Meet Vicki, a friend from my church who is a talented writer. I admire Vicki very much for her strength and wit, and I am grateful for her contribution to Victory Month!
I am a widow, a middle-aged single mom, and I am resolved that, at some point in 2014, dating will occur.
This is akin to saying that I will rebuild the engine in my car. Then again, I can perform basic maintenance on my car, whereas I’ve never dated. Ever.
I was an ugly duckling well into adult duckhood, a chubby wallflower with frizzy hair, crooked teeth, and glasses. My pre-adolescent Friday nights were spent at the skating rink, sitting alone on the carpeted bench and pressing myself into the carpeted wall, desperate to appear nonchalant when the dreaded “Couple Skate” was announced and, one by one, my girlfriends were led onto the floor by boys with puka shell necklaces and feathered hair.
My best defense was to become a champion daydreamer. I developed mad crushes on a succession of unavailable males, from my best friend’s brother to Captain Kirk, with equal success.
Then, during my senior year in high school, the braces came off and the contact lenses went in, and I got asked to the prom. Twice. Two offers, from two different boys. Freaked me out. I had no clue about how to deal with someone who was 1) not a character on a TV show and 2) wanted to be with me. I lied to both of them, and said I already had a date. (I went my best friend. We didn’t have much fun, but I think that’s just the way proms go.)
I was in my early 20s when a miracle occurred. Somehow, despite my ineptitude around men who were not my best friends, or Gay, or Gay best friends, I lucked into a really good relationship with a really great man. And when I say “lucked,” I mean that. My beloved and I stumbled into our relationship. We were both at a party, got a far bit past celebratory, and somehow ended up welded together for 28 years, until his death two years ago.
I miss him. I am still his wife, but I’m not. I know where I am as a mother, but as a woman, I exist in this odd, no-place sort of place. It’s miserable and lonely here, and scary at times – and it’s also safer than whatever’s waiting out there.
Last week, I went into an Internet dating website that a friend uses, to see what it looked like. I made it as far as the first page and “create a screen name” before I froze, fingers on the keyboard. Stage fright. Flop sweat. Not ready for that. I’m not ready for fix-ups, either. Or going to a movie. Or dinner, lunch, brunch or a cup of coffee. Maybe a beer, with a bunch of friends as buffer. Maybe….that might be okay.
Bridget Jones, the patron saint of awkward overweight women, started over with a list: “will find nice sensible boyfriend and stop forming romantic attachments to any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, sexaholics, commitment-phobics, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits, or perverts.”
Sounds like a good place to start, except I’m keeping “commitment-phobics” on my list. Because the only thing more frightening than the idea of going out on a date is accidentally stumbling into a relationship. Because what if I really like someone, or, God forbid, fall in love with him, and he dumps me, or he doesn’t dump me but moves away, or he wakes up one morning and says his throat hurts and then two doctor visits later, he calls me into the bedroom and has to force out the words, “They think I have cancer….”
Crap. I already suck at dating.
2015. That’ll be my year. Definitely 2015.