In Broadcasting, you collect a lot of unemployment and you end up out of desperation, doing odd jobs for very odd people who really, really liked you on the air. They almost only ever agreed to an interview just to see if one looked as hot as one sounded. I made it through a couple of interviews….I guess that was because I was actually worthy of being the subject of their fantasy; Laurinella, Queen of SultryVox, Land of CarboHydratia. Eeewwwww. I can remember having some of the creepiest temporary bosses.
Anyway, I was thinking back on my long career and one particular period of unemployment appeared front and center on ye olde memory banks or in my mammary banks according to some of my creepier bosses.
I’d been doing a little freelance work for a Houston magazine (heavy on the “free”, by the way). Days earlier, 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. I suggested she throw out a couple of potential topics.
Right off the bat, she suggested I do an in-depth piece on the Interior Department’s finalized proposal to open 48 jillion 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. I’m amenable to anything, seriously. Just name it. What other topics do you have in mind?”
She then suggested that I write an article on Venezuelan despot, Hugo Chavez (he was still and alive and killing back then) 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 I’d do anything , ANYTHING but that.
She then suggested an overview of Nancy Pelosi’s first two years as Speaker of the House.
I vomited a little in my mouth, then suggested an overview of anything else.
She then 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 P. that I could think of and besides, I was a Houstonian over 40.
I told her I’d do it.
But I quickly learned that I wouldn’t 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.
I’m not even sure what constitutes a date in 2017 much less in what it was in 2008 when I was given this assignment, Certainly not for a woman whose birth predates Eisenhower’s incessant rants about then military- industrial complex.
See, at the time, I hasn’t had a real by God date per se since December 2004. I was Tin Man rusty and way off my game, but a few years earliermImhad some success at what I called “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 Bookstore (ALWAYS date a literate man and do brick and mortar book stores still esxist?). I’d find a pretentious stack of books 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 made all the difference . 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 learned that 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 remember being nervous about all of it. The dynamics of dating had changed since I last went out one a date four years prior. Should I be worried I hadn’t changed enough to accommodate all the social changes? But surely, some of the basics were still in existence, right?
All the latest books and authors insisted that men and women have innate “hard wiring” that time can’t change. They wrote that 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 caveman Geico ad campaign eight years ago.
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 all over 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?” . We can’t help it. We want to know if these brave, hunter/gatherers can provide for our families. And by that I don’t necessarily mean bringing home a brontosaurus or fire..
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 older 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. I was 49 then…..(Jeez, really?????) and at the time inconvenienced with “free range” periods–they came and went as they pleased and usually at the worst times! I had to deal with that, plus, there was 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. Writing about it would be fiction. I’d be Steven Glass Glass with a better rack.
This whole damn idea is nuts. Completely insane. I remember sweating, feeling nauseous and burping up something akin to sulfur. I stayed at home in fetal thought when Inshould have been out researching and writing this story. All it resulted in were days of complete panic. My editor must have sensed this. She called to check on my progress. I was honest. I vomited my panic through the phone.
So, long story short, s few days lster my piece on how Hugo Chavez’s disdain of neo-liberal globalization affected his dating rituals was on her desk and ready to go to print.
Jeez……The things we do for a paycheck.