(This is the text from the piece I performed at Improv Nerd on Sunday, Nov. 24th, opening for Michael Palascak.)
Love. Love is a many-splendored thing. Love is all around you. All you need is love.
I’m here today to complain about my boyfriend. Just kidding; I’m here today to complain about my friends. A lot of my friends are going through particularly hard times in their relationships. Actually, not some. All. All of them. Actually, not all. Just almost all of them, which feels like all of them. BUT, all of them who ARE going through particularly times in their relationships are coming to me as a sounding board for their problems. Mostly, right now, my friends are suffering the intense, soul-crushing realities that accompany a recent breakup or divorce, or the self-losing insanity that comes with dating, and these poor, unfortunate souls all have one thing in common, the thing I know I will hear at some point in our lunch, dinner, or coffee date. It is a dreaded question that I do not know how to properly answer no matter how many times I try - they ask, how do I meet new people?
If you have been in this situation, on either side of it, you know there is absolutely no way you can ever offer up, or hear, a satisfying answer to that question. And so I ask you, rhetorically, because I am writing this on electronic paper and you cannot answer, how do you meet new people?
SIDEBAR about myself, I am, in no way, a relationship expert. I am actually the furthest thing from it. I don’t know why my friends believe a bitter, divorced ice queen can give them sound relationship advice, but they continue to come to me, and I continue to try my hardest to make them happy, and then complain about how I can’t make them happy online to people I don’t know. I’m like the Emily Dickinson of my friends, because she said “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.” (Also, I am an eccentric introvert who never leaves her room unless she absolutely has to.) Now, I really don’t know how many hearts Ms. Dickinson saved, but her friends totally owe her a ton of thank you’s right around now for even trying.
So how do I personally meet people (or, “The Answers I Gave”)? Bars. “But Nikki, no one wants to meet people in bars at our age!” This is so silly to me because that’s where all of my friends hang out. That’s basically admitting you wouldn’t want to meet yourself. What about a painting/cooking/pottery/choice of interest class? They flat out say they don’t want to pay for those classes, and apparently finding love that way is a cheesy thing that only happens in movies and why would I even suggest that? Work? “I can’t date anyone I work with! It’s awkward for my co-workers, and if it doesn’t work out, it’ll create a hostile work environment and I don’t want that. Nobody wants that.” Dating sites? Every time I suggest a dating site, the same thing happens: “What about OKCupid or Match.com or Christian single mingle?” *SIGH, HEAD TO THE SIDE* “Gah. I don’t know.”
And this is when I lose it.
That simply tells me that you didn’t ask me “how do I meet people” because you wanted an honest, helpful answer that I have been wracking my brain over this past hour and a half. “Gah. I don’t know.” means you don’t want an answer at all. You just want to feel sorry for yourself. And when I actually say that out loud to them they say, “But Nikki! My sister tried a dating site once, and she said it was weird, and the guys were creepy crawler pre-verts, and it matched her with people she didn’t like or have anything in common with.”
Now I don’t believe that a website that is claiming to MATCH you to other people would incorrectly match you. So, in order to better understand how terrible dating sites are, and properly argue for or against them, I signed up for a free online profile. First thing I noticed is how positive and wonderful the registration experience is. A kind 2-dimensional woman greeted me at the page, and asked me my gender and sexual orientation. When I entered my zip code, she quipped, “Ahh. Chicago.” which made me feel urban and hip, and when I entered my password, she reassured me with a very flirty, “No one’s guessing this one!” which depending on her intonation, I guess, could have just been sarcastic. Then, I got to add a picture which I thought best represented myself. I couldn’t figure out how to save it on that page, honestly, I was clicking back and forth but there was only an X and start over, so I wanted to give up right there, but I’m not a quitter (unless my life is in danger by like tiger attack or something - I would just lay down and die), I’m not a quitter (on computers), so I reasoned with myself that the picture wasn’t super important, and moved to the About Me section, which I will copy and paste here for you now.
1. My self-summary:
I wouldn’t even know where to begin summarizing myself.
2. What I’m doing with my life:
I’m an actor who is auditioning a lot and booking when I can. Most of my free time is spent sitting and home and playing Facebook games, but I like to go out to eat at new places.
3. I’m really good at:
I guess I’m good at a lot of useless stuff. I can play a little guitar. I can twirl a baton. I know how to tap dance at a pretty mediocre level. I’m a good cook. Oh! I am really good at taking almost nothing in the fridge and creating something great out of it. Like if you have a crappy frozen pizza from Walgreens or something - I can usually find something in the cupboard or fridge to make it seem like a fancier crappy frozen pizza from Walgreens.
