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Singles Scene

Michael KorbWhen you’re single, anything is possible. You can fly to Buenos Aires and become a painter. You can sell all of your belongings and join an ashram. You can head to Europe and eat, pray and love (in that order). Yes, when you’re single, all things are possible. The problem is, single people seem to think they’d rather do those things with someone special.

The truth is that most of you reading this column want to be in a relationship. (And those of you who don’t want to be in a relationship are, not surprisingly, already in a relationship.) It’s a major flaw in the human design—we want what we don’t have—and as soon as we get it, we can’t really remember what all the fuss was about. To that end, we look in the mirror, give ourselves a thumbs-up, then head out to various hotspots looking for Mr. or Ms. Right. And when that doesn’t pay off, we read books, listen to podcasts and watch movies purporting to tell us just how to land the one.

And that’s why we’ve decided to start a blog (click here to read) that looks into the world of dating in Southwest Florida: the good, the bad, the Match.com profile pictures from 15 years ago. (Don’t even tell us you don’t know what we’re talking about.)

Let’s face it, these are treacherous waters, and you need help.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, we may not give it to you. (Help, that is.) But we’ll have fun trying. So to get our feet wet, we accepted an invitation to a hunting trip with some area cougars, hoping to witness the call of the wild: some over-the-shoulder flirting, some polite conversation, some indiscriminate groping behind the DJ booth. On the menu: dinner at AZN, drinks at Pure Urban Oasis, dancing at Blue Martini—basically the golden triangle for area singles. Among the group (names changed throughout to protect the not-so-innocent): Riley, a 40-year-old single mother who looks like a young Lauren Holly; Amanda, a same-aged tall, thin power blonde capable of hurricane-force hair whips; and Emma, the petite lone married friend capable of Zen-like understanding of all things from behind a prudish façade.

Unfortunately, according to our group, the "talent" was low that evening.

"There isn’t a single person in here where if they came up and talked to me I wouldn’t make a face," says Riley. In her defense, she was totally accurate. The best-looking guy in the place had a shockingly large head, which was totally disproportionate to his frame. With hair that only Jane Goodall could love and a forehead to match, he was also otherwise distracted by a mid-20s blonde sporting high-heeled black leather boots so tall and so tight they were probably fitted by her gynecologist. I wondered aloud if anyone thought they came in as a couple or if he was merely making his move.

"I’ll find out," says Amanda, who’s already proclaimed herself "fearless" multiple times. (And she certainly was by drink four of her two-drink limit.) "Don’t worry, I’m not going to bring her over here I want to ask about those boots anyway."

This is apparently what happens when the night’s talent pool is low. The women’s attention turns to other things: footwear, hairstyles, how much married men suck. Apparently, they really do.

Drinks for two: Editor and blogger Michael Korb digs into the dating world in Southwest Florida for our new blog, Singles Scene.Riley, who is quasi-divorced, has found herself to be a magnet for married men. Recently, a night with Emma at The Capital Grille found the pair having a drink at the bar when a ringless charmer in a ratty, red T and jeans sat down next to them, chatting them up. A definite out-of-towner. The topic of Facebook came up and Riley, as she is wont to do, asked if their new "friend" would friend her on Facebook if she requested. He appeared to circle the wagons—in Emma’s opinion—and didn’t answer to her liking. In fact, remaining nameless, he eventually decided he wasn’t on Facebook at all, so the point was moot. But technology being what it is and cougars being what they are—they swiped this guy’s credit card to get his name while he was paying his bill—led to a quick discovery that he was, in fact, married and on Facebook.That did not keep his tongue out of Riley’s mouth, albeit briefly.

Amanda, too, has been hit on by the husbands of four close friends over the last year. That’s right, close friends. Men, it seems, can be dogs.

For her part, Emma prefers to categorize them as either lions or cows. "Lions like to roam and hunt for food," says Emma. "You practice on lions," chimes in Riley. "Cows are the exact opposite. Cows are perfectly happy fenced in the pasture," continues Emma. "You marry cows. I married a cow."

And how proud he must be.

It seems clear that for a marriage to be successful, you need to let your cow think he is a lion occasionally. Actually letting your husband be a lion results in him hunting secretaries and bringing them back to the den while you’re at Pilates. That’s basically how it went down for Riley, and why she is now single and on the hunt.

But Amanda, unlike Riley, has chosen to be above it all with a cool indifference. "Sure we’ve all been wrecked a few times by love, but I’m OK being by myself. Once I got past the lack of intimacy that I’d like to have… I was fine. I am fine. I don’t need anyone and I’m not looking for anyone."

So no guys are in the picture at all?

"Oh no, I made out with a guy at a party last Saturday," she says, smirking and twirling her hair. "But I finished up the evening on my own."

Oh dear.

Regardless, Riley is still on the hunt for love.

And that hunt is like navigating a minefield. You’re competing against secretaries, gold diggers and freshly siliconed boot-wearers willing to take the big-headed men right out from under you.

"Honestly, (hooking up) is not the problem. We can all (hook up). We want to find someone we can hold hands with in the movies," says Riley.

We hear you, girl. Singles Scene is here to help.

So if you, like Riley, still insist that you must find Mr./Ms. Right because your movie nights are missing a left hand, we "promise" to help. We’ll cover matters like how to handle things if you’re fresh off a divorce, are sugar daddies/mommas a good idea, clothing choices for a night out, whether a wingman actually helps, should you go to a professional matchmaker and whether taking advice from a charming regional glossy magazine is a good idea when it comes to major life decisions. We’ll also want your help. We want to hear from you about your experiences with dating: where to go (or not to go), horrible first dates, what you’re looking for in a potential mate, turn-ons/turn-offs, deal breakers, must-haves, surprising places to meet singles, etc.

Let’s start with a question of the week: Where did you land your hottest hottie in the greater Southwest Florida region? We want the dirt.

Check out Singles Scene weekly on gulfshorelife.com.

This article appears in the January 2012 issue of Gulfshore Life.

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