No Sex in the City

Like many chicks my age, I powered through my 20s inspired by that New York fantasySEX-AND-THE-CITY-3-PLEASE-NO of cosmos, heels and relationships, Sex In the City. I never went so far as to call myself ‘a Miranda’ or quote lines from the show, I do credit Sarah Jessica Parker for introducing me to the beauty of Manolo Blahniks. Kim Cattrall agreed with me on matters of sex, and Cynthia Nixon made it ok for me to be a bit obsessed with work. Kristen Davis was everyone I ever hated from high school…but hey, no show is perfect.

But when a friend of mine mentioned she was in a sort of ‘Sex in the City’ dysfunctional relationship.. it got me thinking about my oh-so SNTC life as singleton in Denver Colorado.

Cut to…

Clear blue Colorado sky, musings out of the window and she poses the question ‘what’s up with men over 40?’. She then realizes that’s stupid question, and she’s got better things to think about, and goes to the dry cleaner.

Passing a shop window, she stops dead and squeals at the shoes in the window. ‘Meee likey’, pivoting into the store while pronouncing loudly ‘don’t let me buy anything’. Everyone pointedly ignores her. She leaves with yet another pair of sensible heeled black boots.

Its Saturday night and she’s standing in front of her closet wondering which outfit to wear that says ‘I’m available.. but not too available’ and ‘I’m sexy.. but not in a cougarish, desperate kind of way’. She spins around clutching her favorite sweat pant/ hoodie combination and wonders what’s new on Netflix.

She’s on a date and it seems to be going well. She tries to remember which bra she’s wearing and wonders what he looks like naked. The anticipation is incredible and she’s looking forward to some R-rated fun. He tells her he has dinner at 8 with friends. She never hears from him again.

The guy she’s still half in love with from 2 years ago appears in her email inbox. Her heart beats wildly. Does he want to start something up? Has he realized how shitty he was and wants to apologize? Am I really ready to go through all that again? God I miss him. She opens the email to see a link to a Bruce Springsteen interview and the immortal words ‘thought you’d like this’. He never emails again.

She gets a great opportunity to improve her finances, working for a world-renowned company in an incredibly glamorous role. She takes the job and its hard work. No one gives her shoes.

Sarah Jessica Parker and HBO… you owe me money bitches. Or at least a pity fuck.

Riding with girls

01 MtnBikingWomen-2500pxI’m easily intimidated and not the most socially adept person when meeting men, women or small children (FYI: dogs love me), but this weekend I decided to do something that scared me, and signed up for a women’s mountain biking clinic.

The group name – Dirt Divas – was my first hurdle. Any association with the word ‘Diva’ implies Mariah Carey, high maintainance women and satin floor length dresses as far as I’m concerned.. non of which naturally sprang to mind in association with mountain biking. Plus ‘Divas’? Does this mean they’re all super awesome pro racers who sneer at us amateurs who still struggle to bunny hop up a curb? But I saw that the clinic was being run by pro downhill racer, Zach Griffith, and figured that I could use any advice for not overshooting switchbacks.. even if I had to do so surrounded by elite riders or chicks in evening gowns. I’ve provided the front range mountain biking community with enough YouTube clips this year thanks and frankly, 1/3 of my salary is going to Bandaids and gauze pads. So if the ‘Divas’ could waive the floor length satin dress requirement .. I was in.

Having ridden with dudes my entire life, I’m a bit tired of being dropped, panting my way up the trail only to have the entire group spring back on their bikes, just as I’m unclipping for a bit of a rest. I hate that dudes consider my walking a 3 ft drop as ‘pussying out’ and frankly, I know I’m never going to be awesome, so I just enjoy doing what I can. As a result, I’ve been riding alone this year. Something that is dangerous when injury is involved (a weekly occurrence for me), plus it changes the ‘post ride beer in the parking lot’ from a fun group activity to a weird ‘stay away from the weird alcoholic lady’ warning to small children.

I need chicks to mountain bike ride with. Women who can actually ride up rocks, but who know that waiting means waiting.. and won’t sneer when you can’t make it up the 10th washout board in the ladder. Who you can emphasize with you when the handlebar jabs you in the boob or when you didn’t unclip fast enough and hit the thorn-bush ass first. But I don’t know any… I did, but they all got married and quit, or now ride with their kids.

I had a moment of fear as I pulled up to the parking lot, frantically checking that no one was wearing downhill pads or a dirt bike helmet, but breathed out as I saw a chick wrestling her Ibis off her rack and not a Fox jersey in sight. In fact, as more of us pulled up, it looked more and more normal. Chicks my age, most of us driving trucks and 4Runners, baring scarred knees, junk in our trunk, dirty shoes and not a swipe of makeup amongst us.

As I stood with the other ‘Divas’ (never was a group so misnamed.. not an inkling of cleavage or small dog amongst us), a chick behind me said ‘I hope no one here is awesome, cos I suck‘ and I knew I’d found my people.

It was GLORIOUS.

The clinic itself – well I’ll skip the details as its only interesting to about 2 other people in the universe was great, but the overwhelming joy I felt was more due to the opportunity to do sports with other women. Something I don’t think I’ve done since high school.

Once we’d gotten over the ‘I’m crapper than you’ modesty show down (can you imagine dudes having that conversation?), it was all about asking for advice, guidance and at one point, a round of applause for some cornering which would make a slalom racer proud.

Do dudes applaud when someone nails it?

Our coach (married with 2 daughters, and seemingly endless patience for chicks) balanced delivering information en masse, followed by one on one, second by second coaching as we rode the course. What normally would have had me knotted and sweaty, morphed into memories of my dad showing me how to ride while running behind me with his hand on my seat. It wasn’t embarrassing or weird, or intimidating in the slightest. Just hearing that voice behind you, and shouts from the chicks waiting their turn, turned the day from a ‘how to’ into one huge bonding session. Soon chicks were videoing each other, showing each other where they were dropping the wrong foot or standing too high, helping to dissect their own and each others bad habits. And with the usual feminine  modesty prevailing, the atmosphere was weirdly supportive and fun rather than critical.

