In the Land of Losers: Vol 2

Yup, there are more of these guys out there. So now it’s mid-February and, due to kid-weekends, plus spending a “free” (non-kid) weekend with the Flu, it’s my first weekend out since the night involving Ass Grab Loser (from my last post). And it’s Girls’ Night Out. (*For those of you who’ve been following my story, my annulment had just come through. I got the letter in the mail on Monday, January 30. By the following Friday night I was sick as a dog. I watched the Superbowl that weekend, popping Tamiflu. I never get sick. I think – and my therapist agrees – that I was so relieved to have the annulment come through that I “relaxed” all my defenses… and got sick. Also, I’ve had a bit of a life-change, due to the fact that my 20 y.o. son began living with me, full-time, in January. I love him with all my heart, but it’s been a bit of an adjustment. More on all this in another post. Back to February….)

A new gf had invited a bunch of us to karaoke night at a local dive bar. As long as I don’t have to sing, I’m in. (GNO! Woohoo!) There are pool tables at this place, and I learn that my gf is a bit of a shark. Now, I’m no shark, but I enjoy pool, so I’m down for a game or two. Despite having recently been sick, I’ve managed to “clean up” decently – black tee, skinny jeans, black moto jacket, black boots, messy hair. I’m totally ready for a fun night with the girls. Early on, my gf points out a guy who she thinks is kind of hot – the one in the red shirt. He’s playing shuffleboard at a table adjacent to our pool table, and she’s flirting with him when she’s down there, taking a shot from that side. I check him out – he is totally not my type. For starters, he’s a bit too old for me – maybe in his late 50s, early 60s. And he has a beard. But she’s into him. C’est la vie, c’est l’amour. Okay, cool – I will totally be her wing-chick. But first, I need a drink. I go to the bar, wait five minutes in line, get a drink, and return. The game begins.

According to a recent study, most women seem to prefer men with facial hair. I am not one of those women.

When it’s my turn to go down to that side of the pool table to take my shot, the red-shirted guy says hey, and then comments on my pool-stance in a friendly/flirty way. I laugh and tell him that’s because I have no idea what I’m doing – but she does (I point at my gf). Then I focus, take my shot, miss (of course), and go back to the other side of the table. About five minutes (and two of her sunk-balls) later, I go back down the table to take another shot. Again, Red Shirt comments on my “sexy” pool-stance. (I’m wearing boots and have to lean over the table to take my shot.) His comments make me uncomfortable, as (a) I’m not trying to be sexy (I’m trying to win!), and (b) he seems to be flirting with me, and I haven’t “put anything out there” toward him – my gf has. So I take my shot, straighten up, and loudly declare how I don’t really know what I’m doing, but my friend is such an amazing player. “In fact,” I say to him, “she’s our queen!” I feel good about this, and the game goes forward in this fashion, with me continuing to “throw sunshine” (opposite of throwing shade, right?) at my gf, and she sinking all of her balls, plus the 8-ball shortly thereafter. Game over.

I take a break to go to the bar. I wait another five minutes in line, finally get a drink, and return. A pair of younger guys (late-20s/early 30s) approach us and want to play. My gf says sure, but let’s do doubles, so she splits us up into partner-teams. (“Um, hello? I’m not that good…?”) The game starts.

The young guys are relaxed and funny, and I’m actually playing well. Fortunately, I’m paired with the guy who is the better player of the two, and we’re having a lot of fun (i.e. winning). About halfway through the game, I’m down on the shuffleboard side of the table, and Red Shirt guy saunters over. He leans over while I’m taking a shot.

“Must be a real feather in your cap to have those younger guys hitting on you, eh?”

Huh?!?

Sooooo many things wrong with that, dude…!

It’s one of those WTF moments, where several answers are sparring in my brain to get to be said: everything from defensive: “They’re not actually hitting on us, we’re all just having fun,” to condescending: “Oh, sugar, you  have no idea – I get hit on by 20-somethings all the time, in the most obnoxious ways!” to defensive (again): “I’m not actually into younger guys. In fact, they’re a turnoff for me, because I’m a mom,” to angry/offensive: “‘Must be a real feather in my cap?’ Oh, really? Must it? Because you know what’s in my head?!?” to incredulous/affronted: “Are you seriously going to sit here and give me passive-aggressive attitude, and pout about how I’m not flirting back with you, and in the meantime pass up the chance to get to be with my beautiful-fun-feisty gf, who, for God-knows-what reason, actually likes you?” I run the gamut from wanting to explode to wanting to smack this guy. Instead, I take a breath, decide this guy’s not worth it, and go the least-incendiary route with my response:

“It’s the mom-vibe. Younger guys pick up on it and feel comfortable around me.”

