I hope this message finds you well and happy. How are you? Did you ever get back on your feet after you decided to quit your job and follow your dream? I hope so.
Daniel, I’ve thought of you often and wanted to apologize for not getting back to that very sweet email you sent me months and months ago. The night that we met in my favourite coffee shop, you were a light in the darkness. I remember that night quite well.
I had run in from the rain, happy to be inside, and out of the winter chill. It was very unusual for me to be heading out to my favourite coffee shop on a weeknight. Usually I only go on the weekend. But I was unsettled that night, and hoped that getting out would give me a new perspective. After I walked through the double…
Last night one of my friends commented that my blogs were “too girly”, and suggested that I dedicate one to manly concerns like engines and fishing and icky things like that.
Why on earth would I, a wonderfully fluffy and delicate girl care to enter into the dirty, greasy domain of the man-cave? That’s for you, you big, strong, sumptuous man-beasts, not me.
In return for not invading your intellectual man-space, I will not beg and plead with you, breasts heaving under the weight of my need for you to stick your nose in our pretty little business about bubble baths, nail polish and keeping the house happy and homey.
I will however dedicate this blog to the single (and married) men out there who are dedicated readers. You don’t have to confess in public that you read this, but we know you’re out there.
I was surprised when my friend’s husband embraced me, saying, ” I just love your blog. I subscribe,and read every one of them. Boy oh boy I can relate.” I was a bit surprised that a male septuagenarian had so much in common with my delicate female interests. Who knew?
This blog is dedicated to the odd ideas men have about dating and mating, and how those ideas need just a little bit of tweaking.
Today I heard one 40 something,recently engaged, childless woman speaking to another 40 something, single childless woman. The conversation went something like this,
Single Woman #1 – If you don’t mind short bald Chinese men, I have someone for you.
Single Woman #2 – Silence.
Single Woman #1 – He just can’t seem to find someone his own age without baggage. You know what I mean.
Single Woman #2 – Silence
Single Woman #1 – Yah, he’s been dating women in their early thirties, but he doesn’t enjoy their company so much. His mother doesn’t mind because she’d like grandkids, but she might not like it if he meets someone and moves out.
You will note that Single Woman #2 maintained a modicum of restraint by not replying, ” I hope you’re not serious. Do you listen to yourself?” Foolish, foolish Woman #1. Shame on you. Women of a certain age who are single, should not be corralled to rescue every loser over 40.
I myself have baggage. Children are apparently considered baggage by those who have made it into their late thirties and beyond still single and childless. Hmm? Curious. Someone who has been able to maintain a relationship and raise a child is being judged by someone who has not navigated those adult waters of commitment and responsibility. Curious indeed.
I’m sure any woman in her thirties, forties, fifties and beyond should consider herself lucky to be partnered with a short, bald man, who apparently lives with his mother. Something smells funny in the State of I Still Live With My Mother. Smells kinda like baggage.
Advice for men over 40 looking for a partner;
1) First and foremost remember that you are no longer 25 years old. Do not dress like you’re 25, and pride yourself on your drinking and partying habits. This is unattractive, and leads available women to the conclusion that you are an immature loser who never matured enough to be in an adult relationship.
2)Expect women in their 30’s and 40’s to have had relationships, marriages and/or children. It’s called adulthood. You have the option of a free membership; join the club.
3)Living with your mother, sibling or roommate is not attractive. No woman wants a man who cannot look after himself, or like a mamma’s boy, bear to spend time in his own company. If you don’t like you enough to be alone with you – women won’t either.
4)Understand that educated, employed women are looking for those very same qualities in a man. Who cares what you do, just do something that is self-sufficient, with enough left over to take us on a date.
5)Groom. Properly and well. Nobody wants to date a slob. We don’t care about designer clothes and a buffet of fragrances, in fact it’s a fine line between manly grooming and being a sissy. Manscaping is juvenile. Grooming is masculine.
6)Ask women out. Don’t pussy foot around the issue. If a woman has given you the signals like saying she doesn’t have plans on the weekend or mentions anywhere in your conversation that she’s single – she’s single.
7)Expect friendship. We know your loins are as fiery as ours, but at this age, friendship is as sexy as a six-pack. Friendship is the spark that starts a very hot partnership.
