(…continued) So after my husband left, I was in shock for about a year. I lost weight, couldn’t sleep and felt grief-stricken and afraid. I managed to do some things, like sell our house, investigate new neighbourhoods and schools, move, take the kids to a rented cottage for summer vacation, volunteer a bit.
Generally I put one foot ahead of the other as needed.
But I was numb inside and thus pretty much useless except to doggedly, almost thoughtlessly, assemble the jigsaw puzzle pieces that made up each day, with no thought to tomorrow.
After a year had gone by though, I figured I should start dating. It was pretty gross and icky to contemplate, but I knew I had to. I was only 41. I wanted to have sex again.
I know, I know, you’re thinking: “Geez Delia. You don’t need to date to have sex. Just go all Cougar and pick up one-night stands at the bar.”
But that’s not me. I wanted dates, and a relationship, and even *gasp* marriage again.
Now, dating in your 20s can be grotesque enough. But in your 40’s, after half a lifetime of, well, living, has wreaked havoc with your body, brain, and disposition, the prospect of meeting strangers to start all over again is enough to make most mere mortals recoil in such horror so as to embrace a life of celibacy and solitude with vigour.
Not me. I wanted that sex.
Companionship too! Honest!
So I went to a party. I only knew one person there, an old friend from university.
I remember walking up to the front door of the party house, and taking a deep breath.
“Delia, you are an idiot,” I told myself. Then I opened the door.
The first person I saw was…Anthony. He was looking right at me, all tall, dark and handsome. Wearing a tuxedo, if you can believe that.
My heart turned over. But that was just in disappointment, because I recognized him as one of the two guys who lived in the house. The two gay guys.
“Er, hi,” he said with stunning wit. “Umm. Who are you?”
“Oh, you don’t know me, I answered, tossing my hair, acting all chicky-poo. “I was just walking down the street and heard party noise coming from your house, and decided to check it out.”
“Oh.” He forced a small laugh that was obviously for politeness’ sake.
And that was that. We proceeded to ignore each other for the next 3-1/2 years.
Of course, it wasn’t that I really wanted to ignore him. I thought he was gorgeous. And as I got to know him bit by bit, at later parties and gatherings, I found that he was witty, and seemed responsible enough. But he was gay.
Actually, unknown to me, he wasn’t. I'd made that assumption, given the living arrangements. And the tuxedo.
No, in truth, Anthony simply wanted to ignore me. I was just a screwed-up single mother to him. I wasn’t tall enough, or young enough, or even stable enough, in his mind. So he evinced no interest in me, and I sensed that. Of course, I thought it was because he was in love with his room-mate. But really, he was looking for a fertile, Amazonian beauty with money and smarts. Who knew?
Not me, that’s for sure. So I had to date others.
It was gross. It was icky. But it wasn’t gross and icky like in my 20s.
Twenties dating is gross and icky as in “Oh my God, I don’t know what I’m doing, is this person the one for me, what will we talk about, why is he doing that, how did this happen, where am I going, blah, blah, blah?”
In my 40s, after not one, but TWO, count ‘em, TWO unsuccessful marriages, dating was more gross and icky as in “Oh my God, I have to do what I’m doing, is this person the one for my kids, why won’t he shut up, is he doing that again, I will not let this happen, what the f#$%*k!!!, blah, blah, blah?”
First there was the recluse. I met him at Anthony’s party. Brilliant, hard-working, home-owning, with money, father to his cats. Of course, standing next to Anthony, Mr. Recluse looked like tripe beside filet mignon.
There's a reason why tripe is considered awful (sorry, couldn't resist).
But in my mind Anthony was gay, so I sucked it up and decided to give Recluse a try, on the notion that he could possibly, just maybe, become a semi-decent replacement father for my kids.
Without going into too much detail, YUCK. He didn’t drive, but yelled at me when I didn’t drive him around in my car in a manner up to his standards.
We couldn’t eat out unless he had a discount coupon for the restaurant. Once, he forgot the coupon. When it came time to pay, he warned me he was going to argue with the waiter until we got the discount, coupon or no coupon. I told him I’d leave immediately if he did that.
He did and I left.
Next: weirdo professor who lived just up the street from me. I met him when I asked his 15-year-old daughter to baby-sit, and he proceeded to glom on to me like a pit-bull on a cat’s ass.
After three weeks, he was telling me he loved me, calling every hour to just “check up,” and overtly showing me off like a trophy to his co-workers (he had no friends). Predictably, this excessively affectionate phase lasted not too long. After a few months, he got all cold and stand-offish and eventually announced he didn’t have time for me any more.
Me: “You don’t have time for a girlfriend?”
Mr. Weirdo: “I need to buy a piano. That takes time.”
So I decided to try Lavalife, the pinnacle of cyber-dating-ickiness, but I had to: I still WANTED SEX. And companionship.
After screening out the worst of the losers, liars, and lesbians (not to lump the latter with the former, but I’m super-straight), I went on a date. The date turned into a relationship. I was happy. Briefly.
It was too good to be true, of course. Abruptly, in the middle of our summer vacation, the cad dumped me, with not a speck of warning.
Cad: “I like you but I’m just not falling in love with you.”
Me: “So all those times you said you loved me were just random lies?”
Cad: “Whoa! Look at the time! Gotta go!”
I was back to square one. Single, a bit-grief-stricken, a tad aimless. I retreated to my lair in the muggy summer weather of Kookytown, licking my wounds, contemplating all the crap that kept happening to me.
One day, dripping with self-pity in the humidity, I called Anthony to suggest an afternoon at the beach.
By now, after knowing Anthony all these years, I realized he wasn’t gay. I’d even pretty much figured out that he ignored me because I wasn’t his type. I wasn’t tall enough, or young enough, or stable enough (in his mind).
But Anthony too had just ended a relationship and I figured we could use a beach-day to chum around.
I was confused, though, because Anthony had been dating a female university professor, who was tall, and brilliant, and fertile; in other words, his dream gal. But he’d ended it.
We had a lovely time at the beach, and the next week, I invited Anthony to my rented cottage for the day. We had a brilliant time, all of us, because of course, my kids were there.
Back in the city, Anthony and I began roller-blading together, proceeding to have a divine time.
Summer was fading into fall when we decided to tour the art gallery, and with stunned realization, I suddenly understood that Anthony and I were not just two friends spending an idle afternoon together. No. Anthony and I were on a date.
This was later confirmed by some necking and groping. I was ecstatic! SEX was imminent! Maybe even…love?
But how could this be? What about Anthony’s ideal woman? I was clearly the shortest female he’d ever dated. And the oldest: someone in fact who’d already proven her fertility and felt no need to go there again.
But as it turned out, those things weren’t so important after all. I was brilliant and stable (as it turned out) and came complete with some darn nice kids. I asked Anthony what he'd been looking for in a woman, all these years.
"Oh," he answered casually. "I just wanted someone who'd be nice to me."
We got married last year, and it’s been nice and kooky ever since.