My friends and I have recently noticed most of the men in our lives are nameless. Undoubtedly, they have names, we just refuse to use them. Melissa’s current crush we call Mr. Arm Toucher because their romance thus far consists mainly of his touching her arm when they pass in the cafeteria at work. Janine’s last couple dates were with Annoying Tea Sipper, while I keep complaining about running into The Lip Smacker on the street.
What a hoot it’s been to find the most salient feature of our love interests’ characters and slap on a nickname. “How’s Expensive Watch Collection?” We’ll ask each other. “Any word from Drinks Milk With Straw?”
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But then our friend Kim had to ruin it all when she started dating a man she called Doug.
“What, like Dig Dug?” Melissa asked. “I loved that video game.”
“Or like Dug a Hole?” Janine asked. “Is he a ditch digger?”
“No,” Kim said, sanctimoniously. “Doug, as in his name is Doug. Grow up, will you?”
Seeing as how Melissa had just ended things with Quotes ‘80s Lyrics, and Janine was awaiting a call from The Peruvian, this whole first-name-basis thing was not computing.
Kim was being a bit persnickety, but she did have a point. The women I know in relationships are in them with men named Dave, Shawn or the occasional Phillip. Most single women I know are in and out of flings with guys called Anchorman Haircut or The Rash. Single gals like to tell themselves nicknames help distinguish between the endless succession of suitors coming through their doors. But the truth is we’re all just afraid of death.
Not literal death. I’m talking about the tiny deaths a single woman suffers each time some potentially fabulous fellow strolls into her life only to be escorted back out by some powerful external force – his hang-ups, his lack of interest, his wife. What dies is the dream our fair lady has already woven around her suitor, the spot in her heart which houses a place that great lover of the twentieth century Bill Clinton once called…hope.
Single women who have been solo long enough fight a constant battle against the belief that their romantic circumstances are unalterable. Nowadays, potential mates come and go so quickly, most women are near militaristic in their attempts to stay on their guard. Why get attached to someone you know won’t stick around? So single women do what farmer kids do when they get a new goat: call it The Goat. Name it, and you’re toast come slaughter time.
Kim claimed to be calling Doug by his real name because she didn’t want to be reminded of the ridiculousness of her previous choices. To her, a quick perusal of the nicknames given her conquests – The Hot DJ, The Hot Bartender, The Hot 22-year old – made clear why she was still single. The only salient feature she could come up with to describe Doug was Just Plain Awesome, which was the reason she wanted to let down her guard and give the guy a chance.
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Referring to a crush by name feels like a risk, like a commitment. We’re committing to officially wanting the guy and putting our trust in love and in our chances of actually getting it. Naming a crush is an act of faith. Dag nab it, we’re saying, I wanna believe in this one.
Of course, if it doesn’t work out, a gal can always go back to calling her crush by his obvious nickname: Please Don’t Break My Heart.