Monday, October 18, 2010

Welcome to Cougar Land

Where is the last place you expect to meet your next date? Dry cleaners? Drive-thru? Funeral home? Did anyone else mention funeral home? Little did I know that I would meet the next man I would date at the funeral of my deceased boyfriend. I hadn’t slept for days and had been living on a steady diet of Chai Tea Lattes and chocolate when I bumped into him.

Of course, I didn’t noticed the tall man in the dark suit immediately because I was devastated. Between quietly weeping, I managed to give the eulogy. No small feat. Then it was the thank you for coming line. The man was beside me again offering light chatter to keep my mind off the dark day. I thought he was the funeral director. He mentioned he had something the deceased wanted me to have and that he would be happy to mail it to me. I gave him my card before going to the bereavement dinner.

At the dinner, I asked around if anyone knew the man. Was he a cousin? No, people seemed generally perplexed because he only talked to me. After a while, I did hear from Mr. Mysterious who happened to be a student of my deceased boyfriend, a culinary school chef. He sent me articles about my sweetie, pictures from the school newspaper, jokes and cards. It was all very sweet and went on for months. It was a comfort to get a cheerful email from him two or three times a week.

I mentioned this to my co-workers and they teased me about Mr. Mysterious having a crush on me. On me, you’re kidding, he’s a kid, a college student, an older college student, but still good twelve or so years younger than me, I explained. Their response was to roll their eyes and smile knowingly. When my new friend asked me out for drinks, I became flustered causing him to back off and inform me it wasn’t a date. I deferred anyhow and was almost strung up by my co-workers for my actions.

“This as close as I’ll ever get to cougar land,” Mimi whined, “being happily married and all.”

“Don’t’ be selfish, do it for your friends, then report,” Charmaine added to Mimi’s original argument.

I tried to explain that I’d already rejected him that he wouldn’t ask again. You ask him another friend advised. You know he’s going to say yes. So I did, I asked him to lunch as a thank you for all the kind things he did for me as I grieved.

The restaurant was one of those chain places I can’t quite remember because I was so shocked at the sight of my pen pal. At the funeral, he was so somber, but as a nod to summer, he was sporting a Hawaiian shirt, a tan, and a big smile. My goodness, he was gorgeous, tall and young. Our young waitress flirted with him outrageously although he did not respond. Instead he concentrated solely on me, even reaching across the table to grab my hand. I did my best not to do the Linda Blair head swivel to see who was watching. Peppy waitress took a step back and her face fell. Good.

Perhaps, it was a date afterall. We spent the rest of the day together, walking in the park, shopping, going to see a chick flick, then another restaurant. It almost seemed like a movie. Instead of looking up into my date’s eyes I tried to see who was watching since I felt so self conscious. We were in a college town, wouldn’t a co-ed object to me dipping into her pool of prospects. There seemed to be no outrage or surprise besides the waitress.

We actually dated for another three months. It was a fun relationship full of outdoor adventures like kayaking and rock climbing. Not something I can interest most men my age in doing. It ended for a number of reasons. He asked me to marry him which indicated he was much more serious than I was. This was shortly after I had the epiphany on the patio deck of the Red Lobster.

Our clasped hands were on the white tablecloth and I couldn’t help noticing the differences. His hand was pale and smooth, while my hand was dark, scarred and lined—not the hands of a young woman. Why did I spend so much money on face cream and almost nothing on hand cream? Probably because I never knew this moment was coming.

We parted amicably, but every now and then he lets me know he’s still available. I figure the calls coincide with the end of relationships.:) I know now it was a rebound relationship which happens. Have I dated anyone younger again? Once, but I decided he was too much of a wild card. Which brings me once again to how do you meet men?

You tell me about your unusual meeting and next time I reveal some dirty secrets about online dating. I know a bunch!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Who Dates After Forty-eight?

Who dates after forty-eight? You'd be surprised. In my state there are more single people at the age forty-eight than married. I know this because of the latest census. I'm not surprised, too much. At least half the women I meet are divorced . Sometimes it is more than half. So you figured there has to be at least that many divorced men out there, along with the widowed and never married men. Plenty of folks to meet if I was so inclined and I am.

Back when I was in my twenties and married, Doritos ran a commericial with teens talking about people over thirty how dull their lives must be. The backdrop to their discussion was hot thirty somethings at a party laughing, flirting and gobbling Doritos. I found the commercial amusing because I had my doubts about older folks being all that interesting, but now I am the older folk.

It's funny how everything changes when it is you. Occassionally, I find myself surprised that I am not married. When you spend the major part of your adult life being married some habits are pretty set. I need to quit using expressions like my husband and I, especially on dates. Tends to startle my date some.

I know there are other women out there who are going through the same thing I am.I thought it would be beneficial to share. Letting all the other forty-plus women out there know that yes other women are experiencing the same weird date syndrome; however, I am betting my dates are weirder than yours.

It wasn't my plan to be single, but it grew out the fact that the children were leaving home and I would be left with nothing, but a husband who seldom talked to me. When I tried to talk to him, he turned up the television. The thought of another twenty-plus years of this type of life had me considering divorce. Didn't bother my ex too much because in his words, he would be steak on the dating market. He felt he was so much better than any other man out there.

After the divorce, I wasn't out there dating madly, far from it.My new financial situation had me working two jobs to get by. The only man I saw on a regular basis was the butcher at my grocery. He was very friendly...and married.Like so many women, I joined an online dating site.

Oddly, I didn't get many dates from the site. Instead the men my age would spend hours literally interviewing me to see if they wanted to go out with me. After they initially contacted me, asked me various questions about religion, children, occupation and sexuality they decided we didn't suit. I had long phone conversations with a couple of them, even set up first meetings that they cancelled out on usually after I had already dressed. What was it? Before I married and had kids, I had no trouble finding dates. Was it how I looked? As a middle-aged catholic school teacher, I tended to favor sweater sets, pants and flats. Did I need to change?

My second job was in an upscale women's clothing shop. Most of the other women were younger than me and took me on as a project. Their goal was to make me into a hottie, the older version. I resisted the mini-skirt, the leather pants and the sky-high stilettos. My pistol-packing manager convinced me I was wearing clothes one size too large for me. I tend to listen to an armed woman who also has a tendency to be a bit volatile.

The outside transformation took weeks as I took baby steps out of my comfort zone. The pants got tighter and I started wearing skirts with heels. Because we had such a strict dress policy at our store, my nails and toenails had to be polished. For so long, toes were something I hid with a pair of socks. Dressing takes so much longer when you are creating an image.:)

When out, I would look for the women who were dressed well, I tend to think of it as on the prowl dressing. Might be a normal suit, but the color was more provacative or the fit was tighter. Nine out of ten times I could recognize the divorced woman in the grocery line. Ever wonder why the divorced men don't step up their game? The men you see all pulled together are looking, but not for women. I tried to step it up more with makeup.

I piled on the mascara since my eyes are my best feature. It was hard for me to take makeup too seriously because I never wore it much. It would seem so fake--not me. I've gotten over that by now, but this was then. Ironically, the person who helped me the most was my teenage daughter. The same person who was sure I ruined her life because the divorce took place in her senior year.

Ladies, and gentlemen if there are any, I would be interested in hearing about your transformation. Next time, I will tell you about my first date with a much younger man.