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My Cinematic Year, Part 4: In which the single, cynical protagonist takes a chance … at romance.

When I decided to return to my hometown for a year to build a roller-derby league, I only really had one social rule: Absolutely No Dating. I had good reason to avoid the dating scene; I had big plans to move to the West Coast once I had gotten rid of almost everything I owned, but knew I would get attached in the meantime and wind up in a complicated romantic situation.

You can see where this is going already, can’t you.

I’ve always avoided casual dating for a number of reasons. First of all, I just have no knack for sluttery. This is a shame, because it looks pretty fun–all those sweaty mascara-smeared strangers just sort of drunkenly flinging each other around against vehicles and cabinetry and appliances and whatnot–but I’ve never really been able to get into it. The only one-night stand I’ve ever had was very carefully selected from afar and then shamelessly pursued as such: My First One-Night Stand, as if someone were going to add it to my baby book or something.

And then that the whole thing accidentally went on for like eight months in a row as we dated some more and then became exclusive and then got pretty serious there for a while. I’m told that eight months is not at all typical length for one-night stands. Oops?

But hey, at least I tried. The road to heaven is, apparently, paved with my bad intentions.

Other attempts at moral decay include this one time, when I was seventeen, that I kissed a guy even though I had a serious boyfriend already (who was very glamorous on account of being one whole year older and who was probably going to marry me because we were in love, like Rose and Jack in Titanic). After said unfaithful kiss, I spent the next several hours vomiting with guilt. When I finally did manage to get my head out of the toilet, it was only to stare blearily at the clock, waiting for morning to come so that I could call my boyfriend to confess.

It would have been rude to call him in the middle of the night, you see.

Second of all, I was extremely jaded toward dating in general. The last date I had been on (excluding any breathtakingly choreographed eight-month one-night stands) had turned into an actual hostage situation after the suitor in question physically attached himself to me via his face and flat-out refused—and I do mean refused—to let me end the date. It would have legally counted as date rape if we were lampreys instead of people.

Where was I? Oh, yes. No dating. That was the rule.

But I had forgotten one thing: I was in Peoria, without the giant posse of amazing single and/or independent women I had played roller derby with. I loved my new derby league, and am friends with many of them today. But back then, they were first and foremost my skaters—it was my job to boss them around, and for a long time I felt I needed my credibility as a coach more than I needed friends.

So, as Saturday night after Saturday night went by without plans, my resolve weakened and then dissolved altogether, and I sat down one night to compose my own personal opus of an OKCupid profile.

Pleased that I had managed to represent myself pretty accurately, but bummed at all-too-real memories of failed Real Doll telethons (if calling officemates from your cubicle for comedic effect counts as a telethon), I fell into bed, dubious but hopeful.

I really might as well not have bothered with any of it, but I wouldn’t realize that until I had suffered enormously for your comedic pleasure.

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