I’m single. That used to mean something different to me. Being single meant I was “on the prowl.” No girlfriend. No ball and chain. Nothing holding me back. I’d get ready to go out to the bars that night and give myself a pep talk. I might even have followed it with a wink.

Did you just cringe? Yeah. Me too. I hate that guy. That guy was a douche.

Don’t get me wrong. That Guy provided me with a lot of stories. My close friends know about “Yoda” and “F.P.L.” as well as a sad parade of others. They know about jacket-stealing crazies and cyber-hacking lunatics. That Guy was a magnet for trouble. Maybe he knew I’d write one day and was simply trying to provide me with unlimited material.

Thank you, That Guy, but your stories should never be told to the general public. Your shenanigans should never be put into written word.

Regardless, That Guy never lasted long. Empty casual flings led to a longing for “the real deal.” A real, long-term relationship. So, That Guy would step aside for The Other Guy. The Other Guy created online profiles on dating sites. He scoured those sites, reading endless profiles about women who “looooove” football and prefer to spend their days running seven consecutive marathons, attending every country music concert in a tri-state area, and sky-diving into piranha-infested waters because “yolo.” On a disturbing side note, my laptop did not highlight “yolo” as a possible misspelling. None of the women were there for casual hook-ups so, if that’s what you wanted, “swipe left.” When the Other Guy would find a woman who seemed interesting, he would try to have conversations with her, asking her about things she’d written in her profile and offering witty and intelligent banter. He wouldn’t try to maneuver her into a casual hook-up or send unsolicited pictures of his no-no region. Obviously, that worked out well. Number of women met in person from online dating: 0.

Recently, I’ve found myself in uncharted territory. I’m comfortable.

I work. I pick up my daughter from school. I spend time with her that night. I drop her off at school the next day. I do some chores. I exercise. I go to work again. I come home. I play video games. I watch movies or television. Rinse and repeat.

This Guy’s life is far from exciting. But it’s comfortable. There is an odd calm that has come over me. A twilight version of my life—I’m not referring to Team Edward vs. Team Jacob (Team Jacob). When the sun is starting to sink below the horizon and the air cools just a bit, the world for me is filled with something soothing and beautiful. It’s akin to the moment just before two lovers fall asleep in each other’s arms while they quietly talk about nothing. That is This Guy’s life right now.

Some of my friends are worried about me because they never see me out. Others have probably nearly forgotten me completely. Yet others have voiced how disappointed they are in me for “losing my mojo” and no longer having any new outrageous and/or disgusting adult stories to tell (you’re a terrible influence, Lori).

I’ve been That Guy. That Guy is obnoxious and kind of creepy. And I’ve been the Other Guy. The Other Guy gets lonely and craves companionship. But This Guy—This Guy is happy. This Guy is a writer. This Guy gets to sit outside and watch the sunset.

What A Girl Wants

If you have access to social media, you know that it’s a wonderful world full of opinions and memes. Granted, “you’re” is usually used incorrectly in the majority of the memes and the opinions are often regurgitated false-truths that haven’t been fact-checked. Welcome to the Internet. I allow my “grammar police” self a lot of leeway to turn away in this forum. Likewise, opinions…well we all know that old adage.

However, in the spirit of posteriors, orifices, and ownership rights, I’m going to give an opinion of my own. Straight women: Stop.

In the process of waiting on a table this week, one woman had shown up before the rest of her party. This should have been a simple process. I greet her. I take her drink order. I make the drink. I deliver the drink. Just as she ordered her beverage, though, I looked her in the face and thought, “Wow, she has beautiful eyes.” They were striking. So striking, in fact, that as soon as I got to the drink station, I realized I had no idea what she had ordered. Feeling like the idiot that I sometimes am, I laughingly told my coworkers around me about my predicament. What came next was unexpected. One coworker said, “You didn’t say that to her, did you?!” The other coworkers seemed equally concerned. As though telling a stranger that she had pretty eyes would be on the same level of asking if I could sniff her neck. I had not said anything and, after witnessing the horror on the faces of my fellow employees, decided I should probably never interact with a woman again.

I did what any server does in the forgotten-drink-order situation. I went back with a tray of the three basics: iced tea, water with lemon, and Diet Coke. I apologized for being an idiot, told her I couldn’t remember what she had ordered, and then jokingly played it off that I might or might not be drunk. I did all of this while avoiding eye contact as adamantly as one would avert the gaze of Medusa. Apparently, I don’t comprehend language when confronted with pretty eyes.

What bothered me more than looking like a fool was the reaction of my coworkers. No, I did not compliment a woman I did not know. But why would that be such a terrible thing? In my fascination, I asked coworker #1. She explained that it’s “creepy.” That the woman would already know that she had pretty eyes and didn’t “need” to hear it from me. That every “creep” out there probably compliments her all the time on those eyes. I then asked if I it was better for a guy to be an asshole and insult her. She told me no. That attractive women “just want to be left alone.” Maybe my coworkers are in the minority.

