In high school, there was a girl we thought embodied the song “Somebody’s Baby.” A cute blonde with big blue eyes and moderately clear skin all the guys on the corner stood back to let walk on by, but never thought of romantically, thinking her spoken for. A compliment, we teenage squealed; she felt it differently, as the soundtrack playing in Fast Times at Ridgemont High every time Jennifer Jason Leigh got screwed by a random guy.
She was a pregnant by junior year.
Last night I went to my first ever singles event, an annual gathering of hundreds of Denver non-marrieds. After a Friday night spent eating cheese quesadillas in bed, watching Square Pegs on Hula, I was on board and ready to mingle.
Funny thing happened in the 12 minutes from shower to towel dry – I got nervous. Should I go at all, I thought, or simply dive back under the covers with a dirty? Walking into a social event alone takes polished brass balls; it’s akin to a wide-awake naked in public dream. “Just start the process,” I told my jittery self, figuring once I began the lotion-perfume-makeup-flat iron launch sequence I’d be to invested to turn back. The invitation defined dress as “business casual.” Admittedly, as a work at home writer, my “business” attire consists of gym clothes replant with warm-sugar-cookie-scented-après-work-out-scent or sans bra and contact lenses, sleepwear and glasses on for entirely too large a portion of the day.
I mulled the black Studio M tunic dress, black tights and black flats Robert Smith ensemble, and the wide-leg black sailor front trousers with white peplum jacket interviewing for a copy writer position choice before settling on the infamous and (I discovered low cut) red Macy’s dress. Red is a grounding color, powerful and a color men are drawn to. Paired with black footless tights and updated Mary Jane heels, I felt hip and sexy and like me and thoroughly uncomfortable all in one tightly Spanxed package. I’d fake it until I could make it and hope my tits stayed mostly in.
The shot of Patron heading out the door helped.
The “summit” was big and loud and poorly organized and filthy with folks of all ages, most in the 35-50 range. The room buzzed with noise and activity and smelled of Italian catering. I met Nannette and her friend Ingrid, two gorgeous, bubbly blondes full of life and cleavage, at the chocolate fountain and they quickly asked me to join their table. Nanette, a petite, gorgeous woman, overflowing with bosomy heart barely contained in a leopard-flowery print wrap dress. She “loves the Lord” and is scorecard efficient in flirting. Ingrid, a kewpie doll behind blonde ringlets and perfectly ski-sloped tiny nose; her picture could illustrate “Nordic” in the dictionary. She was born in Wisconsin but perfectly affects a Swedish accent at first introduction (and when drunk). My new girl tag team led me across the huge ballroom where we sat and chatted. Also seated there was a gray-haired gentleman who’d already befriended the duo, an old-school magician who wore a fedora with a yellow feather in it and went by the stage name “Kracko the Clown.” He was 75 if he was a day. It wasn’t lost on me how 15 minutes into my pursuit of the muskier sex I found myself holding court with the oldest man in the room, watching him perform sleight of hand and dusty “nothing up my sleeve” tricks.
I discovered what’s best about a singles group event is the thing I’d feared most; everyone there came alone, at best in a duo. Conversations sparked freely and you could easily “work in” to a group or a table. People. Actually. Talked. To. Each Other.
Mid-point in the evening and the “Lock and Key” party, a Freudian approach to the mix and mingle. Each woman was given a lock, each man a key. The goal, make contact with as many men as necessary, allowing each to plunge their rigid key into your chaste awaiting lock, swivel and jiggle just right and find sweet release.
It was fitting analogy for dating life. Since prizes awaited those who successfully connected, 30 minutes became a frenzy of brief encounters, groans of disappointment and quickly moving on in hopes of finding a better fit. Many didn’t even make eye contact. Nannette and I tired of the footrace chaos, and sat and sipped cocktails as the men frantically flocked to us. Kudos to the gentleman who instead of the assigned tiny master lock variety pulled out a car key and said, “Gosh, I’m just too big” as he probed.
I never did get my lock popped.
Near the end of the evening, Kracko, also known as John, turned and asked, “Have you ever been married, young lady?” “Nope! “ I replied with usual reverence. “I have never been married.” He took my hand, leaned in and said, “You know what you are dear? You’re just in the middle of your story.” He kissed my hand and I thanked him, a sweet old gesture from a sweet old man.
Thing is, this is all of my story. Perhaps mine is seeing into lovely, goofy people, telling tales through my eyes. On the outside looking in and around.
Something became clear in the last 24 hours. I don’t attract men in a romantic sense. I have no scrapbooks of Valentines or old corsages, prom photos or love letters. Blame karma or the cosmos or an old gypsy woman curse, I’m one who’s meant to be alone. I never wanted to be married, or maybe I’ve wished it away to the cornfield. I'm in the seats to witness real-life connections happening all around me, see Facebook status change from “Single” to “In a relationship." So today I put my hand down. It’s not going to happen that way for me. All day, a burn at the back of the throat, emotion coming up. I physically felt something in my chest crust over like a protective scab as it sunk in to reality and acceptance.
I’m jumping the companionship ship. I'm out. I bet I can swim, float when my arms get tired.
And watch Square Pegs on Hula Friday nights.