22: Thank God I Wore Flats + All the Single Ladies

Date #22 was with Jim … or Jeff… I have both written down in my Blackberry calendar and I can’t for the dear, sweet life of me, ascertain which is correct. (This is partly because the date was over a month ago, and I have been busy working, Christmasing, treadmilling, reading, new-musicing and friending, and partly because I have a terrible memory.) At any rate, I had to reschedule my date with J after falling under the weather that Friday so we met the next Monday at Tryg’s in Uptown and shared delectable, if not teensy, apps. J was a short, muscular, short, older (late-thirties) gentleman hailing from a very eastern suburb of St. Paul. He was quick to smile and had the calm confidence of a man comfortably settled into himself.

It’s always interesting — and perhaps telling — how the first conversation topic of a first date finds its form. Often, it’s a bit quiet and uncomfortable, with napkin-twisting concentration on the drinks menu and the shuffling of chairs and the hanging of coats. Other times, you dive right into discussing a mutually agreed-upon topic. First up to bat with J was sports. I was proud to hold my own as we divulged team affiliations, talked Vikings in Arden Hills, hashed out the latest Twins’ trades and discussed the then-recent tentative agreement between NBA players and owners. I may dislike football because of the players and their exceedingly large attitudes, but for goodness sake, I still know what a safety is.

J was a very decent gentleman, letting me order first, holding the door and embodying a general sense of graciousness, which is old-fashioned but surely appreciated on a first date. We got along just fine, chatting about jobs, nieces and nephews, the holidays, and there were a few laughs sprinkled here and there.

The check arrived, we split the cost, climbed our way out of the oversized booths and headed for the door. It was indeed a good thing I wore flats that night — otherwise I would have usurped him in height. I *think* we exchanged numbers or something, but whatever the case, I didn’t call him or he didn’t call me and that’s the anticlimactic end of it.

A good chunk of my recent dates have been of the same lukewarm temperature — we don’t find anything freakishly wrong or disturbing in each other, sure, but nothing is really compelling us to explore a romantic route. It’s more like a friend date — a “frate,” or a “driend.” (Although the former sounds like shipping freight and the latter like something out of Lord of the Rings so let’s forget I wrote that and move on, okay?)

Kate Bolick’s article, “All the Single Ladies” (courtesy of the remarkably unfettered The Atlantic), about the single, contemporary female life has been out for a while, but still commands attention. Kate (we’re on a first-name basis) wonderfully describes the new male/female dynamic for the modern age and recounts the history of marriage and gender roles, but mostly I love her spirit and intellect and can trace commonalities in our lives as single, independent, superawesome women. We’ve both broken up with great guys for no great reason (although, admittedly, something was missing), and share the same refusal to simply settle. She puts her finger on a lifestyle trend I have been trying to get my mother to understand for several years now:

” … we keep putting marriage off. In 1960, the median age of first marriage in the U.S. was 23 for men and 20 for women; today it is 28 and 26. … We’re also marrying less—with a significant degree of change taking place in just the past decade and a half. In 1997, 29 percent of [the] Gen X cohort was married; among today’s Millennials that figure has dropped to 22 percent. (Compare that with 1960, when more than half of those ages 18 to 29 had already tied the knot.) These numbers reflect major attitudinal shifts.”

Kate goes on to examine the effects of the current economy on relationships, the advent of honeymoons — the couple used to invite family and friends along — and several other delightfully interesting topics relating to love, gender and happiness. (Well, perhaps delightful to those of us unattached lady fellows.) It just goes to say, for all those single ladies out there, you don’t always have to put a ring on it.

For more, check out “The Marriage Paradox: Why We Say It’s Outdated but Get Hitched Anyway” from my fave, GOOD.