Monday, October 30, 2006

Dating, drinking and women's magazines

No, there isn't a connection between any of the above, just three separate topics I want to sound off about. First - geriatric dating.

I'm a widow. I have been on my own for some years now, during which time I have joined and rejoined every internet dating site there is. Always saying - I shan't bother again - then reading somewhere about someone's success (this time it was novelist Lesley Pearce, with whom I share not only a first name, but a taste for white wine in wine bars in Bath) and giving it a go once more.

Originally, I thought anyone who used this sort of service was bound to be a saddo. Hang on a minute - I'm using it. Oh, yes. There must be people like me out there, then. Well, I can safely say now - no, there aren't. I have seen photographs (won't even consider anyone without) of pleasant looking gents of around my age and written them jokey little notes. Most haven't replied, those that have, in the main, have fobbed me off. Oh, I've met a few, obeying all the rules - public places, not giving out my address, all that sort of thing - but without exception they have all been disasters. Nice men in their way, I'm sure, but not for me.

The only people who have written to me first have been, well, let's just say not suitable. Or the right age. Or anything. So why am I still registered on these sites? Not as a paying customer any more, admittedly, but my details are still there. Well, firstly because I have this sneaky feeling that if I remove my details, the very person I've been looking for will register and I'll miss him. Secondly, I still want to meet a nice bloke with whom to share some aspects of my life. Thirdly, how else does a female rapidly hurtling towards decrepitude meet someone? When you've lived in the same area for a long time and socialised a fair bit, you tend to know most people, and single men of my age don't tend to move about.

One of the problems, of course, is the unrealistic expectations of subscribers to these sites, and, I've heard, gents in general. A 60 year old, boasting that he looks years younger, mixes with younger people, windsurfs, snowboards and likes Flaming Lips, asks to be contacted by slim women under 40. Oh, yeah?

Standard advice from agony aunts and uncles is to join something. OK, I already belong to the supposed hot bed of sex and lies, the world of amateur theatre. And no, mostly, it isn't like that. There have been the occasional affairs and marriage breakups, but not regularly. One permanent relationship has been formed in my twenty-odd years with the same company, and what does that tell you?

Before anyone else says it, I shall admit to a certain amount of unrealistic expectations myself and I shall also admit to being not everybody's cup of tea. Fat, mad old bat are descriptions that come to mind. And no, I'm not saying that in the expectation (that word again) of being contradicted. Of course, I could go to a proper dating agency, but have you seen how much they cost? And I just know it would be wasted, even if I could afford it in the first place.

I once tried to start a fairly local group to meet socially. Fashionably Late, it was called. I had very little money, but managed to pay for a few ads in the paper and got a little bit of editorial in a couple of suitable magazines. The only responses I had were from women in my own position. Had I been able to afford advertising in more magazines, maybe it would have worked, but having recently joined a dining club locally, also mainly women, have to admit it probably wouldn't.

Drinking - they, the ubiquitous "they", have stopped us smoking in pubs, now they're going to stop us drinking, too. I will end up making bath-tub gin and drinking it alone in the garage soon. Or perhaps with my children and a few selected friends. Except that then I'd be prosecuted for running an illegal drinking den. I am sick, sick, sick of the nanny state. I do not want to be told what to do, think, eat or drink. I buy and eat responsibly and ethically as far as I can without breaking the bank. I don't frighten the horses. Let me be!

Women's magazines - very nice people. Two of them have interviewed me because of my connection with amateur theatre on which they are doing features. This comes from my recent book having an amateur theatrical background, and is terrific publicity. When the features come out, I'll post details.

Oh, and thank you to my three readers!


Anonymous said...

Lesley, if you're going to make bath tub gin, that should solve your dating difficulties at a stroke.

It will pull in the anoraks (who know how it should be done) the folk historians (who know how it used to be done) and the party animals, all in one go. Caramba!

Jane Henry said...

a) you're not fat
b) have you tried salsa classes (believe you me, when I went along they were bang full of divorces... (ok ok ratio women to men was still probably about 5:1, but... It's quite a sexy environment to meet Mr Right I think!
c) I agree with you wholeheartedly about the nanny state (even though I don't smoke any more).

Love your fourth reader

aka Janex

Pants said...

Writers are supposed to be solitary. If you have a relationship, it's destined to be a bad one. Do you have a recipe for bathtub gin?

Anonymous said...

You know the old saying: you have to kiss an awful lot of frogs before you find a prince.

My advice is to keep at it. Give people a fair hearing if they're prepared to do the same for you. Dismiss those who won't (they're not worth it and probably live in cloud cuckoo land anyway).

And remember, there's a Mad Old Batman for every Mad Old Bat out there...

Anonymous said...

Cor, tell you what let's go to Primark and knock 'em dead with some new threads.
(Do they do outsize?)
(For me, not you!)

Ms Baroque said...

I'm a lot younger than you and i'm sitting here saying so true, so true, so true!! At my age they all want to meet someone under 35, & "size 10" as if they even knew what that was.

It's so depressing. I've met guys off those sites whm I didn't even recognise because they looked so much older and sadder than their pictures; they lied about their ages; I've sat in a posh wine bar counselling some guy over his separation; I've been patronised by men ten years older than me (who think I don't know anything) and men younger than me (who think I'm over the hill) and I've paid for dinners tedious, sparkless men have suggested, even splitting tips in half; I've been strung along for weeks only to (finally) extrapolate that people are actually married and trying to engineer a lunch-time fling; I've hit it off big-time, once, only to be slapped with an "I just can't get into a relationship it's bringing back all the pain of my divorce," either truth or lie. After THAT I took all my details down off every site. Never again, right?

I've tried meeting people socially; in fact, you just get so tired of being out. GOD, the luxury of being able to have some adult company when you're at home. And not met anyone. The single guys I know are going out with 29-year-olds - or with my friends. I've been hit on in pubs and at poetry readings, it happens a lot, but always by married men - always, always - I've been begged for a shag by men in their fifties, staring at my bosom - I can't even imagine a nice single man of my acquaintance asking me to, say, a friend's party, or out to see a play. Let alone have sex sober, or give me a lift home from Sainsbury's on a Saturday. So, never again - right?

I've met people at work; in one year, two guys both pretended to be 'going out' with me while both had secret girlfriends hidden away! If you hang out after work to try and meet people, they just think you're 'gagging for it' - well, it was the East End. Never again, right?

The problem is that if you keep saying never again, you end up with no options left. But if there's no one out there anyway, how much of an option was that?

A friend told me it all got a lot easier once the kids were grown up. I hope she wasn't wrong!

Not that you've struck a chord or anything.

Marie said...

I'm sorry, it's just as crap when you're 30 because all the men you want to go out with are with 21 year olds (which is why we're stealing the 40-year-olds, if we can get them, which I can't) and all of your friends are getting married and having babies and you can't imagine ever dating anyone ever again and you've still got fifty years left til you die and you're going to have to spend them all alone because apparently it's no better when you're 40 or 50 or ever.

Bring on the gin.