When I found out that the group rides during the week, takes weekend trips to downhill and explore the state both on and off-road, I was sold. Finally, a group of like-minded ladies who aren’t going to leave me in the dust, but still ride hard enough to give me lots to learn. Some are already racers, others (like me), getting the hang of a new bike, without the annoyance of being the slow poke of the group.

As I left the group, grinning like an idiot despite learning that I’ve been riding all kinds of wrong for the last 20 years, I realized that for the first time in my life I’d found a whole group of people just like me. Tomboys. Girls who like to get dirty and sweaty, but haven’t turned into dudes while doing it. Girls who aren’t competitive, but who want to keep learning and pushing themselves for no reason other than it feels good. Girls who don’t take it that seriously and who aren’t afraid to curse loudly when it all goes tits up.

And when someone said ‘lets ride Wednesday’.. I realized that these chicas actually recognized one of their own. And want me to be a ‘diva’ too.

6 years of therapy = one morning with some mountain biking chicks.

So I didn’t meet any actual “Diva’s” and I didn’t get that dirty, but I did learn that doing scary things always has a payoff. And doing scary things with girls doesn’t have to mean cliques, discussions about men, feeling old or being frightened by expertise. You might learn something, you definitely will meet some new people and when one chick mentioned that she’d gotten a new dirt bike, well I think I just met my new best friend.

The death of FWB

doorbellIf you don’t know what that means .. you probably shouldn’t read on (Mum, this means you).

My female single friends and I often end up in a similar discussion around the 2nd martini. The difficulty of locating and securing a reliable source of ‘FWBs’.  (‘Friends with Benefits’ for those over 50 or living under a rock). See while us singletons are mostly content to be single, live out rewarding and fun times in groups or alone, we all miss touch. We miss kissing. We miss sex. And no amount of group hikes or expensive monk fish wrapped in banana leaves is going to replace that. Which is where the beauty of a FWB is meant to work.

FWB. A friend, someone who you like and trust, who comes with some additional ‘benefits’. Now maybe your desired ‘benefits’ include caulking a sink or unscrewing the salsa jar, but mostly us single ladies prefer those who look good naked and who don’t want to sleep over. Oh, and all the good stuff that happens in between. Oh the good stuff. We miss and enjoy the good stuff.

But finding it? Jez. Its harder than finding a good guy to date. I’m 7 years into both projects and I’m not having much luck on either front. Am I too picky in finding a FWB? After all, most guy friends tell me I could find a FWB by walking into any bar, any night of the week. Riiiiight. Because its that’s easy fellas. FWB is actually harder than finding a guy to date. Because for women… we actually need the FWB to be a FRIEND who delivers BENEFITS.

Why?

In order for a woman to be safe , any FWB has to be a known entity. Unless you’re into risky situations and carry a weapon, heading off home with a complete stranger for the physicals is just nuts. We can’t do FWB unless we actually know the guy and can trust him.

Now trust can mean a whole portfolio of things. Is he likely to come over and beat the shit out of you (no joke, this does happen.. read the news)?; will he steal your wallet on the way out (happened to a friend)?; will he turn into a psycho stalker? (been there) or the alternative? (pretend like you don’t exist the moment he’s done). Has he been tested for STDs anytime lately? (I don’t need any ‘visitors’ thanks) And is he actually able to .. you know… deliver the benefits? In a state where weed is legal, the opportunities for FWBs took a dive starting January 1 as every potential single dude decided that if he didn’t have a date, his new date was a vaporizer and the latest Xbox game. Which means an ad hoc FWB might be late, high and unable to..*ahem*.. perform. Which is great on the violence front (stoners are too lazy to do much other than hit the joystick and open the Cheetos), but not such great news in the sack. This is where the ‘friends’ part of FWB comes in for women.

So to find a ‘friend’, you probably need to actually like the guy. Unless you’re a big fan of the ‘open the door and start screwing’ approach (hey, it can be fun), you’re going to be talking for at least some period. Which means he can’t be someone who pisses you off or who you find insanely tedious. Neither of which leads to fucking, to be sure. And vice versa. If every time you’re around him his left eye starts twitching, it’s probably not from desire.

Next up  – attraction. Now sure, most women do have a ‘guy friend’ tucked away in their back pockets. Someone they dated for a nanosecond but didn’t feel any chemistry for so they stayed ‘friends’. He’s still hoping it will turn into something one day; she’s hangs out with him when she doesn’t have a date for dinner or just wants to ‘hang’. So why isn’t this guy her FWB? After all, she trusts him and he’s a friend? One reason and one reason only… Attraction. Most women can’t FWB a guy they don’t want to fuck. No matter how much tequila they imbibe. No one wants to get the ‘benefits’ from someone they treat like their little brother. Ewww.

Which brings me to the final point.. he/it has to be good. Whats the point of a FWB if it’s not any good?  Now most guys can get ‘good’ out of anything. We all know that most men will fuck anything if they’re desperate enough (sailors have been known to fuck wet sand for gods sake), and still have a good outcome. Women.. ack.. it can be tricky. And if the FWB isn’t known for delivering.. well…. fooling around can be fun, but at some point you’re going to want to do the deed. And you… you starving for affection, horny lady.. well, you want someone with some skills. Which is where, if you trust him, you like him, and you find him attractive… it can all still fall apart. Not every guy is blessed with skills. So go ahead.. give him a whirl but if it’s not any good, retire that FWB stat. Invest in a new Rabbit and some erotic literature if your FWB isn’t any good. Nobody is that desperate.

