Stories We Tell Ourselves

When I was in college I bought a pair of wild shorts at a tacky tourist shop. They were patchwork plaid seersucker. I called them my “You’ll never get a date in those shorts.” And I didn’t. In fact after I’d broken up with my freshman year boyfriend I didn’t date anyone. Sure, I slept around; it was the 70s. But no dates.

After college I moved to New Jersey. Still, no dates. I told myself it was because I was too…a lot of things: too tall, too loud, too picky, too opinionated. Too smart. And so far from compliant. No Stepford Wifery for me! I would regale my friends with hilarious tales of just how un-date-able I was. A self-fulling prophecy.

When I moved to Newport Beach, there were cute boys living below me. I wound up sleeping with one of their friends, who subsequently became a boyfriend. I guess we dated, but we were already together. Then I moved to New York City and I dreamt up even more baroque stories about why no man would want to take me out. By then it was the 80s and the media had predicted that “A woman over 30 has as much of a chance of getting married as being hit by lightening.” Nice. I was, of course, 30.

My sister gave me a New York Magazine personal ad for my birthday. Yes, that was back in the days before internet dating, when people actually put pen to paper in an attempt to meet someone. It seems like the fucking Dark Ages. And those days were, indeed, dark. Even though I was finally “out on a date,” as in a guy was buying me dinner (or whatever), it wasn’t quite right. They were hoodwinked into wanting me by my clever turns of phrase, my effusive prose. Or maybe my measurements. Whatever it was, it didn’t feel like real dating. And it never was.

I managed to find a boyfriend eventually: a one-night stand who actually called. After about two years together we broke up and soon I found yet another boyfriend who was yet another one-night stand who called. I wound up marrying that one!

Fast-forward to today. I’m 52 and lamentably single. When I wind up in a conversation about dating or sex – or the lack thereof – I find myself rebuilding my repertoire of why-I’m-un-date-able tales again. “Every 50-year-old guy who has all his hair and can see his feet thinks he deserves a 35-year-old.” “Why would anyone want a woman my age?” “It’s a vast wasteland out there.” “I go to parties but everyone is so much younger. And where else do you meet people?” “I’ll never get picked up on in a bar ever again.” (I was at least recently proven wrong about that last one! I didn’t act upon it but I certainly could have.)

At least I’ve learned from my past mistakes, one –and perhaps the only – benefit of being older. I can hear how I sound and now stop myself mid-sentence before I seal my fate with more self-fulfilling prophecies. Yet I once told those tales of why no one would date me and somehow managed to find love anyway. I’m sure I’ll find it again, in probably just as unlikely of places with equally unlikely men. (Or man, why be greedy?) Perhaps I should drag out those plaid seersucker shorts!

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One response to “Stories We Tell Ourselves

  1. I could take a page from you on this one.

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