Tag Archives: Dating after Divorce

A Few Good Men

Last night I stopped at my favorite Pho restaurant to pick up a late dinner.

Andrea first introduced the hidden gem to me a few years ago, and I have been a frequent customer ever since. When I walked through the door, the owner was happy to see me.  He flashed a big, crooked-tooth smile, patted my arm and took me aside.

“When you going to get a man?” His face showed genuine, deep concern.

I threw my head back and laughed, heartily.

“I really don’t know!”

His eyes narrowed.  “Why you have problem?”  He then waved his hand towards my figure.  “You look good enough.”

I smiled and shrugged.

“No dates,” I offered, truthfully.

“Aha!” He wagged his finger in my face. “You too picky!”

*****

As I curled up on the couch with my hot pho and the next episode of “The Walking Dead” (I’m addicted!), I chuckled to myself.

It felt good to know my singlehood / lack of an active dating life was disconcerting to someone other than me.  At the same time, I wanted to protest and assure the Vietnamese restaurant owner I don’t need a man in order to be happy, fulfilled or whole. In fact, I ceremoniously quit online dating for my birthday, and life has been much more peaceful. I got tired of sorting through tacky, suggestive or grossly misspelled messages from men I didn’t find intellectually stimulating, or even the slightest bit physically attractive.

Over the past two years, I’ve been a member of eHarmony, Match.com and Ok Cupid! (My sisters and I prefer to call it “Stupid Cupid”.) I’ve met a handful of nice guys, but ultimately, I’m done with it all.  It just wasn’t working for me. Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer meeting people in person.

I added extra Sriracha sauce to the salty broth and pondered the restaurant owner’s words.

What if I am too picky?  What if I do need a man in my life? I certainly wouldn’t complain if a good one came along, but the whole process of not trying to find one is exhausting.

The truth is, I’m probably trying too hard.  Admittedly, I think about it too much.  For crying out loud, I’m spending my Friday evening writing out my frustrations instead of making out with a hot date.  (Isn’t that what we all would rather be doing?)

And, yes, I’m picky, because I want to date good men; guys that I think are amazing.  Recently, however, the good men I find amazing don’t look at me twice.  It just is what it is.

So I keep convincing myself that I’m OK with all of this. Then, I go into “fix it” mode: I really should keep my mouth shut because I’m not going to attract the “right” person, or, worse: I’ll drive a good man away because I look and act like I don’t have it all together.  It’s bad enough having Divorce and Reckless Driving on my record.  Nobody wants a drama queen.

I know the negative thoughts are untrue, but sometimes I need an explanation as to why the good, available men are so scarce.

It’s disappointing.

My ex-boyfriend was absolutely amazing when he boldly pursued me.  I had no idea things could be that good, or easy, with a man.  He set the bar high in the relationship department until his fear of love, confusion and emotional withdrawal lead to the ultimate ending of our very brief relationship. Twice.

Besides a sprinkling of a few dates with my busy ex-boyfriend, I have been on one other date this year.  I met the guy on Stupid Cupid, and he immediately asked me out.  We enjoyed good conversation over beer a few Fridays ago. I liked him from the minute I met him. We laughed, flirted, exchanged semi-vulnerable stories and he seemed to genuinely have a good time.  Afterwards, he drove me home, kissed me on the cheek and said he’d call me.

He never did.

And that’s it. That is the extent of my dating experience this year.

I paused the television just as zombies violently began tearing into the flesh of an unfortunate, terrified new character.  I crossed my arms, sat in silence, and continued to process my situation. I was reminded of something my therapist recently told me.

“You’ll have to go through a few good men, Leslie, until you find one with whom you are most compatible,” she said, gently.

I have about six weeks left in Los Angeles, and then I will tour the United States with the Brian Setzer Orchestra until the end of 2012. I have never looked forward to anything more.  In a way, my leaving will serve as an escape from the blank canvas that is my love life. I will not have time to sit and wonder why no one has the balls to ask me on a date.  I will be too busy to think, or care, about any of it.

Yet, suddenly, I am encouraged.  There isn’t just one good man out there.  There can be a few.  Or even more.  I had a pretty serious relationship with one already. We didn’t work out, but I’m so glad I dated him. It was worth it.  He was a good man. And, I went on a first date with another good man.

I’m not giving up, just yet.  Surely there are a few good men in my future.

Perhaps good men are like flesh-eating zombies.  They’re everywhere, coming for you (although some drag their feet), and you’ll never know what hit you until they find you.

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Picnics, Padlocks and PDA in Paris

Paris.

It’s simply the most amazing city.  The cobblestone streets; the architecture; the churches; the history; the language; the smells; the lovers; the wine; the light; the romance.

The next day, Andrea and I had plans with her longtime friend, Cecile, who is a winemaker. We met her for an early afternoon picnic of the most amazing Corsican sandwiches in the Place des Vosges.  Cecile flamboyantly arrived with a large, refrigerated bag full of carefully chosen wine, fruit and beautiful wine glasses.  She dressed her tiny frame impeccably French, a la Audrey Hepburn.  In addition, she wore a large, floppy hat, fashionable sunglasses and bright red lipstick. She squealed with excitement when she was reunited with Andrea.

