Advantages and Disadvantages of Dating a Younger Man

The term “cougar,” defining an older woman “hunting” for a relationship with younger men didn’t even exist in the eighties. Those were times when it was expected and normal for older men to marry or date women younger than their daughters, but it was  frowned upon and unacceptable if an older woman was seen with a younger man. It didn’t even have to be 15-years younger, five years  were enough to get one in trouble with society’s acceptance of the relationship.

I wanted to be accepted and  for that reason, such relationship was out of question.  My insecurities were in full blossom,  I wanted to belong, to be like by  everyone. I wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a cougar, or had I any intentions of becoming one!

Truth be told, I  had just ended a  relationship with a man, 15-years my senior, and felt disoriented. I was sad and needed to  avoid the loneliness of another weekend and there was no better place to feel loved and accepted but  at my friend, Jody’s home in N.J. It was one of those hot, humid summer nights, and she was giving a party.

Over the three years that passed since my arrival in the U.S., Jody, who loaned me $20.00 when my purse was stolen, became a close friend.  She was a few years older and  single. She was everything I wasn’t, light, accepting and fun to be with.  She was a red-head full of life and optimism, she truly had what it took to be a successful sales woman. I loved visiting at her South Jersey home, where I could forget about mutual funds, brokers and tax-free investments.

One never knew what to expect at her parties and who was about to show up.  Jody seemed to have an open-door policy and people, men and women came and went as they pleased.

This party was no different, except that Jody’s younger brother, Jim, was visiting from out-of-town.

One could see immediately they were related: same smile, sense of humor and feeling that no matter what one did or said, if you were their friend, they would still love you unconditionally.

What a wonderful feeling of lightness! I didn’t have to perform, to be at my best, to smile or be appropriately serious or profound.

Neither Jim or I knew the other guests and we found ourselves  in a quiet corner reading a book about Zen and playing tennis. I don’t remember if he brought the book or if Judy had it, or the exact title of the book, but it had to do with a way of life we both seem to agree upon.

As I closed my eyes, I couldn’t remember Jim. Was he handsome, was he tall or short? It really  didn’t matter because the Zen book connected us on a level much deeper than the looks and the physical.  It was the unexplainable, the unpredictable and the feeling that we have known each other forever but didn’t have a chance to meet  in a physical space until that very moment.

A few days after the party, Jim had to fly back home in Davenport and for the following three months we wrote to each other, long, passionate letters.  When it was too late, and I was already caught in the web of passion, Judy told me her brother was five years younger than I was, but she assured me one couldn’t tell the age difference. I looked younger and was beautiful, and who cared anyway, he was in Davenport and not coming  back to Philadelphia soon, or ever.

Jody’s blessing that it was okay to date her younger brother was good news but what she was actually saying was that we didn’t have a real relationship.  It was kind of “pie in the sky.”  I didn’t like the feeling that I was dating the illusion of a relationship, a dream, some love letters… so I bought a plane ticket to Davenport to make sure Jim, with whom I connected over reading about Zen and playing tennis, really existed.

On the plane, I was thinking what a relief that Jim was younger and there weren’t many things about me to remind him of previous marriages or relationships. When I dated the older man, who had been married three times before we met, we couldn’t go camping because that would have reminded him of his first marriage when his wife started an affair with his best friend. Then we couldn’t go to Mexico on vacation because this was where he spent his honey-moon with the second wife, and finally, when I told him I wanted to write a book, he told me that reminded him of his third wife who left him because he didn’t understand her love of poetry!  Yes, definitely dating a younger man was less complex!

Jim was waiting  for me in Chicago and we drove to Davenport. He lived in a small room on top of his dance studio and was also working for a  meat company, “marketing” steaks out of a truck.  His dream was to be a chiropractor and we even went to the local chiropractic school where Jim was studying on and off.

