Category Archives: Dating

Top 6 Posts of 2017

Well, kids, looks like we made it through year 1 of the Cheeto flea, and that alone is worth celebrating. But even better would be to forget about him altogether. As you run the highlight reel of the past year in your mind, acknowledge the not-so-great stuff, but give priority to the good things — the people, places, and events that gave you a lift. I’m reminding myself as much as you on this one. I think of myself as a positive person, but I’ve been noticing that I can get focused on the one bad thing sitting amongst all the good stuff. So I’m going to try to keep an eye on that in 2018. I’m also feeling like my tank is empty, and, yes, I had a big year (as the posts below will attest), but most of the big things are past, so I also wonder if it’s real or a habit? I will keep an eye on that, too.

But for now, it’s time to look back a bit, take a deep breath, and head out to 2018.

6. The big news of the year was getting the kid launched, and it was official with this post. In the process, there were highs, lows, lots of wine, and a few moments of full-blown panic. But the deed got done with Mission Accomplished.

5. I reread this one, and thought, damn, that’s good! I’ve been feeling less than inspired lately to write. In keeping with my positive theme, I’m going to recall the words of a painter friend many years ago, when I was hit with my first case of writer’s block. I had just finished a bunch of essays and thought, now I’m ready for the next thing. But I wasn’t. The faucet had nary a trickle. He told me not to worry — I was merely filling up again. So, I’m going with that. Don’t know how long the filling will take, so be prepared for reruns if you’re a long time reader and for cool old stuff if you’re new. In any event, this piece reminded me that, yeah, I still have some writing mojo. Happy Anniversary.

4. That this one is in the top 6 makes me laugh. I thought it was just me, but apparently this was something a lot of people could relate to. For the love, Leave the Curtain Rods.

3. Because I have memory issues, er, I mean, I live in the moment like Eckhart Tolle. I’m a super advanced human, I swear. Anywho, I thought this one was about Cheeto flea, but it was more subtle than that. Either way, it never hurts to remember It’s a Marathon not a Sprint.

2. I just reread this one, and it reminded me I have a blog to finish about bystander intervention. Also, it reminded me that Life moved with me to my new apartment and is still sitting in my chair, giving me the look, and motioning me to get her another drink. Happy new year, bee-atch! Dammit!

1. Oh, Celine. I hope where ever you are, you have all the happiness you deserved when you walked among us. Goodbye My Friend.

So there it is, friends. I wish you all you healthy, hopeful new year. We can totally do this. We always do.

Same as It Ever Was, Sorta

I FaceTime with my 87-year-old mom nearly every Friday night. Pretty cool, right? Lately she’s been telling more stories from the past, some she hasn’t told me before. What struck me about some recent stories is how, at the core, they are similar to what people experience today, only back then there were a lot fewer resources to help.

Take job hunting. My mother talked about how hard it was for her to find a job in her early 20s. Sound familiar? It was the early 1950’s, so the economy was fine. Yes, she was a woman, so that was a strike against her. But she wasn’t looking for a career, she was just looking for a job. She was turned down at a little general store in town because she had the same last name as a cousin who’d been fired from the store for doing something bad. My mom wasn’t sure what. There were easily 20 or more cousins in town with the same last name, so that seems somewhat short-sighted, judging a whole family based on one bad apple. The fact that there was a high probability that there was more than one bad apple in that bunch is inconvenient to my story, and therefore irrelevant.

Also, it’s ironic because if they had bothered to get past my mom’s last name, they would have learned she had recently left the convent. What more validation of an honest person can you find? And, no, she wasn’t discharged because of rosary grand larceny or embezzlement of the priests’ sundry fund.

Of course, it was the convent thing that was really messing up her search. At that time there weren’t too many career counselors and coaches to help. Heck, there weren’t even resumes. Just my mom filling out applications and trying to explain where she’d been in the past several years. You’d think that the nun gig would have been a more common thing back then, especially in a town where there was a Catholic church for each of the town’s immigrant groups — St. Stanislaus, St. Anthony, St. Anne — you get the picture. But apparently employers found it just as weird as they probably would today. But today she’d have an army of online and in-person career coaches and websites telling her to emphasize her loyalty, passion, and commitment to her work. And how about “excellent ability to take direction”? She left the convent because she got very sick from the physically demanding chores of hand-washing priest vestments, praying for hours, sleeping very little, and Oliver Twist-like food. The first time she got sick, she returned home to recover and then went back. The second time she got sick, the Mother Superior told her it was a sign she was meant to do something else. She would have stayed if they had let her, so I think you could add “ability to follow through.”

