Mama on the Market

One might have thought that it would have occurred to me sooner, I mean, the Boy and I have been on our own for over 2 years now; but it has only just recently dawned on me that I am single, and perhaps ought to get out there and mingle –- I'm tellin you right now people, it's hasn't been pretty.

Prior to this fledgling single status, I had been “off the market” for almost 2 decades, and so have been away from the whole courtship dance, dating ritual stuff for nearly 20 years, and am woefully out of practice (Frankly, even way back when, I wasn't very good at it) So now, all these years later, rusty and road weary, I have been trying to read the signals and do the dance, and,due to my romantic illiteracy, I feel like I have been making a royal mess of things.

Several times now I thought there might be something brewing in the romance department, each time it has ended somewhere on the continuum between failure and disaster: here are but a few of the less embarrassing examples:

Shortly after the separation, in an effort to fill the weekends that The Boy was away, I began frequenting a local coffee shop. There was this one Batista who worked there on Sundays, when the place was nearly dead, who would come out and sit in the overstuffed chair next to the sofa I was camping on, and read the Sunday paper. There was nothing overtly sexual, but plentyl of under current. The Batista would share funny comic strips or interesting news items from the paper, and always seemed very interested in anything going on in my life. The atmosphere between us was charged, and yet at the same time it was very sweet and comfortable.
Then one day I said the wrong thing at the wrong moment, the whole atmosphere thing shifted, and the Batista suddenly had work to attend to. After that the Batista remained polite and professional, but our days of sharing lazy Sunday afternoons together are behind us.

Then there was the long time friend, who I had had a crush on while I wasn't available, who was suddenly more on-hand and solicitous once I was single. In retrospect, I feel like I can pinpoint the moment when it was on the precipous of becoming a romance, when we could have made that turn in the road. But I didn't see it at the time, or didn't realize that it would be my one shot. In any event, our wires got crossed, and so we remain buddies. Thoroughly, disappointingly, platonic buddies.

And then, more recently, there was the dear friend who I was dead sure was flirting with me: the friend whom I was nearly certain was waging a campaign for a shared future together --half the time. I don't know if I was reading the signals wrong or what, but half the time it seemed that I was being courted, that this vulnerable and tender soul was reaching out to me, and half the time it seemed like our friendship was simply blossoming in a friendly way. For a number of reasons (good reasons, damn it) I was reluctant to take the plunge and say somethin like “you and me, babe, how about it?”. Then, in a moment of temporary insanity, I kinda did --in a thoroughly embarrassing, awkward and ill advised way. I think I came on too strong, and now it is utterly and completely and in every way OVER.

It was at about that time that The Gardener started dating the teenage Intern, and, it should come as no surprise to anyone (though, apparently, it was a shocking revelation for the Gardener), that it rocked the Boy to his core. The Boy had been completely unaware of the near misses in my sudo-love life, and like any kid, he had been holding onto the dream that his parents would eventually get back together. I don't think the Intern is in it for the long haul, but there is something about this tryst that has put the the Boy and I on notice that the landscape of our lives has been significantly and irreversibly changed.

The emotional fall out for my son of one his parents dating had me convinced that the best course of action would be for me to live a monastic life, at least until the Boy moved out and had a life of his own . . . at which point I would be pushing 50. It seemed like a really good plan at the time, and maybe it is. But it is also a bit impractical

The whole monastic thing was lookin pretty good: uncomplicated, straight forward, conducive to completing my degree and maintaining my calm. A perfectly plausable path. Leave it to a chocolatier to break through my defenses and get me thinking amorous thoughts again. I ask you, who could resist a purveyor of hand-dipped vegan truffles?! And on top of it all, we have in common that we are both recovering from the demise of longterm relationships! The problem is, I am still a rank armature at this whole courtship thing. I think I have been flirting with the chocolatier, but who knows? Maybe I am just making polite conversation, maybe the chocolatier has been dropping hints and sending signals that I, in my infanent daftness, have simply missed. All I know for sure is that I have spent an inordinate amount of time and money loitering there, and don't feel like I have gotten a meaningful response, either way. I worry about being perceived either as a stalker or a glutton. sigh.

Perhaps I should draw on my activist back ground and try a banner drop to express my amore, or I could chain myself to the chocolatier's booth at the Farmers Market . . . then again, maybe not.

So I just don't know, the trail of failure and spectacular disasters left in my wake suggests to me that I am just no good at this romance stuff; Neither The Boy nor I needs more heart ache, and yet . . . I mean, theres chocolate involved: thats one hell of a powerful incentive --and not the only incentive, or even the most compelling one.
I wonder if theres some kind of “Flirting for Dummies” or 12 Step Program for the Dating Challenged that I could join?


zilla said...

I think you should just hustle on over to Jamoker-Tees and get yourself a "Mama on the Market" Tee-shirt.

