So, you're single again and ready to enter the eel infested waters of the dating pool. There are three ways to go about it. The traditional method is what I like to call the 'Dive on in and pray' approach. This is when you don the brand new outfit you spent this weeks rent money on and allow yourself to be dragged to the ultra-cool nightspot your best friend assures you is loaded with eligible men. If you're like thousands of other single women over thirty, chances are your night will consist of ingesting lethal amounts of mojo juice, dancing with the confidence of a young Esther Williams in a water ballet, despite the fact that your ninety dollar shoes are filling up with blood, and patrolling the perimeter of the dance floor to search for passables (not possibles; there is a difference), before throwing your hands in the air and boarding a lifeboat with the first guy who gives you more than an appraising glance. The most you're likely to get out of this experience is an evening of mediocre sex you won't even feel, thanks to the anaesthetising effects of tequila, and a hangover that renders you socially toxic to everyone but your equally ill best friend, to whom you are now not speaking.
A perennial favourite is the blind date, or the 'Trying to find treasure in the Ganjes' approach, whereby you dive bomb to the bottom of a murky body of water and grope blindly for gold. If you're anything like me, and you're reading this so you must be, what you'll find upon surfacing is a well-worn boot carrying a stench of failure that even industrial strength odour eaters won't banish, and a wicked case of the bends. With trepidation, you have now arrived at the world of online dating, the water park of social interaction, standing at the gate in a bathing suit that would look better on your daughter and staring with wide eyed wonder at the attractions that await you. You browse the electronic map, confident in the expertise of the management, who have thoughtfully divided the park into two sections for you to choose from, based on your mental age and stamina. If you are one of those brave few willing to scale the towering ladders of the biggest slides in the park, operating under the adorably deluded belief that you can snag a lifeguard while wearing a pink polka dotted floaty tube and matching swim cap, you'll want to head on over to Lifestyle Lagoon, where the big kids play. If kiddie pools are more your speed, slip on your flippers and toddle off to Tadpole Pond, a safe place to play for those of you who aren't comfortable in deeper waters. Note: management requires swimmers in this part of the park to be accompanied by a responsible guardian, lest they should wander off and become lost - maps and signs are useless to someone who can't read and can only communicate in two syllable blocks.
It's been eleven years since I first waded back into dating and all I have to show for it so far is a set of swimmers muscles an Olympian would be proud of, and a case of hydrophobia that comes and goes. This has lead me to wonder what it is that makes us keep plunging in, despite the fact that we'll probably sink like a stone. For some it's the belief that there's someone out there just for them, reclining in a sun lounge by the pool, a mohito with two straws on a table beside him. For others, it's the hope that someone will swim out and rescue them before they drown in depression and debt. I don't think I fall into either category, but if a sweet, handsome, stable guy with a steady job and capacity for romance beyond cheap petrol station roses should be standing by, tandem jet ski at the ready, I'd rather be a diver than a toe dipper.