She finally landed a job in the office of a car dealership, but then there were other male shenanigans to contend with. Here’s hoping the starts to change, 60 years later.

The convent thing of course followed her into the dating scene, but the few dates she told me about seemed a lot like the letters I read in a daily relationship column. There was the guy who took her out once, but when she was kind of clueless about the goodnight kiss thing, she never heard from him again. She connected with another guy on the 1950s version of eHarmony — a Catholic pen pal club. That helped make the ex-nun thing less of an issue. They wrote a number of letters back and forth and my mom got excited and thought things were going really well — until he told her he found someone. At least he didn’t ghost her.

So all as a way of saying, sometimes I like to think I  have it harder than others. But, I really don’t. Not only can I learn from those who came before me, I can Google “ex-nun resume tips” and “how to give a kiss.” And that’s pretty cool.

 

Cheeto Has Even Ruined Dating

So, I thought Republicans liked small government and to stay out of people’s lives, but maybe that only applies to rich white men or white women who look like Kellyanne Conway. All the rest of us got Cheeto flea and the Republicans peeking into our windows, trying to wrestle away our health care, and tweeting at us 24/7. To add insult to injury, Cheeto flea has even managed to make dating more chaotic than it already is. I am a frequent peruser of and an infrequent responder to the Craigslist dating ads. It’s really more entertainment than an actual dating site, but it doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t require understanding what swiping left or right means. Which really sounds more like a Mr. Clean ad than dating, but what do I know?

Anywho, there amongst the earnest souls looking very specifically for big women, fit and athletic women, or women open to “everything,” whatever that might mean, I saw an ad by a very sane-sounding, intelligent guy. We exchanged a couple of emails and seemed like we had enough in common to meet. About 5 minutes after agreeing on a day, time, and place, he emailed me back to say he had Googled me and found my website. He sort of apologized for doing it, but I’m a big fan of Googling strangers, so that didn’t bother me in the least.

But what he next said floored me. He read a lot of my posts (points for not making assumptions after 1 or 2 blogs), he said I was a really good writer (double points for stating the obvious), and that he also feared we disagreed on a number of issues that would make us incompatible. I’m pretty sure he was not talking about the blog I wrote against skinny suits. Even worse was I had asked him what made him interesting, and he said he always tries to do the right thing. So, here he was, actually doing the right thing by telling me we were not compatible in the most straightforward, respectful way.

According to my friends who date, this is unusual. Like unicorn unusual. Many people in that situation would have just stopped responding or stood me up. To quote Liz Lemon, “Blurgh.” No, wait, even more worse was he was so respectful and articulate about it, he made me rethink my attitude towards Cheeto supporters. So there was already a moment of introspection and growth with this person, and I hadn’t even met him yet. Double blurgh.

Would this have happened before Cheeto? Maybe, but I’m pretty sure I would have at least gotten a decent first date out of it, and it might not even be a deal breaker if we had enough other things in common. OK, who am I kidding, I could never seriously date a Republican. But I could totally have dinner and a make-out session, which would hold me over until the next unusual post by a sane-sounding, intelligent guy. But now, you can’t even get to first base without knowing someone’s political leanings. Fighting racism, sexism, and orangeism is really stressful enough and now there’s this.

But like everything else Cheeto flea has done in the past 73 days (only 1,387 left!), it only makes me more determined to carry on the fight: for social justice, health and reproductive rights, the environment, and our inalienable right to date.

The Dating Game

Remember when I was perusing Craigslist solely to gather information for you, fair readers? Well, today we’re moving on to part 2, dating advice. I may or may not be dating — if you want to find out for sure, you’re going to have to buy me dinner and drinks. A lot of drinks. But I digress.