Here’s the problem: My social media feeds are filled with memes and famous quotes posted by attractive, straight women. The running theme consists of “queens” deserving to be treated as such by their “kings.” They say there are no good men out there. They complain about “f***boys” and idiots. And women are creating more and more of those “f***boys” every day.

I completely understand that hearing compliments on your attributes by slobs with neck tattoos and straight-billed caps turned sideways must get old. It must make you jaded. So focus on genuine compliments. Those delivered without the man licking his lips. Those not telling you how “fine” your ass or “tits” are. If men aren’t allowed to voice genuine compliments, they are forced to focus on apathy. Men who neither share nor care are deemed to be the very assholes women are supposedly trying to avoid. Enter the douchebags.

My friends Jordan and Rebekah are a happily married gay couple. I involved them in the Pretty Eyes debacle. They both seemed baffled. Who wouldn’t like hearing they have pretty eyes? They admitted that being a straight woman inundated with constant compliments by guys must be tough. But then they hit me with the real problem: Women know exactly what they don’t want, and no clue as to what they do want.

As a man with three sisters, and who has worked in the service industry for years, and who has social media, I have listened to countless women complain about their love lives or lack thereof. All those attributes about men that they can’t stand. Let’s break down the popular negatives:

  1. He’s an idiot
  2. He’s unemployed
  3. He’s too negative
  4. He lives with his parents
  5. He flirts with other women
  6. He’s unattractive or too short or too tall
  7. He has no sense of humor
  8. He’s too clingy
  9. He wouldn’t make a good parent
  10. He does drugs

These are all valid arguments against grown men when looking for a relationship. These items are on my own “red flag” list when considering women. But, if there is a negative list, turning it around would be a positive one, correct? Thus, you should know what you want.

  1. Intelligence
  2. Steady employment
  3. Positive outlook
  4. Supports himself
  5. Loyal
  6. Attractive
  7. Funny
  8. Confident
  9. Solid father
  10. Does not do drugs

That would seem to be a list of things straight women want from a man in a relationship. Certainly, some of the items might have stipulations. Steady employment at minimum wage makes it difficult to support oneself. Attractiveness is subject to interpretation. Confidence can spill over into outright conceit. There’s always a middle ground.

The point is that there are numerous men out there who fit these criteria. Where are they? They’re the guys to whom you bitch about other guys. So stop. Stop looking for “likes” on your female empowerment memes from women who perpetuate the cycle. Stop treating every man who wants to treat you well as though there is something wrong with him. Stop falling “more in love than you’ve ever been” every two months. Stop allowing men to ask you to “hang out” instead of taking you on a date. Stop telling men not to compliment the things about you they find captivating. Stop turning the good guys into the apathetic pricks you can’t stand.

And then start. Start realizing that having a door opened for you or a chair pulled out doesn’t mean he’s fake, but that he was raised a certain way. Start to understand that some men really are interested in how your day was. Start accepting that he might be mesmerized by your smile or your odd laugh. Start loving yourself enough to allow a good man into your life. Start being the woman who deserves better.

Love Song For No One

I slept like a baby last night. I mean that in the realistic sense. I tossed and turned. I woke up every couple of hours. I sweat. Random, nonsensical images kept flashing through my mind. And at one point, I thought I was going to shit myself. It turns out, if you want to sleep like a baby, have a late-night meal of Ramen noodles, an apple, and Very Berry Cheerios. It’s the perfect storm.

I often eat late at night. Half the week, I don’t get off work until about 10pm. The other half, I work the lunch shift and can’t eat until I get home. Thus, late night meals hold me over until after work. I know. Eating late is terribly unhealthy. As is smoking cigarettes and drinking vodka. Next thing you know, they’ll be saying that heroin and unprotected sex with prostitutes is dangerous. It was the knowledge that late-night eating is unhealthy that prompted me to throw together this “more healthy” combination. I was proud of myself that my meal didn’t consist of most of an entire pizza. My whole being disagreed.

What I needed at the moment of culinary decision-making was a significant other. A grown woman to tell me that grown men have no business eating like that. My daughter is no help. She’s ten, and would consider the prospect of the Ramen/apple/cereal entrée to be a delicacy. I would explain to her that those things do not make up a real meal and force her to dine on something of substance. Pot. Kettle. May we discuss color schemes?

And so, I’m back to the thought that has plagued me a lot recently. I should start dating again. It seems like a simple enough concept. You go out. You meet people. You take said people out on dates and discover whether or not the two of you connect. You get to have sex that doesn’t involve your laptop or smart phone. You have someone to talk to about your day. You have someone to smack the Cheerios out of your hand at midnight.

