Crossing the Park

It is no secret that I have terrible, terrible taste in men — this is why I say I “don’t date.”  I am good at a lot of things.  Love is not one.  I have tried “dating.”  I have gone out on “dates.”  In fact, in the Autumn, I had relaxed my attitude towards actively Not Dating — mostly with laughable results, and only one bone-chillingly terrifying incident.

(PG had witnessed it in real-time, and D had laughed hysterically over the live-feed.  The whole thing had been funny — until it turned grim).

Towards the end of Autumn, I had managed to go out on more than one date with someone. He was American-from-Texas and we met watching baseball.  Er, my friend was watching baseball.  I was watching the door of the bar.  It was all so absolutely improbable as to be ridiculous; so much like a New York City rom-com that I went along with it for a while.

(Three dates.)

But the fact of the matter was, he lived on the Upper West Side, and I live (mostly) on the Upper East Side.  I knew that, for the time being, he was willing to come to the UES, but there would come a day when he would roll his eyes and say: How come you never come to the West Side?

There’s no good reason for me not to leave the East Side.  Except, everything that’s on the West Side is also on the East Side, with a few exceptions of the uptowning and downtowning of things.  For instance, I love Josie’s — a wonderful, organic restaurant — and the one on the East Side is in Murray Hill.

Murray Hill is Purgatory.  It’s like finishing school for when you’re done at Preppy University, and you can still drink like you mean it.  A lot of poor life choices are made in Murray Hill.

But Murray Hill is a transient condition.  Most people pass through and eventually become fully formed adults.  There are, however, some fortysomething bros trapped in the East Thirties, trolling OKCupid for girls who work in marketing and PR, drinking Natty Lite, and reminiscing about how awesome that one football game was that one time.

I digress.  This is about my taste; this isn’t a street-level tour of the Men of Manhattan.

My taste in men has typically ranged from homosexuals, to men with disproportionately long torsos, to alcoholics, to married alcoholics, to sociopaths, to man-children, to married man-children, to Canadians.  Let us not forget:  Men who are walking DSM IV-r diagnostic criteria for Oedipus Complex (also known as my ex-husband).

Sometimes I wonder how I’m supposed to do this.

I have this Subway Theory of dating.  I might’ve told this story before, but maybe not.  My friend CJ was once taking the Shuttle between Grand Central and Times Square.  And there was trouble on the train, and the cops got on.  As it turned out, there was a man with a gun.  The train car was locked down for a time, and the whole affair was terrifying.

What did you do?! I asked her, after it was over.

I went and I got on the 7 to Times Square, she said, Because I knew that if I didn’t, I’d never get on the train again.

And I think that’s the thing about dating.  After my divorce, I just didn’t do it.  I sort of mucked around in the brackish emotional backwaters of my affair with Frederic.  And I half-heartedly dated Cheating Bill for a longish time, who showed up one day in a snowstorm to hang my shelves, and then he just never left.

Until he was gone.

But really, I just dawdled in Grand Central Terminal, too scared to move.

(Grand Central, incidentally, is just north of Murray Hill.)

The other thing is that people treat you differently after you’re divorced.  Your married friends who were once very empathetic become…weird.  It’s a peculiar transition, but after a while, it begins to feel like everyone’s forgotten that you were ever a wife, and they treat you like you’ve no experience in relationships at all.

And those that DO remember your divorce remember it far too clearly, and they neatly work you out of their social circles like a splinter.  I think it’s because they see the fragility and frailties of their own relationships in what happened to you.  It’s easier to minimise the fact of a divorce in their midst than to accept the event, and subsequently you.

Or, as one of my more honest friends said:  You’re blonde, and fit, and you don’t need my husband, therefore, you could probably have him.  You’re my worst nightmare.

Newsflash:  I don’t want to date your husband.  Unless he’s a silver fox with a British passport.  In which case, I might, and that’s only because I’m sick of being stopped at the border.

But the question now is: How does one change direction?  Supposing that one day, one says, I know I’ve been stuck, and now I’ve decided to cross the Park; get on the train.  Where do I begin?

While my ordinary answer would be, I don’t know, it struck me that that is a cop-out.  I do know.  If there’s a gunman on the Shuttle to Times Square, the 7 Train also goes to the West Side.  And the 72nd St transverse is walkable; the crosstown bus leaves from, like, my front door.

What I am saying is that I think I’ve always known what to do to get unstuck, and maybe now’s the time.


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  1. I am laughing with you. Long torso man-child with an Oedipus Complex describes my ex exactly. Torso so long, my Brother is 5’7″ he is 6′ 3″ and they wear the same length pants. Hop on the train! Enjoy the adventure. The very worst that can happen is you get some amazing writing material.

  2. Mer, I’m a friend of Sarah B’s who started reading your blog during reverb; it was great to see three points of view on the same subject every day. I love your writing. It speaks to me, no matter the topic. When you put something in parenthesis or itallics, it is JUST what I would be thinking in that moment too. Thank you for sharing some of your most vulnerable thoughts with the world- you are a brave girl.

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