Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Dating Pool: Part Three ~ A Success Story

Medical Alert:  There are reports of an illness circulating called "dating site fatigue." It's especially toxic in single women forty-five and over. Symptoms: ennui, mild depression, low grade romantic fever, and a reflex spasm in the typing fingers that sends nasty responses to every man on every site who calls himself "Captain," or "Sailor Boy" or expresses a need for a "first mate." Why are so many boat-crazed men trawling for women online anyway? No matter, if you've absolutely had it with too many "hot4U"s who are not right 4U and despair of drowning in the dating pool, have I got a cure for you! Here's a heartwarming success story from our guest blogger who hung in there and made it work in spite of the odds, the circumstances and, mostly, in spite of herself.

Hello, everyone! 

I'm "Deb," the woman Toby mentioned  in a previous post who was swimming in the really deep end of the dating pool thirteen years ago. That's when Matchmaker.com led me to my soulmate--and  husband.  Yes, potential partners really are "out there."

Dating for over a decade after my divorce, I'd tried everything (or so I thought): church, alumni groups, personal ads (remember them?), blind dates, intros by friends, volunteer work, and flirtatious encounters in the light bulb aisle at Home Depot (but no light bulbs came on; not even any sparks).

I'd pretty much accepted that if it happened, it would happen, and if it didn't, it wouldn't, and I'd be just fine either way.  What other choice did I have?  When I'd tell the men I dated that my elderly father lived with me and we were a package deal--take us or leave us, that my teenagers were in the middle of adolescent angst and associated  crises, and that my dog  was having extensive, expensive dental issues("You mean the German Shepherd that wouldn't let me in your house?"--YES, that one)my dates often left visible skid marks taking off!  Like they didn't have any "challenges?"   Sure.
Then, one day, while reading a weekly newspaper published by my faith tradition, I saw this: "Christians seeking other Christians---try------.com"   What the heck, I thought.  Although the site delivered what it promised, the men were all over the country (together with some not yet "over” their marriages), and my budget simply didn't allow for a "quick bite to eat" with an interesting orthodontist in Ohio.  BUT... on that site, other links popped up.  I clicked on Matchmaker.com, and it was really at the deep end of the pool in 1999--not mainstream at all.  I jumped in, and it changed my life.

Fearing my friends and family would think I'd lost my mind, I told nobody of my online adventure. I could hardly believe it myself.  I screened many postings, and answered only five.  Out of those five, one stood out, and was the only one I met.   He not only stood out, but a year later stood with me at the altar. But, as he tells it, it almost didn't happen.
After three months of emailing, sending romantic cards, and pen-palling, he asked a really crazy question: "Do you think we could talk on the phone sometime, or maybe even meet?"  OMG, I thought, the moment of truth!   Could I really do this? I wasn't so sure.  Why ruin a perfectly fine online romance?

He was patient, however, and assured me that (in addition to the many things that we seemed to have in common) he had a high level security clearance, and that if we met in a public place like a restaurant, I could protect myself by having a cell phone handy, a knife and fork for defense, and I could disguise myself before entering to "check him out."  If I didn't like what I saw, or simply changed my mind, I could leave and he'd  understand completely.  He did make me laugh (very important), but was this man for REAL???
Yes, he was. Real and wonderful.
Given the lives we were leading at the time, there would have been NO way we would have met without either of us taking that leap of faith into the "deep end of the dating pool," and trusting our online "Yente." 

OK, so it wasn't reminiscent of "Fiddler on the Roof," but it worked.  He is a "good man."  "A fine man."  A man I never thought I'd meet let alone marry, but did.  I am blessed.
Matchmaker, matchmaker made me an electronic match.

Try risking that dive into the deep end.  Life is short, and love is grand.

