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As roosters began cock-a-doodle-dooing, after a five hour jam session in Granada, Nicaragua’s Backyard Hostel, the guitar was finally set aside and Michelle, a German/Cuban who had taken a liking to me, began showing me her various tattoos and telling me the stories behind them. In the course of conversation she showed me a picture of the seven-foot boa constrictor and related to me the unique set of cultural circumstances that comes with being half Cuban half German.“I had such a difficult time trying to find someone to take of my boa while I went on my trip,” she told me as she settled into my shoulder.Travelers, we have all been here before, in the romantic milieu of hostel travel—that meandering moment when a fellow member of the road and opposite sex lies a head on your shoulder beneath a canopy of early morning stars.There is beauty in this—a beauty we spend our young lives seeking and our adult lives trying to understand.But beauty is just one item in the package of the dating/hooking/whatever-you-call it scene.
This, and my relationship to it, is something I’ve contemplated quite a bit in the last year.
Having just clocked in my 29th year on the age clock, I’ve been privy to contents of that package—have fallen in love, been broken by the fall out of it, have been in fleeting romantic relationships, played the bar game as instructed by the governing cultural traditions, and have found myself deciding where I should go from there.
“The Game” is often a silly game that in my opinion really only exists as it does because of all the possible intoxicatants our culture could legally sanction, we have chosen the wobbly libation of alcohol, which serves us by shutting down the sensible parts of the brain.
Little explanation of “The Game” is needed, since you all know the basic rules of barroom dating game: 1) Everyone gets drunk 2) Everyone tries to go home with the most desirable person who is open to an exchange 3) From there you exchange/numbers and of the course of any subsequent entanglements gauge whether the other person has a demeanor worth dating—a big step because it temporarily takes you out of the game (straight to jail without passing Go). For some of my brethren, step three involves never calling and attempting to never see the other person again.
Being human, the straight male variety, often single and possessing the usual fondness for the fairer sex, I have both watched the game from the sidelines, the bench, the coach’s seat, box seats, from the rafters, as the mascot and as a participant wearing jersey 69 and driving my way through the lane where a competing guy the size of Shaq has just bought the basket a Sex on the Beach and a box of chocolate hearts.
There is plenty of encouragement from both peers and elders to practice the dating game in its shallowest waters.