“I’m bi now,” Jasmine told Pam and me. Jasmine was a make-up artist at Barney’s. ( I did not "make-up" her fairytale name to serve this post.)
For fun, Pam and I went there before her first date in over 25 years. Her husband, Sandy, an Emmy Award-winning television writer, best dad and husband, all around great guy, had passed away a year before.
"I’m bi by choice,” Jasmine continued. “Women are more honest, more compassionate. Men are little boys. You," she said to Pam, as she dabbed her eyelids with cover-up, "have great energy."
And it’s true, Pam does have great energy. What she didn’t have was a How To manual for dating. The last time she dated, Boy George was a hit singing Karma Chameleon and Blockbuster Video was opening their first store.
A lot has changed since then.
Men don’t come to the door to pick up women anymore.
They don’t bring their date home.
They might, or might not, pay for the meal, or more likely drinks, because a meal, it turns out, is too big of a commitment.
“You’re going to be fine,” Jasmine said to Pam. “You’re an alpha-female.”
In this strange new world, Pam as a single woman, it was hard to discern if Jasmine was flirting.
That night, Pam’s date was lovely. As men of his generation did, he picked her up, and they went to a restaurant together. Once there, confident and comfortable in her own skin, Pam read the menu with her reading glasses on. Not the skinny bitch type, she wasn’t about to order a salad and a piece of grilled fish— dry. She wasn’t that kind of girl. No, she ordered eggplant parmesan just as an alpha-female should. Pam feeling relaxed, took her shoes off under the table.
The evening went well enough. Until it was time to go.
Maybe there was too much salt in the food or maybe it was because Pam had flown in from California that morning but when she attempted to put her shoes back on, she couldn’t. Her feet, mysteriously, blew up, and both her pinky toes refused to be crammed into her shoes.
Her date locked arms with her as she hobbled, her pinky toes dangling, to a taxi outside.
When my husband heard what happened, he laughed and said, “That’s reverse Cinderella!”
Dating can be tough but dating after 50 is a whole different story.
“You have to kiss a hundred frogs before you find a prince,” my friend Susan said.
Susan who got divorced after 20 years of marriage navigated the single world brilliantly. While she was single, we mused over how impossible it seemed to find someone to spend the rest of your life with, especially at such a late stage of the game. A needle in a haystack.
At 50, you know who you are. You can’t lie to yourself like you did when you were 20. At 20, often, the fantasy took over and you forgot to pay attention to his work ethic, his wandering eye, his fear of intimacy, his tendency to drink everyone under the table or that he was a Momma’s Boy. Maybe he was social and loved to entertain, and you liked a more quiet life, but you got married anyway and figured you’d work it out after.
You don’t do that at 50.
At 50, there are things you can’t ignore. And it seemed like an impossible feat to find a match. There were the big things to consider like chemistry, education, religion and lifestyle. But what about weird things like hygiene?
Susan and I would lament; it seemed like too much. Date after date, there were stories.
Once, a man told Susan, on their first date, about his ex-wife. His fury mounted. “Wait until I get my hands around her neck, I’ll fix her wagon. That bitch.”
But Susan took it all in stride. “Dating is like shopping online for shoes,” she said. “You keep clicking until you find the right pair.”
Susan did find her match.
And just the other day someone responded to the new profile picture Pam put up. He wrote,
“Good Morning, Snow White.”