Author Allison Van Diepen shares how her unique teenage experience inspired her latest YA novel, The Oracle of Dating.
|Yes, I’ll admit it. I am the Oracle of Dating, and have been since I was a teen.
It started when my older sister’s friends began asking me for dating advice. They’d come over, ply me with junk food, and try to glean some wisdom. Even though I hadn’t dated yet myself, I had plenty to say, and they were in awe of my simple revelations. If he says “I’ll love you forever” it probably only means six months. Or, If he really loves you, he won’t pressure you to sleep with him. To me, it was just common sense, but I basked in their attention, and I loved it when they started calling me The Oracle.
As I got older, my own dating experiences and those of my friends formed a repertoire of patterns in my head. In my late twenties, I decided to give online dating a try. So I wrote up a profile, and over the next few months I met a number of, um, interesting guys.
Like the salsa instructor. He was a sensitive, passionate soul, and on the dance floor, he was a Casanova. I’ve always loved to dance, but I wasn’t born to shake my hips like Shakira. So when he took me to a salsa club, spun me around until I was dizzy then opened his arms and yelled, “Freestyle!” I was paralyzed in the middle of the dance floor.
Then there was Dog Guy. When I first saw his apartment, it was virtually empty – a reminder that his ex-girlfriend had recently moved out. But lots of free space in his apartment didn’t signify lots of free space in his heart, and as soon as I walked in, the real female in his life greeted me by smacking two gigantic paws on my chest and nuzzling me in a rather personal area. Dog Guy laughed. His dog could do no wrong, and no girl, I soon realized, would ever measure up.
When I met Military Guy, he was all you could hope for – big, brawny, buzz cut and, having just gotten back from the Middle East, eager to see a woman. At the end of our first date, his enthusiasm translated into a massive bear-hug, which resulted in a sharp cracking sound in my ribs. He looked at me with concern, but I said I was okay and sent him off into the night. When the phone rang an hour later, he asked again if I was okay, and I managed to croak, “Not really.” Apparently, he’d realized immediately what had happened. He assured me that it hadn’t sounded like the rib had punctured a lung (since that could mean impending death, I was grateful for the diagnosis). The next day he stopped by to give me a new DVD player. I guess he figured that since I was laid up, I’d need something to watch movies on.
Just when I was ready to stop online dating – and maybe dating altogether – I came across Thoughtful and Fun. He was a PhD student in Philosophy and his profile was like a mini-thesis called, What I’m Looking For in a Woman. This guy was too intriguing to pass up.
When we met, there was instant chemistry. After a promising first date, he contacted me the next day wanting to book another. And that’s when I learned the most important lesson of all – the right guy isn’t going to be complicated. He’s just going to be the right guy.
Thoughtful and Fun is now my husband. :)
- Allison van Diepen
Above: Me, Thoughtful and Fun, and some guy who jumped into the picture