Living Happily Ever After


Blog Articles

Never Underestimate A Second Date

“Who knows how long I’ve loved you, you know I love you still. Will I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to I will.” (The Beatles)

Believe it or not, despite a declaration like that, things continued as they had before. (One benefit of dating a queen of denial, I guess!) However, we went from seeing each other once a week, to seeing each other 2-3 times each week, depending on our schedules. Each time he took me home, Bachelor #5 said, “I would marry you tomorrow if you were willing. But no pressure, I can wait as long as it takes you to decide.”

I still wasn’t sure he got it, that he really realized what he was saying or that I understood what he was saying! I wasn’t even thinking along those lines, so I took him at his word and didn’t allow myself to feel any pressure. But one night, when I joked that he moved really fast to say something like that within a week of deciding he was interested in me and taking things to a new level, he disagreed. He said it hadn’t been “fast” at all. When I asked him how he could possibly think that, he told me he had known how he felt and what he wanted for a long time. “How long?” I asked. He replied, “Our second date.”

Our SECOND date?

And the entire time we’d dated, I’d believed he was simply trying to mentor and befriend a newly-divorced single mom! I’d never even thought he was interested in me! I couldn’t believe it. I asked him how he’d pulled that off. He said, “I’ve told you all along I have more self-control than you can imagine. Besides, what would you have done if I had told you how I felt and what I thought?”

I replied, “Run the other way!”

He nodded his head in agreement and said, “Exactly!”

It turned out to be true after all: men always have a plan. (Gee, who told me that? My brilliant Psychology degree male co-worker…and I had laughed at him, the perceptive and wise man who shared that vital bit of information with me!)

But this time, I was too shocked to laugh.

I’d also learned a very important life lesson, unexpected or otherwise: never underestimate men! You see, “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” (Will Rogers)

However they get it, they get it…and I’d been the last one to know.

With Change Comes…Shrek

“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” (Robert C. Gallagher)

Change is inevitable. The new level changed things, like disrupted Bachelor #5′s “schedule.” I saw him just three days later, instead of the usual week between dates. We went for a drive and then to a park to talk. In the middle of our conversation, he looked at me and asked, “By the way, when is your birthday?”

I replied, “August 25th.”

He didn’t respond the way I expected him to. Instead, his eyes got big and he said, “NO WAY! Did you google me or something?”

Did I google him? No! And I hadn’t even thought to. When I asked why he’d asked me such a thing, he replied, “August 25th is my birthday too!” I had known we had a lot in common. I just had no idea how much–even the same birthday! (Although mine was several years later, in case anyone hasn’t been paying attention. Lol.)

Our conversation continued. During the course of the evening, we covered a gamut of topics, including some shallow (I admit it) concerns I expressed. Bachelor #5 responded optimistically to every one of them.

I told him I thought he was too old for me. His response? “Don’t worry about it. You’ll be amazed at how 38 years old I can look with Botox and by covering the gray in my hair.”

I’d been told it is very characteristic for men to date “down” a decade when they’re single, especially after a divorce, and in my experience, that was true much of the time. Men in their 30s, dated women in their 20s. Men in their 40s, dated women in their 30s and so forth. I replied, “Well, if you look 38 years old, then you might want to date someone who is 38 years old–or even younger. You probably ought to consider that.” Bachelor #5 shook his head no and said, “I’ve found the age I want.”

So I brought up height. I told him I thought he was too short for me–that I had some really high heels I loved and wouldn’t be able to wear around him. He said, “How tall are you? I’m taller than you. Wear whatever shoes you want; I’ll be Tom Cruise, you can be Katie Holmes!” And he laughed.

I mentioned some other “issues” as well, but he had an upbeat answer for every one of them. He even told me he appreciated knowing exactly how I felt and exactly what I thought; he said he found it refreshing! (Not many men can say THAT.)

The final “issue” of the evening concerned his piano playing. We had different ideas about it. He thought it was a positive thing; I wasn’t so sure. Piano had always been my thing, I’d never shared it with any man. When I told him that, he looked at me in shock. In his experience, women enjoyed men who could play the piano (and sing), and there I was telling him it was a strike against him! He probably shook his head and thought, “I just can’t win with this woman.” But instead he said, “Never mind then! YOU can have the piano, I won’t play the piano any more. I’ll play the guitar!”

He played the guitar too?

I never knew that.

