Living Happily Ever After


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Fred Flintstone and The Grandpa

I met the next bachelors, Bachelor #3 and Bachelor #4 (if they qualify as that–I’ll explain later), at a Sunday night religious meeting for singles in Utah.

I walked in the door of the church building to brave my second such meeting and was stunned when four men rushed over and introduced themselves to me in the foyer. Two asked me where I was sitting. (I hadn’t even entered the chapel yet. I didn’t have a seat.) Like a deer caught in headlights, again, I said, “I’m not sure yet. I don’t even know if I’m staying!” I left them and headed into the chapel.

A man came up to me as I walked in the door, shook my hand and introduced himself. He asked me where I was sitting. My answer hadn’t changed. “I’m not sure yet. I don’t even know if I’m staying!”

I went across the room, toward the back, and sat in the corner against the wall–trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. It worked, too, until a very loud man with a shaved head walked in. He walked past my row, glanced at me out of the corner of his eye as he passed by but kept walking, then he stopped, turned around and came and sat down right in front of me! He turned around, introduced himself, and began talking to me. In fact, he turned around and talked to me through the entire prelude like we’d come together or were there as a couple, or at least knew each other! I was mortified. At a break in his conversation, I excused myself.

I went and sat on the other side of the chapel, toward the front this time, but still against the wall.

A man wandered over (Bachelor #3) shook my hand and introduced himself. He asked me what I was doing there. I replied, “Just here to hear the speaker.”

He said, “Aren’t you a little young to be here?”

I was stunned. I thought I was at the Sunday meeting for 31 years old and older. Had I gone to the wrong place? I asked, “Isn’t this for 31 years old and older?” He said yes. I said, “Then I’m at the right place.” He said, “How old are you? Look around–I’m 52 years old. You are by FAR the youngest person here. Do you have kids? What are their ages?”

When I told him I was 42 years old and had a four-year-old, he nodded his head knowingly and said, “I told you you are a little young to be here. No one here is under 50. And no one is going to want a four-year-old at this age.”

I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t feeling like I belonged many places I went as a single, for one reason or another, and then I was being told I didn’t even belong at a singles event for my age group? What else was new?

The meeting began; our conversation ended. The good news? I was alone on the bench!

I sat and listened to the presentation. I didn’t feel like I totally belonged, but I was doing o.k. until the special musical number. A man stood and sang a song I’d never loved, but it had been sung at my mom’s funeral and had affected me every time I’d heard it since then. That night the words hit me in a whole new way. And I wondered what my parents had to be thinking about the disaster-at-times life that was now mine. Tears started rolling down my cheeks.

Not that I could stop the tears from coming, but I thought I was being very discreet about experiencing them. I wasn’t sobbing, or shaking, or anything. Just subtly wiping them away as I sat and listened to the music. And then, from out of nowhere, it happened.

Well, actually, I’m pretty sure it came from behind me.

Unexpectedly, I felt a hand from behind touch my shoulder and squeeze. And didn’t let go. I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t dare look back. I didn’t dare acknowledge it. The only thing I felt I could do was pretend it wasn’t happening!

“…It’s all just pretend. That’s what’s fun about it.” (James Spader) NOT.

Periodically, through the rest of the meeting, I felt a hand on my shoulder and a squeeze. Every time, I’d freeze (probably stiffen) and wait for it to go away! I was reminded, again, there are just some things in life you never expect to experience. That night, I got several!

When the meeting was over, I stood up to leave and the man who had been sitting behind me (I assumed he must have been the shoulder squeezer) said, “If you ever want to talk about it…” I thanked him and told him I was fine. He kindly offered to connect me with singles events more my age. I gave him my email as he requested, and headed out the door.

But before I made it to my car, an old man stopped me. Seriously old–probably pushing 70. He introduced himself as a professor at a local university, told me about himself, asked me about myself…and asked me out on a date! I NEVER saw that one coming. Thank you, Bachelor #4!

