Single-again Samantha: Finding a Husband

The little one has been nagging me for a baby sister again. Tonight I told her the truth… that mommy needs to find a husband first. “Well find a husband, mommy,” she says. “I’m trying darling, I’m trying.”

A lot of things seem to need explaining these days. Like who made the world, what will happen if we look at the sun and why is mommy waxing down there. Surely one of the most cringe-worthy things to explain, though, is where did Dave go and why don’t we see Nick any more? These are men who have drifted into our lives and drifted out again. Some leaving a lesson, some a bad taste. I could brush them off, put it down to experience, but what am I teaching my child here? I don’t need a shrink to tell me that she’s learning that men just don’t stick around.

So, when she turned five (I know, I know, but better late than never), I made a pact with myself that no one would be granted entry into the inner sanctum of “our” space until I was one hundred percent sure of him. No, we haven’t found him yet and yes, it does make dating that much harder – for one thing, it always involves giving the sum of a down payment on a small car to the sitter and getting little more than a bit of opportunistic tongue action at the front door. No you can’t come in for coffee and, big no, you definitely can’t stay for breakfast. Sure, it signalled the end of all “play” dates, but it also sounded the death knell on the “whatever happened to John” conversations. And sure, it’s extremely inconvenient at times, but I do it for the sake of teaching my daughter that men are not driftwood… yet always in the hope that one day, one lucky man will get to stay.

– Single-again Samantha

Happy ever after: 40 years and a simple relationship

This week my parents celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary. Forty years… that’s my whole lifetime and some. What’s the secret, I ask mom. Compromise, she answers, adding that separate beds don’t hurt either (but then my mother is an insomniac and my father has a snoring problem).

I look at the pair of them and I marvel at the workings of this funny old world. Dad is slow to react, mom jumps to conclusions. Dad leaves his socks lying around, mom is a neat freak. Dad loves the sea, mom can’t swim. Their arguments are not loud and ferocious but cool and calculating, dad refusing to apologize, mom giving him the cold shoulder. Sometimes they’re so mean to each other they call to mind Roald Dahl’s awful Mr and Mrs Twit.

Yet they’ve survived forty years of marriage. In an age when you can buy a divorce over the Internet. Perhaps it has something to do with the values of their generation, these children born during the post-World War II demographic boom in births, these reluctant recruits to the information age. Mom does the cooking because Dad brought home the bacon for all those years. (Then she watches resentfully as he eats the bacon and leaves his plate on the counter for her to clear up.) Dad pretends to keep a firm hand on the purse strings because that’s what he’s always done and turns a blind eye while mom siphons additional little allowances for her daughters off the credit card. They pick on each other, yet they finish each others’ sentences.

I look at these two people who have shared a whole lifetime together, who’ve raised a family, who’ve weathered sickness and hardship and who know each other inside and out, and who – even if they often can’t stand the sight of each other – still love each other dearly. And I hear an old refrain: We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.

– Single-again Samantha

Is that a wallet in your pocket…?

While I don’t really ever see myself not working, I do, on occasion, entertain the fantasy of being a “kept woman”. I imagine not having to catapult into the day after an over zealous session with the snooze button. I picture myself lacing up my trainers at teatime and going for a leisurely run… why? Because I’ve got nothing better to do.

I hate to admit to being ever so slightly seduced by Richard’s good fortunes. I mean, for our second date the guy offered to treat me to a massage and facial at one of the city’s most expensive spas. Problem was I couldn’t get the (not-so-pretty) picture of him being massaged next to me out of my head.

But I did dare to dream of being plucked out of my high-impact life in order to speed along the highway of love, silk scarf trailing behind, in Richard’s Mercedes Benz SLS convertible. I could see myself eating sushi without a care in the world for the colour of the plates – literally standing at the conveyor belt and flat-handing the stuff into my mouth. Oh, for the good life.

Len had money too, but he was arrogant about it. Or perhaps it was the fact that he pre-empted the date by saying that he wasn’t looking for a relationship – I mean, where do you go from there? He spent the evening boasting about the number of en-suites he’s added to his house in the mountains, where he’s also built a landing strip for his light aircraft. I was quite pleased when he choked on a chilli from a mouthful of my Vindaloo and stayed in the men’s for a while. Talk about bad chemistry.

Conclusion? The problem with my little fantasy, it seems, is that millionaires don’t grow on trees and, when they do crop up, they come with a price tag.

