Kindle Edition - $3.99 from 10/4/15
Kindle Edition - $3.99 from 10/4/15
Her children are away at college and questions about navigating a new path and finding her way as a single woman begin to take shape, setting the stage for a woman's search for meaning in middle age. From online dating to the newsroom of a big city newspaper, to Cape May, NJ and the Kentucky countryside, this memoir is a journey of life's lessons.
When you are single, other older single women can be a life raft. A telephone conversation at the end of the day - a Friday night out – these interludes offer a semblance of social life. Over the years, Friday nights became my night to go out. When the boys were still in elementary and middle school, they had pizza and sleepovers. I spent Fridays at the bars.
Sometimes I met one girlfriend, or even two or three for drinks. Bars offered middle-aged women a chance to drink, linger, share amusing anecdotes, put off going home. There was always a slim hope that we might meet someone. Strangers across a crowded room eyeing each other . . . who knew? It beat sitting home alone – nothing happening there. Usually, though, “some enchanted evening,” it wasn’t. The men were mostly married and the ones that weren’t didn’t look for women in bars . . . unless they wanted one thing.
Even though the boys were now in college, I still spent the occasional Friday night in the bar. I often met Laura in West Chester for a drink. One bar was our favorite because we knew the bartender and he knew us. Before we even had a chance to order, he was mixing our drinks. He knew I liked a Cosmopolitan. He even put out free plates of bruschetta for us.
Usually our conversation came back to the same topic - men. Martin had been the focus of Laura’s love life for as long as I could remember. Martin talked derisively of his late mother for reasons that had to do with her failure to stand up for him as a child when his father hit him. It explained why, when it came to women, Martin was like a matador waiting to go for the kill.
The worse Martin treated women the more they wanted him, including Laura. She viewed him as her personal make-over project. Could she soften his hard heart? Pierce that stone-like armor he wore from a father who never loved him? Stop him from slurring over yet another glass of wine? I asked her why she seemed to choose men devoid of empathy, knowing they would never come through.
She replied that as far as she could tell, I was the same way. I agreed I had been interested in men who lacked empathy, or lately, married. Usually, I ended the relationship.
“So what are your obsessions?” she asked as we sipped wine. A huge beveled mirror hung over the bar. “Certainly not men because you are like a man yourself in not getting emotional.”
I looked at my reflection; chin-length blond hair, long silver earrings in the shape of tear drops, an air of detached boredom. Maybe Laura had a point. Maybe more than being like a man, I had an aversion to settling like I saw so many people my age doing.
As a reporter, I had learned to read people, understand motivation as much as a career necessity as for my own personal survival as a single woman. Better to be alone than end up with a crazy person.
I could soon tell when a man was unhinged and out-of-touch. The reasons? Their marriages of decades disintegrated and they were left reeling with confusion. And then when I made the mistake of saying I didn’t understand the point of leaving someone after you have been married to them most of your life, I got the backstory. More than I want to hear. How the wife hadn’t slept with him for years because she blamed him for this, that or the other. I would feel the familiar ennui creeping over me and know in that instant, this is another dead end.
I remembered one man who told me I acted like a “queen bee.” Was I too confident or was he just insecure? Another man I dated was a photographer. He thought we should write a book together on the old train stations up and down Philadelphia’s Main Line. He’d take the pictures, I’d write the text. Even though he had a laugh that sounded like a high-pitched giggle, his idea for a book intrigued me. My sons immediately pronounced him “light in the loafers.” That meant he was effeminate.
Anyway, the book was just one big fat juicy hook to get me in bed. When I told him I wasn’t sure, that we should wait, he got nasty, said I reminded him of his ex-wife. I was “negative and made him feel bad about himself.”
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A former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Susan G, Weidener has interviewed a host of interesting people from all walks of life, including Guy Lombardo, Bob Hope, Leonard Nimoy, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, and Mary Pipher.