Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dating and Kids

I just got back from the weirdest date. I went out with two females—K. and her 11-year-old daughter.

The plan was for us to go for a picnic dinner and then go for a nature hike. The weather didn’t cooperate, though. The windy spring season has begun, so we opted to eat outside at the table in K.’s backyard. We ate cold salmon, soy bean salad, picked beets (yuck) and a few other things for dinner. We ate off paper plates, holding the plates down so they wouldn’t blow away in the wind.

K.'s daughter, being an attention-starved tween, kept jumping on the trampoline in the backyard while K. and I were trying to eat and talk. Having an 11-year-old along on a date makes for a very different dynamic, let me tell you.

K. and I retreated into the house to get out of the wind. She sat down on a chair in the living room, leaving me to sit across from her on the couch. We talked, but mostly about her daughter and her ex, who is behind on his child support. Not exactly romantic date conversation.

It became very clear to me that K. wants a male presence in her life—but largely for her daughter's benefit. (And to give K. a break from the 24/7 job of being a parent.) Already K. is sizing me up as a potential stepfather.

One of the things I enjoy about mid-life dating is the sexual tension of “are we going to kiss on this date?” and “how far will she let me go tonight before she offers resistance?”

With K., there has been none of that delicious tension. We haven’t had a romantic date, so we haven’t had the opportunities to touch each other tentatively to see how comfortable we are. There have only been hugs of greeting and goodbye.

Tonight I felt like I was on an extended job interview. Maybe that’s what all dates are, but in this case I didn’t have to impress just one woman, I had to impress her daughter, too. I’m a great dad to my own (now grown-up) kids, so I know how to along with children. But I resented having to pass the “dad” test before I even know if there is any chemistry between me and K.

After tonight, a single woman without children looks very good to me, indeed.

How about you? What's your experience with dating and kids?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hello, and Welcome to My Life

Here I am, middle-aged and single. Sound familiar? It should.

According to the US Census Bureau (2007), there are more than 15 million divorced Americans between the ages of 40 and 64. Add those who are separated and those who never married, and there are more than 27 million single men and women in their middle years.

To put that into perspective, 27 million people is more than the populations of Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska and Nevada—combined.
That’s a lot of single old farts.

When I got married at the relatively tender age of 24, I assumed that I’d be married for the rest of my life. But like so many baby boomers, I did not choose to stay married to the same spouse. In my case, it was me who wanted out of the marriage.

So, after a quarter century of being a husband, I suddenly found myself single again. I was totally lost. Even if I had remembered how to be a single man, I was now nearly 30 years older and the world had completely changed.

As a newly single middle-aged man in the 21st century, I was faced with bizarre new terms like “” and “speed dating.” I had to figure out what I was supposed to do on a Saturday night. I had to learn the rules of dating. Had they changed? Did men still ask women out? Was it now OK for women to call men? When was it acceptable to kiss a woman and not risk a sexual harassment lawsuit? Would I ever get laid again?

Without giving too much of the story away, suffice it to say that, yes, I got laid again. In fact, I learned how to make new friends and engage strangers in playful conversation. I gave myself permission to try new things. I took dancing lessons. I bought a mountain bike. I joined a support group and met wonderful men who became my friends. I sought out opportunities to meet wonderful women, and some of them became my lovers. In the process, I learned a lot about myself and what I really wanted for the rest of my life.

I still believe that it is never too late to start again and it’s never too late to meet your soul mate. And along the way, you can have a really good time.

Lest you think that I was able to reinvent my life and find happiness because I am somehow special or fantastically handsome, let me describe myself. Trust me, no woman ever mistook me for Brad Pitt or Pierce Brosnan.

My hair has thinned in some places and vanished in others due to the dreaded curse of Male Pattern Baldness. Consequently, I have given up on having hair at all and shaved my head in resignation. Given the choice of little hair, fake hair or no hair, I have decided to proudly follow in the footsteps of other courageous bald men and flaunt it.

You know the old saying, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade? Well, my head looks like a giant lemon and I’m proud of it. I don’t own a comb or a blow dryer. When the wind gusts and everyone else’s hair goes ballistic, I make a joke and say how much I hate it when that happens (while trying to fix my imaginary hair). Lemonade, baby.

I stand six feet tall on size 12 feet, and I tip the scale at 185 pounds. I am vain enough to consider myself handsome, but realistic enough to know that I have never had the striking good looks that turn a woman’s head when I walk into a room.

My nose is too big and my chin is too small, but I strive to make up for that with a frequent smile, a positive attitude and a friendly demeanor.

I enjoy good health and I take care of my body. I eat sensibly well, but I also indulge in desserts and alcoholic beverages when so inclined. I dress in nice, conventional clothes, most of which I bought on sale. (I mean, really, why would anyone pay full retail price? That’s just dumb.) I live alone in my own heavily mortgaged house and drive a seven-year-old BMW sedan that I bought used earlier this year.

In a room full of people I do not stand out because of my looks, my behavior or my attire. I am, in virtually every way, an unexceptional middle-class, middle-aged divorced American man.
And yet, somehow, I have become a Babe Magnet.

This blog will follow my unfolding story. And I would love to hear your ongoing stories, too.