June 27, 2005

The Uptown Date

"Original Dating are holding another speed dating event at Oblivion Bar on Monday the 27th June. You will meet up to 20 new people in one great night out! Dates last just four minutes each. Long enough to work out if you want to
see someone again and not too long if you don't!" -- Announcement, June, 2005

      [with apologies to Alexander Pope]

WITHIN OLD GOTHAM'S canyons there dwells a shallow race,
That is only moved to mark and then pursue the face
Whose pursed lips promise much, and yet deliver little,
Except more cash and fame to the various lickspittles
Whose manipulation of the young is really quite refined,
And whose underwear is personally hand-signed by Calvin Klein.

Presented daily with an echo shrouded in a choice,
It surprises none among us that some presume a voice
That yaps and apes authority, and urges happiness
Can be possessed by the possession of a new designer dress
Designed and sold by Donna, or her many fawning friends,
That such a tiny swatch of fabric may yet cover bigger ends.

Armed with such frail weapons, these creatures nightly strive
To convince themselves and others they're vibrantly alive
To life and wit and wealth, and not just sunk in shame,
As in the bistros of the night they play the dating game.
This game is played by two who always seek to measure
The shortest distance now between self-esteem and pleasure.

The entrance fees are steep, yet still these fools rush in --
Each to take their turn, each to have their spin,
Upon a wheel of fortune made of money and of mist,

That, once their number wins and guarantees a tryst,
They will be allowed to turn, and thus extend their gain
Into the prize of happiness instead of present pain.

Alas, this game's not played merely for the sport,
But in earnest to entrap some unwary cohort,
Into the revelation of agendas, net worth and sub-text
That, seeming hot, still have little relevance to sex,
But touch upon, insistently, the suitability of the mate,
(In potentia and "maybe") so that The Fear abate,

That drives these high-achievers nightly to the bars
Where all may prattle on about their favorite cars,
And presently disclose (in a subtle fashion, yes),
Their bonuses and incomes, or their present need for cash.
At the same time, let us note, the trappings of romance
Are fixed and non-negotiable in this nightly mating dance.

The Fear's an always present though uninvited guest
That climbs upon the table and hunkers on the chest
Of both the people chatting of the news and of the new,
And then reviewing items on the very stylish menu,
Or listening to that evening's very special choices
Recited by their special waiter, softly sotto voce.

This could be evening number 1, or evening 10, or thirty,
And if the wine is right it could get awfully flirty.
But first it is on business that they must both alight,
Since the business of the heart is the order of the night.
Each has their recitation, learned by now by rote --
Her's to win promotion, his to buy a goat.

One goat? Nay, a cornered market, and all of it for her,
That he may drape her body in the finest Ermines' fur,
Which although not quite sable is superior to mouse,
And he will use the savings to erect for her a house
On ten fine wooded acres up in Greenwich or Cos Cob,
That she will come to see her profession's just a job,

And accept early retirement to a mighty fine estate,
So spacious and elite, it needs an automatic gate
That parts only for her in her automatic Ford Explorer
Complete with golden labs that really quite adore her.
Add in two kids and then... why the dream is quite complete,
Except for the nagging question of who's in the driver's seat.

For his part, he expects her to become for all her life
The very modern model of a modern Stepford Wife,
A bargain which she now pretends to very hotly spurn,
Being unsure still of just how much he can earn.
He assures her that his future's not very much in doubt,
For he's the newest Emperor of the Internet buy-out.

At this she leans far forward into the candle's light,
Delivering a treat that is not lost upon his sight.
The waiter appears, avuncular, to ask about the wine.
He orders the Chateau LaPlonk, vintage 1999.
An astute girl with a pinch of sense would take this as warning,
But this signal's lost upon her, her fantasies aborning,

Wherein she sees herself as this year's John-John wife,
Slim, elegant and stylish, minimal, and made for life.
"If only," she thinks silently, "if only he's for real.
"If only," she thinks quickly, "I can close this deal."
He smiles and sips his well-selected vintage single-malt,
Thinking "If she goes for this... well, it's not my fault."

The evening then drones on as they both make their bets,
By disclosing, in a cloud of winks, certain liquid assets
Best left to the lawyers, whom they both will hire,
If ever this chance meeting lurches any higher.
The check's presented, paid, the dishes cleared away,
And then "My place or yours?" becomes the order of the day.

Or night, to be precise, in which they besotted stroll,
On one side a yearning witch, and on the other side, a troll.
Each secretly determined in the other one to find,
Neither warmth nor love, but some unknown diamond mine,
With which the things of love can surely all be bought,
For them it's but the ego's gleam and not the heart that's sought.

"Not to mine," she prays, " I haven't changed the sheets."
"Not to mine," thinks he, "I haven't cleaned in weeks."
She hopes that he'll suggest a pleasant Plaza Suite.
He wonders if the Midtown Motel's late-night rate's still cheap.
They compromise on nothing, and elect to say good night,
Each promising the other that the next time will be right.

In separate battered taxis, each one goes their way.
They need their rest for work, for here work rules the day.
They lock their doors behind them, each one quite relieved,
Each lied to the other and by the other was believed.
All in all, a quite successful night upon the town.
Both are feeling sleepy, and neither really down.

Tomorrow is another day to search for love or sex,
By scanning New York's little ads or thumbing the Rolodex.
He might call and she might answer, they'll get together soon,
And talk of stocks and bonds, and ignore the rising moon
That shines only on lovers who know each other's secret names,
And never on these darkened souls that play the dating game.

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Posted by Vanderleun at June 27, 2005 11:23 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

How true. How true. How sad. How blue.

Posted by: MarkH at June 27, 2005 10:54 AM

Are all these would-be lovers' machinations,
(Some spurred by hope, and others by predations),
That end with feeling smug or feeling lonely,
Accomplished in the said four minuters only?

Posted by: neo-neocon at June 27, 2005 1:39 PM

Society has come to this
But I remember when
She did as she was told
Or I would lock her in her pen.

Then one rowdy, drunken night
I recall with dark despair
Life took a turn for much the worse
I lost my grip upon her hair.

Posted by: Frightened guys? at June 28, 2005 12:15 AM

Oops, I just noticed a typo in my poem! Can't have that, because then it scans wrong (not to mention making no sense :-)). So, here's the correction:

Are all these would-be lovers' machinations,
(Some spurred by hope, and others by predations),
That end with feeling smug or feeling lonely,
Accomplished in the said four minutes only?

Posted by: neo-neocon at June 28, 2005 8:57 AM

As someone who just moved from the Greenwich area to Manhattan, this really hits home! As a middle aged guy, watching the dance of those that live four to a junior four is very fascinating. There is the entire layer of young 20-something transients doing exactly the above.

Us old farts are just happy the liquor stores are now open on Sunday!

Posted by: tk at July 11, 2005 10:31 AM
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