Peter, Paul and Mary's old hit "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" has been playing in my head for months now, only with new lyrics: Where have all the good men gone?
I was in my early 50s when my divorce became final and was sure I'd eventually meet someone else. Baby boomers are the largest generation in history and gray divorce is rampant. Statistically speaking, there should be plenty of fish.
My abject failure to find a good man isn't for lack of trying or being too picky. Sure, I have a few non-negotiable things I'm looking for: a kind, confident man with integrity, straight, financially self-sufficient and single. No alcoholics or drug addicts.
I tried online dating early on and nearly shuttered my account when I saw my ex-husband's photo. Even eerier, on paper, we were highly compatible. I also quickly discovered that more than a few men lied, and most my age wanted someone decidedly younger.
It turned out that I wasn't a good match for numerous reasons. I'm not a good country woman. Nevada isn't within 50 miles of Savannah. Bare chests and lewd sweet-nothings whispered in my virtual ear turn my stomach. I already have enough best friends. And I won't teach you the difference between "there" and "their," if you don't already know.
"You should lie about your age," a friend suggested. "Everybody does it." Well, lying's just not my style; my ex-husband's cheating hurt our marriage, so let's just say that I'm partial to the truth.
IRL, I've met men at various social events, but many behave like teenagers, some without the gumption to even ask me out. Others think pasta at their place or wine at mine constitutes putting their best foot forward on a first date.
And what's with all the texting? It's called a telephone. We both grew up with one.
I've got nothing against men older than I am. Plenty of them take care of themselves, although chances are that much older guys will be infirm long before I will. Still, I'm relatively open-minded, so I allowed a friend to set me up on a blind date with an older gentleman.
He was a well-heeled yachtsman with a nice car, so why not. At the end of the night, however, I practically had to fight him off. The next day, he called to ask what time he should come by for the dinner he swore I'd promised to cook him!
A year later, I met another attractive mid-to-late 70-something at an art opening. We talked, we flirted, we exchanged cards. I asked a mutual friend about him. "You're much too old," he said. "He's got a 20-something girlfriend." And here I was, worried about not giving the dirty old man a chance!
I've tried finding a good guy at church, too. What better place to meet a male the good Lord may have already vetted. Only I generally find myself in progressive congregations with large gay populations. Most straight men are married, and the few singles that trickle in are snatched up quickly here in the South, usually by younger blondes. Others, making goo-goo eyes at me during the service, have turned out to have girlfriends. One guy kissed the top of my head and whispered in my ear, "We'll get together soon." A friend said she'd heard he cheated on his ex-wife. So much for churchmen.
I know it sounds like I'm ragging on men, but really, I love them. My dad and grandfathers were three of the best. Other great guys are married to some of my friends. I see sweet posts by stand-up husbands and fathers on Facebook. I googled a few of the honorable ones I passed up on in college and found photos of them still with their first wives. Sometimes I cry over my youthful foolishness in letting them go.
So far, the best of the limited bunch have been my dates with a few millennials who don't assume buying me dinner means automatic entitlement to something else. Still, I'd prefer someone my age with shared experiences and grown kids.
Recently, I decided to give online dating another try and said yes to a date with an older guy who I didn't find particularly attractive.
"Give him a chance," a friend said. And so I did.
He started by bad-mouthing his ex on the phone. He then trashed his female boss when we met for a drink and it went downhill from there. I fled in tears. Sometimes I'm too damned egalitarian for my own good.
"Try a dip in the lady pond," one of my daughters half-seriously said.
"I'm 100 percent heterosexual," I told her, after processing this idea. She had a point, though. I know tons of boomer women like me who have the whole package.
I know relationships are hard, but I still think the advantages—with the right person—outweigh living the rest of my life alone.
So, if you find out where all the good men have gone, please let me know.