This post originally appeared on RoleReboot and has been republished here with full permission.
One guy told her she needed to lose 40 pounds. Another said he just wanted to ‘give an older woman a try.’ And another said she had too much baggage.
He told her he loved the way they could talk for hours about everything under the sun: Obama’s second-term trials, whether gluten-free diets were a food-company ruse, Robin Williams’ tragic end. Her four kids and his three. Her one long marriage; his two fairly short ones. What had gone right, and what had gone terribly wrong in their previous lives. Nothing was off-limits.
He took her hand in the movie theater, shared his popcorn, and let her bury her face against his shoulder during the violent parts. He cooked her exquisite dinners in his large, open kitchen and poured the perfect Chardonnay or Pinot Noir to go with them. He held her close in bed after they made love, in that space where people feel safest and most vulnerable at the same time. He stroked her hair and whispered that she was beautiful.
Then one morning when they were getting dressed, he sat down beside her, looked into her eyes, and said this: “You and I have something really special together. If you lost 40 pounds, I think we might have a shot at going the distance.” His words landed on her ears like a needle skittering across a vinyl record on an old turntable. There was shock, then dissonance, then pain.
We’ll call him Boorish Bob. But there were others—Ill-Mannered Al, Fetish Frank, Critical Ken, Asshole Art—all gleaned from promising profiles on an Internet dating site Sue started visiting after her divorce from Cheating Chet became final.
Now, Sue is no babe in the woods. She’s just on the shy side of 60, a professional woman who’s managed to hold her own in the male-dominated world of business. She’s funny, confident, well-read, and can dance a mean salsa.
And yeah, Sue’s a beauty—a catch who loves life but doesn’t like living alone. So one night when she was surfing the Internet, she took the plunge on OKCupid and filled out information designed to fill in the blanks of who she is: a dynamic, talented, adventurous, past-middle-age lady with a Buddha tattoo just above her left breast. She’s brassy and little bit bawdy. She makes noise when she eats, listens to Vivaldi and Clapton, and cherishes walks around her suburban Portland neighborhood with her two daughters who live close by. She teaches her grandkids proper manners and silly songs both.
She uploaded a photo of herself that showed off her steel-blue eyes and her winning smile. It also hinted at her fun-loving spirit and revealed a few well-earned wrinkles. Air-brushing wasn’t on her agenda. She clicked “done,” and waited. It wasn’t long before she was instant-messaging with a half-dozen guys—some retired, others still company men, a few latent poets and dreamers. The conversations were telling.
She knew right away some of the would-be suitors weren’t right: one copped to five marriages; another said he had an issue with cocaine; still another wrote that his ideal date would involve bourbon and sadomasochism. No thanks, Sue said. She was more interested in a gradual courtship with strolls along the beach and rides in the car. She wanted to slurp spaghetti and indulge in long, lazy afternoons entwined in a man’s arms.
She eventually said yes to Doug, Jim, Bill, Steve, and John. They met at coffee shops, in diners, at the racetrack, in a shopping mall. Two were artful lovers. The rest weren’t interested “in that sort of thing anymore.” Huh, Sue thought, pecking those guys on the cheek before returning to her home office and checking the “Don’t contact me again” box under their names.