And in that moment it became clear to me. I was not just dating a grandpa, I was not spending time with simply a reformed Santa (thanks to his shave), and I was not just chatting with a very nice, patient, good man–I was dealing with Shrek! This man had layers. Every single time I was with him, I learned something new about him. And every time I did, it was something I liked. Quite a different experience from the dark and destructive revelations of 2009 that led to my divorce and unexpected life, when everything new thing I discovered was even worse than the revelation before it.

I was dating Shrek! I never expected that.

“Ogres are like onions…Onions have layers. Ogres have layers…You get it?” (“Shrek”)

I was beginning to.

Keep It Real

“Look at us, said the violets blooming at her feet, all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you.” (Edward Payson Rod)

When Bachelor #5 picked me up for our date that night I thanked him for the beautiful flowers. I loved them. My daughter loved them too, she loved them so much that she removed her favorites from the big arrangement and created her own smaller version that she put in her room!

As I was still on antibiotics and cough medicine, it was quite a romantic night. Every time I stepped into the cold air of a February winter night in Utah, my cough would hit. Bachelor #5 was very kind about it, although he carefully kept his distance! But at the end of the night, when he took me home, he gave me a warning.

He told me he was just waiting for my antibiotics to kick in, and when they did, he was taking things to a new level.

I did not expect that.

I was used to the way things were, I was comfortable with the way things were and I was also a little bit worried. I didn’t know how I felt about changing anything. I was healing. My children were doing very well. And part of me felt like it was too soon for any more changes (my divorce had been final just seven months!) I can’t remember how I responded, or if I did my usual ignoring of what I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear. Then I went into my house and made it as far as the kitchen sink before I…threw up.

Literally. That conversation really affected me and I wasn’t sure why.

“…keep me completely grounded, sane and throw up on my shoes…just so I know to keep it real.” (Reese Witherspoon)

Hot Date

“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.” (Author Unknown)

Valentine’s Day weekend. I was back at work, but still on antibiotics and cough medicine. Before I left work that Friday before the holiday, a co-worker asked, “So, do you have a hot date for this weekend?”

I said, “No.”

My co-worker looked shocked. “What do you mean you don’t have a date?”

I replied, “I didn’t say I didn’t have a date. I have a date with Bachelor #5.”

He raised his eyebrows at me and in his best Psychology degree voice said, “What is up with that, by the way? You’ve been dating him a long time.”

I told him nothing was up. Bachelor #5 was just a nice, older man who didn’t “like” me, but dated me; so it wasn’t a “hot” date.

My co-worker (a man) disagreed. “Andrea, he’s a man and men don’t do that! They don’t date women they don’t like and they don’t date women they don’t like for months! Everything this man does for you demonstrates he likes you, actually more than likes you, in my opinion.”

I challenged him on that. I presented my case very well. I listed all of the reasons and ways I knew Bachelor #5 wasn’t interested in me. I drove home, older and wiser than my co-worker. I knew better than he did how the men I dated thought and felt. I pulled up to my house and stopped. In surprise.

Sitting on my porch was a beautiful flower arrangement. (And a box of chocolates.) For me. From Bachelor #5.

Just when I thought I had it all figured out.

Isn’t life like that? Especially the unexpected one.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” (Soren Kierkegaard)

Then It Was Gone

“Women have a wonderful instinct about things. They can discover everything except the obvious.” (Oscar Wilde)

I heard from Bachelor #5 again.

He emailed me, thanked me for going to dinner, told me I was a trooper for living through what I’d gone through and remaining positive and seeking to create a happy life… and then he continued with his busy life, the holidays, and travel.

He was organized, planned his life and was sort of on a “schedule.” He kept in touch via email about once a week. He texted me about once a week. He asked me out once a week, depending on his travel and schedule, and as busy as we both were, I’m amazed I was usually available the nights he asked me out. He took me to dinners, a dance class, musicals, plays–always fun and unique things, especially compared to most of the men I dated.

I met his friends and some of his children. He always had a story to tell about something, and was always very nice. He was also my divorce expert: he had been divorced three years longer than me and had lived through everything I was facing. He was very thoughtful to check in with me after my “firsts” (first Christmas, etc…) to see how things went.

But that’s as far as my analysis of Bachelor #5 went. I had pre-determined he was too old for me; I certainly didn’t think he “liked” me! He was just a nice, older bearded man that I assumed felt bad for me, a newly single mom.

