"There is nothing special about dying. We all do it. It's how we live that counts."
Caught in a Hope Floats moment, what I told my Tinder date after delivering the crib note version of my cancer crusade and witnessing his pathetic, clown down face.
I am dating again. Which means that my on again, off again, marriage has reached it's final chapter.
It took me a long time to get to this point but in the end, I made the choice to let it go and it is a relief. I no longer feel hurt, disappointed, or angry. I don't blame anyone, especially not myself. We are now at the beginning of a civil separation which I am certain will lead to a happy divorce.
And because I am impatient, I leaped back into the dating pool. Date number one made me cry. Date number two got a black eye.
From the get go Radish (not his real name) was cocky, overbearing, and dismissive - ego based qualities that I typically loath, but in my raw, newly single state, found appealing.
Physically, he is mildly attractive with a big bear stance, HUGE paws, and warm eyes.
In his mind he is successful, strong, sexy... a player and a great catch.
In my mind, he is highly amusing, uncouth, and ambitious.
I was surprised when he asked me to dinner because of our significant age difference (he is 10 years my junior). When I questioned him about it he said, with a broken Central European accent,"This not problem for me. This problem for you?"
Typically, my choice of men would be one that is totally smitten by me. A man that I could control and manipulate. This cantankerous, cocky man, would be a challenge.
We had numerous arguments (via text) and two breakups in the days leading up to our date.
The first came when he sent me a scandalous selfie taken in a public locker-room and the second when I engaged my PI side and searched public court documents to determine if his wife was aware of his pending divorce (she is).
Determined to let him lead, when he chose a sushi restaurant that I had dined at the night before with my daughter, I said nothing.
Uber escorted, I arrived fashionably late and visibly nervous in new, black stretch straight-legged jeans, an elegant cashmere sweater, and kick-ass Tory Burch boots. Not knowing what his idea of dress-to-impress might be, and half expecting a sea of gold chains across an over-exposed, bushy chest, I was pleasantly surprised by his classic, conservative attire.
Avoiding the squid and focused on the tuna, I ate not out of hunger but to steady my nerves and tequila infused sea legs.
On the advice of my daughter, I avoided conversations involving my three failed marriages or my three rounds of cancer and instead let him expose his underbelly.
And so he talked and I listened. But mostly we laughed. We laughed about the simplicities of everyday life. We laughed about ourselves and the comical situations we had wiggled our way into. We laughed until we were the only patrons in the restaurant and the staff grew impatient. We laughed until he leaned over our corner table for four, looked me straight in the eyes and said, "We can be lovers but there can be no love. You are too old."
This is when the laughter stopped. This is when I broke into tears. Not just a few, well-timed teardrops, but I openly sobbed. Because my white cloth table napkin was not absorbent, it took me two trips to the ladies room to compose myself enough to leave the restaurant.
Our effort to salvage the evening with "dance" failed when JHouse, the local "disco," was empty. Instead he drove erratically to the harsh, repetitive beat of Polish house music while I rambled on, and on, and on, about my cancer.
By the time he dropped off me at my front door, we agreed never to see each other again.
This is why people take a self-imposed, time-out between relationships. This is why women give up on men all together. This is painful.
Because you can't keep a good clown down, I got home and immediate reactivated my Tinder account. Determined to find a man who did not think I was "too old," I skimmed through countless profiles while my eyes were still swollen from tears.
After tweaking my five, put-your-best-face-forward photo's, I was convinced that this Shannon was not "too old" for anyone between the ages of 46 to 60.
Like fishing in a well-stocked trout pond, my late night Tinder trolling sparked several bites. The first was Johnny Manicotti (not his real name), a fit, stable (by his own definition), 52 year old, newly divorced bachelor currently residing in North Carolina but visiting family less than a mile away.
PERFECT - no strings and no time for tears.
His best-face-forward picture was of a trim, well-toned, topless man, lounging on a sun-drenched beach chair, so I suggested our first date be a walk at the beach.
After juggling the complexities of our desperately single schedules, we agreed to meet the next day at 10:00 am.
I armed myself with a double layer of down, sensible, waterproof boots, shades to conceal my still swollen eyes, faux fur hat, gloves, and my 95 pound Bernese Mountain dog.
He, avoiding the advice of his mother, arrived underdressed in pearl white sneakers, a light-weight wool baseball jacket, bare head and hands.
I offered him my hat, a desperate attempt to avoid the glare of his newly dyed (scalp still stained), pitch black, deeply receding clown hair, but he declined my offer.
So, with the wind at our faces, we set out for an uncomfortable stroll on the beach.
Winter weekends at the beach are all about the dog. Dogs off leash. Dogs of all sizes. So if you say, "you like dogs," you'd better mean it.
After a quick recount of my failed marriages and my cancer crusade, we coincidentally bumped into Boris (not his real name) - my faithful, freakishly tall friend.
"Look, there are the other two dogs from my Tinder photo, and LOOK, there is my friend Boris!" I jubilantly announced.
Johnny, who is no fool, was cordial but not amused.
It became apparent that Johnny's idea of "likes dogs" was from a distance, when he found himself surrounded by a menagerie of furry's that included a cluster of Bernese Mountain dogs who insisted on sitting on his feet and burrowing themselves between his legs (typical Berner behavior), and he was visibly shaken.
And then, as if the date wasn't awkward enough, corralled in a cluster of canines who, like a school of sharks, sensed his fear, Johnny tripped on a ripple of wet sand and fell forward.
Boris, reacting with the instinct of a prize fighter, extending both arms in an attempt to steady Johnny but instead, Boris's left hand connected with Johnny's right eye.
Later at Starbucks, it wasn't until his second trip to the mens room (nerves or enlarged prostate?) that he noticed his visible bruise.
Later that day I received a text from Johnny stating, "Mom thinks you abused me, LOL."
This time, I didn't bite. Besides, Mom was right.
xo, Monkey ME