I am kind. I am smart. I am important.
I learned that from The Help.
I am also independent, confident, loyal… I could actually go on forever because dating sites have taught me to verbalise my positive traits. However, I am hopeful that you will continue reading, so I won’t. I’m also indecisive and I’m okay with this. Should I have written that? *deletes it; writes it again* I guess you can’t be a person given to self-reflection and second-guessingness, and not know yourself really well.
Which is why I hate finding myself in situations where I feel inadequate. I certainly don’t mean that in a dating way! I’m more than adequate in any social setting. Well, almost any. Except when I don’t know anyone in the room. Or when I’m the oldest person on the dance floor. Or when I turn up to a cocktail party wearing a bunny suit. Oh no wait – that was Bridget Jones.
I mean situations where I want to be the sassy, butt-kicking hero, but I feel out of my depth. Today was a case in point. My son’s fairly new motorbike was making a strange noise so he took it to the dealer from whom he bought it. They said they could book it in next week. He started coming home on the motorway and the engine died. I got the distress call. An hour sitting in my car on the side of a busy highway ensued, waiting for the tow truck. When I rang the dealer, he was immediately defensive. Why had my son not insisted on leaving the bike there when none of his staff had suggested it (or even turned the bike on to listen to the strange noise)? Why did we not tow it straight to them when it broke down (instead of trying to get it out of danger and taking it to the nearest garage)?
Am I the only one who wishes they had all the comebacks? Am I the only one who spends the next six hours replaying the conversation and trying to pre-empt any further blame-throwing by planning what I need to say? Am I the only one who feels inadequate when I discover that my balls of steel are, in fact, ice, and that they melt in the heat of confrontation?
Two ships are passing in the stillness of the night
Each is drenched in darkness and searches for the light
Neither is aware of the closeness of their fate
They scan the blank horizon, disillusioned with the wait
Chances come, chances go
We’re scared to reach the land
We’d rather keep drifting
Than leave the deep
And take a leap
In case it’s sinking sand
Either side of a hill stands a cottage made of stone
In each an air of misery as the days are passed alone
The existence of the other is unknown, yet desired
They stare through curtained windows and build their fences higher
Chances come, chances go
We’re scared to open the door
We’d rather just keep dreaming
Than look about
Or venture out
And fail like we did before
A couple on the dance floor is waltzing to a tune
Their flow is interrupted when the music ends too soon
They dance with other partners as the evening carries on
Then find themselves together as the band plays one last song
Chances come, chances go
Sometimes the pendulum swings
I’d rather take my chances
It may fall apart
Or break my heart
But it might be a beautiful thing.
Many years ago I joined a website that catered for South Africans living elsewhere. It covered great things ex-pats were doing, good things happening in the Fatherland, and ways to find people you had lost contact with. Then for some reason, it ventured into the dating marsh. Someone’s face would appear and you had to click on ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’. Purely based on their appearance. I remember thinking that this was such a dumb idea. I took my Barbie doll and refused to play.
It seems this is still how some people date. I’m not talking about Tinder, which is simply an updated version of this idea – swiping left and right, liking and, I believe, super-liking. Crazy stuff. No, I’m referring to the dating site I joined.
On the site you can like someone’s photo, add them as a favourite, send them a smile, or (heaven forbid) send them an actual message. In words. Many of the messages I get, whether they write first or are replying to my message, say that I am attractive. Like that is going to get me interested. I mean, of course I’m attractive! I only use photos of myself where I’m looking good. This photo is one of the most hilarious taken of me. I was trying to do the pout favoured by many young people, but I ended up looking stoned. Or toothless. I should use this!
This week, I decided to send a message to a man, rather than sit back and wait for the mountain to come to me. I asked him the meaning of the name he’d chosen for himself. He sent me a snotty message telling me I should say, ‘Hi there. I read your profile. Would you like to talk?’ He said I must try it because it might work for me… I told him that I refused to employ a pre-written generic response and was trying to treat him as an individual. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I should just be looking at the photos without reading the profile and decide yes, no or maybe. Then send them a message saying ‘I like your face.’
Do you think this would work for me? Yes? No? Maybe?
My reason for going back on a dating site could be one of many:
– I want a boyfriend
– I have lost my mind
– I need something to blog about
Which one do you pick? Oh, you have another suggestion. That I want to meet someone with money so that I can find a job outside of teaching. What? Hahahaha. Who told you?
Until that day dawns, I will plough through the avalanche of responses my profile is getting. Okay, so maybe not an avalanche. More like a couple of tumbleweeds blowing silently through a barren landscape. Be that as it may, how can I possibly take anyone seriously who cannot spell or string a sentence together?
Behind Door A – a young man (‘young’ meaning more than ten years younger than me) showing interest. His message – ‘your dam gorgeous’. My instinctive response is to give him grammar lessons. ‘Hi there, young man. Your sentence is incomplete as it lacks a finite verb. Perhaps you mean “Your dam is gorgeous.” In that case, I say thank you. It took me ages to build. Or perhaps you are familiar with animal husbandry and are referring to my mother, in which case you might want to say “Your dam was gorgeous.” Again, I say thank you because she was absolutely gorgeous. Please let me know if you need help with any other sentence construction.’
Behind Door B – a man of mystery (no photo, very little in the way of a profile) showing interest. I ask him to ‘Tell me something that will pique my interest.’ And yes, I used the word ‘pique’. His response is rambling, much of it indecipherable with a strange quirk – every phrase begins with the word ‘yes’. I re-read my eight-word imperative to determine whether there is any question inherent in the wording. Nope. It’s just a command. He then quotes two lines from an old song, but gets one of the words wrong. Yes, I could have corrected him. Yes, I could have asked him to resubmit. Yes, I deleted the conversation.
