It will be two weeks tomorrow since Jim died, my hands cradling his head, six months and twelve days from the day we met. As it happened, the end came so quickly that there was no one else there. People say sometimes you can feel the spirit leave the body, but I never did.
It was an unusual situation. We’d been dating about two months when he was diagnosed with lung cancer, and the prognosis was never good. He gave me “permission” to walk away, but I just kept hanging around until it was impossible to go. Now and again he would ask me, “Where did you come from?” But what could I say? I only lived fifteen minutes away.
So many questions. Who was in need? Who was sent? I know it was a comfort to him having me there in his last months, and I believe when he passed over to the other side, if there is an other side, he did so peacefully. In the week that followed, I spent a lot of time with his kind, wonderful family, went to the funeral and the cemetery and Shiva. Now there is a new normal. And still I find myself asking: Where have you gone?
My, how time flies. I got lazy and skipped a week of blogging. Then another, then another. People started to complain. Well, things got away from me, as things will do if you aren’t paying attention every minute of every damn day.
For example, I started dating this man and, despite the fact that I wasn’t at all sure he was my type, I’m still dating him, which is a little time-consuming and a lot weird. I keep thinking we need to discuss why this may not work, but he won’t stop talking long enough for me to tell him. If there were a talkers marathon, I’d sign him right up and start taking odds. By the end of the evening, I have abandoned all hope of gaining control of the conversation.
Okay, that wasn’t entirely truthful. He sort of isn’t my type except for being bald and funny. For some unnatural reason, a sense of humor as dry as the Gobi Desert appeals to me. That and the fact that I can’t offend him. Not that I try to offend him – I don’t try to offend anyone, but let’s face it, it happens. The man is nearly unoffendable. You gotta like that. Also, he’s a former smoker who cheats, and since I’m a former smoker who will cheat at the drop of a match, the dating continues, just two people being a bad influence on each other.
And speaking of imponderable guy stuff
In the news: a recent study suggests men in their mid-forties are afflicted with “hotness delusion syndrome.” Apparently there are about 15 percent more women than men in this age group now, and too many women chasing too few men can mean only one thing: a whole lot of guys thinking they’re hotter than they are. Or so the theory goes. It isn’t my demographic, of course, but I can see where it might have validity. We all know that for every woman who detests shopping for swimwear, there’s a guy walking the beach in a Speedo and black socks carrying fifty extra pounds and thinking he looks just fine.
So I’ve been at this online dating thing a month or two now, and it’s amazing what you can learn in such a short time. For example, I have learned that I am attracted to bald men with beards. I have never been particularly inclined toward either bald men or men with beards. But a bald man with a beard is apparently a different animal.
What I’ve learned about men is that they probably are as uncomplicated as they say they are. Women are always trying to figure men out, as if they harbor deep and inscrutable secrets from birth to the grave. “For the love of God,” we ask, “what’s he thinking now?” Unfortunately, what he’s thinking is probably what you think he’s thinking. Also, it’s highly unlikely he will stop thinking it. Move on, woman.
I’ve also learned that men have some odd notions about women. Many complain about women who only want to go out with them for a free meal. What is that about? I know literally hundreds of women, and I can’t think of one who’s that hungry. Even lobster loses its appeal if you have to look at a stranger and make small talk through the entire meal. So, personally, I think men are just off the wall on this one. Pass the clarified butter.
And then there are the people who have simply been doing this too long. You can tell because they don’t care what they say anymore, like this man: “Okay, it’s become clear to me that I’ve set the bar too high. Looking for a woman with a face, arms and legs. Arms and legs should preferably come in pairs and be of roughly the same size, i.e., arms should be same size as each other (same for legs), rather than arms being same size as legs. Graduation from grade school preferable, though not essential. You should not have worked as a bouncer at a biker bar.”
As for the whole online dating experience, the primary lesson seems to be: 1) you will receive messages from lots of very nice people you have no interest in whatsoever; and 2) the handful of people you do find interesting won’t be interested in you. No point in feeling bad. You don’t know these people, they don’t know you, and God knows what anyone is looking for. Sometimes you’re tempted to write some guy just to give him a clue. (“You are 65 years old – you might have better luck if you broaden your search beyond women under 45.”) But, of course, you do not.
And, yes, I’ve had only the one “date” so far. One per decade…seems about right.
So I kind of went on a date last weekend. Well, not really a date, more of a Hi, Stranger kind of thing, but given the time elapsed since my last Hi, Stranger thing, I thought it qualified as a date.
It all started when I came home one Saturday afternoon and found Daughter #1 on my computer checking her online dating service. One thing led to another and pretty soon she was signing me up to receive messages from complete strangers too. Now I’m hanging out in the online world, waiting to get proposals of all kinds, indecent or otherwise, although nothing indecent has been proposed, maybe because men my age have learned a thing or two about women my age. Or maybe they just aren’t in a hurry anymore.
And here’s what you’ll find if you search your average online dating site for men of a certain age living in Minnesota: a lot of pictures of guys holding fish. Big fish. Now, far be it from me to suggest that this might be a metaphor for something else, but what’s the deal? Do they think women find men with large tackle particularly attractive? Are they proving they can put food on the table? The only thing it makes me think is, boy, I’m glad I didn’t have to clean that big stinky fish.
Another thing you find is pictures of men with their machines – cars, motorcycles, boats (plenty of boaters in these parts). Sometimes the men aren’t even in the photo – it’s just a picture of a car, motorcycle or boat all by itself. I went so far as to add a clarification to my profile: “I am not a boater. If you’re looking for someone to be that special ‘first mate,’ best look elsewhere.”
So anyway, I had this Hi, Stranger experience last weekend, which was not unpleasant, but the most interesting part of the whole thing was the feedback from Daughters #1, #2 and #3, who apparently are under the impression that they have the right (nay, the obligation) to weigh in on something this rare and this enormous. I didn’t mind the phone calls clamoring for details, but I did get a little miffed by comments like, “Good for YOU, Mom!” Like I might just be the most pitiful excuse for a date in the seven-county metro area. Which I am not. I am a darn fun date. I can hold up my end of a conversation, you better believe it.
Anyway, Daughter #1 tells me this is how things work nowadays. So, okay, I can hang out with the online daters for a while. Winters around here are almost endless.