Right around my 30th birthday, I went a little crazy.
At the time, I could have opened a consignment shop for bridesmaid's dresses. Baby shower invitations were piling up like bar receipts. And even though I'd been pretty confident throughout my 20's, something about 30 hit me hard. I melted down in a blur of, "What's wrong with me? Why doesn't anybody want to love me or make a baby with me?"
All that whining and self-questioning did nothing to attract a good man. I mean, who wants to be with someone who thinks there's something wrong her?
You guessed it, guys who have something wrong with them.
As Patti Stanger would say, I have a "bad picker." I've always been outgoing, so meeting men wasn't the problem. Meeting the right men was. I could make MVP for choosing the wrong guy. I'd done it for so long, by then I felt comfort while being in that recognizable, yet somehow invisible space with a man who's interested in me just enough to keep me hanging around. It's like pulling on an old, bally sweater. It's not pretty, but at least I know it well.
First, there was Sam, who wanted to make every night a Blockbuster Night. He wasn't unkind. He just didn't want to leave the house. Ever.
Then there was Rob, the amazing guitarist who loved other women more than he loved me.
Beautiful Dean, who was great, when he was great. But he lapsed into moods so dark they scared me.
Then Charlie, whose messy basement apartment should have convinced me that his internal life was just as messy. He was smart and had potential, but what good is potential without action?
And the decade rolled on like that, dating guys who were, "good enough," until one night in my late 30's. My girlfriends and I were out at our favorite pub, where the wine and the whining flowed.
"It's just so hard to meet a guy," one friend said.
"Seriously, there are no good guys in LA."
"Well, you're not gonna meet a guy here. That's for sure," said my waitress friend.
This sounded so familiar. Like an annoying rerun of the week before. I think I actually rolled my eyes at them. 3
"It's not that hard to meet guys," I said.
"Well, it's not hard for you. You always talk to guys," one of them said.
"Right. Just walk up to them and say 'hi'," I said.
"I can't do that," they all said at once, like I was asking them to streak through the bar or something.
"What if I dared you?" I asked.
"Huh?" They stared at me.
I pointed at a guy in a baseball cap at the far end of the bar.
"What if I dared you to go and talk to that guy?"
All four of them turned and looked. The guy shifted on his barstool and pulled down his cap.
"I don't know," they mumbled and gulped more wine.
"Okay, what if we had a contest? Awarded some kind of prize to the winner?"
They stared at me again. At that moment, I really saw my friends, all doggy paddling through our stagnant love lives, miserable and defeated.
We couldn't go on like that. I flipped over my placemat and began scribbling on it. Points, charts and all sorts of stuff.
"What are you doing?" They asked.
I looked up at them, raised my glass and said, "Ladies, how do you feel about playing a little game?"
I had come up with an idea for a game designed to empower women to dare to date. Like other fantasy sports, people join leagues, set stakes and compete to earn points. It's just that when you Fantasy Date, you earn points by exchanging numbers, receiving texts, calls and going on dates.
We played and it worked. Knowing that our friends could be scoring valuable points at any moment, we checked the mirror before going to the grocery store. We smiled at strangers, stood a little taller and engaged men in conversation. The negativity melted, the points racked up and we went on more dates in the following two months than we had in the last two years.
In fact, all five of us met guys at that pub.