drunk facebooking…

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He broke up with me via text. To be fair, he texted that he was going into a meeting and would call me after to talk about the fact that I discovered that he was back on JDate although we had taken down our profiles in a show of commitment. But for some reason, instead of waiting to call, he continued typing, confirming our demise, saying that something was “missing” and that, although I was all kinds of wonderful, he “just wasn’t feeling it.”

I immediately panicked. Maybe I’m not good in bed. But then I remembered that we hadn’t slept together yet (I’m old fashioned – or maybe just old).

Unfortunately, he had friended me on Facebook early into our dating (second date). A precarious position because now my Facebook page was no longer safe. I couldn’t even log on without seeing photos of him, posts from him, cute, sexy responses from him from the cute, sexy women who commented on his cute, sexy posts and photos. I could unfriend him, but that would be too obvious. I could unsubscribe from him, but that would be too smart.

Instead, I went out with a girlfriend, drank too many cocktails, then came home and Facebook messaged 3 old boyfriends saying all kinds of things I shouldn’t have said. Content with the promise of my future, I drifted off into a dead sleep.

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The alarm woke me. The light was blinding and my head pounded. And then the night before flashed back. I had drunk messaged 3 old boyfriends! I logged on, suddenly more sick, searching for a way to delete a message on FB, but knowing there was none. I considered apologizing and saying I had been hacked, but I had said far too many personal things for anyone to have made it up.

Resigned to my fate, I checked their responses (which were underwhelming), wished them well in their life, and went back to my home page… just in time to see the newest post from the newest ex, now on a sandy beach, apparently so happy it was “like a religious experience.”

I logged off, swore off his posts and Mojitos, then closed my eyes, then said a little prayer to the Gods of dating myself.

Shampoo…

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In the time that I’ve been divorced, I can easily say that there’s only be one man who I’ve been truly crazy about. He was a hairdresser. A straight hairdresser.

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As I visualized a life time of amazing sex and free blow-dries, he looked me right in the eyes, said “I’m not going anywhere,” then proceeded to fall off the face of my earth.

Years later he resurfaced, I believe out of fear (he does my mother’s hair and she’s a good tipper). He wanted to know if I’d take his daughter’s photographs. While he offered to pay me, I suggested we do it as a trade. A girl can never have too many good blow-dries, I tell myself, knowing I really just want to see him again.

I schedule the shoot, and an appointment for Botox, then book my blow-dry. As I walk into the salon, It becomes clear that I haven’t thought this through.  While I had considered blow-drying my hair to go in for my blow-dry, I’m sure he’d know, so I’m walking in with bad hair. If that’s not enough, he’s running late, so he has his assistant put a conditioner on my hair. She finishes, puts a plastic bag on my head, then choses the one hair dryer that’s in his eye line.  I busy myself with a magazine trying to act unaffected, but I can’t see anything I’m reading because I refuse to put on my reading glasses. Migraine ensuing from squinting, I break, and quickly put them on to get a sense of what’s on the page, when I hear his voice. I look up, glasses on, and see him standing in front of  me. “Glasses.” He says. “Yes.” I smile and quickly take them off.

I try for my best angle as he begins to blow out my impossible hair. The part he hasn’t gotten to yet morphs into an instant frizz ball, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I try for a confidence that even Heidi Klum wouldn’t have in this moment. But it falters as he begins to tell me about the woman he’s dating, and how she’s changed him. He reminisces about how, in other relationships, he used to have one foot out the door, but how there’s just something about her that has made him want to really commit, with all of his heart, 100%. And I am sure it’s because she doesn’t have a single strand of frizzy hair.

I vow to take the money next time instead of offering a trade, put on my glasses, and open my magazine.

My date with Santa…

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A man told me I looked beautiful on the elevator the other day. He was at least 80, but still… When the elevator doors opened, he smiled, then got off and walked out of my life. A decidedly better experience than some of my recent dates.

Only two nights before I agreed to meet a Match.com-er for a drink. He was handsome and tall according to his profile pictures, and intelligent and witty per his “about me” page. I hate to admit it, but my hopes were high for this one. He had a way with words and a glint in his eye that drew me to drive more than half-way.

I searched the room, but saw no trace of him… then my eyes stopped on a man in a argyle sweater and man sandals. He had a shock of white hair, and a full white beard. He looked at me with that twinkle I had seen in the photograph, and it became clear that his twinkle was more Saint Nick than Nick Lacey.

