Comforting Words: Dating Over Forty

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dating Over Forty


Some months back I said that it is quite possible that very soon a post like this one would be available.

Here it is and in my usual style -- it's a no holes barred post.

Yesterday, as I prepared to go shopping for a gift to take to a Diwali feast and dance that a couple of my boys were hosting, I realized that I was driving around for almost two months with an unlicensed car.

It was Sunday and I had several places to go but knowing that my car was illegal I was in extreme panic. Instead of heading back into my apartment, I called this giant of a man who loves me to the ground that I walk on and who has become like a brother I never had.

I screeched at him "I need to find a registry! Do you know any that's open on a Sunday?"

The long and short of this story is that he found one and directed me to it and my car is now licensed until 2008. It was something this Caucasian man said to me though that has stuck in my head. "Honey, you know it's dangerous to be Driving While Black!"

Dating over the last few months has been as and in some cases more dangerous than DWB. In fact, Dating Over Forty (DOF) can be emotionally lethal especially if one's self esteem is not firmly intact.

Several months after 'the break up', I finally acquiesced to my friends’, particularly Lance, and my daughter’s insistence that I get out and get a life. Regular readers will remember that post about my first date – it’s one I will never forget, all 15-minutes of it!

One thing I deliberately did not specify, at least not here on Comforting Words, was the fact that this and my subsequent dates were with men. Yes, men.

Those closest to me knew. And those closest to me understood why it had to be that way.

Backtrack just for a moment. In the heights of the drama of the ‘break up’, a dear and long-time woman-friend from Jamaica, who now resides in Toronto, in a telephone conversation with me reminded me of a piece of profundity I said to her some 10-12 years ago. It was not her intention to throw it back in my face nor was she trying to make me feel stupid. She was doing what friends especially those who know you well do - giving me a reality check.

“Girlfriend," she said, “I will never forget how you were there for me during my own divorce.” To which I responded with some words to express how humble I was and that it was no big deal. “No, no, that is something I will never forget and how you opened your home and your life to me, which you didn’t have to do,” she insisted. “But there is something I must ask you if you remember saying to me.”

“What?”

“Remember you told me that maybe when I got over my divorce and ready to be in another relationship, I might want to consider being with a woman.” Without waiting for a response from me, she continued, “You also said to me ‘a woman would never hurt you like a man'.”

If she was close to me and not on the telephone, God knows I would have smacked her because I knew where she was going with this. “What do you feel about that now?”

What I felt was like telling her what a b…h she was for reminding me of how stupid “being in love” makes you. My profound wisdom had come from being in relationship with my now ex for about two or three years and in all honesty while I can now say that pain is pain no matter the gender dishing it out, my experiences with men up to that time had left me extremely wary.

Well gentle people, the last few months have not changed that feeling. No, this is not a womanist lesbian treatise against men. I love the animal. Over the last few months, however, I have met a cross-section of that kingdom that has confirmed my inner knowing that that world is not for me.

All the stories your mother has told you or not told you because she was/is too embarrassed to admit that her life is not what she pretends it to be or r stories she prayed you would never hear or experience are still true.

It gets worse when you are woman DOF – just as bad as DWB.

Just to interject here though – before anyone thinks I am saying this about men only - being a woman DOF and a person of colour, especially ‘black’ in a white majority city, town or country is close to a death penalty period.

I have made speeches at conferences and presentations at workshops on this issue over the last couple years – the discrimination and racism that is rampant in the LGBTQ community. My most recent experiences confirmed my suspicion and the real life stories I have heard about the reality of inter-racial and inter-cultural dating – that it is hard as hell still in this day and age.

Hold it though … please do not believe the lie that a 'brother' will be more sensitive or it would be easier dating your own kind! Been there, done that and it’s a myth!

So what have I learned about DOF? Whether man, woman, a person of colour or Caucasian:

1. You drink a hell of a lot of coffee. Most first meetings take place at a coffee shop and if you are like me who have had 3-4 cups by 7:00 a.m., this can be hard on your bladder.

2. You must read with uttermost caution their profiles if you are doing internet dating. What a lot of them write is about the ‘person they would like to be when they grow up’ not who they are right now. And guess what – most of them will never grow up.

3. Truth is a novel concept for many - something they really don’t understand or believe is a possibility. If you really like someone and want to ‘get to know them’ – well don’t tell the truth about anything. Most cannot seem to believe truth even if she came and kissed them. The better you are at story-telling and myth-creating the better chance you will have at a second or even third date.

4. Never, no never, express your feelings – this is a liability not an endearing factor. Never make the mistake and give gifts for special occasions – it will be deemed that you are moving too fast or want to either move in or have them move in with you. (You all can see how hard it has been and will continue to be for me – as I am a blabber mouth about my feelings and telling the truth! Worse yet, I love to give gifts!)

5. The most popular line is “I am looking for friends.” Unfortunately, most who write or say that has a different understanding of ‘friendship’ than say I do. If you are into head games, one or two night stands, jumping though hoops to prove you are not after their family heirloom, not quite happy with what you have managed to earn through sweat equity, pretending to be what you are not, love to meet for coffee morning, noon or night, cannot hold your knife and fork properly (that’s a pet peeve or mine thanks to my ex) then you are “friend” material.

I could go on and maybe I will someday, however, this should give those of you who are DOF a fair picture of what you are in for. And like I said before – this goes for both genders. Yes, Miss Y in Toronto, a woman can and in fact will hurt (and play games with you) as much as a man can…I am eating crow’s pie.

Am I put off from the dating scene? Am I now planning to enter a convent? Or remain celibate for the rest of my life, dying of old age with my dog Angello by my side? (Incidentally, Angello, the love of my life, was seriously ill a few weeks ago – I thought he was a goner. But after much tests and hundreds of dollars in the vet’s pocket, he was diagnosed with kidney disease and is being treated. Thank God for small mercies).

No, I am not done dating, nor am I going to join a convent no matter how enticing the thought or rushing to a relationship with anyone. And my humble advice to anyone recently out of a long standing relationship -- it's true that you need at least one month for each year to feel the power of healing. It's been 13 months for me now and boy does it feels good!

I am just far more aware, clear that the man scene is not for me. They make great friends, my gentle giant is one such, but my soul - which is what I want to share - belongs to a woman “somewhere out there,” who is self-possessed, "in touch with her feelings", totally inter-cultural, smart, sassy, well-educated and open to the ‘joys’ of DOF. (Seems like a tall order, ah well).

When I meet her, you will be the first to know.

Blessings,

Claudette

P.S. Most of the recent photographs on Comforting Words are courtesy of my friend Ren. You can see his work at http://www.renatogandia.com

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