Every once in a while I think it might be nice to have a man in my life. But when I get real, I know all too well that the odds are against me. Seriously against me. Not too long ago I met a good man. We seemed to hit it off and I enjoyed his company. Then it all went south quickly. We were having dinner and the topic of football came up. He has season tickets to the Panthers games and this is a big part of his life. When he asked me if I liked football I talked about all the old men I’ve met who are crippled because they played football in high school. “It’s hard for me to watch a football game without thinking about how they’re abusing their bodies. I mean, people weren’t meant to run at top speed and crash into each other like that.” Then I made what I will admit was an unfair comparison. I compared watching football to watching a cockfight.
Last Friday night, I was telling this story to a girlfriend and she shrieked. “Oh my God, you didn’t really say that to him! Are you nuts?” The implication was that I shot myself in the foot at that moment. I blew it with him because I couldn’t keep my opinion to myself. Is that what happened? Would I still be seeing him if I pretended to be someone I wasn’t? “That’s why you’re alone on a Friday night!” my girlfriend told me.
I don’t know if I’m getting pickier about men as I get older, or if I’ve finally come to terms with how narrow the field of potential mates is for me. I do know what I can and can’t live with, and I will admit that by the time you line all those things up, the field of potential men for me becomes miniscule to non-existent in no time.
First of all, the man would have to be available. That means someone who is straight, single and healthy enough to consider being in a relationship with a living, breathing woman without flipping out. There aren’t as many of those men around as you might think. Then, of course, he would have to be in my age group, give or take a decade. And so the field narrows a bit more. He would have to be bright and have the ability to write in complete sentences or I could never get past it. (I’m not saying this is fair, but I know how I am.)
And, here's a real sorter down here in the Bible Belt… He would have to be somewhat accepting of religion in general, because, after all, that’s my life, but… and this is the kicker… not a Bible thumper. (These two things seem to be mutually exclusive in these parts. Men are either hostile to religion, or they’re so religious that it creeps me out.)
In order to be comfortable around my friends, he would need to accept people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. (And now we’re whittling the field down further.) Politically, if he ever voted for W, I couldn’t deal with it. (Are you starting to see my problem here?)
Then there are the little things that would be deal breakers for me. He has to love dogs and tolerate cats or he couldn’t come to my home. If he doesn’t contra-dance, he’d have to be willing to learn. He would have to make me laugh on a regular basis, and here’s a biggie… he also would have to laugh at my jokes. (I’m just sayin’.) Then there’s the whole thing about football (see above). And now we’re talking about a very select few men in the entire world. (But, of course, I’m not interested in dating men in the entire world. For example, if such a man existed in Nome, Alaska, I would regretfully have to pass.)
All that’s to say that the field of men I could seriously be in a relationship with is mini-micro-microscopic. And then, on top of all that, should I ever find someone who meets all the above criteria, he would have to be into me. So, now what are the chances of all those planets ever aligning?
I know that for the sake of a relationship, sometimes compromises are necessary. I’m willing to do that. I can eat in a Thai restaurant once in a while. I can go to the beach in August. I can even watch a football game on T.V. if that makes him happy. But what I won’t compromise is who I am. And that’s why I’m alone on a Friday night.