The 3 Faces of Me

With apologies to Dr. Seuss…

Oh Mirror, Mirror on the wall …

this can’t be fucking right at all!

Yes, the who I see in there is me.

Yet can this be – that I see three?

The one is me – there on the right.

But left’s a fright I do not like!

And center she, the middle one …

Oh, woe is me! She is me Mum!

There is something wrong with my mirror. There’s an old woman inside it. I don’t know who she is. But the bitch needs to go! The odd thing is . . . sometimes she does. She disappears, and all’s right with my world — ’cause I know the countenance there. Yet sometimes when she vanishes, there’s a worse version of her staring back at me. What the Hell! It’s like a fun house mirror–without the fun!

Now upon further contemplation and reflection (no pun intended), the problem may be that it is a 3-sided mirror. 3 sides = 3 images. Voila! Mystery solved. Or not? Because the issue of who the woman is remains. But really . . . not. As much as it pains me to admit it (and believe me, IT DOES!) . . . the who in there is me. Yep . . . the 3 faces of me . . . but are any of the three I see the real me?

I KNOW the image on the right is not right. She’s the image of how I still feel. Sassy, sexy, flirty, fun. Granted, I’m not quite sure what age this woman is–but it sure as fuck is NOT “senior citizen!” Alas, reality and my driver’s license say different–and my middle mirror reflects the same. Inasmuch as “inside” me might feel unchanged by time, “outside” me didn’t get the memo. BTW, I’ve read this “unchanged by time” version is the one a woman’s long-time lover still sees. Really?! (Well, they do say love is blind . . .) Still, I wouldn’t know how love’s prism works. I don’t have one of those, nor a “long-time” lover. My long-timers are all males filed under “family.” Certainly, my adult sons don’t comment on my sexual allure, nor my appearance in general–except to occasionally say, “You’re still hot for your age.” Question: Does anyone else hate that expression “for your age?” My father used to call such compliments “shit-filled Twinkies.” But I digress . . .

As far as the other males in my life who profess to love me, aka my grandsons . . . yeah, no filter of any sort there! “Baba, how come you’re old?” is not exactly what one might call a “viewed through the eyes of love” affirmation. Happily, however (misery loves company, you know), I am not alone. A Facebook friend in Australia, Jan Clifton, tells this story . . . “I walked in from work and my grandson said, “Hi, Grandma, my bunny died today, he was old like you.” From the mouths of babes . . . ouch. (FYI, in addition to her fabulous accent and a kick-ass sense of style, Jan has a wonderful Facebook site for mature women very appropriately called “Doing Curves in Style.” She talks fashion tips, best looks for different body types, budget styling and much more. Check her out.)

So back to me and my multiple mes. Mirror #1 reflects the remembered vision version of me. She is NOT the 61-year-old who stares back from the center pane. Nope. Ms. In-the-Middle is bags and sags, age spots, wrinkles, a thinning hairline . . . and what the fuck! Is that seriously a half-inch hair on her chinny-chin double-ass chin?? Damn! And lord, if she doesn’t look familiar . . . oh, wait! I know! She’s my mother! Now how the eff did THAT happen? But as depressing as middle me can be, she’s Miss freakin’ America compared to the hag on the left.

And oh yeah, she on the left . . . she’s me alright and it’s NOT alright! She’s the me I see reflected through the eyes of rejection. Ala the blind-date who said I “wasn’t exactly thin below the waist”. . . the bar encounter who told me I was fascinating to talk to, but he “only dates young and beautiful women” . . . the 40-year-old I actually did date–who dumped me for a 21-year-old . . . and the 53-year-old I’m still “seeing” who confessed to being in love with a 28-year-old (don’t ask!). Talk about ouch! (Betcha can’t beat THAT one, Jan!) We’re talking rejection on a whole ‘nother pane–I mean plane. And leave it to the psychologists to attach a label to it . . .

Seeing ourselves in another’s devaluing light is called “projection through rejection.” A 2013 Psychology Today article explains it so: “Projections of others become absorbed becoming introjections, [in other word} how we come to define ourselves.For example, the woman “teased” by her husband for the 20 lbs of baby weight she hasn’t lost will not fail to see herself as “fat.” In fact, any physical “flaw” pointed out by others or perceived by ourselves can become a fixation, not only in ourselves, but in others. Even an oops, not meant as an insult, but just slipped out, offhanded comment such as ” I never noticed before you’re a bit bow-legged” can leave an indelible impression. And trust me, that woman will for the rest of her days look at other women’s legs. BTW, I never noticed other women’s eyebrows–til I lost mine.

According to the experts, it is when the balance of self-perception and reflected self-perception shifts more toward the reflected that the real damage begins to occur. “The more we allow others to dictate our self-perception and undermine our sense of self,” says life coach and certified counselor Michael Formica, “the more power we give away. In the extreme, [this] begins to chip away at our self-esteem and ego integrity.” It’s a level of dysfunction, he says, “often reflected in dynamics like codependency and boundary issues.” “The key,” Michael says, “to maintaining the balance between self-perception and reflected self-perception is pretty simple. Don’t take it personally.” Easier said than done, Mike! (And try telling that to an acquaintance of mine who was online dating. She arranged a face-to-face with a man she’d been corresponding with for weeks. She was walking on air, thinking the date had gone really, really well–until she received a text message mere minutes after they parted. Stylish and very attractive, she may not be a perfect “10” (NO ONE IS!), but she is by no means the deficit “3” she now sees in the mirror–thanks to this asshole’s “sorry, but you’re just not pretty enough for me to date” post-date text.)

Make no mistake, rejection impacts–and it hurts. According to PhD Gary Winch, it’s a neurological fact. Studies using MRIs have shown that the same areas of the brain are activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. Yes, OUCH! Moreover, questioning yourself is an automatic reaction to rejection in general. Now confidence and self-esteem both take a hit.

But in no aspect of our lives is projection through rejection stronger than in romantic rejection. Typically, we women respond to it by finding the fault in ourselves. We are not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, fun enough, blah blah. And bullshit! We have somehow certainly missed learning it–but the fact of the matter is this: When you get right down to it, most romantic rejection is simply a matter of poor fit, i.e. lack of chemistry or faulty dynamics wherein both don’t want the same thing at the same time. But that’s not how we women see it–or process it. (And trust me. I’m not only at the head of the “I’m Not Enough” blame line, I’ve arranged a permanent place-holder!)

The very worst part of all of this is the picture of how we see ourselves as reflected in other’s eyes can become our reality. It’s all related to the tendency in our human nature make-up to focus on the negative. We don’t think about all the things we’ve done right, but instead dwell on what we did wrong. And believe you me (and the experts). How we see ourselves has major ramifications! It impacts our happiness, our behavior toward others and even our professional success. It’s a circle, sometimes vicious: How others see us is how we see ourselves, and how we see ourselves is how others view us. And around and around and around we go . . .