Oh, snap! I’ve just been modest and put him in his place at the same time. Double-snap! (Maybe that’s not hip anymore, but it fits.)

I walk away and don’t even know if the guy exists for the rest of the evening. The next night I tell my gf what he said, and she is then sooooo glad she didn’t waste extra energy on him, either. Hey, Red Shirt Loser Guy: if this were a Star Trek episode, you’d have died off with no one to mourn you. Maybe consider revamping your attitude – on life, and on women.

Rules I Want My Sons to Know About Dating (and about women, in general….)

Apparently all men in my age-range have been cuckolded. And the younger ones have been exposed to too much porn. These are my recent experiences. As a mom of five boys (and three girls), I’ve learned a few “dos” and “don’ts” that I’ve started imparting to my sons. There’s more I wish I could tell them, but… they’re my kids. I can’t share everything. But if I could, here is what I’d lay out, to help amplify their chances of success in their relationships with women:

Rule #1: If it’s apparent that a woman has put effort into her appearance, at least tell her she looks nice – acknowledge her effort. Even if your socks aren’t knocked off. I was excited to go on a recent Second Date with this one guy. We’d had an amazing first date, and I was nervous. I hadn’t been on a Second Date in over a year. I asked a few of the wives at the company picnic that day for “second date wardrobe” advice. After much deliberation we finally decided on my blue dress. (It was the first time this guy was going to see that I had legs — I’d worn jeans on the first date.) I spent 20 minutes curling my hair and another 10 picking out the perfect accessories. But my date didn’t seem to notice any of this. He never said anything. I was left to think that either he didn’t notice that I looked any different… or that maybe he thought I looked worse, and he was being polite by not saying anything. Hmmmm….?

That same night, when the bill came, the waitress put it down right in front of him, on his side of the table. I was ready to leave, but he still sat there, completely ignoring the bill. We were having a really great conversation, but after 5 or 10 minutes (that’s how long it felt like), I was in disbelief. What is he doing? Is he waiting for me to pay? So I did. And I wasn’t entirely happy about it. Rule #2: The man picks up the tab. Always. (With the exception of it being his birthday, and his female friend insists.) In a dating scenario, the man always pays. This is an expensive rule, but it goes toward demonstrating: (a) that the man wants to take care of the woman he’s with, (b) that he has worked hard and has the means to do so, and (c) it is a way of showing deference toward the entire gender – a nod, if you will, toward the “weaker” sex, who, btw, still make less, on average, than men for doing the exact, same job. Yup, even in 2016 America, this is still true. This is what I’m teaching my boys, screw women’s lib. You’re the man, you pay. I have male friends who refuse to let me pay, even though we’re just friends. (“You’re the woman, I’m the man, I’m paying,” they say. I love that one. It ennobles me. Also: “You’re a single mom! With 8 kids! I’ve got this one.” A humbling reminder of my realities, and makes me grateful that they see a more-complete version of who I am.) When I took out my wallet, Second Date Guy made a rather weak attempt to stop me, but, being miffed and proud, I of course said no, and plunked down a few twenties. He let me. We’re just friends now. (*But let’s face it: you can’t wish people would magically be who they’re not. If a guy doesn’t believe or adhere-to this “rule,” that’s okay. The rules of Planet Mouse don’t apply to everyone on Earth. It doesn’t stop me, however, from searching for new Planet Mouse inhabitants. A girl can dream! 😉 )

Rule #3: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Otherwise your words become meaningless. This one shouldn’t even need explanation. Ladies, raise your hands: how many of us have stayed too long with guys who said they were “gonna do” something, but it was all just empty words…? My last boyfriend — guy I dated in Summer 2015 — was “going to” take me out “somewhere nice.” I helped him organize his apartment, clean out ancient storage units, haul heavy-ass display shelves to show off his hobby stuff up to his apartment, feed his pet spiders…! He kept saying he was so happy with how everything was going, how he really wanted to take me out to a nice restaurant, etc. Weeks turned into months. We worked on his life in-between my life with my kids. And somehow we never went out anywhere — okay, lunch on the fly, on the way to the home improvement store, in shorts and t-shirts, but not “anywhere nice” — unless I was paying. (Yeah.) Finally, I had an epiphany. It took a really awful thing/event for this epiphany to happen, but it happened during a moment of clarity in which I realized that this guy was never going to take me anywhere nice. He’d demonstrated that his words meant nothing on enough of a repetitive basis that his words were moot. And I knew I was done.

Actions mean a lot more than words. Just sayin’.