Cecile

As the three of us conversed in and out of French and English (guess who needed the English), I gazed around at my environment.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  The sky was a piercing blue, lightly adorned with fluffy, white clouds.  The air, warm and fragrant, playfully caressed my hair, and the lazy sun gently warmed my skin.  Parisians lounged on the grass near us, sipping wine; reading books; chatting; strumming guitars.  Children played in the fountain, and lovers gazed into each other’s eyes, exchanging kisses and affectionate caresses.

I swear I saw a single, red balloon drifting in the breeze.

“So, Lezzzlie,” Cecile filled my wine glass.  “I hear zat yooou?  Are wanting to kiss one of our men?”

We all laughed.

Andrea and I took turns explaining that we were in Paris to celebrate my divorce (how does one interpret the humor of  “Sister Wife” in French?), and that I had a goal of finding someone to kiss during our short stay.

I honestly didn’t think it would happen, but it made for a good story.

“Yes!  Zees is a good plan!”  Cecile exclaimed, as she examined, then swirled the fresh wine in her glass. “You, Lezzzlie, are the American COUGAR!  You will find a man to kiss – maybe two or three? – and you become ‘ROWR’!  Cougar!”  She howled.

Language barriers are, at times, quite hilarious.

Cecile’s friend, Geraldine, met up with us a couple of hours later for coffee.  As we sat at the little café across the way from the ancient courtyard where we had picnicked, I couldn’t help but think of the four of us as some sort of bizarro, French “Sex and the City” characters.  There was one exception: Geraldine was intolerable.  She’d never make the cut.

We finished our coffee and crepes, said goodbye to Intolerable Geraldine and Lovely Cecile (“Goodbye, see you soon, American COUGAR!”), and made our way to Notre Dame for the late afternoon mass.

Afterwards, we leisurely headed towards our apartment to prepare for an evening outing.  As we neared the Seine, we noticed a rather large crowd gathered on one of the pedestrian bridges.  Happy picnickers occupied every inch of the Pont des Arts.  We managed to find a space to sit down, and, seeing as we had leftovers from our afternoon picnic, we easily fit in.

The sun began to sink, slowly, into the picturesque horizon.  We poured and enjoyed the remainder of Cecile’s wine, which somehow managed to stay perfectly chilled. We were flanked on all sides by the Institut de France, the Palais du Louvre and, upstream, the majestic Notre Dame Cathedral.  Far off in the distance, the top of the Eiffel Tower inched its way towards Heaven.

It was surreal.

We are awesome.

As we absorbed the breathtaking scenery, I noticed that there were hundreds of padlocks in various shapes, sizes and colors, affixed to parts of the bridge.  Most all of the locks were engraved with the initials of their lovesick owners.  I later learned the meaning of these “love locks”.  It’s simple:  Go to the Pont des Arts bridge with your person. Attach your lock to the bridge, throw the key into the river below, and your love is forever sealed.

I (retroactively) decided, right then and there, that I’d be back someday with an engraved padlock and the one I love.  I don’t care how long it takes to find him, or for him to find me; I don’t care if I’m 80 years old.

I’ll be standing on that bridge with him, and our lock will hang on through all kinds of time and weather.

And, yes.  It’s dramatic and romantic, just how I would like it to be.

Hope, Part Padlock.

We finished our second picnic of the day, and wandered again through the white, dusty courtyard of the Palais du Louvre.  We snapped pictures of the glorious sunset, which shone its brilliant orange light through the glass panes of the Louvre Pyramid.

We ate a sensible meal at the apartment and spent some time planning our next day’s adventures – how to rent the bicycles we saw all over town?!  — and then Andrea and I headed out on foot once again for an after-dinner aperitif, and to explore more of the city at its most brilliant: nighttime.  We chatted excitedly about our full, yet relaxing day, and decided that we needed to make picnicking more of a regular routine when we returned home. As we rounded a street corner, I heard a group of men laughing and carrying on in the café across from where we strolled.

Suddenly, one of the taller, more attractive men was waving his arms and beckoning to me.

“Hey!  Hey!  HEY!”

True to fashion, I waved and shouted back.

“HEY!”

The rest remains a bit of a blur, but, suddenly, I found myself in the arms of a very tall, very dark, very handsome, very muscular, very French man.

And he was kissing me.

I mean, kissing me.

And, well, I kissed him right back.

Andrea did not miss the opportunity to snap some (blurry) pictures.

Shameless.

After a few minutes of a very public make out session, Andrea pulled me away from my “date”.  I laughed and started to walk away, but decided I hadn’t had enough of that first-time experience.  So, I turned around and went back in for just a few kisses more.

Yep.  I was that Christian girl.

In Paris.

Andrea pulled me away again, and we squealed as we began to run away.

My Frenchman called after me —  “HEY!!!” – but we kept running, stumbling and laughing up the cobblestone street.

What had just happened?!  I had made this grand declaration that I was going to Paris to kiss someone, and, BAM, within 36 hours of setting foot in the City, I had a marriage proposal and a kiss on the cheek from one man, and a very passionate kiss on the street from another.   I was starting to realize I’d have a much better chance at finding a date in Paris than finding one in Los Angeles.

Time to move.

Sure, if that had happened back home, I might have called the police or sued the guy for sexual harassment.

But Paris was different.  What is more, I was different.  And it felt good.  It was empowering.  There was something so thrilling about being grabbed and kissed, like I so needed to be.  I needed someone – anyone, I suppose – to see me for who I am.

Frankly, I am just kissable.

And, as Paris – or I — would have it, the kissing wouldn’t stop.

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