Now here’s a rather interestingly related aside…. Ladies, would it surprise you to know women rate their own looks lower than strangers do? In 2013 Dove (the soap) ran an ad. It was based upon an experiment wherein Gil Zamora, a FBI forensic artist, sketched women based solely upon the way they described themselves. He then repeated the process, drawing portraits of the same women as others described them. It’s important to note the strangers spent time together, getting acquainted. This interaction hence engendered specifics for the artist, such one woman’s great cheekbones, another’s fabulous hair, a third’s beautiful smile and still another’s mesmerizing eyes . . . you get my drift. When later placed side by side the stranger-described, the self- described portraits were without fail the less attractive. Dove took these results and ran with the tagline: We are all more beautiful than we think.” If you are curious, there is a video online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk

Most of us would agree confidence comes from within. But so, too, beauty. A case in point . . . Cleopatra, arguably one of history’s most famous women and temptresses. Did you know she had a hooked nose and by all contemporary accounts, was not a stunning beauty? And yet history remembers her such. Because by those same contemporary accounts, she was a truly fascinating woman–possessive of an intoxicating sense of style, verve and intelligence–who knew like hell how to play to her strengths. So, except for that unfortunate asp thing, shouldn’t she be an example to emulate? BTW, according to writer Ayesha K. Faines, (“a leading expert on feminine consciousness, sexual politics” and how women acquire and wield power), most of history’s legendary sirens “do not represent the classic ideal of beauty for their day–or any other.” Ms. Faines has actually compiled a list (and yes, Cleo is on it) of 103 of the greatest seductresses of all time. In the accompanying article, she states all were endowed with the same “magic” — their ability “to elevate themselves from the ordinary to the extraordinary.”

So back to mirrors . . . mine, magic and otherwise. Silver-backed glass mirrors weren’t invented until 1835, so Cleo’s would have been polished brass. I’m guessing it wasn’t all that crystal clear of a reflection–which left her latitude for attitude? And they do say beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. So, ladies . . . what say we think brass not glass –and rock some serious Queen of the Nile sass? After all . . . shouldn’t the eye (and the love’s prism) we’re looking through be . . . our own?

Some Poems Don’t Rhyme

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” —Gilda Radnor

I view a lot of things much differently today than I did 40 or 30–or even 10–years ago. Take for example, the matter of “black and white.” As far as I am now concerned, it’s either a classic you can’t go wrong color combo or a clickable photoshop selection. Fabulous as a filter for selfies and hands down the best choice for portrait photographs, B & W fails miserably, however, as a mindset option for life. Shades of gray, ladies, it’s all shades of gray—and open for revision and addition.

After all, there can be neither growth nor improvement without the element of change. Even our venerable Bill of Rights is, in essence, a compilation of changes, clarifications and compromises made to the Constitution in order to get 2/3 of the original 13 states to ratify and implement the damn thing as the law of the land. BTW, those changes are called “amendments.” In the 227 years since I-X’s unanimous ratification, there have been 17 more, with 1992 being the last time this country could agree on anything enough in order to add one. Just saying. (And in case the question should come up on Jeopardy.)

So . . . enough with the soapbox/civics lesson and back to me. (Remember, my blog=my rant.) Over the decades, my “laws” have been amended, too. Rules I was reared to hold as hard and fast have become rather like my thighs and ass (softer and a whole lot less firm). Boxes are boring, and labels have lost luster. Walking the straight and narrow appears a dull path. Push the envelope, break the mold, step outside the box and color outside the lines have become preferable courses of action and chosen avenues of pursuit. Of late, one of my favorite Facebook memes? “Well-behaved women have rarely changed history.” Just saying.

Gilda was right. Life is change. Among the multitude occurring as I’ve gotten older is an unexpected one. I have begun to hear clearly my own inner voice. It speaks not in words, but rather in a powerful sense of knowing that isn’t knowing. It’s a sentient certainty that may defy logic, common sense and even the advice of caring friends—sometimes (and in all honesty) to my detriment. And yet never to my growth. Call it gut instinct, if you will . . . this sounding of my soul. And truth be told, it is neither the only–nor the loudest– voice I hear. That dubious distinction belongs to the voice of reason. A powerful set of pipes on that one! And yet, despite its forceful volume and often strident tones, reason is rarely the voice I heed. I don’t know why. Maybe because life is so much shorter now that risk carries less fear than when I was younger? Or is it because my faith in “all happens to a purpose” has with age become stronger. (Not to mention the fact, that the Universe’s ironclad irony steps in regularly these days to remind me that “meant to be” will be.)

They say with age comes wisdom. I don’t know that is necessarily true. I do know it sure as hell gifts you with something called “perspective.” Defined as a point of view, (meaning by definition one’s view will change depending upon where one stands), it’s a great analogy for life—which is always altered by circumstance. The way I figure, perspective allows once rigid views and hard rules to soften and loosen. And why not? These days everything else has. And BTW, the ads for Crepe Erase . . . they lie. Just saying.

Don’t Blame Darwin

Recently I was asked to contribute to an AARP article. The subject I was supposed to address with my “unique” blend of humor and sarcasm? HOW TO PLEASE AN OLDER MAN. (Apparently singleat60 has become the voice of sex after 60? ♥ Well, alrighty then . . . I’m certainly fine with it—my sons maybe not so much. But I figure it’s payback. There was plenty of shit they did in their teenage years I was less than happy about. Maybe it’s time for Mom to return the favor in her “golden” ones? Yeah, karma’s a bitch.)

So back to the question of how to please an “older” man . . . Here’s my response: You’re kidding, right?! It’s a man. Young or old or in between, they ruminate, operate and culminate the same. Sex is one of only three “boxes” they have. (The other two? sports and work.) Moreover, the formula for male sexual success is a simple equation: anticipation + sensation + stimulation = ejaculation.

Blame Darwin. I’m just the messenger. Caveman Ken didn’t have time for complexity—he had shit to kill. Moreover, evolution didn’t give him a lot of moving parts. Hence, it was in his “survival of the fittest/ top cock gets the top slot” world the male attitude/aptitude was born. Fast forward 100,000 years give or take, and the primordial wiring remains. Age and Father Time have merely lessened the wam and softened the bam. But the good ones (the smart ones) compensate with effort and technique, making up for the deficit in equipment. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should probably mention that the oldest man I’ve bammed is 53. So, on second thought, maybe I’m no expert on “older” men, after all?

But at 61, I’m pretty damn sure I qualify in regard to speaking on behalf of the female gender. So, same question . . . HOW TO PLEASE AN OLDER WOMAN? Be assured, she has an equation, too. Talk + tease + touch + time = take off (or get off—tomato/tomahto) And you can still blame Darwin. Cavewoman Barbie needed to keep wam-bam Ken around because doing so equaled security and substance, and ergo survival, for her and her offspring. And the hard-wiring remains. Because evolution adjusted her parts accordingly. Unless Ken lingered and let a few other of his parts do his talking, she wasn’t listening (or getting off). So competitive/rise to the challenge/adapt or die Ken adapted. Kinda. With some men, it’s an ongoing learning curve. BTW, the “talk” I mentioned above is a two-parter. Conversation is a must if the attraction is to last. Otherwise, I’m talking aural. It goes without saying that every woman is different. So are her verbal triggers. Whether sweet nothings or naughty commands, we all have those words and phrases that get our juices flowing.

Speaking of, Mother Nature is no more kind than Father Time. The bitch! Our vaginal tissue thins and natural lubrication decreases. Intercourse becomes not only uncomfortable, but downright painful. And for many women, the interest then all but disappears. Emotional, psychological and other physical issues can also factor in. But the result is the same: little to zero interest. BTW, I’ve never encountered or heard of the same vanishing act occurring with men. I’m pretty sure it has to do with the fact we run out of our allotted supply of eggs, while a man is able to seed life all of his life. Again, blame Darwin. Pulse + penis = desire. But for a lot of older women, disinterest + physical discomfort = desert. Trust me. I know. Personal lubricants help. On a TMI side note, the best I ever used was recommended by my doctor during a prolonged marital dry spell. (It’s called “Dew Drops.” If you’re interested, their website is http://www.fillingfantasies.com.) But I haven’t used—or needed—it since 2013. Funny thing. The drought ended when the marriage did.

