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Dating Prep 201: A Brief Tour of Hell

Dating Prep 201: A Brief Tour of Hell

Dating Prep 201:  A Brief Tour of Hell
October 26
09:10 2015

by Jonathan Shuffield Co-host of the Pacific Northwest LGBT Radio Talk Show, OUTSpoken

As I sit here at my laptop contemplating what part of my crazy journey through the singlehood I will share in this article, I find myself imagining that this is like my version of Sex and the City; except there is far……FAR…….less sex. The available pool of bachelors is more the size of a puddle and the men don’t look anything like movie stars or even cable TV stars (except you reading this of course, you’re HOT!). I keep writing because I have to believe there are more men like me out there who can relate to my experiences, or I just really like to read my own writings. In all honesty, it is probably both.

If you read my last article on dating you know that my luck with men is more akin to an Arkansas family reunion. It takes a lot of work and preparation to date and I refuse to let that work go to waste! As I continue my quest to date again I decided to strengthen my odds of success and go shopping. We all know that half the enjoyment of a meal is in the presentation, that’s a saying right? Or is it, you won’t buy the milk if the cow isn’t pretty? I don’t know, I just know that it helps to look good!

Let me begin by stating that I do not enjoy shopping for clothes. It is a practice in self-loathing and masochistic behavior in my book. Inevitably I will go home feeling like Quasimodo and bury my depression in a truckload of pasta. It is also a necessary evil if I want to get my groove back. So I suck it up (or in) and do what I have to do.

Either in a moment of brilliant epiphany or a moment of an un-diagnosed mini-stroke I asked my best friend to go with me. You see he is in his twenties, he’s athletically handsome and he is very fashionable. Yes he truly is my polar opposite and lacking in good judgement he agreed. How could my self-image possibly take a hit in this equation?

Off to the store we go! Our adventure got off to a rocky start as my friend hands me a pair of pants to try on. I can only say that when you have a 28 inch waist the world perspective must be very different for him. The end of the known universe can’t possibly go beyond 34 inches. I politely hand them back as I remind him that I would be lucky to get those past my calves.

While we are on the subject of sizes can we please talk about the Big & Tall sections of our clothing stores? Much love to my vertically gifted brothers, but these departments are definitely for the Big AND Tall. We need a Short & Stout section for those of us who happen to be more along the height of Leslie Jordan than Michael Jordan. In this section it is apparently assumed that to have a shirt that fits my upper body I logically must be seven feet tall. I’m sure you can begin to feel why these little shopping excursions make me long for an ER trip – I can spend just as much money but it is bound to be less painful.

Just as I am about to give up and run frantically to the shoe section where I know I can find something I love that fits me perfectly, my friend brings me some outfits and tells me to try them on. The dressing rooms really are the eighth level hell. This is where hopes and dreams go just to be tossed aside on the endless pile of might-have-beens. My friend simply flashes his optimistic smile and off I go. The thing is he was right (he can never read this), there were two outfits that fit and that I liked. How could this be? A shopping trip that did not end in the need for a therapy session? It’s true, we survived!

As I look back though, the day wasn’t as tragic as I make my purchasing excursions out to typically be. My trim friend cannot understand what it is like to be a short, barrel chested, belly lugging man as I can’t imagine what shopping for skinny jeans must be like. We don’t have to understand those things though, to understand each other. He made me laugh when I needed to laugh, he put up with my dark, pouting humor without judgement and he patiently waited for me to find myself in those piles of clothes. At the end of that day I had far more fun than I intended to. I even felt good and attractive and not defeated. What was happening? Did my heart grow two sizes and NOT from weight related issues?

To paraphrase South Park, I learned something that day. I learned that the prep work of dating is on-going, I learned that some clothing sizes are just evil lies perpetuated by some vindictive gnome in the same level of hell the dressing rooms reside in, and I learned that I should start seeing myself through the eyes of my friends. You see I can find the perfect threads to make me feel alluring, I can work on the grooming and the clothing and the charm, but if I don’t see why I’m worth dating none of it really matters. In the eyes of my friend, sizes didn’t matter, I looked great the way I was and he enjoys laughing with me and talking with me and just hanging out with me. The crazy thing is, I like hanging out with me too! I am very thankful for my friend, it is a lesson I needed to learn and I am even more excited to start this crazy dating scene. I am committed to seeing myself the way my friends see me because, I mean, in the end that is what the winning guy on my arm is truly going to be stuck with anyways! Now if you will excuse me I need to take my enlightened self back to the store because as any self-respecting Sex and the City fan knows, it truly is all about the shoes!


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