I was with my friend Mike visiting our favorite bartender in Boston, and we noticed a young couple in the middle of what had to be a first date. It was pretty plain to see the body language. He was chatting and working pretty hard at being charming and funny — leaning in, if you will. Both Mike and I decided we’d be happy to have been on the receiving end of his efforts. But the young woman was less than enchanted. She was bordering on being rude, looking away, looking at her phone. Our favorite bartender confirmed our suspicions and filled us in because she’d been eavesdropping. Hence one of the many reasons she’s our favorite bartender. She was in favor of the young man, who was holding up his part of the date, but the young woman seemed to be too caught up in her own insecurities — there was a fair amount of tugging at her skirt, looking at her phone, and fiddling with her hair. She was clearly not present. And even if she was, hey, if you’re not into it, then you need to find a graceful way to end it. That’s what grownups do. Or maybe we all need to be aware of whether our date is into it, and if not, have the courage to end it gracefully ourselves.

The three of us heaved a collective sigh of relief that it wasn’t us, and we agreed that this is what’s so hard about dating when you’re young. At that age, most of us often only want someone for the sake of wanting them, and we really haven’t figured out what we want from ourselves, never mind a partner. And yet there’s this great pressure to be out there and dating and finding The One! So you go on dates, dragging along your wheeled baggage that definitely does not fit into the overhead compartment. (I’d like to give shout out to my friend Lora who introduced me to this apt metaphor. She also told me plenty of stories of being on dates with folks in their 30s and 40s who should know better and still have a death grip on their luggage. So sadly, this does not just apply to the young ones.)

Sometimes I regret that I didn’t date more at that age, and wonder if it would have made a difference in my choices. But was I even ready for it? Would it have been just a series of dates like the one I witnessed, only it would have been me worrying about my body, clothes, hair, stupid shit? To be fair, back then we didn’t have phones to check, but would my eyes have been darting around like a trapped animal? Or staring into the middle distance like fictional characters do when their lives are hitting bottom? Would I have been able to learn from it? I’ve recently become addicted to enamored of a website called A New Mode, which among other things dispenses a lot of decent, sensible relationship advice aimed at straight women, but I think all humans can find something useful in it. There is also a lot of insight into how straight men think. I could write a whole blog on this topic alone, and maybe I will — it’s totally fascinating.

But for this blog, I like how A New Mode focuses on loving yourself first, having a full happy life without a partner, the fun of dating, and not taking anything too seriously at the beginning. And it’s good enough that I can overlook the fair amount of hard sell of various $49 videos that will reveal for the FIRST TIME! The THREE SIMPLE WORDS that will make the man you want crave you and devote himself to you forever! As a writer, I find the word “crave” an interesting choice. Obsession is too scary and in all states, illegal, but the word “crave” is marketing genius. It’s being wanted without the scary part, although it’s still too scary for me. As an older, wiser woman, I can happily skip the craving and devotion, and have many better uses for my 49 bucks, thanks.

But the other advice makes a lot of sense to me because it validates what I learned through hard-won life experience. I’ve spent my post-divorce time getting to that place of filling my life with things that bring me joy, being happy with myself, changing a few things I’m not happy with, and letting go what doesn’t really matter. But I wonder, would I have been able to truly understand this advice the last time I was thrashing about in this arena as a 20-something? I was definitely carrying over-regulation-size luggage, and I was an 80s angry feminist who had just extricated herself from a messy, abusive, dysfunctional relationship. OK, I waited two years after the relationship, but still. I think in that time I managed to unpack the equivalent of a cosmetic bag, and angry feminists don’t wear makeup. Would I have really been able to love myself and not just plaster on a fake sticker, “Yes, I love myself, now date me!”? I really had no idea who I was, and I don’t think I had any business dating, not even for purely recreational purposes.

