It's Different For Boys And Girls
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Being single in Monterey means a man needs a set of wheels. By Marty Grimes
I''m sitting at my desk right now with a black magic marker, a Sharpie, carving a phone number into my left arm. Sure, it will rub off in the shower, but I''m thinking that after two or three days of carving it in again and again, I will have memorized those lovely little numbers. It is an important set of digits.
It''s the phone number, the only connection I have to a little sweetheart of a girl who lives with her sister in a cozy attic apartment in San Francisco. She doesn''t have a work number or a home number to give me, just this number. And I have it. The original scrap of paper she gave me--with her handwriting on it--is tucked in my wallet beside a couple singles and C-note. "Couple singles." Ha!
I''ve also got it copied down on my desk blotter. So in the event that I get mugged, or fall off a whale-watching boat and lose my wallet in the drink, I can now refer to my arm, my desk blotter and seven numbers scrawled in the dashboard dust of my truck. Who cares what else happens? At least I have her number.
Desperate? No. Just living in Monterey, single and young when all my don''t-give-a-crap-about-overpopulation-friends are married and procreating like rodents. Most of them are hitched one way or another but there is a hardened core of us, 30-something teenage wasteland survivors who, over beers, will often extol the joys and freedoms of not having a wife, while deep inside we wish we did.
Being here makes that harder. I realized a long time ago that if I was ever going to meet my Shotgun Molly--that good-looking, smart, funny, athletic woman who''s got my back and loves me like I love her--if I was going to get her in Monterey, I''d have to go to San Francisco. Finding a mate in a town where a big chunk of the population is, as they say, newly wed or nearly dead, demands creativity. And gasoline.
Don''t get me wrong, there are young single women here. Somewhere. M.I.I.S.? Yeah, but some of them have a hard time with the word "Hello," maybe because they''re all foreign agents. DLI? Sure, the thought of a chick who knows hand-to-hand combat is cool and kinda kinky but it''s strange to talk about work when her next job means wearing headphones in a spy plane above North Korea. The colleges? Might as well get stone drunk and go to the mall.
Some say the local pubs are the hubs of singledom in this town. The first time I went to one was the day I moved here: a basketball game on the tube, a few pints, a plate of cheese and cold sausage and the only company, the bartender and the friend who''d helped me move. Otherwise, the place was deserted. Where the hell is everyone? On the second trip, this time at night, I realized that I was not in Kansas anymore. The guys were all crew cut and the girls, well, they seemed to go well with guys who have crew cuts. Every now and then I''d see a good-looking woman out running on the Rec Trail, except not when I was running, because if I did, I''d find a way to get her attention. Wipe out or something and pretend to be wounded. Slightly wounded. But those lithe runners are so rare and so often so many of them are pushing strollers. At the Farmer''s Market you have to think like a leopard and try to find a way to break up the bands of roving ladies without resorting to picking stragglers off the back of the herd.
Sure, yeah, I''d met women here. Fell in love with one. Even met her in a pub of all places. But for reasons too long and complicated to list here, well, let''s just leave it at that. Put it this way, she''s like a UFO. I saw something, felt something but not sure quite what it was. Pretty sure, but as soon as UFO-woman landed, she took off again.
But it was easy to forget about the UFO and Monterey and just about everything else as soon as last Friday night came around and I walked into a comfortably packed bar in the Mission.
It was a great place with none of that pretentious cooler-than-thou big-city crap. It had good cold beer on tap, a red neon sign in the window that read "sin" and, as I was soon to learn, a really cool woman at the bar who lives with her sister in an attic apartment. Suffice to say, I talked to her so far into the night, I hit the bricks as the sun was coming up. The next night was even better but San Francisco is not my home and I had to leave eventually.
A sunny Sunday, and a drive down the coast, back in time to squeeze in a game of basketball and dinner at the pub. I was back in Monterey and I was still single but I had a phone number.
A Babe in Boyland
The Peninsula offers a plethora of experiences for a devotedly single woman. By Samantha Edwards
It was a weekday afternoon, and lunchtime afforded me a quick stop for a chicken taco at Papa Chano''s in Sand City. Extra cilantro, I thought to myself. I adore the tang of cilantro; it reminds me of being out in a garden. As I got out of my car I noticed a man in a conversation with two other people. He was eyeing me.
"I know him," I thought to myself--and the cogs start turning. It''d been quite a few years. And we definitely had shared some sparks, judging by the look on his face. But where? Work at the restaurant in Carmel? Did we work out at the same gym? No, it was from a long time ago. Oh my gawd; it is him! From KMBY; from long ago when I had quite the crush on him and his confident, deep voice.
"Hey you, long time no see." A platonic greeting, but he exuded sex. We shared a brief conversation--I had an appointment--but we didn''t part without exchanging flirtatious glances and e-mail addresses. What might a reconnection with this one bring?
This is one thing I like about the Peninsula. The area offers a unique duality for women like me, who''ve been around here a while. There are old flames--having lived here on and off for 20-plus years affords me the comfort of seeing many guys with whom I''ve attended high school, even elementary school.
