I still think holding out for the Fifth Date isn’t the worst idea. I’m a wise 29 now, and since I was 13 I’ve found Bruce Willis (oldER and bald) to be quite sexy. After years of my begging, my tormented love turned boyfriend turned husband finally shaved his head. Now that’s hot.
I’m recently divorced after 16 years of what was probably pretty typical marriage. Except for those last four years when he moved out of our marital bed because he suddenly needed to watch TV before going to sleep. Oh, and then he quit wearing his wedding ring because of eczema. And then there was that last year when he just stopped coming home because of the long days and late nights trying to save his business.
I mention this not because I can’t bitch enough about the ex – I truly believe he did the best he could for a guy that didn’t want to be part of a family. I mention it because about two months after he finally left, I went on a date. I’m not one of those women who swore off men. On the contrary, I’m one of those women who was furious because her ex was standing in the way. If you don’t want me, move on so I can find someone who does! So first date – and sue me – I start thinking about sex.
How is this going to work? I mean I know basic physiology. I have three children. But I had this whole deer in the headlights thing about “Oh my God, what if single people today are doing things differently??” Date Two goes by and Date Three is approaching. My young single girlfriends tell me this is the critical date. Date Three is usually the sex date. Since when? My very good friend Erin bucks the trend. She tells me to resist. Wait at least a month because the honeymoon period will likey be waning and perhaps I’ll see him for what he is: 54 and balding. Erin, at 26, can’t imagine there is anything sexy about 54 and balding and wants me to reconsider the whole thing.
Well, I’m happy to say I held out til Date Four. And you know it wasn’t a big deal. Four glasses of wine later I was feeling very confident. But you know, it was completely different from the sex and dating of 20 years ago. I wasn’t concerned about accidental pregnancy since I’m past ovulating. I wasn’t concerned about my reputation because who the hell cares. It actually felt odd, laying there in the dark, post coital whispering, NOT worrying about any of those things. I was liberated. And then he asked the question: “How long has it been for you?” Considering the short time since my husband had left, he was very surprised to hear that had been four years since I’d had sex. Something I actually had never told anyone. No one is proud of a sexless marriage.
Then he stole my heart by saying, “Yeah, about the same for me. I just don’t understand these kids today who can’t get past the third date.”
I remember when I got divorced, I did not swear off men. I swore off that particular man. Seriously, it took about 48 hours from the time he told me he was leaving for me to decide on a dating website and get on with it.
I had my first date a month later. It completely freaked me out. I showed up early, then he called to say he’d be late. I was sweating in spite of layers of Sure Fresh Scent. I waited at the bar and confided in the bartender. She was completely supportive, “You know, the emergency exit door by the restrooms isn’t really locked. If you need to run, well, you have a way out. Don’t tell anyone I told you.” She got a big tip on that Diet Coke tab.
He showed up, taller than I thought, which is good, but also older, much older. The whole time we were at lunch all I could think of was that he was so old. And he dyed his hair. Badly. My God, we were the same age. Was he thinking I was old too? Am I old? Who goes out looking to date an old man? Not me.
The conversation was good, I think. I know we had a zillion things in common. Even our parents’ professions were the same. All of that should have left me starstruck about how the forces of the universe had brought us together, but instead all I could think about was seeing him naked. Visions of gray pubic hair filled my mind. Or what if he badly died the nether regions as well? It’s painful to think about even today.
He had a business meeting and excused himself thereby saving me from making a mad dash to the “restroom” and down the rabbit hole. We didn’t speak again. I was a little less anxious at my next date and so relieved that he was fit and hot and had beautiful, albeit thinning, salt and pepper hair. He was funny and confident. He was young no matter what his numbers were.
I did not immediately look for the exit. That would come almost two years later.
A couple of years ago, after my husband decided he was done with us, I confided to my friend Erin that I had no where to go with men. I was old (at the time 46), perimenopausal, careerless, with three children, one of them special needs, and a mountain of debt. I was out there on the open market with nothing. NOTHING.
Erin said no. “Oh no. Get on eHarmony right now. You won’t believe it. The men are out there and, really, men will want you.”
Not one to not take a good friend’s advice, especially when the outcome seemed so beneficial, I immediately joined eHarmony and spent the next four hours filling out their online questionnaire. After that workout, I felt that a) I couldn’t possibly know myself any better than at that moment and b) I’m going to meet someone who has been screened to within an inch of his life. How could he not be perfect after that virtual rectal exam? Seriously – if you haven’t been through it you should. I broke out in a sweat, I cried, I laughed, I took notes – and it was an online survey.
I pushed submit. I was in. I was committed. I got the message which stated that it could take several hours for results to come. It could take a few days. That didn’t stop me from checking every 15 minutes.
And nothing came. No one wanted me. I even checked the “search nationwide” box hoping to expand the possibilities! Cast the widest net! Nothing.
Then twelve hours later, the first guy came through! Erin was right, I am wanted!! I couldn’t click fast enough to see who Mr. Right was.
Mr. Right was a balding, with comb-over, red-haired guy wearing a muscle shirt standing next to his El Camino. He was diminuitive. A hair stylist from Denver. A subsequent photo showed him standing next to his “rose garden” which consisted of a single bush planted, inexplicably, in the middle of his yard. Oh God. This was my man. Shoot me.
He was my only man for the next 24 hours, then other candidates started to come through. And I was much relieved and my faith in the universe restored. For an entire day though, I thought that guy was it for me. I had sunk to that depth. It was painful. And I was going to have to let my friend Erin go. How could she have been so wrong? How could she have put me through that?
So like the Phoenix, I rose from the ashes of the El Camino Comb-Over. Maybe eHarmony does that on purpose: completely lowers your expectations then builds you back up.
Whatever, it worked for me. Ever since then, all men have looked pretty good. All other men.