Not that Mother Nature turned back any clocks—biological or otherwise. Nor did she do me any favors. It was my partners who did. Yep. Talk, tease, touch, technique and time. Ladies, never say die! The best sex of my life has been in the last two years with the aforementioned 53-year-old. Remember “smart and good?” He’s smart enough to delay his own “one and done”—and damned good enough to knock down Mother Nature’s dam. Uh-huh. Wet ‘n wild. And I’m not talking about a waterpark slide in Mesa, Arizona. So, if you’re not feeling it, ladies, in this case, don’t blame Darwin. Blame him.

The Flip Side of Hope

They say “hope can move mountains.” Or is it “faith?” Ooops. Well, since I need it to be “hope” for this analogy to work, it’s going to be “hope.” With that said, let’s continue.  Am I the only one who wishes the freakin’ mountain would just fall over and crush hope? Shocked? I’m sure you are. But hear me out.  When hope does more harm than good, it needs to die. When it keeps you stuck in the past instead of moving forward, it needs to die. When it’s false . . . yep. You guessed it. And here’s another when ⇒⇒  When you are breaking up, divorcing or otherwise ending a relationship YOU KNOW needs to end . . . then, yes. Die, sucker, die!

If I had my way, “Abandon hope all ye who are ending a relationship” would be posted on a billboard—or at least printed on an effing bumper sticker! Because too often “hope” is the worst thing you can cling to in a break-up. But I am as guilty as anyone of adhering to the tradition trope. Hell, I have even perpetuated it! Remember, in my “real world” job I’m a flight attendant. So it should come as no surprise I once wrote the clever little  metaphor: “Hope is one’s individual flotation device.” But here’s the truth as I have come to realize it. Hope is a double-sided bastard. As wonderful and necessary as hope is/can be, there’s a flip side. A dark side. A downright dangerous side.

Now let’s talk cautionary tale. Let’s talk “don’t do as I do, but do as I say.”  Yep. Let’s talk Sunday . . . a guy I will absolutely admit I fell hard for. He was my first “real” post-divorce relationship. Danger, Will Robinson, danger! Can you say “red flag?” In truth, this man had more red flags than a 5-mile mountain detour. Sew those little triangles together, and we’re talking king-size comforter. But ohhhhh, nooooo! I thought I was being careful. Walls erected, expectations at zero, eyes wide open . . . I could handle it. (I thought.) I knew better. (I thought.) I wouldn’t be stupid. (I thought.) Problem was . . .  I THOUGHT. And forgot about what I FELT. And what I FELT flew in the face of logic, common sense and caution. Not only was he all wrong, he came with a list of warning signs a mile long (Rhyme not intended.) But damn he was good!  A master seducer—and not just in bed. My walls? My resolve? My thinking I knew what I was doing? Yeah . . . that all worked like a bucket with sieve for a bottom.

His were moves I never saw coming.  Tactics I’d never fathomed. Up, around and under my oh-so carefully laid defenses. Intentional or not, I may never know.  He was that ninja-good. And I don’t mean that as a compliment, ’cause here’s a spoiler alert (and history lesson):  Folklore, popular culture, modern movies and reality TV have all mystified and venerated the ninja as some ultimate warrior ideal. In truth, they were spies, saboteurs and assassins. In fact, in feudal Japan where the samurai adhered to strict rules about honor and combat, they were viewed as ignoble mercenaries, their covert and irregular methods of waging war considered dishonorable and reprehensible.

So back to Sunday. And I. And painful truths finally acknowledged . . .  It (he) was never going to be what I wanted. It needed to be over. But he wasn’t going to be the one to end it. He liked the way it was. And why wouldn’t he? It was on his terms. He came and went as he pleased and let me in only when he wanted. So now after another of his 4-week disappearing acts. I’m done. Here’s the problem. My mind says it, but my heart isn’t getting the memo. Because I still FEEL.  And because friggin’ hope won’t die. So I continue to find excuses, analyze, rationalize . . .  Worse, I fall back into that fucking trap we women do! That deep pit of delusion called “I’ll be THE ONE”—the who who can turn a bad boy into a good man. Am I ringing any bells, ladies? ‘Cause every time my phone rings or a text message chime sounds, I hope it’s him. Bloody hell! And hell-o!

He’s not only drawn me a picture, he’s colored it in and sprinkled it with glitter! Message received. Trust me. I SEE it. I KNOW. I know he’s keeping me on a hook and reeling me back when he wants attention and/or needs what I offer. But if I need him? Yeah. Caspar’s got nothing on his ghost-ass. I’m his swinging door . . . to exit or enter at will. Worse, I KNOW he won’t change. Ergo, I KNOW I have to cut ties and move on. Page turned and chapter closed. But the heart is slow to catch up to the mind.  It’s like a bizarre boxing match. “Ladies and gentlemen, in the blue corner we have LOGIC, COMMON SENSE, FACT, SOLID EVIDENCE, and MULTIPLE EXAMPLES of why it is over. But in the red corner we have HOPE. Now let’s get ready to Ruuuuuuuuuuuuumble!” Care to pick a winner?

In all truth, I wish I had better advice to give than a “don’t do as I do” admonition.  And I wish I had a better answer for myself than what I’ve come up with, which is to keep telling myself until I FEEL it.  Speaking of “telling” . . . They tell you never to lose hope. Trust me. I’ve seen the same Facebook memes you have, ala:

  • “Sometimes hope is all you have. But if you have it, you have everything.”
  • “Don’t lose hope. You never know what tomorrow will bring.”
  • “Hope is the little voice you hear whisper ‘maybe’ when it seems the entire world is telling you ‘no.’”

But here are a few quotes they don’t put on cutesy inspirational posters:

  • “Hope is a great falsifier of truth.” Baltasar Gracián
  • “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.” Benjamin Franklin
  • “It is natural to man to indulge in the illusion of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren . . .” Patrick Henry

FYI, if you don’t remember your high school Greek mythology, the Sirens were winged creatures whose singing lured unwary sailors to shipwreck on rocks. Keep that visual in mind. ‘Cause if what hope is keeping alive needs to die, then so does hope. Lose it, ladies! Let it die!  ‘Cause hope has a flip side. A dark side. A downright dangerous side. And BTW, if you kick hope to the curb, you get a two-fer. It’s evil cousin, disappointment, goes too.

Now back to that nautical reference earlier . . .  If hope is keeping you from moving on when you KNOW you need to, then it’s not a buoy—it’s an anchor. It’s keeping you tethered to the past. Cut the rope.  ‘Cause contrary to the charming Sandra Bullock movie, “Hope Floats,” this side of hope don’t. It’s going to sink—don’t let it take you with it.

 

Just in! New Reviews for I STILL WANT FIREWORKS

A couple of months ago I submitted my humor memoir/ exposé on online dating to Indie Book Reviewers. The reviews are in!  Here are the first two . . .