Finding someone you like, trust, find attractive and you know can deliver in the sack. Gold dust my friend. Gold dust.

But what about guys looking for FWB? Surely they’re in a similar situation???

Actually guys (at least based on my male friends) are positively awash with FWB opportunities. That chick they dumped who still harbors a longing for ‘one last try’. That chick they know through work who’s always flicking her hair and flirting during happy hour. Or maybe that chick who he knows is mad crushing on him but who he’s not really into the idea of dating. Add in all the drunk chicks, the oversized chicks, those who’ve been single a few months too long, those with poor judgement and any single chick in a bar over 35..and FWBs are everywhere for guys.

Plus guys don’t need all of the criteria that women do. They don’t need to be ‘friends’, since most guys can nod through a boring conversation and it doesn’t affect their genitals one bit. He doesn’t need to trust her – she’s hardly going to beat him up or rape him now is she? She doesn’t need to be good in bed – getting off for guys seems a lot simpler than most women I know, and if she’s attractive… bonus… but not necessary as long as she’s under 200lbs and has a full set of teeth. FWB for men seems to be finding ‘ some chick who’s up for it’.  Not exactly ‘Friends with Benefits’ more just ‘Benefits’.

In fact, the only pain in the ass for guys is the woman who tries to actually be a ‘friend’. Many guys have been burned by a chick who tried to make a FWB situation something more, so any chick who sends a text post coitally or randomly appears anytime in the next 6 months..triggers the fear response in a dude. ‘Shit she’s stalking me’. Delete that phone number.

She’s trying to be cool and he’s wondering how long before she shows up on his door in a whipped cream bikini claiming her girlfriend privileges. .

So…FWB. It sounds perfect… but women can’t find them and dudes are terrified of them sticking around. For women it’s as tough as finding a unicorn; men.. it only works if she disappears as soon as its done. No ‘friends’ thankyou.

Frankly, its astonishing we ever hook up at all.

So I propose a new paradigm. The ONO. One Night Only. Its only one night. Its only for friends who know each other (no drunken hook ups with strangers); its only for people who like each other; find each other attractive and just.want.some.physicals…Once. No strings attached. No Facebooking, no texting. ‘ No ‘what if’s’ or ‘are we dating now?’. No need to get drunk to avoid feeling guilty. No ‘will he think I’m a slut?’ or ‘maybe this could be something more’. Safe sex and no boiled bunnies. Both parties show up, get lucky and leave. One Night Only. It’s what FWB should be.

I tell you…It’s gonna catch on.

Learning to flirt

I always thought of myself as a good flirt. I had no shortage of guy friends growing up and I made them laugh. Some even kissed me in-between chuckles. Wasn’t that flirting?

Apparently no.

I didn’t learn that I was a horrible flirt (as in ‘bad’, ‘not good’ and ‘are you trying to actively scare men away?’) until I was back in the dating pool at age 35. I assumed that since I’d had several long term boyfriends (and an ex husband), that I must be doing something right. It wasn’t until I casually talked about flirting with a friend that I learned that I’d been doing it all wrong.  She laughed;

‘oh no, you’re horrible at flirting’

‘you mean I over do it?’

‘No…Its like you are trying to convince men that you’re mentally retarded..’

‘…or you’re trying to physically hurt them’

Really??? I always thought I was quite flirtatious’

(…raucous laughter)

Apparently flirting is not;
– Fake punching a guy in the chin and accidentally breaking his jaw
– Poking him in the genitals
– Matching him drink for drink then puking all over his car
– Twirling him on the dance floor so hard that he spins into the DJ booth and cracks his head open
– Leaning in for the long shot on the pool table and seductively sliding your cue through the green stuff
– Avoiding his eyes because you’re so nervous you want to laugh hysterically and then pee your pants
– Jokily insulting his wardrobe, grammar, hair, car, career, sexual prowess or penis in a crowded bar
– Arm wrestling him and actively trying to win
– Telling him that he looked so good, he made me ‘slide off my seat’
– Sucking your finger and then starting to bite a hangnail

Yes. I know. I’m dying inside too.

I thought it was cute in the moment. I now know I seemed psychotic.

To be honest, after I learned what flirting actually is, I was amazed I’d even been kissed at all. Thankfully I have nice boobs.

Luckily I now have friends who have helped explain that physical feats of strength and verbal abuse don’t count in the ‘attracting a mate’ game. More hair twirling and lip licking, less humiliation. Cute smiles at strangers, and whispered ‘hi’s, maybe some casual physical contact and definitely no punching.

I was game. I decided to take my new knowledge out for a spin.

Here’s the thing. Like dancing, learning a new skill takes time and you tend to be a bit ‘jerky’ at first. It doesn’t feel or look natural, and as pragmatic ‘can do’ woman, I sort of missed the casual nature of the thing.

The result? My hair twirling looked like I was infected with lice or was suffering with trichotillomania. When I  smiled broadly at guys standing in line at Whole Foods, I felt like The Joker and from the looks on the guys faces, I suspect they were inwardly chanting ‘stranger danger’. My hair flips resulted in me having to peel a chunk stuck in my lip gloss, and don’t get me started on the lip licking… I think even my dog thought I was about to eat him with a nice bottle of Chianti. When I wanted to casually touch my latest crush, I wound up grabbing his watch and complementing him on the time. Yes. I complemented him on the time.

I guess I have some work to do. So if you happen to see a woman with a chunk of hair stuck in her lip gloss and a fixed grin on her face, please be nice to her. Just duck if you see a fist coming and know that she really really likes you.

Questions we’re still asking at 40ish…Does he like me?

 Interestingly if you Google this phrase, the number of responses is about 70 trillion, mostly aimed at 13 year olds whose gummy smiles and braces are locked up wondering if the reason their lab partner set them on fire is because they ‘like’ them. Sadly, I’m apparently still that girl since I Googled this phrase this afternoon actually looking for an answer.

