Editor’s Note: In this submission, a reader shares honestly, and hilariously, about herself, aging, and all the prep work it takes to start dating again as a woman nearing forty… Photo: pre-date check list – flickr – Ellen Munro
This week at work we took personality tests… and I failed mine. Per my results, I am competitive to the bone, shallow on the surface, and stylish to a fault. In other words, I’m a drag queen.
Actually, I just wish I was. I’m not that fierce.
All that aside, the idea is noble. It’s to help us better understand ourselves and our peers so we can play to our strengths. It’s also a twist on the Golden Rule, and instead of treating each other the way WE want to be treated, we should use this information to treat people the way THEY want to be treated.
At any rate… since it’s like a twenty-two page instructional manual that’s all about me, I decided to give a copy to my partner, DB. Now you should know something, I love my partner beyond measure. He’s the warmest, sexiest, smartest man I have ever known. Honestly, if I could have custom-ordered a mate, it would be him. And while that’s GREAT and I appreciate him EVERY single day, it’s also intimidating. Because while I am a headcase, he happens to be cool. Very cool, actually. He’s a Buddhist who dropped out of the rat-race for a decade to play Blues guitar in Austin. He’s calm and he’s centered, and while I fully understand what I see in him, I literally have absolutely no idea what he sees in me. I have actually been described as a squirrel on Jolt, which is not altogether off the mark… And now, I have the data to prove it.
But it’s not just all of that (as if that isn’t bad enough), he’s also an amazing single dad who is incredibly good looking and in extremely good shape. He’s over six feet tall with salt and pepper hair, six pack abs, and an ex-wife who is a Yoga teacher. Yes… f***ing… really. Clearly I needed more evidence that God hates me, because let’s be honest, the three hottest fantasies men have include nurse, porn star, and Yoga teacher. No, it’s true. I’ve asked.
So when he asked me out, you can imagine my reaction. It was somewhere between shock and horror. Shocked because I’m thirty-eight years old, and on my best day, I never looked like a Yoga teacher. Horrified because I’m thirty-eight years old, and on my best day, I never looked like a Yoga teacher.
Now… if you ask him to tell this story, he will tell you that I was playing hard-to-get. I, however, will tell you the truth. I was terrified, but you have to understand something. The last time I dated, I was twenty, when awkward meant your date crossed that fine line between, “Trust me baby, you’re gonna dig it” and “Wow, I f***ing hate you. You should leave now.” At thirty-eight, awkward enters a realm that you can’t even begin to wrap your head around. It’s somewhere along the lines of… this is gonna get weird before it gets cool.
And just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an arsenal of qualified adults to get a divorced woman ready for sex. It does. At the very least, it’s your best friend, your sister, your therapist, your stylist, and the manager at your local Ann Taylor. Your best friend talks you out of it, your sister talks you back into it, and your therapist helps you weigh the pros and cons of each. Then, once you decide that you actually CAN do this, your life becomes a flurry of activities best described as a work plan to make it happen.
1. You calendar sync with your partner and the kennel. In other words, is your date available, are you available, and are the kids unavailable? You want the house completely to yourself. No one wants to get caught by their kids or watched by their dog. If you wanted that, you never would have gotten divorced.
2. You agreed on the day and time, now you have to start preparing physically. This is where your dignity takes its first hit. You go to the salon, strip down and have your eyebrows, legs, and bikini line waxed. Then you get your facial, your pedicure, and your high-lights handled. In other words, you pay about $400 to look thirty-seven instead of thirty-eight. So literally, you run through your budget and wonder if you can afford to have sex. And for the first time in your life, you understand how college guys in Vegas feel.
3. You know the day and you know the time. You’ve gotten all of the hair on your body handled. And while you may look thirty-seven, you look like a thirty-seven year old workaholic. That means your body has betrayed you on every level imaginable… unless you’re a Yoga teacher. So, you call the manager at your local Ann Taylor, who has been dressing you for a decade, and you explain the situation, clearly giving new meaning to the phrase “retail therapy.” Your ass has to look smaller. Your boobs need to look bigger. She’s been here with you before: career events, Christmas parties, divorce court, first date. She knows what you need, and she has five outfits – complete with shoes – ready for you when you get there.
Now… I love this woman. She has great taste, and she is brutal. She knows my physique and she knows how to dress it. And better than that, she’s a divorced, middle-aged woman who has been in this boat herself. And even though she’s my age, she’s like a fairy God-mother getting mid-life crisis Cinderella ready for the ball, no pun intended. Only the glass slipper is a stiletto that costs $150 and is designed to give you height so your weight is distributed and your ass looks smaller. You look GREAT. The only problem with the outfit you just bought… is that it has to come off if you want to have sex.
So, everything is done. You’re physically ready, but emotionally and psychologically you’re not even remotely close to being prepared. You’ve talked to your sister, your best friend, your mother, your therapist and your bartender, and the day arrives, but… like Churchill said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” So you keep the date, and it’s gone great. He’s an amazing guy. You’ve talked. You’ve eaten. You’re at his place, and you’re kissing. One thing leads to another, and you’re in his room, on his bed. He’s harder than Calculus, but the thing is… you know you got fucked by Calculus. You’re still not sure how THIS date is going to end. It is, as they say in Vegas, a crap-shoot because part of you is REALLY digging it, but part of you is terrified since you haven’t done this in a very, very, VERY long time. So you tell yourself that having sex is just like riding a bicycle. Then you remember… the last time you rode your bike, you ended up with scabs on both knees, and how the HELL would you explain THAT at work THIS time. Then you’re thinking about Calculus and how you were twenty when it fucked you, too, and how that didn’t end well for you either, so what the HELL are you doing in this situation? And part of you is imploding and part of you is exploding, and you are literally a human push-me, pull-me of action and reaction.
At that moment, you have to fish or cut bait because clothes are starting to come off. That’s when he takes off his shirt and you see that he has a great body. God clearly hates you. He still has the physique of a twenty year old. You… not so much. You take off your shirt, and the only way to describe the difference between your body at twenty and your body at thirty-eight is that you are like a transatlantic flight, “Please be careful when opening the overhead compartment, as the contents have shifted in transit.” And then you shut off the lights and think this is going to get weird before it gets cool… and it does. And for the first time in your life, you’re glad you aren’t a drag queen. Even if you aren’t fierce.
M Kromd is a self-described “divorced, middle-aged woman simply trying to make sense of this mad, mad world.” She blogs on her website, My Karma Ran Over My Dogma.