I see married people. Everywhere. And they’re happy, at least to the naked eye. What goes on behind closed doors is anybody’s guess but that’s probably just the cynic in me talking. Truth be told, I keep my eyes open for these happy couples because I need to believe that that could be me again, one of these days; Happy and in love. As hard as I try, and I have tried, Lord knows, I have yet to give up on love completely even though it seems to have given upon me. (This is where the cynic in me gets undermined.) But I often wonder if it is my fate to be forever single, bobbing conspicuously in a sea of happy, married folks.
It would be nice, as a starter, an hors d’ouvre if you will, to become intimate with someone new but for one reason or another I can’t seem to meet anyone who wants to do the horizontal Mambo with me. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s not like I’ve taken out a big ad in the living section of the Sunday paper or been walking the streets wearing a sandwich sign but I have made attempts at offering myself up for an evening of string-free fun only to be repeatedly rejected. It’s enough to make a poor divorcee cry or at the very least wallow in a vat of self-pity and utter confusion. And although it’s embarrassing to admit there it is; the cold, hard fact of my life.
Honestly, I am at a total loss as to what the problem could be. I’m reasonably attractive, intelligent and amusing. I am gregarious but not to a fault, witty but not in an offensive way and in short, a pleasure to be around. Fun even! And I want to have a sporting good time with a man. Did I mention the no-strings part?
I thought part of the post-divorce healing process was supposed to be fun; an adventure in the land of rebound relationships that didn’t mean much and in some cases last only a date or two; fun with no future, sex with no strings, connection without commitment. I know I’ve been off the market for almost 15 years but I never expected things to be so different than they were back in the dark ages when I was young and available.
Today was a particularly strange day in that I ran into a guy I flirted with a couple of weeks ago. OK. To be truthful here, I threw myself at him, in a playful way mind you, but I made my desires known in no uncertain terms. He definitely returned the volley of flirtatious conversation and, when I offered it, took my number. But he never called and I wrote him off. Seeing him again was nice although this time I played it cool. I was friendly but kept the conversation within the bounds of polite discourse so as not to embarrass either of us by reminding him of our previous encounter or asking why he never bothered to pick up the phone. And that, I thought was that, until I turned to walk away and he stopped me.
“I still have your number,” he volunteered.
“Do you now?” I waited.
“I thought about calling,” he continued. “You don’t know how much I wanted to. But I just couldn’t. I mean, I like to have fun but I just can’t go there right now.”
I was speechless. I was without speech. And after silently considering several improper responses to this confession I think I uttered something brilliantly succinct like “OK…” I smiled in an understanding way although I was miles away from anything resembling that emotion. Besides the next words out of my mouth would have been “Are you hiding a skirt somewhere in your jeans? Aren’t you late to a tea party? I’d hate to ruin the reputation of such a delicate flower so I’ll take my leave. What is your problem, buddy?!” or something along those lines. But somehow, I didn’t have the heart to say any of these things.
As I walked away all I could think was: What has happened to men? How did we switch roles with them? Wasn’t I the one who should have been concerned about my virtue? My feelings? Stating my need for commitment before consummation? If this had been an isolated incident I’d check it off as a fluke. But it’s not and I can’t. Because this is not the first time a man who seemed like a promising one-night-stander has whimped out. There have been a couple of other instances where this very same scenario has played itself out and it is not only disturbing but highly confusing as well. And I have to wonder: am I alone in this or are others of my ilk treading water in the same lake as I?
At any rate now I find myself in an untenable position: a born again virgin and not by choice. There was a time when this virginal status was OK; like when I was fifteen and didn’t know what I was missing. But I’m older now and I do know what I’m missing. And it is tough out there. Especially because, I see married people. Everywhere.