Before I could respond to Bachelor #4, a woman came by, grabbed me by the arm, marched me away and said, “Just because you’re single, DOES NOT MEAN you have to be kind to everyone. How long have you been divorced? You’ll learn. I just wanted to get you out of there. Save you.” And she walked away.

I ran into Bachelor #4 a few times after that, and every time he asked me out. Each time I got away without answering. How do you reject a grandpa? (Because I didn’t actually date him, I don’t know if he qualifies as Bachelor #4. But to honor him for his tenacity and his quest for youth, I’ve given him a number.)

That night, however, I went home my usual alone, checked my email before bed to get a jump on what was in store for me the next day, and there was a contact from Bachelor #3–telling me how nice it was to meet me, sharing more about himself, giving me a link to a singles site more my age…and asking me out!

How did I respond?

I did what I do best. I ignored it. I thanked him for the singles info and left it at that. I ran into him a lot after that, and he was always friendly. He even started to seem familiar, in a way, and I couldn’t figure out why. Until one time, I was with a man at an event, ran into Bachelor #3 and he asked a little of the history behind my association with Bachelor #3. I explained. He laughed. When I asked what was so funny, he said, “I just never pictured you dating Fred Flintstone.”

As soon as he said that, it hit me why Bachelor #3 seemed so familiar! Yabba-dabba-DOO!

Thank you, Bachelor #3.

The 2nd Time Around

Like I said, things with Bachelor #1 were ending. We ended up seeing each other one more time after the night he told me that to continue seeing each other was too painful for him, but I planned ahead. That last week, as I sensed things were ending, I decided to try the online thing again.

I still wasn’t sure, being new in town and single and commuting to work in another city, how to meet and make local friends. The one Sunday meeting, and the one singles dance, hadn’t helped me. The online option was the only one
I knew to try.

The second time around, I was optimistically hoping to last longer than 24 hours. I felt much better prepared. I had some dating experience under my belt, the rebound relationship had come and gone, and I went into it expecting some unusual surprises so I didn’t think I would be as shocked (and afraid) at what came my way!

So, before my last date with Bachelor #1, I switched to a different online site (I’d heard there were “better” people on there) and signed up online.

I posted my picture and info, and then, like watching stock move up the Dow, began to see the activity around my bio. The site shows you who is checking out your profile. The numbers can be unexpected–200+ men in 24 hours is not uncommon. I couldn’t imagine there were that many people trying to meet people. And at all hours of the day.

The online traffic was something I was careful of. So although a lot of people posted picture of themselves with their kids, I didn’t. As a mother, I didn’t have a single picture of myself without at least one of my children in the frame, and I wasn’t about to take special pictures just to post online, so I just made sure I was alone in anything I posted on a singles site. It required some careful cropping.

I heard from some men who had contacted me my first time online–I guess they’d switched sites, too, or they were on multiple sites!

I heard from widowers.

I heard from men from all backgrounds, all across the country, and even some from the Baltic. I think the quest for international friendships is huge online, based on some of the profiles that came my way that specified up front: “If you don’t speak English, don’t even bother contacting me!”

I even heard from celebrities. (Well, their pictures anyway!) There was one man I was pretty sure was using pictures of Guy Ritchie, Madonna’s ex-husband, for his profile. And several others I think were posting professional modeling photos, of other people, as theirs. It was entertaining!

I’d walk into work each morning, and my team wanted to know how the online situation was. I gave a few co-workers my password so they could have a good laugh at my online contacts, and it was a source of entertainment during many a lunch hour.

I gave my sister my password, too, so she could occasionally check things out on my behalf and make sure she felt good about things. (I trust her judgement.)

But eventually, sharing my password with so many turned out to not be so good. I started getting frustrated messages from men that I was online and not responding to them when in fact, it hadn’t been ME online! I explained I had lots of friends in my corner, helping me and giving me input. THAT went over well–scared quite a few men off! But that was o.k. by me. Given the public nature of my divorce and the whole unexpected life, financial devastation, destroyed credit, four children…my life was not for the faint of heart and I knew it. If men couldn’t take some degree of a lack of privacy, after all I had lived through, they weren’t for me!