Rule #4: Always take care of her first, before you take care of yourself! Okay, not only should this one should go without saying, it’s basically in the Guy Handbook. If you don’t believe me, try reading GQ or Cosmo. Or Men’s Health. Or 50 Shades of Grey. Or the Internet! Why are there any men out there who don’t understand this??? There are even books about it! That’s just bad form to leave your partner flapping in the breeze to have to take care of herself, after the fact. Seriously bad manners, this one. (If you have to ask if this is you, then yes, this is you. Shape up, and fix it, dude!) After conversations I’ve had with my female friends, I really, really, really want my sons to understand this basic thing, that, though simple, pays so much respect to a female-partner.

Rule #5: Women are people, not objects. On a recent sans-kid weekend I went to see a play with a girlfriend. Beforehand, we went to a restaurant across the street for drinks, appetizers, and to catch up. Halfway through, though, the waiter stopped by our table… and asked for my phone number, and if I were single. Huh?!? “I’m single — I’m on Match — but you’re too young…!!!” I sputtered like someone for whom English wasn’t my first language.

“How old do you think I am?” the waiter asked.

“Uh, like 27?” I replied.

“Yeah,” he said, “I’m 27.” That tidbit helped me recover a bit. It put him in perspective – with my kids.

“Well, I’m 47,” I said. “I have a daughter only a year younger than you. Thank you, I’m flattered…, but no.”

“Okay, point taken,” he said. However, later, when I asked for the check, he’d tucked his phone number inside. Still giggling about having been hit-on by this cute kid, I texted him:

“Thank you for making me feel pretty tonight! You’re way too young to me, but thank you! Hugs!”

Two hours later, when my friend and I were at the play’s intermission, I saw that he’d responded: “Ha, you were gorgeous tonight. And you realize I’m not trying to wife you up, right? Or be a publicly acknowledged ‘interest?’ Just curious if you’re that charming all the time. Embrace your cougar capabilities, [Mouse.]”

Reading that, everything inside me went cold. While I realized that this kid probably thought he was being complimentary, the actual picture he’d painted was that he was interested in me for free-sex-in-a-back-closet. And, wow, as much as I’m all for hot-sex, this cold, relationshipless concept he was offering is absolutely the farthest thing from what I’m looking for. Kinda made me feel icky/dirty, after reading it.

Problem is, he’s not the first 20-something to approach me with a similar ideal. I’ve had others, who, when I’ve told them flat-out that I’m not a cougar, have responded: “Awwww, darn! Well, do you have any friends who are?” (This is a verbatim quote.) Fortunately for young adults everywhere, I’m the last person who’d ever take them up on it. They’re all so young, they just remind me too much of my own kids. Eew! Maybe they sense this, and that’s why they’re drawn to me: I’m “safe” that way. 😉

My love languages are action and touch. Those mean so much more to me than anything else – even words (yeah, weird for a writer, huh?). Women are different from men. We need to be held, cherished, protected, taken care of. We need to know we matter in a special, unique way to the person we choose to be with. We want someone who wants to spend time with us after we’ve had an intimate night together. Not someone who only wants the fun, date-night stuff, and then takes off out the door when the real world kicks in. Someone who also wants to be there, shopping for a house-project. Or going to the grocery store, so we can make dinner together later. I want someone who can, ultimately, integrate with all the parts of my life. And who cares about me as a whole person.

Really, this is about self-respect, on the deepest level. I hope I’ve taught/am teaching this to all my kids–not just my boys: to respect themselves that much. To try different things, but to hold out for someone who treats them better than they treat themselves. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The Rules #10: Sparkle-Sandals

The Rules #9 - sparkle sandals

It is Friday on an extended weekend. Monday is Memorial Day, and they let us off early today. I knew they would; they’re pretty nice about doing that before holidays. And I don’t have my kids this weekend. Despite my “freedom,” I am home alone, with no plans. (I’m okay with that — sort of. I’ll blog about those mixed feelings another time.) But today I wore my gold sparkle-sandals to work (yes, that’s mine in the photo), even though I had no plans for after-work. I wore them because they are beautiful, and I love them, and I wanted to. And they made me feel fabulous. I highly recommend it. Cheers! 🙂

Holding Out for Harry

Harry Winston

Met a cute guy a while back, things got interesting over the past weekend. He seemed to be a great guy – “rescued” me from a douchebag on Fri night, then came over on Sunday to help install some new shelves I’d bought. And he was great with my kids. And an excellent kisser. 🙂 We really started to hit it off.

Then, on Tuesday, while I was at work, he sent me what was essentially a booty-call text.

I was intrigued at first (like I said, he’s cute!), but then I played the scenario out in my head. Yeah, I didn’t need that in my life right now — not that fast.

