I’m so happy to live in the era of “prestige TV.” I doubt such shows as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island or The Six Million Dollar Man would have been nearly so effective at mitigating my mopiness. Really, how did people manage to survive divorce in the years before Netflix?
Unfortunately, after working feverishly this past year to add ‘international crime series authority’ to my already overly-specialized resume, the “prestige show” queue is running dry. Which means I might soon need to face up to the whole dating problem.
Truth is, it’s not like I haven’t been looking for a date. I have. It’s the finding part that I’m particularly bad at.
Initially, I didn’t think landing a date would be overly difficult. I eat well, exercise, don’t drink, and have a BMI lower than 98% of North American men in my age group. I have all my hair – even if a quarter of those hairs are grey. I respect my partner’s autonomy, value her needs, and I do a reasonable job arranging the smoke and mirrors to give the illusion of intelligence.
Yet here I am, over a year into the hunt, and my “find a date” success rate is humming along at a cool 0%. You’d think, with 7.6 billion people in the world, that my odds would be pretty good. So why am I now re-watching shows I’ve already seen? Sure, I enjoyed all 18 episodes of Jordskott, but do I really need to be watching it a second time?
So I decided to sit down, crunch some numbers, and figure out why 7.6 billion people isn’t a large enough pool from which to draw.
The first calculation was the easiest. There are two sexes. And in spite of the fact it outs me as “old fashioned,” I must admit I’m one of those men who likes my romantic entanglements to involve women. Exclusively women. So just like that, 51% of the world’s population disappears from my prospects pool simply because I’ve got a thing for twin X chromosomes. That leaves me with a pool of 3.72 billion.
Obviously, I’m not going to date kids, teenagers, 20-somethings, septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians or centenarians. First, that would be creepy. Second, that would be really creepy. Ultimately, only about 30% of those 3.72 billion women are likely to fall into a category I’d consider “age appropriate.”
Even worse, age-particular as I may be, I suspect many women would not define “age appropriate” quite as liberally as I — so in reality, that number likely diminishes to 15% of the female population. Which means my cornucopia of promise is down to only 558 million options.
Roughly half the women in the world are single, but in my “age appropriate group,” that number probably sits at 25%. Tops. So my future girlfriend must come from a pool of 140 million.
5% of the world speaks English as their first language. I’m guessing the number doubles if I include those for whom it’s a second language. Other than my aforementioned attributes, my wit is probably my best lure. And since that wit is wholly dependent on the English language, that means only about 10% of the fish will be biting in this particular sea — so I’m down to 14 million possible partners.
But that’s a worldwide number. Geographical separation means I’ll never have any opportunity to meet the vast majority of these women. And while this website does have a rather extensive international reach, site stats inform me that reach is almost exclusively male. So any future date will likely come from the 0.05% of that English speaking population that actually resides somewhere within the Greater Vancouver Area. 0.05% of 14 million leaves me with a pool of 7,000 women.
Now let’s be realistic. Coquitlam, Surrey, Delta, Richmond, Langley, North Vancouver and scores of other cities are all part of “the Greater Vancouver Region.” They’re also cities I haven’t been to in years. Heck, I doubt I’ve even been to 80% of the neighborhoods within Vancouver’s own city limits in the last decade. So just because there’s a pool of 7,000 potential partners in the Greater Vancouver Region doesn’t mean I’ll meet all 7,000 of them.
Let’s say I go out of my way to crash every party, attend every event, join every Meetup group, and never go to the same grocery store twice. Would I even come in contact with 5% of the total pool? Probably not. But I’m trying to be optimistic, so I’m going to say 5% is possible if I’m willing to quit my job, give up making music and dedicate myself to becoming the world’s most social introvert. That leaves me with a pool of 350 women.
But 350 is a raw total. I haven’t even started to account for the laws of chemistry and attraction. Quite frankly, I’m not likely to fall for just any English speaking, age appropriate female that I meet. Similar values, compatible interests, mutual respect, and that all important “spark” are necessary variables. So how should I weight these? I decided the answer lies with the poets, who for eons have told us that there’s just “one in a million” people to whom we will be attracted. The problem, of course, is that my pool size isn’t a million; it’s 350. Which means I’m 999,650 women short of the number I need to meet if I’m hoping for guaranteed success. This shortage leaves me with only a 1 in 2857 chance at romance.
Of course attraction works both ways. Just because there’s a 1 in 2857 shot that my one-in-a-million girl lies within my meetable pool of potential mates, that doesn’t imply she’ll necessarily consider me to be her one-in-a-million. A staggering number of single men are wading through this very same pool, competing for the same women. And frankly, given that my current income is squarely commensurate with my lifelong dedication to music, I’m not sure that either my stellar BMI ranking nor my smoke & mirrors intelligence will spark many flames. And let’s be honest — mathematically calculating the probability of romantic involvement is a surefire recipe for diminishing that probability. So when I apply some basic statistics formulas and combine the odds that my one-in-a-million is in a pool of only 350 with the odds that she’ll see me as her one-in-a-million, I reach the final number:
I have a 1 in 2.86 billion chance to find a girlfriend.
That’s a rather staggering number. Particularly when you consider that the odds of winning Canada’s 6/49 lottery are only 1 in 14 million, while the odds of winning the more lucrative Lotto Max draw are only 1 in 28 million — a likelihood that’s actually 1000 times more probable than me not having to watch Jordskott several dozen more times before I die.
So yesterday, rather than turning left into a cafe and plunking down $3 for an espresso and the hope of a serendipitous meeting, I turned right. Strolling into a small convenience store, I approached the counter, handed over that $3 to the cashier, and left gripping my very own lottery ticket. Sometimes, in life, you just gotta go with the better odds.
©2018 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THE PHOTOS:
I seriously considered publishing this article without any accompanying photos. This site has long jettisoned the notion that it needs to constrain itself to the topic of photography — co-jettisoning the bulk of its readership right along with it. So what’s the point of publishing photos with every article?
Would Poe have been more poetic if he’d slipped a few murky daguerreotypes into The Conqueror Worm? Would Wilde have been wilder if The Picture of Dorian Gray contained actual pictures of Dorian Gray? And while William S. Burroughs was, indeed, a bit of a shutterbug, I didn’t see him feeling the need to sprinkle those snapshots throughout the texts of Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, Nova Express or Junkie.
Of course I’m not exactly Poe, Wilde or Burroughs — so maybe I shouldn’t be so anxious to replicate their rejection of illustrative photos. Besides, I find the allure of posting topic-specific visual puns far too intoxicating — and you can’t just go cold turkey on a jones like that.
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