November 10, 2005
My New Muse
A funny thing happened on the way to becoming a regular Jewish Journal singles columnist.
Curse you, JDate.
I was just getting my mojo working on writing these -- although I'm better known in these pages for my "Greenberg's View" editorial cartoons and for the occasional cover illustration. But emboldened by a few forays into writing -- a few pieces for Mad magazine, a couple of scripts for "Goofy" comic books, a column for a cartooning journal, plus a couple of Op-Ed pieces for my day-job daily newspaper -- I ventured into this untried realm for The Journal.
With beginner's luck on my side, I wrote a well-received column about the "Geographic Undesirability" of being out in the boonies -- in my case, western Ventura County -- and the difficulties this posed for dating and socializing: "You came to this Westside event from where?!"
The piece generated numerous e-mail responses -- about 30. Curiously, they were all from women who lived in various other outlying places who liked the piece and identified with the sentiments. Several of these responders even wanted to meet me, as in dating.
Hey, this writing stuff is pretty powerful!
My next column, about the stigmas attached to being in one's upper 40s or older and never having been married, elicited a smaller response but still drew a few women interested in meeting me.
I began to plan other columns -- one on the tsuris of being a short guy when women only seem to want them much taller, and one on the advantages of dating women older than 40. I suspected the latter one, in particular, might result in a swarm of single mature women e-mailing me and expressing interest.
But there was a problem: I was starting to date Roberta. Steadily, in fact.
This remarkable new power I had unearthed, finding unseen female strangers suddenly interested in me via my columns, clearly wasn't going to fly too well with Ro. I had already assured her I was backing away from JDate, SpeedDating and other such enticements, so dabbling with a potential written-word aphrodisiac would not be looked upon favorably.
Not that Roberta was bad for other aspects of my fledgling writing career. We took some short trips together that turned into self-illustrated travel section stories at my daily newspaper.
But I could no longer aspire to get the "I saw your column!" compliments I'd received when attending Jewish singles events. Well, OK, some of the comments were more like accusations: "Hey, that wasn't me you referred to, was it?"
But the point is, I was no longer attending those events in the first place. I was no longer in a position to meet babes. Even worse, as the new-writer's muse learned, I wasn't getting any new material for columns.
But did it matter? Couldn't I still keep this gig going -- relying on past experiences, a fertile imagination and wit. I thought about Cathy Guisewite, creator of the comic strip "Cathy," who continued scripting her main character's single-woman's tribulations about dieting, dressing and preparing for dates, even as the strip's creator lived a real life that involved raising a kid and having a husband. Perhaps as long as one had lived the life, even in past tense, one could still write about it.
Maybe I could keep writing columns even after the marriage. After all, aren't all children's books actually written only by former children?
But I suspect that wouldn't be, well, kosher. I can just about hear the accusations of "Fraud!" and the publication referees blowing their whistles and screaming: "Disqualified! Get off the field, rookie!"
As the months passed and Roberta and I spent more time together, I found myself ceding (with mild envy) The Jewish Journal's singles column space to the able hands of writers like Carin Davis and Teresa Strasser.
And now it's come to this: Roberta Rubin and I are engaged, with a wedding scheduled and imminent. And I'm happy about that. Really. Even if it means giving up on being a Steinbeck of singledom.
The best I can manage is perhaps a column or two before my waning singlehood hourglass runs out.
So, to Elite Jewish Theatre Singles, Jewish Singles Meet (or is it "Meeting Place"?) and all the other groups and venues I attended: Well, thanks for being there and hosting all those activities (even if your events never panned out for me, datewise). To the various women I dated: Thanks for the coffee meetings, and no, really, I wasn't writing about you. It was about some other date from when I lived in another city.
And to all you other guys (and gals) who think they have something worth writing about: Hey, give it a shot. Writing can be amazing stuff.
Steve Greenberg contributes editorial cartoons and illustrations to The Jewish Journal. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. But, please, no more e-mails from eligible women.