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Did the Devil Make Me Do It?
Nov 2nd, 2009 by Christina
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Feeling devilish

I abandoned costume-wearing on Halloween when I was around 16 and remained completely uninterested in the holiday until my older daughter turned two; at that point, my urge to dress her as the world’s cutest pumpkin overcame my vague disdain for October 31.

But we were never one of those zany families where the whole gang gets in on the act—mom and dad as Princess Leah and Luke Skywalker, the kids as Yoda and R2D2—or everyone as a different-colored M & M. In fact, I’ve always rolled my eyes a little at adults who go all out on Halloween. (I’m not sure why, but there it is.) As parents, our role was merely to provide the ordinary, everyday backdrop against which our adorably-clad little darlings could stand out.

And then, last year, on my first post-separation Halloween, I felt an overwhelming urge to dress up. But I wasn’t going to wear just any costume–no fat suits or cardboard boxes for me. Inventiveness was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted an excuse to parade around in public looking sexy.

I’ve been tsk-tsking for years over how girls use Halloween for this purpose at increasingly young ages. I was not at all happy to see my 13-year-old strut out of here on Saturday evening looking like Minnie “She Works Hard for the Money” Mouse. And I would never wear those truly slutty costumes sold at Ricky’s—you know, like Nurse Kandi or Pocahottie. (Well, I might, but not in public.)

So at the last minute, I was trying to throw together a costume. Since we had an assortment of ears and tails left over from Halloweens past, I decided to go as a cat (look, I told you I was not trying to win an originality contest.) This would require me to wear black leggings tucked into my black pointy boots and lots of eye makeup. Perfecto!

In retrospect, Halloween ’08 was a pivotal moment in my midlife makeover, one in which I started to shed my somewhat-neutered married persona and began to embrace a somewhat-sexier, available one. Maybe donning kitty-cat ears and a tail wasn’t the most liberated way to get my groove back, but it worked. I felt a resurgence of a side of me I had lost touch with. Whether it was the cat costume that brought it on, or vice versa, I don’t know–but, curiously, just around a week later, I had embarked on my rebound fling.

I hadn’t planned to dress up again this year, but by the time the trick-or-treaters got going at around 4pm, I was infected with Halloween spirit. I ran to my closet, remembering a long red dress I’d forgotten about, grabbed the extra set of devil horns and the pitchfork we had lying around, and turned myself into a rather elegant devil.

I felt less invested in how I looked than I did last year, but maybe that’s a good sign. Maybe it means I’ve gotten used to having my groove back.

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The Armchair Dater
Jun 10th, 2009 by Christina

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Fortunately, the demise of my 8-week affair with D didn’t leave me shattered like the end of my 16-year marriage did; in fact, it had a galvanizing effect. My fling with D successfully re-routed me, at least in terms of re-introducing me to my feminine power and that kind of thing. You could say I was suddenly man-hungry (but please don’t say it because it sounds dumb.) I definitely craved male attention and used it to soothe my still-smarting separated ego.

Dating became an all-consuming hobby, the dating website a Netflix queue of constant, ever-renewing possibility. I didn’t actually go on that many dates–maybe 7 over the course of 4 or 5 months–but I engaged in a bunch of email exchanges and a few phone calls. Call it armchair dating, if you will (will you?)

Some days my inbox overflowed with messages from interested men and some I found interesting. At first, I thought it was only polite to respond to anyone who emailed me, but over time I became more selective and clicked “delete” with impunity.

I deleted anyone who didn’t provide a photo or whose photo depicted a grossly muscular and/or heavily tattooed guy, usually shirtless, washing or leaning against a Trans Am. I tried not to instantly write off guys from Staten Island or Parsippany, but my ingrained snobbery won out.

A few men were clearly too good to be true, like a surgeon who spoke 5 languages, wrote children’s books and looked like Javier Bardem. Delete. Too many exclamation points in one email? Delete. Eighteen photos of his King Charles spaniel? Delete. Picture of himself wearing a goofy hat or costume of any sort? Delete. Delete. Delete.

