Some women flirt by sending pictures of themselves in scanty little underthings to the man they’re hoping to attract. “Sexting” is most prevalent though, the media tells us, among teen girls. Only, instead of texting racy photos of myself, apparently, I send pictures of homemade soup.
Or at least, that’s what I would be doing if my friends weren’t actively trying to stop me.
I felt immediate and overwhelming relief: Oh good, it wasn’t me! I would put on my Florence Nightingale uniform and zip over to his place and nurse him back to health.
No sooner had I heaved a sigh of relief when the caretaker in me kicked in. The feel of my hand on his fevered brow would certainly do the trick and he’d realize I was the woman he’d long been looking for.
Alcohol and drug addiction didn’t help the toxic brew.
But now, with 23 years of sobriety behind me, a lot of emotional and spiritual growth to my credit, a very strong sense of who I am, and what talents I bring to the larger world, I still had no clue how to date.
Rule #3: The next time I’m tempted to go too far, I’ll try texting myself a photo of my glorious chicken soup.
A goodnight kiss so quick I hardly knew it occurred ended things and that was that. It had gone well; I had experienced my first post-marriage date and had walked through it with impunity. He posted a smiley face on my Facebook page an hour after the date; I went to sleep content. Every insecurity I’d ever even glancingly known began to holler like a banshee.A day and a half after our dinner, he sent another smiley face via email. I wanted to reach through the screen and grab him by the throat: Explain yourself!A few hours later he posted on his Facebook page that he’d come down with the flu the night of our date.Not a relationship per se—this business of being on my own and caring only for myself is intriguing and I’m learning too much to want to abandon it.I wasn’t interested in Match.com, nor a friends-with-benefits setup. Or so I thought until I went on the one and only date I’ve had (outside that marriage) in the last quarter century.He’d glimpsed it over those three hours and had high-tailed it out of there as fast as he could. With no warning whatsoever, I was 13 again, certain that the “cool kids” would never let me join their group, listening as they said, of course they’d love to come to my birthday party while harboring no intention whatsoever of showing up. I’d asked him some pretty blunt questions; writers are always looking for the story behind the story. My students think I’m amazingly cool because I ride a Harley. I sat with the feelings, talked them out with friends, meditated, and decided that the dating experience was here primarily to teach me about myself. I checked email regularly, looked at my Facebook page, hunted for texts that might have somehow been overlooked. I had foolishly thought that a date now and again would enliven my life, would give me something to look forward to, a reason to buy a new blouse, a more active social life. I began to consider how little experience I’d had in this realm.I was certain I’d made a fool of myself, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how or where. I was already learning what I might one day want in a partner (if I were ever to decide I’d like to be partnered again), what I didn’t want, what I found attractive, what bored me, and had come to appreciate how much I enjoyed my own company. I was old enough, experienced enough, and happy enough on my own to not take any of it too seriously. My dating history, if all pulled together, added up to about a nanosecond.I almost went so far as to add a photo of that lovely pot of soup but, thank God, good sense and friends who love me intervened. Meanwhile, I’m gobbling up the soup, enjoying the baguette dotted with salty lumps of butter and dipped in the piquant broth. Or maybe this is just the nature of putting ourselves out there.He hasn’t written back to accept or reject this over-the-top offer and the turmoil in my head has begun again: He can see the flaws! I’m trying to figure out how to not wade in so deep, so fast next time.I’d started dating at 16 and had experienced nothing but messed-up, far-too-dependent-on-each-other pairings from that first time out the gate until the day I married at 24.I had been that girl—you know, the one who thought she needed a man.