Author Archives: failedatforty

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the dog and the dragon

We were sitting in a Chinese restaurant one afternoon, musing on the paper place mat horoscopes. Turns out I’m a dog and he’s a dragon. So here’s what our Chinese restaurant place mat horoscopes say:

Dog:  Loyal and honest, you work well with others. Generous yet stubborn and often selfish. Look to the Horse or Tiger. Watch out for Dragons.

Dragon:  You are eccentric and your life complex. You have a very passionate nature and abundant health. Marry a Monkey or Rat late in life. Avoid the Dog.

As I began to read these aloud to him across the table in our little booth, I noted that we are both explicitly warned to stay away from one another. I began to play up this incompatibility when he interjected: “Well, that settles it — we’re never going to China!”

And this illustrates a number of the things I love about him — he’s quick-witted and genuinely funny (sometimes), and he doesn’t take much of anything too seriously.


the grass is getting greener

I’ve been seeing a fellow for a bit, and it’s such that he’s met the children and things. Folks around me use the word “serious” when they learn of this. I don’t know whether it’s serious or not, only that I feel cared for and loved as close to fully as I’ve ever felt. And that’s certainly a nice feeling.

One of the ways he cares for me is by being helpful, and he comes by it quite naturally:  he helps make and serve dinner, refusing to begin eating until I sit down to join him; he has the sort of handy skills that are transforming my basement and garage to vastly more functional spaces; he plans to paint a room while I’m away for a few days.

“It sounds like this guy really likes you,” my girlfriends have said.

He recently told me that I should anticipate having the greenest grass on the block this season.

For anyone who’s actually seen my block in the summertime, that distinction will be difficult to achieve; the DINKs have it won hands down. I’ve mentioned this double-income, no-kids couple before. They are workhorses, spending hours of work nearly every weekend perfecting their patch of urban landscape. She works tirelessly to plant and keep gardens, while his singular concern is the grass.

He of the DINKs spent years helping her fix up her home. The only way to enjoy a return on his investment, he teased, was to marry her. While he presents a sometimes gruff demeanor to the world, she enjoys a full-on adoration I’ve yet to witness in another couple. He is lavish in his affections, and spends two or three vacation days cooking, cleaning and preparing for her birthday party each summer. She basks in it and is grateful, and I am quite sure he needs no more than that.

So, back to the conversation at the bar the other night, during which my boyfriend claimed my lawn would look like a golf course. I thought of the DINKs down the street, a realization dawned on me, and I smiled.

“What are you smirking about?” he asked.

“You’ve yet to say so, but you love me,” I replied knowingly.


“Why haven’t you said so before?” I asked.

“I didn’t know whether you wanted me to,” he replied.

Our conversation went on for some time after that, and I continued to chuckle about the love equation at which I’d arrived:  green grass = love.

“I don’t want you to think the grass is greener somewhere else,” he said before he kissed me goodnight.

early imprints

I didn’t mean to come back only to be absent again for nearly two weeks. Truth is I was a bit distracted by a funeral for a family friend last week, and it affected me perhaps more than I anticipated.

You see, the gentleman who passed was a contemporary of my father’s, the same age, and someone who was as close to me as an uncle for many of the formative years of my life. Several of those who stood up to talk at his funeral described him as unfailingly kind, loving, open and generous. And it dawned on me then that, while I thought he always treated me as special as a child (we joked about my being the only daughter he never had, because he sired only sons), he treated everyone else with the same kindness as he treated me.

I remember getting to ride in his Corvette as a young girl, occasional gifts and even calling him to borrow money as I was just beginning my adult life:  Too proud to call my own father, I asked for a loan of $500. He overnighted a check for $750 and then, after I’d paid back the first two payments of $250 each, refused to accept any more. He once loaned me a box truck from his business to move apartments. And his wife of 45 years once took me shopping and attempted to buy me a beautiful pink Angora sweater…at exactly the wrong point in my teens, when it would have been colossally uncool.

