Even I have to admit that it’s not going well. The road to finding my boomer soul mate seems lined with banana peels– an obstacle course full of pratfalls as hope collides with reality.
The true definition of madness—according to none other than Albert Einstein—“is repeating the same action, over and over, hoping for a different result.”
My M.O. about dating has always been irrational optimism. But there’s that feeling of despair that jolts you awake at 5 AM, when failure, loss, and lack of love gallop through your brain like a runaway horse.
And speaking for this one mature female, there’s the pain of involuntary chastity. That feeling of being a ripe peach hanging on the tree bursting with juice and flavor–afraid that no one will pick me in time, and that I’ll just end up splat on the ground, of interest to no one but wasps and the local squirrels.
“I don’t wanna be alone in this bed …
I don’t wanna listen to the yellin’ in my head
Or the cryin’ of my idiot heart.”
There are the geographically clueless guys who email me from Elk Grove, Long Beach, and Duluth, Minnesota.
There’s the tech wizard multi-zillionaire who came across as Mr. Wonderful—until he turned mean as a snake at the drop of a keystroke.
And the twenty-seven-old who wants me to come over to watch a movie and “cuddle”—never having met or even talked on the phone first. When I suggest that I usually do a coffee date before cuddling, he texts me that I’m “overthinking and over-analyzing the situation.” Such is the dire state of affairs of the heart that I seriously consider this for at least sixty seconds.
“Oooh, you’re an idiot
A lunatic a nitwit
And you make a fool outta me
Oh, you’re a sad sack
Subtle as a heart attack
Hey heart, when you gonna let me be?”
I have friends who have given up. They’re sick of men not even responding to their messages—and the otherwise unremarkable men who state in their profiles that they’re looking for women thirty years younger. Or one more affluent friend who is afraid of becoming “a nurse and a purse.” I myself have taken long vacations from the Quest for the Holy Grail–or LTR–(not the Monty Python version)–to recuperate and let the bruises heal from the many times I’ve tumbled off my steed.
In theory, on line dating is online shopping with an infinite choice of product —you just input all the parameters of your desired mate, and he shows up a few days later. Overnight, if you have Amazon Prime. Free returns if not completely satisfied, and you can try on as many as you want.
So why is it so difficult?
In rom-coms and so-called chick lit , prospective partners are thick on the ground just waiting for the Meet cute—the UPS man in sexy shorts; the Prince Charming with an only slightly receding hair line who awaits at the right swipe of a Tinder; the mysterious stranger who knocks over your latte at Starbucks and to compensate insists on dinner, dry cleaning, and true love.
Beginning with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (the mother of all rom-com and chck lit) there are always a Mr. Right and Mr. Wrong available for every heroine—a Mr. Darcy and Wickham–both devastatingly attractive.
Other than online, I only seem to meet single men at work. There’s the separated man who I can hear farting from two rows of cubicles away. The bachelor who walks around sniffling, bent over with a shawl on his shoulders. If life were a rom com, they would suddenly turn into heroes. The separated guy would get a divorce and colonoscopy, and graduate from boot camp a new man ready for romance. The bachelor would overcome his allergies, take up bodybuilding and veganism, and invest in V-neck sweaters to show off his rippling pectorals and throbbing heart.
Six or seven years ago I dated a nice Chinese-American mathematician with a dry sense of humor and catholic taste in music, the ability to look inscrutable, and a similar Red Diaper Baby background. We decided that we weren’t a match, but stayed friends. He was determined to remarry, whatever it took. After more than five solid years, he did.
He never went off line and never stopped dating, disappointment after disappointment, rejection after rejection. “Got to get back on the horse,” he told me every time over latkes at Max’s, after each disillusion and breakup. He chanted it as a mantra. “Got to get back on the horse.”
At 5 AM, I wonder if I have five years left in me to stay in the saddle.
This morning, the alarm jolted me awake from a dream of my partner putting his strong arms around me and moving in for a kiss. I woke up happy but have no idea who he is—I couldn’t see his face.
“Well, it doesn’t take a lot to get you started
and I don’t know how to turn you back off
I guess there ain’t no rest for the idiot-hearted
Until your heart finally stops,” sings Blanton.
I reach once more for my mouse and click. Got to get back on the horse, got to get back on the horse… .