Then one night he picked me up for a date. I looked over at him as he was backing out of the driveway talking to me and I was struck by how different he looked. I felt like I was looking at a stranger! I couldn’t figure out what was causing my confusion. I thought I knew him, but all of a sudden I felt like I didn’t.

And then it hit me. He had shaved, the beard was gone.

I was stunned by how young he looked and how nice looking I thought he was. It was like I had never seen him before. (And I probably hadn’t. With the gray beard, I had never really looked–had never let myself look.)

“And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.” (The Bible)

An Invitation

“Find me a man who’s interesting enough to have dinner with and I’ll be happy.” (Lauren Bacall)

He was a very busy man. His invitation mentioned something about an evening had opened up, the only evening for the next month that he wasn’t busy, and amazingly enough, I was free the night he asked about. I accepted his dinner invitation.

When I asked if he would pick me up or if I should meet him somewhere he told me he thought it best we meet at the restaurant. “I wouldn’t ask you to do that all of the time, I just believe it’s best to meet at the restaurant the first date,” he said.

Then he dropped the bombshell. (AFTER I’d already accepted his invitation! Lol. Think of the worries and concerns I’ve mentioned—I won’t call them issues—traceable to aging, wrinkles, and being old; now think about my opinion of facial hair.) Bachelor #5 warned me about his appearance. Due to a theater role he was playing at the time, he said he had a beard; a gray beard, “like an old grandpa.” Then he corrected himself, “Actually, I am a grandpa. But not that kind of one!”

Forty-two years old with a four-year-old, and I had agreed to a date with a grandpa–with facial hair. And it was gray!

The holidays were approaching, I joked that it was his lucky day because I loved Santa Claus! (Did I REALLY say that? I did, and it’s true.) I just never imagined dating him.

The date was on.

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” (Ronald Reagan)

The Spaghetti Factory, to be exact.

Good Men Aren’t Jell-o!

“There are much easier things in life than finding a good man–nailing Jell-o to a tree, for instance.” (Author Unknown)

Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of good men out there, I’m just thinking that many of them (most of them?) are already married! Thus the “long” list of bachelors I’ve compiled in my quest for a happy ending.

I’ve met some good men along the way. I’ve learned something from each new friend I’ve made. And interestingly, I even think most of them have helped me on the path to healing in one way or another, some much more than others.

However, after just two months of dating, I was tired of it. I had absolutely loved being single the first time. In fact, when I married in 1989, a part of me was sad to leave my single life. But not the second time around. Although I had determined to make the most of the situation I had been thrust in, and tried to look for the positive and attempted to make myself like it, after a couple of months I realized it wasn’t working. Given the choice, I would have chosen to be married to the right man rather than be single. The newness of it all, the “excitement” (if that’s what you call being unexpectedly single and forced to meet new people in your new life) had worn off.

I was simply a divorced mother of four who had never planned or expected to be in that position.

Now, many months later, the dreaded “I’ve gotten used to it” has transpired. Just what I didn’t want to have happen! But I guess you can say that about many aspects of the unexpected life. It is who I am. I don’t cringe when people realize I’m single (and divorced) and wonder what they’re thinking about me any more. I don’t try to hide the fact that I’m divorced. It is what it is.

I’ve had to completely leave my comfort zone and face life, and everything else, alone. I’ve learned to socialize by myself again. I’m happy. And believe it or not, there are even things I’ll miss about my single life should my situation ever change. I NEVER expected to say that!

I’ve also learned that life goes on. I don’t advocate divorce by any means, and I am a strong defender, despite my experience, of marriage and family. But I’ve learned the world doesn’t end when a marriage does. I still have my own little family. And despite the scar of divorce, we’re doing so well and feeling so whole, that on the infrequent occasion when someone refers to my family as “broken,” it surprises me. I don’t think of us as that way. Different than we once were, but NOT “broken!”

Yet I keep pressing forward in dating despite being tired of it. I tell myself I’m lucky. After all, not every woman gets to meet new people (handsome men), date them, and everything else attendant with the unexpected and single life. (That’s the PR spin I put on my situation for myself to motivate me not to quit or give up too soon. I just have to keep telling myself I believe it, too!)

So, in the spirit of pressing forward, let me tell you about another man.

Bachelor #5.

And I’m pretty sure he is NOT a fan of Jell-o.

The Bachelor I Never Dated

Any scary story lovers out there?