But to be kind to myself, I Googled “Dating Advice from the ‘80’s,” just to see what advice was available to me at that time. And while I may not have been ready to follow today’s advice back then, I think I can safely say there was no way to be successful using the advice of that time. Phew, that’s a load off. Check this out advice from a book called How to Be Popular with Boys by Stacy Rubis (1984):

  1. “Boys get an ego boost from your awkwardness. It makes them feel more in control, more manly. And at the same time they get more protective toward shy, trembling you.” Hmmm. If that were the case, I should have been beating them off with a stick. Awkward was my middle name! Don’t get me stated on the trembling, what am I? Some Hollywood starlet from the ’30s?
  2. “Don’t take any chances when getting ready in the morning. Always put effort into looking good. Effort, plain effort, is often the only real difference between average and stunning girls.” Hey, I always made sure my “rat tail” (a little chunk of hair in the back that is about 4 inches longer than your short hair) was dyed blue and braided. Believe me it looked good. Really good.
  3. “Another good way to turn a crush into the real thing is to determine your man’s schedule of classes for the day…Figure it out and arrange when to bump into him…a lot.” Um, I think this is called stalking now, and is illegal in all 50 states…
  4. “Try eating at one of the ethnic food stands in the mall, preferably a taco place where it’s hard to discern the ingredients of a meal. Then say to a boy whose plate is piled high, ‘What is that you’re eating?’” Yeah, because meat, various vegetables, and cheese are so ethnic, that they are hard to identify. That aside, practicing inflection seems key to this advice: What is that you’re eating? What is that you’re eating? What is that you’re eating? I don’t think I quite have the sexy innuendo down right…

So, there you have it. Dating is never easy in any time or stage of life, but it sure makes for good blog fodder, and that, my friends, brings me great joy.

 

I’m Too Sexy for My Suit

I was at a lake this past week vacationing with my family. My grandparents had a cottage there and we spent many idyllic weeks during the endless summers of childhood. They had to sell it when I was in college, and I never quite recovered from its loss, even though as an adult I now fully understand the care-taking that went into my “easy” childhood memories. But several years ago, my sister found an excellent substitute, a rental cottage not far from the one we had. So now we get a double pleasure – reliving our childhood memories unsullied by the burdens of cottage ownership, and we get to stalk the old place under the acceptable guise of taking a leisurely boat ride. Ha! Suckers. So far I can report that the place looks moderately unkempt, which only fuels our misbegotten fantasies to buy it back.

One of our many memories of the camp were of the dragonflies and what my grandmother called sewing needles – those smaller dragonfly-like insects, but way prettier– in blues, yellows, reds, and greens. My sister and I were swimming at the rental place and saw a number of them and of course we started reminiscing about them. They used to land on my grandmother’s bathing cap the one time per year we could beg and cajole her into going swimming. Her cap had the rubber flower petals on it too, which we were convinced lured the insects to her. When she finally did get in the water, we were so excited, you’d think we’d gotten permission to eat ice cream for all three meals. The only thing more magical was seeing the dragonflies and sewing needles land on her head. Thinking about that, I lifted my fingers out of the water and said I wished they would land on me.

And one did. A beauty with black thick and electric blue thin stripes alternating down its body. My sister and I marveled and looked it over closely, taking advantage of the small miracle on my finger. Finally I had to move and it flew away. We sighed, but felt we had appreciated the moment. A short time later I was sitting on a float on the water and another one landed on me. Then a frisky pair – the male using grippers on the end of his tail to hold on to the top of the female’s abdomen. Then another frisky pair landed in a similar embrace. Then the single one started to interrupt the pairs. I had a full-scale dragonfly orgy riot unfolding on me. Suddenly that “magical” moment with nature was becoming annoying. But it didn’t end there. A single one landed on me, curved its tail,  and began to insert its gripper into my bathing suit at steady intervals. My sister and I looked at each other mystified. Was it trying to lay eggs? We couldn’t see that it was leaving anything behind, but wouldn’t the eggs be super small? We started to joke about the gestation of sewing needle eggs and that I’d be giving birth to babies when I got home from vacation. We watched for a while, fascinated once again. Then we wondered if it were an adolescent, practicing his gripping moves for the ladies. My sister swam up close, but the sewing needle just kept going about its business. She was even able to touch it and it just stayed focused on giving my bathing suit the once over. Then, fickle, impatient humans that we are, annoyance set in again. Nature is all wonder and miracle until you can’t get rid of it. My sister splashed and I tried to dunk it to no avail. I know women hit their sexual peak in their 50s and I will be hitting that magic mark in a few days, but this was ridiculous. Finally the sewing needle flew off, whether due to our efforts or its job was done remains unclear.

