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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

May I Offer You Some Dates?

All right, I've avoided it long enough. The taboo material. Oldster dating. Odd, because I have much to say on the subject, and I don't usually hold back when something is on my mind. Perhaps I've been too self-protective because I know that in telling the anecdotes I will be mortified from time to time. However, when I slipped in one short sentence on the topic a few posts back, esteemed follower JF responded that it seemed we had some experiences in common. Then I was taking a walk with another woman friend and said the "d(ating)" word. She rolled her eyes and shook her head. Another good and decent woman of a similar age with some less-than-wonderful experiences. So let's talk about this. Disclaimer: no part of this post or future ones on the subject is meant to generally bash males. It is more to express my amazement and confusion at some human behavior. And, yes, sometimes even my own.

I am on record as having little understanding of other human beings and even less about males than females. My father, my husband of 32 years and the love of my life were much too close for me to make objective observations about the species. I know today that those 3 are pretty sterling examples of the breed. I was sheltered and fortunate for the men I knew well. I did not date from 1971 until 2007. I was rusty. Nor had I ever been the prom queen, so I was no serial dater, even in my teens. On my best day of life, which was many decades ago, I was likely a cutie and not a beauty. I was reasonably intelligent, dressed all right and was probably somewhat interesting. I could dance and I had all the newest records. I did OK. When Ex and I set up housekeeping together, I looked forward to a happy future, and was just a little relieved to be done with the dating thing.

To my surprise, in my maturity, I found myself uncoupled and I felt like a square peg. No, I didn't need anyone to help feed, clothe or house me. I simply wasn't sure what to do without a man hanging from me like a charm bracelet. I was in a female-dominated work situation and developed my plan after much consultation with women of all ages. After deciding all the safety measures I would exercise at all times, I went online. There were lots of men out there! All the websites said so. I made firm rules about always having my own car at hand, cash, credit cards and my cell phone. I would go on no date without telling someone where I was going and with whom. Bring someone back to the apartment? Not in the immediate future. Always park close to the doors under a light standard and don't be shy about telling someone, "I don't think this is going to work for me." Be both honest and truthful. Don't waste anyone's time. Talk to people just like I talked with business associates - this would just be a "getting to know you".  And do not cruise for a man on a free website. If both he and I had not paid a fee, I should not even consider him.  "OK, gotcha, roger and check. Thanks, ladies."

I know many more things now than I did then, about myself and others. I needed to spend some time alone, getting to know myself as I was "right now". Why was I looking for a date? What did I want or expect and what would I not tolerate? Did I have anything whatsoever to offer a companion, and what were the things that interested me?  What did I like to do and what would I like to learn about from someone else? Who knew? I didn't ask myself any of those things. I just blindly went looking for a date. It took no time to attract some e-mail attention. I am a quick learner. Men who seemed illiterate wouldn't be a match for me. Those who seemed to only check their e-mail once a week weren't operating at the same speed as I. Telling me in the first e-mail they were hopeful for a job and a car soon (hey, this is Las Vegas!) - delete. If "I make $150,000 a year!" was his hello, I thought, "I bet you don't, actually." Hey! I was a pretty quick study. This wasn't so difficult.

I was fortunate the first time I went out. He was a very kind, age appropriate, long-time recovering alcoholic. I'd ridden on the back of his fine motorcycle to the Fremont Street Experience. This was a completely different mode of transportation for me, and kind of fun, though I've never again sought it out ~ he'd thoughtfully provided both helmet and goggles. We stepped first into Hogs & Heifers Saloon where I was immediately knocked to the floor by a very large woman dancing like there was no tomorrow. Picking myself up and dusting myself off, I had to say, "I'm not really so comfortable in bars." My friend was OK with that. Walking outside, we came upon a Soul Food Festival and Street Fair. I stretched out of my comfort zone ~ the fried catfish was good. My friend insisted that I be photographed (twice) with the Chippendale's dancers on the street, which is also not at all what I do. But I did, with fairly good grace. I did not like this experience. I had to ask hotties how to pose. They told me. Hey - they pose with young and old women all day every day in little clothing and for a price. I wasn't anything new, special or different. They shave their backs. Apparently about once a week, judging by the prickly new growth. They autographed my picture frame. "Vegas, baby!" wrote Matt. In case I forgot where I lived, I suppose. He is the one with the offensive belt buckle and the Vegas tan. "Love Ricky," wrote the one whose zipper is down about an inch in the photo. He didn't have to spell as many words as Matt. I'd be the one who looks like a carousel horse mounted on the head of that silhouetted Chippendale's dancer. How did they get that so perfectly?  We rode on the motorcycle to the other side of the valley to hear live music. And finally, freezing on that bike at an hour I had forgotten existed, he yelled, "Want to come to my place?" I said no. "Can I come to yours?" I said no.

Returning to work on Monday morning, I was greeted by expectant faces and exhortations to "tell". I did so. Now the faces wore shocked looks. "How many of the rules did you break in one short evening? He could have boiled you into soup and eaten you!" I admitted to a few infractions of my own rules and adopted a hangdog look. I think the women felt I was behaving properly remorseful. I was. For not the reasons they imagined. You see, I was studying what I felt I should "do" with this man I now knew. He was pleasant and bright and he was interested in me, trying to present me with things to do that he thought I might enjoy. He'd called all weekend after our Friday night outing. I dodged the calls. For not only did I not know what to do with him, I wasn't sure I even wanted or needed anything to do with him. Although it took some thinking time, I was on the way to learning that I do not need or want a date or, necessarily, a man only for the purpose of filling time. For that, there are friends of longstanding and books and writing and camping and hiking and meditation and movies and music and walking and pets and shopping and any number of things. If I wanted a date for the specific purpose of developing a relationship with a man, then that was different. I didn't learn that until I was 55 years old and it would still take me awhile to land there firmly.

