Sifting through potential male companions is like placer mining—you keep going because you believe there’s got to be gold in there somewhere. And to be fair, maybe that’s what men think about us, too, although I’m not sure we’re looking for the same characteristics. How many women want a sensitive, considerate guy more than they want ripped abs and a tight butt? How many men want a thoughtful, caring woman more than they want serious cleavage and good-looking legs?
How many women are checking their matchup profiles right now? And when there hasn’t been even one spark of interest, are saying to themselves, “If I were just a little ____________ (taller, smarter, younger, sexier, prettier)?”
After the fiasco of Ethelbert the Octogenarian, I kept looking not because I was sure of finding the right guy, but only because I was absolutely certain I wouldn’t find anyone unless I looked.
Greta did not meet the men who moved through my life in the months that followed. One cancelled a scheduled coffee with me because he had resumed relations with his girlfriend. Another didn’t show up for a dinner date and didn’t answer his cellphone, either that evening or the following day. Another met me for dinner, but keeping the conversation going was like rolling a boulder uphill. He was a nice person, I was a nice person, but we just didn’t have enough in common to form the basis for a relationship.
Meanwhile, a man one of my friends had been dating cancelled a theater date because he had the flu. He would call her when he felt better, he said. Perfectly reasonable. She waited—one week, two weeks, one month, two months. She shrugged and took him off her cell phone contacts list, thinking that was his way of saying, “Not interested anymore.”
Four months after his bout with the flu, he called to ask if she’d like to go out. He didn’t see any problem.
Another friend began exchanging emails with a man from Pennsylvania. He seemed like a nice guy and they had similar interests. They progressed to phone calls, and were planning to meet in person when my friend was contacted by a woman in Pennsylvania. The woman named the man, and asked if my friend knew him. Turned out he had waited just a few months after their wedding before putting himself back into circulation, and his wife had stumbled onto some phone numbers.
Maybe this explains why most of the 49ers came out of the Gold Rush broke. They, too, found a lot of fools’ gold, not much of the real thing.
Sometimes, you have to opt out and give your bruised ego time to heal. I decided to let my match service contract expire. I would go shopping or to a movie with my girlfriends. I would ride my bike and play in the back yard with Greta. She listens well, with a grave, serious, slightly worried expression. And she seems to know when it’s appropriate just to sit down on the floor and have a good cry.