Candy Assed Dating
I’ve endeavored to meet men in various, amusing ways. Case in point, I attended an event, which, unbeknownst to me, was exclusively gay. Fine, call me stupid. It all started innocently enough when I had my hair cut by a gay hairdresser in the Village, the West Village (gay speak for you non-New Yorkers). Are there straight people in the village? Absolutely, my parents were two of them in the 1950's when they first got married. They lived on Washington Place. The Village was and is an artistic enclave, and where artists lurk, there be gay folk.
I got a decent cut and liked my hairdresser. When we were talking he learned I was single and he invited me to the salon's Christmas party that very evening. It was an upscale joint, decorated with beautiful flowers and track lighting (I love bright, colorful lights; if there’s a definition of hell it’s bleak decor and fluorescent lighting). My hairdresser assured me he had many straight (and solvent, Praise Jesus) male clients. I was skeptical of his holiday scheme, but he insisted. So, against my better judgment, hope blowing in the wind, I went. The party was populated with gay men, straight women, and gay hairdressers. What was I thinking? I had a better chance of meeting a straight guy at the Gay Pride Parade.
I signed up for a day of adventure with some group (run by a woman) with a name like “New York Adventures.” You could buy a day. This particular day came with many enticements for me, Valerie, swimming in a creek, horseback riding, a wine tasting, and a visit to a local ice cream shop. Yup, a day in the country splashing, cantering, slurping and licking. I have no idea where we were. It could have been Connecticut, Jersey, or upstate New York. It’s all the same to me unless I’m driving. And I don’t drive. I was excited for this day, the fact of getting out of my house and my selfsame weekend routine as a divorcee: the gym, a rollerblade in the park, a rental movie and bed. Woo, hoo. I am neither night crawler nor bar hop.
So I met up with this group on the Upper West Side at Starbucks. I was nervous; wary but hopeful, just like when I went to the hairdressers’ party in the West Village. You can see where I’m going with this. I’m sure you’re two steps ahead of me.
I arrive at Starbucks to find….a bunch of women. How delightful. Now, I love women. I love women, really. I’m demonstrative and tomboyish just shy of butch and I’ve been accused of being gay, mostly by my paranoid mother, who also accused me of being a drug addict when I told her I tried pot, once. Go, Mom. She was watching too much Donahue in those days. However, I was looking to meet a guy.
There was one guy there. He was cute. Really cute, and accompanied by his girlfriend, who was equally cute. My heart sank. I wasted money. I was wasting time; this day was a complete bust. Now I had to do all these “fun” things by myself, or rather, with a bunch of girls like I was twelve years old again and at camp, but with wine. Big fucking deal. I would never get married. I don’t even like Starbucks. But I’d pre-paid, so off I went to Connecticut, upstate New York, Jersey, Pennsylvania or wherever the hell it was. There were trees. This indicated I had left the Isle of Manhattan.
We went horseback riding first. It was a beautiful summer day, sunny but not too hot. I’m no expert horsewoman but I am a huge horse lover, a decent athlete, and have enough experience on a horse (one hour every ten years) to make me feel like a pro. I’m sure it’s past life recollection of Indian and Cavalry experience that brings it all back. In fact, when I was teeny tiny (now I’m just tiny, not teeny, at just under five feet; who has time to say “four feet eleven and three quarters”? I’m five feet tall and sticking with it) I desperately wanted a horse, and when I say desperately, I mean I bugged my mom mercilessly. My mother said, “Where would we put it?” What kind of a pedestrian question was that? She was not a visionary, like I am.
I recall having a nightmare when I was around five or so. It was so vivid the images and associated trauma are still clear to me. My horse had gone over a cliff and I was devastated. I woke up crying. His name was two syllables, like “Lightning” or “Midnight”. I said, “”Lightning went over the cliff!!!! Lightning went over the cliff!!!! Lightning went over the cliff!!!” I was hysterical and could not stop sobbing. My mother, who taught me to believe in reincarnation (as did my Dad) poo-pooed it as “just a dream.” How uninspired. I know now that this was past life recall, past life trauma rearing its ugly head. I still remember the pain of that loss, and have summoned it just now, generating a coupla tears. Boo hoo. My poor Lightning. Did I go over the cliff with him and have repressed that memory? I think not; the feeling was of losing him, not my life. We were partners. Mates. (I was going to say I’m an equiphile, but it turns out that equiphiles like to have sex with horses. That’s not love, that’s rape. I guess I’m an old-fashioned horse lover. Animal lover. Whatever).
