One at a Time


It began in childhood. I loved those square penny gums that used to come in the glass bubble. Do you remember them? I’d slide the metal lever over as far as possible and hope the machine dumped a few extra. Then, instead of enjoying them one at a time, I’d stuff the red (cinnamon), black (licorice), green (spearmint), and white (peppermint) ones into my mouth and make one large, gray mass of indistinguishable muck. Silly boy.
Mom would say, “One a time, son.”

She was right.

It applies to dating as well. Few women need reminding, but men rarely learn.

Dating more than one woman at a time is stressful, so I don’t do it. Stress kills. It carves deep wrinkles, whitens my hair (what’s left of it), and gives me neck pain. No, thank you. If I attempt juggling women, I’m stuck dropping everything and chasing around the mess I’ve made.

(This reminds me of another funny quote my baseball teammate made. Our second baseman went to field a ground ball, booted it, bobbled it, finally picked it up, and barely got the batter out at first. My buddy said, “Did you see that? He went after that ball like a stripper pickin’ up change.” Ha! Guess you had to be there.)

Dating multiple people simultaneously makes no sense if there’s any interest in having something more than a casual relationship. If I were out to hop from hole to hole, perhaps I could do it. I’m too old for that shit. I want to find one cozy hole and set up camp.

So, when I go on a date with someone and it turns out that I like her (as opposed to the usual blind date that I’m tempted to end with an icy plunge off a bridge), I give her Phil’s speech.

“I’m a one-woman at a time kind of guy. No pressure on you, though, but I’m only going to be dating you until we decide if this is worth maintaining. I can’t concentrate if I have to keep more than one lover.”


“Can’t do it. There’s keeping the names straight and remembering which one drinks red, has living parents, and enjoys having her back tickled. It’s too complicated.”

“Hm, that’s refreshing.”

“I know. I’m quite a catch, huh?”

“We’ll see.”

Yep, easier said than one woman. Typically, when I make such a pronouncement, Nature arranges an amazing pussy parade, the likes of which I have never seen. It’s difficult to stay on the curb with my propeller hat and balloon while admiring the once-unobtainable floats from a safe distance.

I can do it, Mom.

Especially when people start sleeping together, they should be monogamous–not because of some religious threat, either. It’s safer and more logical. If sex turns sour then end it and move on (in that order).

So, here I am: one-at-a-time man. I’m as loyal as a Labrador, and I won’t chew your furniture. Promise.

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About the author

Author of humorous essays about relationships and lifestyles.