And there are plenty of new faces. Ever since I was old enough to date, there has been changing of the guards. Back then, they were GI''s at Fort Ord--cute and "foreign" (all the way from Texas, Kentucky, Iowa!). Now there are the ever-changing posts at DLI, the Monterey Institute for International Studies, the Coast Guard and CSUMB. (Oh thank you Lord--did I deserve all these young healthy men in one life?).
Monterey hosts an array of social events throughout the year, which tend to bring new faces and varying personalities to the local hang-outs. Yes, Monterey is a worthy location to be a single woman if you enjoy meeting new people. There is no shortage of young, active men calling this area home for a spell.
Not long ago, a girlfriend and I hit the Mucky Duck. At some point a group of young men rounded us into their booth. Lively conversation ensued and we discovered they worked with the racing school at Laguna Seca.
The subsequent exchange with a taller, down-to-earth race car driver (oxymoronic though that may sound), whose day job was an EMT in the Bay Area, lasted a month or two.
We were slow to begin: we enjoyed making out a few times before actually jumping in the sack together (safe sex practices adhered to, of course). Overall, an arousing dating experience.
Oh yes, there''s plenty of arousal occurring in this town. One night after bar-hopping down on Alvarado Street, I went with a handsome young fireman back to the fire station. And I''ll tell you what, there''s nothing like trying to quietly make out on top of a big red fire-engine. We lay there up on top of the big hoses. That thick texture of woven nylon hose will never be forgotten (even though his name has been).
Not long ago, a handsome young man and I struck up a conversation after we realized we shared similar tattoos. He confided that his psychic in L.A. had told him he''d meet a blonde woman in water (we were sitting in the hot tub at our gym). I was unimpressed with the psychic information, but we ended up going out for beer a couple more times.
Casual dating might seem empty, void of true connection. But how much casual dating is enough before you decide to turn it up or turn it off? There is a fine line between meeting new guys and being promiscuous.
With all the great places there are to play on the Peninsula, it is difficult to predict when or where a dating opportunity may arise.
For example, a couple years back, I was out at the Carmel Valley Rancher Days--hay bales, tri-tip barbecue, live music, lots of beer. Later in the day I caught up with a guy I''ve known since grade school. He was well into his umpteenth beer and feeling the love. I wasn''t anywhere near that, but we ended up spending some time together in the field behind his parked truck. Oh he did ask for more--he was close on begging--but to this day I am so glad I never gave in, because the bum never did call me. And I liked him.
Then there was the chance meeting with a chiseled-faced, dark-skinned man from NPS at Papa Chano''s. We were both dining alone and he suggested we sit together. A very pleasant conversation followed. During our conversation we realized we were both competing in the upcoming Wildflower triathlon.
Later, to celebrate our individual successes, he invited me to lunch--a walk on the beach, phone conversations--that was enough for me. One must always be on the lookout for the older-man-wanting-too-much-profundity-too-soon. This one had been married, divorced, and fathered three children. He seemed a bit too needy. A 30-something woman needs nothing less than she needs a clingy man. Gentlemen, if we''ve made it this far on our own, there may be some good reasons--including that we are self-sufficient, able, and intelligent enough to not fall for someone with whom we can sense it just isn''t going to happen in the long run.
I once had an encounter with a Blue Angels mechanic who was staying in Monterey while his team was flying at the Salinas Air Show. What an incredibly good man: a pleasant personality and a darling Georgia accent. We met at Blue Fin on Cannery Row on a Friday night while he was there with his cronies. We exchanged phone numbers, went to the beach, to lunch, for a walk on the recreation trail. We still keep in touch but he is always on the road, so that dating story has a wonderful beginning but an anticlimactic finish.
It''s easy to meet people anywhere; on the rec trail, at the beach, at a coffee shop, at a restaurant, working out, relaxing in a hot tub, at a local bookstore. The wildness of my early 20s has broadened into an eclectic mix where I have conglomerated internal desires and external realities. I metamorphosed from a fake-ID-carrying, loud-music-loving, bar-hopper to an outdoor enthusiast. Instead of going to Viva''s or Doc Rickett''s every night, I now spend the majority of my free time road biking the gorgeous, endless loops of pavement in Fort Ord, climbing at the Sanctuary Rock Gym in Sand City and at the local crags in Big Sur, Pinnacles and Yosemite, hiking at Point Lobos, Garland Ranch, or on any of a myriad of trails between Carmel and Big Sur. And the wild territories here on the Peninsula certainly lend themselves to the presence of healthy, energetic, nature-appreciating, often-handsome men.
Dating in Monterey has run the spectrum from funky, not-to-be-repeated encounters to wonderful experiences. There are some intelligent, humorous, athletic, kind men to be found out and about. To be a confident self-possessed woman in her 30s affords a sense of satisfaction, of enjoying life to its fullest and feeling comfortable in chance meetings whether they blossom into a relationship or not. Carpe Diem!