“Single blessedness,” this state was called a hundred years ago, and enjoying it means rejoicing in my own skin: my health, my imagination, my friends—and now the strange experiment of the social network. Exploring the dating sites rouses all my primitive fears of the stranger, the Other, the menacing but oh so attractive stranger.
A lot of my friends here in Santa Fe have experimented with these sites. One even married a woman he met there, which is not my goal. What struck me about his experience is that he found a woman who did not seem to fit anything I knew, or thought I knew, about him, a woman he would never have found in the usual way. Of course there is no usual way any more, no church socials or cotillions or neatly matched-up dinner parties—but even if my friend had had access to these venues, he would never have met the extraordinary woman he found on the net.
Does this mean that the very act of experimenting with these sites opens us to experimenting with the kinds of men and women we find attractive?
I’m struck, now, with the slickness of these presentations, the parade of faces, the detailed bios—although some of the men don’t bother to fill them out—the wide range of types and ages represented (although all are white, well, a few Hispanic.) As I perfect my circle and my routine here—and it is nearly perfect!—these strangers seem ever more exotic and surprising—even alarming, since they are not filtered through the genteel sieve of chamber music concerts, poetry readings, writing workshops and so forth.
Perhaps the only other place I sometimes meet unexpected people is when I ride at The Broken Saddle Riding Company in Cerrillos, one of those old-time western outfits where tourists mount western saddles in their high-heeled boots and the owner holds a special pinto for me called Jack. The landscape around the old mining town, now derelict, is barren, scrub pine and sand and deep arroyos worn deeper by erosion; you have to love the bare bone West to enjoy that outlook.
The Broken Saddle is a far cry from the manicured stables around Santa Fe where three-day eventing absorbs the attention, energy and money of nice ladies and girls…
As I write this, I’m waiting to start work on my next book, with a slew of short stories to finish in the meantime, for my next collection.
How will one activity feed the other? Or is it all merely distraction?