Back on shore, my sister looked them up, and they are officially called damselflies. When they are full on mating they bend their tails and link to each other to form a heart, so the ones landing on me were apparently just making out. They seem to have a complicated mating ritual, not unlike a certain species I know. We weren’t able to figure out what the one poking me was doing. It’s probably best that we don’t know. At least it made me realize to treat my sexual magnetism with caution and respect – if I make the damselflies crazy, what hope do poor humans have in resisting me? That is of course unless I become stuck at home with a brood (flock? herd?) of damselflies. I’ll keep you posted.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

Still Crying over ET after All These Years

This past Friday was my first Free Friday Flicks of the season. It’s a summer ritual for me involving outdoor movies at the Hatch Shell in Boston and a certain Effin’ Pink Blanket, which you can read about here, (Not Just any Pink Blanket). The movie was ET, which I first saw in a theatre on one of those pre-prom dates. I don’t know if kids do that any more, but that’s when you decide to go with someone to the prom and to show you aren’t just using each other for a prom date, you go out once before hand. Who said chivalry is dead? He was a senior and part of my extended group of friends who were mostly senior guys, and we were juniors girls who matched ourselves up with them. I got Charles, who was the smartest, nerdiest, pocket protector carrying guy in the group. I got a kick out of his super nerdiness and was good friends with his sister, so when he asked me to the prom and then to go see ET, I was happy to go. Also, it was the first and only date (outside of prom) I had in high school, so I thank Charles for that.

So we were watching the movie, and since I’m a natural crier anyway, when the movie gets to the part where ET is dying and dies (sorry for the spoiler…ha!), I’m sobbing away, feeling slightly foolish, but there is nothing I can do about my emotions. And Charles leans over and whispers. “He’s not really dead,” and sure enough his heart glows red, and the music swells, the brother hits his head on the ceiling jumping for joy, and away we go racing to send ET home. Charles neglected to tell me he’d seen the movie before. Which is all well and good, but I turned to look at the Charles through my bleary teary eyes, my nose snuffling, and felt like smacking him. “You didn’t think to tell me that before I started crying?” His grin made me even madder. Like he was enjoying it. And it’s not like he even tried to use that as an excuse to make me snuggle closer and get his hand up my shirt. It started to occur to me that the reason he didn’t have any dates was not because he was a super nerd, but because he might be a tad sadistic.

We did go to the prom and went out the day after with a  group of friends to hang out at a park, but the damage was done. Every time I looked at him, all I could think about was how he let me sob uncontrollably when he knew damn well ET was fine.

So fast forward 30-plus years later, and as I was gathering the Free Friday Flicks group, people’s reactions to ET were fascinating. A number of people hadn’t seen the movie in 30 years, which I think must have taken some effort–how could you not have stumbled on it on TV, or during cable’s “Steven Spielberg week” or “Kids and Aliens” movie week, or some such. Other friends had no interest at all (what kind of philistine doesn’t like kids and alien movies?) Some didn’t want to come because they don’t like to cry in public. To which I answered, I’ll be bawling my head off, so sit next to me and you’ll look normal.

And that’s the thing. ET dying and Eliot’s heartbreaking shouts of despair still make me cry. Not a little, pretty much as hard as I cried that first time. Even though now I know he’s going to be OK. Which makes me think, maybe I shouldn’t have been so hard on Charles after all. Even if he had told me, it wouldn’t have stopped me from crying. But would it may have kept me from being devastated. Or would it? I was 17 at the time. Even now, 30 years later people have all kinds of opinions about ET and Elliot. So who’s to know? 30 years later I’m sitting among my friends and with my son, out under the stars, laughing, talking and still being moved by an alien and his kid friend. I’m not phoning it in, I’m phoning home.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

Jilted by My Hairdresser—Twice

Finding the right hairdresser is harder than finding a mate. I’ve had really good ones for years before they broke up with me—you never see it coming. Terry and I have been going strong now for years, and I trust him completely, but every once in a while I start to doubt. Will he stay with me to the end? It’s not Terry; he’s done nothing wrong, it’s me. I thought I’d found The One before, but I’d been wrong. My coworker’s recent search for a new hairdresser brought back the painful memories of when I got dumped by my hairdressers—twice.

