Five…Four…

“You know what you should do?”

“What?” I asked, as I warily eyed the contents of her enormous cup. We were in a conference room waiting for McKenzie so we could have an events brainstorming session for the Office Health & Wellness CommitteeLux was on a cleanse and the sight of her green juice was making my stomach turn, as I recounted my own experience with a juice cleanse. I took a sip of coffee to try to settle myself.

“You should put an ad up on Craigslist for guys to come audition to be your boyfriend!”  She said joyfully. “It’ll be great! We can list what you’re looking for and then have them all come and compete with each other to show why they think they’re best for you!”

I cocked my head to the side. “That has got to be the most ridiculous, and dare I say, dangerous idea you’ve ever come up with.”

“Tracey, come on,” she said and rolled her eyes. “Obviously we’d do it somewhere public, like Bryant Park or something, and we’d have a panel so you’d have a lot of input. We wouldn’t let anyone crazy by.”

I shook my head dismissively. “I’m not doing that.”

“Why not?”

“Are you seriously asking me this?” I squinted at her. “Have a bunch of strangers come out and meet me to be my boyfriend? No. I don’t even want to think of the kind of guys who would answer that ad.”

“It’s just like online dating,” she insisted.

“No it’s not. Craigslist is totally creepy.”

“It’s not, but if you’re that worried about safety, you can take a different way home or not go to your apartment. Then no one can follow you. And, like I said, we’d have a screening panel.”

“I see. And who would be on this panel?”

“Me, Floyd, I don’t know… maybe Lily?”

I sighed. “Lux, while I appreciate your enthusiasm for my dating life, 1) that is crazy and 2) I am going to take a break from all things dating for awhile.”

“Why?”

“Because my head isn’t in the game right now.”

“Why?”

“Because.” I took a deep breath. “I just want to be a normal person for awhile. I don’t want to spend my Fridays going to singles events or spend my evenings answering emails and texts from guys I know I’m not going to be interested in.”

“Isn’t Lily helping you with the messages?” she asked

I shook my head. “I told her we could pick up her Dating Internship next month. I don’t want to waste her time when I’m not into it.”

“Poor Lily, she was so excited.” She stirred her juice sadly.

“Look, it’s just for three weeks,” I assured her. “I just want to go to the gym, see friends, cook. And I really want to focus on work.”

“I thought you said a while back that you were going to date like it was your job.” She took a sip from her cup and I could feel myself shudder.

I swallowed and tried to focus on her face. “You’re right. I did say that. But the thing is, now, my job is my job and I want to take it seriously.”

This was true. After my promotion, New Boss #1 had expanded the team I’d been assigned to and hired a new manager above me, who I now reported to. He’d been super generous with his time and given me some great advice on how to expand my skill-set and add more dimension to my role. He’d shown me certain sites to follow and even given me a list of books to read on my off-time. I was excited to get going.

“So that’s it then?” she asked.

“I have a few dates lined up this week and next so I can have a backlog to write about if I need to, but then after that, yes, I’m done.”

She sighed. “Okay, but will you at least agree that if you like one of them you’ll go out with him again?”

“Okay, yes, I will do that.”

“And will you at least try to do male-focused classes at the gym so maybe you’ll meet someone there?”

“Fine.” I said and took another sip of coffee. “Oh! Sheri and I are going to start doing Bikram Yoga!”

“Um,” she muttered. “That’s not exactly what I had in mind.”

“Hey, sorry I’m late,” McKenzie said as she entered the conference room. “What’s up?”

“Tracey’s quitting dating,” Lux announced.

“I’m not quitting,” I said to McKenzie.  “I’m just going on a three week hiatus.”

“Tracey,” Lux said, and her tone was accusatory. “Did you ever even try?”

“Yes, I tried,” I fired back. “And I still will try. I will try this week and next.”

“I mean, did you ever even kiss anyone?” she asked.

“No!” I exclaimed. “Of course not.”

“Why not?” McKenzie asked. Then she blew on her hot tea, no doubt still chilled from the arctic-like location of her desk.

“Because, guys,” I explained. “These dates are right after work. When we leave it’s still light out. What, are we going to make-out while the sun’s still out by the subway station or something?”

“Right,” Lux said, nodding. “Because kissing’s not aloud while the sun’s still out.”

“It’s not that,” I said. “It’s just that the vibe’s not right in that environment.”

“What you need to do,” Lux instructed. “Is to go out on a weekend so you can go to dinner and drink too much and then bring a guy home!”

“They better not be allergic to cats,” McKenzie interjected, pointing at Lux.

“Yeah. You gotta get rid of The Cat,” Lux said, nodding. “No man is going to want to spend the night if you have a cat running around, batting at his face all night.”

“Totally,” McKenzie said.

“Okay, for once and for all, I’m not getting rid of The Cat. We’re a package deal.”

Lux looked up at the ceiling and sighed laboriously.

“Guys, this is all a moot point,” I said and waved my hand at them. “I have the rest of my dates all set up and they’re all after work. So there’s not going to be any overnight visits or kissing or anything like that.”

Lux turned to McKenzie. “Tracey’s like ‘AHHHHH!!! The sun’s going down!!! I have to get home!!!'”

“‘I can’t be out after dark because I need to be on the couch with my caaaat!!!'” McKenzie chimed in.

“It’s 7 o’clock, better be on my way, sorry date!!!” Lux shrieked.

“Once the sun sets, I have to be home with my writing and my  Bud Light!!!” McKenzie cried.

“Guys, come on,” I said.

But then I started to laugh.

I laughed because it was funny. And I laughed because it was true.

I really did just want to go home at night and write and pet The Cat and drink Budlight and go to the gym and read for work and cook and see my friends. That’s really what I wanted to do.

And so that’s what I did.

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