Now that over fifty percent of U.S. marriages end in divorce, there are more single people in their thirties, forties and fifties than ever before. What does this mean? Where will it lead? Is this a problem to be solved, or a phase in the development of a new social order? I have no answer to these questions but I do know this — there are only two single men in Baltimore and they both have girlfriends.
Let me explain. In 2009, when I arrived in town newly separated, helpful friends pointed out two fellows I’ll call Monty and Elliot. Monty was a dashing silver-haired photographer known for his elegant cocktail parties, Elliot a clever bartender in horn-rimmed glasses who was also a sportswriter. I cast my gaze in both directions but didn’t end up dating either one of them.
Five years went by. Many more marriages ended. Numbered among the most recent crop of emerging singles is my fetching friend Strawberry Shortcake, a wide-eyed Girl Scout type fifteen years younger than I, hence not as scarred by the dissolution and depravity of the 1970s and 80s. This past Saturday I had the honor of taking Strawberry on her first night on the town as a single woman.
I am sad to report that it started with Monty and ended with Elliot and both Strawberry and I were home in bed by 11.
Plans for the evening were conceived when I received an invitation to one of Monty’s famous soirees, an event I assumed would be teeming with romantic possibility. When I asked Strawberry to come along, she readily accepted. In fact, another friend had already suggested she go. Five and half years later, Monty remains one of Baltimore’s leading men-about-town.
I suited myself up in black leather pants and boots; Strawberry appeared in one of her usual Little House on the Prairie ensembles, many of which feature gingham and shawls, yet have a weirdly sexy effect. The party was congenial enough, but Monty had a girlfriend in the kitchen. There was at least one other eligible man there, though even from a distance he appeared gloomy and tormented; it turned out he was the “Hot Neighbor” of Lauraville whose very recent marital breakup had already gone out over the wires. I realized this early in our conversation and exclaimed, “Oh, I know who you are! You’re the Hot Neighbor!”
He looked confused. When I explained, he brightened for a moment before sinking back into his bitter malaise. “Well, maybe I will be soon,” he said.
With the possibilities chez Monty so quickly disposed of, I suggested to Strawberry that we hit the bars and see what might be available. Having recently attempted a similar reconnaissance mission with another cute young divorcee, Rainbow Bright, I decided to skip Hampden and Station North.
Just a few weeks prior, Rainbow Bright and I had hoofed it through 13.5 Wine Bar, the Hon, Fraser’s, Holy Frijoles, Joe Squared, Metro Gallery, The Depot, Club Charles, and several no-name spots on Howard Street. We turned up dozens of hipsters barely over their acne, two drag queens named Ellen Degenerate and Miss Construed, a bunch of my students from the University of Baltimore, and, briefly, John Waters, but even the open-minded and dauntless Rainbow Bright could find nothing of concupiscent consequence. At 1:20 a.m. we finished the last of our vodka-sodas and called it a night.