8)Take some risks. Yes, I’ve dated some men that didn’t initially make my lady parts blush, but as I got to know them, their personalities made them sexy as hell. Get over yourself, just let you be you, and understand that you may think you’re a hunk, but you’re an old hunk.
9)Socialize. It’s hard to believe, but Ms. Right is not going to come banging on your door while you’re slugging back beer in your tightie whities on your couch. You need to be visible, available, and lend yourself to mingling.
10) Cultivate joy. A happy man is an irresistible man.
“What’s that smell?”, I hear my son holler from the front door.
“The cat has set himself on fire again.”
“Oh gross!!!”, my son leaves, shutting the door behind him, leaving me to comfort a re-traumatized feline. We’ve been through this before, and it’s something he knows I can handle on my own.
Ah yes, burning cat hair, one of the nuances of home. Our house would not be a home without a cat. A very eccentric one who loves to eat roasted seaweed, popcorn and ketchup chips. He will, at least once a year, find it necessary to try and show dominance by getting too close to the flame of a candle, leaving his glorious white coat scorched.
The first time this happened, years ago, I had just tucked my then 4 year old son into bed, and was preparing a much needed hot bath. I had the music on, the water was steaming in the tub, and the candles had just been lit on the vanity. I had gone to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of wine, and was on my way back to the bathroom when I smelled the ungodly aroma of burning hair.
“What on earth?” I thought to myself as I stepped through the doorway of my bathing retreat. There stood the cat on the toilet seat, tail aglow, looking at me as if I had just set him on fire. In fact, he had just set his glorious tail on fire. Now, my cat does not just have a tail. He is fourteen pounds of male je ne sais quoi. His tail is in a constant state of erection, much like the ever-amorous Pepe Le Pew.
I do not allow the cat in the bathroom while I’m taking a bath for a number of reasons. First of all, he wants out of the room before I’m ready to get out of the bath, which means I have to get up, dry off, open the door and then climb back in the tub. Secondly, he stands on his hind legs, front paws hanging over the edge of the tub like he’s standing at a bar and stares at me, which kinda feels wrong. Thirdly he drinks the bath water while I’m in it, and finally, he swats at the bubbles. His company is not quite as relaxing as the old boyfriend I had who used to pour my wine and read William Blake and Pablo Neruda to me while I soaked.
Knowing that he was not welcome in my bath boudoir, the cat, (aptly named Leonard Cohen) had nonchalently trotted in, waving his ferile tail through the flame of the candles that were burning on the vanity.
When I arrived at the door, the cat’s eyes were huge, and looked at me in a pathetic accusatory stare. He seemed to be saying, “See you selfish woman?! Why can’t you just let me come in here and lap water out of the tub while you relax? See what your selfishness has done to my beautiful white coat?!”
“Leonard!” I gasped, pulling the towel I had wrapped around myself a little tighter as I bent down to rescue the poor creature. He bolted, smoking tail held high. I bolted after him, losing my towel and glass of wine as we rounded the corner between the living and dining room.
“Mommy, what’s that smell? ” my son hollered from his bunk bed.
“It’s ok honey,” I answered back, trying to sound calm.”The cat’s just on fire. Don’t come out because mommy doesn’t have any clothes on”. All of the running had essentially fanned the flame, and left a smelly trail of fur smoke wafting through the apartment. We still laugh about that today.
Ah yes, home. The place that we’re most comfortable, vulnerable, and content. The place I almost set on fire after closing the fireplace flu the first winter we spent here, causing our entire home to fill with smoke, and earning my son the nickname, “Bacon” at school because our clothes smelled of woodsmoke the next day.
We’re weirdest at home. Long ago I came to the conclusion that people are weird. W.E.I.R.Duh. Even after knowing someone for years and years, they can say or do something that catches me off guard, leaves me with my mouth gaping, and wondering what the hell is wrong with them.
Weird is the new normal, and we’re never as weird in public as we are at home. For instance, when I colour my own hair, I walk around the house in my hair-colouring nightie, plastic grocery bag clipped to my head, squinting at everything because I don’t have my glasses on. It’s sexy in an earthy kind of way I suppose.
