“It was bound to happen. And, as much as I knew it was coming, I wasn’t prepared for it. Nope. Not at all ready for what was waiting for me in the big, bad dating world when you’re 40ish. Okay, 46. Whatever. It’s still has a 4 in front of it, so 40ish works.
I am a widow. I wasn’t supposed to be dating in this stage of my life. No, I was supposed to be married, carting kids around and arguing with my sweet husband about who’s turn it was to do the dishes. I was supposed to be free of the dating world and sitting on my couch watching movies with my hair in a messy bun and my pajamas shoveling popcorn into my mouth while my husband told me I was beautiful anyway. Yes, this is dumb. Widowhood is dumb. Dating is dumb. But, I guess since I don’t want to be alone forever, it’s a necessary evil. It’s not like the man of your dreams is on Amazon and can be shipped to you in two days and sit in the box until you’re ready to open it. And, returns aren’t that easy, either.
When I was in my 20’s, dating was easy. I mean, I went places. I had fun friends. I did my hair and threw on something cute in a size 3 and just went for it. I’m outgoing. I think I’m funny. I can make conversation. I met lots of people. I went to parties. Sometimes, I went to the wrong house but whatever, you would be surprised at how nice people are when you show up with a six pack of beer and say you’re there for the party.
Well, lemme tell you friends. It’s not that easy anymore. I can’t, at 40ish, show up to the wrong house anymore, even with booze, because now it just looks weird. I can practically hear the 9-1-1 call. ‘Um, yes, there’s a 40ish year old woman standing on my porch with a bottle of vodka asking where the party is. I’m not sure if she has dementia or what but she’s confused where she’s supposed to be.’ ‘What’s she wearing?’ ‘All black, she said it was slimming. And now she wants to know if she can use the bathroom because she needs to adjust her Spanx.’
Speaking of Spanx, what kind of fresh hell is that? I mean come on. I’ve had three kids. After the first two, I bounced right back, but after the third, and after turning 30, well, things just didn’t want to go back to from whence they came. I swear, on the days when I feel the most bloated, I am not ashamed to tell people I ‘just had a baby’ and hope and pray to all that’s Holy that my 16-year-old doesn’t pop around the corner calling me Mom. But, just in case, I googled it, and am completely ready to announce she’s ‘192 months old’ and I’m still recovering. So, back to Spanx. I bought some once. I’m pretty sure I saw it on one of those 2 a.m. infomercials when I couldn’t sleep and decided the best solution to that was watching TV while dipping a chocolate candy bar into a vat of peanut butter. The lady on the commercial effortlessly put them on, and not only was the process easy, but it thinned her right out. It’s a miracle product, right? Yeah, no. I call bullsh*t on this one. They are NOT easy to get on and once you do, you can’t get out. Literally. You cannot-get-out. Cops needs to use these on the bad guys because it’s not like you can run away in them. I guess you can, but you’ll be running like a starfish with dinosaur legs because that’s the only part of your body that can move anymore once these things suck your body into their unholy existence. And if that doesn’t work, you’ll pass out from not being able to breathe within a few minutes anyway. And, let’s be honest, the only bruising I want on the inside of my legs after a good date is not from Spanx. It’s just not. So, I let the rolls fall where they may. I have decided if a man doesn’t like me because of it, then he can keep chasing after 20-somethings who won’t know what to do when he shows signs of a stroke. That’ll teach him.
Anyway, I joined Tinder. I know, I know, everybody thinks it’s just a hook up site, but to be honest, it’s not just that. Well, let me clarify. It’s not that when you’re 40ish. But, what I have noticed is that my matches go from 30-year-olds to 60-year-olds. It appears that all the men my age are either happily married, or their wives haven’t died yet. I’m in this weird 40ish-year-old holding pattern between young men who want to reenact scenes from ‘The Graduate’ and men who graduated 40-ish years ago. I swear, I had one millennial tell me he wanted to date an older woman because none of the women his age will lick his belly button. Wait, what? Guess what, lint master, no self-respecting 40ish year old woman wants to either. And then, AND THEN, they call me a cougar. Why? Did you know cougars are the biggest, heaviest cats in North America? And they’re stalkers? I don’t want to be a cougar. I really don’t. I looked up the feline slang terms for women and apparently, if you’re over 100 (as in years old), you’re a lion. Um, yeah, because you’re ‘lion’ down. That’s what I want to be. A lion. Who gets to nap.
And then, there’s Bumble. You match with somebody, but they have this ‘ladies first’ ideology, so in other words, you have to say something first. I get it. It’s nice not to have to scroll through a hundred messages but I hate it. I don’t know what to say. ‘Hi, how are you?’ ‘How’s your night?’ ‘What year did you graduate high school?’ ‘Any weird fetishes?’ ‘Have all your teeth?’ So, I avoid it. As much as possible. Plus, it doesn’t really matter because in my area, all the guys on Bumble are the same guys on Tinder. I feel like I spend more time looking at pictures thinking, ‘I know that guy from somewhere,’ only to remember it’s because he’s clearly as desperate as I am and on multiple sites. I am telling you, the pool of available daters around here is small. I have not yet resorted to checking out the current arrests at my local jail to see who might be getting a divorce soon, so this is my only big option right now. Except, at least mug shots are honest accounts of what somebody really looks like, right? Maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all. And you know what else? Me and my friends are all matching with the same people. I send out a group text after I have a match with somebody I might actually like just to double check. ‘Anybody dating the fire eater yet? No? Ok, he’s hot and he’s mine.’
So, here’s the deal. As much as I don’t want to date, I am going to. I have to keep living. I have to keep going. I have to accept the fact that my husband is not coming back no matter how much that breaks my soul. I was so, so, so, lucky I had him to walk the first part of my life with, and someday, I am going to want somebody to walk the second part with me. It’s not easy. There’s always going to be a great, big, huge part of my life that belongs to him. There is always going to be something missing. There’s always going to be a change in my laugh. There’s always going to be a weird feeling in my tummy that nobody can ever fix. But, he wouldn’t have wanted me to do life alone. He would have wanted me to be happy and excited again about sharing the life we were supposed to have together. He would not have wanted that to go to waste. And I am pretty sure he’s watching and hysterically laughing every time I put on my girdle. So, I’m gonna do it, and then I’m going to come back and share those experiences with you, if you want them. You will just have to keep an eye out as the dates roll in. But in the meantime, tell me about your best or worst first date. I need some hope, but I also need a good laugh. Ready, Set, Go!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Diana Register of Meridian, Idaho. Her books “Grief Life” and “My Kid Is an Asshole, and So Is My Dog” are now available in print and kindle. You can follow her work on her author Facebook page, and Instagram.
Read more from Diana:
‘My son was screaming, ‘That thing on her chest popped!’ The doctor bandaged it up and told me to change it once a day. Um, yeah. Ok. Have you ever tried taking a bandage off a 4-year-old? Like giving a cat a bath.’
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