For anyone who hasn’t dated in a decade or so, consider yourself lucky. It’s a whole new world out there, and it’s not so pretty. For younger women who don’t know any different, consider yourselves lucky, too. At least you don’t realize how bad it really is. But for those of us ladies thrust back out there in midlife, we’re the ones with real challenges.
We remember what it was like before technology turned dating into a numbers game, back in the old days, when men called you on the phone to chat and asked you on an actual dinner date at a restaurant with reservations.
First dates today are more like drive-bys, a meet-and-great while you pick up a latte grande or for the more adventurous singles, a few cocktails and hook-up. The good news about digital dating is that you can meet a lot of new people; unfortunately few are worth the 45-minute interview.
On a positive note, the more colorful suspects on your dating card will offer reams of material for entertaining friends. Nothing like a bad date story to liven up a room. For instance, on a recent date, my gentleman friend (I use the terms “date” and “gentleman” loosely) commented that he felt sorry for our waiter.
“He tried so hard to up-sell me on the nachos with cheese and all that stuff. Poor guy, I just wanted the cheapest thing on the menu.”
Unprepared for his blatant chintziness, I sprayed my wine across the table. “Did you actually just say that out loud?” was my response, as I struggled to compose myself. “Oh, look at the time.”
There is no hope for a cheap man in my book. If cheese on nachos is considered a luxury, best to cut my losses and run. We obviously live in different worlds: mine is the one where homes don’t have wheels and the appetizers are loaded.
Of course, I live in Sarasota so I suppose I should be grateful that I even have dates…pickings are especially slim in these parts. Worst of all, I’m in my mid-40s, the ghost town of singleness in retirement Disneyland. It’s kind of like the Kingdom without magic. Instead of “It’s a Small World,” where children sing and giggle all day, we have “It’s My World” where old people complain about singing and laughing after 9pm.
Remember that statistic about it being more likely that you would get hit by a bus than get married after 40? Well, in this town the statistical likelihood of finding love with a man over 35 and under 60 is about the same as being hit by a bus driven by aliens. That’s what we’re working with down here.
As if the numbers alone weren’t discouraging enough, online dating has spoiled most of the men remaining on the field. Dating sites are like 24-hour candy stores, revolving doors of tasty little treats to satisfy the male sugar addiction. To make matters even worse, men appear to be suffering a diabetic reaction to the multitudes of women at their fingertips, a malady which is painfully affecting their eyesight and personal assessment. There is far too much unfortunate selfie evidence to ignore. Apparently, they see shirtless, buff George Clooney nonchalantly giving a flirtatious wink and kiss; we see a constipated Elmer Fudd, recently paroled, giving us duck face from his dirty little bathroom.
The final nail in the love coffin is the fact that grown men actually think women want a party pic of their penis. Note to all men: Women only use these Polaroid moments for laughs. That’s right, we are not hot and bothered—well, maybe we are bothered, but not in a good way. We are, however, laughing at your little wonder. Some women even show it around to their girlfriends for comic relief. So the next time a random lady laughs in your direction, you might think twice about the source of her giggle and pull up your pants.
And don’t even get me started on their assessment of us. Good luck if you are not “athletic” or “slim.” Those are the minimum prerequisites for dating, right above breathing. Anything even close to an average body type will get you Friday night with Haagen-Dazs and Netflix.
All jokes aside, there is hope, ladies. I have a date tonight with a nice sailor from Boston. That’s the good thing about this little pocket of paradise—new suspects arrive every season.
Jules Lewis Gibson