I also like to trot around pantless when I’m home alone, and tend to enjoy Indian take out with a cold beer in my skivies on the couch while watching Coronation Street.
This is something I don’t share with my company. Not even company I’ve known since I was a kid.
I also have to make my bed completely – pillows and everything – before I climb in for the night, at which point I toss and turn, throw one pillow on the floor, and roll myself up like a Pillsbury weiner roll and immediately fall asleep.
We save weird for our loved ones, and introduce it slowly to new people coming into our lives. Oddly enough, weird is everyone’s normal. Weird is what we wait to come home to do every day.
Yes, I’ve read it. Yes, it’s everything that mommy porn ever pretended to offer and more.
But I’ve been there, done that, had my very own Mr. Grey.
I didn’t realize at the time how totally screwed up some women are to want that kind of thing. The 24/7 control part, not the red-hot sex part. I get that.
I mean my Mr. Grey was just another guy in a long string of unique lovers, a string long and fascinating enough to wrap around a Christmas tree and inspire girl’s night stories for generations.
Ah, to be young again. Le sigh…..
An older, wiser, and experienced single gal-pal of mine once responded to my latest single-vacation-booking with, ” Good girl. Go make your memories. It won’t be long, and that’s all you’ll have.”
At the time I heard those words as a call for pity. A signal to plan another of our night’s out downtown, dolled up, pushed up, puckered up and ready for action.
But it wasn’t that at all. It was a rare statement of meaty truth. There was nothing grey about it. She knew something that I did not. She was well on the other side of 40 while I was still in my early thirties.
Within a few years, my taste for fast times and fast men would dry up. Soon, I would long for the sizzle of slow burning romance and to wake up in the arms of a man who loved me. That was a far cry from wanting, more than anything after a night out, to wake up blissfully satisfied, and even more blissfully – alone.
I used to proudly boast, “My kind of guy has the good sense to get up and leave,” and, “I’m not the kind of girl who stays for breakfast.”
I take you back to my days with my Mr. Grey. They were stretched out over years, trying to get to know a man who did not want to be known. Agonizing and thrilling all at once, this relationship had me hooked like the slow burn of alcohol, and the deep breaths of inhaling from a burning cigarette. Just the thought of spending a night with this man of many talents would have me glowing for days.
We were not exclusive. We both had other relationships. I couldn’t bring myself to commit to a man with so many unknowns. I didn’t care enough to play his game, but I was entertained enough to accept an invitation almost always, whenever one was offered.
And I learned. Boy oh boy did I learn. The difference between a well-educated lover and an amateur. The difference between a player and man who wore his heart on his sleeve. The limits to which I would go when it came to pleasing a man both in the bedroom and out.
I learned that there’s a reason I love men, the way their bodies move against my own, and the way that they make my own body hum. The way they look when they shave in the morning, all sweet and cuddly looking from sleep, but masculine at the same time.
I learned that they’re all lying bastards, and all someone’s precious sons. I learned their needs are not so different from my own, and perhaps that’s why I have been hesitant to really commit, and ready to commit all at the very same time.
Learning about men meant learning about myself. I learned that I was tired of being with a man who craved attention. Made himself, however successful and affluent, look like an ass while trying too hard to maintain an air of mystery.
I learned that the most manly of men are the ones who can laugh with me, argue intelligently, admit fear,let me lay them out utterly and completely in the bedroom, and then return the favour another night.
My memories are fodder for many laughs, and for sharing my hard won wisdom with other women.
Christian Grey may have a helicopter, unending sexual appetite and stamina, but he lacks authenticity, and authenticity my little pink beasts, is raw and powerful and sexy.
I’m not a good patient. Being a good patient requires patience, and I just don’t have much. I’ve tried to cultivate it, but it’s slow growing.
For instance, I had a surgery last year that required much preparation and I did it all myself. Even my true love at the time (not a true love at all as it turns out) did not show up to help.
Instead, he asked that I lift a bed frame up a flight of stairs despite having two massive tears in my rotator cuff. When I let my displeasure be known (in the animated way I’m known for)he swore at me for being angry at his…hmm, what shall we call it, uselessness and kicked me out of his house.
