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Single in Bend 

Stories of soaring solo on V-Day

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Entry into the Disneyland Frat
Getting recognition as a female in an outdoorsy community

By MW Hill

Bend's version of girl meets boy is often played out under the veiled equality of the outdoor industry—where women are totally included, "as long as. ..."

My gender cohort and best friend describes the "as long as" clause nicely, saying, "As long as you're cute, but not too cute. Like naturally cute, but no makeup. Chill, but not too chill." The ideal outdoorsy. She needs to be capable enough to pull her own weight—because men aren't going to do everything for her—because we are all equal, right? But she needs to be chill enough to not use the word feminist or acknowledge micro aggressions or speak her mind.

If you thought mainstream Western society was built for boys (workplace, bars, educational institutions), times that by 1 million for the outdoor industry. How often has a male coworker said, explicitly or implicitly, "We should really hire a professional to do that..." for a task in my job description, as the director of a department?

To be trusted in your role in the outdoor industry, you have to work twice as hard as the males surrounding you and never make a mistake. My best friend and class 5 raft guide explains: "When male raft guides show up to row commercial trips for a company, they are automatically accepted until they make a heinous mistake. Females, on the other hand, have to prove themselves first and if they make one mistake, no one will ever forget it."

In a post-industrial revolution dystopia, females are also subject to the paid one-third less rule. Women have to work doubly hard to prove themselves worthy for admission to this outdoor Disneyland fraternity—for which they will never be reimbursed equally. Give me the carrot already!

If it isn't direct exclusion from the men's proverbial locker room, it's silently complicit exclusion. When I state that because I am a woman I am automatically perceived to have certain limitations; my bros give me the 1,000-yard stare or get up and leave the conversation.

To boot, because there is a scarcity of women in the outdoor community, your position as an object of sex is exacerbated. Return to the "as long as" clause. Remember, if you wear short shorts, even once—even when it's bloody hot—well, you asked for the attention, didn't you? Meanwhile, ubiquitous acceptance of males skinny dipping mid-day or relieving their bladders in plain view.

Perhaps kicked off by Donald Trump's pussy grabbing comments and Harvey Weinstein's widely covered-up predatory escapades, it seems an unraveling has begun.

In the wake of #Metoo, Kristen Rouparian's viral New Yorker fiction piece, Cat Person, Babe.com's tell-all about Aziz Ansari's bad bedside manner, and Oprah's Golden Globes speech, my narrative will not be minimized.  

I am a sleeper agent waiting for the shock waves from this unraveling to hit my bubbled community. When the outdoor industry, and dating at large, actually become open forums where women are believed when they talk about their experiences, my eagerness to enter the dating arena, and celebrate Valentine's Day, for that matter, will change.

Incentivize me.

click to enlarge Women and people of all genders, maybe do not date other people with jeans that look like this.
  • Women and people of all genders, maybe do not date other people with jeans that look like this.

Rockin' Out with my Pockets Out

A non-typical Bendite, single on another V-Day

By Jared Rasic

I am not a typical Bendite—athletic, outdoorsy, socially outgoing and extraordinarily good looking. Me: I watch movies for a living, think the sun is overrated, like about three people and am decidedly more Rubenesque than statuesque. I'm a decent kisser and a good listener, but I'll never be graceful or textbook handsome; I'm much more of a Kevin Smith than a Kevin Bacon. There's a fat joke in there somewhere.

Being single in Bend is like living in a fish bowl where I'm the glass all the sexy, mingling fish are looking through. I don't feel sorry for myself, I'm just... confused. This is the longest I've been single for about a decade since I went from an amicable marriage into two long-term relationships, one after the next. I don't know how to meet women anymore. I've never Tindered or Groundered, and most of the dates I've gone on from people I met online were from Myspace a decade ago. I'm bad at this.

Mingling around meat markets like Seven and Astro grosses me out, so Fridays and Saturdays I'm more likely to rock out with my pockets out at the library or a coffee shop. Since mostly everyone else is at a bar downtown, it doesn't really help me meet anyone... but I've made friends with lots of librarians and baristas.

I'm also in that weird zone where women my own age are either married with children, single with children, or not after a bearded film nerd who still reads comics and collects DVDs of '80s and '90s action movies. I'm what my grandma would call peculiar. I love Bend and I've been here since 1999, but I think somewhere, when I wasn't looking, I slipped out of the Central Oregon demographic and started living in the upside-down. A Demogorgon in a world of kids with fireworks.