If so, grab a flashlight and read this to yourself in your spookiest voice! I forgot to mention one man in my single life–then, in the 1980s, and now. Although I never dated him, seeing him again was completely unexpected!

When I was single the first time, there was a man around campus who turned out to be infamous among the college girls. He was tall, blonde, handsome, athletic, well-dressed, seemed like a total dream…unless you had the misfortune to date him. I can’t recount the girls I knew–roommates, acquaintances, friends who went out with him once and returned from the date with a different impression of him. They called him The Molester. (Coincidentally, it rhymed with his first name.)

Looking back, I wonder if any of them told anyone other than girl friends? I mean, I never dated him but I knew of him. I just never thought to wonder if anyone had told someone in authority who could help put a stop to his behavior.

Years later, as a married woman, I was talking to a friend about the good old days of college, experiences and stories of people we knew and she mentioned The Molester. She had dated him! She couldn’t believe I knew about him, knew his name, knew what he did, etc…(I’m telling you, he got around!)

So imagine my shock when I am at the first Sunday night meeting for singles I attended after my divorce and beginning my unexpected life (the one my pastor asked me to participate in because he thought the people there would be of a better caliber than those who go to singles dances!) and up the aisle walks The Molester!

I about fell off the bench!

He was a little bit heavier, and his blonde hair was a little bit darker, but other than that he looked so much the same I knew EXACTLY who he was. Twenty years later and he is still single (no surprise, there) but still walking around freely? THAT, I couldn’t believe!

I thought I had to have been mistaken.

There was a “hostess” sitting by me. (Hosts and hostesses are people who attend the singles functions and wear special gold badges. They are designated event helpers assigned to be friendly to others. They mingle, they help in any way they can, you can talk to them, ask them anything, they’ll introduce you to people, etc…) So I asked her for help. “Excuse me, but is that man ___?” (I named his name.)

She looked at me strangely and said, “I don’t know who he is, I don’t even know his name, but I DO know you should stay away from him. DO NOT get near him! And whatever you do, don’t date him! That’s all I know.”

I couldn’t believe it. Twenty years later and infamous for apparently all of the same reasons.

Later, at a singles dance, I saw The Molester again. He walked toward me, looked me right in the eye as he approached, and I stared right back at him. I knew who he was. In the middle of our visual exchange, a MAN near me walked over and said, “Stay away from that man. There is something wrong with him. He is not safe.” Protectively, the man stood really close to me (like a bodyguard) and stared at The Molester until he moved on to ask someone else to dance.

I guess that’s the difference between then and now. Even men know about The Molester now.

I never did date him. I must not have been his type. And in this new single life, I still haven’t dated him (haven’t even danced with him.) Thank goodness I’m not his type.

And THAT is the story of the bachelor I never dated.

A little spooky, isn’t it?

Ok. Turn the flashlight off. On to better things.

There’s another person I haven’t told you about. Meeting this person was VERY unexpected. But what did I expect living…my unexpected life?

Bachelor #17: The Importance of Voice and How You Use It

“Women don’t want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think – in a deeper voice.” (Bill Cosby)

Voice. The biggest thing I can say about Bachelor #17 was that he had a very unusual voice. And it wasn’t deep.

He was tan with spiky hair. When I first met him, I thought it was white-blonde, but on closer inspection I realized it was gray! (Such is dating in your 40s, versus dating in the 1980s! Sometimes I still can’t get used to the older men…)

He loved Michael Jackson, American Idol, was a good dancer, had an outgoing and fun personality, drank rootbeer by the gallon and was a successful businessman. But he paid the price for his success in the hours he worked. Although we went out places, he preferred “at home” dates so he could take phone calls and be accessible to his clients. And while he was a very nice man, I would say he could best be described as a “mama’s boy;” not very tough emotionally, used to being catered to and taken care of; prone to whining.

Although I didn’t love his devotion to his job and I tried to overlook the whining, things fell apart on the first family date–he brought his daughter and had me bring my two youngest sons. It was a later evening activity, my boys began the evening tired, and it went downhill from there! In fact, I spent most of the evening out in the foyer with my youngest who just wanted to go home and didn’t really care about the man providing the evening’s entertainment.

The family date wasn’t a huge success. My children felt nothing toward the man, and he didn’t want the challenge of a four-year-old. (He had married later in life, stayed married less than 10 years, and had one well-behaved, mature-for-her-age daughter. Need I explain further?)

