When I hit middle age I found that it was time to re-calibrate my mating radar. The things that I wanted in a woman were becoming less relevant. A twenty five year old man falls in love with his girls’ boobs. A fifty year old man, if he’s not an idiot, will fall in love with his partner’s character. If he’s expecting to revel in exciting boobs his whole life, he’ll look like the old fart that married Anna Nicole Smith. That arrangement did not end happily.
I continued to behave as if I was twenty five. This strategy wasn't working. It led me into ridiculous situations where I felt as if I was closer to twelve than what I was, a supposedly mature man. I needed to overhaul my pheromones. My romantic fantasies needed a serious tune-up.
Let me say this right now: looks don’t mean a thing. Love doesn’t care what someone looks like. Love is a matter of soul, the long run, a lifetime. Love finds us, we don’t’ find love. When I met the woman who would become my partner, it was as if love was waiting for both of us. Love had acted as a match maker, moving us around like pawns until we were together and committed.
I had spent years doing some of the craziest things imaginable, with one purpose: to meet my life’s partner. Everywhere I went, to clubs, parties, salons, bird watching expeditions, I went with only one motive: to meet someone! I went to events that didn’t interest me. I went to boring seminars, poetry readings by bad poets, turgid discussion groups. I spent time with people I didn’t like. I even joined Mensa. Wow. (Mensa members, please do not take offense. I’ll trade you mockeries. I’m a hippie. Mock me! You have my permission.)
All this frenzied woman-chasing came to a head when I attended a monthly singles party hosted by the local newspaper.
I had never attended a singles party. When I entered the restaurant and looked over the crowd, I realized that I was at a gathering of predators. There was a subliminal noise of growling and hissing, of lips smacking and barely audible wolf whistles. The good looking people became like human bumper cars. There wasn’t enough room for the girls to squeeze into the space around The Handsome Rich Guy. It was a maniacal jostle, carried out on the dance floor to the D.J.’s disco beat.
The scrum around Hot Chick was even more ridiculous.
There are always a few major players of each gender at a party. Ms. Hot was exuding a monstrous fug of pheromones that drew men like some protozoan homing beacon. I could feel the other women hating her with arachnid intensity. She monopolized..no, she hypnotized.. the men with her jiggling act, the bouncing of her visible parts.
I began a conversation with an attractive woman. A few moments later a man emerged from a nearby restroom. He looked me up and down disdainfully and said, “I’m already here.”
I checked with the lady. Our conversation had been fun. I thought she was enjoying my company.
“Do you want me to leave?” I asked.
“He was already here,” she said meekly. The man, who had thin wispy hair, glasses, and looked like an insurance salesman, puffed up his chest and moved in close to me, getting inside my personal space in an aggressive way. I could have crushed him with one hand.
“I’m HERE, get it!?”
I walked away. I’m not the crushing type, although I admit there would have been a certain satisfaction in lifting this twerp and throwing him across the room.
As the evening progressed, distinctive sub-groups began forming. There were the “alternatives”, that is people who dressed like hippies, punks or eccentrics. I felt that I was an “alternative”. I have a tendency to wear loose, comfortable clothes. I just put on whatever is handy. I spent some time talking to a woman who dressed entirely in black, like a French intellectual from the fifties. She wore a turtle neck sweater, a black beret and thick-rimmed black glasses. Her name was Harry. Or Hari. Or Hairy. I don't know...the music was loud.
The “office workers” seemed to dress like cubicles even when away from them. The“Bad People”, tattooed and pierced, grimaced disdainfully and often strolled to the parking lot to imbibe drugs.
There was a legion of dark curly- haired men with shirts open to the waist, wearing gold chains and Rolex watches. They danced that eternal dance, The Crotch-and-Swivel. Their heads rotated, eyes searching, arms groping in the crowd. Women jumped backwards and collided with other dancers as these hands found private places. The expression “meat market”, cliché as it is, kept whirling through my mind. This was it; the erotic butcher’s selection of choice cuts, laid out on a platter, a dance floor, as Abba tunes alternated with Stevie Wonder. Good god, I was dressed in athletic pants and a t-shirt. I was overmatched. I was completely out of my depth.
The final assault on my sensibilities occurred when I saw, there on the dance floor, my therapist.
Ten years of weekly sessions, a whole cataclysm of my soul in a decade of the most intensive work, and I see my therapist at a party so comic and ridiculous that I sensed a foreshadowing of the end of my therapy. If she’s HERE, why am I paying her to advise me on how to live my life?
I left before ten and never went to another singles party.