You see, my first was Eileen. After six happy years, without any warning, she ran off to become an electrician. I just couldn’t get over it.  I kept asking myself, what did I do wrong? She stayed with me from my 80’s spiky, bleach blond punk cut to the permed, just-got-out-of-bed look of the 90’s. Right before she left, I got my hair highlighted. She’d been urging me for a couple of years to get it done, and finally, to please her, I gave in. Two months later she was gone.

After she left, I was fixed up with another hairdresser at Eileen’s salon.  She was okay, but we were too different. I liked alternative music, she liked pop. She spent her weekends at the clubs, and I spend my extra time writing.  Eileen and I talked about our relationships and the irony of saving for a house in the Boston area that we’d never be able to afford anyway. Sometimes we didn’t talk at all. We didn’t have to.

“Next time, we’ll redo those highlights,” said the New Hairdresser. There isn’t going to be a next time, I thought. It’s shameful I know, but I don’t remember her name.  I don’t remember any of their names, those who come after Eileen.  I made my way from Newbury Street to Supercuts and every place in between, shamelessly talking about her to them all. All the while I made secret comparisons: Other salons tried to change me and sell me shampoos that my hair “needed”; Eileen always told me how to get the most out of what I was already using. Inevitably, each salon came up short, and I continued my pattern of one-appointment stands.

I wondered about the last time I saw her, as she painstakingly combed out thin rows of my hair and lovingly wrapped them up in foil and hand-mixed highlight. Was she dreaming about tripped circuits and burned-out fuses? If she was, she never let on. Instead she showed me how to scrunch my curls to help my perm last, and she chipped into my fine hair to give it the lift her creative cuts needed.

The worst part was trying to find a hairdresser who could copy the “S” she cut for me. I loved it because it was her trademark, but after she left, it became a cruel joke. I parted my hair on the side and she cut out a section of hair that lifted up, curved down and then out, like an “S”.  No one was able to copy that “S”. Perhaps she got tired of me taking her for granted. I never paid attention to exactly how she cut that “S”. What was the angle? How short should it be? How much hair should be cut? I never paid attention because I thought she’d always be there.

I scheduled another appointment at yet another salon, this time for a highlight. I was nervous because my friend who recommended this place said the hairdresser asked lots of questions about how light you wanted to go.  Eileen told me she would only highlight three or four shades lighter than my normal shade, otherwise it wouldn’t look natural. We argued. I wanted to go as light as possible, my desire to be a blonde blotting out my common sense.  She wouldn’t give in, but she gave me lighter highlights in the front where they would naturally occur. She mixed the colors herself, and of course she was right. How would I know what the right shade was?  The hairdresser was supposed to tell me.  Eileen told me.

My friends told me to settle down with a new hairdresser. It’s true that the sign of many different stylists had started to show on my hair—little pieces were longer than the others. The “S” turned into a flip. I knew I had to forget Eileen, but I couldn’t. I kept thinking she’d get tired of electricity and come back to me. I could feel it in my roots.

At the new salon, the hairdresser asked me what colors I wanted, but then made sensible suggestions when I pointed to the platinum blond sample. She listened to the story of the hairdresser-turned-electrician with interest and sympathy. We talked some of the time and were quiet some of the time. She even had a few ideas about the now forlorn “S”. Her name was Betty, and I fell for her immediately. I was with her for a number of glorious years, and then she decided to sell her salon and get her MBA. I wanted to tell her that if she’d been running her own salon, she probably already knew more about business than the kids she was going to be studying next to. But who was I to stand in her way? Proud, ambitious Betty. Eileen had taught me the futility of hanging on, so I had to let her go.

Luckily, I found Terry shortly after, and didn’t have too many walks of haircutting shame. We’ve been together for more than 15 happy years, and he promised me long ago he had no interest in becoming an electrician or getting an MBA. A promise he’s held to this day. He good-naturedly accepts my decision to not color my gray, laughingly exclaiming at my “blond” hair every time I see him. He gave me a fabulous longer layered cut that I love more than a year later. Still, who knows what lurks in the heart of a hairdresser? Do you ever truly know the one who cuts your hair? Love and hair are fickle.

Photo credit: The Paper Blog