The icing on the cake of the evening, however, was one distracting fact: his zipper was down all night long. It just added to everything about the evening that was a failure for me. (Those who know me best know what a problem THAT is for me!)

That night was our last date.

What I didn’t know was that I should have been thanking my boys for that.

A few days after that “kids included” date with a nearly 50-year-old man who forgot to zip his pants, I happened to be listening to the news (a very rare occurrence for me since becoming the subject of too many broadcasts back in 2009) and heard the radio station announce a local man was suing a health club because of harassment he received from other patrons of the club as he exercised. A commercial came on and I wondered what type of adult would be made fun of as he exercised, what type of person would perceive he was being made fun of while he exercised, and what type of person would sue over that.

I should have known.

The injured man came on air when the commercial ended and there was no mistaking that voice. That very unusual voice. The high voice of a man prone to whining. Bachelor #17!

I gave silent thanks to my boys for their behavior.

I need someone strong. I need someone who doesn’t care what people think. I need someone who can roll with the unexpected events in life, rise above the challenges and laugh in spite of it all. I need someone who doesn’t whine. And the last thing I want or need is to be involved with someone seeking negative publicity! I had enough of that in 2009! (Besides, it’s going to take someone with all of the above qualities to love me and accept the past I bring with me to any relationship–my baggage not of my creation.)

Goodbye Bachelor #17. I hope your court case works out for you–or at the very least, that you’re able to exercise, and live, in peace! That means no whining.

“It takes a genius to whine appealingly.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

I have yet to meet a genius.

Well-Meant Advice?

As I returned to the dating scene after 20 years of marriage to the same man, and following my divorce from that man as soon as his criminal behavior and Ponzi scheme was revealed to me, I got some unsolicited, but well-meant advice from a neighbor.

He came over one day to tell me he noticed I’d begun dating.

I was surprised anyone knew. I certainly wasn’t trying to hide my activities, but due to work and children and my busy life, the dates usually didn’t begin until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. and it was dark well before then. He said, “Oh no. This is a tight knit neighborhood, it’s a very small world, we watch out for each other, we’ve seen men and cars coming and going, we know.”

He told me that when he saw me move in, single, with four children, his first thought was, “Oh no, here we go.” He told me experts advise single people with children to remain single until all of their children are raised. He told me 40-year-olds just want to get married, and actually the best thing for 40-year-olds to do, is to keep dating “on the perimeter” and instead, raise your children. Lastly, he told me no man was going to want me and my four children.

I was a little confused as the man had been married, and divorced, several times. He told me of the struggles he had gone through, many of them child-related, and that was why he was sharing his thoughts. He also told me that he and his current wife were the one-in-a-million miracle of remarriage, and that if I knew their story, I would understand why they had married but that theirs was a very unique situation.

I was stunned.

I was raised on fairy tales. I love happy endings. I had always tried to be a good person, I believed in hard work, I wasn’t a quitter, I sought to have hope time and again even in spite of getting thrown into the deepest messes (not of my own creation) and carry on as best I could no matter what…and there wasn’t one more miracle out there?

I believe, “For every mountain there is a miracle.” (Robert H. Schuller) I’d seen enough tender mercies and miracles in my own life and in the lives of others to know, “We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” (S. Parkes Cadman) We just have to look for them.

But I didn’t say any of that. I simply said the experts’ advice didn’t work for me. I had been married, and happily so (I thought) for 20 years. I liked being married and I believed in marriage and if I waited until my last child was raised to begin dating, I wasn’t going to even BEGIN dating until I was almost 60 years old! I felt way too young to waste my “youth,” not to mention the fact that I didn’t love being single…or alone…or lonely. Having had 20 years of companionship, I REALLY noticed its void in my life.

My neighbor left, his advice weighed heavily upon me, and in the end as I had done my entire life, but especially during the events of 2009, I had to continue to do what I felt was best for me and for my children. Despite what the critics thought. So although I appreciated his good intentions, I disagreed with the counsel he had volunteered, and I chose to continue the course I’d set and the decision I had made to date. (And of course, I called my sister and a trusted friend and got their opinion. Just to be sure.)

On to the next man.

“Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of happy fat women.” (Marion Smith/Nicole Hollander)

*Just kidding about the above quote. I love and appreciate men. I just thought it was funny and had to share! I know women break the law too, it just has been my experience that SOME men do participate in illegal activities, like Ponzi schemes…:)