Bumbling and stumbling in my first year in Dayton
By Jason Webber
So there I am sitting on the sofa in the traditional post-Thanksgiving food coma with my ex-girlfriend’s new husband when it occurs to me — my life is rather odd — and not just because I’m good buddies with my ex’s new spouse. 2011 was the oddest year on record in a life that’s seen more than its share of weirdness … and I blame you, Dayton.
Oh, Dayton, Dayton, Dayton. A city of innovation, Midwest coffee houses that can compete with Seattle (Holla, Press! Holla, Ghostlight!), and the best damn downtown art theater I’ve ever seen (here’s lookin’ at you, Neon). I’ve lived in three metropolitan-sized cities in five states and I say without hesitation — you’re a cool place, Dayton. Even if you drive me crazy sometimes.
I will remember 2011 as my first full year of living as a single man in Dayton, and it was just plain nutty. I’ve enjoyed and suffered through some occasionally fun, always bizarre dating adventures this year that wouldn’t be out of place in an old Leisure Suit Larry game (Millennials, ask your older brother or your dad to explain the reference). There was the woman I once hung out with as part of her 45-man “research project” for a book she was then planning to write about first dates. She called me again, so I guess I did OK. There was the woman who proclaimed she was an alchemist who could change water into wine, but alas, I never did get to witness her getting her Jesus on. There was the woman at Blind Bob’s who called me a “Communist” and stormed away in a huff after I said some disparaging things about Ayn Rand. Face it, Dayton — your dating pool needs chlorine. Big time.
But hey, that’s what this year has been all about — trying to work out the kinks. I have an ex who calls me Hank Moody because I do this writing thing and I’m a self-confessed rake, but I think I’m more akin to Hugh Grant in his early films — bumbling and stumbling my way through life and trying to somehow make this natural haplessness part of my charm. Is it working? Yeah, didn’t think so. I’m trying, though. Honestly.
As 2011 draws to a close, I’m filled with gratitude for this little life of mine and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings. I look forward to making new friends, shaking my ass to whatever music Jay Madewell lays down at J-Alans, trying new beers at Lucky’s, maybe getting a new tattoo at Cloak & Dagger. Looking back at my first year of Dayton insanity, this is what I’ve learned:
-You will never be as cool as “Gladgirl” Shelly Hulce so don’t even try it.
-It’s a bad idea to mention that you like Brainiac better than Guided By Voices.
-You’re cruising for a bruising if you are in an Oregon District bar and suggest to the nearest hipster that bacon is bad for them, that Toms shoes are this year’s Crocs, and that not everything Thom Yorke touches turns into gold.
-If you were to tally up how many times you hear “Dayton has so much potential, but…” in a month, you would run out of paper very quickly.
-The Jelly Doughnut Pancakes at the Butter Café are worth the resulting weight gain.
-Cold Marion’s Piazza is great for hangovers.
-You’re never too old to dance at Vex, but after age 35, skip ordering the vodka-cranberry. That’s kid stuff.
-Some people are very sensitive to the fact that they will no longer earn social cred for having a case of Yuengling in their fridge now that it’s available everywhere. So be nice to them.
-Never trust someone who can’t tell the difference between Gold Star and Skyline in a blind taste test.
Well, whaddya want from me? I never said I was wise, only a wise-ass. Thanks for a great year, Dayton. You’re fickle and impossible to understand at times, but I’m not ready to break up with you yet. Why? ‘Cause I kinda-sorta-I-reckon-maybe love you. Just don’t tell anyone.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jason Webber at JasonWebber@DaytonCityPaper.com.