But those early memories made a big impression on me about success, having enough and what it all meant. I was reminded of how much I strive to be like him:  to provide for my family, while always being generous with what I can; to keep an open mind and heart; to live well and do good. Beyond the connection I shared with him, I am in awe of the 45 years he and his wife shared, and of how poised she was as she talked of their 45 years of partnership. It takes a gentle soul to achieve that…two gentle souls.

So I came home after that and tried to explain to my boyfriend of a few months how much this man had meant in my life and how much it meant be reminded of all those wonderful things about him, and I told him I wished that for my own life, too.

I wonder if it’s something we’ll embark on (or continue, I suppose, depending on how one views it) together?

a bit of a hiatus

It seems I’ve taken a bit of an inadvertent hiatus. You know how life gets:  one day you’re writing regularly and the next you decide to keep it zipped so as not to jinx something which ends up not working out anyway and then you meet someone else and the holidays are upon you and you keep thinking, “I really ought to blog about this,” and then you don’t get around to it because there are other priorities and you’re out of the habit and life just hurtles on at speeds you can’t seem to get used to…


We’ve tons to catch up on. Promise. I will be better. I’ll tell you all about the douchey suburban guy and whatnot, and perhaps how, despite every relationship being a mixed bag of sorts, I’m really feeling quite happy and cared for just now.

I’ll wait for your applause to die down…


Off to get my beauty sleep. Sweet dreams, dear readers! I’ve missed you, and I hope you’ve missed me, too.

shall I or shan’t I?

Over the weekend I spent a little time with a fellow I’ve been out with a few times. He is thoughtful, generous, fun, kind and clearly interested in me.

He texted while I was out running errands and asked me to stop by. So I did. He gave me a tour of his home. He played songs on his guitar. And as we were sitting together on the sofa, he started nibbling at my decolletage and saying, “Shall I take you to bed? I can’t decide. Hmmm…will I or won’t I? I’m not sure…”

I confess, it was amusing for a bit. And then I told him where it was:  “Listen, you can debate yourself all day long and it’s not going to have any influence whatever on what’s actually going to happen.”

“Oh? And what is going to happen?,” he asked.

“I’m going to go home and rake my leaves.” So I did.

a fit like a favorite pair of jeans

The women among us, at least, can vouch for the near impossibility of finding a pair of jeans that fits just right. And once we find them, we wear them over and over, until the denim has worn soft and the fabric has stretched in exactly the right places and putting them on at the end of the day feels comfortable, right and “ahhh, yes.”

In my younger years, before having had children with this body, I wore men’s Levis jeans (this was before everyone started dropping a buck fiddy or better on the casual Friday jeans competition). The button-fly, straight-leg jeans hung on my hips and rounded my butt perfectly (or maybe it was that my butt was perfect from inline skating?). At any rate, I still remember how comfortable it felt to slide into those jeans…which seemed to last forever…until they would eventually rip out in the thigh.

Several months ago, when I was visualizing the sort of relationship I had hoped — and still hope — to find (manifest) this year, that worn, comfortable, just right feeling came to mind. That’s the sort of relationship I want.

Notice I did not say new or exciting, nor did I describe those jeans as an expensive date. I can get picked up in expensive cars, eat expensive meals and drink expensive wine all evening long, but none of that amounts to what I’m looking for. What I really want is to find that man who wants to love and cherish me for a lifetime, and I’m ready to get past the wining and dining to the mundane, everyday experiences of cooking together and cuddling on the sofa watching telly.

This online dating thing has become a bit of an endurance sport — so many first, second and third dates, so many different types of experiences, so many shades of attraction. I tell my girlfriends about them, and they hold me accountable, encouraging me to cut one loose the second I am certain he’s not the one. This takes some bravery, but it is absolutely the right thing; even if it was hard to say goodbye to Mr. Anti-establishment, the very quality I found so appealing in him today would become maddening all too soon.

There is one, though, who’s surprised me. I felt no physical spark upon our first meeting and, with our children schedules and his business travel, it was four weeks before we saw each other again. I met him out, someplace quite nice, and it felt very natural and comfortable to be close. After dinner, we made our way to a more casual venue where we could be closer and canoodle a bit. Smooching with him felt good. A few evenings later, while texting, we both realized we were doing the exact same thing… And that’s when I felt it:  that worn-in jeans feeling.

