Mr. Chronic Single says he is picky

“I’m picky,” he said with a shrug, one night at Barley’s after church, and crossed his arms to convey a visual sense of finality.

He shared this insight with a self-satisfied smile, as though his catatonic romantic life were something to be proud of, an accomplishment. I hadn’t realized that not asking girls out on dates could earn you a merit badge.

Boy Scout #1: “To earn my Community Service badge, I spent fifty hours on nights and weekends building a playground for neighborhood kids on the empty lot at the end of the street.”

Boy Scout #2, in his mid-twenties: “To earn my Chronic Single badge, I spent twelve years finding fault with every girl I meet, concocting elaborate excuses to avoid engaging with their hearts and minds, and planning an exit strategy based on my prescience of their egregious quirks and our consequent incompatibilities—all this without ever even speaking with the vast majority of them.”

Boy Scout #1: “Gosh, I’ve really been wanting that Chronic Single badge. Where did you find the time? Twelve years, you said? Sustaining that kind of critique must be take it out of you. My problem is that I want to date the girls, not give them a physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and social autopsy. You’re really committed.”

Beautiful women populate Knoxville.

Spend an hour downtown on Market Square any given day of the week, especially toward sunset, and dozens of attractive women walk by on their way to eat, drink, shop, or listen to live music. Hippies, young professionals, hipsters, preps, fashionista—every type of style is represented. Whether you’re looking for a woman straight out of Anthropologie or straight out of a dumpster, Knoxville has one for you.

That being said, the next time a man tells me that he’s picky, I’m going to ask him the following question:

“You mean to tell me that you cannot find a single attractive woman in a city of roughly 180,000 people, 46,000 of which are women between the ages of 20 and 34, not counting the population growth since the last census in 2000?”

Two miles away, the University of Tennessee has 28,000 students. A reasonable estimate would designate half of them as females. Add to this, the distinction as the 25th Most Attractive Student Body, thanks to AOL Time Warner’s PopCrunch Magazine, and the numbers confirm that thousands of attractive women call Knoxville home.

I can draw three conclusions from the chronic single’s recalcitrance:

1) You just aren’t interested in dating, and are thus not trying to meet women.
2) You’re scared.
3) You don’t like women.

If you are simply enjoying this season of singleness, I commend you. Do so with gusto. All my married friends would tell you, “Enjoy it.”

Otherwise, quit putting a noble, superior spin on an obviously absurd perspective. I’ve been there with the best of them lauding my refined palate in women, as though I were a sommelier turning up my nose at a bad vintage of Cabernet.

You’re picky? Baloney. You’re a coward, and you don’t even have the guts to admit you don’t have the guts. People who are afraid of cliff diving will say they don’t like it. They claim it’s a matter of taste. People who are afraid of public speaking don’t raise their hands in class or volunteer to give a PowerPoint. All they have to do for their fears to thrive is nothing. People afraid of rejection, vulnerability, commitment, failure, and intimacy say that they’re “picky” and expect our congratulations. For what, they’re exquisite taste and self-restraint?

Well, Mr. Chronic Single, don’t expect any approbation from me. I say, “Grow a spine, and ask a woman out on a date at a specific time on a particular day. Extend an invitation, and open yourself to the risk.”

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