November 14th, 2010:

Being Single — IT’S NOT ALL FUN AND GAMES

While it’s enjoyable to meet potential relationship material at local watering holes, then and now,

US Navy Blue Angels in formation

there are many bittersweet stories among the patrons. Since I was always interested in people’s personal stories,  I got to know something about various “regulars” of the male gender, and a few became friends.

One such person was Bill, a former Navy fighter pilot, who’d been part of the highly skilled Blue Angels, and flown in the Viet Nam War. He was up to having fun of all sorts, even if it made him look foolish. During Happy Hour at a classy bar restaurant one night, a girlfriend of mine challenged Bill on his offer to do something crazy. She dared him to take off his trousers and boxer shorts (he was wearing a suit and tie) in front of everybody. He managed to slip them off without causing too much of a stir: his shirt had a long tail, which kept him modest. He handed her his boxer shorts and stood there grinning while people stared. Since only his bare legs showed and not his naked fanny, no one protested.

So far, I’ve never seen Bill’s stunt repeated, but a male friend once told me he rode a horse naked (a la Lady Godiva) to a local Western bar for Halloween.

During a time when I was having financial challenges, Bill, who had bought a brand new Porsche and was feeling generous, lent me his older Porsche for about a month. As I got to know him better, I discovered Bill’s charm and enthusiastic boyishness had periods of highs and lows, as did his life. He suffered from bipolar disorder, which soon became evident. During manic times he’d take several showers a day (enough to begin peeling off his apartment’s bathroom wallpaper) or pop in for a visit and head for your wine with a large plastic “to-go” cup  (he ignored any rules about drinking and driving — he drank while he drove). I often wonder what happened to this essentially sweet man.

Before Match.com and all the Internet dating sites, Los Angeles had the Singles Register newspaper, which was readily available and crammed with hundreds of ads from all over LA. The ads were somewhat similar to the more modern ads of today, but without the bells and whistles of graphics, photos, tapes, and computer services, etc. A man or woman with an imagination and willingness to create an enticing ad could have a field day exploring Love or Lust. Things weren’t as threatening in the days before AIDS sprang into full life.

In my personal ads I mentioned I enjoyed walks on the beach, candlelight dinners, great conversations, good movies, and the like when those descriptions were a bit fresher. This type of ad is totally passé at this point, but then so are newspapers. The method of contact was also old-fashioned. The respondent was required to send a letter (the kind that uses stamps and is now called snail mail) and encouraged to send a photo. Those letters could be flowery and clever or very simple. Analyzing the handwriting, if you knew how, gave a clue about personality.

I’ve always appreciated creativity and good writing, but I soon learned that the “buyer” must beware; not everything or every person was as advertised. Photos weren’t necessarily current or very representative of the person: a common complaint now on the Internet. Oddly heartening, however, was the fact that these advertisers often genuinely believed what they wrote about themselves. Optimistic advertisers actually did see themselves as looking younger, having all their hair and a great body. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, even if it’s just your own eyes.

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