Every Game Has Rules Whether You Play or Not (Part 1)


Ok Guys out there, I need some advice. I didn’t have a mother to guide me along the way. I’m over 60, and for the life of me, I still can’t figure out “the dating game.”

What are the rules?  I only had about three dates in high school, (being the introvert that I am) not counting the guys I met at church camp and conferences,  but I thought I knew what was going on. 

During high school, there were definite steps a young couple took. You casually dated, you went steady and gave the girl your class ring which she promptly wrapped with yards of angora thread or dental floss. If you weren’t college bound, you got engaged and then married either right after HS graduation or within a year or two afterwards unless you joined the military. It was Viet Nam time. It was an age when many young women were still technically virgins as brides and the grooms were understandably frustrated. Since so many people referred to dating in terms of bases, many more stopped at third base than tried a home run. If it were otherwise, they were very discreet and secretive. Or so it seemed. There were in every town occasionally young women who decided to visit an aunt in another town for five or so months but there weren’t that many.

If you went to college, there were steps. You casually dated, you went steady, you got pinned, you got engaged, you got married. Or so it was supposed to be. It was the mid 60s and the birth control pill had been invented. Couples were hitting home runs earlier and earlier in the relationship, some on their first and last dates.

There were fewer brides who were virgins. One night stands, which I’m guessing have been around at least since the 1920s (or centuries before) were becoming more prevalent…and more tolerated by the crowd of baby boomers involved in that particular practice. However, one still had to be careful. There were still such things as reputations. “Slut” and other names were still slung around frequently if one was not very discreet. Today, I guess it is “ho”.

I married in the mid 70s when the sexual revolution was in full swing. I vowed to be faithful to my husband and I lived up to those vows all ten years. I never once saw a man who remotely even tempted me. Even though he had many “felony” counts of adultry etched on his belt and moved right out of my house and within a few weeks into her apartment, I was afraid to do anything for fear he would bring it up in court. He didn’t want our son, but he would have been mean enough to at least get any indescretions on my part into the court records.

I vowed to not date anyone until my divorce was final. Within a couple of weeks following the end, I met a man who rocked my world. He was eleven years older than I but certainly didn’t look it. Our first date lasted twelve hours. I rationalized that an average date lasts two to three hours. That was already between four and six dates by the time he walked me to the door at 10:30 PM. The whole day had dripped with the heady fragrance of hormones in the air.

We saw each other usually both days and evenings of the weekends for six weeks and talked frequently on the phone. I was not in love with him but I was very much in fond with him. Besides, I really did like him very much as well. After six weeks when I walked with him to the back door, he said, ” I won’t be coming over next weekend.” When I asked him why, he replied, “I don’t date anyone longer than six weeks. I don’t want to get too involved.” My divorce was too rough. I don’t want to go through that again any time soon.

Two weeks later was Halloween. We had already reserved costumes for a Halloween party I was hosting for a singles group. He came for that party, although it was like we had never met. We hardly talked with each other the entire evening. That’s the last time I saw him.

Shortly after that, I started my ten plus years with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. After trying to teach and, as much as I could, be a mother to my son, there was no energy or desire left to date. Besides, I have seen too many lives torn apart between step-fathers, mothers, and sons. I made a conscious decision to not even try. My son was an angel in public and very different at home. I didn’t wish to be placed in the middle by a husband who would have tried to keep my son in line and a son who would, I felt, have not given an inch.

Once I started again feeling better, in the late 90s, I met someone on match.com. He frequently traveled out of town for extended periods of time with his job. He said up front that he was looking for friendship only. I could live with that. We frequently chatted on line and played checkers or chess. When he was in town we’d get together for dinner. We exchanged many cards. We went together to the State Fair and had a great time. As very good friends.

He retired early and moved to south Texas.For the next few years we talked on the phone, emailed, and chatted on line. Several times he invited me down to visit the retirement community he was living in. He spoke of it in glowing terms. I was in my 50s. Teen age dating was long behind me. That’s an awfully long drive. I finally went down to see him about four years ago and spent eight days with him. We did fine until I had been down there a couple of nights and we started in with the tequilla. It was the most fantastic eight days I had spent in my life.  The second night I was there we went on a boat ride at sunset to watch the dolphins. The ride ended with fireworks directly over head. They were nothing compared to other fireworks we experienced.

His brother was also visiting him after the third day and the three  of us ran around during the day like teenagers to Mexico, to S. Padre Island, out to eat, etc. When we passed a tattoo parlor he even went in with me to get my yellow rose of  Texas in a locale few will ever see. He held my hand. I had talked about wanting a tattoo forever but never had the courage. He gave me the courage.

He was supposed to come up to the area three weeks later. He is very good at home repairs and I had several things he said he could and would gladly fix. At first when we talked he wasn’t sure he could make it. It was touch and go. I sensed from the hesitation in his voice what was to come. He came up and as soon as I opened the door, I knew things had changed. He worked hard around my house for three days but then went back to another woman’s house around 5. She was out of town, but he was dog sitting for her. Turns out he had worked around her house for over ten years and traveled and partied with her and their mutual best friend in connection with an organization all three of them had joined. It was always platonic.

The week I was down at his home, she decided after all those years, to step their relationship up a notch or two. Major conincidence? I don’t think so.  He had carried a torch for her forever and never got anywhere until I spent time with him.

We went to church on Sunday and before we went we sat on the front porch talking. We talked again for about an hour after church. Besides his friend claiming her territory, he said something like, “When you were down there, I started feeling like we were so close we were married. It scared me to death.” He had been married three times already and the thought of another marriage scared him out of his mind. Marriage with him was not even on my radar with him but I would have thoroughly enjoyed remaining a lover indefinitely. I was not ready to move to a retirement community, but I would have willingly visited him several times a year and hopefully he would have visited me. Such was not to be.  To be continued.

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