Friday, December 20, 2013


I'm so good at getting into the holiday doldrums, I didn't even have to try this year.

No other time of the year makes you feel worse about being single than Christmas. Not even Valentine's Day. In fact, if I'm single on February 14th, I usually quietly celebrate. Let the chumps in relationships blow their paychecks on dying flowers and shiny rocks. Not me. I'll laugh my single self all the way to the bank and/or the nearest record store.

But for the month of December, single guys like me spend 30+ days getting bombarded by the awesomeness of the holidays, provided you have family and love and George Bailey and Red Ryder BB Guns and mistletoe and chestnuts roasting on open fires, despite the fact that I tried one once and they kinda taste like dirt.

You just can't help but feel inferior around the holidays for being single. Don't believe me? Go switch on the Hallmark Channel right now. I will guarantee there's a movie playing this very second about some sad sack single person having a grinchy Christmas until they meet-cute their soulmate and live happily ever after while sleigh bells jingle merrily in the background. But if you don't get that soulmate, you're nothing but one of the extras in the background of that movie, trudging facelessly through the snow into anonymity.

Let's face it -- Christmas is mostly a holiday for the kids. You can try to recapture that Christmas magic you remember as a child, but it's tough to pull off. Usually the only option is to have kids of your own and live the magic vicariously through their eyes.

So I've been a little down this week. Whether I'm still searching for a soulmate or too scared to act on one I've already met, I remain once again single for the holidays and a little bit mopey about it. It's kind of a bummer, but it's a bummer I'm used to and know how to best handle (it usually involves spending sprees, binge materialism, and wasting an inordinate amount of time making year-end best-of lists.)

But when mopey meets SICK, all bets are off. Last Friday I was in the middle of a rather nice pity party when I was talking to a friend and my voice suddenly went out. Within two hours, I was coughing and hacking. Within 24, I was bedridden with the worst-timed winter cold in recent memory. For the past three days, I've been off work and on my couch, surviving on little more than a wing, a prayer, and a seemingly infinite supply of chicken noodle soup.

I'm on the mend now, but for a few days there, it was touch and go, sneeze and blow. And while I was on my magical mystery tour of phlegm, the only thing I was capable of doing other than some light wheezing was to stare aimlessly at the boob tube and zone out to something mindless. This explains why I ended up watching "How I Met Your Mother."

More specifically, 54 episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" over three days. It was precisely the kind of friendly, non-threatening entertainment that required the least amount of effort to work the remote control. But a funny thing happened during my mindless marathon. Who'd have thunk it, but this genial sitcom turned out to have ALL the answers. Here I was, worried that I'd be single forever, when all the solutions I'd yearned for were right here in a half-hour. Well, 54 half-hours. Still, it's official: Everything I Need To Know About Dating I Learned From How I Met Your Mother.

Step one: MOVE TO NEW YORK CITY. And to think, all this time I'd been under the impression that NYC was a dirty crime mecca rife with rude people and honking taxicabs and congestion and stress. Instead, it's a hotbed of excitement, beautiful women, engaging storylines, and precisely ONE bar, conveniently located downstairs from your apartment.

Step two: YOUR APARTMENT, by the way, which is ENORMOUS. The rents in New York City must be AMAZINGLY cheap, since you and your friends can afford to stay in a house-sized apartment with an incredible view of the city despite the fact that at least one of your roommates is always unemployed and those of you who DO work appear to do so once every three or so weeks. The rest of the time you just hang out in the bar downstairs.

Step three: YOUR FRIENDS. Now, this is where it's important. Upon arriving in New York, you need to make exactly FOUR friends. No more, no less (unless your friends are "Friends," in which case a fifth friend IS permissable.) 2 to 3 of them should be girls, one of whom who'll need to pine over like a puppy dog. It's a win-win: you'll eventually score with her, and when you're not, all that pining will give you something to do in those fleeting moments when you're not hanging out at the bar downstairs.

Step four: DEMOGRAPHICS. This is critical. Of your 4 new friends, only three of them need have redeeming qualities. The fourth needs to be a creepy lothario harboring a dangerous sex addiction, with whom you are friends for no discernable reason whatsoever. This person will routinely make your life a living hell and constantly put you in situations that range from alarming to totally illegal. Still, you must remain his friend. I'm not exactly sure why.

Step five: MINGLE. The best part about New York City appears to be that EVERY girl you encounter (usually at the bar downstairs) is INCREDIBLY GORGEOUS. More to the point, they're also stupid to the point of concern and ALWAYS have their schedules open for an impromptu sexual encounter the MINUTE they hear a believable pickup line, so be ready.

Step six: PATIENCE. If you don't find your soulmate at first, don't worry. Sometimes you have to date your best friend, a cupcake baker, a dermatologist, a lesbian college student, an environmentalist, and the cupcake baker again, but eventually you'll meet your soulmate because she's the one with the yellow umbrella. Or something. The point is, you never end up single because "How I Failed To Meet Your Mother And Died Alone" does NOT make for a good story -- though, admittedly, would still be better than the movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Problem solved. Or maybe I need to ease off the Nyquil a bit.

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