I watched some of Jim’s dance classes, when he was dancing around with various clients, a majority women, who all seemed to have a special connection with Jim!  I thought my jealous side needed to be controlled, our connection over the Zen book was all that counted!

A few days into my visit, Jim said:

“I am going to go visit my brother, are you okay alone for a few hours?”

“Yeah, sure, but where is your brother? I’d like to meet him too, why don’t I come with you?”

There was silence and for the first time I looked at Jim with the eyes of the mind not the eyes of my soul.  He was an average looking fellow, rather short and his skin was still covered in pimples here and there…

“You are not going to like it there”. He said at last.

“Oh? Why not, what are you hiding?”

“I am not hiding anything, but he is my brother and he chose a way of life I don’t think you’d like… but you’re welcome to come along, don’t say I didn’t warn you”.

We drove in silence through shady neighborhoods, and as I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of my decision, we stopped in front of a small, grey building with a fluorescent sign which read, “Open.”

“Are you waiting in the truck?” Jim asked.

“No, I am coming in! What is this place, anyway?”

“Oh… it’s a kinda bar … are you sure you coming in?”

We locked the meat truck and went around the building, in the back.

The back door was locked and Jim knocked. No answer.

He knocked again, harder and harder…

“Who is it?”

“It’s me bro!”

The door screeched and it opened slowly. Standing there, I saw a very pale man, whose age I couldn’t guess, but his eyes where on fire and his speech slurred:

“Who’s she?”

“My girlfriend from Philadelphia.”  Jim turned towards me:

“This is my brother”.

We went into a long corridor  with several doors on each side. Jim and his brother were talking and smoking while I stood there, trying to guess what was behind those doors and if it would be appropriate to ask.  Unexpectedly, one of the doors opened and a young Asian woman, with long black hair, completely in the nude, came out of a room.

She gave us a horrified look and quickly disappeared behind another door!

Oh, my God, I thought, was I seeing things? It all happened so fast, was it real?

For the first time, Jim’s brother looked at me, but didn’t say anything and I wasn’t about to ask.

“The smoke,” I said at last,” I think I should be going out in the truck. I quit smoking and don’t want to be tempted”.  I explained politely, and Jim handed me the keys.

Back in the truck, driving back, Jim said:

“He is my brother and I love him and life is what is…”

I nodded but couldn’t agree or disagree.  The truth was, suddenly the Zen book and the magic disappeared and I saw myself driving in a meat truck, coming from a dubious  place with a younger man I barely knew…

A few days later I flew back to Philadelphia.  As I flew back, I thought, … and the disadvantage of dating a younger man was that  the magic didn’t last forever. It was easier to read about  unconditional acceptance, and a different thing to do it in real life. I failed the practical test, and truly life was what it was. At least I learned to accept my limitations.

I was available again!

An Independent Woman

Contrary to my stated desire of complete independence, I  was afraid of being alone.

My move to Philadelphia took me out of my comfort zones.  I always lived with someone,  even if I provided for myself, I knew there was someone to go home to, for better or worse. Now, it was different.  Every night, I came back to a beautiful empty apartment. To alleviate the feeling of loneliness, I purchased a human size doll, named John,  to keep me company.  I placed  him in front of the windows to scare potential intruders.  Never mind that I lived on the third floor and the only intruders could have been the birds. However, John managed to scare the windows washer, who almost fell off the ladder and broke his leg because he thought John was a dead man in his chair!  In spite of the incident, John continued to stay in front of the window,  just in case.  I had several locks on my door, and the floors were screeching at night… I still think there lived ghosts in that house!

The part I loved about my new home was the fireplace. I could stare at the freely dancing flames going in different unpredictable directions, yet confined to their home, the fire-place.  I only looked, never touched, I remembered when I was a child, I didn’t know that beauty could hurt and mesmerized by the dancing flames I went closer, and I felt pleasant warmth, and even closer, and it was too hot, and yet, I dared touch the flames and the pleasure turned to pain.   It traveled from my hand into my soul, then the pain disappeared and the ugly wound healed leaving a scar and a lesson. Now, in my Philadelphia apartment I only stared at the flames, protected by the fire-place grid and enjoyed the dance of the flames from a safe distance.