And, just what I was hoping for, I heard from local men too.

Hello, Bachelor #2. Or should I say, “Bachelor Bee Gee”?

You Can’t Be Single In Utah Without…

I’ll cut to the chase.

Since being single for the second time, I’ve learned a lot about myself. For one, I’ve realized I’m not a facial hair kind of gal. Too bad you can’t be a single male in Utah without…a goatee!

My preference for a smooth shave is a bit of a problem for me; because 90% of the men I’ve met and dated have had facial hair of some type, most a goatee. The first time I was single (in the 80s) I think I dated two guys with mustaches. And it didn’t work for me. At the time, I thought I just wasn’t interested in the guys. But now I realize it must have been the facial hair!

“You know, with that goatee, you kinda look like Satan.” (Joey, to Chandler, on “Friends”)

Joey wasn’t that far off! lol. I just think nothing makes a man look older than gray facial hair. And at my age, most men have that. Another reason to sport a clean-shaven face, in my age-paranoid opinion!

But, facial hair or not, I stay in the game. Because I’m an optimist. Although I was deceived by my husband in the biggest and unexpected ways for nearly two decades, and terribly betrayed in the other ones before it was over, I’m still looking for my “fairy tale” ending. My happy ending. Call me crazy, but I’m holding out for it! I just hope it doesn’t come attached to a goatee.

Until then, “Men are my hobby, if I ever got married I’d have to give it up.” (Mae West)

I look forward to giving up that hobby someday. But I won’t miss the…goatees!

Friendly Dating Advice

I have a friend who watches out for me. (Which I appreciate. He is a good man, like my family, and has been there for me in important ways all the years I have known him, but especially in 2009.)

He stayed abreast of the events in my life and my activities and the first time I saw him in person after I began dating he had some advice for me. He knew what I’d been up to and said he thought it was great I was socializing, but told me not to rush into anything. He encouraged me to take my time, not to tie myself down, see who and what was out there, and make sure I get exactly what I want the second time.

Good advice. I followed it.

And to show him I was listening to his counsel and following it, I kept a written list of every man I dated–just to prove to him, if or when the time came, that I had been thorough in my search.

“So many men, so little time.” (Mae West)

Now let me introduce you to some of the men on the list. Get ready to meet the most memorable. (Get ready to laugh.)

He’s Not My Boyfriend!

We all learned a lot from Bachelor #1. Including what to call the men I dated.

I don’t know why I have such an aversion to the word “boyfriend” but I do, and always have. It must be the way I was raised. My parents drilled this into my head: Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. Don’t tie yourself down. Don’t have a boyfriend. NEVER tie yourself to just one guy–until you are engaged!

So, I never did. I never had what I called a boyfriend. In fact, when I got engaged to my former spouse and went to tell my roommates I was getting married, they looked at me in shock and asked, “WHO are you engaged to?” I was surprised they didn’t know, so I asked them to guess. I was even more surprised when “Shawn Merriman” was the 5th name they guessed! I guess I got the “no boyfriend” thing my parents taught me down really, really well (in the 80s.)

I went from not having a boyfriend, not having a fiance (couldn’t say that word, either, for some reason!) to having a husband. Fortunately, I was able to say that word. For 20 years!

And then I became single again, unexpectedly, in 2009. I re-entered the dating scene. And my kids started saying things like, “So, when are you going to see your BOYFRIEND again?”

It struck a nerve. I just couldn’t call Bachelor #1 my boyfriend. That title made me cringe! He wasn’t my boyfriend.

I told my son, “Don’t call him that. I don’t have a boyfriend. He’s not my boyfriend.”

And before I could explain why I was so weird about that, my son said, “Oh, yah, that’s right. He’s not a boy. He’s a man. Got it, Mom, so when are you going to see your MANFRIEND again?”

