I’ve heard a lot of hootenanny about autumn in New England. Being from California, I thought it was all just a lot of hot air.* So I was dance-in-the-fallen-leaves excited to to learn that those people who gush about autumn in places like Vermont are not exaggerating. If anything, they’re not doing the color flurry justice. Everywhere you look are tall trees with flourishes of orange, burgundy, goldenrod, forest green, brick red, muted magenta. Those Vermontonians don’t need rainbows with a palette like that.
My date, David, was a self-proclaimed woodchuck, which is what native Vermont residents call themselves. He’d lived in the small town of fifteen thousand people almost since birth, with only a brief hiatus elsewhere. I tried not to think about the fact that we’d likely run into someone he knew and in my nervous chatter, made a comment about the large phallic object that sits near the center of town.
Nothing like busting out the word phallic in the first ten minutes. David didn’t seem fazed, though he had told me he was nervous too, so perhaps his ears were buzzing with his own thoughts and not my own. We walked a tree-lined street and looked at homes that were built over a hundred years ago until we came to what resembled a very haunted cemetery. Normally, I’m not all about morbid conversation on dates, which means I skip the so about this death thing chatter before it can even roll out of my mouth. However, this cemetery was not only spooky-looking, but it housed poet Robert Frost.
It would be amiss to say I adore Frost, but I do admire and like the guy’s work, and I felt like he made an important contribution to writing. So I suggested to David we go in and say hello to the good poet. Neither David nor Megan were thrilled with this suggestion (Megs won’t film in graveyards) but we popped in, followed tiny signs and came upon a headstone that lay flat (a flat stone?) covered in pennies and butter knives (no idea as to the significance). We stared down quietly for a few moments before looking up at one another and departing.
David and I were off to drink hot spiked cider as per my request. I hadn’t realized apples are a Vermont thing — I knew about the syrup, but not the forbidden fruit — so I had innocently asked David if anywhere around sold homemade cider. He thought I was being a smart aleck and laughed when he realized my knowledge of Vermont’s fame was so limited. And then, he took me to a pub.
A rather quiet man throughout our walk — I felt like he was watching me rather than participating in the date — David surprised me over cider by becoming chatty. Questions were asked. Stories were shared. And eventually he told me what I’ve heard again and again and again this trip (Nebraska, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky all come to mind right off the bat): it’s hard to meet girls (doubly so because he doesn’t want to date anyone who already has been married or has kids) and he doesn’t want to have to leave town to find a lady. David’s a good guy — critical thinker, polite, mature, funny in a very dry manner — if he were in a city, he’d be snatched up in a heartbeat. But he doesn’t want to move. Tales of his dating strife kept coming, and I tried my best to offer advice and suggestions.
All this has got me thinking: it seems like both men and women are frustrated with dating. Is there an answer to what feels like a national malaise?
*Literally, I thought autumn meant hot air. The Bay Area come late September and mid-October is warm verging on hot.