Testimonial From a Moderately Satisfied Customer of Singles Canoes

Dating is impossible: Your friends have only so many friends to set you up with, co-workers are off-limits, and online services are icky and cold. Luckily singles can now turn to Singles Canoes, a new service we hadn’t heard of until BOB POWERS clued us in.

Moving to Manhattan from Chicago left me feeling pretty lonesome, but after a hellish year on the dating scene, I was about ready to hand myself over to spinsterhood without regret. I tried all the online personals, reading between the lines of the profiles like they were code for a soul, trying to eke out of them what secrets they hid. I went on some promising dates. But no matter how long I waited and how sure I thought I was about a guy, as soon as we had sex he’d turn into someone else completely. For the most part, that someone else was not very attractive. It was growing harder and harder for me to trust my instincts.

So when a co-worker slipped me the brochure for Singles Canoes, I jumped for the phone. “Find out how you two get along inside of a canoe,” it read, “and you’ll know how freaky things will get after all the orgasms pop!” All against the beautiful backdrop of the Delaware River. I made a reservation for the following weekend.

His name was Jason, the guy I got assigned. (Singles Canoes matches up their singles based on a complicated algorithm using only height, eye color, and a single turn of the board game “Scruples.”) When we met, we shook hands. Jason didn’t seem happy.

“Let’s get this over with,” he said.

A half-mile down the river, Jason revealed that he had been signed up for Singles Canoes by his parents. “They want me to find someone special and get married,” Jason said. “But I only want to be with them.”

I said, “That’s sweet.” The back of Jason’s head was round and sexy. I took the back of the canoe because I don’t like to be snuck up on when I’m in a boat. I didn’t know at the time that his white T-shirt would paste up against his sweaty torso and reveal some of the most delectable upper body muscles I’ve seen in quite some time.

“God I miss my Dad,” he said, letting his oar rest across his legs.

“How old are you Jason?” I asked. He said he was 39.

I managed to relax enough to let my mind get lost in the swirl of autumn foliage surrounding us. The match-up might turn out to be a dud, but it was still a thrill to get out of the city. Jason seemed focused more on the other couples in neighboring canoes. The ones who looked happy earned a derisive snicker from him as they passed.

For a good length of the canoe trip, Jason and I kept quiet. One of the only times we spoke was when he told me, unprovoked, that I could not have any of his sandwiches.

“Almost time for the barbecue,” I said when I saw it was five o’clock.

Jason said, “I hope to try to leave before the barbecue. I wonder if that’ll be OK.”

I stopped rowing to open up the Singles Canoes brochure. Each single will share a riverside cabin with the single to whom they are assigned and none will be allowed to leave before the awarding of special prizes on the morning following the canoe trip.

I was relieved. “You could try, I suppose.”

Jason turned around to see if the amusement he heard in my voice also showed on my face. There was in fact a smirk there.

Jason, of course, wasn’t allowed to leave. “Well, come on then,” he said to me after the barbecue. I got up from the picnic table and trudged behind him across the brown, muddy grounds to our cabin, a one-room unit decorated for some reason in a Southwestern motif.

That night, Jason was very talky for several hours, promising me there was no sex to be had. He went on and on about how relations through blood are all that are necessary, and that romance is just a trick to distract ourselves from the terror that our parents are going to be gone one day. Then around midnight, he stopped talking and waited. I went to him and pulled his head to my breasts, which, I have been told, are pear-shaped and quite full.

Jason didn’t say a word during sex, and he didn’t let me have any say. When I tried to remove his pants, he removed my hands from his belt buckle. He tugged my clothes from my body, guided me to the couch and then removed his clothing himself while I lay across the couch waiting for his next direction. I was moved from my position on my back across the cushions of the couch, to a standing spot on the rug bent over the arm of the couch and peering into a large mirror fastened above the back of the couch, then to the bed, to the headboard of the bed, and finally to the floor by the bed. Each move occurred of a sudden. When he finished, he went to the chair by the window and sat with his back to me. I climbed into bed and soon fell into a deep sleep. As a lover, he was distant and methodical, but his methods were unlike any I’d witnessed before. He brought to sex the same quiet concentration a child brings to the construction of his tinker toys.

The next morning, I won tickets to see the Billy Joel musical Movin’ Out. At the previous night’s barbecue, before we all retired in pairs to our cabins, Singles Canoes Administrators had handed out pens, pieces of paper, and envelopes so each single could write what behavior he or she predicted her assigned single would exhibit following sexual relations that evening. Singles who predicted accurately would be awarded one of several prizes provided through sponsoring corporations. My winning prediction was, “Jason will stare out the window at the moon and the trees and when I ask him if everything is OK he’ll tell me to shut up.”

Jason’s losing prediction was, “She’ll probably start crying or take a bath or something.” When Jason’s prediction was revealed to be inaccurate, all of the assembled singles laughed at him. At that he demanded his keys and rushed off in his car.

I did not find love on my trip. But that’s not what Singles Canoes is about. That afternoon, on those waters, I met a man named Jason who was enamored with his parents. That night, after I slept with him, Jason was still that very same man. Thanks Singles Canoes, I guess.

Bob Powers is the author of several humor books, including Happy Cruelty Day! and You Are A Miserable Excuse For A Hero. Visit his blog at More by Bob Powers