Tuesday, May 27, 2014

All Dressed Up And...

Saturday, 5:20 p.m. In ten minutes I'd depart my apartment for the lobby where I'd use my cell phone to call Lyft for a pickup. My destination's address was memorized, ready to submit to the driver-- a Thai restaurant on Lawrence Ave. --where I'd meet, in person, a 77-year-old male from OurTime.com

            Before this, I had stood before my bedroom's full-length mirror and surveyed my image: pricey black-and-white Eileen Fisher tank top and unconstructed grey jacket over black Gap jeans, black Stuart Weitzman strap sandals. I gave my outfit two thumbs up.

            Along with my fashionable getup, I had enhanced my image by upgrading face and hair products. Instead of everyday Mac makeup, I used special occasion Sisley. Shampoo and conditioner got elevated, too. Kevin Murphy swapped for Bumble and bumble. The only part of my body that hadn't been creamed or painted was my nails. I hadn't had time for a professional manicure, so I removed chipped polish and applied a clear base coat. My bland nails would have to do.

            Then, the phone rang.

            "Just got in," said my date. "Can we postpone till seven?"

            "No," I said, my voice level, but geared for a rise. "That's too late. I'm ready now. I'm all dressed and about to call a ride for the restaurant."

            "I need to shower and change," he said, offering no reason or apology for the delay.

            "What's the earliest you can make it?"


            I'm thinking, should've listened to my gut. In our first phone conversation, he had admitted he wasn't in contact with his adult kids; that's usually a red flag. He also divulged he was bounced from his job. Flag number two. Why had I even made a date with this loser?

            "Listen," I said, already angry with myself for using my overpriced cosmetics for a date that grew cloudier as the conversation continued. "You knew you had plans for six; you even confirmed the day before. You should have made it your business to be on time. This doesn't feel good. Let's forget about it."

            "But, I have to clean up," he said. "You wouldn't want me to skip that." He was testy; as if I were the culprit.

            "Goodbye," I said, stabbing the cell phone's red icon to end the call.

            "Sorry," he got out before my line went dead.

            All dressed up and nowhere to go, so I started dialing to seek an alternate dinner plan. "Oh, sorry," said my neighbor, Diane. "I'm going to Plum Market, but you're welcome to come along."

            My friend Lisa responded, "Just got back in the house from gardening. Going to change and settle in. Any other time, I'd be on my way."

            "About to get in the car for an event in the suburbs," said my ex-husband, who has remained a good friend. Sorry this happened to you."

            "It's okay," I told each one. "I'm really happy to stay home. And, I'll have material for my blog. No great loss."

            Resigned to my revised evening, and relieved I hadn't sprung for a manicure, I changed from my snazzy garb into decades-old leggings and t-shirt. I poured my usual thimble-full of chardonnay, placed a dinner tray on my lap and watched another episode of "The West Wing" and then the pilot of the British series of "House of Cards."  Despite my face still in full makeup and my hair coiffed, I felt as settled and relaxed as a baby hippo in a puddle of soothing mud.

            Putting the deleted date behind me, the next day I returned to scroll the dating site's latest matches. I had already met two other men, and although I didn't fall in love with either one, or they with me, they were nice, dependable, and stable.

            The first two were Jewish (as was the dud), which sort of surprised me because I had chosen this site -- rather than the exclusive JDate -- so I could meet men of different races and religions. But somehow I decided that selecting a member of my tribe moved the game along quicker, like a roll of the dice that allowed your token to skip several stops and land in a prime spot on the board.

            Of course, every time I flipped past the Christians, I paused to muse. Tommy was gentile, and we had a compatible, loving 16-year-relationship and marriage. Why was I not willing to chance that again?

            So now, I'll shift strategy. My last experience with a clansman has sent me back to ecumenism. This time, though, I'll heed my boundaries and only make plans with a man close to his kids and gainfully employed or retired.

            I might even book a manicure.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Playing the Field

Five whites, two Blacks: three Jews, four Catholics. Not the first line of a joke that ends with, "walk into a bar," but the eclectic roster of men, over the age of 70, whom OurTime.com suggests are my matches.

            Although I've often said I'm not eager to meet a new man -- either for companionship and especially not marriage -- it appears I lied, or changed my mind. Likely the latter, as I've been known to do that often in my roller coaster years.

             Who needs a man? I would toss at my daughters or friends who wondered/worried at my inclination to cuddle with Netflix rather than seek a male in my widowed life.

            Another excuse I have used for disdaining dating was that my second marriage to Tommy was so content, so stress-free (if you don't count the three years of caregiving before he died), that it'd likely be difficult to find someone as compatible as my dearly departed. "Low maintenance," was how I described him. And even when his aphasia and the trickling of dementia entered our union, he remained upbeat and sociable.

            But now, as I'm attempting to confront a few items in my life that I realize are fear-based; i.e. swimming and driving an unfamiliar car, it hit me that dating is numero tres on the list. Because Our Time is targeted to older singles, I thought I'd give this virtual gang another go.

            Fear of rejection certainly accompanies these searches, but fear of leaping into a relationship with the wrong guy is equally daunting. Because my two husbands sought after me, I didn't have to face rejection. My first, who I was married to for 30 years, chose me (until he didn't), and although I asked Tommy out for our firstdate, after that he wouldn't leave my side.

            In between those two marriages, during my six years of singleness, I grabbed onto guys that any clear-eyed person could've seen were absolutely wrong for me. But in my pathetic neediness, I chose to refurbish their personalities and foibles until each one shined like a matinee idol.

            I see a pattern in the romances I leapt into during that break: the men had an air of danger. Evidently, I had reverted to high school where the Tony's of my world triumphed over the Sheldon's. Ducktail haircuts, Lucky Strikes in their t-shirt pockets, ditching school; could anything have been more alluring to a good, little, Jewish girl?

            My relationship with the adult bad boy I chose in the space between wedlocks lasted for several years. He was such an antidote to my rigid, silent first marriage that I batted away warning signs as if they were foam rubber baseballs. So he drove too fast? So he smoked? So he smoked weed? So he channeled new age gurus? So his apartment was a mess? So he was a sloppy dresser? So he had intimate conversations with his harem of women friends?

            Get the picture?  Eventually, it was the last so that ended the idyll. Despite all of the cons that mounted like a child's tower of blocks, I was still attached and jealous of his bond with his bevy of gals. When challenged, he chose them rather than me. I whimpered for a bit, then realized I had dodged a bullet. (But, he often visits me in my dreams, which I consider a safer habitat than real life.)

            Now, in my current singleness, if I do receive responses from my Our Time United Nations, I'll likely reject some, and be rejected by others. There may be dates involved; evenings that include uncomfortable high heels (me), dreaded auditions and boring biographies (both) -- all while my mind is zeroing in on his comb-over, toupee, paunch, age spots, or other blots. (He is likely doing the same when it is my turn to drone. How can she be so short? Why does she tolerate those wrinkles? Hasn't she heard of hair dye?)

            I can handle those potential episodes. What I fear, I now realize, is that I haven't shucked enough neediness and am ripe for another wrong guy. Could a hunger for holding hands while strolling the river walk, or the scent of a freshly washed shirt while in a man's hug, and perhaps the chance to call someone "honey" shove me towards an unsuitable male?

            Guess I'll have to risk it to find out.