Health crisis, even minor ones like elective surgery often help to sort out more than physical issues. In my case, it was a great opportunity to examine relationships, and establish healthier boundaries.
For three months I had little or no use of my right arm. For three months I had a few close friends who made an effort to be present and help. The regulars, were nowhere to be found, and the man I’d been in relationship with showed his true colours, failing miserably at being the type of man a woman is happy to know.
Most people are not comfortable asking for help, and I’m really not comfortable asking for help. You’re either the kind of person who is around to help a friend; bring soup, offer to fetch the heavy groceries and lift the laundry, or you’re not.
This weekend I was fortunate enough to keep company of some wonderful friends. The kind of friends who are around. From near, far and even further, we all arrived at our destination ready to ring in another beautiful end-of-summer weekend. There was an abundance of wonderful things; good food, good wine, inspiring conversation and much tenderness.
Visiting, and reminiscing with the friend I’ve known the longest over breakfast, we remarked at how much has changed in both of our lives since we first met over 12 years ago. She is married. I’ve parented a child into teenager-hood and will be an empty nester in less than five years. We blink, and time thrusts us forward whether we feel ready or not. We are the same people, but we are different, somehow equally weathered and rejuvenated by our experience.
Between my wonderful time spent with friends, and reading the introduction to Christopher Hitchen’s book Mortality, I’ve had cause to pause and reflect on what it might be about my character that would survive my own mortality. Will it be my wit? My plain spoken nature? My writing? My parenting? My love of champagne, gin and men?
Who will be there, if in two weeks they do indeed slice through a part of my body much more vulnerable than my shoulder? Who will tell me that everything is going to be ok? Who will sit vigil in the days and nights that my wee little brain heals? Who will crack jokes that they were surprised they found any brain at all, and make me laugh? What if it all goes sideways and it’s not my bedside they sit at, but next to a lifeless body to say a few words of farewell?
Statistically what I should hear is that all is well. I’m hoping though, that the consensus is more like,” My darling woman, clearly you’ve been thinking far too much for a woman of such little brain. You’re much too fabulous to worry your pretty little head over anything at all. Please go home, drink plenty of gin and tonic on the rocks. Not just any gin mind you miss, the good stuff. Find yourself a rich, dirty, old man, and be the lady of leisure you were intended to be. Mwah, darling. It’s been an honour, an absolute honour to meet such an incredible, sexy, intelligent woman as yourself.”
I’m sure everyone at some point has wondered about these things. Who will miss me? What would they say about me when I’m gone? What is my legacy? They’re interesting, but not pleasant ponderings, and I’m sure no one lingers on their mortality for too long. It is after all an uncomfortable precipice. We tend to linger on the fabulousness of life, like good g&t on the rocks, and how many feathers in an outfit are over the top.
For now I won’t think about that silly old mortality business. I’ll think about getting away in a few days to do some more writing. I’ll think about walking beside the river and poking around the lovely shops in the artsy town that has captured my heart. I’ll laugh, and drink wine in the bath as my music fills the spaces not taken up by steam. I’ll think about hearing the news that yes, I’m fine, just fine.
So, if you’ve had cause to wonder about the karmic residue you might leave after you leave this sentient landscape, I leave you with great advice from a fabulous woman, “ You can leave them thinking you’re a miserable bastard, or you can love them like crazy.” Who said those incredibly wise words? Why me – of course!
We’ve all done it. Those little at-home-do-it-yourself beauty blunders that leave you scrambling for a remedy.
Earlier this year, as the snow was just starting to melt, and the ice had subsided enough to start running, I did just that, I started running again.
My feet had other things on their mind though. Like not running. Like not adapting to new shoes. So, I tried three pair before I found something that suited my stride. I ran for two weeks in the second pair determined that my feet would adjust, and my toes paid the price.
Toe bang. Ouch. I had one toe on each foot that looked like I had taken a hammer to them. I’d heard of it before, but decided it wasn’t so bad. So I had some bruising, I’d survive. Little did I know that my toes wouldn’t make out so well.
Soon it became evident that my pretty summer pedicures were in jeopardy. Horror of beauty horrors!