I don’t know if that’s what everyone else’s teenagers call the men they date, but it was so unexpected, we all laughed. Hard. And you know what? The title stuck.

Every single man I’ve gone out with has been referenced, by my children, as my “manfriend.” Wouldn’t my parents be proud to know that although they’re gone, I’m still following their advice? No boyfriends for this single mother. Still.

Boyfriends. Who needs them? “I know what you want. And I know what you need. But I’m gonna [mess] it up, yeah, cause I’m an idiot. And I’m your boyfriend.” (Jimmy Fallon)

My advice to all the single ladies out there? Follow the counsel my parents gave me. Don’t complicate your life with boyfriends. Instead, try MANFRIENDS!

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Bachelor #1


Bachelor #1 woke me up the next morning with a text thanking me for the date. Called me that day, texted me all day, called me during the week in the evenings while he was away on business, and dated me every weekend after that. The rebound relationship had begun!

After the first week of dating, I realized I hadn’t cried in one week. For the first time since March 18, 2009, I had gone one entire week without tears. I hadn’t remembered to cry because I hadn’t felt like crying! I was healing. So what did I do? I cried. In disbelief and gratitude!

Bachelor #1 was a good man and a very decent person. He was also very fun. But I couldn’t help noticing things moved a little too fast for my comfort. I didn’t know if it was the man, or the age, but I was very overwhelmed all of the time at how different things were from the 1980s!

I’m sure everyone who has spent time with me since the nightmare began, has heard me say that. I guess because it’s my biggest shock. All of my single experience, my entire dating frame of reference, last took place over 20 years ago. So I’m constantly amazed at the difference just two decades makes! (Wait. Did I just say that? Nothing makes you sound old like being able to refer to two entire decades as a frame of reference.)

Anyway, Bachelor #1 gave me lots of encouragement. He told me I could be engaged in two weeks and married in less than three months if I wanted to be. (I was too shocked at that comment to even respond.) He told me he was there for me and willing to partner with me in raising my children. (THAT one surprised me. He’d never met them, had just met me, and was offering that? I pretended I didn’t hear that, either.) But mostly he just entertained me and made me laugh. He said unexpected, friendly things a newly single mother of four needed to hear.

For example, during the time I dated Bachelor #1 the pastor of my new congregation called me in to meet with him and asked me to serve our congregation in a particular assignment. I told Bachelor #1 I got an opportunity to serve my new congregation and told him to guess my new assignment. Without missing a beat or batting an eye he said, “As the congregation hottie!” NOT EVEN. (But it did make me laugh.)

He also introduced me to many new, fun things about the city I had moved to; helped me get to know my surroundings a little bit; took me on lots of fun dates, took me dancing, celebrated Halloween with me by dressing as Clark Kent (and had me dress as Lois Lane), etc…

However, there were some insecurities. The man had been married, and married more than once (I couldn’t believe how common that is these days–it has actually been very rare for me to meet men who have been married just one time.) He told me several times how jealous he was of my 20-year marriage, the long and stable life I’d enjoyed married to someone I’d had children with. Bachelor #1 had never experienced that and said he was jealous of me. (I told him not to be jealous, the 20-year marriage had ended rather disastrously for me! But the longer I’ve been single, and the more people I’ve met who never had anything like that, the more I understand that comment now.)

He also told me he felt very inferior in his ability to provide in a manner to which I was accustomed. He had googled me after he learned my story, and the media coverage was very thorough in detailing the lifestyle members of our family had enjoyed. But what they missed, and what many people don’t understand, is that it wasn’t really MY lifestyle. The art, the cars, the motorhome, the jewelry, and so many of the “things” were never my idea. I hadn’t asked for them, I hadn’t desired them, and I hadn’t purchased them. Many times, they simply arrived at the house because my former spouse had purchased them. In fact, if our marriage had any contention in it, it was over “stuff.” Things He wanted, and all of the things I didn’t want us to have or be responsible for. Sure, I enjoyed travel and shopping at Nordstrom, but I also shopped at Target.

