|Dating…And what’s up with the old people in those metal houses with very small bathrooms doing 70 mph on the highways?”7-18-98, Published in the “Espresso”, a San Diego cafe newspaper.
Caleb John Clark
It’s a beautiful thing when one lonely random thought happens to connect to
another lonely random thought. It’s a partnering of thoughts if you will.
After a chance meeting in your head, and after a series of dates, a
wonderful connection is found that you couldn’t have predicted. And when
this new partnership results in a third new thought being born, we have a
really beautiful new thing.
In this case the two thoughts were:
#1. Dating is like traveling,
#2. I wonder what is up with the people who travel in RVs, what drives them?
Two seemingly very separate ideas that somehow got together and formed a
new third thought. Here’s how this beautiful thing happened.
Thought #1: A date is like a small simulated travel experience. Call it
what you will, “just hanging out”, or “meeting”, we find ourselves at a
point in mating evolution that has through Darwinian evolution resulted in
a very efficient simulation of traveling.
Like traveling, dating is mostly about planning, picking up, spending money
doing something out in the world, dropping off. And like traveling, it’s
hard to keep anything private in the baggage you bring.
Why has a travel simulation risen to the top? Why don’t we simulate
partnership by doing what partners do together the most, like sleep? You
could pick someone up at 11pm and go back to your place and try and just go
to sleep together. That would be an interesting first date…
Dating must be explored further to see why it has become our way of finding
mates. Traveling is one of our most intense experiences that is also
relatively safe and accessible to most. Ever since we had to leave the cave
to hit the trail in search of food and water, we’ve known that traveling is
an intense human experience. That other intense experience, war, is after
all mostly traveling with huge amounts of baggage, spending huge amounts of
money, and waiting in uncomfortable conditions fantasizing about killing
your hosts and going home. Not unlike traveling home for Christmas.
Now, following this logic, we should ask potential mates if they’d like to
go to war to find out if we’re compatible in the shortest amount of time.
But for obvious reasons, we can’t do that. There are simply not as many
wars close by as movies, clubs, and cafes, and you could only date folks
who’d been through basic training.
Basic training. Hummm. If you think about it, this is not a bad idea.
“Dating basic training”, six weeks in the trenches with a drill sergeant
screaming, “Down and give me 20 funny stories!!!”. War games in loud clubs
to test communication skills in harsh environments, cafe endurance tests…
Dates also start with packing and preparing for an out of house experience
just like traveling. Before a date you must think of a wide variety of
situations you might be in. A coat? Hat for the sun? Shirt for later?
Protection in case? Money? ID? Address? What personal baggage to bring?
What to share? And what to try and keep packed?
Once on a date, driving is often the first experience. A true test,
driving. What kind of car? Do they tailgate? Speed? Get in fights? Use
blinkers? What kind of music? And all before getting to the first
Then there’s eating, a crucial activity. In one dinner out you can learn
volumes about someone. Their credit card situation, check, or cash? The tip
amount to gage generosity, etc. Then perhaps a movie, the test of silence.
Movies are also simulations of sleeping together as you recline in the dark
silently and close. After the movie, hidden baggage has often been flushed
out by the power of narrative into view for all to inspect as you walk out
of the theater in that post movie emotional state.
Like traveling, dating is ripe with the test of “What to do now?”. This is
a great life simulator for the decades that will come of having to answer
that question daily. Are they decisive? Controlling? Insensitive to other’s
needs or wants? Annoyingly neutral. Do you work well together in the
decision making process?
Dates almost always involves some test of the teams ability to function
effectively in life’s jungle. Bars, cafes, dancing, movies, games, it’s all
in the public, often on city streets. Do you fend off the sketchy bums
asking for money as a team? Or give deadly mixed messages that result in
lengthy discussions with crazy ranting freaks? Do you clash over who talks
first with the waiters? Does each have team leading skills that are used at
different times? Or is one person taking the lead all the time? Is there a
drinking problem that weakens the team? Drug issues?
Ending a date is just like ending a trip. The return to nest and the end of
having to be alert and the unpacking and undressing of things not always
used in normal life. But as you relax physically at home the mind continues
to travel, to crunch, process, justify, store, catalog, and generally
struggle to shape the experience. Not unlike after a date when you come
home and either rant to yourself, your roommates, or you cat about how the
We must ask ourselves then, if dating is simulated traveling, and if you
stop traveling once you’re partnered, is it because your relationship can’t
handle the pressure of traveling? Is it because you have a bad relationship?
Thought #2: What is up with those old couples endlessly bombing about in
those metal houses on the freeway?
Smack! The thoughts connect. Where once there was two, there is now three,
one having been born of the connection.
In this case the new born is the thought that the folks in RVs have great
relationships and are traveling in order to keep the relationship from
going stale by constantly going on one very long date. And therefore,
unlike we might think, the holy Grail of relationships just might be to end
up going 70 mph down the road in a metal house with a very small bathroom.