Three Poles in the Pond

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My neighbor Ryan thinks he’s the Dating Czar of the Universe.

It cracks me up.

I’m not saying definitively that he’s not the Dating Czar. He may be. But the working theory is that he’s not. He’ll get pissed if he ever finds out I think that.

He moved across the street from me the same week my wife left.

So, he’s only ever known me as this newly single dad.

He’s 29, has a doctorate and is more successful than I am.

But, again, he’s 29. And my extra life experience counts for something. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Ryan thinks I should be talking to every woman I cross paths with whom I find attractive.

Leave no stone unturned, he said.

He likes to say: “Always have three poles in the pond.”

This has turned into a bit of a joke between us. I don’t think his girlfriend approves, but she’s a pretty good sport.

Despite what you may be thinking, Three Poles in the Pond is NOT a euphemism for three-guy, one-girl group sex. Just so we’re clear.

It’s a fishing metaphor. And I get it. As a general rule, three poles yields more landed fish than one pole.

And that’s his only point.

He’s not even saying to “date” multiple women simultaneously. He’s certainly a little more cavalier about all this than I am, but he also doesn’t advocate deception and dishonesty.

But he does think I need to be “talking” to multiple women. Which I think I technically am.

I’m totally unsure when “talking” becomes “dating,” but perhaps we can tackle that question in a future post.

Because I’m reasonable and pragmatic, I’m willing to at least consider that Ryan might have some knowledge on this subject.

The Three Poles

1. Bars

To date, my most positive experience with a girl actually did take place in a bar. Of course, Ryan was with me and takes credit for the entire thing.

But basically, he and I went out drinking, met a girl next to us at the bar who happened to be there alone. She lives in North Carolina. Wretched luck. But she’s originally from where I live and visits semi-frequently, so I gave her my business card and mobile number before walking out.

She texted me later that night, which was awesome. Soon, I’ll tell you the story of how I totally wimped out with her the following night.

That said, bars are crap. Crap, crap, crap. I mean, I love them. Immensely. But as a means of meeting women with whom I might be interested? I don’t know.

But I’m not going to stop going out any time soon. Perhaps there are future bar stories waiting to be written.

Regardless, the bar scene represents Pole #1.

2. Online Dating

My position on this subject is clear—online dating is nonsense. Bullshit, even.

But, in all honesty? It’s hard to ignore. There are a lot of women out there dealing with the same situation I am—and I don’t mean divorce recovery.

I mean they’re in their 30s, have jobs, are busy, maybe have kids, and maybe don’t have local roots. I don’t have roots here either. Which means I’m only friends with married couples and people I work with—two places where dating partners WILL NOT be coming from.

Online dating is the obvious solution. It’s only embarrassing trying to explain yourself to non-online daters.

It really is a pretty awful experience overall. You get rejected on a daily basis, either by women who won’t respond to a note you sent, or by women who view your profile but apparently don’t find you worthy of writing.

I imagine them checking out my profile and thinking: Ewww. He’s only 5’9″ with an “average” body style AND his wife left him. I bet he’s a total loser who drives a Pontiac Grand Prix.

I have something like 220 views on my online-dating profile so far. But only about 15 of those ever wrote me a note.

At least three women have written me just to say something to the effect of “I loved your profile! It was so honest and refreshing! Good luck trying to find someone that will put up with all the shit about you that I don’t like!”

I made that last sentence up. But seriously. I get that a lot.

Online dating. Weeee. It’s Pole #2.

3. “Regular Places”

Ryan’s words, not mine. He means grocery stores, or church, or the library, or a local park. Whatever.

This may eventually net a nibble or two. But so far?

Let’s just say I’m not having any luck with the girls I pass in Target or with the 70-year-old ladies sitting behind me in church.

Let me illustrate just how absolutely horrible I am at approaching women in such a setting.

True story:

It was a hot, gorgeous Sunday afternoon just a few days ago. My five-year-old son’s mother had just dropped him off.