I’d never been a worldly person; I’d learned the utter worthlessness of worldly possessions as a teenager–but that’s another blog for some other day. All I could say to Bachelor #1 about the lifestyle and any man’s ability to provide in an equal way was my view of the “providing” I’d experienced: it actually hadn’t been “providing” at all. Turns out, it was theft. And crime is nothing to feel inferior toward!

Like any rebound relationship, however, it wasn’t meant to last.

One night, about six weeks into the relationship, he drove me to see a home he’d found to buy. He said the only thing it needed was a fence to keep young children safe. (He didn’t have young children, I did.) Then he took me somewhere else to ask if I thought I could love him forever, etc… (Marriage Proposal #1.)

Right then, things came to a silent, screeching halt for me. I know that at my age, and with all of the technology we have to get to know people and to keep in touch, you get to know people much faster than previous times–like the 80s. But I had to be honest. I told him at that point, I just knew that he was very nice and fun and that I liked him.

He told me it had to end, then, because he couldn’t take any more risk and hurt. I offered to continue to spend time together as friends and he thanked me for that, but declined, saying it was already too painful for him to continue. The end.

Thank you, Bachelor #1.

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That’s How Ready I Was

To anyone married prior to the invention of the internet, you may be like I used to be: clueless about the online singles thing. And although I’m still not an expert, I have (by trial and error) learned a few things. Let me share what I’ve learned. You never know, as in the case of my sister, when you’re going to need it to support your sibling whose life unexpectedly falls apart. (Thank goodness she knew something and could support my insanity at testing it out!) Here is how it works.

You find a site to join. There are a ton of them out there. You can look for free, but to meet people (ie. send or receive messages) you have to pay a fee and join. You can join for one month, three months, a year and scarily, maybe even longer. All of the sites I checked out had one month options. I looked at 3-4 sites and joined one for one month. Then you have to put yourself on the site.

You answer questions about yourself, you give basic information about your background, you list what you’re looking for in (my case) men and relationships. And you can be very specific–you can say you want to meet people of a certain height, a specific geographic area from you, with or without children or education. And of course, you should post a picture. (Some people don’t post a picture, but they say you meet a lot more people by posting a picture.) And then there are some people that don’t post their picture, but they put their profile up and make you request their picture.

You can do searches to find people that meet your criteria. For example, you could do a search of men of a certain age and height living in a certain area, like Utah. And instantly, their photos and profiles pop up. It sounds like it works, too. I’ve met many people who think it does. One thing I’ve learned: it is VERY common to be “online” if you’re single. (Prior to being single I think I probably thought desperate people, or psycho people, were online. In reality, it’s how you meet people these days.) In fact, it’s one of the first questions people ask when you meet them in person at, for example, a singles dance: What’s your name? Where do you live? What do you do? What site are you on? (It’s CRAZY being single in the 21st century!lol)

In my case, I had moved to a place where I didn’t know anyone. I was the sole parent of four children and didn’t want to spend the few precious hours each day that I have with my children away from my children meeting people. Adding to the challenge was the fact that I lived in one area and commuted to work in another city.That’s why I tried the online thing: I didn’t know what else to do to make a local friend fairly quickly.

But here’s why I lasted less than 24 hours online.

Aside from THE man (the rebound relationship guy who took me on my first date and many subsequent ones), I heard from some very unique individuals. They were a smorgasbord of qualities I wasn’t interested in, but I had decided I needed to be friendly and kind (and grateful anyone had reached out to me) so I determined to answer each and every message personally.

“Thanks so much for being friendly. Thank you so much for your kind comments about my appearance. Unfortunately, because I have a 4-year-old, I’m looking for someone a little closer to my age. Best wishes to you in your search.” (Messages like that went out to the 50-something, 60-something and 70-something year olds!)

