The Politics of Dating

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Lately, I’ve been doing a little freelance work for a Houston magazine (heavy on the “free”, by the way). Earlier this week, my editor asked me what I wanted to do next in terms of a subject.

I told her that I really didn’t care–anything would be fine–I wasn’t picky. Whatever. She should throw out a couple of topics.

Right off the bat, she suggested I do an in-depth piece on the Interior Department’s finalized proposal to open 48 million acres of previously off-limits land for oil exploration and drilling.

“Nah, that’s a little heavy. Too many facts and numbers”, I said. “But anything else would be fine. Really. What other topics do you have in mind?”

She then suggested that I write an article on Venezuelan despot, Hugo Chavez and his ardent criticism of neo-liberal globalization.

I shook my head and told her no…too many abstract political principles. Nor was I in the mood to do a lot of boring research. Plus my head started to spin. I told her ANYTHING but that.

She then suggested an overview of Nancy Pelosi’s first few months as Speaker of the House.

I suggested an overview of anything else.

She told me of her idea for a story about the dating world for older Houstonians. (And by older, I mean age 40 and up)

I thought about it for a second: it had possibilities; some creative potential. There would be no mention of Hugo Chavez or Nancy that I could think of and besides, I AM a Houstonian over 40.

I told her I’d do it.

But I quickly learned that I wouldn’t merely be talking to older Houstonians trying to date. I’d have to become one of the older Houstonians trying to date.

The story, as it was conveyed to me, would be far more interesting if I participated in it. First person perspective.

As in, I should actually go out on a date.

Yeah, uh-huh.

A date.

I’m not even sure what constitutes a date in 2008. Certainly not for a woman whose birth pre-dates the Kennedy administration—by one entire presidential term.

See, I’ve not had a date per se since December 2004. Four very looooooooooooooooong years ago. I’m rusty now–way off my game, but back then, I tried my hand at “guerrilla dating”. I attacked it with Gunga Din-like precision; I had the enthusiasm of a Sandinista with new boots during the rainy season.

This was my M.O.—I’d get all tarted up and go to the nearest Barnes and Noble (ALWAYS date a literate man) and I’d find a pretentious stack to stand near. If I saw a nice looking man, I’d grab a book and open it. Remember, the book really doesn’t matter, but the title and cover do. Just make sure whatever you grab as a prop, makes you look intellectual and even a bit mysterious.

I remember on one occasion, I actually trained my eyes to go Marty Feldman. Seriously! One eye scanned the room looking for a mark, while the other focused on the book allowing me to feign interest in the Runic alphabet. I didn’t get that many dates, but  I know that Runic/Futhark is Runic for “how’s it hanging”.

That should come in handy if I’m ever going out with a holdover who’s lineage is that of the ancient Goths.

Still, I’m nervous about all of it.  The dynamics of dating have changed since I last went out one a date four years ago. Should I be worried I haven’t changed enough to accommodate all the social changes? But surely, some of the basics are still in existence, right?

Right.

All the latest books and authors insist that men and women have innate “hard wiring” that time can’t change.  It all goes back to that feral thing; when we lived in caves, communicated through grunts and screeches and were the mono-browed forebearers to that clever Geico ad campaign. We all saw the movie, “Quest for Fire”, right? We learned from that flick that prehistoric men looked at women and sized them up as breeding stock. They’d ask themselves, “Is she physically able to bare my progeny and propagate my DNA for generations to come?….Ugh!” If so, he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her into the cave where he would proceed make a big carnal Mesozoic smack dab on her Jurassic.

So, what’s changed?  Women still do as they did way back then; we look at every man and subconsciously wonder if “he’s the one, ugh?“. We can’t help it. We want to know if these brave, hunter/gatherers can provide for our families.

Women nest–men do the rest.

But we’re older now, so more than likely, we’ll still size each other up, but for entirely different reasons.

Older men look at older women and hope that we can prepare a meal that’s either low or no sodium and we women will be hoping that men will still be able to—–my God! Is that a crease in his pants or is that his prostate???

Oh yes, things have changed.

And what if sex enters the picture??? There are so many factors now in place that weren’t there years ago. At 48, I’m now inconvenienced with “free range” periods–they come and go when they want–and usually at the worst times! I have to deal with that, plus, there’s the awkward issue of Cialis and Viagra; performance anxiety and feminine…. whatever.

There’s nothing scarier than a “first anything”. Especially a first date. You’ve got a 50-50 chance you won’t like each other physically and if that attraction isn’t there, you know it right off the bat. That’s not to say that perceived looks won’t change as you get to know each other, but rarely will a couple on their first date, ever feel that need and desire at the same time.

The truth is we’re older. Much older.

In fact, too damn old to be dating in the first place.

This is insane!!!  Completely nuts!!  Now, my head is spinning and I call my Editor in a complete panic.

My piece on Hugo Chavez’s disdain of neo-liberal globalization will be on her desk and ready to go to print, September 1st.

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4 comments

  1. You just wanted to be able to deduct dating expenses as work expense. Fess up.

    As usual, great piece. Good ending. Funny. My check to you is on the way, $5/word sufficient?

  2. How can write something so hilarious and so darned serious at the same time? God, you’re funny!

    I have a few years on you, and I have been married for about 25. Your post helped to renew my commitment to stay married.

  3. I don’t think I’ve read funnier writing. You’re in Houston, right? Why are you NOT in Hollywood or New York, dazzline us with your wickedly wonderful comedy?

    Please consider. You’re a untapped wealth of talent and brains. I feel good things await.

    BP

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