For those of us over 40 who still haven’t figured it out, there’s not really much guidance on answering this question when it comes to romance. The married friends just roll their eyes with faux sympathy and coo about ‘Oh I remember worrying about that’ as they still look for reassurance from the husband of 10 yrs. The singletons can analyze the crap out of text message, but do you really want guidance from someone who’s as clueless as yourself?  (after all, you are all single). Which leaves your own judgement (or a very very patient therapist). Wondering if he was really interested in your tattoo or just trying to touch you? Was he really concerned about walking me home, or just working up the courage to ask for another date? Do his repeated text messages mean anything other than ‘I’m bored and I know you’re sitting at your desk Googling ‘how to meet men”). Who’s to know. I guess if you have to ask, the answers probably no. But then the evidence is kind of blurry on all fronts.

The last guy I enjoyed a first date with apparently died (or so I like to think), since 3 months into dating he asked me my ring size, my wedding ceremony preference and then disappeared from this earth. He seemed interested right up to his apparent death (hopefully slow and painfully).

The guy before that charmer waited 262 days between date 1 and asking for date 2 (yes, you can wait too long) but when, after abject apologies and no small amount of begging, we went out.. yep..he disappeared again. Its been 2 years now so I’m guessing we’re about due for date 3.  Was he interested? He sure seemed interested during those 121 emails he sent before the date. But apparently not that much.

The same goes for a guy who lived in my neighborhood. Over the course of 3 or 4 years he engaged in flirtatious conversations, sent me late night drunken Facebook messages and even offered the odd invitation for drinks.. and yet it never quite happened. Because he only did those things when he was dating someone. Once he was single he disappeared. So apparently not that interested.

Am I missing something? Do I have ‘interim romantic interest’ tattooed on my forehead or am I just the least effective booty call in history? Because maybe its my advancing age, but these days I just can’t tell. I’m not repulsive and I do date.. but why do the guys I date, act so strange? Is it just me or are they all like that? I’m sure chicks are just as bad.. but lord, I didn’t expect to be Googling this question 25 years after I first asked it.

And the answer? Well Google talks a lot about eye dilation, sweating and raised pulse rates, but unless I can whip out my torch, a magnifying glass and a stethoscope every time I meet a guy.. I guess I’ll just have to keep guessing.

Meeting men: Location, location, location

According to my mum, my friends, every Sex in the City episode ever screened and, sadly, even my boss.. ‘men are everywhere’. Yes, why yes, they are. However meeting one or developing a friendship with one to the point where you’d like exchange more than witty banter is downright hard after 40. It not like rocking up to the bar on a Thursday night like you used to. If I hang out at a bar everyone wonders whether I’m nursing an alcohol addiction. Trying to meet new people  is more tricky than you’d imagine. Its the only reason behind why so many of us resort to match.com.

Some of the places you might think as fruitful for future lovers…um… not so much.

At Work. Since I work from home, my ‘at work’ chance encounters are limited to the UPS guy, the Fed Ex guy and anyone I meet in Chipotle at lunchtime. Limited doesn’t even begin to describe it for me. But for most chicks, work can be a great place to meet guys as long as your company hires men under the age of 50 and you don’t work in the prison system.  Be aware that the hottest guys work in marketing and sales, HR is always bitches and gays, IT is always married or basement dwellers, and operations people work too hard to date. Best chances for a date are on the manufacturing floor or the visiting consultants. Dress accordingly. Rating B

Running Errands.  Now is not the time for you to meet anyone. Any man who finds the typical errand running ‘look’ attractive is probably rocking a grey sweat-pant and likes to hang out in Walgreens.  Not anyone’s key demographic. On TV the grocery store might be a hot bed of glances and flirtation, but for you, treat it as a military operation – get in, get out, get on to something more interesting. And no, yoga pants don’t make any difference. Rating C-
 
Cycling: No. If your varicose veins don’t keep them away, the sight of your damp crotch and bright red face will finish off any lustful dude you might encounter on the road. Even my ex thought I was hideous on a bike and he liked me. Unless you one of those blessed people who ‘glow’ or you stand regularly on a podium, wait until after you ride. Rating D

Walking the dog: Now this actually has potential. You’re fully clothed, your dog likes people and you’re rarely moving at warp speed so you can actually see who you are talking too. I tend to chat with complete strangers every day when I’m out with my dog and I’ve had the first date ‘interview’ on at least a few occasions. Of course you will be judged on what your dogs appearance says about you, which means most guys think I’m slightly retarded, but if you have a pretty dog, go for it. Rating A- 

Church: I can’t really speak to this from personal experience, but I’ve heard that this works for a lot of people. The exit from my local church does somewhat resemble a sit-com audition so maybe if you chose your church carefully, its a possibility to get down in the pews and exchange meaningful glances. Since the last church I went too was populated exclusively by 70yr old grey haired ladies, not for me, but if you like sanctified meat.. they are held captive for 90 minutes every Sunday. I recommend Lutheran if you’re into blonds who will appreciate your womanly hips and Episcopalian if you’re into WASPs who like the missionary position.    Rating B-

Charity events: My friend Hope assures me that this can be a lucrative place to meet guys of a certain age and income. Those who attend who aren’t married or gay, tend to be aggressively hunting. Bachelor auctions, wine tastings and anything around running marathons attracts the young and healthy. Avoid terminal disease functions or anything hosted by someone called Muffy unless your demographic is octogenarian. Oh and be aware, silent auctions while drunk may result in you carting $2500 worth of wine home on the bus. Leave the credit card at home next time. Rating A-

House and Dinner Parties. If you regularly attend either of these events as a couple, you are  probably under the impression that this is how single people meet these days. Yes it is. We meet married people. The only time a single person is invited to a dinner party is to even up numbers, replace a late drop out or as part of the floor show. House parties run in a similar vein. Every host can be confident that your single person is getting blotto drunk and dancing hysterically as the evening wears on. Plus your average single person always has good stories, doesn’t expect anyone to take them home and sends great apology gifts.  On the rare chance that you do meet another single person at either of these functions know that this is the only other single person the host knows and they’ve not been especially selected for you. Be cautious. He’s likely a shut in depressive recent divorcee.. and you don’t need yet another one of those.  Rating C.