Yes, these were wonderful, but expensive pleasures… soon I discovered independence was costly! I needed to work even harder, to be more aggressive and take more rejection, so that I had the privilege of staring at the flames  in a luxury apartment.  My boss used to tell me sometimes it was  even hard for him to take rejection, but he had a secret way to motivate himself.  When business was down, and he had to make more calls,  and couldn’t take” no” anymore,  he drove  to the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia, and  look at the devastated houses, and told himself ” this is where I will live if I don’t sell.”  Then he took a deep breath and looked at a picture of his suburban home, his stay-home wife and the three kids. Suddenly, cold calling and rejection didn’t seem that hard anymore. It was what it took to have what he wanted.

I thought his story was inspiring and I wished I could motivate myself, I wished I didn’t feel rejected or took  it personally, but I did.  I was told times and again that is easier to sell something I believed people needed. That product was disability insurance!

As a rule, all small business owners needed disability insurance.

” What would happen to your business if you got sick? Did you think of your family? Your children? Who will pay your bills, who will take over your business?” They were all legitimate questions, and I was walking up and down Chestnut Street in Philadelphia “attacking” the various shop owners by asking these questions, which were so true but scary to the owners.  Some would say “no, thank you”, few, would take the information and ask me to not call them they will call me if interested, and a handful would listen, make an appointment and purchase the much-needed protection.  However, no matter how much I kept telling myself the rejection was not directed against me, personally, when the Hindu owner of one of my favorite shops said ” do not come back because I only get sick when I look at you, ” I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t somehow personal. I was the messenger of potential bad luck and this owner was superstitious. In principle, I liked superstitious people, they still believed in some type of consequences, for one reason or another. Deep inside, I couldn’t even blame him for not wanting to purchase the disability. In his mind, purchasing the insurance would have meant he was “attracting” sickness to his life and successful business. However, when he said he felt sick when he saw me, deeply hurt my feelings. I just couldn’t pretend it wasn’t personal.

As I was trying to find less ego hurting ways to improve my business, someone I met at one of the many sales trainings I attended, told me they had an opening in their company, teaching brokers about packages of municipal bonds, so they could market them to their clients.  It was a tax-free investment. I knew how important it was to rich people to not give what they earned to ‘Uncle Sam”.  I thought  teaching brokers about a  tax-free product would be less stressful than knocking at business owner’s doors.

My interview for this position was with a man named Henry.  He was about fifty, bold and square, with blue eyes which could have been still attractive if they weren’t blood-shot.

“We’ll have the interview over lunch.” He suggested, and the idea was appealing so we went to Bookbinders, then a Philadelphia landmark. I cannot remember what we  food we ordered, but I do remember what we drank.

“I’ll have a martini.” He ordered. “What would you have?”

I had to think fast… is he testing me if I drink alcohol at Noon?  Am I perhaps supposed to drink and entertain my future clients, the brokers? He ordered a martini…. if I order water, he’d feel  perhaps embarrassed if he wasn’t testing me….

“I’ll have a screwdriver,  with no alcohol please.”

That made it orange juice, since the vodka would have made it a screwdriver, but everyone seemed okay with my decision and I was offered the position.

I was given six months to train and get my license in mutual funds, and I was told ‘ll have to lecture about these financial products in front of large crowds of brokers, a majority men and also work with individual brokers who sold large quantities of our product. My salary was generous, and in addition, there was a yearly bonus if my clients, the brokers, were selling what I was hired to teach them how to sell.

My territory was the whole state of Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware and I was spending less and less time in my Philadelphia apartment and more and more in various hotels away from home.

My best account was in Pittsburgh, a broker whose client had a chain of restaurants and needed tax-free investments. I had spoken with him several times, but the time had come to meet him in person because he needed support understanding a new product, so he could present it to his rich client.

