Monday, November 21, 2011

A League of My Own

I always felt attractive in New York. At least in comparison to those around me. On the bell curve of attractiveness, I always thought I was in a pretty high percentile. Even at my heaviest in 2002-3, and again in 2009, I still thought I looked better than most. I looked around the women's locker room at the gym - seeing all shapes, sizes, colors and ages flaunting their stuff behind open shower curtains, on top of towels laid out on the floor instead of around their torsos, on benches in front of mirrors - and thought if all of them can be so proud, so can I. 

I also always felt attracted in New York. Everywhere I looked - on the street and subway, at work, in bars - good-looking men with swagger caught my eye. Bartenders, elevator repairmen, UPS deliverymen, bus drivers, bankers, musicians, actors, unemployed trust fund babies were all so attractive.

I don't know what happened, but I don't feel so attractive anymore in LA, and I don't feel so attracted either.

Los Angeles is full of beautiful women. Full of them. From all over the world. Even the most meagerly mediocre man can snag a real knockout because there are just so many of them. And it's not just the Hollywood cliche of bleached blonde tresses and bulging implants: it's big blonde girls, glitzy Asian girls, decked-out black girls, cutely-coiffed debutantes speaking in hushed accents and giggling as they toss their locks over their shoulder and fiddle with the clasps on their handbags. They are adored, and they beam from it.

I'm no less attractive now than I was in New York. I'm just less attractive than the women around me.

[At this point my friends will protest and tell me how beautiful I am. I know, I know.]

Usually, the key to dating successfully is finding someone who's more or less in your league, your superficial "equal," as it were. If you're a 10, you shouldn't have to stoop down so low as to date a 5; you should be able to get an 8 or a 9, if not a 10. Everyone wants to date up, but if you're a 3, you can't really expect to date a 7, can you?

Of course, these numbers, like many numbers, are meaningless on their own. What is a 6? What is a 9? You could argue the qualities and characteristics of each for ages and no one would ever agree. But the numbers' significance lies in the ranking - the chart of hit singles, as it were - whereby regardless of which slot you're actually at, you know you're two slots behind this other person or a slot or two ahead of this other person. And God forbid you rank at the top slot, because you've got nowhere to go (or date) but down. At least if you're at the bottom slot (in this case, a 1, the opposite of the pop charts where number one is the most sought-after chart position), you can only stay where you are or move up. At least if you're a 1, you can't get any worse.

So what is really my problem in LA? First of all, unlike in New York, I'm just not that attracted to that many people. I see men who are well-dressed, well-groomed, and well-financed, but their tweezed brows, designer sunglasses and fast cars just don't do it for me. Very rarely do I meet someone I'm really interested in, though I accept plenty of dinner invitations and dole out plenty of business cards to those who ask, always willing to acquiesce and politely accept the affections of those who are brave enough to express them freely. When I do meet someone who interests me, who catches my eye, who attracts me, who seems to be more or less in my league or thereabouts, a reachable slot or two above me perhaps, I am often met with the sinking realization that they not only already have a girlfriend, but that she is way hotter than I am. And if not a current girlfriend, an ex-girlfriend who is way hotter than I, proving that although the man on his own appears to be in my league, his track record launches him way out of my league. In the battle between supermodel girlfriend and me (and this is a battle I have fought twice already since moving to LA), I lose.

Case in point: a hot, age-appropriate bartender I'd been flirting with for a few weeks finally came clean and confessed his girlfriend to me. Of course I already knew, I told him, because someone so handsome couldn't possibly be single. A few days later when I saw him again, his hand bandaged from getting cut by broken glass behind the bar, he pulled out his phone to show me the gory photos of his stitches, and as he was scrolling through, he mistakenly happened upon a naked photo of a woman. (Whether it was his girlfriend or some other naked girl, I don't actually know.) And she was a knockout. And in the mental Battle of the Babes that I conducted on the spot, her naked photo versus mine, though I only glimpsed at hers and I know mine very well, I had no choice but to throw in the towel.

If this is who he's dating, even if he were single, he's not in my league.

So, given the fact that I'm not dating anyone, and really haven't, ever, I cannot be judged by the company I keep (as can the men of LA); instead I can only be judged by myself alone, as compared with those other similar females of the species who surround me.

And by the looks of it - and we're only talking about looks here, not intelligence, wit, charm, humor, affability, adventure, creativity or any of the other things I may have going for me besides looks - I'm not going to fare so well out here.

(But it's not bad enough to make me want to move back.)

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