Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Dating Pool

I went to both public and Catholic school in my childhood, and a recent podcast I listened to had me thinking about the difference between dating in both.

I remember having an intense crush on a blond girl name Jaime in my public school from third grade through sixth. We flirted a lot. Played footsies. But she intimidated me. She was incredibly smart and had these piercing blue eyes. And I was a dumb 8 year old that had no idea how to deal with these feelings I was having.

She's that girl if I were in a coming of age movie, my voice over in the credits would be, "Jaime and I shared the most important year of my childhood together. We eventually grew up, went to different schools, and I lost touch with her. (Cut to a video of us throwing a baseball or rough housing as the sun sets on another summer day) I think about her often. I hope she too sometimes look back at those formative years and thinks about me as fondly as I do her."

I remember a dozen innocent crushes in grade school. Girls liked me a lot. We innocently hung out and my name was circled in hearts on more Trapper Keepers than I can count. But that's about all it was. Maybe we would get a snow cone together. Maybe we would hang out alone. But there was never any romance in those innocent days.

In 7th grade I moved to Catholic school. Since I played sports for St. Jerome since I was 5 I had contacts. I started hanging out more with those guys so I could show up at school with friends. This also meant that there was a completely new dating pool with which to pick from.

My first kiss came from a blond haired Catholic girl named Shelly at the pool the summer before seventh grade. She brushed my long Kurt Cobain hair behind my ear and laid that peck right on my lips.

I remember the rush of hormones that signaled to my body that I had to do something immediately. And that thing I did was to do a flip off the diving board and swim underwater across the pool.

No, this action didn't make a lot of sense, but neither do pre-teen hormones.

And then we had the classic, "wanna be my girlfriend" talk. And that first romance lasted roughly three weeks, for five days a week, at the pool and then that one time where I rode my bike past her house and she came out and we talked.

Then she felt like she just couldn't be held down with a serious relationship and things were over before Independence Day.

By the time school started, I had dated Tricia, Shelly's best friend, and Nora, the school outcast I later found out was a witch.

I asked Tricia to be my girlfriend over the phone and then we were both too nervous to talk in person. Like literally, we never talked in person. Technically I'm still dating her because we never talked to break up. That relationship is my longest at 20 years.

And Nora... well, I don't know what went wrong there. The second week of school one of the girls in class said Nora wanted to break up, I said OK, and that was that.

The thing I found out about Catholic schools are the dating pools are all very shallow. Since there were only 22 people in my grade, I had already dated roughly half of the total girls.

Since the Catholic girls were used to this though, they were surprisingly great at pushing the jealously down. In fact, best friends of girls I broke up with would initiate a relationship with me only days later.

Also, since the dating pool was so shallow, you ended up re-dating some girls. And honestly, I think part of the reputation Catholic school girls have comes from the fact that you almost never start a new relationship. It's always a continuation of one you've had before. Which means, you feel more comfortable to... well... run the bases I guess?

Then in high-school I moved to a brand new public school with 500 people in my class. That pool got deep, quickly.

It was great for dating especially when you were someone like me that moved between the different tribes.

The first girl I dated in high-school, Casey, was great. She was funny, had an awesome family, and always had activities she wanted to do whether that was hiking, going to the mall, playing a game, etc.

So Valentine's day my Sophomore year, I bought her a carnation from the lunchroom booster table. She took it, said thanks, and went home.

She dumped me the next day with a speech about how she wanted to do it the day before, but then I had that flower and it was weird.

  1. Who dumps people on Valentine's Day even if it is a dumb holiday?
  2. Haven't touched a carnation since because they are obviously flowers from Satan. 

But, I then moved to the punk/goth group and hung out with girls there.

And then moved to the average all around group eventually meeting my next girlfriend, Rebecca, who was sort of a nice preppy middle class blond girl. (After typing this out, I realized that my Alicia Silverstone crush was not an accident, I was really into blonde girls for the longest time.)

And when Rebecca and I broke up, I very briefly dated a brunette cheerleader named Kristin (who ended up getting prego the next year) and then fell head over heels in love with multiple of my best friends until ultimately I went off to college where my dating pool went from 500, to 5000.

Basically what I'm saying is it's much easier to deal with dating and breakups when there are places to hide after a breakup to get some space. And it's more exciting having a complete blank slate. I dated several women that no one in my immediate friend group knew.

Eventually though, that pool turns into an ocean when you enter adulthood.

My adult dating friends all report that Tinder and OK Cupid allow them to date 5-10 people in a month and never have to see them again if things go south. It sounds both invigorating and exhausting. They have the same conversation over and over again about their schooling, job, etc. My guy friends talk about having a dating budget set up because three dates a week can add up to $200 sometimes. Sometimes the date works out, most the time it ends at drinks. No thank you.

Luckily for me, I found my person in college before the pool became an ocean.