I have almost made it out of sandal season without jeopardizing the beauty of my feet. Almost. After my last pedicure I realized that my aestetician had gotten a bit over zealous with my big toe nail,and it had almost come off. What?! Gross! I think I’m going to be sick.
How on earth could I live with that? My love life would not survive!
This qualified as a beauty emergency. The solution came to me in a flash. One layer of clear nail polish, a thin, single layer of toilet tissue, and another layer of clear nail polish. Voila! One paper mache toenail kept in tact long enough to let it grow out, and no gross intimate encounters.
Why yes, thank you. I am a beauty genius. This expertise has come at a price though ladies.
For a short time I lived with an aesthetics teacher. She taught me how to do mani’s, pedi’s and waxing of every kind. One night after a long shift (long, long ago and far, far away) I decided I would wax my own eyebrows. My landlady wasn’t available, and I needed a nice tidy browline for my lunch date the next day.
Never wax your own eyebrows when you’re tired. That fateful night I managed to wax the outer half of my right eyebrow completely off. Super. Besides the obvious pain, was the pain of being vain.
I had just started seeing a man I was head-over-heels for, and after penciling in my half eye-brow (thank gawd I’m fair), I was terrified that he would stroke that side of my face after a tender kiss and wipe my fake half-eyebrow off.
Lesson learned; let someone else wax your eyebrows.
Over the years I’ve come to realize there are a few tips for at home gal-grooming that I would like to share with you, my very fabulous, deliciously feminine readers;
1) Always have a box of your favourite shade of hair dye in your cupboard. You never know what might happen when you get the urge to go hair wild. It will come in handy, trust me.
2) Cuticle scissors – they do in a pinch when you can’t get to the spa.
3)Pre-waxed strips. Apply a light layer of baby powder, press the strip on in the direction of hair growth and pull the opposite way, parallel to your skin. No unsightly hair.
4)Clear nail polish. Creates secure paper mache toenails. Stops runs in panty hose, and when you don’t have time to let your polish dry, it’s less likely to look unsightly with a small smudge than any coloured polish.
5)A really beautifully scented body lotion. For your toes, your elbows, your heels and anywhere else that needs a quick softening up before your man gives you a squeeze.
6)Tweezers. ‘Nuff said.
7)Hairband – even the most unruly hair – no matter what length, can be disguised quickly and easily with a hairband.
8)Extra Mascara – I keep one in my purse and my desk drawer. When you’re having a bad make-up day, good mascara and a bit of lip gloss can disguise lots.
9)Gin. Yes, Gin. Wine will also do. Two glasses, and no matter if you’re without any of the first 8 items on the list, you feel like a million bucks; like Marilyn in her white skirt, like you could take on the world wearing nothing but a great pair of heels while holding your gin on the rocks.
10)An unlimited sense of humour and imagination.
It’s called being resourceful and light-hearted. Sexier than anything you could ever primp or spray or polish into place.
Do you ever notice how beautiful and seductive long hair looks in commercials? Women sway their heads, and their glistening tresses flow this way and that in a whirl of feminine seduction.
But my hair doesn’t do that. I don’t know any woman who really has hair like that. Well, for any more than a few hours after she’s had it done and styled to death.
The hair on my head and I came to peace without an official treaty many years ago. I surrendered to its natural, fine wave, and it surrendered to my styling tools the best a wild beast is ever able.
I know few men, who ever get a bad hair cut. I mean truly bad. I’ve seen some cropped a bit too short, and a couple of slightly crooked, freshly shaven hair lines at the nape of their yummy necks, but that’s about all.
Women on the other hand are as loyal to their hairgurus as they are to their priests and spiritual advisors. Once we find one we like, it’s heartbreaking when they move. When we feel we need to expand our horizons to see what another one has to offer, we feel guilty. Guilty as sin.
I’ve been confessing my mane sins to the same woman for about five years now. The last couple of times I’ve gone in, the spark just wasn’t there. She was distant. Absent. Not totally tuned into my needs.
In fact the last time I was there I came home feeling like my hair had been in a fight and lost part of a limb. I had one or two patches that looked as if they’d been chewed out by a goat. Not good. Not sexy. Not a big confidence booster for a single gal.