I dream of receiving a message in beautiful sentences, where I can swoon over the perfection of punctuation, and sigh lovingly at the meaningful metaphors. That’s what Chris’s messages were like when we met online. You know – my ex-husband? Ex? Ah yes, I see your point…
Posted in The single life
Tagged experiences, grammar, internet, life, men, middle age, online dating, people, play, relationships, women
I have decided to re-invent myself. I figure that at my age and stage I need to do something new. I accept that this is all part of my mid-life crisis. At the risk of repeating myself, however, a mid-life crisis is simply a kick up the bum. A shove in a different direction. A reminder that you only get one shot at this life. So, Happy New Year to me.
I thought that leaving teaching would be the answer. I started looking for jobs in other sectors and realised that there aren’t any that will give me the same things. What’s that you say? A sense of satisfaction and the realisation you are making a difference? No. I mean a high salary and long holidays. Therefore, I have decided to stay in teaching. But that means something else has to give.
I thought that moving might be the answer. But house prices are so ridiculous in Auckland that I can’t afford to sell my house and buy elsewhere. Maybe a two-bedroom apartment in the city, but that would defeat the purpose. Instead of expanding my horizons and creating new opportunities, that would crush my spirit and wither my soul.
What I’m thinking I might do is get a funky haircut (is ‘funky’ even used anymore to mean hip and groovy?) and a new wardrobe. Seasons are changing and it’s the perfect time to throw out the old. Should I go for leggings and long jumpers? How about bubble skirts and leg warmers? Or long shirt dresses and wide belts? There are so many choices!
Maybe I’ll join a sport or a dance class of some description, although I will have to be careful. I sprained my back doing Latin American dancing. I pulled a bum muscle doing belly dancing. I damaged my hip playing badminton. I died of boredom doing ceroc. I found a boyfriend doing ballroom. Not really.
But it could happen.
Recently I advertised a window on Trade Me because I had bought it and it was the wrong size but I don’t blame my builder friend who measured the window space at my house and measured the window at the demolition yard and decided it was perfect and that it was worth the $295 I paid. When I advertised it, someone bid on my auction and offered $100. Deal done. Except that he didn’t pay the money into my account as agreed before coming to collect it. Instead, he came around while I was at work and then sent me a text saying he didn’t want it, but would pay me the auction success fee. So I ended up with $10 and a useless window still sitting on the lawn.
So, when prompted this morning by Trade Me to give feedback on the buyer (which I had been avoiding because I didn’t know what to say) I chose the ‘neutral face’ emoticon. I said that I was disappointed because he won the auction and then changed his mind. Then I got a text from the reneger. He is irate that I didn’t give him ‘smiley face’ positive feedback because he gave me positive feedback. And $10. What really got my goat was his final question – ‘What kind of person are you?’
What kind of person am I? What kind of person AM I? I’m the kind of person who has ended up with a dress I can’t wear, with some coffee mugs I don’t like, with a necklace I don’t want and with a window I can’t use because I honour agreements. I am the kind of person who, having won an auction, pays for it and takes the item. I am the kind of person who could have given you ‘angry face’ negative feedback because I am tired of being taken advantage of, you piece of person-whose-word-means-nothing.
I am the person who accepts a challenge and has spent forty minutes fast-walking around the Botanic Gardens thinking of how to answer your question. In jeans. Who goes walking in skinny jeans? (Note to self: getting hot and sweaty in tight jeans is not a good idea.) And who is now sitting in the coffee shop at the Gardens waiting for a basket of fries even though I have been (almost) carb-free for two weeks. The person who is thinking about going back onto a dating site because teaching is all-consuming and I need something else to do with my time.
I knock on my neighbour’s door if I haven’t seen him for two weeks in case he has collapsed inside and nobody knows. I buy a cooked chicken, loaf of bread, bottle of mayonnaise and packet of plastic spoons (to get to the mayo) for the homeless guy sitting outside the supermarket. I take off my watch and shoes and jump off the pier to save a little girl who is going under.
I still believe in true love and happy endings. I over-think everything and change my mind often. I teach because I must, I bake because I can and I travel because I live.
Does that answer your question?
In this dream, she stumbles blindly down a street of unfinished paving. A sound escapes her downturned mouth but it is hard to tell whether it’s humming or moaning. Passersby would be forgiven for thinking she was drunk. Her stiletto heel catches in a crack and she tugs feebly for a few seconds before abandoning it to the wiles of the weather. She takes a few steps in her new-found one-shoe-off-and-one-shoe-on gait, then removes the second red patent leather peep-toe. It dangles from her hands, its elegance at odds with the nail-bitten fingertips.
She stirs, rolls over and begins another dream. The same, but different.
In this dream, she stands atop a wind-swept hill. The clouds above her are beautiful in their shades of grey and mauve. But they race by too quickly. And their beauty is out of reach. Her mouth is open and the wind whips her voice away. It is hard to tell whether she is singing or screaming. She starts to slip and tumble. When she stops, she is still at the top of the hill. With the wind. And the clouds. And the constant fear of falling.
She wakes and lies quietly, willing the shards of terror to dislodge from her heart. She knows the dreams will not end until she walks away. Until she gathers up the scattered remains of her self-worth and says, ‘No more!’
Birdsong. Morning. A new day. She puts on her ruby slippers and clicks her heels.