Last time I was up here in the spotlight I mentioned how my first-ever one-night stand didn’t really play out in the traditional way. Nutshell: my one-nighter left me empty and wanting more instead of feeling stoked and sufficiently sated. Whether or not I played that scenario right was open to some serious debate, but the cumulative effect it had was making me realize how much, after a while, it sucks to be single.
I’m convinced—indeed I believe—people are built for community. We don’t do well on our own for too long. So, as you can imagine, after almost 8 months of being very much alone in a new town, I was ready for a little meaningful human contact outside of spit-swapping and sharing an ill-conceived morning-after breakfast.
I decided to put myself on the offensive. I was ready to get off my ass and see what I could do about kicking my (admittedly self-imposed) solitary confinement to the curb. I kept my eyes open. I made advances I might not have in the previous months. I put myself out there. I was—to invoke a little Blues Brothers magic—on a mission from God. And you know what I got? Nothing.
Oftentimes we find what we’re looking for when we’re not actually looking. It’s a moment of grace when things just sort of fall into place when all you were expecting was a shit sandwich. Allow me to explain.
Recently I was working a fundraiser, carting food hither-and-yon, making small talk with the people hanging around. The evening’s sponsor, a local jeweler, had employed some models to show off their shiny and expensive goods. One of these models, whom I’ll call Ruffled Necklace after her particular piece of hardware, was more striking than the pieces she was wearing. Running around as I was, I didn’t have a chance to get to talk to her. But I wasn’t giving up. I hatched a plan instead.
The next day I swung by said jeweler’s to get the scoop on Ruffled Necklace. I had to pump myself up for this little endeavor. It’s different asking someone for a date outside of the initial environment in which you meet them. It might even come off as slightly desperate. (I was hoping for something a little more gallant or interesting. Whatever.)
In any case, she wasn’t there and all I found out was a) her name, b) where she worked and c) that she already had a beau.
Balls. My awesome plan, my mission from God, had tanked like a Hindenburg of Love. That was as forward as I’d dared yet be and getting shut down so fast kind of wilted my resolve. I dragged my now bummed-out self to Break Espresso for a consolation smoothie and some therapeutic crossword puzzling.
And, here folks—if you’re still with me—is where things get good (for me, anyway). Though I was down, I was not entirely out. When I got to the Break, I spotted a highly attractive woman—whom I’ll call Patella—and made sure I seated myself nearby. While I swigged down some peach-pear goodness and worked over my puzzle, I tried to come up with some sort of pithy and non-creepy opening line. And then, to my amazement, Patella ditched her books and whipped out her own crossword puzzle.
I bided my time, figuring I’d get myself stuck on some question, and ask her if she’d gotten the answer. Textbook.
Except, when I looked up to “make my move,” she was gone. I panicked, feeling my grandiose plan ebbing away. I was ready to pack it in, resign myself to my fate. And then, magically, Patella was next to me, leaning on my table, asking with a great smile how my puzzle was going. My moment of grace was nigh.
The story goes on—a late dinner that rolled into a St. Pat’s date the next weekend that rolled into date number whatever until today—but here’s the point: it’s not impossible to find something meaningful and lasting in a place where, apparently, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone you’ve hooked up or broken up with.
I’m sure there are probably some readers who’re thinking it’s the long haul that counts, and who are ready to place bets on how long it’ll be until I post something about my horrendous breakup (feel free to express these sentiments below). And hey, maybe I am naïve, and the excitement won’t last. Maybe. But I’m willing to take the risk.
To all you single readers in Missoula, I offer this: there is hope. You just have to have patience. And a little luck. And it never hurts to have a crossword puzzle handy, either.
To read more about life and love in the Garden City, go to www.newwest.net/makingit.
If you have a burning story to tell about Making It In Missoula, email guest columns to firstname.lastname@example.org.