Chance meeting. This might include the guy you hit with your car, the guy who ran you down in the parking garage or even the guy who tipped his Starbucks over you. The commonality? You’re not in your apartment and some pain and embarrassment is involved (typically yours). I’ve met an assortment of guys by chance. Cycling into a river, being hit in the face by a ski and during an endoscopy. Don’t rule out the chance meeting.. the ‘meet cute’. Of course you’re probably bleeding or sedated, but hey, as long as you have clean underwear on and you can remember your phone number, go for it! Rating A+

So there you have it. The typical ways someone over 40 meets guys.
Now do you understand why we’re all on Match.com?

Those who race bikes

Since it seems to be cycling week here on the blog, I can’t skip racing. Much as I scorn the cyclists obsessive nature and his fixation on improvement, when it comes to racing it actually make sense. These guys (and gals) get a pass. Don’t be confused, they’re still psychotic and sadomasochistic, but at least they do it with purpose.

Take my friend L. Since joining a team and starting racing in her early 40s she’s undergone a complete transformation. She’s become the person I believe she always was. Focused, driven by competitive desires, enjoying comradeship from her team mates and I have to believe, a more fulfilling self of sense. I don’t see that look of ‘I wish I could’ that most of us fall into after a certain age. She did just it and now into her second winter, she looks insanely good – ripped even – happy and she just shines, even as she’s climbing exhausted into her car at the end of her race. Certainly, I’ve spent more time looking at her podium shots that any hetero woman should admit to. How did she get those legs??? (cycling.. idiot!)

My other friend Hope took up cycling as part of her triathlon training. As soon as she suggested a tri I really did have to fight the desire to delete her number, but since she’s a good friend I put it down to mid life crisis and temporarily oxygen deprivation after a long run. Now she rides flywheel and rode over 500 miles in December alone. While she might be approaching crazy-ville, she looks great, she’s discovering the competitive edge in herself and its exciting to see where she might take it.

Neither of my girls are going to give up their jobs, families and move to France to pursue their TdF dreams, but both seem to have used their love of the 2 wheels to take them out of their rut, fuel some inner competitive edge and drive change in their lives. 

Of course not all racers take it up as part of mid life crisis. My friend Bob has been racing for years and boasts one of the best ‘masters’ asses I’ve ever seen (his partner knows I check it out and I’ve not been slapped yet. I think she revels in it). Not only does it keep him fitter than most 30 yr olds, he’s powered through medical issues, life changes and challenges by remaining focused on the next crit.  When some might be thinking ‘ I should hang it up’, he’s learning to surf, riding harder than ever and amazingly, still improving his performance. Bob’s a lifer as far as cycling goes and I can see him riding for another 40 years since his cyclist psychosis is tempered by an enjoyment of all things culinary and an extremely health sex life. Clearly he’s not spending too much time in the saddle.

All of these guys race and yet instead of spinning themselves into deep psychosis, it seems to keep them in touch with reality. They seem to thrive on competition – so much you can actually see it. Maybe because they’re spending their time channeling their sadomasochism into some form of tangible achievement instead of spending hours checking Cycling News, researching the latest derailleur wire and obsessing over the weight of their rice portion. Or maybe they just like winning and we don’t much opportunity to win anything after the age of 10.

I wish I had a competitive bone in my body where cycling was considered – it seems nothing but positive as far as I can see. Ripped bodies, satisfied Sunday nights and the opportunity to stand stiffly on a podium and feel like a winner, even if your audience is composed of spouses and prairie dogs. Sadly I’d no more chase down a cyclist to pass them – just for fun – then I would ask them for their digits. I guess I need to get my kicks in other ways… and no, dating doesn’t count as a competitive sport.

Lady Crushes

Awed kittens

No, this post isn’t going to involve the words ‘three way’ or ‘naked’ and there certainly won’t be any references to catholic school girls or ‘Wild Things’.  Get your pervy self over to a different blog for that.  Today I’m talking platonic lady crushes.
Picking up my theme from earlier this week, as a non girlie girl, I was immune to any desire to braid hair or do sleepovers as a kid, but I seem to have made up for it with more than my fair share of lady crushes. No.. we’re still not talking pillow fights. This is more of the ‘wow she is SO awesome’  ‘I wish I could be more like her’ overall awareness that there are some rocking women out there. And that the silent voice in my head which always says ‘ I know we’d totally be friends if she knew me’. Of course somehow this always translates to me acting like the original ice maiden, blurting out something totally rude or generally acting like your average dumbstruck 13 year old fan boy. But I continue to crush on them from afar and one day.. I just know we’ll be BFFs.

goddess crush

1. The ‘goddess’ crush. This one is obviously something every guy can relate to and funnily so can most women. The women with the insane body part we want for ourselves. Since every woman has a favorite and least favorite ‘bit’ so we tend to notice perfection of that ‘bit’ in others. We rarely look at the entire body and say ‘I want that’ (unless we’re that way inclined and again, that’s not my bag), but give us a buff deltoid, a high tight butt or a shiny head of thick straight hair and we’re in full on crush. Typically women crush on a goddess’s body part and you can catch the evidence in every changing room, during many drunken evenings and always after a particularly bad date;

‘I’d kill for your waist’

‘If I had your butt, I’d be rocking skinny jeans right now’

‘Oh your boobs are ridiculous.. just ridiculous’
 
Of course as we get older the complements tend to slow down and goddess crushes fade as gravity brings all of our bits lower, looser and altogether less important in our daily lives. When you’re just grateful for nothing to overflow, burst out or drop off, physical perfection becomes, well, not that critical. But that’s not to say our lady crushes end. No sir.. then we move onto the Professional crush. 