There seemed to be no way around the word easygoing, however, so I let that one go; I was taken with one guy for a few weeks, but I lost interest because he ended every email with “Happy Wednesday, March the 11th!!” or “Have a great Saturday April 3rd!” (I don’t know, was I too harsh?) Another guy was funny and charming via email, but freaked me out when he started to suggest names for the children he saw in our future.

I graduated to the phone-call stage with a few men and met a handful in person. One-third of those I mentally ruled out within five minutes (one looked a little like Hugh Jackman in his photos, and a lot like Eugene Levy in Best in Show in person; another wore a Pink Floyd t-shirt to dinner and when I asked him if he was a fan of that band, he flatly answered “No.” He also ordered himself two Coca-Colas at once–what is that about?)

And two notes to self:

  1. It’s a bummer, but sometimes a guy who seems fascinating on paper is actually achingly dull in person. Stop trying to convince yourself otherwise.
  2. Don’t be outraged when someone essentially stalks you after one date, considering that you behaved like a tramp/tart/floozy/ho. What were you thinking, Christina?

But the dating endeavor wasn’t a total bust. I met some smart, interesting men and I went on some thoroughly fun dates; for one reason or another, though, the requisite chemistry has thus far proven elusive.

So that takes us roughly from February to the present, as far as my dating life is concerned. My subscription to the website expires in about two weeks. I assume I will revisit man-hungriness at some point. For now, blogging is my new all-consuming hobby.

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Rebound Redux
Jun 5th, 2009 by Christina

So where was I? Oh, right, D’s. He and I spent a lot of time over the next few weeks alternately forming a mutual-admiration society and driving each other crazy.

He proved to be just as quirky, intense and difficult as I initially suspected. Allow me to count the ways (btw, he knows I’m writing this, so don’t worry that I’m dissing him behind his back. Believe me, he likes the attention):

  • He is all for reckless abandon as long as you use a coaster and don’t step on his rug with your shoes.
  • In pretty much every situation, he likes to decide what will happen, when it will happen, and how it will happen (some would call this behavior controlling.)
  • He is enormously vain and his bathroom is filled with a plethora of mysterious metrosexual potions ( Plethora is one of his favorite words, but don’t hold that against him.)
  • Aside from the Fresca/vodka concoction he consumes regularly, he is vehemently anti-carbohydrate; this is especially frustrating at about 11pm, when you really, really want some Haagen-Dazs and all you can find is turkey salami.
  • He thinks he’s funnier than I am, which is not funny–or true. Our debate on this matter turned into a shouting match of  “I’m funnier!” “No, I’m funnier!!” (I know, we’re both insane.) Then we settled down and shared a protein bar.

And that’s the tip of the “quirky, difficult” iceberg. However, he also did things that redeemed his impossibleness to some degree:

  • He lavished me with compliments, frequently calling me  “hot,” “leggy,” and “brilliant,” as well as a “babe” and a “goddess”–and, sheesh, how do you tear yourself away from that, I ask you?
  • He makes excellent omelets, even though you can’t have toast with them.
  • He is the least-smelly man I have ever known (see potions, above.)
  • He made a little video dedicating a waterfall to me; it was funny and sweet.
  • He’s a fan of e.e. cummings and Charles Bukowski and often read their poems to me over the phone.

And now that I have devoted–what, five posts to this guy?!–it’s time to bid him farewell. He goes down in history as the perfect rebound guy for me, but I hope it’s clear that a steady diet of him would have sent me to an early grave. One thing I never felt around him was calm.

After a couple of months, things drifted into a friends-with-benefits type of arrangement and then into friends-sans-benefits.

dsc_0363_tea_cup In fact, D stopped by the other day and we had tea in my backyard. It was almost like having a tame cup of coffee with a nice man.  Almost.

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