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Sunday, February 19, 2006


Public Service Announcement 

Attention Single Ladies of Tampa!
Seminarians/Clergy are dateable people. We can also talk about things beside religion. And when we meet you for the first time, we do not want to (a) talk about religion, or (b) hear how long it has been since you have been to church. We want to flirt with you. We want to talk about something besides work. And we maybe want to see you again.

This should not be a newsflash, but maybe the single ladies of Chicago are simply behind the times. So, in the interest of humanitarian aid, I am sending out this free piece of hidden wisdom.

The scene in Duffy's bar on Saturday night began normally enough. I met two other friends there on purpose and another friend by happenstance. We sat on one side of a long table and the other side was empty. Three young ladies walk up and one, the cute one, asks me if anyone is sitting there. I say, be my guest. Fast forward five minutes and we are chatting pleasantly, even a bit flirtatiously. She's from Georgia, relatively new in the city, definitely interesting, and has a killer smile. They she asks the dreaded question.

"So, what do you do?"

I've tried to come up with so many ways to answer that question, but they all end up making me feel slimy unless I just come right out and say it. "I'm studying theology." In an unusual deviation from the norm she gets a funny, strange look on her face and says inquisitively, "Geology?" I said, "Well, some people might find them somewhat the same, but no, theology."

The conversation went on from there the same way they all do - predictably. There is actually three ways they go, all bad. But, at this point, it's like a choose your own adventure. You can try and guess which way this one will go. It's fun, in a sad sort of way.

Option #1 - Feigned interest followed by a quick exit. In this example, the woman will say, "Oh really? That's interesting. What are you gonna do with that? Be, like, a pastor?" She will then quickly find some reason to leave.

Option #2 - A spiritual autobiography. Followed by a quick exit, stage left.

Option #3 - A guilt-ridden confession, followed by how long it has been since they went to church. Followed by a quick exit.

Now, in the current example, I got a mixture of #2 and #3. She said she was raised United Methodist, but quickly left that because "I have a gay brother, and they don't like gays, and oh, can I just tell you, that's what I like about Episcopalians, that they like gays. I don't know anything else about them but that, but I like that." She then alerted me to the fact that if she were going to go to church, that she would go to a Unitarian Church. I am bored at this point and somewhat disappointed. After all, she's attractive, talking to me, and somewhat interesting. Then she continues, "I'm a Deist. Do you know what that is?" I try to be witty and say, "Yes, you believe in watches, right?" She didn't get it or didn't think it was funny. Then she says, "Oh, my friend here is Episcopalian, she should sit here and talk to you." - as if I'm actually sitting in a confessional booth waiting to absolve young women of their guilt, instead of a bar wanting to meet young women who I might like to date.

And just like that, I've been passed off to the friend while she goes and chats up some guy wearing a seersucker jacket in the middle of winter. I make nice with the friend, listen to her guilt ridden confession about why she hasn't been to an Episcopal Church yet since she moved here, help her figure out St. James' Cathedral is the closest church to where she lives that suits her professed style, and make my own exit in a polite and not too hurried manner.

Well, as if as soon as the words, "So, what do you do?" popped out of cutie's mouth, I didn't know what was going to happen, but still, it sucks a little bit each time. But at least I did my duty to the Lord, right? I got a soul connected to a church. That's my business, whether it's the work week or the weekend, whether in church or in a bar. One of these days though, I'd like to get a soul connected to me.

But, I'm not allowed to try that when I'm at my best. Cause I'm at my best when I'm leading a group, in church, maybe preaching, maybe teaching, but definitely working the vineyard of the Lord. And there's a strict no dating policy in that office, at least at the local branch. And I'm just not comfortable enough yet with saying to a woman, "I like you. I would like to date you. Would you consider going to St. Jimmy's-by-the-Pond so this is not illegal?" So I have to try it elsewhere, where other guys are at their best and I'm in a some what guarded position to begin with.

So, single ladies of Tampa - let's avoid this whole issue until at least the first date. Let's get past initial contact before we ask, "So, what do you do?" Cause, I'm about this close to just saying, "I'm in fire insurance."

-R

9 Comments:

Amen, and amen!

