Clichés and the City

Last night I rode the train home after seeing my old college friend perform in a sketch comedy show at the Magnet Theater.  When I rounded the corner on 28th Street, I heard the train approaching.  I scurried down the stairs, through the turnstile and heeded the familiar musical warning that the doors would soon be closing.

There, I saw him: a beautiful specimen of a man, holding the subway doors open for me.

We rode the train in silence. I avoided eye contact but inched as close to him on the crowded train as possible, hoping for the screeching brakes or sudden jerk of movement to propel me into his arms.

Eventually, he sat down, and I sat next to him, only to have him give up his seat for an elderly woman.

The fire in my heart grew.

At 110th Street, he disappeared. I was left disappointed, but relished in the blissful memory of twelve subway stops of unrequited love at first sight.

I shared this story via social media, half-laughing at it all.  Yes, the man was gorgeous, and yes, my heart skipped a beat when his pant leg brushed against my black leggings. Yet, for all I know, he’s got a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. Or both. Maybe he’s a narcissist, or serial killer. He might have sleep apnea or an abhorrence to brushing his teeth. There are a million ways why this fantasy love story will never work, and I know it.  Still, it’s fun to imagine. I’m somewhat of a hopeless romantic.

The commentary that immediately followed on Facebook, Twitter, in person and over text was astoundingly full of clichés. It was almost as if I had shared my story, desperate for an answer. Quite the contrary!

I know everyone is trying to be helpful, but if one more person delivers a cliché in response to my tales of singlehood, I’m either going to scream, or vomit.  Perhaps both.

The following are a list of phrases I will pay to never hear again.

1.  The right one will come along, or God will bring the right one to you.

First of all, I’m not one to just sit around, waiting for things to happen.  Secondly, how can I argue with a cliché, starring God? He is in charge of everything, but He’s never promised me a second husband.  At this point, I’m just trying to get a decent date.  Furthermore, I do not believe in “The Right One” or “The One”. I believe you pick someone, and make it work. In all my years of therapy, I have learned chemistry and compatibility are the two most important factors that make up a relationship.

Chemistry: You’ve got to want to make out with the person all the time, because eventually, they will annoy the crap out of you.

Compatibility: You’ve got to get along with them initially, and have similar goals, because eventually, they will annoy the crap out of you.

But, you make it work, because love is always worth the risk. 

2.  When you stop looking, you’ll find him. 

Thank you for insinuating I am so desperate for a man in my life, I am constantly looking for one. There are days I rejoice in my freedom, and there are others when I am trying so hard not to look, all I see is dog poo on the sidewalk.

The truth is, anyone who is single and desires to be in relationship WILL NEVER STOP looking, hoping, wondering and dreaming, no matter how much we try to deny it.

3.  Do what you love, and the rest will follow.

This statement is actually less an annoying cliché and more frustrating truth. I moved to New York to pursue my career goals, not to find a man. At the same time, refer to cliché #1. If a man happens to cross my path (perhaps on the subway), I will not reject him. But if he’s not interested, I’m not going to stalk him. (Okay, maybe a little…)

At this point, I am doing what I love, and what I hope to immediately follow is a hard-earned paycheck.

4. Timing is everything. Be patient. Maybe he’s not ready yet.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to wait around for someone to figure out what to do with me. I want to be in a relationship with a man, not a boy who doesn’t know what – or who — he wants.

5.  He’s out there, somewhere.

Whenever someone says this to me, I immediately think of the love of my life, floating silently through the galaxy in one of those heavy-yet-gravity-free, badass space suits. I giggle at the mental picture, and then start to feel sorry for him, being all alone “out there, somewhere” (most likely, lost in the time-space continuum).

Maybe he’s in Indiana.

You know what else is “out there, somewhere”? Giant water buffalo. Babies being groomed to become sumo wrestlers. Dogs who wear sweaters. A cure for cancer. The next teary-eyed winner of a reality television talent competition. The eighth wonder of the world. My Tony, Oscar, Grammy and Pulitzer Prize Awards. Buttermilk.

6.  I don’t understand how someone as smart, talented, articulate and beautiful as you can still be single.

The right one hasn’t come along yet. God hasn’t brought him to me. Maybe I’m looking too hard. Perhaps I’m too focused on doing what I love to do. Maybe it’s just not the right time.

Or maybe you should just ask me out.

19 thoughts on “Clichés and the City

  1. […] who are looking for a mommy. (I was married to that. Not doing it again!) I’m impatient, and soothing cliches from well-meaning folk turn my tongue bitingly […]

  2. Meg says:

    Sorry Les, but I disagree. Although I didn’t comment to your last post (didn’t see it actually), I’m sure I’ve said something like that to you in the last few years. It’s because we truly want you to find someone – just like you do! And I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but if you don’t want people to comment, then don’t write about it!

    • I’m glad you disagree! I do not mean to negate the lovely people in my life who have shared their wisdom, and hope with — and for — me.

      When those of us who are single keep hearing the same things over and over, it starts to become frustrating AND funny, all at the same time.

      And you’re right: perhaps the commentary can stay silent on both ends. At the same time, however, I write from my experience, and many, many other people out there — women AND men! — have the same frustrations. I think, deep down, we’re just waiting for one — or all — of these sayings to become true.

      I love you, friend!

      • Meg says:

        Just so we’re clear – I’m glad you’re writing too! It’s good for your soul and I know many people enjoy reading your story – including me!! Love you too!

  3. ecn says:

    I would hug you if I ever met you. I get these all the time (32 and single with little dating experience) and each one makes me feel worse about myself. I’m not desperate, I just want to experience love some day. I don’t think that’s a horrible dream.

    Ugh. I like your story and I would have responded with something like, “The one who got away,” or “If he has a twin, let me know.”

    I really appreciate your candid posts. They are both honest and encouraging. Thank you.

    • I love hugs! We should meet just to hug it out. 🙂

      Thank YOU for reading and appreciating; it’s so good to know I’m not just writing to amuse myself. And please don’t feel bad about yourself. I am convinced people say crap to make themselves feel better. They fit into the “smug” category, no?

      Here’s to being date-less AND cliche-less!

  4. Erin says:

    Dude, yes. So. Good!

  5. Olivia says:

    Just came across this today – thought you might appreciate it! 😉

  6. Kelly Shipe says:

    I LOVE this SOOOOO MUCH!!!!

  7. Rachel says:

    #4 Amen, amen!

  8. Blurgville says:

    You should try dating Jesus. It worked like magic for everyone in college… Even you!! 😉

    Ooh, Speaking of college, who was performing?

  9. Kayla says:

    I laughed. And shook my head. Jeesh, people. Both sides of the single stink. I have chosen not to date since the x left over two years ago. Focusing on kids. Building relationship with friends. As a result, everyone (mostly x’s family) assumes I must be a lesbian now. However, my sexual orientation remains the same. Heterosexual. I guess if anyone could drive me from men in general……just kidding. Kinda. 🙂

    • I think people provide answers and make assumptions just to make themselves feel better. If you choose *not* to date, that is brilliant! If you *do* become a lesbian, you’re probably better for it! Ha! 😉

      Truth: the relationships in your life that remain full of unconditional love, encouragement, support and honesty are the ones worth the investment!

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