Last week, I spent a few days in LA, where I grew up. I moved away years ago, but my sister and my parents still live there, so I find myself making the pilgrimmage every year or so. One afternoon at my sister's house, while my niece colored quietly and my nephew chased the puppy around (nature vs. nurture, my ass) my sister and I commiserated a bit about our husbands and their annoying habits. We joked about how hard men can be to live with at times, and how sometimes we think it would be easier without them around. Her friend Amy, who'd stopped by for the afternoon, was not amused. She decided to share some stories to show that the grass is NOT necessarily greener.
Now, I've known Amy since she was about 14. The fact that she's old enough to date, let alone vote and own her own home, still surprises me. But Amy has remained, despite several long term relationships, a fascinating job on a cruise ship, and a stint in the Big Apple ala Sex and the City, the quintessential single girl. Me? I've been with my husband for 15 years, married 12, so I can no longer remember what dating is like. Or maybe I've just blocked it out of my memory, both the good parts (first kisses! waiting for the phone to ring! meeting interesting people!) and the bad ones (first kisses! waiting for the phone to ring! meeting people you think are interesting but who, it turns out, still work at the video store and live in their mother's basement because they peaked in high school!). But I digress.
Amy, it seems, has recently begun using a dating service. Not your average online dating service where everyone's photo is 10 years and 30 pounds out of date, but an actual matchmaking service - sort of like having someone's grandmother set you up with nice boys from her church but cooler, less embarrassing, and more expensive. Naturally, being the curious (read: nosy) type, as well as needing to live vicariously through someone, I begged for stories. Why a matchmaking service? Why not just meet guys the old-fashioned way, ie getting drunk at a bar and scrawling your phone number on his arm with lipstick? (Tells you how long I've been out of the game. My babysitter tells me everyone just dials their own cell from the guy's cell so they have each other's numbers. Now that's no fun. Can't "fake number" anyone anymore.) So Amy, in an effort to oblige me (and probably to thank me for years of being their only source of beer while they were underage), regaled me with her own "Greatest Hits - or Misses - in Dating."
Trust me, you will never underappreciate your husbands again.
Bachelor #1: While living in New York, she meets someone who lives in Jersey. (Now, even if you've never lived on the East Coast, you should know enough about New Jersey stereotypes to see where this is going.) For their first date, he doesn't want to leave Jersey ("Why would anyone willingly go to Manhattan?" he asks, knowing that she lives and works near Wall Street) and he insists on meeting only for a drink "to see how it goes" - then goes to the wrong bar and calls her cell to yell at her for standing him up. (See, the last time I was dating, no one had cell phones. So in this case, I'd have left, thinking he didn't show, and he'd never have called me again, thinking I'd ditched him. Problem solved.) Meanwhile, she's in the right bar, sitting at a table, waiting for him. He finally shows up,an hour late, goes to the bar (rather than ordering from the waitress, thereby avoiding having to pay for HER drink, too) and orders a white wine spritzer. Um, a white wine spritzer? Could he BE less manly? I don't care how much you hate beer, order a damn Heineken and pretend to drink it. When the waitress comes by and asks, "Would you like to order any food?" he barks, "No! I already ate!" without giving Amy a chance to order - even though he knew she came straight from work. A few f-bombs later, and she's ready to fake a heart attack just to get out of there. Date over, Loser. Don't call me again.
Bachelor #2: This charming fellow, recently divorced, spends the entire evening talking about how he can't wait to get married again, how he loves being married, how he can't stand being single. Red flag, anyone? Can you say desperate and needy? When they leave the restaurant, he walks Amy to his car and says, "Check out my car. Wanna take a ride? I'll take you anywhere you want to go, Baby." The "ew" factor aside, like she's going to get in the car with a guy she barely knows. Appealing to the fact that he has 2 teenage daughters, she asks, "Would you want your daughters to get in a car with a man they barely know?" His response? "Whatever. I'm sure they already have." And laughs like a lech. The clincher? He's still married. Separated, but not divorced. She tells him she's "not feeling the chemistry" and "doesn't want to lead him on", but he calls and texts for days before she finally changes her number.
Bachelor #3: Think the third time's the charm? Think again. This guy's idea of a dream date was to invite Amy to watch him play hockey, then take her to the rink's bar for a beer - without showering first. Ever sat next to a guy when he comes off the ice? I have. It's not pretty. I'd rather clean up a room full of other people's puking kids.
Ladies, this is what's out there.
Thus, the new matchmaking service. It's an interesting approach: they send 3 men and 3 women out on a group date. Less pressure, more people to keep the conversation going, fewer awkward silences. Sounds good, right? Wrong. Not a love connection. But on a positive note, she likes one of the other women so much they end up having lunch and dissecting the 3 guys on their group date. Life long friendship, maybe. Life partner, not so much.
And it's not just Amy. One friend of mine says the dating pool is so shallow, she's now dating the brother of the guy she dumped ten years ago. Another friend says she's at the point where she'd rather date an old guy for his money than have to meet men her age, because the men HER age all want 20-year-olds. I can't argue with this; my 40-year-old brother is currently dating a 22-year-old. Even my 6-year-old thinks he's too old for her: "Ew, Mommy, that's gross. That's like that Ke$ha song, Dinosaur!" If you don't know it, download it. For $1.19, you'll get a good laugh. (My husband, of course, has a different attitude about my brother's girlfriend, but that's another story. Me, I'm just jealous of her "I've never been pregnant, popped out a ten-pounder, and then nursed her 12 times a day for a year" boobs.)
Yep, that's what's out there. Your husband's looking better already, isn't he? A few dirty socks on the floor, a little toothpaste in the sink, the occasional toilet seat left up - small price to pay for an otherwise good man who loves you, appreciates you, and won't ask, "Macaroni and cheese for dinner AGAIN?"
Slacker Mom Says... the grass ain't greener, ladies. Complain, vent to your friends, let it all out. But when push comes to shove, I know I've got a good deal. While I was in LA, my husband was here with the kids, playing Mr. Mom for a week, without complaining. We all have our annoying little habits, Slacker Mom included. I, for one, wouldn't trade my husband for anything. Well, not right now. Ask me again when he retires and is under my feet all the time.