AND THEY CALLED IT PUPPY LOVE
Donny Osmond was the first to feel
the full force of my unrequited love
Posters on the wall, a scrapbook
Thirty-three and a third inches of vinyl
spinning out turgid ballads
on my red, portable, Sanyo turntable
(the occasional foray into Jethro Tull, just to prove to myself
that passion had not completely skewed my sense of cool)
Then there was Max. Thirty years my senior
and so obviously gay
But my sixteen-year-old heart could not see that
I clung to the fantasies of May-December romance
(and there was that creative connection that somehow dignified
the disgusting swooning)
And through the years they have trod
many boys and men.
Even those that loved me back, in some way
Fucked me, adored me, married me
Failed to return to me
that which I gave out. Were not the mirror
I had hoped for
(yet still I qualified the situations with compromise
self-blame, baroque justifications)
And now there is you
giving me just enough to keep me going
like some kind of emotional detox diet
and now there is me, again.
The posters are back, the scrapbook is dusted off
the turgid ballads blaring out
(only this time on the six-stacker CD player in the Volvo,
just to prove to the world that I have finally grown up)
Love is such a nebulous concept. I think, like chocolate, it means different things to different people. Out on the dating scene, people are ostensibly looking for different things. Some want companionship. Some want sex. Some want to remarry. Some want some reasonable combination of all three. And others want anything in-between.
But really, underneath the “selection criteria”, we all just want love.
How funny then, that not one of us could define love, or even describe accurately how we will know when we find it. We think “we will just know”. We expect something to invade our bodies and our psyches and tell us “this is the one”, and no matter that many of us deride this notion, deep down, we are still expecting it to happen.
M. Scott Peck in his seminal work “The Road Less Travelled” stated that love should be “a considered, thought-out decision, rather than a feeling by which we are overwhelmed”. A wonderful idea, or perhaps ideal. But how do we apply this in on the dating scene? Most of us are still waiting for that “click”, or that “chemistry”. The same feeling I used to get when I was 10 and Donny would come on the radio.
I had an experience last year which has stuck with me.
Darren* contacted me on-line, and although he was a couple of years out of my main catchment area (he was 62), his profile seemed really interested and I accepted the contact. A few engaging phone chats later, we met for coffee. At the risk of sounding corny, I felt fireworks. Here was a guy who could meet me line-for-line, who was engaging, witty and highly intelligent. We were well matched, both being intellectual, well-read, articulate, slightly arrogant and swearing like stevedores on a smoko. And when he declared that he and I could end in fisticuffs because he also liked to be “the star”, well, dear reader, I swooned! I didn’t kid myself that I was in love after one coffee, but I was quite convinced that this was a man I would be excited and proud to be on the arm of.
This excitement appeared to be reciprocated. As we chatted over the next week or so he once declared “I’ve had more laughs with you over the past two weeks than I had in 20 years of marriage.” Reprise the swoon!
And then he dropped the bombshell.
We met for another coffee. He told me that when he was with me “every fibre of my being tingles with excitement”, and then went on to state that he was not going to go on with this. That we would not be meeting again. His explanation was that I was too young for him (annoying to say the least since he knew my age when he contacted me), and that he was looking for someone to settle down,and fade into retirement with. And I was too exciting for all that.
My latte suddenly looked highly unappetizing.
I tried to persuade him to put off the early “retirement” and come play with me for a year. To no avail. He certainly was my match. He had gone onto the dating scene with a specific purpose in mind and was not to be dissuaded from that path. Even by my manifest charms. Sigh.
This experience was certainly one of the more crushing ones. And I still feel regret over this man. Oh dear. I hope he never reads this. Might feed his ego a tad too much.
But thinking about this with Peck’s words in my mind, he was amazingly strong and sensible. I might have been exciting and attractive (fair call!), but he was looking, not for a specific kind of person, but for a specific kind of RELATIONSHIP. One that I was not ready to offer him. We wanted each other, but with quite different packaging in mind.
And I think this is where those of us out dating need to do some work. We often have this ideal in our heads of the person we want. With men, that ideal tends towards the physical-some of them even specify dress size for God’s sake!!. With women it tends to more be the basics-employed,kind,humorous. Yet few of us truly state what kind of relationship we want. Broad expressions like “long-term committed” or “casual” or “regular and discrete” really don’t tell much. Darren and I both had the same basic outline on our profiles, but we were looking for very different things.
In order to make the “considered, thought-out decision” to love someone, we need to be with someone who can offer us the kind of relationship we want. Not just twang our wire. I don’t want someone who likes quiet nights at home. I happily have them ON MY OWN. I don’t want someone to move in with me, or raise my children, or fix my picket fence. I want a boyfriend. To go out with. Preferably one who dances. And plays blues guitar. And writes songs or poetry, and…..
I digress into fantasy. First time for everything!!!
So maybe dating sites could have fewer questions about “interests” and “body shape” and “do you have any pets”….does anyone really give a rats about the latter???? More questions about “do you want to go out regularly?”, “do you want to spend the night together?” “do you want someone to take to family/work/social functions?”. Because if we meet someone who ostensibly has the same interests and with whom we feel that “click” it’s going to go nowhere unless we are both on the same page as far as expectations go.
If, and only if, I find someone who wants the same kind of relationship as I do, who is capable of giving me that, and who is happy with what I have to give, will I allow myself to make that decision to “love”.
In the meantime, I am having a lot of fun. And all hail to that!!
* All names and identifying features have been changed. Other than mine!