 Okay, I think that Judith Hill is my spirit animal! LOL OMG I LOVEEEED this book! I feel like I almost could have written so much of this myself, as I agreed with almost EVERYTHING! Thank you for making me feel less crazy!! I’ve been online dating on and off for several years and I can’t believe just how much of this were things I’d experienced myself, or things I’ve secretly thought. Like the guy’s with ‘mugshot’ pics, or the driving car selfies (usually with sunglasses on) or pics showing how ‘cool’ they are partying like frat boys when they are middle-aged. Or the ones with pics 20 years and 30 lbs ago. And the married ones!! I could go on and on! I was caught by surprise by how enlightening, insightful, and just downright fun this book was, and I also liked that she included many factual references and guides to help navigate the shark-infested online waters.  It is long, but such a fast-paced read! This is a book that can appeal to so many different types of readers, whether actively dating online, and even younger or people who aren’t looking at all. She writes from the perspective and experiences of a divorced/widowed 60-year-old, but I’m in my late 20’s and so much of this applied to me as well – for better or worse. Ha! I liked the ending too… never say never! Recommend for fans of chick/lit and memoirs. (5 stars) Stacy Decker—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

 

Hi, Judith Hill. Can we be friends and hang out in real life?? 🙂 You are definitely my type of woman and hit the proverbial nail on the head over and over here in this book “I Still Want Fireworks”!  Had some flashbacks of my misspent twenties here and it was awesome!  Hill weaves a highly enjoyable tale that grabs our attention from the very beginning and enthralls us all the way until the (hopefully) happy ending. I adore reading books about other people’s experiences that I can relate to and learn from, and while I’m happily attached now, I went through so many of the same things that Hill writes about, and at the same time was wishing I would have read this before I tried online dating several years ago. I think many people go into it having completely different expectations from the reality (I know I did) and it’s a crazy experience and can be very confusing or upsetting if you don’t have support. I remember the first time I was ‘ghosted’ and I’d never heard of the term and was so shocked/hurt… but now it’s just an accepted hazard of dating life (unfortunately). So many topics that Hill covers, it is actually pretty amazing because it is ALL true, relevant, and what someone – especially a woman – especially especially an older woman who has been out of the scene for a while— definitely needs to read. Perfect pacing (near) flawless editing and great structure. I actually hope that she writes more in a similar vein because she really has a great talent for it. (5 stars) Samantha Ryan—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

I Still Want Fireworks is available on Amazon in Kindle ($3.99) and paperback ($9.99). https://www.amazon.com/s?field-keywords=I+still+want+fireworks

When You Finally Admit the Emperor Has No Clothes

Do you remember the fairy tale about the emperor who paraded naked through town? Deceived by a pair of thieves posing as tailors, he’d allowed himself to be convinced he was wearing the finest of clothes. Magical clothes, in fact. For the crooks had told him only the most intelligent of people would be able to see his costly garb. Indeed, his retainers and servants raved about the workmanship and the exquisite details of execution. Refusing to admit he himself could see not see what his underlings could—and for fear of being revealed as unintelligent, hence unworthy to rule—he strutted his stuff down the main drag. It was only when an innocent child pointed out the naked truth, that all the adults found the courage to acknowledge what was so clearly upon display: the emperor had no clothes. Hold that thought.

Ladies, here’s the next installment in my “don’t do I as do” saga of post-divorce relationships. I present to you, the emotionally unavailable prick. If you know the signs, he’s easy to spot. He is unable or unwilling to commit emotionally or to make a commitment. Yet he’s good—ofttimes very good—at short term intimacy. In fact, he’s a master seducer. He won’t be inconvenienced, however, ergo the relationship is on his terms. Ironically, he will even tell you he’s not good at relationships. He will tell you not to love him. Ladies, believe him! Voice of experience talking now. If you overlook, deny or rationalize, you will be in the short term disappointed—and in the long miserable. Loving an EUP is not for the faint of heart. The optimum word being “heart”—yours! ‘Cause, trust me, it’s going to get hurt (if you’re lucky), more likely it will be broken.

Regular readers of this blog are familiar—or at least they should be—with my EUP, aka Sunday. When last I wrote, Sunday and I were zig-zagging, “seeing” one another every couple weeks. It’s been an arrangement I have convinced myself works. (See “Cherry-picking”) I don’t want to get married again. EVER. Nor do I want a cloying “text each other every day” connection. In truth, after he’s been here a day or two, I’m ready for him to leave.

From the moment I met him (see chapter 28 of I Still Want Fireworks), I’ve known he wasn’t relationship material. But he was (and still is) fun and the sex was (and still is) great. The problem is biology. Mine. Time together (nearly 2 years) and frequency of aforementioned great sex, has created an intimacy between us. “Friends” he calls it. But friends with benefits rarely works for long. (See “Rules of Engagement”) While he handles the turn it on/turn it off emotional attachment just fine, I have not been as able to contain and compartmentalize. Since I have (and for some fucking reason he’s “not afraid of it”) admitted it to him, I might as well go on record here. Color me stupid, but I fell in love with him. Unfortunately. But being the strong, independent, intelligent and stubborn woman I am, I figured I could handle it. Wrong! As the events of last night revealed.

As I said, I’m independent and I handle my shit well. I am the Ice Queen. I turn emotions to “pause” and do what needs be done. I get up, dress up and show up. Death, divorce, suicide, deployments, drug addiction, alcoholism—all within my immediate family in the last 5 years . . . yeah, I’m resilient as fuck! But even the Ice Queen melts. Or at least begins to thaw. A week of successive “issues” (family, financial and creative—BTW, there is no greater fear for a writer than writer’s block) had weakened my shell. You see, the ice is that—an outer shell necessary to protect my vulnerable inner self. That said, I let down my guard.

I hadn’t seen Sunday in a couple weeks. In truth, I was missing the friend more than the fuck. (go figure!) Feeling vulnerable, I wanted strong arms to hold me, to comfort me. I was tired of having always to be the indomitable one, the one in charge. Just for this once, I wanted to be allowed to be weak, but with a man I trusted. And so in that brief and stupid moment of uncharacteristic weakness and show of vulnerability I did something I’ve never done—and believe me, will never do again. I reached out to him, expecting a little quid pro quo. After all, I’ve been there for him—repeatedly—this past year as he has dealt with some pretty major shit in his life. As is his wont, I didn’t hear back for a day and a half. When he finally called late last night, it was not what I wanted to hear. (Needed, yes. But definitely not wanted.) A 10 minute conversation ensued, mostly about his week and issues. He didn’t ask one specific question about mine and offered no more comfort than a “good luck” for what I have to deal with this weekend.

Oh yeah, I was hurt! I was angry. Disillusioned. Numb in his emotional detachment and disappointed by his physical distance. But then I started to take an objective step back. Why the fuck had I expected differently? He has been upfront from day one. Never has he promised or offered to be more in my life than a FWB. It was my choice to accept this arrangement. And truth be told, the man has given me copious amounts of material to write about! For that alone, I saw value in keeping our status quo. I was the one who had started to violate the rules of engagement. I was the one who had started to dress him in the cloak of “lover.” Then, when his actions last night simply revealed who he has always been, I was hurt? Duh! Dumbass! Go back and read the second paragraph here you just wrote!

Today, in the light of day, I see the truth clearly. He’s always been stripped down, metaphorically speaking. Raw in demeanor and action. (Little, if anything, about him is soft, tender or coddling.) Certainly, literally I have enjoyed him that way. Now the challenge—the task—is mine. To separate the fairy tale from the reality. Now that I know explicitly the emperor has no clothes, what do I do with his naked ass?

