What I’d really like is a pamphlet to tell me how to act.

One of my students gave me a handbook from the early 60’s telling girls how to be well groomed, behave on a date, and what to expect. It’s sort of like “Be sure you have washed thoroughly and spray a bit of perfume to interest your date.” And “At the end of the date you may tell your young man that you enjoyed yourself and would like to see him again, and then quickly enter your home”.

I’d like a book like that, but modernized.

“You must reach for your wallet when out to dinner fully prepared to pay, while secretly hoping your date will pay. His quickness to pay will show his level of interest in you. If he doesn’t offer to pay, then, move on lady, he’s not interested.”

There’s not a handbook though. Maybe I’ll work on one, only I don’t seem to know what’s going on or how I should act exactly. I mean, what’s the proper length of a chatty email? If you write too long of an email, do you risk seeming obsessive? If they don’t respond to emails because they’re busy, do you text something sweet? If you text something sweet, you may come off as desperate, which assuredly you are not. Do you tell someone you’d like to kiss them or do you wait, enduring an awkward silence in the parking lot while you stand by your car and he stands next to you and you say “Well, see you later” and he says “Yep. Sounds good” and you say “Okay then,” and he says “All right” and you say “I had a great time” (hoping he’ll say he’d like to see you again) and there’s this pause while you imagine your lips against his but really it’s too soon for that so maybe you should shake his hand and then he says “Okay, then” and you say “Yep. Okey dokey” and you really wish you hasn’t said that and then….aw fuck it…you retreat to your car and the kiss dissipates in the air like an unanswered wish.

I’m not, uh, talking from experience here, just you know, hypothesizing.

Can you believe I’m thinking these things at 36? I guess when it comes to love, we’re all sort of perpetual teenagers.

At least that’s what I’m hoping and that’s it not just me.