Sunday, July 10, 2011

Middle-aged Dating Escapades: Part I

     In the thirteen years since my marriage ended, I have had some interesting experiences in dating.  I also had a long-term live-in relationship thrown in there for five years, but that has been over for, well, five years, so I have had time to collect some pretty silly and sometimes outrageous stories.  In fact the most horrendous dates make the best stories, so I always feel like I have gotten "something" out of each one. Being unconventional (Really?), I am starting with the most recent.  I will then go back and chronicle some of the more colorful stories of the past in future posts.  
     I have been on Plenty-of-Fish, a free online dating site as LoriS1313 on and off for several years.  I had tried and eHarmony in the past, but they became cost prohibitive so I chose to stick to the free version of PoF. My profile had been hidden from public view for two years as I had been in a yearlong doomed-to-fail illicit relationship with a married man who inevitably broke my heart and from which it took me a year to recover and be ready to put myself back "out there." About four months ago I decided to take the plunge and see what kind, if any "fish" were biting. 
    It is a well known fact that I am weird and that I am perfectly content with my own weirdness. I know who I am and what I am and try very hard to be real about myself.  In fact, if you know me and you click on the link to my profile up there, you will see how brutally honest I am about myself.  I make it known that I am a real woman, not some skinny model and what my political and religious views are along with describing what I want in a man and relationship.  I attempt to state all of this in a witty, humorous somewhat self-effacing way.  (Comments welcome:  I can always improve that dang profile!).  Also, my photographs are very recent and I do my best to portray myself in such a way that the reader  knows that "what they see is what they will get."  To me this is the most honest way to be and prevents a lot of time-wasting trying to figure out what is true, what is embellished and what are simply lies.  What I have come to learn however is that I am rather unique in this regard. 
     Now let's go back about nine weeks.  I had just had a pretty funky experience with a man (we'll get to him at a later date) and was doing my best My Cousin Vinny "I'm through with this guy!" impersonation when I get a very humorous message from Don.  Don's profile was a bit sparse, but the humor got my attention, so I responded, and it began.  Within a week we had progressed to talking on the phone.  Soon we were spending hours at a time talking about everything from politics to religion to music to feelings to grieving the loss of our fathers, etc.  Communication was great.  He seemed like the perfect combination of sensitive and masculine.  We have tons in common, even use some of the same quirky phrases. He is smart, funny, talented, musical, an amateur photographer, employed, self-sufficient, communicative, etc.  He texted me  "Good morning" and little quips throughout the day.  Appropriately attentive without going overboard. What luck!
     Experience has taught me to enjoy the newness feelings while keeping my feet firmly planted in reality.  In other words, I know better than to get my hopes up.  Keep reading...  you now where this is going.  
     Four weeks into this telephonic relationship, portions of our conversations were spent flirting and talking about an impending relationship.  Don often asked, "What will you do if you fall in like with me?"  I asked him the same question back always assuring him that we would cross that bridge if and when we get to it.  At this point I became anxious to meet.  We were investing quite a bit of time in each other and it was clear that we enjoyed each other and there were little tender feelings beginning to germinate. This was a "call for action." In order to protect my sensibilities since I was still in a place of ration, and possibly my heart if it went much further I expressed my desire to meet.  "We will have to do that soon," Don replied.  In fact that reply was received on multiple occasions whenever I broached the subject of actually meeting to learn if what we were experiencing on the phone had substance and merit.
    After a week of expressing how important it was to me that we meet, I announced that I was taking myself out on a photography outing to the zoo over the weekend. My plan was to go to either Milwaukee Zoo or Lincoln Park Zoo.  Don said that if I go to the Brookfield Zoo (my last choice) then to let him know and he will meet me there.  Now, I know that he told me this during a phone conversation at 1:30AM while he was quite inebriated and feeling playful.  But, weird and rational though I may be, I am always, first and foremost a girl.  So guess where I went?  You got it!  I took myself to Brookfield.
    When I got myself settled into a parking space at the zoo, I sent him a cutesy, cheesy (OK, lame) poem text.  I don't remember the whole thing but part of it was: I am at the zoo! You could be too! What will you do?
    A few minutes later I get his response.  "Good morning! Which zoo?"
    Right then I knew I was in trouble because his response told me he didn't remember our conversation and if he didn't remember THAT, there was no way he remembered his promise to meet me there.  Crap!  
    Keeping it light and positive I replied, "Brookfield!  Are you coming?"
    About an hour later, I get his response, "I am trying to get there. How long will you be there?"
    Trying to get there?  TRYING?  What the hell?  Either you are coming or you are not.  What kind of game is he playing?
    "I just got here. They are open 'til 6." I texted back complete with smiley face even though my fingers could have pierced the little QWERTY with each letter pressed.
    "OK." was his response.
    It's a good thing that I don't need to be in a group to have fun or keep myself amused!  In fact I have gotten quite comfortable doing things on my own when need be.  (Don't get me wrong: I'd MUCH rather be with a friend or group!) So, with or without him, I was perfectly content photographing animals and watching people.  Around 1PM I got hungry and only hesitated about 30 seconds wondering if I should wait until what I hoped was his impending arrival before I grabbed myself an overpriced salad at one of the concessions. 
    At 2PM Don actually called.  He confessed that he was horribly hung over from his drinking the night before.  I was assured that he does not usually drink to excess and this was quite rare. Still, I was hopeful. He still had 4 hours to make it there! OK, so hopeful sometimes means stupid or gullible.  But hey! It's positive!
    By 4PM the skies darkened and opened with large torrents of rain. I took refuge in a gift shop, invested $9 in a bubble umbrella, requested an extra plastic bag to protect my camera and then proceeded to the African exhibit to hang with the gorillas because it was becoming ever more clear that watching a Silver-back through a telephoto lens was the closest thing I was going to get to a man that day!
    Sure enough, at 5PM the phone rings yet again and this time, instead of fostering false hope, he simply apologized.  Although I was understandably disappointed, I expressed only compassion and understanding.  Magnanimous of me, don't you think?
   We talked later that night and the next night and the next.  I reiterated how important it was that we meet and why. He agreed each time and gave me some permutation of "soon" each time.  After another week of talking, flirting and dreaming together, I asked him for a specific date.  He promised me that after work the following Wednesday or Thursday, we would meet.  Whew!
    The week came and went.  Excuses of overtime and condo association meetings came up.  We didn't meet. Again, I expressed concern and stated even more emphatically that in order to protect myself we MUST meet and that it had to happen soon.  I gave a tentative deadline of Independence Day weekend which at that point was two weekends away.  He agreed that this was reasonable. This was a generous amount of time to give him to pull his act together, choose a date and get this initial meeting over with.  
   Now throughout all of this, Don would proselytize about how most men are lame, how they play games and how he just didn't understand it.  He would say that a lot of women are lame too and they lied about who they were or the baggage they had from old relationships, etc. (Do you think perhaps he protests too much?  We'll see!) Also when we spoke on the phone, Don would always express his keen interest in having me come over to his place and listen to music, hear him play his guitar or mandolin, or to watch movies.  I told him I would love to do that, but we HAD to meet in public first.  I would not compromise my safety for him or anyone else.  He agreed that this was wise.  So I did the research and found out where the halfway point was between us.  We were only an hour away from each other, which was no big deal. Right?   Well, of all the times we talked, his big concern was the distance between us and this seemed to put him off.  To me it was just something we would have to figure out if it turned out we liked each other in person. 
    Last weekend was Independence Day and we talked about meeting Sunday which he nixed because it was too hot and I had to be back home by 6 to get ready to attend a Firemen's Ball.  But when we talked Sunday night, I told him that we were meeting the next day because I was coming down by him.  He only had to tell me where to meet him. His only response was, "Really? OK"   
    Monday, July 4th, I texted Don to "Rise and shine" because I was looking forward to head down to meet him.  He didn't respond. An hour later I called him and left an excited message that I was jumping in the shower and was going to start driving south and needed to know where to go.  An hour went by. Then two.  A text came through that he didn't feel well and would call me in awhile. At that point I decided I would not be taking that call.  When he called later that day, he didn't even leave a message.  Enough said.
   The reality of his reluctance to meet me caused me to take pause and evaluate our interactions again.  Looking back, about a week into our communication when talking about our mutual enjoyment of photography, I asked him to look at my albums on Facebook. He kept saying he wasn't a Facebook person.  I get that, however I really wanted to share my photography with him.  Then the week before Independence Day weekend, I asked him to remind me his mail address.  He gave it to me and I immediately sent him an email with actual photography attached as well as links to more photography and the blog post that I wrote about how my dad taught me patriotism.  These things are very important to me!  When I told him that night that I sent him the email, he said that he saw it on his phone but couldn't look at anything until he went on the computer.  HE NEVER DID IT!  How much effort does it take to flip a switch and sign on to your email in order to look at something that someone who you say you care about wants to share with you?  How much?  Is it that difficult?  That time consuming?  
    So Wednesday morning, two days after my final attempt to meet this man, I received a text in the morning, "Hi Ron Pauls new book rocks!"
    I waited about 15 minutes and replied, "Hi! Cool!"
    Awhile later I get "Hm"
    "?" was my immediate reply.
    "You still wanna talk?"
    This was a tough one.  Why?  Because I really enjoyed our conversations.  They were fun. HE was fun.  I thought about it for some time. But ultimately I could no longer hang with the game playing and over an hour later, I replied, "Yes, I do! Face-to-face."
    I haven't heard from him since.  Therefore, I have added an "e" to his name and quickly turned him from "Don" to "Done!"

