“I’m sorry I drunk texted you all night last night.”
“Trace? What the hell time is it?”
“Um, ten o’clock here so I guess seven o’clock there?”
“Trace, I don’t care if you drunk text me all night. Drunk text all you want but don’t call me at seven in the morning on a Saturday and wake me up to apologize for it.”
“Okay, um… But do you still have an OkCupid profile?”
“Oh shit, okay. I can see you’re not going to go away. Hold on.” I could hear Zeke pull himself out of bed and move to the bathroom. He clicked the door shut. Then he reemerged and I heard the familiar flick of a lighter to light his cigarette. “Alright, what’s going on?”
“Didn’t you read any of my texts?” I said petulantly.
“I was working.”
“Am I on speaker?”
“Trace, yeah,” he said. “I gotta make some coffee.”
“Okay, I will too.” I pulled myself out of bed. “What’s going on is that I joined OkCupid and no one is responding to my profile!” I went to the kitchen to start the coffee. I could hear Zeke mirroring my actions.
“Oh geesh. Well, when did you put it up?”
“It’s only been a week, Trace. Give it time.”
I tucked the phone under my ear and filled the carafe from the Britta in the fridge. “I need you to go on there and see what I’m doing wrong.”
“I’m not going on there. It’ll reactivate my account and I told you, I am done with online dating.”
I sighed with exasperation. But not really. Zeke was from my hometown and we’d been super-close ever since we’d both ended up in LA in our early-20’s. He still lived there and was a pretty successful cinematographer. Being 43 and still single, (which the reason why, to both of us, was a mystery) he was a great resource for me on all things men related. He is the one who told me years ago, “Don’t make your online profile so long. It makes you look crazy.” I took that advice to heart.
“Okay, fine,” I said, as I clicked on the coffee maker. “But can’t you just log-in as me and check it out? Please?”
“Traaace,” he groaned. “Right now?”
“Alright, I’ll do it,” he sighed. “What’s your log-in info?” I told him and listened as he typed it in. “Okay, got it. I’m there.”
I moved to the window to light my own cigarette. I had a rule that smoking was only allowed in the apartment with the fan blowing the offending fumes outside. Although I always ran my profiles by Zeke, there was something about him reading it while I was on the phone that felt incredibly uncomfortable. Like too intimate. This was ludicrous of course. Zeke had seen all sides of me over the years – the good, the bad and the drunkenly insane. Of course, being so close for twenty years, naturally every three years or so, one of us would decide we were in love with the other person and would convince them to give a “real” relationship a try. This always ended up in total disaster. Usually with me screaming at him I was, “Sick of him dicking me around for decades!” We have had some real knock-down, drag-out fights over this. There have been times I’m sure we both thought we would not come back. But somehow we always do. He is the one guy I feel I can truly be myself with. I don’t have to try to impress him. And even though I don’t try to impress him, he still is the one who whenever I post something dismal and distressing on Facebook, messages me immediately and says, “Trace. What’s going on? I’m calling you tonight.”
I heard him cough once. I heard him laugh once. But mostly I just heard him taking drags of his cigarette and swigs of his coffee. I also heard Boomer, the Superdog, rustling around in the background, his tags lightly pinging against each other.
My impatience got the best of me. “So, what do you think?”
“I don’t know, Trace. It looks pretty good to me. I see you changed your hair again.”
“You have no constructive criticism?”
Breathe-in drag. “The only thing I would suggest is not to put that you’re looking for a guy who knows where he’s going in life. Literally every single woman puts that. It’s annoying. Does anyone really know where they’re going?”
“Okay, I’ll take it out. I don’t want to sound like every other woman.”
“And I see you did get some responses, Trace.”
“Oh yeah,” I said with mock enthusiasm. “From guys who’s usernames are ‘OkayCupidHasUglyWomen’ and ‘4kidz3babymamas’.”
“And also ‘MyAssYourFace’. He sounds like a contender.”
“I actually think I know that guy. I think I used to work with him.”
“So see? There you go. You’re getting responses. Not everyone can say that.”
“But not from anyone good,” I lamented. I stabbed out my cigarette and went to retrieve my coffee.
“Well, how many emails have you sent?”
“See, this is the problem I have with online dating. Girls just think they should sit back and wait for the guys to reach out to them.”
“Well, shouldn’t we? That’s what all the books say. You know, let them come to you?”
“Yeah. And how’s that been working for you? Last I checked you were 42 and still single.”
I moved to the couch and settled in. “I hate you right now.”
“Good. Then maybe I can go back to sleep.”
“What’s Boomer doing?”
“Being awesome. I think we’ll go to the beach later.” I wished I was going to the beach later with a great guy and a great dog. Instead, I was staring down a Saturday of paying bills, picking up laundry and frantically monitoring the weather because I was afraid it would storm the next day and Wade would not get to Seattle for his Monday morning meeting.
“Look Trace, you need to take some action. You’re one of the most pro-active people I know. You wanted to get your own place in Manhattan, you did it. You hated your job, you found another one. You wanted to write a book, you did. Now you just need to apply that to dating.”
“I don’t know.” The Cat climbed up and sprawled herself across my stomach. Her needle nails sank through my tank-top. “I think I’m not getting any responses because I didn’t say I love to laugh. That’s the real reason, it isn’t it?”
“Probably.” I could hear him tapping a new pack of cigarettes. “Listen Trace, I’m serious. You’re living in one of the greatest cities in the world and you’re not even taking advantage of it. You’re sitting around in your apartment alone and hungover everyday, moping about some guy you’ve seen twice in the last 14 years and who lives 3000 miles away. I bet you’re still listening to his band everyday.”
“What?” I pulled the phone away. “I think you cut out.”
“Shut it, Stone.” His voice pulled me back. “I know you.”
“I LIKE his band, Zeke. It cheers me up.”
“If this is you cheerful then I’d hate to see you depressed. I’m telling you, it’s really fucked up.”
“Why are you yelling at me?”
“I’m not yelling at you. But I am telling you you’re better than this.”
“Better than what?” Zeke had never talked to me like this. It made me both admire him and pissed off at the same time.
“Better than what you’re doing. Which is nothing. Get off your ass and do something. Stop fucking around. Stop wasting time.”
“Look. You don’t know what it’s like,” I said. I could feel the familiar rage and hurt start to blister in my chest. “It’s different for guys. Being a single woman in her 40’s, it’s – ”
“It’s what? Depressing? Lonely? So the fuck what. Stop acting like a fucking victim, Trace. Go DO something about it.”
I hung up on him then.
But after I’d stomped around awhile and smoked some revenge cigarettes, I realized Zeke was right. As much as I hoped for a Ryan Gosling look-alike (or My Ex) to show up in my doorway with a bottle of champagne and say, “Hey girl. I heard you were lonely and needed some lovin’,” while I was demurely painting my toenails, that was most likely not going to happen. And all I had been doing was moping around. And yeah, wasting time. I was 42. There was no more time to waste. I was single, yes, but I wasn’t in some podunk town with no prospects. I was in New York City! What was I waiting for? I had the clothes. I had the Zeke-approved profile. I wasn’t even taking advantage of any of it. I sprung off the couch, much to The Cat’s alarm, and went to the computer. It was time to be proactive. It was time to take some action. And the first action to take was to delete My Ex’s band off my playlists. The second action to take was to get on OkCupid and send some freakin’ emails. Done and done.