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SINGLE IN THE CITY

Dating? Think of it as job training

May 08, 2003|Mark Miller | Special to The Times

The life of the single person in Los Angeles isn't all nerve-wracking pain, disappointment and heartache. OK, that's a lie. But there are a couple of positive things to be said about being single. For example, the world is filled with fascinating occupations, and I've gained invaluable experience in most of them, thanks to dating. My resume is now 34 pages long. And that's just for the last two years.

Don't misunderstand -- I'm not simply referring to what I've learned by hearing about my dates' jobs, though that also would be an important source of knowledge about a wide variety of occupations. I say "would be" because these women generally don't have my complete attention, since, as they're speaking, I find myself pondering one of three things:

1. What's the quickest way I can end this date without her thinking I'm a jerk?

2. I wonder what she looks like naked.

3. Of all the Three Stooges, Shemp never really got the respect he so richly deserved.

No, I'm talking about the specific career skills I've learned, thanks to my extensive dating lifestyle. Take my recent relationship with Sarah. Though far from being a professional actor, I nonetheless used my finest thespian skills to convince Sarah that my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon was, same as hers, to take part in a public protest of some corporation's policy on animal testing. What a coincidence! My, we simply have so much in common! And you look so sexy holding that boycott sign!

Next, I summoned my best abilities as an amateur psychologist to make Sarah understand that, owing to her never having received the love she so desperately desired from her father, she was determined to find a father figure in her romantic relationships. She wanted to understand more about her father fixation, but unfortunately I let her know that our hour was up and we'd continue it at the next session. .

I'd always considered being a magician to be a glamorous career, and fortunately during my relationship with Sarah, I gained loads of experience in making single-guy things disappear. Before her first visit to my place, I made all photos, letters, gifts and traces of other relationships vanish into thin air. Clothes on the floor, gone. Dirt and dust, gone. Videos and magazines, the titles of which we needn't repeat in a family publication, gone. My ear hair, nose hair and assorted hair from additional body locations -- gone. Abracadabra! The Great Markini has done it again!

Thanks to Sarah's being high-maintenance, I had plenty of opportunities to exercise my skills as an accountant, estimating how much of my income I'd need to reserve for restaurants, gifts, trips, flowers, cultural events -- you name it. And she did. I figured out how many deductions we could take if we were married, had kids, used a home office. I even envisioned a romantic ending: We'd both plead guilty for involvement in a fraudulent offshore tax shelter scheme, be sentenced to community service, and there, Sarah would change into a caring, sensitive, low-maintenance person, telling me money doesn't matter. As you see, I lead a vivid fantasy life.

The point is that dating offers a lot of practical experience. The woman I end up with won't just get a man: She'll get a scientist, a security guard, a cook, a politician, a masseur, a mechanic, a social worker and an athlete. Perhaps that's why it's taking me so long to find her -- I want to make sure all those guys love her as much as I do.

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Mark Miller can be contacted at weekend@latimes.com.

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