I attended the final Singles Night … for June. I promised I would not write about it (because when I am thinking about writing I am no longer “present”) and there was disappointment among some folks. So a final post about the final Singles Night (for June). It will go on, in August, if there is desire and support.
The Attendees: Most of last week’s attendees were there. Two members of Lake Superior Writers were there, this week, rocking the storytelling. I met new people from the Duluth Human Rights Commission, someone who volunteers in domestic violence support groups, a graduate student, and more. A good crowd, more than thirty people.
The Icebreaking: Aaron Abramson, our DJ, pulled out all the stops. We played games for tickets to a KISS concert. (I have never been so happy not to win.) The group who chose the name “Naked and Ready” won.
Aaron got the music jumping and led about a dozen people into dance multiple times in the night. Aaron is a wedding DJ, and his talents are undeniable. Duluth Singles Night came about through Aaron’s participation in the Landmark Self Expression & Leadership Program.
The Gaming: I brought the storytelling dice; people played at will. (Rory’s Story Cubes are available at Target, sometimes at Dungeon’s End, and by order at Collector’s Connection or Rogue Robot.) I brought a similar storytelling game, Lugu, played with cards instead of dice.
When conversation lurched, I brought Zobmondo (“Would You Rather”), a game that asks, for example, would you rather (a) be unable to bathe for the rest of your life, or (b) be able to bathe, but forced to wear the same unwashed clothes every day for the rest of your life. (Feel free to answer in the comments.)
I teased a little. We were going counter-clockwise around the table, when a woman joined us and we moved clockwise so she could go next. The person who was supposed to go next muttered something, and I replied something about all eyes turning toward the blonde. Later that night, on social media, that person teased: I heard that, and I wanted to exclaim: it’s dyed. I’m a brunette, too. People want to connect, even if it is just the way they color their hair. There is a playfulness in this.
Someone else brought “Cards against Humanity,” a game that would make me blush too much to play. (I have only seen it locally at the Electric Fetus.) By 7:30, the gaming had stopped. The group was large enough, and the wheels of conversation greased enough, that people just started talking.
The Conversation: While people drooled over Kiss tickets, I lamented missing the Cure concert. “Who?” everyone at my table asked. My tablemates thought I was about eight years younger than I am, and I thought they were five years older than they were. (I had used the age of a child of one of my tablemates to guess. I had forgotten how young one could be even if you had a tween at home.) My favorite songs, they had never heard of.
Still, they probably know a ton of Beatles songs, why not the Smiths?
I tried to be clever and, as the DJ was packing up, I played “Panic” on my phone.
… with its refrain of “Burn down the disco/ Hang the blessed DJ/ Because the music that they constantly play/ It says nothing to me about my life/ Hang the blessed DJ”
Not even the DJ recognized the song.
I have dreams of meeting a wedding DJ who secretly wishes he could play all the music I played as a college radio DJ. For me, being a DJ was about playing the Smiths and Joy Division and so on. For Aaron, being a DJ is about party planning, about memory making. Whether he’s playing the Macarena or an obscure postpunk track doesn’t much matter to him, so long as people are smiling, moving, connecting. I admire that in him.
That said, there seemed to be some connecting happening.
The Connections: My table talked about what it is like to discover that one has been “gaslighted” by a partner, and how one develops the strength to move on, to decide that you know who you are and that you are strong. We talked about how-you-know when a marriage is over, when a relationship is over. We scratched the surface of the place of religion in recovering your sense of self after a damaging relationship. We talked about whether there is a safe or healthy length of time between relationships, between a marriage and a next relationship.
We talked about children. We talked about the ways women desire children, a desire so strong in some women who do not have them, it can tear them up inside. (This link appeared on my Facebook wall the next day, worth a read: Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid) We talked about the complexity of seeking joint custody for fathers in the State of Minnesota. I offered, in a small way, my desire to make children a part of my life, though at 43, I am still thinking through whether or how this is possible.
We drew cards together. One of us drew a card from the Sacred Rebel deck that called upon her to see her true self. The card plays with the imagery of Narcissus, and we talked about healthy levels of self-reflection as opposed to narcissism, in yourself and a partner. Another drew a card that could be understood as reigniting an old flame. I hope they proceed cautiously.
I drew one calling on me to close old wounds. I shared a discomfort with the dating process. For some partners, dating means [a] you make someone a part of your life, intensely, but [b] you cut the other person out if it doesn’t work. If you aren’t compatible as partners, you have no place in each others’ lives. That cutting out is a series of wounds I am not used to. I still have friends from middle school, from high school, from college; I am still friends with my ex-wife. I thrive on the continuity of human relationships.
I am hopeful that at least a few of the connections I have made at Duluth Singles Night might continue, in August or another time. If you’d like to help with the event in August, visit Singles Night and contact Aaron.
A handful of us went to Sir Ben’s afterward. There, three of us sang karaoke, Neil Diamond and AC/DC and, for me, the shortest, quietest song I know, with the fewest lyrics. It was the first time I have sung karaoke in my life. The next time will be easier.
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