January 22, 2006 (Day One)
Writing with a mix of eager anticipation and trepidation. There have been moments that seemed encouraging and others that seemed downright woman-overboard-worthy. And there have been moments that are half high school and half sitcom: even at a round robin dinner table that’s on the whole painless and even fun, there’s the Jewish version of Debbie Downer (every story you tell her reminds her of a "tragedy" from her own life); the guy who’s clear to be the frontrunner in every romantic competition within our group because he’s, relatively speaking, the whole package; the women and men who take everything literally, when the sentence offered was clearly a joke; the socially compromised whose plights you pity, but not enough to hang with them any more than necessary.
And at my center, the center of me, my central problem now and forever, the incessant alternate wondering “why me” or “why not me,” depending on the situation. A question comes to me unbidden at one of the many round robin seatings at dinner, rendering me an emotional tenth grader. Do they really like me? Will they judge me for what I say or how religious I am or am not? Is a conspiratorial smile between a man and a woman an overture to intimacy, or a momentary simpatico, or worse yet, neither? Or is it just a table thing…we’re together right now, clicking in the moment, but never again?Only time will tell whether these nascent relationships have actual sea legs.
I hold my own at the speed dating event, meeting some normal guys. Also social ineptitude of varying sorts…there are younger and older people, of varying degrees of social ability. And hopefully there are those people who will find their own levels. A lid for every pot, or vice versa.
There are the Gilmore Girls (the moms who look too young to be parents to sixteen-year-olds), the bioclocks—the ones whose time to be mothers may be running out. There are the Ponce de Leons (the youth-seeking-missile men who are convinced that, as a friend of mine once said, you’re only as old as the girl you feel). Some women in their 20s and 30s are drawn to an older, more established man. Others are appalled; the prospect of actively seeking out a man who’s only about a decade—or less—from Del Boca Vista freaks them out. And there are the wonderful older woman who are being overlooked by the men their own age, who are looking at much younger women. There are those who you know will never lack for social company, those who are always up for dancing, and those who won't give you the time of day. Even though you're trapped on a boat with them.
But social dynamics, age-related politics, and my romantic chances are not important right now to me here at dinner. I’m enjoying one of the best steaks I’ve had in a long time. The food is great and I always enjoy meeting new people. The company’s good, even if it’s platonic. And besides, a friend, who’d been on a cruise before, had given me some sound advice. The romances that form aboard cruises are often situational, she said. This is why she didn’t intend to date during her cruise. Afloat, at sea, things are shakier. The truth can get confusing. If the relationship has more than just sea legs, you date afterwards, with a surer footing, on more solid ground.
To be continued...