Little man said he wanted to go to a nearby park where they have a small public pool for children. So I took him.

I found a spot on a park bench near the pool where I could keep an eye on him. There was a mom in a folding chair reading a book nearby. We made eye contact and smiled at each other. I couldn’t tell whether she was wearing a ring, and I wasn’t going to embarrass myself finding out.

So I sat there watching the kids play, thinking about how amazing it was being that age. Poor kids. They have no idea what’s coming.

Anyway, I snap out of it when I see this totally cute mom walk in with this adorable little girl about my son’s age.


In two seconds, it goes from good to awesome. My son stops, makes eye contact with the little girl, and they exchange waves.

Holy shit. My kid has more game than I do.

It didn’t take me long to learn that she and my son are friends from his daycare lady’s house.

I watched him and this little girl splash around the pool playing together for a while, totally jealous that my son gets to frolic around with attractive girls in swimming pools.

I glance over at the mom sitting on a park bench from across the pool. She’s just sitting there, being cute. And she isn’t wearing a ring.

I have sunglasses on. So she can’t know for sure I’m checking her out, though she probably guesses correctly.

So, should I go talk to her? OF COURSE you should go talk to her jackass. Hot mom at pool with daughter who happens to be friends with your son!? Biggest. Softball. Icebreaker. Ever.

I’m just working up the courage to walk over and introduce myself when another couple walks in and sits down next to her.

The two girls looked like sisters. I couldn’t figure out who the guy was, but his arrival immediately sapped what little courage I’d worked up.

Par for the course. Blew it again, Matt. Nice work.

After 45 minutes or so, the couple got up and left.

And as the sun started its nightly descent, families were one-by-one packing up and heading home. The hot, single mom looked like she was getting ready to go too.

Here’s my chance.

I walk over and help her round up the kids and the pool toys they were playing with.

“Hi. I’m a little more shy than my son. I’m sorry I’m just now saying hi to you. I’m Matt,” I said, extending my hand.

She smiles as she shakes it.

“Hi. I’m Celeste.”

She tells me she lives next door to his daycare provider.


We share a joke about how kids never listen. I yell something to my son about helping his friend’s mom round up the pool toys so we can all go home.

“Alright, kiddo. Say goodbye to your friend,” I said. “It was nice to meet you, Celeste.”

And off we went.

The next morning, I dropped my son off at the daycare lady’s house.

“So, I met your neighbor yesterday,” I said, when she came to the door. I was fishing for info, but trying to play coy.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she replied, indicating that she didn’t think too highly of her neighbor. “He’s kind of an asshole.”

“Yeah? What’s the situation there? There was one guy with two women. It seemed a little weird. I couldn’t figure it out,” I said.

“They’re just a little strange is all. I watch the little girl sometimes. But her big sister Celeste is really a sweetheart,” she said.

I felt my face turn red.

“Sister? I thought Celeste was her mom,” I replied.

“Really? Celeste is only 19,” she said.

I just looked at her like a special-needs ape, my mouth half open.


After shitting my pants right there at the door (metaphorically speaking), I mumbled something about seeing her later and hustled off to work.

Not only do I not have any game, but I evidently can’t even identify teenagers anymore.

Way to go, Captain Creeper.

Holy shit. This presents an entirely new set of problems.

But, in the interest of fairness, the bar scene and online dating’s stock just went up big time.

So I’m thinking maybe I’ll just stick to two poles at a time*.

Wait for it…

No, seriously. Wait for it…

* – That’s what she said.

17 thoughts on “Three Poles in the Pond”

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  7. Entertaining post. Sorry to say that the lack of a wedding ring does not mean much these days. Maybe it is passive-aggressive, but I don’t wear my ring in protest of the fact that my husband stopped wearing his because it didn’t match his watch. Gold is so passe you know.

    1. I kind of admire the mutual “screw you”-ness of that.

      That sounds like forever to me. More than one way to skin a cat?

      Thank you for reading and commenting. 🙂

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