What's love got to do with it?
Whistler's singles scene can be downright exhausting. With so many options and so little time, what is one to do? Myron Loveless surfs the scene with the help of some downright disgruntled locals wondering where their Valentine is.
WANTED: Female, 20-34, slim, attractive, upbeat, aggressive, down to earth, friendly, witty, irreverent, into skiing, partying, mountain biking, hiking and televised sporting events. You have your own place and car, a bit of cash and an open mind. Must be free of baggage.
WANTED: Male, 20-34, tall, dark and handsome, honest, friendly, intelligent, healthy, athletic, faithful, respectful, dependable, drug-free and employed. You have your own place and car, a bit of cash and an open mind. Must be financially secure, well travelled and willing to pick up the phone once in a while and call.
All my life, waiting for somebody/All my life, someone to take my hand/All my life, waiting for somebody/ All my life, ooh yah.
- Waiting for Somebody, Paul Westerberg
Whistler's singles are one desperate lot. Much like the lyrics to Paul Westerberg's fabled tune from the film Singles, there seems to be a lot of people in Whistler waiting for somebody — anybody.
But what's it going to be, boy? Yes or no?
For most men in this town of transients it's traditionally been "No."
Sure, "yes" to sex, but everything else that goes with it... uh, no thanks. Men are more inclined to spend their days getting to know the powdies, the links or the trails than their female counterparts.
At least that is what many of Whistler's finicky female flock are saying.
Take Sandra, for instance. She's 27, bubbly, engaging, vivacious, hard-working, conscientious and single. She says it's of choice, but adds in the same breath that if the right guy — a tall, dark, handsome and swarthy lout — caught her eye she'd be in there faster than an Australian to a jar of vegemite.
One would think this lovely lass, who's now into her third winter in the depths of Whistler singledom, would be a prime candidate for the relationship realm.
But it's not happening.
"Often people say to me, 'What do you mean you don't have a boyfriend?'" she says. "Like, they are surprised I don't have a man in my life, or that I don't date a lot."
Admittedly, our featured player has never really sought out a relationship in Whistler. Sandra, who asked that her name be changed because, well, this is a small town, was supposed to be wed by now, but for reasons unexplained the wedding band never materialized.
She has opted for the single life.
"I probably don't have a relationship in my life because I don't have room for it," she says. "And it's hard being single and being an independent person and taking care of everything in my life. Sometimes I have little freak outs about it. How am I supposed to do all of this on my own? It would be nice to have somebody to go home to or to help support me..."
For some, the thought of being involved can be quite intimidating. A relationship can be confining. For some it's a daunting proposition.
"I'm much happier being on my own... it's a lot easier," says Sandra, later adding: "I think I would rather be single or lonely than be in a bad relationship."
Maybe it's because the Whistler male is skirting around, too pre-occupied with chasing his Peter Pan dream. Stay young, stay high, stay with that cute girl over there for a night, if you can nab her.
That's the portrait many women are painting of the Whistler male. There are women here looking for relationships, but unless some guys ease up on the recreational pursuits and start directing more of their attentions to their feminine counterparts, Whistler's singles will remain single.
Just listen to the goods:
"I don't think a lot of men know what they want and I think the influence of drugs and alcohol interfere with their own growth."
"The only way to get the attention of a Whistler male is to load your truck or hatchback up with every recreational piece of equipment you can think of, pull up beside a man, and pretend to begin unloading some of the gear. Then they'll notice."
"I have found that snowboarding, skiing, bikes or dope, just about everything — including laundry — is put above 'girlfriend' on the list of things that are important."
"Whistler men, when you meet them, say they will call you, maybe go for coffee, and they never do."
"Contrary to what men say, they never ask women out. I do not count, 'I'd like to see you naked,' as being asked out."
Before completely turning this into a "he said, she said" discourse, let's make it clear that the consensus on mountain romance is that it hasn't completely faded into the sunset.
It's out there. Joan Gros, a village florist who specializes in dishing out romance, insists sparks are flying in the valley. More young men, says Gros, are presenting their would-be mates with flowery gratuities and digging it.
"I have men who come into my store ordering flowers to send to a woman just in appreciation of the date going so well, to say that they had a really good time."
What's that? Men who really dig giving flowers?
Yes, they exist. Contrary to public opinion, the romantic male exists in Whistlerland.
Like 25-year-old Andy A. Garbutt, the epitome of the flashy, whacked out romantic Whistler male. He divides his work time at the fashionable climes of the Durango Boutique and cliqueish and freakish setting of Tommy Africa's. Occasionally he models.
His playboy status intact, Garbutt comes across as a combination of a thin, white Barry White and one of those guys off Beverly Hills 90210.
"I think this place is full of romance," he says. "I went up Whistler Mountain one day and watched a guy grab a woman, take her over to the side and then ask me to take a picture of him and his girlfriend. Then he asks for a second picture, pulls a ring out of his pocket, goes down on one knee and proposes to her right there. Right on top of the mountain."
But not all mountain moments are cosy and rosy.
Garbutt's take on Whistler women: many are packing some serious baggage.
"I think there are some beautiful women here, but I think a lot of them are running from something or they want to be something else. I don't know if they are really happy here."
Garbutt's compatriot is 21-year-old Jeff Mass, a newcomer to Whistler who accidentally fell into a relationship when he first arrived, partially due to having no other place to live. He crashed on her couch, and then moved to her bed.
Local counsellors say this is a common occurrence and a product of the housing shortage. They also say it is not always a positive experience for some people.
Mass' take on the scene is this: It's a transient community, so the thought of a steady, long-term relationship is almost out of the question. If it happens and it works for somebody you know, you heap mounds of praise on them. Way to go, you managed to break out of the singles scene, all the best, you say. Then you start questioning why it hasn't happened to you.
"Once you finally get yourself in a relationship with someone, and you really start to care about them and are emotionally attached, everyone leaves. It's like, 'I'm going to travel Europe now, I'm going back East now.' So, you are in a way, setting yourself up to be hurt," bemoans Mass.
David Rottenhouse, 25, moved from Whistler to Victoria in pursuit of a woman he met here. The relationship didn't work, but life goes on. His stint in the Whistler singles scene was tough, he says, because "you have to deal with the ratio of guys to girls. It's absolutely dismal for guys in the first place."
Whistler women, say men, carry a certain air of reproach. They are on the defensive, are guarded. This may be attributed to the countless creeps and dysfunctional louts they have been approached by or been involved with in the past.
Maybe they don't know who or what to believe.
In turn, the Whistler male feels he's getting the brush off, so why bother trying anyway? It's like banging your head against the wall.
And then there's the whole issue of sexually transmitted diseases, but that’s another story.
It's true the odds are stacked up against Whistler's singles. When you're living in the number one resort in North America you're presented with what appear to be more choices, opportunities and distractions. Holding down a year-long steady is considered a major victory — an unfathomable period of time for some singles. Maybe a season or two to start, but a year? No way, not possible. Not here.
Still, there are some who are optimistic about finding a mate among the mountains, or elsewhere. Thirty-year-old Brooke, another femme fatale who has opted for a pseudonym, is articulate, attractive and athletic — a triple "A" rating, if you will — and she has been single almost from the moment she arrived here four years ago.
Will she find her mate?
"It's going to take a lot of sifting and sorting, and you can do it," she says. "There's got to be some men here who you are attracted to and who will match your personality. It will happen."