My mother’s refusal to buy me a horse in midtown Manhattan was both cruel and capricious. I even tried campaigning for a mini horse. She was intractable. She rode horses, for god’s sake; she belonged to a riding club and cut a gorgeous figure as a young horsewoman in Central Park.
My mother said that horses were stupid and dangerous. How rude. How insulting. Why did she ride them? She was on a horse one day when she felt someone grab her left shoulder. It was the horse behind her. He had wrapped his yellow teeth around her tiny shoulder. What’s dumb about that? Maybe he thought she was cute. Maybe he was hungry. Maybe he wanted her to move up and get out of his way.
Horses are obstinate. So am I. Does that make me dumb? No, it does not. She claimed her horse would not leave the stable one day no matter what she did to coerce him. The entire ride was an unbearable battle as he struggled to get back to the stable. She found out later that her horse had not been fed. That horse was a genius. I wouldn’t leave without lunch, either. For god’s sake, those animals didn’t even get paid. No lunch, no work! Union!!!
Then there was the day that her horse reared and went absolutely nuts in the park. Turns out a horse had been shot after an injury and died right there. Her horse had reacted to the spirit activity (a murder, no less). This is not stupid. He, like all animals, was a medium. “Get me out! The shoot horses here, don’t they?” Whoa, Nelly.
My mom had horse prejudice. Even if she did love them. Any horse whisperer or psychic knows that they, like all animals, have a genius all their own. It is humans who are pig-headed (sorry, pigs are smart) humans who are often small-minded, stupid, close-minded and egotistical. Animals are connected to the Omnibrain, the All That Is. Ain’t no stupid there. Humans, with free will, have chosen Paris Hilton like solipsism and reality show inanity. It isn’t pretty. I’d rather a horse for president than George Bush (he wasn’t president anyway, that was Cheney, the Dark Horse/Ring Wraith, assisted by Sauron (Rumsfeld) and Saruman (Wolfowitz) and their small cabal of ne’er do wells). I am not maligning all humans. Just the ucky ones.
So I’m out in the country on adventure day on my horse, Candy. Nice enough horse, though she was perhaps a bit standoffish. One of the other horses had an eye-patch and some bruises. This was remedial horse back riding. As is the norm with these beginner horse rides, we meandered at a molasses like clip. It was “Ready, set….snooze!” I walk faster than those horses. I needed to go to Jersey for this? Yawn. We got to the creek and did a little “swimming” (in 12 inches of water, as I recall). Me, the girls, and the one cute guy. With his girlfriend. This day was a huge success. I wasn’t miserable due to my love of nature, horses, ice cream and wine. But I signed up to meet men. My bad.
We got back on our horses, still wet, and as Candy clomped along I realized, “Jesus Christ, even my horse is a girl!” How dispiriting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the fair sex, I’ve spent most of my life with it. But I’ve got myself and that’s enough. This day of adventure, intended to bring me closer to meeting and mating with a member of the opposite sex, was a complete and total failure. I was in female detention, in an unofficial, ambulatory equine nunnery.
I am drawn inexorably toward those mysterious creatures called men, the ones I’ve barely known having grown up with neither father nor brother. When I’ve known them carnally there was plenty of non-carnal (i.e. personality) gunk that got in the way. That’s my karma, my issue, learning the balance between male and female, first within my self, then within the context of a relationship. When you’re balanced and whole you’ve got a good shot at attracting a similar partner. When you’re out of balance (that’s most of us) look at your partner as a mirror and suck it up. Don’t blame. Get to work.
Well, I’ve got a little spice in me, and so, apparently, had Candy. I couldn’t handle the lumbering pace of the geriatric crowd (not the girls but their candy-ass attitude). A few of the more advanced riders cantered off and I kicked Candy so that we could, too. Who gave a shit? I was single and bored, what the hell. I may not get laid, but I’d get a buzz. Candy raced off like a bat out of hell, god bless her. Apparently she was bored with this plodding ruse, too. I was thrilled. Until my left foot dislodged from the stirrup... ©VALERIE GILBERT ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Excerpted from "Memories, Dreams & Deflections: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion" by Valerie Gilbert. Copyright © 0 by Valerie Gilbert. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.