Dating and Hand Grenades  by Che' Rippinger

Single life has its upsides
The Denver Post, Sunday Lifestyles, March 3, 2002

Why does society feel compelled to couple everyone up? Not all  of us were meant to pair off two by two on the ark. Although  there's incredible pressure to marry and sail off into the sunset,  some of us still find plenty of attractions back here on the shore.

I'm like many other single women in Denver: I'm fun,  insightful and not too hard on the eyes, plus I have a brain and a  pretty decent life. I've been dating for more years than my  youthful genes and moisturizer let on. Though not an expert on the  subject, I'm a human being with a lot of lessons learned from  life's experiences, plus the humor to make it through.

But one recent night out on the city, I had to resort to what  we in the single inner circle refer to as a "Rent-a-Date" for a  formal party. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with going alone.  I accompany myself to lots of movies, concerts and plays. But this  night I needed a date.

Why? Because I wanted to wear my "goldfish" dress, which  pretty much screams "take me home tonight." Probably because of  the metallic gold lame fabric and because I swish like a mermaid  when I walk in it. A "date" who wasn't interested in tearing off  the dress provided me with a safe zone. He also fended off any  stray barflies with his Mr. Atlas presence.

So who was this mystery man? He's a dashingly handsome friend  of a friend I'll call Trevor who cleans up very nicely and can  hold his own in witty repartee with my colleagues. Our  relationship is platonic, but no one else needs to know that. Arm  candy and trophy dates aren't just for men, you know. We women  like to have something fun to parade around in public, too.

Call it ego gratification or a deep-seated Freudian need to  be loved. Whatever. All I know is that it helps squelch the  annoying commentary from "The Marrieds."

It's not like The Marrieds are the enemy. Quite the contrary.  We have gone to their showers, weddings, receptions and baby  events. We support them. We bring creative gifts and cute cards.  We sit at the stupid card table with the kids as they catapult green peas, drenched in gravy, at us. And we smile through it all.

But as our married friends gush about raising the next  generation of leaders and serving on umpteen committees, we remind  ourselves that, as singles, we can take a nap if we want.  Uninterrupted. And read a book cover to cover. And know that the  whole pint of Ben and Jerry's will be available for dinner in the  freezer, if we so desire.

Single life does have its upsides, but the downsides were the  topic of conversation one recent evening while sharing a ride with  a tall 39-year-old blond hunk, "Cliff." Even though he looks more  like an underwear model than a member of my social circle, we had  the following discussion about being single at our age.

"Sooo ... you've never been married?"

"No. You?"

"No." Silence.

"Sooo ... do people give you a hard time about it?"

"Yeah. All the time. And you?"

"Yeah, all of the time."

Yep. We skipped the parts about feeling societal pressure to  find soul mates. And the parts about developing healthy inner  relationships, nurturing others and sharing in the pursuit of  happiness and common life goals.

Nope, just two datable single people sitting in the car,  trying to think of something novel to say about our single situations. Silence again.

Of course, in our brains we were going over all the possible  reasons why the other person wasn't married. And then, just for  good measure, all the possible reasons why were we weren't, either.

For many singles, there are lots of reasons. Timing is one  essential element. You've got to be open to a relationship when it presents itself and be able to commit. You've got to have reached  a comfortable stage in your career development. Then there are  things like where the hands are on the biological clock,  chemistry, past experiences and family pressures.

In my case, I haven't found the "one" worth spending a lifetime  with.It's not like I haven't tried. I have tried the personal ads,  phone line ads, computer matchmaking sites and getting paired up  by matchmaking friends. I've gone to things I really enjoy, in the  hopes of meeting like-minded people. I've even gone to events I'm  not interested in, to meet a new mix of people and try new things.

Out of frustration, I gave up on dating, and I've been dating  more than usual ever since. It hasn't really netted more serious  prospects, but my attitude adjustment has proven extremely  beneficial.

 As Cliff and I sat in the car discussing our current marital  states, he said what I had already concluded: "Maybe I'll never  get married. That's OK. I think I can still live a fulfilling  life."

Amen to that! And to my dad, who laughs off my occasional  laments, I say, "Hey, at least I'm not making you spring for a  $25,000 wedding."

Now, that would be something to cry about.

Che' Rippinger is a writer, cartoonist and relationship humorist with a heart. Please e-mail questions or comments to DenverDating@aol.com or visit online at www.DatingAndHandGrenades.com. Questions may be selected and edited for the column.