An Open Letter To Men

A Note to the reader: The following was previously posted. For whatever reason, the link doesn’t work. Therefore- and because I believe it’s one of my better posts – I’m republishing it. A new post will be coming next week.
Warning: The following is satire—the use of humor, irony, exaggeration and ridicule to bring attention to a topical issue or human folly in need of reform . . .

Dear Gentlemen:

On behalf of my fellow women—well, THAT’S oxymoronic! Scratch that. On behalf of my sister women everywhere, I am writing to make a request. When you are done with a relationship, could you please inform us? You see, your current and oh so popular methods of abruptly not returning texts or taking days to respond to a voice mail (i.e. fading, ghosting and Caspering) are not cutting it.

Honestly, it’s a small thing I’m asking. Just a couple of words—of your own choosing even! “I’m done.” “It’s over.” “Moving on.” All would suffice. And I’m sure if you all put your other collective heads together, you could come (pun intended) up with a few more alternatives.

I believe I speak for all women when I say this courtesy would be most appreciated. You see, for a woman there is no more agonizing a kiss-off than the fade. You know to what I’m referring. For whatever reason, your feelings have changed. (Hey, it happens.) Or you’ve met someone new. (It happens.) Or you’ve gotten bored. (Yep, happens.) Such is life! Maybe she’s changed—or just revealed her true self. She’s now clingy, possessive, demanding of your time and/or money, a royal bitch or tiring drama queen . . . hell, who wants that? I feel you. But please, do me a favor. Tell her you’re done, it’s over, you’re moving out and/or on. Don’t simply Casper on her and vanish. Unless the Feds just threw your ass into Witness Protection, you owe her that much! BTW, worse than the ghost act is the aforementioned fade game. Seriously? Is this written in a manual (pun intended) somewhere? Or do you all take lessons in junior high on how to dude-dump a female by degrees?

Let’s be clear, gentlemen. I’m not talking about a blow-up break-up. Unless she’s a moron, she knows it’s over. I’m talking about the one day turnaround, whereby one day it’s good and the next day you’re gone, and only you and God know what prompts it. True, trouble in Relationship Town might have been subtly brewing. But unless she has a clue . . . guys, it’s cruel! Do you have any idea how many hours we women spend with our girlfriends trying to decipher some dumb shit break-up text from you that says nothing? Do you do it on purpose? Is it step #3 in the How to Get Free Handbook? She pours her heart out to you in multiple tomes, and in return you send a “I read your texts” reply. Really?!? WTF! That’s not an answer! And it sure as shit ain’t closure. It’s not even close to what she NEEDS to hear. Note: I didn’t say WANT, I said NEED. Whoever might have told you this is a kinder way to break-up with a woman LIED! There is NO KIND way. But there is a RIGHT way I’ll get to presently.

First, a real example of what one of your gender did to one of mine: Thursday evening they are texting. He says he wants to take her out to dinner Saturday night. She’s arriving late Friday evening—too late for plans per se–but he states, “I’ll definitely swing by quick tomorrow night if only to see your beautiful smile.” TEN HOURS LATER (during which there has been NO contact) this text arrives: “I’m going to be busy at work. I won’t have time to move forward in a relationship of any kind with you.” “What the hell happened in 10 hours?” she asks me. Lord! I don’t know! But there I am, trying to console (it’s what we girlfriends do). And I’m trying to come up with an explanation that makes any possible sense–an explanation BTW, that should have come from you! But hey, at least he had the balls (and yes, decency!) to be clear and explicit. In the plainest English he slammed the door shut on any possibility of resurrecting anything.

As opposed to another of your ilk and a second woman I know equally as well. Dude was out of town for 4 weeks. When he returned, he sent a text he was back with a “I’ll keep you posted on things” addendum. Of course, she called! The last time they saw one another he hugged her goodbye and told her she meant a lot to him. So what’s with the friggin’ text? She comes right out and asks. She also asks if she’s going to see him. His response? “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll catch up.” Guess what? They didn’t. She never saw him again—despite his cowardly “leave the door cracked” tact—which only fosters futile and false hopes. Gentlemen, it’s not that hard. If you are moving on, SLAM THE F**KING DOOR on your way out!

Yes, I know we are different . . . men and women. We think differently, act differently, react differently—hell, I wrote a 3-part post here on the subject! Trust me, you’re not likely to find another woman who better understands men—and I’m confused as f**k! And before you think to call me out on it . . . yes, I know. Women do it to men, too. Heartbreak Street runs both ways. Plenty of women have hurt plenty of men. No gender owns the market on asshole moves and chicken-shit break-ups.

Speaking of . . . they don’t happen only when the involvement goes south for a real reason. You’ll note I’ve spared you the discomfort of calling it a “relationship”—because God knows how that word terrifies most of your kind. Like sunlight to a vampire, you thrown up your hands to shield your face and seek desperate escape. Which segues into my next point . . .

For truly no better reason than she’s getting too close and you don’t “do” relationships, you bail. The problem is you usually don’t tell her. Gentlemen, here’s a newsflash: For women, breaking up is a 2-part process. #1 is the notice of and #2 the reason for. But let’s just tackle #1 for now. As much as we want to know the WHY it’s over—it’s more important we know THAT it’s over. Doubtlessly, some of my sisters will vehemently disagree with me. But it’s my letter, and they can write their own.

So back to you bailing because she’s starting to like you “too much”. . . REALLY? So she likes you! Did she start picking out china patterns or baby names? Has she tried to change even one freaking thing about you? Does she blow up your phone when you’re not with her? Unless you can answer “Yes” to even one of these questions . . . CHILL THE FUCK OUT! Exactly what is it you are so afraid of? Commitment? Did she ask for it? Monogamy? Did she ask for it? Exclusivity? Did she ask for it?

Since we’re on the subject of sex, let’s talk about sex. Question: How do you do the deed without the accompanying emotional feeling? I’m not talking one night stand or casual hook-up. I’m talking 4-5 months long, you’ve easily f**ked her 100 times, encounters—after which you reach for her and hold her close. I’m not judging, just asking. I’d really like to know. If one of you would care to explain it, I’ll gladly disseminate the information to my sisters. It would save a lot of confusion and do a great service to the cause of gender harmony.

If it’s a trade secret . . . how about a trade? I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. I’ll even go first. You see . . . we women . . . we can’t. We can’t f**k a guy dozens and dozens of times and NOT feel something FOR him. It just happens. As much as (trust me) we wish it didn’t. ‘Cause it would save one hell of a lot of heartache for us if we could. But the simple truth is, it’s an intimate act—ergo a sense of intimacy forms—and actually builds with each interaction. It’s a biological response—with oxytocin being the culprit. This chemical in our bodies increases with physical touch and it causes us to form an emotional, relational connection to the man delivering it. Sorry to break it to you, boys, but ya got this chemical, too. So how you’re all able to turn the switch to off or neutral is a mystery to us.

BTW, if you go and throw in extras—like calling her “Babe” or holding her hand or snuggling up to her in the night, you’re going to make it worse. Oh! And here’s another no doubt shocker . . . if you talk about doing anything together in the future . . . Dude! She’s going to think there’s a fucking future! So why are you so damn surprised when she thinks there’s a thing between the two of you? Especially when you show up Sunday night after work and stay ‘til Wednesday AND tell her next time you’re bringing a uniform to hang in her closet so you can stay ‘til Thursday and go straight to work from her place? Hello??!!