This one also meets a lot of the qualities or characteristics on my wish list, including owning his own home, having a stable career, having children older than mine and having had a vasectomy.

I’ve seen him again, and it continues to feel very natural and good to spend time and talk with him. Cross your fingers for me…I’d love for these comfortable jeans to get worn and stretched in all the right ways. I’d love to settle into an “ahhh, yes!”

complete and utter indifference

I am spending my free time dating:  a plethora of first, second and third dates. And I couldn’t feel more indifferent about  meeting the gentlemen I’m meeting…which is good, because then I always end up having an unexpectedly good time. Even when I don’t feel that something that propels me forward.

I suppose I’m approaching dating as a man does, looking forward with a mixture of indifference, anticipation, excitement or dread, depending on the moment. And none of these anticipatory feelings has any bearing on the outcome of the meeting.

The current crop has been fascinating in their approaches to dating. For awhile, several were texting or messaging, and none getting around to asking me out. I finally had to pleasantly suggest that I’m not looking for a pen / text pal, which meant that several asked me for a date all on the same weekend:

  • One wanted to talk on the phone twice before we ever met. I’ve learned he has a nice voice, seems even-tempered, has maintained a stable career. In question:  his sexual prowess / skill.
  • One had incredibly nerdy photos posted on the dating site I use and ended up being smoking hot — with geeky glasses — in person. He pushed for a second date right away, and then brushed me off. I suspect I was one of two finalists for the role and the other girl probably wears glasses all the time and not just when reading. He seemed to put some stock in not just being a bit smart and geeky, but also looking the part.
  • Another is slightly younger, less educated, more anti-establishment. After a fun first date, he walked me to my car in the rain and asked me if I wanted to make out. How could I resist?
  • I’m finding one a bit argumentative…which could be a problem…
  • And another who can’t seem to figure out how to ask me on a date. It’s ridiculous. And not going to work.

All that said, this “circular dating,” as Rori Raye calls it, is helping me keep my sanity, my feelings in check and my expectations low.

So I gear up for another weekend of dates, filtering and determining who makes it through to the next round…and who knows? Maybe I’ll end up liking one of these guys.

as predicted…

…Forty Days of Dating, to which I alerted you in my last post, is to be made into a movie (according to some article in my Facebook news feed).

While I loved reading the she said / he said versions of forty days, I was disappointed that these two humans weren’t able to break out of their typical patterns and learn some new relationship tricks. I am, of course, mostly talking about him, because it was he who behaved quite badly toward the end (and I won’t give away the details for those of you who aren’t yet finished). It was interesting how seeing each other for forty consecutive days forced a level of intimacy that resulted in…well…I’ll let you read it. It was a grand and engaging experiment, and made me to feel like a bit of a voyeur.

Still, the predictability of it all should be a lesson to us:  We should pay particularly close attention to those early signs and signals as we begin to get to know another. Maya Angelou is credited with a quote along the lines of this:

“When someone shows us who he is, we should believe him the first time.”

(Pardon my use of the male pronouns in this example; it is, after all, a man I seek.)

With that in mind, I’ve been dating like a fiend and trying to simply let go of any expectation and enjoy myself. The challenge in this is, invariably, that I would quite simply rather be at some other stage than I am in any given moment. For example, when I last had a bona fide boyfriend and he wanted to deepen our level of commitment, I simply wanted a boyfriend to date:  I wanted to keep him to myself a bit longer, not have to think about introducing the children, etc. And now, when I desire more than anything a husband who wants to love and cherish me for a lifetime, I am engaging in what seems an endless stream of first and second dates.

Someone else said that the journey of a lifetime begins with a single step. (Can you tell I’m feeling too lazy to go about looking up these quotes or articles and doing the research tonight?) I am trying to keep that in mind as I hope that one step will lead to another and eventually to forty and then on to a lifetime.

Wish me infinitely more luck than Jessie and Tim found with each other! (I do wonder how they’re getting on these days?)

instead of really posting…

…I’m reading this: …completely engrossed.

another letter I’ll never send

Sometimes, when I’m struggling to let go (as I am now), I write a letter that I’ll never send and fill it full of all the ridiculous stuff in my mind.