Hilary Clinton, Professional, Crush
The uber professional: Hilary

2. The ‘professional’ crush. Any women who’s ever had a job (so that would be everyone basically except those Housewife ho’s), has had a professional crush. She might be your coworker, your boss or just someone you work with tangentially. You might never have met her outside of the pages of Time magazine, but you know her. The one with absolute confidence, the surety of knowledge, the constant aura of cool and calm. She might power suit up or rock the jeans but she’s respected by everyone and she’s definitely out of your league. She seems to balance complete professionalism with approachable friendliness but never gets too close. She’s too busy being awesome and accomplishing professional goals you left to die back in college. You don’t have the energy, the dedication or the temperament to be her, but wow.. you sure would like to have at least some of ‘that’, whatever it is. She’s your Hilary, your Oprah, your Meg Whitman or Ginni Rometty. Or maybe just the new VP down the hall. You don’t want her frown lines or schedule but you’d just love some of her professional wattage. 

cool chick crush

3. The ‘cool chick’ crush. My final and most devastating crush, the one we’ve all had over and over again. The cool chick is the girl whose proximity somehow made us more confident, more together, funnier and who was just a blast to be around. Back in school, your cool crush might have been tied to the girl who smoked cigarettes, saw bands you’d never heard of and scouted the rules while locking down straight As’. Today she might be the woman with the snappy come back, the smart sense of humor or the ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude. She might have outrageously awesome hair, an eclectic wardrobe or just drive a truck, but damn, she’s cool. If she’s not off to NYC shopping, she’s learning to surf in Costa Rica, driving to Arizona to camp in the desert or taking herself out to eat lobster, ‘because its Tuesday’. And while you know being cool means nothing after the age of 15, you can’t help but crush out as your inner voice lectures you on why she’d think you’re a complete nerd and you’re probably never going to be friends even though you totally think that you’d get along.
I’ve tried to be cool by myself but my desire to be in bed by 9pm and an abject fear of saying the wrong thing tends to keep me firmly in dork-dom. The cool chick crush is my proxy. Maybe by proximity to her some of it will rub off and I’ll be able to eat out alone without breaking into a cold sweat, take that road trip or finally stand up to my mother. Then again, she’s a crush. Not a miracle worker.

These days I don’t question why I still see some women and feel completely in awe. Why one chick’s complement makes me shine or a night out with a lady crush or two can equal a good dude date (I said equal, not better.) I don’t want to jump around with any of my crushes in my underwear or ‘rub the lotion on their skin’, but my god, I silently adore them from afar. They do and say the things I wish I could do but they never inspire envy, just awe. And these days anyone who can inspire me, make me laugh and feel good about myself without the possibility of an STD, well that’s just awesome. 

In praise of the best friend


I was never a ‘girlie girl’. My sister always boasted at least 5 ‘best’ friends at any one time while I was scratching around to find anyone to ride my bike with after school. Girls just didn’t seem to want to hang out with me and do the things I wanted to do. Want to go have a ‘cook out’ in the forest? Ride 20 miles just for the hell of it? Build a dam and see if we can catch eels? Nope. I was on my own or the tag-along with my stronger, faster, ruder guy friends.
By the age of 15, if you don’t have your ‘group’, you’re so ‘outside’ that you’re either adopted by the potheads and soon-to-be dropouts or you spend your lunchtime running cross country. Drugs always scared the life out of me, so by the time I hit 16 I could run 8 or so miles without much effort. Slowly of course.. I had a whole 90 minutes of break time to fill. And god save me me from the horror of visibly eating alone.
I wish I could blame the source of my failure on moving schools, a divorce or even a ‘wrong side of the tracks’ background.. but to be honest I was just 100% average. Slightly smart of mouth and highly introspective.. but basically a normal kid with zero ability to connect to girls.

Maybe it was due to  a lack of desire to spend hours thinking about what to wear, who to date or just my low tolerance for gossip… either way, from the age of 8 through to my early 30s, I rarely had what I’d consider a female ‘best’ friend.  I had friends.. a couple of girls who I could rely on to appreciate a new LP or some rad new Doc Martens but my main ‘go to’s’ were guys. I found  their easy shoving, beer drinking, shit talking ease relaxing and although my interests weren’t exactly the same (I had zero interest in which girls might ‘do it’ ), I did a lot better with my guy friends. Guys don’t ‘chat’ and they rarely judge your tone, use of language or what you might have meant by a specific comment. My guys just gave me shit if I said something stupid and moved on. In the absence of the ‘inference minefield’ I relaxed and was able to be myself. No judgement. Something I didn’t think I’d ever have from the female of the species.

Girls left me dumbstruck. They were ‘pointy’ in their comments and jumped on anything and everything I might say. As a result I said stupid things, laughed in the wrong places and received more than my lifetime supply of eye rolls from my female peers. I was regularly ignored and ostracized me without explanation. The stink of desperation to be accepted grew as I got older and I swung widely between craving a best friend and telling them to go fuck themselves.

Of course I was as alien to them as they were to me. Who was this girl who used really long words, always had her head in a book or spent an ungodly amount of time riding her bike around the countryside? Who cut off her hair and wore it raised to the ceiling without any attempt at femininity? Add a general lack of interest in boys (oh, I caught up later) and a growing anxiety around ‘not fitting in’ and, well, you have your basic awkward teen.

