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He's Outta There!

May 31, 2007 By:
Roy S. Gutterman, JE Feature
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Ladies, here's an offer: If you want to get married, I'm the guy for you to meet.

Now, I'm not saying that I will marry every girl who responds. I live in a place nicknamed the "Salt City" (Syracuse), not Salt Lake City.

But there's a good chance that the guy you go out with after me, may be your husband.

My recent record on this is pretty good. My last two serious girlfriends were engaged to other guys within months of the end of our relationships. "Lea," who I was with for more than three years, got engaged within months of our breakup. (She might have started dating her new guy even before we were done.)

Then, a few years later, my next serious woman, "Eva," got engaged less than 10 months after our phase-out.

On top of that, the last two girls I had more than a couple dates with in the past two years landed in serious relationships in between dates with me.

One nice girl went back to an ex-boyfriend, who must have still been in the picture during our three dates over the course of a little more than a month. Those frequent trips out-of-state were not "work-related," as she claimed, but boyfriend-related. A few months earlier, the other seemingly compatible woman decided to get involved with a guy she "knew for a while."

Three Strikes You're Out?
"You are the set-up man," my friend and mentor Joe recently confirmed over lunch.

Joe, a huge baseball fan about 15 years older than me, is married with a wonderful wife and four great, smart kids. He sometimes listens to my single-man laments, and usually adds a jab here and there. And he helped crystallize the following baseball metaphor.

In my world, a single is simply someone who is not married, not a hit to first base. With the baseball season in full swing, the comparisons to the other American pastime are flowing.

Dating is so rife with baseball metaphors that I could easily craft a glossary of "singles" baseball terms. They range from the benign "stepping up to the plate" and "striking out" to the potentially vulgar descriptions of what going "around the bases" really means, which is not printable in this family newspaper.

In baseball terms, set-up men are "pitchers who usually set up the closers. These are the also the guys who'll end up closing games if the closer gets hurt or stinks," wrote Michael Zimmerman in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fantasy Baseball.

In singles terms, "closers" bring up a totally different issue, which is not only off-topic but potentially off-color.

The set-up pitcher is a fairly modern position in baseball. He can enter the game early to bail out a pitcher and stick around for a few more innings, or he could come in toward the end to hold onto the lead and get out a few batters for the closer. Sometimes, the set-up man is in for only one out, which can be as simple as one pitch.

Though I am not even a baseball fan, people of all ages in all walks of life love to import sports metaphors into daily parlance. In the movie "Field of Dreams," James Earl Jones intoned that baseball is like life. Similarly, dating is life -- and leads to life via relationships, marriage and families.

What is my point here? Am I openly advertising that I am such a bad boyfriend that anybody else is better than me? I hope not. I like to believe that I am a courteous, respectful and reliable boyfriend. Even at least two of my three serious postcollege ex-girlfriends would attest that I was a good boyfriend.

Am I saying that I've had serious relationships with girls who wanted to be married so badly that it didn't matter who the guy was? Maybe. Maybe not

I would also like to believe that there were good reasons why my social life is what it is. Like many in my generation, I've changed careers and moved around a few times, much like free agent baseball players. I have had relationships and dates with potentially compatible, intellectually engaging and attractive women, as well as women who were not so compatible. Like a baseball batter in a slump, sometimes the timing was off. Other times, we just didn't click.

Today's Major League Baseball is different from our parents' MLB, much like dating. The league has expanded with franchises in cities that never had professional baseball -- think Florida, Arizona, Colorado. The Milwaukee Brewers even switched leagues, and the Expos changed their name and moved to Washington, D.C.

On the diamond, there are specialized players, too, in addition to set-up relievers: designated hitters, pinch hitters, pinch runners, utility infielders and a host of specialists.

In the dating world, people are living longer, while medical science is pressing snooze on the "biological clock" (for better or worse), giving some the impetus for postponing marriage. The Internet alone has totally changed the dating world. (Many of us are not sure if it's for the better, either.) Now, if you want to meet a like-minded single from the other side of the world, you have that option, whereas roughly a decade ago it was close to impossible.

Nowadays, both games are different. I'm still not sure what my designation as a set-up guy says about me. It might feel like we're getting into the ninth inning -- but at least we're in the game!

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

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