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Devlyn Brooks, Published January 27 2009

Dad’s back in dating game

"You remind me of my dad. My parents are divorced, and I tell him he needs to go out more, too," she said.

Yeah, just exactly what I, a single parent treading into the dating scene, wanted to hear.

Let’s call her “Sarah,” to protect the innocent. We met on a recent night at a local bar. Encouraged by friends who say I need to get out more, and emboldened by the familiar taunt that my son will be dating before I do again, I decided to have a few with a friend.

Sarah and I met by chance. We were sitting next to each other at the bar, she on my left and me on her right. To her left was a drunk, obnoxious guy who obviously thought a lot of himself and to my right was my ... well, no offense to him, but my friend. She was cute and I was the lesser of two evils. We started talking.

She shared what brought her to Fargo, and I did the same. We were getting along dandy, talking about college sports, my kids and working in the media, among other things. We even ventured to the dance floor, and that’s when she said it, that I reminded her of her dad. It’s not that I hadn’t noticed the age difference between us, but I guess I had chosen to ignore it. ... Until she hit me with that line, and then that little calculator in the back of my head starting working overtime.

Admittedly, the hang-up seemed to be mine alone. She seemed to be enjoying herself regardless of the fact that I graduated high school closer to when her father did than she with me. So, I soldiered on. I reminded myself that, after all, we did have some things in common:

One, I have two kids ... and she said she liked kids.

Two, we both briefly played college sports, mine in the early ’90s and hers, a little more recently. Say, last year.

Three, she is studying to be in the media, and so did I ... finishing a while ago.

Ugh ...

Regardless, Sarah was sweet, funny and surprisingly deep for a college sophomore. I enjoyed the moment … a lot. And just in case Sarah’s dad is out there and can put two and two together, the night ended innocently enough. Honest.

But it started quite the inner conversation about this whole dating thing. Confession here: It’s been a while since I dated. Let’s just say that the first Bush wasn’t out of office that long the last time I was playing the dating game. And it’s shocking how different it all is.

I’m young enough to understand the obsession with Facebook, but old enough to have played “Pong” on TV. I’m young enough to still muster up one good night at the bar, but old enough that my oldest son has an idea what a hangover is. You probably see the dilemma forming here.

My friends and kids are right: My self-imposed dating retirement needs to end. But seriously, where does a single parent go from here? God bless Sarah, but I don’t want another beautiful college co-ed to tell me I remind her of her dad. But I’m not ready to kick it with the fellas playing shuffleboard either.

It’s a brave new dating world, and I don’t know that I’m prepared.

Devlyn Brooks is a news editor at The Forum and lives in Moorhead with his two sons. His parenting blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/singledad.