So my last post, The Mouths of Babes, got me thinking about men and dating. Being unemployed and all I have time to think about stuff like that — really mull it over and come to all kinds of interesting and fascinating conclusions. Such as what I want in a relationship and what I want in a man. What traits are important to me? What are the deal breakers and what can I overlook? What about leaving the seat up on the toilet? Is that okay? Then I imagine my usual middle-of-the-night-stumble to the bathroom, planting myself on the toilet without turning on the light, and that a cold wake-up splash on my backside might not be acceptable. Hmmm.
I think about all the guys I have dated over the years. I’ve dated A LOT. I’m no Carrie Bradshaw and certainly not Samantha Jones but I have explored dating relationships with different types of males. I was actually a late bloomer and really didn’t start dating until my senior year in high school — my peers had been “going steady” since grade school.
College was where I really got the opportunity to meet a lot of different types of guys: the preppies and fraternity boys, which were the boys I typically dated; the “GDI’s” or Goddamned Independents — guys who were “too cool” to be in fraternities or involved on campus; the hipsters and new wave looking guys; and the jocks. Yeah, lots of stereotyping went on in college. Just like The Breakfast Club.
I had a “Stalker Boyfriend” in college who was clean-cut, preppie, wealthy, and intelligent. He also regularly showed up at my waitressing job at the favorite “21 bar” and would get quietly drunk. Then he’d lean against the wall and stare at me, eyes boring into me, watching every move I made, flinching and glaring if any guy smiled or spoke to me. The other waitresses thought it was hysterical and the bartenders regularly offered to throw him out. I just ignored him.
What was really endearing is that he would periodically BREAK INTO MY CAR and leave roses and romantic notes on the front seat. I broke up with him over the phone. I guess I’m lucky that he wasn’t really insane or pathological, just borderline nuts. He’s now married, with two children and lives in Europe. I assume he’s happy and regularly breaking into his wife’s Fiat.
So when I think of traits that are important in a mate, I dutifully cross of “stalking”. That didn’t seem to work out so well for me.
My “serious” college relationship was with the BMOC — Big Man on Campus. Everything about him was golden: blond, beautiful, gorgeous smile, athletically-gifted, funny, smart and popular. We were quite the item. We dated for over a year. Then, on one of our last nights together, I excused myself from his bed to freshen myself up in the bathroom. When I returned, he was wearing my sheer black pantyhose…sigh.
Strike out cross-dressing.
I did give online dating a whirl a couple of years ago. Here is how I described the Man of My Dreams on my profile: You are self-assured, successful, a head-turner, on top of your game, magnetic, balanced, fit and like strong women. I’m not looking for any hotheads, not that I’m one but I am a firecracker (in an appealing way
That description still resonates with me today but I realize that I left out something very important: Character. If you can’t trust a man’s character, his integrity, and know that he has your back, then he isn’t good enough for you.
It goes without saying that I bring integrity and character to the relationship, that I have his back. I won’t resort to lies just because they’re easier than talking about what’s on my mind or what concerns me. If you have that inherent trust, and the love, and the chemistry, then everything else sort of falls into place. It really is that organic and all the movable parts fit together.
Do I sound like a hopeless romantic? I smile because in many ways I still have the awe and wonder of my childhood when it comes to romance, and hope, and the future. However, I don’t want to see that future sporting my black pantyhose…
“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” John Steinbeck
My sister, Kathy, graduates this weekend with her Masters in Teaching. She is 45 years old. To say she is a gifted teacher is an understatement; as a substitute teacher in her district she is one of the most sought-after teachers in the two schools she works. An introverted, painfully shy child in the past, my sister has become adept at capturing the attention and cooperation of young minds. Her students clamor for her attention and approval. She is especially gentle and empathic with those struggling to connect: with the subject matter, with their peers, with other teachers, with their world at hand.
Kathy regrets that she didn’t pursue a teaching career while in college the first time around. Instead, she bowed to influence from our well-meaning parents who recommended that we both get into “business.” So she started working as a trust officer for a large bank. And was miserable, very, very miserable.
Then she fell in love with a wonderful man, got married and had cherubic twin boys and chose to be a full-time mom. Fast forward a few years as the boys grew older and more independent. Her love for teaching, (which had never really gone away, just sort of idled dormant in a corner of her heart), rekindled anew and she started exploring options for substituting at her twins’ school. A Teacher was born.
A wistful, “I wish I had my teaching degree” over the years soon turned into, “I am going back to school and getting my teaching degree!” Armed with a supportive husband, children and a cheerleading squad made up of her teaching peers and other school administrators, my sister successfully juggled full-time motherhood, marriage, managing a home, substitute teaching and a full-time school load to make it to graduation day this coming weekend.
I’m proud of the fact that at her graduation, my sister will be wearing the pendant I gave her for the special day. Engraved are the words from Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up,” and her initials. I’m also very proud of her.
The other day, my sister taught a first grade class for most of the week. On Friday, one of the students, who had brought in some flowers, told Kathy that she should take the flowers home with her. After all, as he pointed out, “you did pretty good for yourself this week!” Pretty good, indeed.