Chapter 1 – 10 Phases of Dating


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“Vanessa, what’s your best memory of being single?” I asked.

“Slutober,” she quipped flatly, with a smirk emerging from the corner of her lips. There’s a hint of “wait until you hear this story” in her voice, but I figure we’ll get back to that. After all, she had just ripped off the invented name of a month with “slut” as its root word. How could there not be more to it?

“Okay, well what’s your worst memory of being single?” I asked.

“Slutober.”

Huh.

Seconds ago, the animal male in me had thought that I was about to experience a vivid, front-row look at a 26-year-old woman’s enthralling, passion-filled tales of sexual revolution. I was kind of right.

I was mostly wrong.

If I had any illusions about the ease with which I’d write a 10 phase guide to everlasting love – never mind the fact I hadn’t even begun to write about one of the phases – I was about to learn in shock-inducing fashion that I was wrong. Very wrong.

I’d let the second mention of “Slutober” hang in the air for a second too long, and I wasn’t sure if Vanessa could read it on my face, but my curiosity had now split between boiling intrigue and morbid curiosity.

“Explain,” I said.

And then, she does.

“Three years ago, I got out of – well, pretty much the worst relationship ever,” she says as she exhales. “He was an abusive, manipulative, drug-addicted mess who may or may not have sucked dick for dope.”

An ounce of selfish curiosity had brought me here, and an overwhelming wave of guilt was about to carry me through the rest of her story. I had asked but two questions and already I’d hit a chord.

“In the two or so years I was with him, I lost myself in trying to fix his life because he couldn’t do it on his own,” she continued.

“Maybe my maternal instinct kicked in or something. I wanted to nurse him back to health. When I finally wiggled myself out of that mess, I cheated on him and broke up with him. I obviously had a few kinks to get out of my system, too.”

She was just warming up.

“I had been in a relationship for a while, so I had no idea where to start. My friends jumped on the Plenty of Fish bandwagon -”

She cuts herself off, as if to preemptively self-mock her decision to join Plenty of Fish (POF, as the initiated call it), answering the assumed judgment I was directing her way.

“I know, I KNOW,” she jokes.

I assure her that there’s no judgment on my part. Only a little, maybe.

She’s dredging through heavy stuff, but she’s doing it with a bit of rehearsed ease. I sense that she’s comfortable here, even if the subject matter is anything but light.

She continues.

“We joined POF rather early on. I signed up, created my profile, and met my first date within two days,” recalls Vanessa.

“And how’d that go?” I ask.

“I went to his place – err, his mom’s house – and banged it out until the wee hours of the morning.”

“Just like that?” I quipped.

“Look, I fucked my ex out of my system. And it felt good.”

Fair ball.

She continued. “So good that I kept fishing, both online and in the wild. Over the next few weeks, my notches increased exponentially. And honestly? It was awesome. Not having to pay for dinner is totally enticing when you just moved out on your own and you can barely work a Foreman Grill. The steady stream of deadbeats and lawyers really kept me satisfied.”

I had done enough interrupting so far. I elected to let her continue, uninhibited by my questions.

“But that month took an – ahem – pounding on me. Finally one day I got home, and I was tired. All I wanted to do was stay in, watch a movie, and cuddle. So I went through my list of regulars and all of them were busy.”

She pauses for a second. “They probably just said they were busy. And that’s what sucks about being single. Why would you want to stay home with a girl when there are so many other women who haven’t met your penis yet?”

You can hear it in her voice; the sting of saying those words out loud. Not a good feeling.

“Better yet, why would I want to pay attention to any of these losers?  It dawned on me—I was pathetic, and my single life was disgusting.”

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