– Single-again Samantha

You’re so vain

I met Kevin when I had just received my all-time monumental dumping. The guy was a class-A jerk who kept me on a short leash, giving a bit only when he saw he’d pushed me too far and I was about to bale. My therapist called him a textbook narcissist, a guy so pathologically self-involved he made Warren Beatty look like Ghandi. John walked around like one of those cartoon characters, with his huge chest puffed up in an air of bravado (and his tiny balls tucked up in an even tinier Speedo). Forgive me for the note of bitterness in my voice, but this was the guy who only said he liked my outfit because it matched his own.

Why did I take it, you ask. Well, A). because I was at an emotional all-time low and B). because I’d never had the pleasure (not!) of dating a born-and-bred narcissist before. Sure, I’d met my fair share of egotistical prats – I even went out with a guy whose hair was more coiffed than mine. But Kevin was in a different league all together. And while it may have been possible to overlook his all-pervasive grandiosity, his unrelenting sense of entitlement and his constant need for admiration and adulation (not to mention the fact that he practically swooned when he caught site of his mirrored reflection), it became exceedingly difficult to deal with his complete lack of empathy and the uncanny way he had of putting me down in order to bolster his own self importance – I mean, his “playful” nickname for me was “fattie” – need I say more?

As you can well imagine, narcissists don’t take rejection well and neither did Kevin. He flung every derogatory insult under the sun at me and then did a complete about turn and became all saccharine sweet. But I wasn’t fooled – a snake may shed its skin, but it’s still a snake underneath.

If you’re in love with a narcissist, my wish for you is that you hold yourself dear … because that’s more love than you’re gonna get from a man incapable loving anyone more than himself…

– Single-again Samantha

Do age gaps in relationships work?

As a girl after my dad’s heart – trust me, there are a few unresolved approval issues there – you can kind of understand where my attraction for older men comes from. I tend to equate age with wisdom (frequently a big mistake)… or maybe it’s simply about the sexiness of salt and pepper.

My grandfather had twenty years on my gran and when he died, she was lost. But at how many years does it no longer become such a desirable partnership? When you’re in your horny forties and he’s going for colonoscopies?

There are arguments for and against, I guess. I don’t care what anyone says, women do mature, emotionally at least, faster than men do. A woman in her late twenties/early thirties on the hunt for a man to start making babies with in is a very difference headspace to a bloke who has the benefit of time on his side.

Then there are the cradle snatchers. Demi Moore and her pride of cougars whose husbands use words like “phat” and “wicked”. But what’s the alternative: Catherine Zeta-Jones? Both the kids and the old man in diapers at the same time?

Stereotypes aside, though, it’s good to have a husband who is ready to settle down and have a family – one who you haven’t had to drag kicking and screaming down the aisle. By the same token, it’s really nice to have a partner who grew up on the same music as you – who has lived though the same time in history as you.

I suppose, like all things in the inexplicable world of love, it comes own to fit. Either it works for you or it doesn’t. That’s what’s important. So what if he, like little Johnny, can be kept happy for hours with Playstation and popcorn? So what if you find his false teeth at the bottom of your glass of drinking water?

– Single-again Samantha

Single-again Samantha: Must love dogs

No self-respecting single gal lives without a dog (unless, of course, she has a kid, in which case she already has her excuse to hang out at the park, scoping for singletons). I have both and, let me tell you, even combined, they are less trouble than having a husband was.

If you go at the right time of the day, the park is a veritable meat market, with humans hitting on each other human style while their dogs do it doggy style. You can tell a lot about a man by the kind of dog he owns and the relationship he has with it. You get the coat-wearing-daschund owner. Let me tell you that the kind of guy who dresses his pooch up for a walk in the park is also the kind who will insist that you speak to the canine on the phone. And he’s the kind who, after shaving and balming, will be licked all over the face by little Lucy – so not a great prospect if you’re partial to the odd snog, as I am.

Then you get the man with the giant Doberman who, you can bet, lives in a small condo (I can say this with authority as there are no big condos where I live). Again, not dating material as, you can bank on it, this guy suffers from a bad case of small-man complex.

You can tell the guys who are in relationships as they’re the ones who are almost as happy to be at the park as their dogs are. So busy tossing balls and sticks are they that they don’t even stand still long enough for you to sneak a look at their wedding fingers. Take it from me, these guys are so shacked up they’re on a tighter leash than their pets.

Personally, I keep an eye out for the guy with the miniature poodle as he’s undoubtedly divorced and now has custody of Muffy (who she originally picked out to match – and fit – her Marc Jacobs tote).

