"It used to be so easy to meet them, but now..." my friend said at a singles (all women) cook-out last week. Over burgers and the last of the summer wine, we were talking about men. Lack of good ones. "I've given up. So many of us, so few of them." She shrugged. "Besides, who wants to cook dinner every night or pick up tossed socks...and where do you meet them anyway?"Not where you used to. When we were young, it was raining men. In class, at dances, the boy next door. They worked with us on the college newspaper and later on the job. They were driven to mate by testosterone and mothers who wanted grandchildren stat. Back then, you had your choice: younger, older, same (choices males of every age have). But for midlifers, men are no longer low fruit on the dating tree. Sometimes you need to stretch to pluck them. Sometimes you need a ladder.
"I'll date if something wonderful comes along," a twice divorced woman declared." Trust me, " another answered, "at this age nothing, wonderful or not, just comes along unless you're extraordinarily lucky. But there are ways and means." And so the talk turned practical and produced a list of ten suggestions (in no particular order) for where to meet men at midlife, a precious list which--in the public interest--I'm passing on to you.
1. Fix-ups. The good news: they're your friend's brother-in-law or her husband's golf buddy so they're vetted. The bad news: ditto. Therefore, if on the first date he kvetches about hip pain or uses a toothpick or brags about his collection of Russian semi-automatics, it's going to be tough to tell the fixer-upper that this "wonderful man who's just perfect for you," well, just isn't. Solution: do a little pre-meet triaging. View his photo. Chat him up via phone. Check him out on the Net. I saved a BFF from disaster by Googling the guy who'd been referred by her cousin. I found him. On www.dontdatehimgirl.com which is real website and he was a real loser.2. Classes/interest groups. The trick is to enroll in activities that attract males. This means No to "Crafting with Lace and Sequins" and Yes to "Elementary Auto Mechanics." No to Zumba dancing, Yes to Civil War reenactment. But do you really want to brush up on rebuilding a Corvette engine or dress up as Mary Todd Lincoln? Compromise. Take a writing course. Nonfiction. "Writing the Memoir" workshops are overpopulated by men who believe they've lead fascinating lives. It's a male ego thing. At least they're literate and you'll have background. Photography classes are largely XY. Also history of WWII, "A Guide to Fantasy Football," and cooking classes, especially barbecuing and, oddly, Asian wok cuisine. Men go for fire.
3. Fund Raisers. This is advanced technique. Single men, especially older widowed ones, attend fundraisers alone because they want a party for their money and it's not the right venue for their thirty-something sometimes-girlfriend (the one they can't introduce to their kids). Benefits: You'll know these guys are not down to their last dime, they're altruistic, and you share an interest in the orphaned alligators of the Everglades. Caution: Beware of black tie affairs. King Kong would look stunning in a dinner jacket. Don't get carried away by appearance. Tip: if you don't own real pearls, wear good fake ones.4. Political campaigns. Lick stamps, make calls, compare bumper stickers. It's an election year for heaven's sake! Debating political issues makes men hot. Take care not to hook up with someone to the right of Limbaugh or the left of Lenin. Fanatics of any stripe are--according to the group's informal survey--lousy in bed.
5. Ballroom dancing. There are classes solely for singles. Benefits: You're learning something together. You're in his arms. If he has rhythm vertically, he just may have it horizontally. Caution: oh, the hell with caution, you're tangoing!
Now you have the first five and we haven't even gotten into the perils and pleasures of Online Dating. Tune in next time for more of the list in: The Dating Pool: Part Two -Swimming at the Deep EndAdd to the where-to-meet list? Share your most horrendous/hilarious dating stories? We're all breathlessly waiting to hear from you.