In Dreams: The spinster’s dating pool. (More a puddle, truth be told.)Posted: August 9, 2011
I’m staying in an upmarket hotel in Manhattan. It’s early evening, and I’m sitting at the bar. I notice in the mirror behind the bar that the low-lighting has all but erased the lines from my forehead. I catch a glimpse of my younger self and smile. She was pretty damn attractive.
At the same time I realise that I’d quite like to give her a good slap, and the thought of that makes me laugh. I quell the laughter. A single woman chuckling to herself at a bar in New York is a social no-no.
My fashion sense has improved in this dream.
Gone is my Venice Beach uniform of slightly faded leggings, t-shirt layers and flip-flops. New York always ups the fashion stakes. I’m wearing a dress that wouldn’t look out of place on Mad Men. It’s an LBD that showcases my figure which is a size zero…plus eight more sizes on top of that. I have “real curves” in this dream and real life – and yes, I know that’s a euphemism for a bit chubby but that’s ok, I don’t want to disappear into the ether.
My cocktail glass glints in the artificial light. (It’s a lychee martini, if you must know.) The barman, a thoughtful looking chap in his mid-twenties, hovers close enough to make sure I don’t feel alone, while maintaining a respectful distance.
“He’s studying for his Masters,” I think to myself, as he expertly throws together another exotic concoction for the elderly couple at the end of the bar. They are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. I smile at this miracle and raise my glass to them, not realising that another miracle is waiting around the corner.
A handsome man in his mid 40’s, fit – but not obsessively so – appears out of nowhere. He’s wearing a well-cut suit, retro-modern spectacles and clutching a copy of The New Yorker. I have the same copy with me. We both notice this at the same time.
“It’s a sign,” I think to myself, sardonically. Signs like that have lead me down the wrong road before. “We have the same birthday, we MUST belong together”. Ugh, I shudder at that particular mistake.
When I say handsome, he’s no Clooney. He’s about five levels below. Movie star looks don’t interest me. I can see life etched on his face and I’m intrigued by that.
He’s polite to the barman – another box ticked, and he sits, not slumps. I find myself reaching for another slick of lip gloss. I laugh at that too. Somewhere, that young girl lurks inside me still.
He orders a whisky on the rocks. For some reason I’m pleased that it’s not a bottle of Bud or worse, Miller Lite.
He seems lost in his magazine and then his iPhone. I too, make busy with both. But this is a bar and we’re both alone, so after a while he makes a comment that I can’t quite hear as he motions towards the magazines. I have no idea what he’s saying but it’s enough to spark up a conversation.
He smiles at me. For once I let my guard down and smile back. “I don’t often do that”, I think to myself. Already, this is different.
He’s a bureau chief on a national newspaper (ah my childhood dreams persist well into my adult dreams). Chicago figures in there somewhere. He’s funny, and he’s handsome and as we continue to talk, two words swirl around in my brain over and over again. “Age appropriate.”
He’s not wearing a wedding ring but experience has taught me that no wedding ring means he’s either not married, or he is married and looking for sex. For the past ten years it’s generally been the latter.
I never get to the bottom of it because the dream then morphs into a kind of gooey montage: there’s me throwing back my head and laughing at his charming wit, him booking dinner reservations and a slight brushing of hands as we reach for our drinks.
This feels good. I have a very strong sense that this ‘age appropriate’ newspaper guy with the glasses, intellect and well-cut suit is the guy for me.
But I never find out.
I always wake up during that montage sequence. My brain doesn’t want me to know the truth.
If he’s married, it’ll be a crushing blow.
If it’s a one-night stand, it’ll be yet another disappointment.
If it’s something else…well, I’m not sure my subconscious can truly believe that the right man has finally appeared out of nowhere.
And why would that seem so impossible?
I’ll tell you.
As anyone who is still single post-35 knows, the reality of dating is so far removed from this pulpy romantic novel, you’d need the Hubble telescope to see it.
Dream guy is just that. A dream.
I can prove it too.
Right now, my assorted spinster friends are, in no particular order, dating a recovering drug addict, an unemployed toyboy/boytoy actor, a 43-year-old gardener who lives with his mother, a stringy guy in a band who is never around when he’s needed, a bus driver with no conversation, a cheat, a married man who appears to be living a double life, and a movie producer with Eighties hair, who is over 50 and has “commitment issues”.
The last guy I dated complained about the price of bread.
These are our real-life options.
Wake me up after the Olympics.