Recently, I fell for someone who was never going to be a good match, but my heart just went there and there was nothing I could do. As one of my girlfriends would say, I have a faulty picker. I keep thinking that, one of these times, I will have grown enough, changed enough, de-cluttered my heart enough, for it actually to pick the right one. But I’m not there yet, I guess.

So here’s a sample of the sort of letter I will never send — one that I hope will finally allow me to move on:

Dear BFE (Biggest Fool Ever),

This is the story of us:  When we first met, I didn’t give you the time of day. I noticed nothing remarkable about you. A mutual acquaintance told me a few things, and I realized we had something in common. You were quiet, but I broke the ice. We started sharing, occasionally going out for a drink.

Before I knew it, I had developed a bit of a crush. I noticed that, in  jeans, you appeared to have no butt, which only made me want to grab it more. I noticed that you always seemed very calm, yet in command. I detected an undercurrent of passion. That’s when I started fantasizing about you throwing me up against a wall and ravishing me or taking me on your kitchen island. I was looking for something simple, uncomplicated — a little sporting fun without the hassle of emotional entanglement.

Over the months we got to know each other a bit better, alternately flirting with and ignoring each other for weeks or months at a time. Something began changing inside me, and I started wanting a relationship. Not necessarily with you — I knew you were unavailable (it was as though you were in a tunnel and couldn’t see the light at the end). But I still felt chemistry between us.

And then there was that Friday in May:  we went out for a drink, sat in the sunshine. Something changed during our conversation that day. I don’t remember what we talked about, only that everything inside me went soft and melty. I had been dating men I’d met online, keeping my heart protected, my true self hidden behind thick stone walls covered in ivy. All the guys I met seemed to be looking for a key, a way through, over or around those walls…but you just reached in, opened the door and let yourself in. Effortlessly. Suddenly I felt girly and vulnerable, yet safe. And had a strong urge to be sweet. I had no idea what hit me!

Later that night, as I charmed my way through another first date, I texted you that I’d rather still be enjoying your company. You called me sweet. I chided you for failing to notice that I’d painted my toenails and worn a skirt for you. You confessed that you had noticed, hiding behind your designer shades.

Now we were flirting daily, via text or chat or in person. For weeks on end, I ended each day with wet panties. And then one day you kissed me. I felt it all over my body. And I so hoped that it was the beginning of something…

Instead of being thrown up against a wall, I began dreaming of waking in your arms and fantasizing about snuggling with you on the sofa in front of the telly…the sort of mundane, everyday intimacies that I so crave. The suddenness of this shift was almost alarming.

Then you began sending mixed messages, acting hot and cold. I was confused and hurt. But you hadn’t made any commitments, so there were no promises broken. I vowed to just enjoy the butterflies in my stomach when we saw each other, the way my knees went weak and I prattled on nervously around you. That feminine feeling I got around you felt so good! I was drawn to you.

One night, you were out in my neighborhood and texted me. I was out with a girlfriend and let you know where, never imagining you’d turn up. And then you were there! You must have known I would think it meant something if you showed up…and yet you played it cool, not touching me or showing special attention while your friend told me not to take it personally. At first I didn’t understand. I thought maybe you were simply uncomfortable with public displays of affection, but then, after the high of spending time with you wore off, reality set in and I realized what a fool I’d been.

And then I felt angry. You could have easily pulled me aside at any time and said something like, “I’m so flattered by your attention; I find you attractive…but I can’t do this right now.” It would have saved me embarrassment and heartache. But you let me foolishly believe there was some possibility.

When I see you now, the old habits are confused with these new feelings and I alternately want to keep flirting with and lash out at you. I will get over it; we’ll go back to being casual friends…but I miss that sense of possibility. I miss you being the best part of my day.

We clearly calculate our risk-rewards ratios differently — and I know I’m worth it!

I know you are and have been nothing more than a distraction; we were never going to be a great match. Still — even as I’m looking for the man who wants to love and cherish me for a lifetime, we could have had something positive, loving and wonderful. Now that moment has passed.

Yours truly,



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