Her cell phone rings and she takes a call.
She chats for a minute and then hangs up. In fact, some of the faces are familiar. I feel a bit like Dave and Tim, waving as I cross the floor. The drinking-dancing-dating scene, at least on campus, is something of a nightly affair. The bar quickly fills up. From out of the maelstrom of faces twirls a convivial young woman named Jackie.
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You get drunk, then you go to the bar, you find a cute guy to buy you drinks, you dance with him, and you take him home and you do him. Soon enough, Celeste hooks up with Matt, and Allison runs into a guy friend she knows from college. They disappear onto the crowded dance floor. On the dance floor more than one pair of young women are making out, not with their smooth-faced dates, but with each other, bumping and grinding, cheered on by sur- rounding groups of young men.
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I catch a glimpse of Celeste and Matt on the dance floor. Judging by their smiles and proximity, things are going well. Allison is nowhere to be seen. Juanita and Hector as they wish to be called are both twenty-six. But I also think of myself as a single woman. With a sly smile, Hector declines to comment. But we are single. Unexpectedly, Celeste reappears, no Matt in tow. Will you walk me to my car? Allison is safe with other friends.
We head for the stairs. Outside the air is warm and humid, filled with the promise of summer. On the way to the parking lot, I ask Celeste whether tonight was typical for her corner of the singles scene. The business consultant was intimidated when she offered to take him out and pay for dates, so when that connection ended, she decided to let the cardiologist take her out.
But he became of- fended on their second date when he realized she was willing to let him pay for dinner and a movie. He agreed but then began to hem and haw. Thirty-nine and the owner of her own personal training and fitness company, Debbie is one of the many professionals in town who, in the middle stages of successful careers, find themselves still single and looking.
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When I meet her at a local sporting event not at a bar , she laughs at the prospect of putting her thoughts about singledom on the record and even volunteers to invite a friend along. I meet Debbie and her friend Andrea, thirty-four, at a local restaurant a couple days later. Also like Debbie, Andrea has never gotten married or had children, though she says she would like to do both. You get pretty tired of the bar scene. But who really wants to be?
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Both say that their jobs take up a lot of time—time that in their twenties might have been spent looking for people to meet and date. Both tend to go out less now than they did when they were younger. Some are much less comfortable about it than I am. One thing the women do agree on is that the dating scene is hopelessly fraught with confusion. Debbie points out that men and women are equally at a loss.
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Do you call him, does he call you? Some men are willing to say any- thing to get laid. Both women find singles terminology less than helpful. Can anyone answer that one? The old patriarchal system was straightforward: As for sex, if you wanted that, you were expected to take the final step and get married—or at least be prepared to go there if pregnancy resulted. Whether the rules were actually followed is another matter; at least the culture offered some norms from which to deviate.
The patriarchal protocol came under attack in the s, died in the s, and was buried in the s. Unfortunately, no one has yet come up with a new one. Terry was born and raised in Pennsylvania and graduated from Yale. That was almost twenty-two years ago. There were the last of the hippie bakeries and hippie cafes. In those days, Terry recalls, there were more places that catered to singles of all stripes, including gays. There was the Flame Bar, the Rubaiyat, Mr. You had all the facets, the wide spectrum of the gay social scene—the Flame was a neighborhood bar, the Rubaiyat played disco.
Then the Nectarine Ballroom opened, going for the flashy sort of Studio 54 thing. It was a great time. Most of those places are long gone. Did the thriving singles scene of the late s just dry up and blow away?
People drive Porsches instead of VW buses nowadays. Even events as recent as September 11 make their effect felt. Same-sex marriage is a subject of controversy not only in the straight world but in the gay world as well. I ask Terry his thoughts on the question. Still, he believes that most people, deep inside, dream of settling down with some- one. One valuable contribution from gay culture to straight culture, Terry points out, has been an expanded definition of family.
As his middle years play out, Terry says he feels the same pressures and concerns as any other single person. It can be difficult, especially for a gay man. Terry disappears to do some work. What do gay men do on their second date? When Terry returns, I ask what he feels about Ann Arbor and the singles life, having lived here all these years. They also do more dancing at clubs, drinking at bars and watching romantic movies at local theaters.
Both of these neighborhoods are filled with shops, restaurants and bars, which make it easy to find places to meet new people or go on first dates. The city includes more than 23, acres of public park and recreational areas that provide opportunities for residents and visitors to golf, mountain bike, hike or just take in natural scenery. During summer months, Ypsilanti hosts a variety of festivals and events that attract residents from across the region.
Ypsi is filled with both public and impromptu works of art, which add interest to many areas.