Then I thought about it some more and decided I was actually kinda miffed. Seriously? We hadn’t even been out on one, real date — let alone crossed second base — and he was booty-call texting me?

So I declined, via text, and blew off my unsettled feelings. Whatever. Harmless sexting. But then he wanted to talk on the phone.

So I called him after work. He wanted to know “how I was feeling.” So I told him I was kinda pissed-off: we hadn’t even been on one “real” date (going to the home-improvement store and putting up shelves is NOT equivalent to a Saturday-night, planned-in-advance date, like he’d been on, that Saturday, with another girl he was also seeing — which I was totally okay with, since we weren’t “in a relationship” or anything yet), but here he was sending me a booty-call text? Yeah, I was steamed. Feeling kinda like I was being treated like lesser-grade. (I’d gone from “available to text chick” (different guy — long-gone) to “available to fuck” ?!?!?!!??)

He told me he was “only joking,” but admitted that, yeah, he wouldn’t have been opposed to his text being taken at face-value. I told him I wanted more out of a relationship. I gave him the WalMart/Harry Winston analogy.

He said good luck finding Harry. Said he didn’t understand why I’d “taken such a strong stance on this,” and he was now going to delete me from his contact-info.

Wow. Just wow. I responded (politely — I read my text again today, and yes, it really was honest-but-polite), but he’s had nothing more to say.

I was feeling down all day, because I’d really liked this guy. But I can’t let myself be treated like second-rate, disposable goods. I want to be treated like a rare, precious, valuable commodity. Like the unique individual that I know I am. Like a human being.

Damn, why is this such a struggle — to believe that I’m worth more than the ways that people have treated me, in the past? (Long, ugly story, my past. Not for this post.) But the point is, if I don’t treat myself like I’m worth more, then no one else will treat me like that, either. Right?

The Rules: #8 – How to Date Yourself

The Rules #8 - better than you treat yourself

So about a year and a half ago I was on a “guys suck” kick (after having had it up to here with a guy who didn’t understand why I didn’t want to see him anymore, after he stopped showing up for our dates (literally)), and at that point, 6-months post-divorce, all guys sucked. On the entire planet. I was whining about this to one of my girlfriends.

“Why don’t you just date yourself?” she asked.

Huh? I must have made a Mouse-has-left-the building face, because she went on.

“Why don’t you just take yourself on dates and treat yourself the way you think you want to be treated? That way you’ll know better what you like, and what you want out of a relationship, eventually.”

For about two seconds, I thought about the stupidness of dating myself. And then a light bulb went on. Date myself? My girlfriend was flipping brilliant.

For the next several months I proceeded to treat my free Saturdays (the ones where I didn’t have my kids) as “date night” — with myself. It turned out I was a pretty excellent date. Usually, we’d start the evening with a glass of wine, jamming in the kitchen to our favorite music as we made dinner — usually steak or salmon. Date nights have great food. (Which was always gluten-free and dairy-free, too, because my date had the same food allergies as me.) Then, we’d pop some popcorn, mix up an awesome mojito, curl up on the sofa, and watch a movie. (Which we would always agree on!) We’d allow ourselves to get totally sucked up into the movie’s storyline — laughing, crying, or cheering along with the heroes — and we’d snuggle under a big, plush blanket if we got cold. Sometimes we’d get tipsy, but it all ended well. I would never take advantage of myself without my own permission.

At times I would reflect on the fact that, yes, I was lonely. I would rather be sharing a night like this with someone I felt truly connected-to. But learning to enjoy a quality experience on my own forced me to confront the fact that I didn’t have that connection with anyone else, and I couldn’t wish it up out of thin air. I knew now that I couldn’t settle for dating someone just for the sake of dating, which, I think, is how I’d been operating, previously. Insert available Guy A into Slot B isn’t how life works.

And something else happened, too: I began to develop self-respect.

Now that I knew how well I could be treated by my own self on a date, I began to realize that I didn’t want to put up with being treated less-than-well by other dates. I realized I had standards — and they were pretty decent ones. They made me feel good about myself. In fact, I decided that if a guy didn’t treat me better than I was already able to treat myself, there really wasn’t any reason for me to date him. I’d be better-off by myself! Relationships should build you up, make you a better person. Not bring you down to a lower level. That’s how friendships work, right? I think dating-relationships should work the same way, too.

Unfortunately, finding this in real life is proving to be tricky. (My PTSD and trust issues do NOT help!) Hence, attraction, lifestyle compatibility, and best-friend potential criteria from my RFQ. But I think the overall goal holds merit: to find someone who elevates me, who treats me better than I treat myself. It could happen, right?

And hopefully I do the same for him….