A Date for the Prom
By John Tracey
Okay, I’ve said it before, and now I get to blog about it…finding a doubles partner is pretty much the same thing as trying to get a date to the Prom. Finding a mixed doubles partner is exactly like trying to get a date to the Prom.
Let’s analyze the similarities, shall we? Everyone has been single at some point in his or her life. Some longer than others. Some a lot longer than others. High school was where this all played out with the most drama, but I’d be willing to bet that the dating world of college, 20s, 30s, and on up is not a whole lot farther removed from its adolescent origins. I guess the only thing different when people get older is that they become less willing – if they have any sense at all – to spend enormous amounts of time with someone they know is incompatible, whereas when you’re young & stupid, well…you’re young & stupid.
My aunt (mom’s sister) had a dating theory, which she called the “95/5 Rule.” She went to Harvard & Columbia and is freaking brilliant, and I always thought her insights were amusing and on the mark. Anyway, the 95/5 Rule goes like this: 95% of the people in the world want to date the top 5%. Now, of course, the top 5% only want to date each other. And if you’re reading this you’re saying, as I am, “Well, of course I’m in the top 5%!” Why wouldn’t you be? Don’t get me started. But, as often happens in life, we occasionally dip into the 95%, and we always regret it. Live & learn.
It’s the same with a doubles partner. Everyone wants the “perfect” doubles partner. You always want someone better, faster, prettier, cooler… You never want to trade down to someone less-than. There’s something about a double that is unique from other team boats. Chemistry is vital in all team boats, but especially so in a double because it’s just you…and your partner. A good double is like a new happy relationship: You have that extra spring in your step. You feel like you and your partner can conquer the world. Everything is easy and fun. You have confidence in each other. You’re a team but also two individuals. In short, there’s tons of chemistry. By contrast, a bad double has all the horrifying aspects of a bad relationship. You’re stuck in this thing together. There’s bickering, blaming, and excuses. For some reason you can’t work together – in fact, you seem to be working against each other. And then every little thing about the other person starts bothering you – their mannerisms, their stupid jokes, their technique issues, the fact that their technique sucks and yours is so much better. You’re trying hard to work with them, but they aren’t working with you. It’s all their fault! And I’m just talking about same-sex doubles here.
Mixed doubles are a whole ‘nother deal. I don’t know about your rowing club, but I’ve never seen two people of the opposite gender get into a double for the first time and not be the subject of at least some idle chit chat. “Ohhh…you’re rowing with So & So…” Even when everything’s on the up & up – you are just friends – there’s still talk. And if you’re two single people and you happen to jump into a boat together, well, let’s just say that many a mixed double has turned into a Love Boat.
Don’t even get me started on the rowing & sex metaphors. “Was it good for you?” “Mmmm yeah, it was awesome for me…was it good for you?” “It wasn’t really good for me – we never got into a rhythm…I think we were going too hard too soon – we need to work into it more slowly next time and then take it up.” “Who stroked? She stroked it…” HELLOOO!!! Are we still talking about rowing here?? Good Lord. And I thought this was a family web site.
My advice for finding the top doubles partner, the one you always wanted but thought you could never get? It’s very simple: beat ‘em in a single.