I’d watch movies about girlfriends and marvel at how that much estrogen could exist in a room without someone getting a period or spontaneously bursting into song. It seemed so easy to everyone else. Me – I just missed that gene that said ‘girlfriends for life’. In the era of John Hughes movies I didn’t resemble anyone.. I wasn’t quirky enough to be part of the oddball girls, was too athletic to be a geek chick and too poor to join the rich airheads. I was the ‘invisible’ girl. I wandered around the edges of groups, but I’d never had a sleepover until college. (and he was a guy). As I got older the need for a best friend abated and I found boyfriends filling the niche. I thought women and me just weren’t a match.

Until I found myself single in my mid 30s.

With the loss of my husband-friend, I noticed a yawning ache that I hadn’t experienced since the age of 16.   I’d managed to move to an entire other country and still had only guys as friends and now that I was dealing with actual feelings for the first time in my life, I needed a girlfriend. I really wanted someone who would agree that ‘hell yeah you deserved more’ (even if I didn’t) and who would high five me if and when I ever left the house. Who was willing to share dating tips and who might have insight as to why I seemed doomed to date every bizarre man in the Denver metro area.  My guy friends just looked nervous and tried to change the subject if I brought up a feeling or something outside the football/news/politics trifecta. 

Ask and the universe grants. I had faith.. and the universe delivered.

 Hope was a girl who seemed to navigate the social data map with ease, who traversed groups of women and men without even thinking about it. To my surprise she seems to enjoy having an introverted tomboy girlfriend who can’t leave the house without packing Valium, Xanax and Imodium. Maybe she needed a project, or, as I prefer to believe, she just has a big heart.
Our friendship began slowly just as I moved 1,200 miles away from her. But distance hasn’t held us back. We don’t go ride bikes or build dams, and I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a pub with her. She doesn’t try to put makeup on me or want to talk about Brangelina. She doesn’t fit into any of my previous ‘friend’ molds.  She’s strong, driven and passionate -traits I’ve since recognized in myself. It just took a while of being around women to understand that I’m not alone, not that ‘different’. In fact, since I’ve met her, I’ve found more and more of ‘us’  – women who aren’t following the formulaic future that we were promised. And who pass through life with a smile and joy regardless. Sure we talk about guys, but we talk about everything. How our retirement funds aren’t substantial enough, how to lay underfloor heating, vacation planning, and yes, even the physical stuff that comes with getting older. Many times, ours is not a conversation I’d be having with any guy.  I finally understand what female friendships offer and while I could have used one or two girlfriends more 25 years ago.. its been worth the wait.

Hope has grown to became – over 5 years of phone conversations – the soul of my US ‘family’. I knew that she’d console me when I got dumped without reason and still be able to laugh with me when I hit on my gastroenterologist during a rectal exam (hey, I was sedated and very very high). She’s offered small nuggets of advice (‘you don’t get a prize for sleeping with the most men’) but largely is one of life’s great listeners. I’ve never found a girl before or since who was willing to join me in mocking O magazine while reviewing match.com profiles.
Over the last 5 years I’ve called Hope while sitting in paper pants (don’t ask), shrieking about the worse sex of my life and when I needed help figuring out how not to lose my house. In turn I’ve been there for her through her relationships, bad dates, drunken evenings out and layoffs.
Together we’ve navigated 5 years of single living, with 99% of it via the phone.  We’ve even formulated our retirement should the need arise. After all, we’d love men in our life, but there’s no guarantee. We’ve both been divorced longer than we’d like and as the numbers of eligible men fade, our female relationships just seem to get stronger.

I no longer worry about how my words might be interpreted, my tone or whether I fit in with women. I know I don’t fit with most.. but I’ve found one who fits me just fine. This is 40 – where best friends do exist.

Post Divorce Insanity


A friend of mine just sent out her “Yippee! my divorce is finalized” email. Unfortunately a frequent occurrence these days, these ‘divorce emails’ are an encouraging sign that old friends will now have time for dinners, weekend adventures and irresponsible mid week drinking.
I always did like to be first, and as an early ‘divorcee’ (why do I suddenly feel like I should be smoking with lipstick on my teeth), I find myself in a rare ‘mother hen’ role as I watch the ‘post divorce insanity (PDI)’ start to unfold. For those in the fortunate position of an impending ‘decree nisi’, here’s my guide to getting through your next few months of post divorce insanity. 
 
1. Drinking.
You know you’re entering the world of PDI when you first find yourself ¾ of your way into a bottle of wine and its 5.45pm. It may start with a bottle on a Friday night, a martini on a ‘hump day’ Wednesday, maybe the occasional beer on the porch while you watch functional neighborhood couples walk their perfect Golden Retrievers. Then The guy from the liquor store starts to nod at you and you invest in some new glasses (since you seem to not be able to fill the dishwasher that often these days, you’re getting bored of rinsing your wine glasses under the tap). Full blown PDI sets in with the purchase of your first case. You rationalize it – “I’ll always have a bottle if friends come over” or “I’m saving 20% with the case discount” – but deep down you know it’s merely because you’re lazy and no one likes to drive to the liquor store on a daily basis (unless you’re 75 and don’t get out much). Thankfully friends and the need to work limits this phase before full blow alcoholism sets it. You know you’re moving out of Phase 1 of PDI when you run out of friends to meet you after work for a drink, your kidneys start to fail and you’re forced to look for something else. Time to move to Phase 2.

2. Hooking up.
This phase varies in length, entirely depending on the size of your ‘little black book’, the length of your marriage, your network of single friends and your ability to masque your insanity with heavy makeup and a pushup bra. In this phase, you replace alcohol with a warm body, a nice smile and the feeling that someone, somewhere thinks you’re hot. Hooking up centers on calling, meeting and hooking up with any available male within a 100 mile radius (more if you’re willing to spring for airfare), for no reason other than to make yourself feel better and get in a little cardio (which d
oes wonders for the drinking weight). Unfortunately, like Phase 1, Phase 2 is dependent on the willingness of other participants and at some point your black book is empty, your Facebook page deserted and you can’t afford to fly Bob out from Michigan. Time to move to Phase 3.
 