You're smart and capable. Any idea how frightening that is to men? Do not ever dumb-down to get a date.

The printed version of "How I Met Mr Z" says that I picked him up at an ice cream stand because he had great legs. The truth is, we both ran ads in a local alternative newspaper's personals column. We were both very methodical -- spreadsheets of qualifications, even. By the time I agreed to meet him for ice cream, I had become an expert at First Dating.

Guy: Well, I never actually hit my ex-wife, but I did sort of push her.

Zilla: NEXT!


Guy: Nice to meet you and I have great news! My HIV test came back negative today. (wink, wink)

Zilla: NEXT!


Guy: Sure you can pick up the tab. My ex-wife has maxed out my Discover Card at Target again.

Zilla: NEXT!

I could go on.

One benefit of meeting guys from personals ads is both parties are aware of the ultimate goal, because you've made it clear in your ad whether you're looking for a friend, a short term fling, or a soul mate. The other is, you get a LOT of practice with the diplomatic let-down. "I think we both agree that we're not interested in taking this any further." Gives the poor fella a chance to say, "I'm so relieved you said that" when you know he was really planning the honeymoon in his head.

Of course, the converse is true, too, I suppose. But when you're dating via the personals, it's okay to be direct. "I'm having trouble reading you and would appreciate your honesty here. Are you interested in more than an occasional cup of coffee with me? should we have coffee again? should we just move on?"

Give it a whirl and see what happens.

Nathan said...

Okay, I for one want two things different out of this post. One, I want the more embarassing moments. And, two, I want to know, for instance, what you said when you say you "said the wrong thing at the wrong moment".

Well, good luck and have fun! I think this is one of the areas where "youth is wasted on the young" comes into play. You've got a chance to use all you've learned the past twenty years to do it right this time and have some real fun. :)

griffin said...

Nathan, you are bad ;) I realize that one would never guess it from reading this blog, but there are _some_ things I am not willing to publish, gotta protect the guilty and all that. The barista story, in particular, is one of those where I either give the nutshell version (as posted) or give the story it's own post --possibly it's own blog. Perhaps some time we will have the opportunity to sit down over Kalamazoo Stout and pizza and I'll tell you the whole wacky story (how long a ride is it between the Twin Cities and Portland?) In the mean time, you have gotten all the messy details and juicy gossip I am prepared to offer at present. Thanks for the encouragment.

zilla, perhaps if the chocolatier thing doesnt pan out I'll have to get you to show me how to do those spread sheets and qualifications. Do you suppose that if I wore a shirt emblazened with "Mama on the Market" that the chocolatier would get the hint?? Could be fun, in any event
Dumbing down just isnt an option. I suppose one good thing about the waning years of my last relationship is that I have pretty well confirmed for myself that trying to twist and bend to fit someone else idea of who I should be is futile and doomed to failure.
I love the highlights from your own dating experience, perhaps we can get more folks to write in with theres, make nathan happy and me feel less romantically illiterate :)

wisteria said...

I had a friend who was the mother of a student who was divorced and who did not date until her only daughter went away to UC Santa Cruz. At first, I thought it was downright bizarre, then I thought maybe she is struggling with sexuality. As soon as said student flew cross country, the Mother was open to interaction and soon found a rewarding relationship. So I asked? She apparently made a commitment to herself for her child. She did have a great child, but I always thought the sacrifice was too great.

I am glad I haven't had to make decisions like that or enter "the Market." I have always felt that you shouldn't have to search. If you do the things you love, someone else who loves the same thing will be around and you will meet. People marry too early in my opinion. Most people haven't found themselves by the time they commit and many times the partner is not mature enough to be patient enough to watch the transformation and other times the partner doesn't like the finished product.

By the way, I tagged you!

griffin said...

Thanks for the love and support, I know what you mean about marrying too early. My mother always 'joked' that no one should marry before age 35. As a kid, I thought she was silly, and as a rebellious youth, well, I rebelled. Now I see the wisdom in what she was saying.

I waffle now, about the plan to be a monastic hermit, I can see where your friend was coming from: I have a kid and am in school and am trying to scrape out a living while trying to save the world. It is not as if I don't have enough to do as is. And it is not as though his dad dating has done The Boy any good at all. It has been one more in a series of traumas. I can see where your friend was coming from. I am hopeful that you are right, and that I can do what I love and find love in doing so. Time will tell. In the mean time, I am so very grateful for the friends I have made writing this blog

partygirljessica said...

As much as I would like to recommend a book, I still believe that experience is the best teacher. Look at the bright side of things: the failures of dating could be your step to success if you learn from your mistakes. Don't be afraid to try dating again. I suggest you try webdate_dot_com for a change. There will always be a risk involved, but remember that it is part of life.