I flew to Pittsburgh and met him over dinner in the restaurant downstairs in my hotel.

“I thought, judging by your accent, you were a Chinese woman!” he said, visibly shocked I was a Caucasian in my thirties.

“Is this good or bad?” I said.

“You are very pretty,  I guess it’s okay”.

We sat down at a corner table in a poorly lit  site of the restaurant. I wondered if he would be able to see my charts… I had my brochures,  paper and pencil and was eager to explain the products.  After all, that was why I was taking him out to dinner.

We made small talk over drinks. About his family, his five children and his many charities, how active he was in his church.

What a good man, I thought, his wife is so lucky… why can’t I find someone like him, so dedicated to his family, church, business…I guess all the good ones are taken!

Over dessert I decided the time was right  to take out my pen and paper and prospectus for the new product and explain the benefits, so in turn he could explain them to his client. I  offered to come along on his appointment the following day if there were still questions.

As I was drawing charts and pointing out the tax savings, I felt something soft and warm going up my leg.

“Ah!” I screamed, and jumped off my seat.

“I am sorry, there was something crawling up my leg… wouldn’t expect bugs in a five-star restaurant,” I continued, trying to find the creature in the semi-darkness.

I couldn’t find anything, and the waiter assured me there were no bugs.

Reluctantly, I sat down, and continued to explain the “benefits of my product.”

“Do you think I explained this well enough, or should I come with you on the appointment?” I concluded my presentation and asked for the check.

“Oh, you explained it very well, ” he said.

We stood up and he escorted me to the elevator. I extended my hand, to say good-bye, but he pulled me towards him and whispered in my ear:

“It wasn’t a bug, it was my foot!”

The elevator arrived, he turned and left and I missed the elevator looking at his back disappearing through the hotel’s doors.

I pressed the elevator button again. After all,  i thought, his wife wasn’t that lucky!  I could definitely find someone like him, but did I want to?

The next day he called to let me know his client invested over a million in the tax-free product I so skilfully explained to him. The power of Uncle Sam was greater than lust!

A Slice of Borrowed Heaven!

I knew. I knew deep in my heart that I was in this surreal world of beauty, peace and riches as a guest.  I knew I was invited  and I feared the time when  I needed to step in a different world, where I truly belonged was soon to come.

The scary thought was I didn’t know where exactly was that world which I could claim as mine, where did I feel I belonged and I wasn’t just visiting? The conclusion was always the same: My only secure home was inside of me; The home I was forced to make during that night of New Year’s  when I was 15, and my father’s drunken rage chased us away from what I thought was my  home…

At the beginning of 1984  the Ludingtons were getting ready to sell the Gingerbread House in Berwyn where I lived while they moved to new York. My fear that the magic could disappear became reality.  I tried to live to the fullest those last few months of magic. To absorb in my soul as many memories of that stolen happiness, so when life got tough in the future, I could close my eyse and see our dog Bandet, and Sunday, our cat, sleep care free cuddled with each other. I wanted to take with me the mornings, when before work, I took a quick swim in the cold water and looked up at the cloudless, peaceful sky.  Above all, I wanted to take with me the surreal evenings, when exhausted after work,  I could come to my borrow nest of secure happiness and admire the Moon and talk to it begging her to not hide behind the bushes or the clouds and leave me alone in darkness.

Once, when I visited D.C. I touched a piece of rock brought from the Moon, but I didn’t think  that rock was part of my Moon from Berwyn.  My Moon was a  Princess, she was alive and feeling. Like all Princesses, she  needed love and care and I didn’t think She would have liked  being pinched and pieces of her exposed  in a Museum and touch by touristic hands who then could say: “I touch the Moon”, when in fact all they did was touch an inanimate rock.