But just because we do develop the f-word for you in response to the f-act with you DOESN’T mean we want a promise ring or a rose garden—or even to be “an item.” Especially if she’s over 40, chances are good a woman loves her independence and living alone as much as you do. This may shock you, too . . . but very few older women—especially after 50—want to play house. Been there/done that is their mantra. Trust me on this one! The VERY LAST thing this single-at-sixty-year-old wants is to get attached at the hip to a man I have to cook and clean for and pick up after. Nor do I want to co-mingle my money and become in a few short years a nurse with a purse for your ass. Seriously, all I want is your respect.

Which returns us to my initial request. Your chicken-shit Casper acts and fade games are a demonstration of the deepest kind of disrespect. Again, I know you might think you are being kinder. But you’re not. Here’s my proposition: In the spirit of achieving a mutually respectful and definite means to this end, how about if both parties agree upon a safe word? A quit word, if you will—to be agreed upon up front, in advance, at a relationship’s or involvement’s onset—a word to be texted if/when the time comes? I even have a suggestion. Rather than a hurtful word such as “done” or “over,” how about “canary?” Since when these little yellow birds keel over in a mine, it’s the signal to get the hell out—I think it’s rather fitting.

Granted, this won’t fix all the relationship issues and problems between our genders, but it would be a damn good start!

Sincerely yours,
Judith Hill

Rules of Engagement

So here’s a question, ladies . . . Sex without emotion. Is it possible? More specifically, is it possible to have continual sex with a person (thereby developing the intimacy that forms naturally*)—and yet not develop an emotional attachment as well? Or is it a gender specific question—and issue?

Ask most women, and they will say men are absolutely able to “hit it and quit it.” It’s one of The Universe’s greater ironies. The gender that has only three compartments (work, sports and sex) can totally compartmentalize sex and love. Women, on the other hand . . . “Boink and boogie” just isn’t in the female DNA—or at least in our primordial hard-wiring. After all, the biological point of sex is procreation. And if Cavewoman Barbie got knocked up, she didn’t just want Caveman Ken to hang around—she needed him to—since that attachment of him to her and their offspring meant security and sustenance (and hence survival) for them both. Simple.

But in the modern world, things have changed. And yet the hard-wiring hasn’t. Sex is still initially a physically bonding act. AND as it was also biologically designed to do (*google “oxytocin”), frequency and the passage of time STILL act in concert to create a deeper “bonding” —i.e. emotional and spiritual. And if it’s not designed for this—or not still hard-wired into us—then pray tell, why do you have to fight against it??? Suddenly not so simple, huh? And yet it is.

For women, frequent sex with creates emotional attachment to. BTW, experts say it’s as true for men as for women. I’m not sure I buy it though. Still, sociologists and psychologists insist it’s a matter of societal/cultural programming that men are loathe to admit they can’t do the one without the other. Forming feelings for a woman is a sign of weakness. So they resist it, deny it and avoid it. BTW, women do as well—although they are the exception rather than the rule. As a rule.

Speaking of . . . there are rules. Dos and do nots intended to thwart designed biology—and emotional attachment. Unsurprisingly, they are specific to the circumstance. In other words, the type of sexual relationship in which you are engaged. In a 2013 Elite Daily article, Jenn Scalia defines 3 types of relationships and explains their rules of engagement:

  1. One Night Stand—quick and easy (and unplanned) sexual satisfaction between strangers. It’s a physical fling that spares feelings. Indeed, as Jenn says, “You might worry about catching something, but it ain’t feelings.”
  2. Booty Call (also known as the fuck buddy)—satisfaction happens when you want it. You know and trust one another, but there is no desire for a “real” relationship, ergo there are defined boundaries to prevent such from forming. Primarily, sex is not frequent. There’s no kissing, cuddling or sleeping over during nor phone calls or texts after. According to Jenn, “You master these rules like you master his body.”
  3. Friends with Benefits—exactly what is says. (FYI, there’s a fine line between the FWB and the FB relationship.) The difference, Jenn claims, is this one “can get real sticky, real quick, and not in a good way.” You’ve probably know each other for years. He make you laugh. You stimulate his mind. Together it’s a fun time to be had. Want it or not, there’s a connection (which means feelings are involved). And BECAUSE there’s a connection (and feelings) and not just a physical act, this “arrangement” makes for great sex. However, what makes it great is exactly why it never lasts. Because one of you is going to want it to become more. Human nature, I’m afraid.

But because we are human, we think we are different. We are the exception to the rule—so ironically, what do we do? We set rules. Rules—we not only confidently convince ourselves will allow us to control the situation—but rules we arrogantly delude ourselves into believing will circumvent basic biology. Yeah . . . let me know how that works out for you! ‘Cause I sure as fuck (no pun intended) know how it has for me. But before we get into that . . . Here’s the best the “experts” can come up with, assuming you’re game to try . . .

Rules of Engagement to Avoid Emotional Attachment

  • Be clear upfront with him and yourself. Fuck does not equal feelings.
  • Check yourself, if you catch yourself slipping.
  • Avoid regularity (no more than a couple times a month—see above)
  • Know there is a time limit it can be done (and it ain’t indefinitely—see above again)
  • Set boundaries. In other words, to separate the fuck from the feelings, establish a “do everything but fill in the blank .” Anyone who has seen Pretty Woman knows Vivian’s “anything but.” Indeed, no kissing on the mouth and/or sleeping over are boundaries a lot of women set. Men go with not coming inside her during and not cuddling or snuggling after. Hell, even swingers can have boundaries (like only oral) that separate the “fuck with” from the “feel for.” This is not new. In my mother’s day it was first base and second (make out and feel up)—but no milk without buying the cow. Today teenagers think anal is ok because they are not losing their virginity per se, so they are still “saving” themselves for that someone special.

Now, because (trust me) you’re fighting a losing battle, here are two rules I’ve added. They don’t change the outcome, just the quality of play.

  • If you are going to do it more, choose better. Since frequent sex will create feelings, make certain he’s one worth feeling them for.
  • And finally, if it’s less than what you want, opt out before you time out. (It will hurt less.)

This all being said . . . and as black and white as it all might appear, there are men who fuck and love in shades of gray. Yep. For his having only one freaking compartment, this is the man who can sure as hell create a shit-ton of pigeon holes within it! For Mr. Gray, there are feelings when you’re together—but freedom when you’re not. Ergo, no strings and no expectations after. But during? Yeah, he’ll develop feelings—and he may not even attempt to control them or follow the agreed upon rules of engagement. But when it’s over, he turns them off and reverts back to his “no feel” zone. Talk about mixed signals! And bending the rules!

Here’s where you can stop reading. Because here’s where we now segue to me and my ongoing “relationship” with the man called Sunday. Please know, I don’t blame you if you truly don’t care. (I wish I didn’t.) Nonetheless, if you’re still reading (and have read “Yo-yo Romeo”) you know where we are. Zig zagging. But me being me . . . see . . . I can handle anything if I understand it (or so I tell myself). It’s why I analyze the shit out of shit (and why I write this blog, in fact). BTW, my analyzing drives him crazy. He’s a “let it go” type, while I’m a “need to know.” So after the last post, I figured I had it figured out.

Well dontcha know . . . and son-of-a-bitch! . . . if last week the Mechanic didn’t throw a fucking monkey wrench into the works that have been working just fine for me!

