The Bachelor

I’d be the worst person ever to be on The Bachelor; I’ve never understood being able to date more than one guy at the same time. As forced and awkward as going on a date with one person can already be, I can’t imagine juggling several men all at once: it’d be like trying to fit a single peg into lots of different holes at the same time.

This is not to say that I don’t keep my options open when I’m not focused on pursuing someone specific. There’s a difference between (a) targeting a potential mate that has proven to hold some sort of interest and (b) evaluating the potential of various men from afar. In the latter situation, once I can whittle down my choices to a finalist, I can shift gears to the comfortable position of Monogamous Dater, coasting as far as I can with the lucky guy who manages to avoid elimination. But only time, of course, can tell whether I’ve found a real winner or not; as on The Bachelor, winning the show does not necessarily mean winning a marriage proposal—or even a week’s worth of dates.

Unfortunately for me, having a singular, compelling interest is a rarity. More likely, my evaluation radar is in constant use, identifying not only people that I find to be possible interests, but also people for whom I am on the radar (whether I want to be on there or not). That “radar” setting is where I find myself now. The non-profit organization for which I work holds a summer-long institute that hires over 140 of its current staff members (myself included) to live and work with 750 recent college graduates or job-switchers training to be its new members. We’re all housed in the same college dormitory, and thus, college hormones are also intact; this place is a buffet of socially-conscious young professional-types that are ripe for poaching. Needless to say, my radar is on overdrive, and I’ve found a handful of cute guys—both on staff and in training—that I’d like to get to know a little better.

In such a frenzied setting, people pair up pretty quickly. At a baseball game I attended tonight, I noticed that the two hottest gay guys at the institute were already flirting with one another. I realized quickly that even if I had people on my radar, the only people who would matter in the end were the people who were also scanning me—unless I give the guys on my radar a reason to scan me. Until I can scrounge up the courage or strategy to approach those folks, though, I don’t mind considering two guys who’ve shown interest in me, and I’ve got to decide if either of them are worthy enough to be in the Monogamous Dater passenger seat:

“Mark” - Late-twenties, early-thirties supervisor of a bus company’s motor pool. Average-looking (which is fine with me). Latino. Retiring military man who has served both in Iraq and Afghanistan. My job entails the planning, organizing, and operating of special events and transportation for the entire summer venture, and at a meeting I attended with him, I noticed a few subtle advances he was making: he gave me his personal cell phone number instead of his work phone, he sprinkled our usually business-focused emails and phone calls with thoughts and questions about places to hang out, previous jobs and upbringings, weekend plans, and so on. The kicker: he said that he was planning to go to a local coffee shop this weekend, and he was going to give me a call beforehand to see if I wanted to join him. I’m wary about crossing the professional line we’ve built, but if I’m not busy, I will probably take him up on his offer.

“Travis” – Mid-to-late thirties, if not older. Actor part-time, blue-collar other-time. Nice guy who I worked with on a charity fundraiser last year. I’m more on his radar than he is on mine, partially because he has a head of graying hair. At the time we met, he had an also-twenty-something Asian boyfriend, but word got around anyway that if he weren’t taken, he would have tried moving for me. It was a flattering comment at the time, but because he was attached, I just took it as playful. Last week, he called me offering me a small role at another charitable function, and I took him up on it; when we met to discuss some of the details, it came up that he had broken up with his boyfriend in January, and now he’s moving on. At the event itself, he chatted me up more than the other friend with whom he attended, and afterwards, he said that we should grab coffee some time this week. Despite the age difference (the trait of his that worries me the most), I probably will—only because he’s such a nice guy.

Both guys are mature. Both are pretty average-looking. I wouldn’t say either was perfect—neither fits the attribute of being close to my age or decidedly cute. But if I’m going to even attempt being The Bachelor, juggling a couple of guys here and there, then by all means—I cannot settle with age and appearance as my only two methods of evaluation before elimination. Personality’s gotta count. And the purpose of dating anyway is to dig for chemistry and the possibility for depth. Superficiality and concern are, I think, okay for now.

So, with that attitude—“for now”—let the games begin.

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