And the summer nights, late,  when strange shadows invaded the Gingerbread House and the forest, and the swimming pool and with one switch I  had the power to bring light, I could  light the pool and dive in, swim slowly, watching the elegant movements of my hands, seeing my own shadow on the bottom of the pool . I moved as slowly as I could, to feel the velvet water caress my tired body and heal it with its unconditional love. I’d float on my back and counted the stars.  Which  one was mine? Did I have one?  At times the silence scared me, yet I was hanging on to its feeling of comfort and the magic of loneliness.

Then, the feared day when my friends found  buyers for the Gingerbread House, arrived and I had to move.  I had a  good paying job in corporate America, a job I hated, and as my boss used to say,” to survive in this place you’ve got to be like ducks. Ducks have oil on their feathers. You just let the water slide and not get to you and swim on…”

I had to swim on, it was between affording a beautiful apartment a block from Nancy Grace’s, in Society Hill, or a small apartment somewhere far, where mice and cockroaches lived in the kitchen, as I witnessed when I was invited at a party by one of my friend’s, Judy’s co-workers.  I knew the alternatives and chose to be a duck, at least for a while.

I am one of those people who keeps old letters, and here’s what I wrote to my friend, Cassandra, before moving from their home in Berwyn:

“Dear Cass, All done! Today, April 9, 1984 I signed the contract and gave Mr. Chandlee the security deposit.  What a strange coincidence, I am moving on June 1, 1984, exactly three years from my arrival in the U.S. I am excited and frightened at the same time.  The apartment is unique and it has its own personality. It is bi-level. When you go in, there is a high, cathedral type ceiling and from the main door one faces a balcony. Steps take you there, in the balcony, which is as large as another room and you could have a different view… The living -room is large and it has a fire place, which I love. There is a small bathroom and a bedroom in the back.”…. It’s been a wonderful three years of my life.  The fullest of my life so far, and I thank you and Nick, because 90% of all the good things I have experienced and learned wouldn’t have been possible without you.  I would like you to know that I’ll never forget what you have done for me all these years.”

The day of the big move  from Berwyn to Philadelphia arrived sooner than I wanted.

I took one more walk through the woods of the blessed part of the world called Main Line, Philadelphia.  I walk slowly and I breathe in deeply, the smell of burned wood and fresh earth.  The smell of spring is the same everywhere.   It reminded me of Romania, of Feldru and my dear friends.  of the wonderful days of my youth when we climbed the Carpathian mountains, the only place where we were free in Romania.

The same Moon, the same Sun, the same smell of Spring and hope…

I was moving on!




Society Hill Socialite

I was still in a daze concerning the “rules and regulations” of my new life and no one gave me a long paper written in legalize to  read and sign that I understood and accepted the terms.  In other words, I was learning as I hopped from one situation to another, as I met various people and attended a lot of parties, one more different than the others.

For a while, I thought everyone in America had a 10-12 room home and a swimming pool and at least a  Victorian rose garden, if not several.  After I started to work in Philadelphia I discovered  some people lived in apartments and didn’t have swimming pools or gardens, I realized  I will be one of them once I move out of my friend’s house in Berwyn.  I also started to get the idea of  how expensive an apartment in a nice area was, and also that not all neighborhoods were equally beautiful or safe.  I started to understand the value of money and what it could offer you.

My friends, Cass and Nick,  took me with them to parties, so that I got acclimated to my new life, even if it was borrowed, I enjoyed it. They told me “you are invited” but looking back,  I think they were asking the the hostess if I could come along, and  because people on the Main Line are gracious and polite, the hostess always accepted.  I will never know for sure how or why, but I attended many parties on Main Line Philadelphia.  I observed the phylosophycal conversations and the very shallow ones, the beauty of some dresses and the eccentricity of others and endless conversations about playing golf  and American football.  Some of the conversations which clearly everyone else understood, I didn’t, and then I made a habit of nodding and smiling vaguely if I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do or if an action was expected of me.That seemed to work just fine.