4. The first things people usually notice about me:
That I am on my phone. I think this makes people think I need to be talked to, but I don’t. I’m typically going to be on my phone.
5. Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food:
My favorite book is the Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. I also like any Chuck Palahniuk. I typically fall asleep during movies unless it’s something I really sought out. I will literally eat any type of food except I don’t like tomatoes. I’m a pretty adventurous eater.
6. The six things I could never do without:
My kid. My phone. Electricity. Food. Probably clothes if I were in a cold climate. Water, I guess.
7. I spend a lot of time thinking about:
I think about a lot of stupid stuff. Like what will happen to my succulent plant if I dump this coffee into it.
8. On a typical Friday night I am:
doing shows. My shows are from 8pm-1am, so I don’t go out on the weekends.
9. The most private thing I’m willing to admit:
This is so broad. I am literally an open book. Once, I dropped out of college because I hated my sorority, so I stopped going to chapter meetings, and was afraid I’d run into the girls on campus.
With that section complete, I moved on to the questions, and I am thinking about how wonderful technology is that we have something that can match you with another person with key words and similar interests, and weed out complete morons who don’t find the fact that you’re a Taurus 3 important. But the questions got tedious and I got bored so I filled out maybe 6 and then went back to what I was doing, which was blankly staring into my refrigerator. And that’s when it hit me.
I literally DO NOT CARE about being in a relationship. I mean, LOOK at those STUPID answers. WHO WOULD DATE THAT? (Fun update - I have had zero messages from people trying to contact me, so…)
Funny enough, however, someone IS just as strange as me and willing to do so (I am in a relationship, and am very happy. As far as I can tell, he is as well, but you never know right? I mean, everyone thought Clark Griswold was doing just fine and then all of a sudden he can’t even tell his kids are different people). So I don’t have the urgency, I guess. I don’t have to think about this dating stuff; I have…boyfriend privilege. Though I DID have some detailed explaining to do when he walked in on me creating an OKCupid profile, so it’s like, not all rainbows.
But when I WAS single, I was never out to find someone. I got lonely, sure. But you can fill your lonely time with tv, food, or NyQuil. And there’s a difference about wanting to be touched, I guess. I’m not a person who needs the human physical interaction that so many people long for. The hand holding, the kissing, the cuddling? It’s not for me. It’s not something that, when single, I ever missed or desired. Honestly, the only relationships I’ve had are the ones where I actually could see myself kissing the other person. As soon as I could no longer kiss them, I knew the relationship was over. So WHY are my friends asking a complete weirdo asexual introvert how to meet people? I am the last person to know how to answer that question because SEE ABOVE.
The second thing that bothers me about my friends who are trying to date is that they continually talk about compromising their values or hide their interests in order to simply be with someone. One of my friends, who will remain nameless, will rarely mention to dating prospects that (s)he only reads comic books, despite the fact that this, to the (wo)men (s)he would match well with, is an aphrodisiac on par with powdered rhino horn. I’ve seen another friend, who is religious, say - on her/his dating profile - that religion isn’t “mandatory” then listened to her/him complain about her/his partner not wanting to attend church with her/him. And when you have the opportunity to eliminate that sort of problem, why lie? To meet more people you won’t connect with? To set yourself up to complain to me more, so I can complain online more? It’s a recipe for disaster, and is exactly why people are being matched with the wrong people!
A wise poet once said, To thine own self be true.” (Reba McEntire, Fancy.) I truly believe that. The best thing you can do is not invest too much about putting a best foot forward. Just don’t have a best foot. Sure, you should shower and look presentable when you have to or need to for hygenic reasons, but I firmly believe that you can get much farther, and yield far better results by never pretending to be something you’re not. “But Nikki! You have a boyfriend, so you don’t have to worry about a best foot!” True, but when I started dating mine, he was never put in a position to be surprised by any of my downfalls, because I am incapable of hiding them all, and no amount of dry shampoo in the world can cover up how little I wash my hair when you’re up close and personal. **For more information on this “be yourself” topic, refer to the inspirational RomCom, Aladdin.
Now, I love my friends, I do. They have been there for me, and I’ve been through a lot, and I will always be there for any of them when they need me. But I cannot, and will no longer answer the question “How do I meet people” with any other answer than, “I don’t fucking know. Go out, live your life, and maybe like-minded people will want to meet you.”
So…Love. Love is a many splendored thing. Love is all around you. All you need is love. That may all be well and good. But you have to have a strong, honest sense of self in order to love and be loved. So…in the immortal words of Tupac Shakur, “don’t let ‘em jack you up, back you up, crack you up, and pimp smack you up. Ya gotta learn to hold ya own.”