Modern Love

I will never date in this town again.

Ok, let’s discuss surreal. Location: Las Vegas McCairn International Airport. The din of slot machines chimes loudly over U2’s “A Man And A Woman” on my iPod. The Strip shimmers just across the tarmac. I’m waiting on Jet Blue Flight 192 to John F. Kennedy Airport less than 24 hours after arriving in Sin (or, for me, Sleep) City. I crack The New York Times Style section — my favorite — to find a frighteningly accurate depiction of the last year of my romantic life accompanied by a hilarious illustration of myself (plus snack strip and earring).

Of course, I knew it was coming. Heather had long since let me read the piece. Heck, I even contributed to our collective recollection to some degree. But there it is: my dysfunction spilled across The Gray Lady. And of course, it’s not really about me anyway (cue Carly Simon here). What a trip. What a surreal experience. What can ya’ do? I grimaced, climbed aboard the plane, and fell into a shallow sleep.

As a guy who moved to New York over ten years ago to be a freelance writer, it wasn’t quite how I imagined making The Times (Concert Listings notwithstanding). But as the guy who was voted Class Flirt in the 1989 Conestoga Senior High School yearbook, it shouldn’t be so surprising. Yunno’ what it is? It’s two thing’s: surprising, and disappointing.

First, it’s surprising that this city that once seemed so big and so impersonal, should in fact be so small. It really is like high school. Word travels fast. There are no secrets. Whether its the bloggosphere, Friendster, or Page Six, nothing stays quiet for long.

But far more importantly, and a little more well chronicled, is that it’s all so disappointing. That is, I’m disappointed in myself. I shouldn’t have been so careless. Not in getting “caught,” or in being less-than-discreet, but in being so careless with other people’s feelings.

One of Heather’s commenters said something that stung, largely because it was true:

What a typical man you are and what typical women we are… You admit to being a terrible cad and we love you for it.

Me, a cad. Ouch.

I always figured that, as long as I was clear with the women I was non-exclusively dating (which, for the record, is a recent phenomena: I have a long history of serial monogamy), everything would be all right. I always figured that if I owned all of my issues right up front, then everyone would be ok. I always figured that since my intentions weren’t malicious, no one would get hurt. And truthfully, I never thought I was worthy of much heartbreak.

Heather’s (excellent) article wasn’t the only illustration of the err of my ways, but it was the most public. So let me say, to anyone who cares, or hasn’t heard from me personally: point taken.

Of course, the true test of a man is in his deeds, not his words. And should I have a chance to love again, should some woman be so brave, well, I guess the proof will be in my actions.

Fortunately, every journey has a departure, and a destination. And though it is during the journey itself that we learn who we are, it was a relief last night to land back home in New York City. It is a relief to depart The Surreal, and arrive The Real.

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