In was in the middle of one of these parties on the Main Line, when all heads turned to look at a late-comer. I turned too:

She was tall, slim and striking. Her unusual silver jewelry, her hair-do and black and white outfit made her unique and memorable. Not beautiful, but striking, something to remember.  She wasn’t young. She was ageless.  She didn’t excuse herself for being late and the hosts didn’t seem to expect excuses from her.  She asked the waiter for a glass of wine, scanned the terrace and her eyes stopped on me.  She then scanned me, with the same expert eyes and came straight to me:

“Where do you work? I don’t know you?” She said.

I cannot believe this! She is not asking my name, she asks where I work! That’s different! I thought.

” I work at an insurance company downtown Philly, “The Green Tree,” I said.” “By the way, my name is Rodica, a friend of the Ludingtons.”

“Oh, I don’t think I will remember that name, it’s too long… unless I see you again!”

She looked at me one more time:

“I know “The Green Tree” it’s around the corner from my house.”  Would you like to come and stay at my house sometime?It would be very close to your work and you could swim in my indoor swimming pool!”

I didn’t have a chance to respond because she turned abruptly and started a conversation with another guest.

I thought she forgot about her invitation, but when the party was almost over she handed me a piece of paper with her name, phone number and address.

“Call me sometime, and we’ll have lunch.”

She disappeared as abruptly as she showed up and I looked at the paper: Nancy Grace…Who was Nancy Grace?

I asked one of the guests. She told me Nancy was a socialite and a writer for “Town and Country”.  A long time before, she divorced a very rich man who was co-owner of Bethlehem Steel and had a very nice  divorce settlement.  She had four sons, but she always wanted a girl.  Nancy, I was told, was in love with a famous architect who designed a unique house for her in Society Hill, Philadelphia.  Then he died in a plane accident and she never was the same after his death.  He was the love of her life.  Nancy was a quaker and a pacifist and she was known for telling things as they were, she was honest, bordering rudeness.  However, people loved or disliked her and either way, she couldn’t careless.  She was who she was and wasn’t going to change to please.

A few weeks passed and I almost forgot about Nancy, when the telephone rang:

“This is Nancy Grace. You didn’t call me!  Let’s have dinner tomorrow when you get off from work. You work one of those 9 to 5 right?”

“Yes, I am off at 5:00 PM,” I answered, and the way she spoke didn’t allow for explanations, saying no, or saying anything.  She was making statements, not asking.

“Okay, then 5:15 P.M I’ ll see you at my house. it’s five minutes from your work. Please be on time.”

She hang up and my first thought was:”Why did she call me? Is she safe to be around?”

Everyone assured me she was eccentric and she was known for having these immediate likes and dislikes for people. She probably thought I was interesting and nice. It was an honor.

The following day, I rang the bell of a red-brick house with high red-brick walls which gave total privacy to an interior garden.  She opened the side door and I entered into the famous house which was designed for her by the love of her life.

I looked around, and a mixture of a cozy, inviting ambiance but also rejecting rigidity stroke me.  Her house was indeed exactly like her. It mattered which side one wanted or needed to see and remember.  It was a mixture of warmth and frigidity, of comfort and discomfort.

“There are not many comfortable places in this house, but I meant it this way when he designed it! Yet, there are a few which could make you feel in Heaven, but you have to find them! … and not everyone can!” Nancy said.

She gave me a tour of the house, the fireplace was my favorite, but the highlight of the place was the inside swimming pool:

“I swim in the nude. Do you have your swimming suit with you? If you don’t and you want to swim, I don’t mind. You may swim in the nude too!” Nancy said.

She turned around and examined my face. I assumed she was looking for a shocked or puzzled face, a young woman from Romania being asked to swim in the nude!

What was going through my mind, was that may be Americans are not as shy as their reputation goes, if Nancy swam in the nude, or was she that different?

“Yes, I’d swim in the nude. What a nice surprise, I haven’t done this in years.” I answered.