Now, some would say that bumping into each other while elbow deep in doggie doodoo isn’t the most romantic of ways to meet, but let me tell you, there’s every reason not to go to the park looking like, well, a dog’s breakfast. There’s a reason why Jennifer Aniston turned to that dog after Brad dumped her. Trying to pull your retriever off from humping his Labrador provides a good conversation starter, even if it is just to observe that both dogs are male.

Seriously, though, if dogs are happy to meet their mates in what is effectively a communial canine toilet, surely we could be less choosy about how we go about doing it. I’m not advocating sniffing each other’s behinds, but perhaps we could take a leaf from our canine companions and be less afraid of putting ourselves out there, even if it is just at the park. If it works, well hell, you could be in for (dog’s) years of happiness. If not, simply put it down to barking up the wrong tree.

– Single-again Samantha

You know you’ve been single too long when…

You consider Al Anon meetings as a potential place to meet men.
Your trip to the Science museum with the kid is really a scoping session for single dads.
You get a small thrill when the toilet seat is left up, even if it is only by the plumber.
You widen the area of possibility by adding 10 years onto your “seeking” age bracket on your online profile.
You’ve had an online profile so long they’ve made you an honorary member of the site.
You start to view farting as an endearing quality in a man.
You actually listen to your mother’s dating advice.
You stop wearing Victoria’s Secret when you hit the town as, chances are, ain’t no one getting into your pants.
You have a mock argument with yourself over the remote control.
It’s been so long since you visited the other side of the bed, you need GPS co-ordinates to get there.
You talk to grown-ups in baby-speak and your dog in grown-up speak.
You’ve had your babysitter so long you’re now forking out for her pension.
You’re male friends start to look attractive and you seriously consider them as dating material.
You stop putting on lipstick when you pop out to the convenience store.
You eat so much take-out McDonalds has named a burger after you – no points for guessing it’s a meal made for one.
If your self-esteem plummeted any lower it would be doing the limbo.
Next to your bed is a growing stack of books with titles like Men Who Love Women Who Can’t Commit on Thursdays, Find Your Inner Child and Take it Shopping and Feng Shui Your Fridge.
The only time you get flowers is when they’re delivered to your house by mistake.
You spend the money you saved for breast implants on a comfortable new sofa.
You have no problem changing a tire but you struggle to boil an egg.
You go all girly when the guy at the check-out smiles at you.
A bag of dried pasta will see you through the month but a box of cookies won’t make it through Grey’s Anatomy.

-Single-again Samantha

Trophy hunting

On an evening lately, I’ve been working with a colleague at her boyfriend’s house in order to get a demanding work project finished. In the process, I’ve been granted an unforeseen peek into the dynamic at play between an older man and a (much) younger woman.

Alison, my colleague, must be a good 20 years younger than Rob, her once-divorced boyfriend with whom she’s pretty much shacked up. Rob is my age, and, if I were to look at it objectively, probably quite a good suitor for me. So, what makes this eligible but older man go for a younger woman? Um, let me see, could it be her taut body, cute giggle and delightful naivety? Okay, perhaps a better question, then, is what makes this younger woman go for the old geezer? Of course, there’s always the bank balance, but Alison, who is not, I’ll admit, the gold-digging type, insists that she’s simply bowled over by this Rob, with his infinite wisdom and his 40-year-old man boobs (might I add, though, that on most occasions when I arrive at the house, Rob can be found lounging in his custom-made Jacuzzi sipping a not-too-shabby Chateauneuf du Pape).

Why am I getting myself bent all out of shape over this older guy-younger woman set up? Because this “teenager” is dipping her bloody rod – toned as it might be – into my lousy dating pond, which is all but fished out as it is. For sistahood’s sake, can’t she see that there’s just not enough to go round for us “older” women, who find ourselves washed up on the shores of singledom again, to still have to compete with a pair of pert young knockers? It’s downright disrespectful, I tell you.

I guess some would call it vengeful if I were to advise Alison to teleport herself into the future and consider how a 60-year-old Rob will look to her, a 40-is-the-new-30 self-discovered women. Does she really want to spend her vivacious fifties alternately changing false teeth and a catheter bag? And what if they have kids. Imagine 10 years from now, she’s buying Pampers for the little one and Viagra for him – may as well throw in a dose of Prozac for her too, then, such will be the job of managing the two.

– Single-again Samantha

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