Thanks, Deb. Readers, we'd love to hear your stories of dating adventures, misadventures or strategies for making the most of dating sites.  Just post a comment or send an email to midlifepassions@gmail.com.  We derive knowledge (and courage) from experience--our own and what we learn from someone else's life lessons. So let's share our strengths!
Toby Devens

Monday, September 10, 2012

Girls Gone Wild on the Beach ~ In Slenderizing Swimsuits

Toby and Toba On the Beach
For girls (better yet, young women), going wild on the beach means sand, sun, surf, spirits and... men. For those of us past our string bikini prime, the recipe for a wild vacation is more like sand, sunscreen, self-indulgence, and... no men. Oh, there's nothing wrong with the hairy gender. It's one of my two favorites. But honestly, aside from their obvious talents--such as screwing an umbrella into the sand hard and deep enough so it doesn't topple over in a strong wind, men are as superfluous on a summer holiday as earmuffs. Okay, not entirely true. But a women-only vacation is a treat occasionally.

So last week, I--officially single--and my friend Toba (yes I know it's matchy-matchy, Toby and Toba) whose first-rate husband was visiting grandkids cross country,  took off for the Delaware/Maryland shore. For this last gasp of summer vacation, our baggage included an iPad, Kindle, laptops, more shoes than clothes ...but no neon green noodles and floaties for kids now grown, and a not a single bottle of aftershave. Refreshing.

We didn't stop at the fashion outlets clustered along the route. We may buy stylish, but we no longer buy trendy, so what we've got lasts. We picked up fresh corn and tomatoes at the Little Red Wagon farm store on the approach to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a span whose height and leap-into-the-abyss design is a magnet for bridge phobia. Through clenched teeth, we sang our way across: "Everybody's gone surfin', surfin' U.S.A."

Arriving mid-morning, we hustled into swimsuits. No men. So no fear of judgment by those who'd seen us in bikinis in our twenties or could compare us to decades of Playboy centerfolds. Neither of us asked, "Does my ass look good?" I did wear a miracle suit constructed with the genius of Leonardo. Its powerful fabric and brilliant architecture flatten the tummy and somehow iron muffin tops sleek. Toba wore a tank twosome that allows women not to have to peel an entire clingy one-piece from a moist, sandy body when nature calls. Whoever came up with that cleverness deserves to share the Nobel Prize with the inventor of Spandex.

On the beach, we didn't discuss the coming election, the state of the union, the prospects of the Redskins, or the stock market. We could have. We know that kind of stuff. But unlike folks of the XY variety, we XXs can leave the world behind while gazing at a horizon of sky caressing sea. Nor did we ogle men in Speedos which we both think are ridiculous to the point of giggles.

That first night, dinner was just sweet corn and luscious Maryland tomatoes. For dessert, we made tracks to Dumser's, a local ice cream stand and ordered kiddy cones based on Toba's brilliant logic that two kiddy cones equal one small cone which allowed us to double up our daily quotient of ice cream.

Thus began our almost week away. Daytime, I researched my next book by scouting beach houses and shops in Bethany Beach and Rehoboth--possible settings. I interviewed locals for background. Toba did her own work with diligent focus. We spent a few morning hours on the beach and sunsets sipping wine on the balcony above it. Dinner was always just a haphazard prelude to Dumser's soft-serve. Or gelato on the boardwalk. Or both. Toba spoke multiple times to her husband whom she missed, but not overmuch. I got a message from someone who missed me. He was looking forward to my returning home. Home? Looking forward? Not overmuch. We would be there all too soon.

On the way back, with our stress level dialed down to zero, the Bay Bridge seemed less ominous. Once over, we stopped at a family-run store where the ice cream was made from milk produced by cows grazing on the dairy farm behind us. The young woman behind the counter convinced us to order the small size instead of kiddy cones. "I can make them with two flavors," she tempted. They came out with double scoops of bittersweet chocolate and cappuccino chip. She smiled at our guilty delight, a fresh faced beauty, heading back to college and into the world with options and opportunities spread before her like endless grains of sand on beach.
Did we envy her? After a vacation impossible at any other time in our lives, not a bit. Not a bit even the size of a cappuccino chip. 

Toby Devens

How about you? What was the best vacation of your life? Have you ever gone on holiday with just the gals?  Recommend it?

Toby in a Two-piece at 21