When I was 27, I broke up with my boyfriend, a brilliant but possibly unhinged (in retrospect) Spanish psychiatrist. I’d met him at a bar two years earlier, and was drawn to his Latin charm and aura of omniscience. He called me his “queen,” and we’d cavort till all hours of the wee morning, knocking back tequilas and smoking pot, collapsing at dawn in his East Village apartment. It was fun, until I began to think about the fact that he was 36, and wasn’t he too old to be doing this every night?
Breaking up with him unleashed me. For the next 5 years, in-between some longer-term boyfriends and before meeting hubby, I made the most of being single in New York City, dating a range of men from different countries and walks of life, who wined and dined me, kissed me and sometimes dissed me, intrigued and beleaguered me.
There was the Italian Video Artist and Composer, for instance, whose music sounded like a rapid succession of cellphone beeps and told me I reminded him of a UFO (a compliment, he assured me). The Mexican Mogul, who after he bit my arse in bed, cried out, “I am the best lover you have ever had, no?” And the Real Estate Developer from the Upper East Side, who wore Hermes ties with cute little umbrellas on them, but who kissed like a washing machine on spin cycle.
Meeting hubby was a relief. Though I enjoyed the ritual of dating — ruffling my peacock feathers, coquettishly displaying my wares – I was ready to put away the accompanying second-guessing, unrequited yearning for intimacy and the self-conscious dance of it all.
Eight years into my marriage, therefore, I find it unnerving to be thrust back into the dating game, this time with 2 kids in tow.
Don’t worry. My marriage with hubby is going strong. I’m not secretly trawling the pages of Match.com.
But I am, each time I go to the playground, engaging in a sort of mating dance, in my quest to find new mummy friends.
As I encounter both new and familiar faces at the playground, my inner monologue runs something like this:
ah, she looks like a kindred soul. i’ll approach. phew, introduction over. does she think i’m interesting? am I guffawing a little too loudly at her jokes? ok, i’m coming on a little strong here….oops — I’ve lost sight of my two-year-old as we’ve been chatting about potty training….I have to cut off our conversation to make sure my daughter hasn’t run into oncoming traffic…was that a deal breaker? oh well, I’ll ask for her number anyway. is it too early to call her tomorrow? will she think I’m desperate? coming on too strong? a loser?
Where has my dating mojo, formerly brimming with confident estrogenized hormones, gone?
Alas, here are the six key differences between dating then, and now:
1. A decline in personal grooming.
Then, I was dolled up in Prada, wrists dabbed with unguent perfumes, lips plumped with enticing gloss. Now, I’m sporting a straggly chin hair, and am trying to keep the odor of unwashed armpits at bay.
2. The body’s southward momentum.
Then, my boobs were perfect. Seriously. My best feature. Now, they resemble those of an African sorceress.
3. An uptick in aggression (though some would call it confidence):
Then, I usually waited for the guy to make the first move. Now…Watch out, bitches, as I stuff my Blackberry with emails, cellphone numbers and enough female contact information to make a pimp proud.
4. Am I a lesbian?
Then, it was men I was after. Now, men are useless in my quest. Do men understand the secret of spanx? Or the particular angst we feel when we’re falling short of succeeding at both parenting and our careers? Methinks not. Hence, my quest for the perfect mummy mate.
5. Lack of subtlety
Then, I might sidle up to a bloke who caught my fancy and ask, “Have you got a light?” in the hopes that lighting my cigarette would lead to flirting. Now, my popular pick-ups include, “I like your crocs” and “What’s your favorite Summer Camp?”
6. An alarming ability to tolerate violence:
Then, safety mattered. If I got any kind of whiff of violence or disturbing behavior, either in or out of the bedroom, all further communication was aborted. Now, I’m on the prowl for partners who understand and at times, even condone, violence. All potential mummy mates must be comfortable with ninja battles and light saber jousting.
How have your efforts at the playground been going? Please chime in!