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Friday, June 25, 2010


I squirmed uncomfortably in my metal folding chair at a flamenco performance at Prospect Park last night, wondering why I'd suggested it as a night activity to the Colombian. Then I remembered. She likes flamenco dancing, and I like her. It was one of those compromise things that people do when they're in actual relationships - something I'd forgotten about while dating the tired, poor, wretched refuse that comprises the NYC dating pool. I tried my best to get into it, but watching other people dance doesn't do it for me. If only napping with your eyes open were possible, I could have soldiered through with ease. Instead, I decided to focus on the bright colors of the dancer's costume while forcing a head bobbing smile. I kept telling myself to think happy thoughts. First, I remembered that the concert was free, and that kept me smirking for about twenty seconds. When the cheap Jew in me could no longer sustain my feelings of joy, I recalled a conversation I had with my seven-year-old niece about the death of Gary Coleman. "Gary Coleman died?" she asked, surprised. "Oh my god! Grandma has his grill." That one got me through another minute and a half.

But between the beating my ass was taking from wiggling around on some cheap NYC Parks Department issued chair, and the fact that the temperature was in the nineties, I couldn't get into a comfort zone. "You're bored?" the Colombian asked, slightly irritated that I wasn't enjoying the performance. "No. Not at all," I answered, irritated that she was irritated. If not for me, she wouldn't even have been there. I was the one that found out about the performance after a good thirty seconds of online research. How could she be so ungrateful? I started to feel like maybe I wanted to be there alone. While dating NYC's unwashed masses, I'd forgotten about the other thing people do when they're in actual relationships - get on each other's nerves.

I looked around at some of the people in the audience who w
ere there by themselves, wondering if they were happier being alone. To my right sat a woman in her late forties who spent ten minutes before the show telling me how the government was responsible for the economic collapse. "Sure," I told her. "Because they deregulated Wall Street." "NO!" she shouted. "Because they send subliminal messages through magazines." Her solitude was clearly involuntary. I searched for another example of happy isolation , and caught a glimpse of a shirtless, tattoo-ridden man in his fifties, sitting alone, with his face in his hands, his head shaking as if he was in mourning. Ah, but these people are nothing like me, I thought. I'll never wind up like them. I could be alone and be perfectly normal and happy. And then I saw the old man above.*

There he sat, as uninterested in the performance as I was with no one sitting next to him. I pictured him being there because it was cooler than sitting in his non-air conditioned $300 a month rent controlled apartment. A man who had no wife or significant other, who went everywhere alone, carrying a newspaper and every pen he owns in the front pocket of a blue blazer. With a few exceptions, we were dressed a lot alike. I was in shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers, and I wondered if this man decided long ago that he'd just rather be alone. For a brief moment I envied his ability to openly display his boredom, and I thought maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I turned into him in thirty years. But then I realized that I could never pull off the knee socks look, so I put my arm around the Colombian and told her how happy I was to be there with her.

(My apologies for the poor formatting. Apparently, blogger doesn't react well to pictures of old men in camo shorts).



SassyGirl said...

She probably felt uneasy that you weren't enjoying yourself - presumably she wants you to enjoy the date as well. It would probably have been wiser to pick an activity you both enjoy. If that's not possible, I don't know if it's someone I would actually bother with. But at least you tried.

profile writing said...

I agree with sassy, at least you tried. Not much more you could have done about it.

question to friends said...

I agree with the guys!