Although, for women there's an Option #4: "Wait, what? Can you do that? But you're a woman, right?"

Sigh. Yes, I'm a woman. Can we just stick with that part, for now?

By Blogger Beth, at 12:26 AM  


Feel free to use my line before I get married, "You have to know sin to hate it."

By Blogger St Michael's Episcopal Church, at 8:02 AM  


got married..sorry

By Blogger St Michael's Episcopal Church, at 8:03 AM  


I'm with you, brother. I so hate that question, but its like waiting for a cold when you are just starting to feel ill. You know its coming, but there is not too much you can do about it.

That's why I have long since given up trying to meet women in clubs. When I get asked that question, I follow my grandfather's motto, "When in doubt, say something vague." I usually just mumble something about being in grad school.

If that doesn't work, I also get the added bonus of trying to explain I will be going back to Nebraska after I graduate. I am convinced that Chicago girls' visions of hell involve red state farming towns. Usually at this point, they don't even bother coming up with a lame excuse. They just stare at you like you asked them if they had any anthrax laced bomb grade uranium to spare. Then they sort of wander off like you have leprosy. Unclean!

By Blogger The Archer of the Forest, at 11:27 AM  


Well Ryan, it is interesting to hear responses to the question of, "What do you do?" when you're in a bar with men of my particular orientation.
You also get all of your aforementioned optional responses plus a few extra like:

1) What? Does that mean you're working for the oppressors? Are you one of those Log Cabin Republicans? (followed by an even faster exit to chat up a different cutie).
2) That's...interesting (followed by an explanation of how horrible some church was when ______ came out...
3) Are you a closet case? (most definitely not).

By Blogger K, at 1:58 PM  


Ryan--> Perhaps you should consider the possibility that the woman for you in your current calling will not be found by hitting on women in Duffy's. Seriously, dude. I know it's hard to imagine, but it is highly likely that right now there is a woman taking a flower arranging class saying, "Why can't I meet any interesting straight religious guys." You both need to reconsider your technique and start taking some Mexican cooking classes or something.

Back before I met Laura (while already in the seminary, of course, so was she), I would frequently want to tell people in bars that I was a "philosophy grad student" which is less threatening and an identity that would stand up to a bar-level inquest. Then I realized two things...

1) I didn't want to date women who were squirmy around religious guys, since I had no intention of getting over it.

2) That pesky Matthew 10:33.

After that, bars just stopped being an option. Good luck.

By Anonymous Micah, at 6:27 PM  


Ryan--> Perhaps you should consider the possibility that the woman for you in your current calling will not be found by hitting on women in Duffy's. Seriously, dude. I know it's hard to imagine, but it is highly likely that right now there is a woman taking a flower arranging class saying, "Why can't I meet any interesting straight religious guys." You both need to reconsider your technique and start taking some Mexican cooking classes or something.

Back before I met Laura (while already in the seminary, of course, so was she), I would frequently want to tell people in bars that I was a "philosophy grad student" which is less threatening and an identity that would stand up to a bar-level inquest. Then I realized two things...

1) I didn't want to date women who were squirmy around religious guys, since I had no intention of getting over it.

2) That pesky Matthew 10:33.

After that, bars just stopped being an option. Good luck.

By Anonymous Micah, at 6:28 PM  


Youm may not remeber but one former priest at St. Hilary's said he was in the "eternal life insurance business"

Dad

By Anonymous Rusty, at 8:42 PM  


Dear Ryan,
While I rarely comment I do like to read your posts. As a former bouncer I have had the pleasure to watch many of these types of conversations take place. I have two observations for you to take or leave. Before I get into these let me just say that as long as women have not shouted for security immediatly after introduction you are doing better than some!
The first observation is that if you just want a date or a fling follow your dads advice and say you sell fire insuracne.
Secondly it is easy to avoide the "what do you do?" question until you have had your first date by making the conversation all about the person you are talking with. Ask the "what do you do" question first...followed by "that topic has always fasinated me".... followed by good listening... Followed by "I just noticed that when you talk about the things that excite you, your smile is beautiful" This changes the conversation from what do you do? to what do you like. and with this you can date almost any girl alive.
Mitch

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:05 PM  


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