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Spotted, I had no choice but to approach. He smiled at me, then crossed his legs giving me a full view of his sock-less feet. I did a quick calculation of just how long I had to stay before I could bolt without being obviously rude. Then fate stepped in.

My phone rang. It was my daughter. Our house alarm had gone off and an automated voice kept saying “Danger! Danger! Carbon Monoxide!” I told her to go to a neighbor’s until I could get there, then turned to Santa, taking the phone away from my ear just enough so he could hear the alarm in the background: “I’m sorry. I have an emergency! I have to go!” I said.  He looked at me, then tucked his man sandals under the seat.

Of course I panicked about my daughter the whole way home, but she was fine (the dryer had overheated setting off the alarm, there had been no carbon monoxide). I have to admit I felt a little bad, sure that he thought the whole things was a pre-planed escape  in case I wanted an out. He had no way to know that I wasn’t that date smart.

Maybe it was because I had taken the cart all the way back to the front of the market instead of leaving it wedged in between two cars earlier that day. Or maybe it was because just driving in rush hour traffic to meet a man who hadn’t mentioned he had a full, white beard and wore argyle had been torture enough, but I was free.

Bitter Not…

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I’m sitting in the waiting room at the imaging center waiting to be called in for my MRI. I’ve been having headaches, which my doctor thinks are caused by stress, but I’m sure mean that I’m dying. I’m nervous. They call my name and I stand, catching my reflection in a mirror.  It doesn’t help that I’ve left the house without blowing dry my curly hair and I now look like Harpo Marx. I’m even wearing a green trench coat.

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The nice technician adjusts my head, hands me something to squeeze “in case of an emergency,” then sends me back into the machine not caring that I’m claustrophobic. My mind immediately starts to race: “What happens if there’s an earthquake?”,  “Is this what it’s like to be buried alive?”, but the thought that is the strongest is “This is what I get for all the terrible things I’ve secretly thought about my ex-husband.”

My thoughts had to be secret. He had had cancer. I wasn’t allowed to be bitter.

It’s hard to explain how you feel when the guy with the brain tumor decides that he’d rather go it alone than spend one more second married to you.  It didn’t matter that I’d moved our family across the country three times so he could be by the best doctors (this includes 4 months in North Carolina. Have you ever seen the bugs in North Carolina?), or that I spent endless hours in utter anguish. His illness trumped my right to be the scorned ex-wife.

My mind flashes again. This time to the day we had been interviewed at Duke Hospital by 60 Minutes. Ed Bradley was talking to a group of patients. He had asked my then-husband what he’d hoped for. His response: “To be happy. To laugh and be happy again.” Ed Bradley was moved. He turned to the table and asked “Do any of you ever feel like giving up?” It was one of those vulnerable moments where you feel safe to admit things because you’ve all been united through tragedy. I slowly raised my hand, then quickly pulled it down when I realized that he had been talking to the patients, not the spouses. Unfortunately, I didn’t pull it down quick enough for Ed Bradley to miss. He looked at me and shook his head, his thoughts transparent:  “You want to laugh and be happy again? Lose the downer wife.”

My doctor called by the end of the day to say that I was fine, and that I should try to reduce my stress. He suggested yoga. I hung up the phone feeling an overwhelming sense of relief, truly grateful that I still didn’t have the right to be bitter.

The Crying Game

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I pull up to the valet and smile at the 20-something parking attendant who smiles  back, no interest in me.  He hands me a valet ticket,  jumps in my car, revs the engine, then guns my Honda down Ventura Blvd. like it was a Masarati.

I head towards the restaurant, tugging at my skirt, not remembering it being quite this tight.  It takes a second for my eyes to adjust to the orange lighting inside the too-hip-for-me tapas bar where we had agreed to meet.  It’s filled with people all laughing with the ease of those who have been blessed with social ease. I am not one of them.

I see him, sitting alone at the bar.  He had checked “Caucasian, not Hispanic” in his profile, but it’s clear he’s the latter.  “Latin is sexy,” I tell myself, then head towards him, trying to forget that I haven’t met him yet, and I already know he’s a liar.

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He stares up at me trying to find any sign of the woman in the five year old picture I’ve posted, and I realize that he already knows I’m a liar, too.

And then his eyes mist over.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

He tells me it’s nothing, then picks up a napkin and begins to dab at his eyes.  He offers to buy me a drink to distract me, then calls to the bartender:  “A glass of house wine for the lady.”

