For the last few weeks, I’ve been learning how to drive—for the first time. Not “brushing up” on my skills of yore, no, no. As an oh-so-hip New York high schooler, I got plenty of lessons in ID faking and Bolivian marching powder breaking, but none in the fine art of three-point-turning. Sadly, my will has been broken, and I have succumbed to the grim reality that if I am to ever leave the hallowed blocks of this great city, I am going to need to know a thing or two about stick shift.
So I signed up for some driving lessons.
Every few days, my instructor Jerry and I tool around the Lower East Side in one fine Honda civic, his foot readily poised over his set of brake pedals (which does not at all make you feel like an inept adult that drools on herself), my high heels tossed nonchalantly in the back seat. I’ve gotten used to swerving to avoid those pesky pedestrians who cross Bowery as if there aren’t 2,000 pounds of steel hurtling at them with the words “Student Driver” emblazoned in yellow on every available square inch of surface space. Nay, you New York jaywalkers are fearless, placing your precious lives in my trembling virginal driver hands.
In the words of Bobby Brown, that’s your prerogative.
Too hot to handle, too cold to hold . . .
Anyhow, last night, I experienced the finest five hours of bureaucracy that New York State has to offer: an in-class lesson with eight 16-year-olds, tackling such topics as drunk driving and how to avoid hydroplaning your car. And all this time, I thought hydroplaning meant smoking out of a bong.
I’m serious. I did.
The last hour of class was occupied by an instructional video hosted by Craig T. Nelson—who apparently is a whiz behind the wheel—MC Hammer dressed as a cowboy (P.P.P—post parachute pants), and the perennially lovely Karyn Parsons.
Karyn Parsons played Hilary on Fresh Prince of Bel Air, in case you’re a little rusty on your VH1’s “I Love the 90s!”
I’ll take “Has-Beens” for 500, Alex.
As I listened to Craig T. Nelson make a wildly funny joke about how “the bald eagle might be our country’s symbol, but bald tires sure aren’t,” I got to thinking about all the new knowledge I had culled while driving around with Jerry. How he had so patiently shown me the lay of the land, painstakingly taught me the rules of the road. Driving didn’t seem so bad after all. I might even pass my road test.
Meanwhile, I have graduated from college and entered the real world of dating, and to my surprise, like the road, there are Rules. New practices and procedures that New York daters follow that no one bothered to teach me. There’s no five-hour class featuring Annie Potts and Scott Baio answering your most pressing dating questions, showing you just how its done with the style and finesse. And for the record, there’s many a dating question to be answered.
Take an email I received recently from a close friend of mine, confused by this new, enigmatic world:
“Nebulous dates,” she reported, “I simply can’t understand them! If there’s no kissing, but he pays for dinner, is it a date? If he asks for your email as opposed to your phone number, is he interested in you? Or does he just want to be friends?” Her questions go on. “In college you hook up with someone and that’s that—you’ve already seen down under. But when you’re on a date, or a pseudo-date, or a proto-date, or an info session as it were, it’s unclear WHAT the progression from food to apartment to bed to etc. is.”
I am certain that this gal—well adjusted, intelligent, gainfully employed and scoring high in the “lovely” category—has no problem attracting men, but what to do once the initial “Bonjour, hottie,” step has occurred? This is where the snags seem to appear.
Known as I am to answer the call of the people, to tend to them in times of need—a regular Marie Antoinette—here I am, with hopefully, some clarity and some solutions.
I humbly present to you my two-part series entitled: “Dating in the Real World and How Fucked Up It Is.”
But let’s rewind for a moment. College is the simplest of all dating and mating environments. It has a casual element to it, which tends to simplify things. Rarely do people in college actually go on dates; they are usually too poor to take someone ELSE out for drinks or dinner, much less themselves. Instead, the scene revolves around parties. Parties filled with mutual friends and acquaintances, taking any real “pressure” off of a date. People tend to go right for the hook-up post partying, since it’s free, and made easier by the copious amounts of alcohol. Generally, in college, if you spend time with someone out of the bedroom and not inebriated, you’re having a relationship.
That’s not so “out here.”
Additionally, in college, “time” is something that everyone has a ton of. There is no such thing as scheduling dates a week in advance, or even a day in advance. Plus, living in such close proximity to one another “speeds up” any relationship you might have. A week of dating someone in college, running into them every day, seeing one another out at the local bar, studying together—all amounts to a hell of a lot of time spent together.
Indeed, a week’s worth of relationship in college translates to a month-long relationship in the real world.
Our mating clocks are ticking, ticking away, at an insane pace. How to adjust them to the proper post-graduation speed?
Incidentally, my time today is up too but stay tuned for the next installment of “Dating in the Real World and How Fucked Up It Is,” where all your pressing questions will be answered. As soon as I figure them out for myself.