I relocated to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C. five months ago to pursue a career in comedy writing, and things have been going pretty well, if I do say so myself. I performed my first 30-minute standup set, a network invited me to audition two of my sketches in front of the big wigs who run their writers initiative, and I landed my first job as an Associate Producer (a/k/a Writers Assistant) for a TV show.
So with the question, “How’s the whole ‘writercomedything’ going?” satisfactorily answered, the next question from my friends is “So how’s the LA dating scene?”
My answer always disappoints because, honestly, I haven’t done much (any) dating. I made an agreement with myself that I would spend my first year in LA establishing the groundwork for a successful comedy writing career, which for me, necessarily means not focusing on men.
I made this agreement with myself because I really enjoy the company of men. I’m also easily distracted by them.
I met one three months before I took the bar exam and almost failed it because, while I should have been listening to lectures and taking practice exams, I spent the whole summer lollygagging about the park with him and sharing Dairy Queen cones by the pond. By some miracle, I pulled it together toward the very end and passed the bar, but I learned a lot about myself and, more specifically, about my shortcomings.
Add to that the fact that men are a HUGE time suck. Say you meet a guy. First, you have to describe him to your girlfriends.To be more accurate, you have to sell him, at least enough for them to tolerate the steady stream of non-essential updates that are forthcoming.
“Check your email, I just sent you a picture of the house that he built from scratch. Isn’t that awesome?”
“Did I tell you that he lived in Tabatinga for a year when he was with Doctors Without Borders? I’m like not even a good enough human to date him!”
You want your friends invested enough to respond to your 11 p.m. text series of selfies of you in “potential date outfits.”
“Do these knee high boots, when combined with these leggings, carry this outfit over into hooker territory?”
Then, instead of doing whatever productive thing you're supposed to be doing, you’re constantly checking your phone because most of us like to be liked. This is true even if we don’t really like the guy. Did he respond to my text yet? Did he forget to respond to my question on purpose? Why didn’t he call me? Why is he calling me SO MUCH?
I'm checking texts messages to or about a boy in the middle of dinner. It's 2008. I've been easily distracted by boys for a long time now.
Then it takes hours to dissect his messages, which is definitely a group activity. (This is why you had to get your friends on board early.)
“He just texted me, ‘Good night, beautiful. Muah.’ Muah?? Should I be grossed out? I really don’t want to be grossed out. But I kinda am.”
And all of this is happening BEFORE you go on a first date!
Then you have to prep for the date. Depending on my existing state of affairs, I might have to shave, exfoliate, twist my hair, paint my toes, pluck my eyebrows, run to the cleaners, buy a new outfit, and/or find new earrings that work with the new outfit.
Finally, there’s the actual date, which surprisingly is often the least time-consuming part of the entire ordeal. But what follows the date is the biggest time sap of all –- the debrief.
"And THEN, instead of having me walk all the way across the street in my heels, he just scooped me up in his arms and CARRIED ME over the grate! Oh.my.God!” or “He kept saying, ‘Order whatever you want. You deserve it.’ I deserve spinach artichoke dip?? What does that even mean?”
This exercise takes an hour PER girlfriend. I don’t know if it’s more accurate to qualify this expenditure of time with “on average” or “at least.” Either way, it’s significant. And it’s your fault because, again, you’re the one who got your friends invested early.
I’m sorry to disappoint my friends, who have grown accustomed to my elaborate adventures in dating tales, which sometimes involve 3-page email updates, but borrowing a phrase from my lawyer days, “I Have Nothing to Report.”
When I had a cushy, stable, law firm gig, my paycheck was guaranteed to hit my account every two weeks, and I had gotten good enough at my job to do it on auto-pilot. So I had plenty of time for hijinks and shenanigans with men who held no promise. I did a lot of useless dating just because. Because why not?
I spent time with the baby Marine, who had no home training and a severe case of PTSD; the heartbroken recently divorced engineer; the emotionally immature, recently divorced lawyer; the “I can’t get my life together but I can spend hours upon hours pontificating about it deejay”; and the “I swear I had every intention of seeing you, but my boss called again Legislative Director,” just to name a few. I’ve got the excessive volume of email traffic to or about these guys to prove it. And it didn’t even feel like a waste of time.
But that was then. This is now. I can’t take credit for being wiser. If anything, I’m just poorer.
Now that I’ve thrown it all away and am starting over, the stakes are higher than ever and a pastime that historically could have served as a fun distraction could potentially derail me. Plainly stated, if I don’t focus on getting my career off of the ground, I will run out of money.
Essentially, if I’m going to be distracted, I need the distraction to be worth my time. Kind of like, if I’m going to have to spend hours on the treadmill, I don’t want it to be because I was eating bags of Doritos, Oreos, and Nutter Butters, but instead because I washed down a gourmet truffle burger and rosemary-parmesan fries with some hazelnut gelato. It’s the same kind of thing.
So, I’m sorry to disappoint my friends. The writercomedything is going really well, but I’m not expending time and energy on guys this year. I mean, unless they’re really cute.