    As for me?
    Batter up!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Eleven score and 15 years ago today....

... "our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

So, wishing someone a Happy 4th of July is like wishing someone a Happy 16th of October. It really doesn't mean anything and everyone in the world has one. 

THIS is Independence Day! 

When brave men put their lives on the line and "for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."  Men, who were bold enough to put into writing a declaration of Freedom and Liberty never before nor never after seen.  Men who emphatically agreed to reject their colonization and to break free as the thirteen United States. Men who agreed upon the following language:

"The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
We need to find a new generation of George Washingtons, Benjamin Franklins, John Adamses, James Madisons, Thomas Jeffersons, John Witherpoons, etc. in order to reclaim the ideals of Independence, Liberty and the true meaning of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" for ALL people... where we all get to choose our paths and accept responsibility for them... where we abolish the ridiculous notion of "equal outcome;" Where the government does not encroach on the rights of any person from attempting their dream so long as they "do no harm" to others along the way; Where the governed are in charge of the government; Where the system of checks and balances put in place with shared power of the three branches of government has not been breached, but is respected and upheld; Where those in government come from private life to truly SERVE and then return to private life without ever drawing from the public coffers; Where corruption borne of monies used to buy false loyalties of the legislators is eradicated; Where once again we are a government "of the people, by the people and for the people" and that we do not "perish from the earth."