Ah, there’s the rub….confidence. Like a really good counselling session with your spiritual advisor, a good hair cut leaves you feeling fresh, rejuvenated, and most importantly, confident that whatever comes next, you’ll be able to handle it with grace and finesse.
I have been overdue for a haircut for a couple of weeks. The past few weeks have been so hectic, I just couldn’t think clearly about whether or not to dump my hairguru. Feeling guilty, as I do with anything or anyone I’m committed to, I called to giver her one last chance.
She was booked. Solid. All weekend. That never happens. She’s always had time for me in the past, and was so glad to see me. I took it as a sign that I should be seeking more stylish pastures. My guilty fingers dialed another number.
Yes. Yes, they could fit me in. Tonight. Close to home and work. The same price as my previous guru. Sold.
I made my way to the new shrine-of-the-holy-hairdo, photo of the hairstyle I desired in my sweaty palm. I had my purse, and enough cash for a good tip should I like the new hairguru. Just enough to let her know she was good, but not too much that I set a dangerously pricey precedent. If this was going to work, we had to establish boundaries.
It started off pretty sweet. She gave me the most relaxing head massage I’ve had in a long time. Slow and gentle, none of this quick scrubbing and getting right down to business. Wow. I was impressed already, and I was only at the sink!
I had to talk myself down, “Don’t get too excited girl. Just because she has magic hands does NOT mean that you’re going to be on cloud nine walking out of this place. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to see her again.”
I took out my photo and she tossed it onto the shelf in front of the mirror. Uh-oh. I was coming in for a major overhaul. Major chopage was about to happen. I was giving up my longer-than-I-liked-locks and giving in to my desire for short, sassy hair, and she just tossed the holy book of hair-doing aside. For shame.
I’ve missed my short hair. It suits my face and my lifestyle better. It’s quick to wash and dry after a run, after a practice in the muddy river, and after work before a hot, steamy night with a juicy piece of man-steak. Not that I’ve had a lot of man-steak lately, but I digress……
So there I was, a prisoner in the chair at the shrine of hair-doing. Without my glasses on ( I never wear contacts for a haircut as I usually get a razor-sharp piece of hair-shrapnel in my eye). I could see her chopping away massive lengths of hair. A lump caught in my throat, and a trail of what if’s ran through my head, what if I look like a boy, what if she cuts it so short I look like a dork, what if it makes my cheeks look fatter, what if I hate it, what if…..
She proceeded to blow it dry, bending it this way and that with a round brush. I looked like a dork. I looked like someone had turned a large mushroom onto my head and left my ears sticking out. I looked like a fat-cheeked-dork-boy.
Even without my glasses, I knew that this do would not do. By the look on the face of my hairguru, (whom I was beginning to think was a fraud) she thought I looked like a dork too. That made me feel slightly better. At least I knew she wasn’t a twit.
As she was standing back with her head cocked to the side, looking like some kind of curious red ( like crayola red) feathered bird, I leaned forward and bent over, mussing my entire head of hair up. ” I want it messy like this,” I said, flipping my head back, looking wild-eyed and even more strange than I had before.
She understood what I meant, and suggested cutting off another inch. I suggested another two. We compromised at one and a half, and she set to work again. We looked again. I mussed it up one more time, and pointed out where I wanted another half an inch taken off. She obliged.
Together we managed to come to a style that we were both satisfied with. She lightly stroked my locks with Moroccan oil, but didn’t offer styling spray. Wise woman. This was the one. She knew I was going to go home and fix my hair the way I liked it, just like 100% of the other women who go to a professional stylist.
My new hairguru took twice as long to give me the cut that I came in for, and to learn about my hair. “Your hair is thicker and wavier than the picture.” Yep, but it still looks and feels great.
I thanked her, took her business card and added ten percent more to my tip. I’ll be going back to worship at the shrine of this hairguru again very soon.
If I would have just nodded and left after she had finished cutting my hair the first time, I would have left disappointed and never come back. This is what I would have done in my teens, twenties and maybe even my early thirties. Not now though. Now I have the confidence to ask for, and get what I’m paying for.
That’s the rub isn’t it? Confidence. Confidence doesn’t come from a haircut, it comes from wisdom and experience. A good haircut doesn’t hurt though.