Tuesday, June 24, 2003

How to Meet 12 Year Olds

There comes a time when a lot of us will (hopefully) fly the coop, leave the nest or otherwise take wing to find our fortune. A lot of us will build ourselves a lopsided nest, take a tolerable job getting up earlier than the worm, and maybe find ourselves a monogamous mate.

But what happens when we don’t have any fine feathered friends?

It is the lament of the working girl, “how can I meet people my own age?” So much emphasis is put on the dating scene that friends many times don’t get the attention they deserve.

Many people have friend they can tap from high school or college. But when you move away from home or get married, even the best of school chums can be hard to keep in touch with. On beyond work, where is a girl to find a flock to just hang out with?

Self-help books are full of thoughtful ideas of places to meet people, things to do, and hobbies to explore where you just might meet someone. One of these is volunteering. If you have the time, the books state, find something you’re interested in or take up the torch of a favorite cause.

What these books don’t state is that not a lot of twenty-somethings have the time or commitment level to stick with volunteering. I found this out when I attempted to infuse myself back into the theater. I was a two-year college theater major, and it was something I enjoyed, but didn’t necessarily think I wanted to do for a living. So, when I moved 750 miles from where I grew up, away from family and friends, I thought volunteering at the local theater was just the thing.

“It’s close to my house,” I thought, “I can even get some exercise biking or walking to the theater.” It was the perfect plan. Volunteer my University skills as a prop builder and set painter, and in exchange, get to meet incredibly interesting alternative theater folk with problems and dreams bigger than my own.

Of course, I began to realize this wasn’t exactly how it was going to work when I was introduced to the other volunteers, all of them at least thirty years my senior. I also had to put in some hard time behind the candy counter during intermission before I could work behind the scenes on a play. Pouring cokes and selling Mars Bars wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I stepped out onto Broadway, but I hung on long enough to get a gig running the lighting board for a production of The Music Man. Not a very cutting-edge drama, and the job actually consist of hitting a button marked GO seventy times on-cue throughout the performance. Also, as opposed to having martinis after rehearsals with Chaz the cross-dressing costume designer, and the girl who everybody just calls 7, I got to hang out with Jason and Mark. Jason and Mark were twelve-year-old boys who had yet to be hit with the curse of puberty. They were very into Audio Visual equipment and liked to use the word coaxial whenever possible. Needless to say, there were no martinis in Jason and Mark’s immediate futures.

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