When I was growing up, whenever there was an obligatory occasion like a wedding or a bar mitzvah, we'd all pile into the car and my father, God rest his soul, would say, "Let's get this good time over with." I've thought of that before each of the gazillion dates I've been on since I divorced five years ago (and I use the word "dates" very loosely). It's exactly the way I feel about meeting and greeting my potential Prince Charmings.
Anyone who's been single for a while, particularly if you're in your 50s, knows how tedious online dating can be, but just when I thought I was finally getting the hang of it, Cupid threw me a curve ball.
The only thing you really need to know about me and my so-called dating life is that I've learned one very important lesson over the years and that is simply not to judge. It wasn't easy, but after meeting all kinds of men, I truly feel you have to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you form an opinion about them, and even then, what does anyone really know about what makes someone else happy? We all make choices that are painful and confusing and, at times, even immature because it takes so damn long to figure out who we are and what we need. And that's if we're fortunate enough to ever get there at all.
So after meeting countless schmucks in what I now consider my early phase of dating (which followed 25 years of married life), I decided that I was going to get out of my comfort zone and go out with some different types of guys. There were a bunch of white, upscale, Jewish recycled exes I could have chosen from in my neighborhood, but I never liked those guys back when they were married to my friends.
One of my first encounters was with a man whom, in his online profile, next to the question "Do you drink?" answered, "Never." Wow, I thought, a health nut! Only later did I learn that he was in AA. My knee-jerk reaction was to never see him again, but with my newly opened mind, I continued to date Rick for a year and a half. I learned more from him than I had ever expected. He taught me how to say I'm sorry, and encouraged me to mend an estranged relationship with my son. And for this, I am deeply grateful to him in ways he'll never understand.
There's an expression that goes something like, "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime." He was my reason and his impact was profound.
Then there was Michael, a widower, drummer and father of two. He hit me like a ton of bricks. I was totally smitten! I felt like an awestruck teenage groupie. "He picked me! "He picked me!" I giddily thought.
Turns out he had also lost a child, not just a wife. Although he went to therapy, his walls were up so high, I knew I was in way over my head. These issues were virtually insurmountable. He was also a workaholic and I just never felt the love. When I asked why he had joined a dating site in the first place, his only answer was, "Do you think you're the first girl to ask me that question?" I still suffer that one, although it was a year ago and lasted all of three months. He was my season.
There was also sushi with Fred ("No, I won't make out with you because you paid for a hand roll"), a phone conversation with Glen (he didn't go out with women who take antidepressants, but do I smoke pot?), Joe (he called me "honey," "sweetie," "darling" and we hadn't yet met) and the unforgettable Griff ("Let's get a tea at Starbucks and screw in my truck").
And yet I pressed on. I sent the first message to Dave ("You are sooo my type!"). He said he believes in full disclosure, so I said, "Try me!" Turns out that he's bisexual. In the old days, I would've thought, RED FLAG, RED FLAG, RED FLAG, but now I didn't see it that way. Dave was honest and clear about his intentions. In fact, we have very similar attitudes about love, sex and happiness. Is Dave my lifetime? I don't know, but I'm willing to see where this ride takes me. And by the way, he's an exceptional lover.