The Year in Review, or How to End Up Empty-Handed in Every Genres


In between holiday events, this time of year affords us the opportunity to reflect on the year gone by. Here's the year in singledom — or, at least, my "Out of the Gutter Singles Year in Review: 2008."

This past year, I had a couple of dates with an amazing girl, who, despite being single and despite me pulling out all the stops, was not interested in anything more than a friendship. Having another single female friend in my life is not exactly what I've been looking for. But, I guess, it's better than having an enemy.

There were a couple of other occasional dates and contacts that went nowhere — as well as an ill-fated encounter with a professional matchmaker. For those who want to live vicariously through my social life, as some of my married friends appear to do, I apologize that it's pretty boring.

Instead, let's look at celebrity singles news.

It looks like celebrity charlatan Dr. Phil will be single again, as will Larry King. This is probably further proof that nobody should take relationship advice from Dr. Phil. But ladies, if you're about to turn 25, Larry King will be holding auditions for his next wife soon.

There are a handful of other newly-single celebrities out there: I refer you to the tabloid magazines and entertainment television to do your own research on that.

Don't Go to the Movies Alone
Though I only hit the movie theaters a couple of times this year, I rented a ton of DVDs. I'm loath to go to the movies alone –there's just something a bit shady about guys who go to the movies by themselves.

One movie in particular covered the tensions of the long-term unmarried relationship: "2 days in Paris."

This film was written, directed and starred French actress Julie Delpy and co-starred Adam Goldberg, who seems to have cornered the market on neurotic Jewish roles in movies and TV.

Here, the couple, well, spends two days in Paris after vacationing in Venice. The movie, which begins as a quirky romantic comedy with Goldberg's hypochondria and allergies, slowly degenerates as they repeatedly run into Delpy's former boy-friends. These encounters stress the relationship to the point of fracture — though, through some storytelling techniques, an optimistic romantic might interpret the final scene differently.

As for lighter film fare, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" provides a bit of levity.

One scene in particular was resonant and cringe-worthy: when lovelorn Jason Segel goes out to eat at a hotel restaurant.

'The Bro Code'
The always-inappropriate Jonah Hill, credited as "Matthew the Waiter," greeted Segel, newly single on a trip to Hawaii trying to purge his memory of his recent ex, only to meet her at the same resort with her new boyfriend.

On television this year, "How I Met Your Mother," which has been described as "Friends-light," continued to rise in popularity. The show even inspired a ridiculous book, presumably aimed at single men, called The Bro Code. The book is supposed to be a humorous look into the mind of the single man and the rules we are purportedly follow among ourselves.

Not to be outdone, another book aimed at the single male borrowed the same sophisticated humor of adding "bro" as a prefix or suffix to words, in Brocabulary: The New Man-I-Festo of Dude Talk.

I spent about 30 seconds flipping through the books at a bookstore and am still waiting for the punch line. If those attempts at literature did not waste enough of my brain power, I went to the advice section to see if I could pick up any advice from America's hottest relationship counselor, Alec Greven, a 9-year-old precocious little snot who wrote How to Talk to Girls. He made the rounds, to late night TV and network morning shows.

In the 50-or-so heavily illustrated pages, I learned trenchant pearls such as "Girls are everywhere." If I'm ever hanging around a playground at recess, maybe this kid's advice will prove valuable. Then again, there would be something seriously wrong if I were doing that in the first place.

Also on TV, NBC's "The Office" had a great episode in which Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) became infatuated with a female model in an office-supply catalogue. The "Chair Model" ended up to be dead.

In a typically inappropriate moment that has become the show's hallmark, Michael, socially inept and single, asked co-workers to help him meet a woman. He handed out index cards for his colleagues to name their recommendations.

The responses were wonderful "Office" moments. In the break room, Jim says, "There's nobody I hate enough to put on this card." Then, he sarcastically recommends Pam's mom. The good-hearted Phyllis had someone for him, but Michael cruelly rejects her.

A Special Wendy
Somebody put down "Wendy," a spunky redhead with a telephone number, which turned out to be a Wendy's restaurant, which Michael calls looking for a date.

Then, the good-hearted Pam put down her landlady, who was a simple, plain and seemingly nice woman. When Michael and the woman met at Starbucks, the encounter was almost too awkward to watch.

His summary rejection was so unnecessarily cruel that her pain was evident through the television. It's hard to elicit sympathy for a character who is so selfish and clueless.

But the episode ended on a somewhat optimistic note when office lunatic, Dwight Shroot, told Michael, "Wait until next year's chair catalogue comes out, and we'll find someone who is alive."

We're all waiting for next year's catalogue.

Roy S. Gutterman is a Syracuse, N.Y.-based writer. To contact him visit: 


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