“You… swam in the nude?! When, where?”

“Oh, in Romania about 5 years ago. There was an illegal nude beach in “2 Mai” on the Black Sea. My husband and I went every summer for a week or two and we stayed in the nude for the whole time.”

“You ate in the nude?”

Her eyebrows raised and her voice changed.

“Oh, yeah, we only put clothes on if we were cold or if we had non-nudist visitors. You know… some people are not comfortable with nudity… I wonder why?”

‘You mean you were in the nude all day long in front of people you didn’t know?”

“Yeah,  and night too, but you get used to it, it’s odd just in the beginning.”

Nancy was deflated.

“I think the water is too cold, we’ll swim some other time.”

Suddenly, the daring idea of two women swimming in the nude alone, in the privacy of an empty house seemed decent.

We sat at a glass table and ate salads. Nancy looked sad.

I felt the same feeling  of power I had when at five and I ran from my parents ‘ apartment to play in the park in spite of Mrs. Urban’ orders to stay home.

As Nancy was eating, I examined her elegant manners, and decided I really liked the tall, blue-eyed woman with her unexpected questions and childish reactions when the answers were not what she expected. She was real!

I knew, she and I will see each other again.


NOTE from Rodica:

“Eternity”  is part of my volume of poetry entitled “Skeletons from the Closet of My Heart” which is exclusively featured on my blog:

I invite you to visit the poetry blog when you have a moment, since it only takes a moment to read a poem, but its message might became food for thought for a long time. Thank you!

Eternity is

A moment,

Not any moment,

But this instant

That we have together


Not tomorrow,

Not yesterday,

But today!

Feel with all your heart,

Smell the sweetness

Of our togetherness

Live life passionately,

Don’t get entangled

In the promises of


For it is now that

We should enjoy


NOTE from the author:

IF YOU ENJOY POETRY PLEASE VISIT MY NEW POETRY BLOG   which features “Skeletons from the Closed of My Heart — a volume of poetry about love, faith, hate and questionings on just about everything)

(2008 Pennsylvania Senior Poet Laureate Award)

Pride, Lust, and Damaged Men

That phone call from Cristian  announcing he was not following me,  abruptly propelled me  into the American dating scene.

It felt as if I took a pleasure flight in a safe plane and in mid-flight someone said:

“How about if you try on this parachute equipment, and feel how comfortable you are in it.”

Once the equipment was on, someone pushed me out of the comfortable plane and as I was already falling and in mid-air,  a voice shouted:

“Don’t forget to push the button on the right when you want the parachute to open!”

Indeed, I needed the button, because I was not prepared to fly solo, I was one of those who always flew with a man by her side.

News came from Romania that our divorce was final in December of 1981 and a big wedding with the bride all dressed in white was organized almost immediately, and when the news of a baby  being born arrived, is when I really  jumped into the dating scene. I didn’t even care about the safety button, I couldn’t  have cared less if there was safety because I  was a woman scorned. I wanted to show “the world” that I was beautiful and sexy and men would just flock around me and it was my ex- husband’s loss, damn it!

I had the unfortunate idea to start the process by reading women’s magazines giving advice on dating in their 30’s and one of the articles had the nerve to give statistics on how hard it was for a woman in her thirties to find another mate, how she was competing with the much attractive 20’s crowd and pointing out that the biological clock of a woman in her thirties was also ticking faster…

I stopped reading women’s magazines because I could have gotten depressed on my own, really. I  didn’t need an expert confirmation of the obvious.  However, as a result of those statistics I made up my mind to limit the love affairs to six months.  If in six months the relationship wasn’t going anywhere, meaning to marriage, it was over!

As a result, I had several six-month relationships, some much shorter.  I wasn’t expecting to fall in love in the same way I did at sixteen, but I needed a deeper connection on a level I didn’t even know existed when I was sixteen.  This need of a deeper connection in addition to the basic sexual attraction which seemed to exist in all men up to a certain age, (longer now, thanks to Viagara), made it even more difficult for me to find a match.

