Dating Over 40: 'The Cold War'
by Gregory L. Towns
At 49 years old, the thought of being thrown into the dating pool has me a little water shy. Dating is not a problem, it's the first awkward meeting, the approach and of course where to meet. Where does a 49-year-old black man go to meet women? I've racked my brains and received suggestions from everyone. My daughter who reads Cosmopolitan like a Southern Baptist reads the Bible, swears that the grocery is the spot. "Everyone has to eat." Men, take it from me, a single, career minded woman shopping for salad makings and feminine products, is nothing nice. My son says, church. A sister with a size 10-foot stuffed into a size 6 shoe, who dresses to impress other women and God (the order confuses me), is not a favorite choice of mine. A woman in pain is a vicious creature. Friends say the mall. Fellows, this is bad advice. Picture this, Saturday morning after a hard week of work, she's doing a man sized job for second class pay, plus taking care (in some cases) of kids, bills, a home and now they're on their way to a sale at Macy's and you want to get in front of that? With something as trivial as a meaningless introduction, I shudder to think of the consequences. The bar and night club scene is out. Drinking and meeting a woman is like drinking and driving, same kind of accident waiting to happen.
I tried a few of my own places - the hardware store. My thinking, women are helpless, thought I'd cruise the hardware store. What a joke. Women with HUSBANDS who are lazy go to hardware stores. They're not in the mood for some clumsy knucklehead with an old line. The real fiasco came when I had the bright idea to go to professional sporting matches, baseball, football, and even ice hockey. Female sports fans are far worse than male fans. Some know more about the game! I hate it when I quote a statistic and someone's 60-year-old grandmother has to correct me. Men strip to the waist, guzzle beer, scream at the refs and high five each other. Women fans do the same, but their language is worse, and they call men fanatics?
My mother suggested, now here's a morbid thought, - funerals. She's 80 and, doesn't have much of a social life, but she does have a lucid moment. Women at funerals never have a handkerchief or need a strong shoulder and consoling. Usually there are lots of family members from out of town, who don't know your pitiful dilemma.. After giving this some thought, even I'm not this desperate yet, but I will keep this one under my hat for future.
Weddings are also a bad idea. If you're looking for a casual date, someone to share dinner an occasional movie, and intellectual thought, never I repeat, never, meet or let someone introduce you to someone at a wedding. Bad karma. Everyone there is looking for the next "rice throwing" event. Men, this one's a trap. Beware.
My niece thinks that there are lots of places for people in my age group to meet, but not all are good. You don't want to meet someone in the drug store or a hospital, although nurses can be very exciting. Hospital gowns and nurses' uniforms confuse me. Stay away from police stations, P.T.A., Bingo, and casinos. If you want your feelings hurt, try that smooth line at a Bingo hall. Do you think that ambulance sitting out front is for overexcited winners? Bingo players and gamblers are a bloodthirsty lot. Yard and garage sales, Good; doctor's offices, political events, Bad.
After watching a talk show, I took the road that a lot of mature men take - the gym. I use the term 'mature' instead of middle aged; it has the sound of prestige and dignity. The gym seems to be all the rage to meet women. Let's give this some serious thought. Sweaty, weight lifting, driven, muscular women. What about that sounds erotic. Funky, perspiring women with the "no pain, no gain" attitude. After an hour of running, weights and aerobics, I'm sure that sleek beauty is really in the mood to dine and dance or small talk. Guys she's laughing at you. The "no pain" logo on her tee shirt is what you're suffering from, trying to keep up this fašade. Now the term 'middle aged' fits! Feel the burn? Bengay is good for that, but not an attractive scent when trying to make your move on a physically fit woman.
As a young man, it was the thrill of the chase, the hunt. It seems the chase has slowed to a crawl and my hunting ability is relegated to finding the best hamburger in town. Dating in the 90's, the thought frightens me, but not enough to stop me from trying again. I search personal ads and found that this is a grab bag and you take the chance of finding your worse nightmare. The first ad spoke of the romantic dreams of a schoolgirl's diary, at age 38, the description of an African Queen. The right likes and dislikes and I closed my eyes and dreamed. On and on we spoke by letter, then telephone; we talk of all we have in common, good and bad - she's organized, clever, intelligent and phobic about cleanliness and personal hygiene. Everything my heart desires. I even told her about the manic obsession I had with a clean house and how strict I am, even with myself about neatness. All was fine with the world. Our initial meeting was the stuff that romance novels are written. After several outside dates, walks on the beach, museums, parks, and window shopping, we reached a comfort point and she invited me to dinner at her place. Disaster!!! After wading through a cluttered living room to find a seat among her recently laundered clothes (I could tell they were washed earlier, found the dryer sheet stuck to my slacks). When I went to the bathroom that was another adventure. I negotiated my way back to the couch and proceeded to make small talk when the laundry began to move to my amazement. The curious smell coming from the bedroom (caught a glimpse of the bedroom on the way to the bathroom), turned out to be a litter of kittens that hadn't learned about the litter box. Needless to say, I've discontinued the personals scene.
I'm reasonably intelligent, open minded, as good looking (at my age) as the next fellow (got all my teeth and hair). I'm kind, caring, romantic, and generally fun to be with. So what's the problem you ask? I don't have a clue! I'm probably a little gun shy. You see, my timing is off. When I'm at my most charming, women seem to be otherwise occupied, or maybe it's that dreaded monthly monster and they hate ALL men!
Maybe I've made it over the hill and found myself in the valley of the dateless. Whichever, I'll never give up. Maybe I need a new pick-up line. The one I have is over 30 years old and like anything else, it's worn out. I've tried everything, new wardrobe, hairstyles, and colognes, and attitude. Now I'm in search of a new approach.
Well, back to the grocery I go, this time to the produce section, close to the front door. Maybe I can find a woman who's just out for happy fruit and a little conversation before she goes to the feminine products aisle and remembers that every problem women have begins with a "man" or "men" - mental illness, menopause, manipulation, mania.