Hello and welcome to Cuffing Season, the television show where you go, “Wait, is this a joke or is it just my love life?”
*Cue laughter from the live audience*
I’m your host, A Combination of Internalized Societal Expectations, Familial Pressure, Standard Human Needs and Single is Fun in the Summer, Sucks in the Winter.
Quick explainer for those viewers just joining us who’ve never heard the term Cuffing Season before: Cuffing Season is romantic rush. It commences at the first sign of Autumnal chill and closes just after the holidays, following the return of any/all exes and former flings who popped back in to say traumatizing things like “Hey stranger,” “How are you,” or “Long time, no talk.” Men and women search for mates to endure the imminent cold front, to have someone to stay indoors with, to do couple-y activities with, to evade grand-parental concerns but not necessarily to make future plans with. Couples who cuff during cuffing season may not have an outright expiration date, but there is a quiet mutual understanding that this relationship very well could be temporary. Cuffing season is a survival technique. Since it’s October, you have time.
But not a lot.
Dating, in this specific context, is a dangerous sport. You must have your wits about you! You must outsmart everyone including the person you choose to cuff. Consider The Lobster — not the David Foster Wallace essay, but the Colin Farrell movie (this won’t spoil it for you): The setting is a hotel for singles in a dystopian world where a romantic partnership is necessary to your survival and being single is a literal death sentence. Does that sound like your grandmother speaking, or?
This TV show of ours called Cuffing Season follows a rather similar rubric. We won’t kill you at the end of the episode if you’ve failed to metaphorically clasp your wrist to another person’s, but you might have no one to hang out with. (To answer the Season 2, Episode 4 title of Sex and the City, “They shoot single people, don’t they?” — Not yet!) However, solitude looms. Not the good kind where you relish in solo indulgences like laying on the bed while post-shower-damp to scroll through bad meme accounts on Instagram with your high school soundtrack playing in the background. No, this is the kind of solitude that is best represented by the lone caffeine-free Diet Coke in the back of your fridge that the Thai restaurant delivered by mistake. Talk about desperate: I’d even take a Pepsi over that pop, wouldn’t you?
As for how to actually survive — contestants, listen up. My producers told me not to do this but here’s what I’d advise:
– Update your dating profiles, and do so immediately. Every former nixer and naysayer is back on the apps, swiping with fervor. Change your pose, change your face, don’t just pose with a celebrity, be a celebrity. Google’s an excellent photo resource. Light cat-fishing is encouraged for the sake of a successful bait-and-switch.
– Throw out the limiting idea of your “type.” Say yes to absolutely everyone and everything. I once went on a date with a total boar and it was wild! (Dad joke. Practice your dad jokes, they’re great ice-breakers.)
– Push past your comfort zone and engage in activities you normally wouldn’t. Crashing high-security ticketed events you weren’t invited to is a great start.
– Experiment with a new look; reinvent yourself. If the old you didn’t work, now’s a great time to explore alternative personalities. No budget for full-body plastic surgery plus accommodating wardrobe? Affecting an accent works just the same.
– Do talk about politics and religion. Makes for vibrant conversation and speeds up the results of potential-partner Darwinism.
– Avoid the texting and social bullshit by throwing your phone away (after you’ve set up at least 100 dates a day –> quit your job, by the way).
– Avoid complicated and awkward “who pays” etiquette by suggesting a dine and dash. This will also show your adventurous side.
– No one is counting how many drinks you’ve had on a date. They are counting how many times you’ve gone to the bathroom.
– Concerned about the post-date kiss and the state of modern feminism? Here’s your chance to Lean In.
Whoops, just heard from our sponsors that I’m fired and that this is about all we have time for. Good luck, godspeed. The local bar circuit and I thank you all for playing!
Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.