I've traveled a little. I've often tried to familiarize myself with some rudimentary phrases for communication in the native tongue so I'd feel more comfortable in a new environment. With the vast experience of one date tucked under my belt, I now felt qualified to analyze what should and should not happen for the dating future. I needed to speak the language more fluently, for sure. Absent a Berlitz course or Rosetta Stone, I decided I could use my own talents of observation and online research to develop dating eloquence and comprehension. Once again, I was a pretty quick study. It took me little time to understand that "This is not a recent picture" could mean the background music was K.C. and the Sunshine Band. "A few extra pounds" might mean 50-75 extra. I filed these away for future reference. The best early lesson, however, was the one that taught me not to lower my personal standards in the interest of "just going out". Oh, I knew better than to test this. I did it anyway, for I have a history of pushing the boundaries. "Considerate smoker," he wrote. "Don't do this, Les," thought I. I did it. The wind blew like hell and we were meeting at a coffee house. I thought maybe he'd forgo smoking for the short time it takes to meet, greet and down a cuppa Joe. But no. No. And that evening I learned that "considerate smoker" could be construed as a man who puffed like a locomotive, tucking his date against the stucco side of a building while the wind shrieked by at a sustained 25 mph. Almost as useful a discovery as "Donde esta el bano?"


  1. The details you noticed in the picture were NOT the ones I immediately noticed (that all the gray heads of the enormous logo were all exactly in your crotches). They were hilarious! Oh Matt, with your undone zipper.
    At least the way you tell the stories of your experiences sound like although perhaps not entirely enjoyable, they were entertaining in their own way, which is something.

  2. @ CramCake ~ {Cringing, maybe even simpering} Well, you see, I've had a long time to study that picture and pick out ALL of it's mortifying aspects. That's actually Ricky with the descending zipper. Matt's the one with the belt buckle with the posed female. When I see those emblems on the trucks of "real men", I want to bash in their windshields, but I refrain.

    You hit on something ~ this was not time poorly spent because I learned things about myself and others. I like learning things and connecting with others more than any other sort of interaction, so . . . like I said, it is not gratuitous male bashing. It is a study of human beings.

    I did not want to wear my Mardi Gras beads. It was not Mardi Gras time and those were some cheesy beads. Matt got to hold his in his hand. Do you suppose it feels odd to wear collar and cuffs with no shirt attached?

  3. Ha ha, OK, Ricky.
    Again, I didn't notice the beads in Matt's hand.
    Yes, I bet it feels weird to be topless with a collar. Or maybe it just feels like wearing bracelets and a necklace without a shirt. I don't get it though, doesn't work for me the way I imagine thigh highs and what-not work for men.

  4. @ CramCake ~ Yes, the details probably only really jump out at the blushing me! You know the weirdest thing about all of it is the illusion, the false nature of it. People pay a LOT of money for these photos. Photos of (in my case) an old bag with a couple of young Turks and no one thinks these people would ever notice one another for any reason. I had to ask them how to pose and we did all this rehearsal and placement of ourselves on the marks (likely how they got the gray heads in our crotches) in order to appear as if we were sinnin' in Sin City. "Hey, boys, have you tried the new locals-only gym to keep those pecs in shape?"

  5. From a male perspective this fellow you dated was also using the standard #6 approach to dating from the Men's Handy Advice to Dating guide. This is also called the "Me Tarzan, You Jane" Come we ride two wheel noise machine, Ungawa!" This booK, ubiquitous in the land of the lonely male is also used for the next day conversation around the bar at the Hogs and Heifers. Where the proud man back from an evening of dating can say" Hot dang, Lemuel Did you see that, I almost HAD me some.

  6. @ Tag ~ Oh, I must refrain from drinking liquids at the computer because some of you make me spew when I start to howl. If only, if ONLY, I'd had you to consult at the time! For you see, now that I understand (thanks to you) about Tarzan, Jane and "Ungawa" as it relates to my driving "the machine", I can kind of superimpose it over the dating thing, too. You know the Hogs & Heifers patrons who weren't dancing DID seem to be perusing books. In all seriousness, the man I mention was truly very nice and seemed interested in offering me a variety of entertainments to choose from - eat, drink, dance, ride two wheel noise machine, have embarrassing photo taken. He even tried to stake me to a poker hand and buy me a Harley T-shirt. I demurred. I'm going to be honest. I never considered he might value some bragging rights the next day. If he lied about me, I hope he made it a really good story.

  7. Well, the guy you were dating didn't seem jealous of the two Chippendale dancers. That's something.

  8. @ Kirk ~ Yes, the photos were actually my date's idea which I resisted for awhile, trying to blow off a little physical arm pulling. It was just the next attraction as we walked along Fremont Street. Of course, perhaps he felt pretty assured neither Matt nor Ricky would invite me home, and therefore he (date) was not threatened. As in "this is a safe bet." :~{

  9. I think I need to make sure my husband is in good health or something. This sounds like wayyyy too much work...although it is good fodder for the story mill.

  10. @ Jenny ~ KEEP Steve! Really. Yes, it does make for stories. And it takes from one's store of . . what? Dignity? Serenity? Sense of all that's "right/calm"? Ugh! To feel "not part of life" and then go seeking in this way. Ugh!