I have a few crushes and there's a woman I really like but am way too shy to speak to, so I think I'll just enjoy this time to play with my cat, read the books I missed from last year and try not to be hurt when I get ghosted three or four times in a row. I miss being in love, but there's no hurry. I don't feel the sands in the hourglass slipping away. Instead, I'll wait until someone sees me and chooses me anyway, looking past all my weird and random eccentricities and decides I'm worth it. I totally am. Look at all these copies of "Timecop" I have.

click to enlarge Marked on this map, places we don't go.
  • Marked on this map, places we don't go.

Map of Avoidance
Or how to be single and date in the small town of Bend

By Anne Pick

As the token, perpetually single girl in my band of sisters, I have plenty of experience being single in Bend. Not only did I grow up here (OK, close to here, I am a La Pine High School grad), but I feel like I've experienced most of the ways to be single and set up in Bend. Shall we go through the check list?

Be set up with a friend or co-worker of a friend — Check

Meet someone online — Check

Fall for someone at work — Check

Meet someone at a bar — Check

Reconnect with someone from high school who was intimidated by your goth girl look back in the day, but thinks you're hot now — Check

I'm not going to lie: being single in Bend can be really fun, but living and dating in such a small town has disadvantages as well. Do you remember the episode of "How I Met Your Mother," when Ted seems totally fine after getting left at the altar by Stella, but then busts out the map of Manhattan with all of the blacked out potential places he could run into her? Sorry, Mosby, but try living in Bend and trying to get over someone.

No matter which of the checkboxes above you can check as a single or attached person in Bend, odds are you've mentally got a blacked-out map of places to avoid. Parties become slightly more awkward when you run into that friend of a friend who you went on one lackluster date with. The places you used to go together with the one you loved now seem haunted by the ghosts of a past life. But on the plus side, you can discover new rad spots to hang out in Bend, as there's no shortage of places to regain your strength and meet someone new.

With new people moving to Bend all the time, it gives us, the perpetually single, a little hope. We may not have met "the one" yet, but there are good odds if they aren't in Bend now, they will be soon. I've got my fingers crossed for that at least — and in the meantime I'll continue my love affair with this amazing city and the incredible music scene.

40-something and Single

click to enlarge woman-591576_960_720.jpg

And perfectly fine with it

By Teafly Peterson

Being single in your 40S is a whole new world of single. In the never-ending list of boxes to tick in life, I've never ticked anything other than "single," or the ever-dreaded "never been married." I never minded—but a few years ago, while listening to one of Marc Maron's podcasts, he commented that if you reach your 40s and have never been married, there's something definitely wrong with you and you need professional help.

I was a little taken aback by this declaration by the drug-addicted, twice-divorced, not-truly-successful-until-50 comedian. It likely struck me in such a heavy way, because, even this man, who clearly had lived a life somewhere far outside the "box," was still preaching a patriarchal value that anyone unmarried by 40 was a deviant. That marriage box is so demanding of being ticked, it fools even the most radical amongst us to think it's the only box one can tick over 30 and not lose your "cool" card—the biggest non-cult cult I have ever been around. It's the kind of cult everyone is in and no one understands why you wouldn't want to join. And Bend, well, Bend is cult city.

As an artist, it's not hard to be an outsider. Often, it's the place I feel safest—outside the conventions of life that seem to dull my senses. I remember the first time I realized I never wanted to be married. I was 14. My friend Lynn and I were walking downtown in the New England town I grew up in. Walking past a bridal shop, Lynn began to describe her perfect wedding. I thought it was the most horrific thing I'd ever heard. I was doubly surprised it was coming from a friend who openly used the word "feminist" to describe herself in 1989.

This would prove to be one of the first times it would be clear I was "abnormal" for not wanting to be married. My 30s felt like one long dinner party discussion about married life—really fucking boring. Mostly stories innocently proclaiming how I would know when it was the "right" person or how I would change my mind when the right person came along or how it would be the last person I suspected and so I needed to remain open. I was often made to feel there was something wrong with me because I didn't want to be married, long before Marc Maron confirmed it.

I argue that not wanting to get married has kept me from certain dramas, like staying with men who were mean or boring. Not wanting to have children was the same. I never once felt I was investing in a relationship for a long-term commitment or wasted a moment of my time. Many relationships ended amicably, before ideas of who we were supposed to be for each other made us bitter.

Being single has allowed me space to understand love in a different context than romance and family. To understand what it means to fall in love again and again and again, with friends and nephews and cats. Music. Clouds. Trees. A kind of love that connects you beyond requirement. The understanding of how you can be many different things to many different people—a way you may not have tapped otherwise.






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