The problem is that dating sucks. It wasn’t bad for me in my twenties. I was bartending in a karaoke bar. I dated a lot of women from there. I met my daughter’s mother in that bar. I was in an environment designed for people to meet others my age at that time. Now, I’m 37 years old. Spending time in bars just makes me feel ancient. If you’re in a bar with a shaved head and a goatee, and you aren’t the bouncer, you’re out of place. Hip hop and rap play so loudly that I can’t have a conversation. Despite my claims, I’m not actually much of twerker. My balance, especially after vodka, is not ideal for dry-humping on a dance floor. I’ve heard it said that how a man dances is the equivalent of how he is in bed. If that’s the case, I am so, so sorry to any woman with whom I’ve had sex. That must have been an uncomfortable, awkward experience. Like dancing The Robot, but with a robot that has epilepsy.

The wonderful world of dating has changed a lot over the last decade.  The Internet has taken over. I tried my hand at it. I downloaded dating apps. Those work wonders, from what I understand, if you live in a large city. I do not. Instead, I am forced to read the profiles of women to whom I used to serve drinks regularly. The pictures always look amazing. Their profiles are meticulously written and sound intelligent and interesting. But I’ve seen how they carry themselves after shot number three. And I’ve listened to them carry on conversations at my bar. Sorry, sweetheart, your profile isn’t exactly accurate. How is it that every woman in the world loves sports and is an adrenaline junkie these days? I couldn’t care less if I never see any type of game on TV. And there is no way in hell you will ever find me jumping out of an airplane thousands of feet in the air. I haven’t attended enough church in my life to have that kind of faith. Oh, you’re not looking for a hookup? I should swipe left? Perhaps you should respond to different and interesting questions from a guy who isn’t immediately sending unsolicited pics of his junk. I’m classy. I save that until at least conversation number three.

Online dating doesn’t allow me to gauge a woman the way I need to in order to find out if I actually like her. I need to hear her inflection and tone. I need to listen to her words without autocorrect fixing her grammar. I need to see a genuine smile break out on her face instead of the one from selfie number 27. I need personalization. And here lies the problem: I don’t bring random women around my daughter. Considering that I have her three days a week, we’re down to four. I work evenings three of those four. That leaves Monday. Monday is the one day I neither work nor have my daughter after I drop her at school. I’ve been trying to start a movement in which Monday is the new Friday. It hasn’t caught on.

I briefly considered attending church just to try to meet a nice woman. Considering I’m not religious, I would feel like the guy trolling maternity wards just to find loose women. Just because the probability is high doesn’t mean you should do it. That was a joke. Take it easy, angry new mother. Likewise, approaching a woman with a flirty look on your face in the baby aisle at the grocery store might seem like a good idea. However, if you don’t preface “Those diapers are the best,” with “I have a daughter and I tried numerous brands,” the woman will assume you have digestive issues or a weird fetish. You know what? Just never approach a woman with a flirty look around any baby items of any kind. Scratch that. If you’re me, never approach any woman with a flirty look, period. I can’t pull it off. I look a little rapey.

Then there is the issue of being a 37 year old single father. I would like to have another child someday. Women my age are generally done having kids. Which pushes me toward women in their twenties. Until I try to talk about life with them and realize I could have legally driven them to kindergarten. Nope. So, I’m pushed back to “age appropriate” women. The type of women my friends tell me I should date. Women in their thirties usually have children of their own. If they don’t, they seem to have a problem with my relationship with my daughter’s mom. We get along well. Although a relationship for us wasn’t in the cards, we created a phenomenal young girl that has us connected for the rest of our lives. We both understand that and remain friends. She’s married now to a great guy. I attended their wedding. I love that my daughter can see us talk and laugh together. Girlfriends without kids, on the other hand, see the “baby mama” as an ex-girlfriend instead of the mother of my daughter. The two of us being friends has created issues. My last girlfriend actually ended our relationship because I wished Madison’s mom a Happy Mother’s Day on Facebook. Social media strikes again. Apparently, the problem was that my girlfriend was supposed to be the “woman in my life” and I should have tagged her in a post on Mother’s Day. Of course, my girlfriend had no children. I suppose I could have tagged her in a post about her soon-to-be barren ovaries, but I think the tone would have been wrong. I wish she was the only one. That was the second time a woman in her thirties took issue with Baby Mama.

So, I’m looking at women my age who have children of their own. This involves scheduling around all the children and shifts at work. Those without restraining orders on crazy exes would be ideal, but I’m a realist. In addition, I expect the children to be well-behaved, as that is how I raised my own daughter. I would like this woman to be intelligent, hilarious, attractive, and sane.

Holy shit. I’m going to die alone.