The Wisdom of the Elderly (RFQ forthcoming)

cloudy skies - b&w

A few months ago I was on the phone, explaining my foray onto OkCupid to my 89 year-old aunt. Back in the day, Auntie had been one of the first female doctors in her neck of the woods. She’d also been married twice, and she’d always been a savvy investor — the woman is a self-made millionaire. Now, she’s in an assisted living facility with a deteriorating hip, her husbands are long-gone, and she’s essentially, if not all-the-way, blind.

But the woman is still sharp as a tack.

So I’m talking to her about my attempt to start dating again. My aunt expressed concern for my safety, that I was meeting strangers online. I reassured her, explaining that I didn’t use my real name online, and prior to meeting anyone I “talked” with them, via the site, enough to learn whether they were a “real” person. And then, of the ones I met with, I always did so in a public place. My aunt was a bit assuaged, but not quite.

“Do they have jobs?” she asked.

I chuckled. “Yes, auntie, the ones I’ve met with all seem to be gainfully employed.”

“Well,” she said, her tone still conveying doubt, “you should ask to see their bank statements.”

I burst out laughing — from delight at her protectiveness over me, combined with the ludicrous idea of actually doing something like that. Could you imagine asking for someone’s bank statements, just to date them? LOL! But even as my giggles subsided, I felt a “click” of truth inside me.

Um, what is it you do for a living, again? I respond to RFPs and RFQs for my construction firm. And how often do you get asked for your firm’s financials from other companies who want to consider hiring you? Um… all the time…? Yes: all the time — and you give it to them, no questions, in the line of professionalism! Meanwhile, have you ever dated a guy who, it turned out, hadn’t actually had a job? Okay…, yeah. Maybe Auntie’s on to something.

I began thinking about how funny it would be to write my own RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for guys who wanted to date me. If I treated dating like a business, I could ask would-be daters to answer the same types of questions that other companies asked of my firm. (Tell us about your legal history. Explain your experience with this type of project.) It was kind of a joke in my head, until I mentioned the story of my aunt and “my dating-RFQ” to my boss, one day at work.

“Ha!” he said. “You should totally do that!”

Whaaaa…?

Was my boss serious? I asked him. He said he thought the idea was fun, but yes, it was not a bad idea. Suddenly the joke took on a bit more substance. I began working on it.

I’m almost done with my RFQ. I’m not 100% sure yet whether or not I’ll publish it (I’m 90% sure that I will), but it’s been an interesting exercise. Due to the volume of RFQs and RFPs I’ve seen, it was actually pretty easy to write — especially the part that excludes the type of person I’m not looking for. The hardest part, though, is coming up with a list of qualities that I am looking for in a potential mate. But I’m getting there.

One day I’ll get this whole dating-thing nailed down correctly. I’ll figure out why I’ve been attracted to the “wrong” type of guy, and I’ll figure out what the right one is. In the meantime, I’ve got a new-found respect for the perspective that comes with age.

Especially when it comes in the form of advice from an aunt who loves me.

cloudy skies - color, cropped

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