I remembered my mother’s comment when we married at eighteen:

“Now that you are married men will really flock around you like never before!”

“And why’s that? Now that they know I have a comittment to my husband? It makes no sense!”

“Yes, because now someone else already made a commitment. These “lovers” know they would not have to make it, because you’re already married.”

“Men, all men, “decreed my mother,” do not want to commit to marriage. So it’s much easier and safer for them to have affairs with married women.  It’s… how shall I say… in someone else’s garden, should you get pregnant… because men hate responsibility too, and the birth of a child means more commitment and more responsibility.”

I don’t recall men “flocking” to me and trying to persuade me to become their mistress while I was married, but now, that I was single and in my thirties, I realized that not only was I competing with the women in their 20’s but also against all attractive married women who would settle for affairs with men who didn’t want commitments. Come to think of it, I was competing against all women! Now, that was scary!

The saying “Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free”. was the single, most significant saying I grew up with. The other, more recent saying, “why buy a bull before knowing he is a bull,” came to my knowledge much later. At that time, I didn’t know any feminists. The fight for equal rights with men, the fact that women were paid less  than men for same work, the idea that women wanted to work outside the home, were all foreign to me.

The biggest shock came when I learned there were men who were forcing their wives to stay home, cook and take care of the children!

“How retarded is that!” was the general coment.  “These men like their wives pregnant and bare-footed”  This was an expression (another one!) I was explained, and in reality the wives could wear shoes or slippers.  This was good news for me, because secretly, the idea of staying at home and caring for a family was appealing. I was  a child who always longed after her mommy who was always working.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing as stay-home moms.  I wanted to be one of them, but didn’t know how and where would I find a man with whom to have sexual chemistry, a deeper, spiritual connection and who would be old fashioned and “force me” to stay home and raise a family while he provided for us! May be I wanted to step in an American movie of the sixties!

However, it wasn’t difficult at all to find dates which didn’t meet my expectations.  In other words, there were plenty of men willing to sleep with me but none who wanted to make a commitment. According to my article about women in their thirties and marriage it would be hard to even get a date, so the fact that there were men more than willing to date me, was promising.  May be the magazine  article was wrong and there was hope after 30 s!

Then, I remembered my mother said to stay away from married men who said they had unhappy marriages or are about to separate because their wives didn’t “understand them”.  Those were bad news too!

In other words, my market was very limited!

Thank God, I was in the habit of doing the opposite of what my mother suggested because I always knew better than anyone else!  As a result, I did date the womanizer, and hoped he’d change for me, and the younger man who just wanted to have fun, and the separated man whose wife didn’t “understand” him. I even dated the much older man who already had three children from three marriages and who clearly told me he’d may be willing to get married, probably not, but absolutely no more children for him.  We parted friends and I was so pleased with myself for being honest with him and telling him I wanted children should we have  stayed together.  I thought he’d never marry again. A few months after we split someone told me his secretary, who was going through a divorce, got pregnant by my ex-lover, her boss, and he was going to marry her, now that they had a child together.  Oh, well, she’ll be bare-footed and pregnant!

I continued on my journey to find the perfect partner, and with my mind and knowledge of today, I have to admit at last, that I had a magnetic attraction to emotionally unavailable men: Men damaged from previous relationships  or who could only fall in love once in a life time and they had already fallen and “she” rejected them, so I was a surrogate  for the love that never was. Some were damaged by both their mothers and their ex wives or girlfriends and the current boss at work!

Once I asked a man whom I had been dating for a few months why did he love me. He gave me a puzzled look and  thought deeply:

“Because you are reliable!”

Oh, my ego!  I felt as if I was interviewing for a position, but definitely not that of a wife, and keeping to my  pattern of six-months and it’s over, I moved on, and on, and on!

My parachute was still  taking me places, but sooner or later I was going to hit the ground… and then what?