Or, “Thanks so much for being friendly. Thanks so much for your kind comments about my appearance. Unfortunately, because I’m 5’9,” I’m looking for someone a little closer to my height. I’m sorry, it’s me–not you. I’m just not confident enough to pull off dating a shorter man. Best wishes in your search.” (Messages like that went out to the men who were 5’6″ and shorter who contacted me. I was amazed at the number of short men who contacted me, knowing my height and that on my profile I’d listed I was interested in meeting people 5’11″ or taller.)

Then there were the men in their 20s who invited me over to watch videos or “hang out.” At first I politely declined; I didn’t trust a man that young reaching out to a woman in her 40s with four kids. I couldn’t imagine what they saw in me or wanted, but I was pretty sure we weren’t after the same things!

Ditto to the men who sent me close-up pictures of their body parts. Those I deleted without a reply. But you should have seen some of the pictures! I was on a site with supposedly high moral standards, so most of the body part pictures I reference weren’t the pornography you might be imagining–although a few of those got through as well. I’m talking about close up pictures of an eye, lips and other things. They totally made me laugh. (Especially the lips!) I had to wonder, “What they were thinking taking pictures like that, much less sending them on to total strangers!” Do pictures like that REALLY woo women?

And then some men I just had to flat out block from being able to contact me. Their messages and photos were too scary.

I endured the online thing for a day, but after that first day, the number of contacts and the content of some of the messages overwhelmed me. I couldn’t spend hours on the internet hearing from strangers and attempting to be kind, polite and friendly to them all! I was the sole parent and support of four children who were, and remain, my priority. I didn’t have time for much. I guess I underestimated the reach of putting yourself online and the number of lonely, or friendly, people all across the world.

I decided I had jumped the gun. It was all too much for me. I wasn’t ready. I canceled my account.

Besides, I was having too much fun “on the rebound” with…shall we call him…Bachelor #1?

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“A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.” (E. E. Cummins)

By the end of September 2009, we were getting into the routine of our new life. My youngest spent the day being tended by someone other than me and was enjoying preschool three afternoons each week; my middle son was adjusting to his new school, piano lessons, and having his mom work full-time; my daughter was adjusting to her new school and new life and preparing dinner every night for the family; and my oldest was slowly adjusting to his new school, new life, and the role of oldest brother/not quite the father but was expected to do some of that type of thing for his siblings too.

Autumn came to Utah and with the seasonal changes came a huge one, for me personally, as well.

I had known “autumn” too long in my life. My divorce had been final for “only” 2 months, yet I had felt absolutely alone and lonely since March 18. (I couldn’t believe how alone I felt while still legally married and living in Colorado with my spouse in our home. The truth He had revealed had instantly changed not just our lives and our family, but our relationship as well. We were living in the same house, for the sake of our children, but we were not emotionally connected anymore. And after 20 years of companionship and what I thought had been a good relationship and a solid marriage, I was stunned at how different I felt. Instantly alone. Completely alone. Alone in the world. ALONE.)

I had moved away from my life, my friends, my support, and my social networks. And whether it was loneliness from moving, or loneliness from being single, I didn’t know. All I knew was that I couldn’t stand the loneliness anymore.

I decided I was ready to be more social.

I decided I was ready to meet people.

I decided I was ready to date. (Did I just say that?)

And while we’re on the subject, here’s a question: Who can be betrayed so completely and so thoroughly in every way for nearly 20 years of marriage and not only be willing to subject themselves to the possibility of that again, but be willing to trust others, even men, again? And so “soon?”


Call me crazy, call me whatever you want, but for some reason, I was. I had been lied to, deceived, betrayed, and everything else attendant with being the former spouse of a man running a Ponzi scheme for 15 years, yet I still was willing to trust. I’m guessing it was that optimistic, fairy tale-loving and believing part of me, manifesting itself again. (Or maybe it’s just the way I was raised? lol.)

Whatever it was, all I can say is that dating in the 21st century turned out to be a LOT different than the last time I had dated…the 1980s.


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