It may mean nothing. And it probably doesn’t. But as a writer—and a woman—words matter. From day one, our physical relationship has been defined/described/referred to by one word. And one word alone! He’s blue collar to the core—and a man . . . so no surprise it’s his nomenclature of choice. And God knows, I have NO problem with it. I use it frequently and unabashedly. (Just count the number of times it appears in this post!) Hell, it’s a noun, verb, adjective AND a comma. So yeah. I have no problem calling it like it is. We fuck. Period.

So somebody please tell me —and sorry, but non PG version ahead (like I said, words matter)—why—when I (admittedly, floating in the pleasant aftermath of climax) asked how in hell he had made me come without moving inside me—did he say, “Because I made love to you.” And then, with a smile and a kiss—and not another word said—he rolled off.

Well, I’ve got a word! Actually. Three.

What . . . . . . . . the . . . . . . . . fuck?

Yo-yo Romeo

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about older (wiser?) women selecting (wanting?) only the best parts of a post-divorce relationship. I used my own not so very merry merry-go-round relationship as an example. And FYI, at the time of its posting, I hadn’t actually decided if I was actually going to swallow what he’d spouted. Nevertheless (and it’s friggin’ moot now!) the Monday following the publication of “Cherry-picking”. . . yep. You guessed it. Ironic, huh? (And BTW, why DO they call it iron-y when nothing ever gets the fuck ironed out??) Suffice to say, Sunday stayed til Tuesday and then was back Wednesday evening thru Thursday evening. Naturally, I’m going with cherry-picking as my defense. But is it?

For 18 months now this man enters and exits my life like a damn sewing machine needle doing a zig zag stitch. (And damn if he hasn’t given me material—no pun intended) It’s the relationship that doesn’t end, because despite everything (including his 7 month absence) neither of us is (at least at the same time) willing to call it quits. And so we (alternately) keep reaching out (in my case) or showing up (in his), thereby maintaining the “friendship.” (potato-potahto) Romantics wearing rose-colored lenses or half-glass-full type optimists are wont to dub such a relationship “meant to be” –ala Carrie and Mr. Big. Not I. For the record, I’m near-sighted. Not to mention, cynical. If half-empty doesn’t equal pessimist—it sure as hell adds up to realist. What I am NOT, however, is apparently unique.

So-called experts call such a back and forth, on again off again ménage à deux a yo-yo relationship. Like the reconnect, the yo-yo happens out of habit. And yes, while we humans are all creatures of habit, it’s important to note that the yo-yo is perpetuated more by men. The reason is simple. Men are basically lazy (when it comes to relationships). A yo-yo is familiar and comfortable. But better yet, it’s easy. To reconnect with a past girlfriend or ex-lover often takes but a single phone call or text. Something along the lines of, “Hey, I was in the neighborhood . . .” (FUCK) Yep. Pretty much. And FYI, Ladies, good—if not great—sex is the most common reason the Yo-yo Romeo is jerking your string.

Frequently, however, we women want to believe there’s more. We want to believe Hallelujah! He’s come to his senses. Dumbass has finally realized what a gem I am and now he wants a do-over. Ladies . . . NOT. Rare is the man who hears that wake-up call. Not saying it’s not possible, but the cock-a-doodle-do he’s heeding? Yeah . . . probably more about what’s rising between his legs than what’s coming up in the east. Nevertheless, I am willing to concede it could happen. Once in a blue moon. Somewhere. Someplace there’s a guy who wants a do-over ‘cause he’s realized he fucked up. (I actually will buy this as most men are trial and error learners. In other words, they learn more by fucking up than by stepping up.) But listen carefully! Do-overs and second chances are well and good and AFTER if he acknowledges and apologizes for his fuck-up. (And don’t mistake excuses for either.) Absent “I was wrong and “I am sorry,” he’s merely picking up where he left off . . . Probably because he’s again single (i.e. horny, bored, lonely) OR because somebody or something just kicked him in the balls and he needs you to kiss them and make it better.

Ironically (there’s that damn word again!), there is a third reason for a yo-yo relationship. It’s a combination of the two aforementioned ones and best explained by the old adage: You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone (and THEN you miss it). (I like Madona’s Unapologetic Bitch lyric, too: “You never knew you loved me ’til you lost me.”) Regardless, I do believe relationships have a course they are just destined to run. And all are different–and dependent upon those involved. Age, circumstance, history . . . all have a bearing. What a never married 30-year-old wants is not necessarily what a divorced 60-year-old does. Not judging. Just saying. So back to Mr. Back Again . . .

Sometimes a yo-yo is a no-no. But sometimes a “yo” is a “go.” So how do you know? Trust me. You know. You can lie to the whole fucking world, but don’t to the woman in the mirror. Don’t delude yourself with that trite “just friends” crap. How many of your “friends” have seen you buck-ass naked? And how often does it physical hurt to think of a “friend” with someone else? Yeah . . . NOT friends. And BTW, know if you’re keeping a foot in each other’s life, neither of you is stepping forward. You’re both standing still—and blocking the path for the next (and better?) one to come along. Just saying.

That said, there are unignorable signs a yo-yo relationship is unhealthy, actually toxic or doomed to die. (Heed them or not. Your choice.) UK’s Daily Mirror advice columnist Dr. Miriam Stoppard cites the following red flags:

  • you have little in common except great sex
  • he lures you back with gifts, declarations of love and/or promises of change
  • trust is broken
  • you make excuses for his lack of commitment
  • the fights worsen each time you get back together
  • you think you are going to change him.

No. You can’t. You can’t change a Yo-yo Romeo (or most men, for that matter). If that’s what you think/ hope/ want – STOP! Cut the freaking string. Also, if the list of cons is longer than the pros or if you see yourself in any of the other bullet points above . . . yeah, let go. Above all, and again, be honest. If what you want ain’t on Romeo’s to-do list (marriage, babies, commitment) you can yo-yo til the cows come home (oh goody! another barnyard animal allusion) and it won’t happen. This pertains to younger women in particular. But if you’ve been there/done that and what he does offer is what you want . . . then why not? Of course, this means YOU have to figure out what YOU want.

Which, ironically (really?!? again!?!) brings me back to the question raised in “Cherry-picking.” What do I want? Honestly, I‘m not sure I really know. Yet. Oh, and for the record, and ‘cause I can’t make this shit up . . . Sunday has returned to his previous “never again” stance on marriage. I have no idea why. Nor have I asked about the 28-year-old. (LIFE LESSON learned: Don’t ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to.) So for now . . . yeah. Sunday and the realist are probably going to keep sewing. After all—and as any good seamstress knows—the straight stitch might be stronger . . . but it’s the zig zag that will stretch with the fabric.

Cherry-picking

“Cherry-picking” is defined as the action of selecting only the most beneficial items from what is available. So…..Ladies, a question? Since statistics indicate more older women than ever are choosing to be single instead of married (and since I can’t possibly be the only one who says: Oh hell to the no! Choosing to be single is NOT choosing to be celibate . . .), are we single gals “of an age” cherry-picking our post divorce wants & needs? In other words (and unless I really am the lone slut at the single sisters’ table) are we picking out just the best part(s) of being with the next man — and deep-sixing the rest? Are we with our actions and words — in either conscious thought or subconscious instinct — telling the naked guy in our bed: “Be fun to be with, hold me, screw me, spend time with me, tell me I’m sexy and beautiful — then toodles til the next time –’cause I ain’t doing your laundry, cooking your meals, picking up after your ass, figuring out your fucked up finances, making your doctor appointments, reminding you to call your mother or any of the other myriad of mundane day-in-day-out shit I did for x-number of years.” (In my case, 36)

Harsh, right? But is it true? Because truth be told . . . I think maybe I was cherry-picking my last relationship’s best parts (and his). (OMG! Did she just say that??) Yes, I did. And furthermore many experts say I’m not alone. But before I do my usual survey/research/statistics shtick, let’s recap . . .

