The year: 2006, springtime
The time: 10:00 p.m
Dress code: Trendy-chic. Fluffy hair. High heels. Smoky-eyed makeup. You get the picture.
The setting: Returning home from "first date" number 1,582,648 -- or so it seems.
It is at this hour that I disconsolately pull into my driveway. I walk through the front door, kick off the high heels and throw them across the room. They bounce off the sliding glass door and land perilously close to an extremely startled cat, who looks at me as if to say, "What the hell did I do?"
To paraphrase the late Freddy Fender, the evening was indeed the latest in a long line of:
I'd come to the end of yet another first date / last date and what a catch this prize was. Need an example? When I arrived at the restaurant, he tried to greet me in a completely inappropriate manner... with an open mouth.
He wound up gulping air.
The evening progressed painfully slowly. He sat way too close. He touched way too much. As this torturous evening drew to a merciful close, he had apparently saved the pièce de résistance for last ... he'd lied about his age by almost 20 years (which I'd immediately figured out when I saw him). Unbelievably, he was baffled when I told him that we would not be going out again -- ever.
Once snuggled into my sweats with a Coke and Doritos (my usual post-lousy-date consolation snack), I looked at the ceiling and started screaming at my late husband, as clearly, my having to date at all was his fault. The diatribe was something to the effect of, "You did this to me Fleet! You said to go find love again. Find love? Seriously? I can't even find decent conversation!"
After berating Mike in absentia, I decided that I was done with dating. I was finished wasting time, energy and makeup on idiots like the one with whom I'd just squandered three hours. Life was fine as it was and I did not need this aggravation.
About that time, my daughter came into the room. The thud of the airborne heels, the dazed cat and the not-so-subtle tantrum directed at her dad told her everything she needed to know about the evening. I shared my decision to retire from the dating arena and just be on my own, since "alone" couldn't possibly be any worse than the previous three hours had been.
Kendall listened to me seethe and then quietly observed, "It's stupid to quit dating because of this guy. Why should you have to spend the rest of your life alone because of a few losers?"
Since it's hard to argue with logic, I reluctantly continued to date. I would love to tell you that nary a loser crossed my path ever again and the heavens opened and the angels sang.
But life doesn't work quite that way.
If someone had told me that a year-and-a-half after this ill-fated evening would pass before I had the heavens-opening, angels-singing experience, I would have thrown in the proverbial dating towel (or taken that towel and strangled something with it). It was indeed another year-and-a-half of dating what I have coined the "Loser Brigade", before life hit me with one great big "I told you so."
The year: 2007, autumn
The time: Approximately 8:00 p.m
Dress code: Trendy-chic. Fluffy hair. High heels. Smoky-eyed makeup. I don't vary things much.
The reason: Girls night out
I was in the bar of a fabulously-reviewed restaurant waiting for my fabulously-late girlfriend to arrive. Hungry, impatient and in need of a martini, I tried in vain to get a bartender's attention. While edgily tapping my credit card on the bar, a handsome gentleman looked over and politely smiled.
His megawatt smile lit up the entire room and made my tummy flip. I know -- men aren't supposed to light up rooms, but this one did. As for experiencing tummy flips, I thought I'd left that behind about the same time I quit using Clearasil.
Then the Man With The Room Lighting Smile opened his mouth... and a British accent came tumbling out. I was naturally smitten, as might be any American female. I don't even remember what he initially said to me. He might have said, "How are you tonight?" He might have said, "Get out of the way warthog." With that accent, who cares?
As our small talk progressed, he told me that he was in town on business and that he lived in England. Masking my utter disappointment, I gamely continued our light conversation until my girlfriend arrived. Prince Charming and I politely exchanged business cards and my girlfriend and I went in to dinner, where I spent the following two hours complaining that I would certainly never see or hear from this man again.
To my great surprise, Prince Charming began emailing shortly after our first meeting. He then began calling. Hours previously spent on stilted, job-interview-like dates were now spent blissfully engaged in fascinating telephone conversations. Effortlessly charming, intelligent and sweetly flirtatious, Prince Charming was exactly that... a prince.
Yet, I was resolute not to fall for him. Where could this possibly lead? He's in Jolly Old England, land of the Beatles, Burberry and bangers and mash. I am happily ensconced in sunny Southern California, land of eternal sunshine, palm trees in parking lots and frozen yogurt. Since I had been dating men who complained about driving from one county to another, I figured that I was about as geographically undesirable as one could get. I wasn't about to fall for him.
Except... I did.
Two years after that chance meeting, Prince Charming became my husband Dave. Together, we've built a beautiful blended family with our two daughters who are close as any sisters could possibly be.
The lesson? Dating is not always easy, it is not always fun and unfortunately, it is all but certain that you are going to run into at least one idiot. However, look at what I would have missed out on if I had followed through with Dating Decision 2006: An Epic Meltdown.
If you decide that everyone in Dating World is carrying an idiot license because of the actions of a few, you are letting the idiots decide your destiny. No one has that right and no one should have that kind of power. Don't give up on companionship if you want it. Don't give up on loving again if you choose it. No one said it would be easy, but I would gladly go through a dozen 2006s for that one gentleman who still makes my tummy flip.
Don't give up, don't give in... and here's looking forward to the day that someone lights up a room for you too.
For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com