Dating. Mating. Waiting. The word leads to so many things for so many people. A girl, a woman, doesn’t know where to begin.
In the words of one of the world’s most inexperienced daters – a novice nun-to-be who bagged the very first man she met, even though he was technically engaged to another woman. A Baroness, no less.
Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with
When you date you begin with “please like me.”
That’s where it started, anyway, back in those years I like to pretend I didn’t have, the days when hygiene warbled from the most important thing in the world to the least and back again. The weeks, the years, I spent pining over boys who barely knew I was alive. Pining over one who did but never said a word. Sitting at a table with a guy, his knee pressed into mine and thinking about nothing but the warmth, glorious warmth, when I should have been paying attention to the man with the rules.
1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Or maybe that was just me. [Note to self: Riflery class at outdoor ed was probably not the best time to develop an unrequited crush, especially not on a guy who owned and operated a gas station before high school graduation.] The high school years were sparse.
In those days, my mom told me about her roommate Didi – a woman who didn’t date until college. In later years, she’d talk of friends who focused on studies, who dated and married after college, in their 30s, who adopted without getting married. Apparently, my mom didn’t have the much faith in my ability to attract and/or keep a man.
A couple of years ago, a friend called around Christmas and I mentioned plans with my current boyfriend.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I did hear that you finally have a boyfriend. Good for you.”
I bit my tongue against the acidic words pushing against my teeth.
“Well, fat sweaty Brian [as I tended to consider him], I actually have had boyfriends for most of the past decade. I just don’t introduce them to you because you’re rude. Rude, obnoxious, and obviously suffering from ‘foot-in-mouth’ disease. Why would I share the loves of my life with you?”
I could have said something but it wouldn’t have made a difference. Brian was married. In the short time I’d known him – in three or four years – he’d been engaged to three different women including his current wife and the one who told us over dinner that the Lent she’d given up sex was the hardest as she’d quit the self pleasure.
We’d only just met.
Fat sweaty Brian was destined for marriage. He soon divorced the woman he’d married, a woman he’d known barely six months, and he was devastated. He didn’t understand the point of life without a date. A mate. A wife. In the eyes of fat sweaty Brian, I was weighed, measured and found somewhat lacking. At eye level, I didn’t want spouse. Though, that wasn’t quite true.
I would have loved to meet a man with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life, my Sunday morning and my drippy nose, my globetrotting and couch surfing, my love of bad movies, but life wouldn’t wait.
I had my opportunities. Despite my mom’s dire predictions, I had little trouble finding and keeping a man. I fell in love with one who showed up on my doorstep when he couldn’t find my phone number. I was down with a cold, wearing my ancient, enormous eyeglasses, and a white Mickey Mouse sweatshirt over off-white long johns. I’d literally fallen for him, popping out my knee at his place a week earlier and twisting my ankle in front of his car when he took me home, and he didn’t care. I fell in love with nose and fever running.
Blue collar. White collar. Black. White. Pink with scar tissue from a bomb on a bus in Ireland. A Scotsman in Sydney. A French foreign legionnaire. Tall. Short. Redheaded, blond and brunette. Thin. Fat. Republican and Democrat. I have met a lot of men. I have loved some of them. Some of them have loved me, and my mom could have been wrong.
I did fall in love along the way. Wholly. Completely. Utterly head over heels. Unfortunately, for my mom’s sake, it wasn’t for a guy. Or a girl. Or a battery-operated bunny. I fell in love with life. My life. With living without regret. I didn’t need someone with whom to share it but there generally was a person: not always the same one and not always a lover, it was always a friend.
I would still love to meet a man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life, my Sunday morning and my drippy nose, my globetrotting and couch surfing, my love of bad movies. In lieu of that, I’ll take my awkward first dates and crazy date stories. The exes I love and miss. The future exes I have yet to love and lose. The uncertain knowledge, hope or dream of a future Mr. Kristin and my life.
When you date you begin with “please like me” and somewhere along the line, I realized I did.