Monday, December 7, 2015

All You See Is Where Else You Could Be

Because I am a dinosaur, dating is not much different for me than it was when I was in my twenties. Old habits apparently do die hard for my people.

But I also concede that my experiences have almost nothing in common with those born after John and Yoko's "Double Fantasy" came out. Eating dinner with a millennial recently, he mentioned an article entitled, "This Is How We Date Now," lamenting that the dating world I know doesn't exist for him.

Reading the article, I was reminded of the new normal for that generation. Why commit when there are so many choices available via Tinder, OK Cupid, Grindr and the like? Endless possibilities mean there could always be someone better on a different app or platform. Not to mention the endless stream of friends' posts touting their picture-perfect relationships because people live out loud now, endlessly Instagramming or tweeting so everyone can see how enviable their lives are.

Why would you want to settle when your friend's life is so fabulous? The missing piece of the puzzle is that few people post about the arguments, the frustrations of trying to make a relationship work, so what you're envying isn't reality. It's a glossy facade, and completely unattainable.

Truthfully, the article was overly facile, purposefully glib and, in many ways, an ideal metaphor for the kind of shallow introspection that passes for deep thought. As guitarist John Mayer observed all the way back in 2003, "Numb is the new deep."

If that prediction was merely darkly amusing then, it's full-on depressing now.

That said, Death Cab for Cutie's 2005 album "Plans" contained the hauntingly beautiful "Your Heart Is an Empty Room," a song about a guy who can't quite commit because of (what else?) possibility.

Spring blooms and you find the love that's true
But you don't know what now to do
'Cause the chase is all you know
And she stopped running months ago
And all you see is where else you could be
When you're at home
Out on the street are so many possibilities 
To not be alone

Choice has always been there, obviously, but at least you used to have to leave your house to find it. Now dating options are as easy to order up as Chinese food.

All of this was in the back of my mind when I attended a show recently at Strange Matter. Because the band had originally been active from 1981 through 1989, the crowd skewed older, but with some millennials scattered throughout.

Taking up my usual position, I tried chatting up the very tall younger man standing next to me. I was curious how deep his interest in the band went, so I asked, apropos of nothing.

He looked nothing short of fully shocked that I'd instigated a conversation, but shared his enthusiasm for the band. After some face to face conversation, he kindly inquired if I could see well enough given the sold-out crowd in front of us. Explaining that at 5'5" I can never really get a great view, he moved behind me and gestured for me to stand in front of him.

I was terribly impressed with his thoughtfulness.

But from there, my evening unfolded like it was 1989 again, and not just because I was dancing for the next two hours. Because I was alone, several guys born while John Lennon was still in the Beatles decided to engage with me, talking about how good the band was, making jokes about people in the crowd, offering to buy me drinks, trying to make me laugh.

Hitting on me, plain and simple.

Which wasn't why I was at the show. But it occurred to me right then and there that they hadn't hesitated to come talk to me in an effort to try to connect with me. They were working it old-school style.

I go to Gallery 5 for shows all the time and I never see this happen. I'm the consummate observer when I'm out, but I just don't see 20-somethings making the effort to hit on each other at a show. You already have a band in common, so why the hell not?

What I do see is a lot of people on their phones - checking Facebook, filming or taking pictures and Instagramming, checking texts - while a band is singing and playing their hearts out right in front of them.

But not talking to strangers they're attracted to.

True, not everyone sees a person who catches their eye at a show, but surely it's a generational statement that it can happen to a dinosaur like me and not to the manic pixie dream girl types I'm surrounded by at these shows.

Is it because they're on Tinder and swiping their way to meeting yet another someone? As the writer of the article put it, "Maybe romance is still there, we just don't know what it looks like now."

Yeesh, at the risk of sounding like Yoko Ono ("The regret of my life is that I have not said 'I love you' often enough"), I think I'd find out about romance by talking to people's faces and not waste time swiping in search of someone to say it to.

I know, I know, how utterly prehistoric of me.


  1. More from Yoko:

  2. "May we make the new year's right judgement—the right moves at the right time and the right place for ourselves and others—and make this planet earth an oasis for the universe." Amen, Yoko.