3. Match.com
This phase is a mandatory step in every PDI experience, though its name may vary. eHarmony, Chemistry.com,Nerve.com, jDate… all basically the same premise. A new way to find people to hook up with. You might be thinking that you’re ready for a ‘relationship’ and so lured by your ‘free matches’ you sign up. Beware, you have entered the 7 circles of hell – all for $39.95 a month. After spending a couple of hours writing something witty and cropped your ex out of your photos, you start looking for someone to catch your eye. At this point you may be tempted to return to Phase 1, and many do – especially as the apparent sparseness of future mates becomes apparent, but don’t be tempted. In time you’ll find a few cute guys. Especially as your 1 month subscription nears its end. You send some ‘winks’, you might receive a few emails, even engage in some light flirting over your single phone call, and then you agree to a date. Having not dated in a while you psyche yourself up, spend some serious dough on a new ‘trying, but not too hard’ outfit, and dance around the house in your underwear like you used to. Full of expectation you head out the door. 30 minutes later you’re back, wide eyed and bushy haired in shock. You forgot how awful it is to meet a stranger. How people can misrepresent themselves so cruelly. How hard it can be to climb out a bathroom window. 
Never mind, in a few days you’re back at the site, seeing who else might be interested and writing the first one off to bad luck. Writing lighthearted responses becomes a full time job. Squinting at blurry photos and trying to guess the year based on his sneakers becomes a new skill you never knew you needed. Flirt after Flirt, Email after Email, Date after Date… most find a few, and dump even more as you realize you’re entering Phase 4.
4. Fear
This phase tends to be short, painful and really hard on your friends. 
Warn them in advance they’re about to get bombarded by calls from you asking for potential suitors. This phase sets in when you find yourself on the 6th date with a guy you wouldn’t employ to clean your car. A guy who has the conversational prowess of a 2 x 4. Yep, that cold nausea setting in is the start of Fear. Fear that you’ll never find someone. Fear that you’ll never approximate a family and that the first marriage was a fluke and you’re never going to find anyone mad enough to take you on again. Fear that you’re too old, too fat, too thin, too picky, too accommodating, too … YOU. Symptoms of this phase include calling everyone you know, including husbands of people you barely know, and asking ‘do you have any single friends?’, dating really unattractive guys with warped personalities, watching chick flicks with tears in your eyes on a Saturday night and inviting yourself to any social event where the opposite sex might be (Temple anyone?). Luckily ‘Fear’ runs in course when, in the midst of your 100th chick flick you notice a really cute ‘something’ the main character is wearing and think ‘if I had THAT I’d be much more attractive’. Enter Phase 5.
 
5. Shopping
This phase is the most fun phase of your PDI. Hard on your wallet, your savings, potentially your 401K and (if you have no shame), your parents and friends.. but fun!! Shoppaholicism is characterized by desire and the need to acquire stuff. Anything which you can justify as ‘this really represents who I am ‘. Clothes, shoes, furniture, cars, jewelry, houses, vacations, heck even new hair or a new face can all go some way towards conquering fear’. Once you’ve acquired this purse/ shoe/ pant/watch/ lipstick you know you’re going to feel and look better, cute guys will notice you more and the fear of being ‘on the shelf’ subsides. Of course Shoppaholicsm is horribly limited by funds –  so be prepared for the final death throes of this phase – the purchasing of expensive matching underwear sets. Of course, someone, sometime is going to be seeing you naked and the grey cotton underpants just aren’t suitable. So you buy the matching underwear set, and then another, and then another, plus the stockings and mules to match until your dresser looks like Victoria Secret. Once you find yourself armed with enough bras to see you through the next millennium and you’re holding your breath every time you hand over your plastic, its time to move to Phase 6.

6. Loneliness
This phase, our most tragic, is characterized by exhaustion. You’ve drank, hooked up, dated and shopped yourself into a coma. And you can’t afford to go out or spend another cent. So its you, your plant and your tv remote for the foreseeable future. Welcome to ‘loneliness’. When Friday and Saturday nights loom large in your mind, and pass slower than a bad sermon. Loneliness comes in two parts – feeling alone, and then not caring about being alone. The time between part 1 and part 2 can be weeks, months.. even years (gulp). This phase is unique in that most don’t recognize they’re in it until they’re through it. But for those who find themselves wallowing in Julie Roberts/ Meg Ryan movies on a Saturday afternoon… know that it too will pass. The key to exiting loneliness – start to date yourself. Take a trip by yourself. Invite yourself out to dinner and order the most expensive thing on the menu. Make it through to dessert and coffee. Dress up. Take yourself out to a movie. Fill your schedule. When you find you don’t have time or inclination to even think about a date with a guy you know you’re in the final phase.

7. Acceptance
This final phase of PDI is our Oprah moment. When you actually start planning future activities without the caveat “…if I’m still single”. When you finally take that trip to Alaska, get that tattoo, take yourself out for that $100 lobster dinner or just find yourself at a party NOT looking for a hook up. When you start to live by your own rules and get yourself a dog. PDI has to have some limits – make sure to warn your friends that any expressed desire to move to Istanbul should be rebuffed, and any tattoos larger than a softball should not be attempted. But this is your time of rediscovery, the sign that PDI is waning, that you’ve made it through to the other side. And weirdly, you’re actually feeling like you understand yourself like you never did before. That you actually like yourself. 
Congratulations, your insanity is over.
The only thing you need to worry about is your friend who’s getting that divorce.