House wine.  Now I feel like crying.

“You’re very pretty.  Much prettier than your picture.” He clearly feels bad about the misting eye thing, so he lies again. “I’m sorry, it’s probably too soon for me to date,” he adds. It’s a vulnerable admission, and I feel sympathy now.

“How long have you been divorced?” I ask gently.

“Nine Years,” he answers.

“I’m sorry… Did you say nine years?” I stammer, sympathy gone.

“My wife was very special,” he explains, then starts to cry again. I glance at my watch wondering if I can make it home in time for The Bachelor.

“I’ve just been so depressed.  Some days, I don’t even get out of bed.”  He sucks back tears now.

And suddenly I feel sad.  Sad that the Compatibility Matching System at eHarmony found something about me that lead them to believe that, out of their over 20 million members, this would be my perfect match.  I vow to add words like “Fun, outgoing, and happy” to my Personality Profile.  I would even lie and say I loved the outdoors.

I pass my crying date a tissue, throw back my house wine, then signal the bartender for another.

*****

Driving Miss Crazy

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Somehow, I had been inching my way through life without becoming my mother, but on the day my daughter got her driver’s permit, Julie L. flooded right in.  Suddenly, I was back in that impossibly yellow, 1980’s Oldsmobile Cutlas, only I was the one white knuckling the door handle, pushing an imaginary brake and screaming in a voice so chortled, and in an octave so high, that glass must have shattered in the windows of cars as they passed by.  Just like my mother had done.

Psycho

I’ve never been a calm parent. When I call home and my daughter doesn’t answer the phone, instead of thinking: a) she’s a teenager and she’s doing homework, b) she’s a teenager and she’s sound asleep, or c) she’s a teenager and she’s (ignoring me, hating me, being a teenager, fill-in-the-blank), I immediately envision that she’s a) fallen and hit her head, b) been abducted or c) fallen, hit her head, and been abducted.

From the moment our children are born we spend our days trying to protect them. We’d wrap them in bubble wrap if we could.  Fighting their battles with four-year-olds who are mean to them on the playground, fighting to get them into the best schools, fighting to keep them happy.

But sitting in the passenger seat of our car as my daughter accelerated into traffic, the reality hit me: no matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I pressed that imaginary break, I really had no control.

I looked back and remembered how embarrassed I felt when my mom sat that close to me on the bench seat of our Cutlas, and I suddenly understood.  She wanted to protect me too.

Maybe the best we can do is prepare our kids for the world, hope they’ll make smart choices, buy them a warm enough coat, then open the door and let them walk through it.

Then say a little prayer of thanks for the refill of Xanax.

*****

match dot com mom

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I’m naked. I stand in front of the mirror trying to figure out what my mother’s ass is doing on my body. I cup my hand to my mouth and suck in little breaths of air. I throw on a robe, unable to take it a second longer, then move to my closet and begin ripping through the clothes hanging there. Too brown. Too boring. Too desperate. Too old.

My fingers stop on a black Diane Furstenberg wrap top I had bought on sale, then sold on e-bay, then taken back even though it clearly said “no returns” on my listing. I lived in fear of negative feedback.

I slip off my robe and quickly slide the modal top over my strong shoulders. They had to be strong. They had survived a divorce. I somehow maneuver myself into a pair of jeans that are at least a size too tight, tug up a pair of hand-me-down Loubouin boots, throw a scarf around my neck, then take a step back to access the damage. Christ. I had posted a five-year old picture, which I then photoshopped, on my dating profile page. I had set him up for disappointment.

Looking more Shirley Jones than Farrah Fawcett.

Looking more Shirley Jones than Farrah Fawcett.

My daughter comes into the room.  “You look nice,” she says, then cocks her head studying me harder. “I won’t be late” I tell her. “We’re just meeting for a drink. Although I’ll probably just have tea.” The only thing I know for sure is that I’m going to be drinking alcohol and lots of it, but she’s a teenager and I feel the need to lie. “Okay, Mommy,” she says, somehow still sweet despite her age and the volcano of hormones coursing through her body. I look into her big, brown eyes and I know I’m not the only one vulnerable tonight.

I take one last look in the mirror. Get a hold of yourself.  You were a cheerleader.

I grab my bag, kiss my daughter good-night, then head out the door, my mother’s ass swaying behind me.

*****