Alison Berkley: Dishing out dirt on dangerous dates | AspenTimes.com

Alison Berkley: Dishing out dirt on dangerous dates

What exactly does “dating” mean, anyway?

I personally can’t remember the last time I went on a traditional “date” that didn’t involve an inordinate amount of drinking or meeting up with a bunch of people at the bar. Most relationships that begin this way are fast and furious and always seem to be over before they even get started, like driving a Ferrari in reverse.

It’s fun and exciting but you can’t see where you’re going, and even though you understand that what you’re doing is dangerous and stupid, you go ahead and do it anyway.

Then you’re confused as to why it is that you’re not going anywhere, why you can’t “move forward” or go “in the right direction.” Or worse, you slam dead-on into some large object that you knew was there all along, and mourn when the wreckage is unsalvageable.

My sense of “dating” means admitting you’re shagging someone on a regular basis, in limbo between a casual fling and a real relationship. I’m pretty sure that it’s supposed to have something to do with going out to dinner and stuff like that – some mysterious progression that starts with a first “date” and continues in some civilized fashion where two people get to know each other better, taking these small, romantic steps toward intimacy.

Yeah, right! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m under the impression that the idea of a “date” scares the crap out of most guys in this town, as if taking that first step will somehow result in a catastrophic descent into the depths of relationship hell. Heaven forbid they should lose one millisecond of their freedom to eat, drink, ski and watch baseball games at the J-Bar as they please. And everyone knows women are expensive, especially in Aspen. Why waste money taking her out to eat when you could upgrade the components on your mountain bike or buy a new shell for your pickup? Then you’ll have to deal with all the heckling from your friends who call you “pussy whipped” and get mad when you’re no longer available to sit around on weeknights to do bong hits and watch South Park reruns. Before you know it, she’ll expect you to marry her and take out a loan to pay for the ring and meet all her relatives and have brunch with her mother. Christ almighty, you’re only 35 years old, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you!

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It’s not like it’s any less scary for the girls. I mean, why should we cut ourselves off to one person when there are just so many choices? That would be like going to the sushi bar and ordering a chicken teriyaki entree. The unknown is almost always more appealing than the known. Having a real boyfriend would mean changing everything you’ve learned about being self-reliant and independent, which means doing whatever you want with whomever you want. With all the time and energy you’ve put into improving yourself, it would be like buying the car at the end of your lease which is now four years outdated instead of trading it in for the newest upgrade. There’s always going to be something better out there, right?

The worst are those people who assume that anytime they do anything with the opposite sex that it’s considered a date. I cannot even tell you the trepidation involved with making simple plans to meet some guys for coffee or to go for a hike. Get over yourselves, boys. What is it that you are so afraid of? Just because we spend the afternoon with you does not mean we will want to have your babies! Walking up a mountain and jumping into the sack are two totally different things (unless you’re speaking metaphorically, of course). Yes, there’s always a chance we might reject you, but enough with the assumptions, already! Can’t we just be friends?

Aside from the fact that most of us who live here in Aspen are self-indulgent hedonists who are commitment-phobic and refuse to grow up, the real problem about dating in this town is that no one has a clue about what they’re supposed to do. We’re terrified of dates, dating, or doing anything that might implicate a future over which we have very little control (as if anyone ever has control over their future). Don’t call me, I’ll call you. Don’t actually call me back because it might freak me out, so maybe you should wait a few days. E-mail is okay if you keep it short and only respond once, so as not to drag out a dialog I wasn’t sure I wanted to start in the first place. We can make plans to get together, but I will always insist on calling you back on the day of our plans so I have an out if I want to cancel. I would prefer it if we went out with other people instead of spending time alone so I can be insulated by my friends just in case I feel awkward or change my mind about wanting to be with you. Oh yeah, and don’t tell anyone we’re “dating” because this is a small town and then everyone will know.

My roommate told me an old Aspen adage that says, “You don’t lose your girlfriend, you lose your place in line.” It is a small town after all, and we don’t have the anonymity the big city affords. He says he never starts dating anyone until he sleeps with them first, that the “feeling out process” has to be done before you go on a date, which is essentially your public debut. So I guess we’ll all have to continue fumbling around in the dark, hoping that we’ll eventually find what we’re looking for, even though we can’t see a goddamn thing. So please – don’t call us, and we definitely won’t call you. When the time is right, maybe there’s some random chance we’ll go bump in the night.

[The Princess is definitely not dating anyone right now as far as you know. You may send her an e-mail at aspenprincess@msn.com]