My Jewish mother’s words still ring in my ears much as they did back in high school, sweetly yet nauseatingly warning me in her ever-knowing Marcia Brady style persona, “Why buy a cow when you can get the milk for free?” Hate to break it to you, Mom, but he still bought the cow, milked her for sixteen and a half years (before the filing), and then spit her out like cud. And yes, Mom, he’s STILL paying. Thank you very much, New Jersey divorce laws.
Fresh on the dating scene at age 39 I was effectively a born again (yup, still Jewish) virgin. At nearly 40, my ex husband had been my one and only. To the middle-aged man, I would possibly be the closest he could ever come to sleeping with a virgin without it being either creepy or illegal. If only I had known at the time that I possessed such a powerful marketing tool, I would have better advertised my so-called asset in my online dating profiles! No…not really.
Deciding when to have sex and with whom, and then feeling enough sense of self to bask in the afterglow, became yet another challenge I faced as a newly single woman. With each sexual encounter since my husband, my preconceived notions about sex caused me to wrestle with my conscience much the way Fred Flintstone struggled to cast off that little devil sitting on his shoulder. I had always thought of myself as a good girl. But did having sex, and enjoying it, make me less of one? Of course it didn’t.
Recognizing and accepting that I have a sexual identity apart from my role of wife (now ex), mother, daughter, sister, friend, and whoever else I may be in any given moment−and that I belong to myself−is critical as I search for a new life partner. Finally at forty-one, a single mother of three and independent for the first time in my life, I understand the choices I make are now truly my own. Whether I’m asked to come back for a massage, to see the Steinway, or to watch an episode of “I Married a Mobster,” the decision belongs to me, and the power only mine to behold. And how I feel about it afterwards, regardless of what the future brings? That’s mine, too.
“Do you want to come back and meet the dogs?” he asked over dinner on our second date.
“Not tonight,” I smiled, confident in my decision that this was not our time.
“Hey, you can’t blame a guy for trying.”
“And you shouldn’t blame a girl for saying no,” I applauded myself.
Cue music. “Que Sera, Sera,/Whatever will be, will be…”
Exit stage right.