Regular readers know of my ongoing/offgoing relationship with Sunday (aka “I don’t do relationships but I show up when I please”) who recently informed me he was in love with another woman. Oh, but wait! It gets waaaay friggin’ better! He said he was waiting a couple years to marry her. And for those of you who haven’t kept a scorecard (or read “Time to Say Goodbye”) — Dude is 52 and the object of his affection is 28!! (OMG! Did she just say that??) Yes, I did. And let me count the ways that fucking stings . . .

Lamenting the loss (because what woman in her right mind would sign on for that gig?), I opened up last weekend to a girlfriend. (It’s what we women do.) She’s not one of my usual 2 go-to sister-confessors, so damn! If Girlfriend 3 didn’t have a whole new take on my heartbreak . . .

“What do you want from him?” she asked.

Ironically, Dude had asked me the same question the night he dropped his little bombshell. I gave her the same answer: “I don’t know.”

“Well you need to figure it out,” she answered. “Are you looking to be in a relationship with him? Do YOU want to marry him?”

“NO. I won’t ever, ever, EVER get married again. I don’t want to play house. Do the day-in-day-out thing. And I’m sure as fuck not co-mingling my money.”

“Ok, so you’re telling me what you DON’T want. What is it you DO? And don’t tell me it’s a relationship — ’cause all those things you just listed — that you don’t want — are what make a relationship. So you don’t want a relationship.”

It took a long pause and a whole lot of thinking before I could come up with an answer. “What I had, I guess. Hanging out a couple times a month, maybe taking the occasional trip. Sex.”

She looked at me, her head tilting. “Did you think you two were exclusive?”

I bit my lip. “Nope. He was always honest about that. He comes and goes, does want he wants, sees who he pleases. I just figured when he was with me, he wanted to be with me. And he always made me feel that way.”

“Well, girlfriend,” she said with a laugh. “You don’t want to hear this . . . but THAT is exactly what you have still. He’s not moving on. He THINKS he’s in love with her. He THINKS he’s going to marry her – in two years. In the meantime, you threw a curve ball at him. You’re obviously not what he prefers . . . age-wise . . . yet he’s still coming around. He likes you. He told you you matter, he trusts you, he likes being with you. Hell! He even told you he loves you–“

“As a friend,” I interrupted.

She waved a hand. “Doesn’t matter. And shit happens. He said so. Things can change. Friendships become relationships. Plus he knows you love him and he hasn’t headed for the hills because you do. So unless you DO want what he THINKS he wants with this girl — and clearly SHE doesn’t want it now — then why are you sad?”

Ouch. Talk about food for thought and a banquet of oh boy, oh boys . . . “I don’t know,” is all I could put on the table.

“Well you gotta figure out. ‘Cause unless you want more, you’ve got it– at least until what you DO want comes along. And by the way, I don’t think it’s him. Because IF it’s the right one, then you are going to want ALL those things you just said you don’t.”

“Doesn’t that make me stupid to still see him? Knowing . . .”

“It goes back to what you want. If this is it – and you have it – then it makes you smart. And seriously . . . looking like he does . . . I don’t blame you. I get it. So until – or unless – ‘better’ comes along . . . ” She shrugged and smiled. “Judith, what do YOU want?”

Indeed. What?

I want what many single women want. And not just women newly single or those whose D.O.B predates Disco by decades. Nowadays, and in greater numbers, women are choosing freedom and independence over relationships with men. For example, last year in Australia, fewer women got married and more got divorced than has ever occurred there before. Experts who apparently study this sociological stuff, say women in their 20s and 30s are focused on fun and friendships and are not ready for love, while older women just prefer to be responsible for their own lives and happiness.

I’ll buy that. But let’s talk specifically “older” divorced women — because that’s my demographic (and it’s my blog). Factor in the facts that the dating scene for us sucks, that we have the means and ability to be self-sufficient in ways that didn’t exist 30 years ago, the stigma of divorce has greatly diminished AND it’s ok to have sex without marrying and BINGO! Ding Ding Ding. We have a winner! Marriage — or remarriage — just ain’t the end-goal it once was. And I, for one, am doing my damnedest to dispel the stereotype of the lonely, miserable spinster who will grow old alone and die with a herd of cats that will eat off her face.

So let’s talk more about this (my) group, a.k.a OWOOMs (older women opting out of marriage) The truth is (remember, according to the experts), women today, in general and of my age in particular, are far less likely — or willing — to suffer unhappiness in an unhappy marriage. Moreover, OWOOMs are happy single — as long as “single” was not forced upon them. (And even then, we cope better than men because we network). But living life solo isn’t just a happier choice for some — it’s a healthier one. At least, according to a 2013 study of nearly 80,000 post-menopausal women in 40 places across the U.S. Between the ages of 50-79, they were followed over a 3 year period as they stayed unmarried or married, got divorced or separated, got remarried or “entered into relationships that were like marriage.” Only women who became widows were excluded from the results which have been published and referenced in rather reputable places, including The Journal of Women’s Health and Psychology Today. Here are the findings released in 2017:

  • For those who were unmarried and then got married: their BMI, level of drinking and systolic blood pressure went up.
  • For those who were married and got divorced or separated: their BMI, waist circumference, and diastolic blood pressure all went down, while their healthy eating habits and level of physical activity went up.

Interesting, eh? That women overall became healthier when divorcing or separating from their husbands?

So . . . happy and healthier . . . with her own place, own money, own life . . . what’s not to like? And here’s another interesting fact based upon a 2014 Australian survey of 3500 single participants: 76% of the women reported being satisfied with their single lives, as opposed to 67% of the men. And now a final contributing factor for some choosing to be single instead of married in older age . . . We fucking live longer! As a rule. So where’s the mystery that many of us don’t jump at marrying a new man? I figure the inner dialogue goes something like this: “Why should I reorganize my whole life to accommodate a new man when chances are pretty damn good he’s going to die on me in a few years? And if he gets sick first — and seeing as I have way more assets than he does — where’s the upside of linking myself to him legally and sacrificing my own future financial well-being ?”

Harsh, right? But it’s reality. And so maybe we deal ala a favorite movie of mine, Heartbreak (no pun intended) Ridge . . . We improvise. We adapt. We overcome. And yes, we cherry-pick. We select what we want and take only the best parts of a relationship:

√ the physical connection with someone who offers human touch and intimacy

√ the emotional connection that allows vulnerability and the sharing of happiness, sadness, hopes, dreams, experiences and honest conversation

√ the fun and comfort of just being with someone you just enjoy being with

Yep. Check. Check. And check. And guilty as charged.

Ergo, as a self-confessed perpetrator of the crime of cherry-picking, why the eff am I now surprised (or hurt ) to discover there are pits? Damn! We’re talking real food for thought now . . .

Sooooooooo . . . about that 28-year-old stone . . . is it time to be logical – and practical? After all, as with any unpalatable matter that somehow comes to get stuck in a woman’s craw . . . let’s be honest. We all know the choice. Spit or swallow. (OMG! Did she just say that?) Yes, I did.