“Two Bags”

Here’s a description by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated, remembering the lucky day he got to fly in the back seat of an F-14D Tomcat:

Someday you may be invited to fly in the back-seat of one of your country’s most powerful fighter jets. Many of you already have. John Elway, John Stockton, Tiger Woods to name a few. If you get this opportunity, let me urge you, with the greatest sincerity…

Move to Guam.
Change your name.
Fake your own death!
Whatever you do, do Not Go!!!

I know. The U.S. Navy invited me to try it. I was thrilled. I was pumped.

I was toast!

I should’ve known when they told me my pilot would be Chip (Biff) King of Fighter Squadron 213 at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.

Whatever you’re thinking a Top Gun named Chip (Biff) King looks like, triple it. He’s about six-foot, tan, ice-blue eyes, wavy surfer hair, finger-crippling handshake — the kind of man who wrestles dyspeptic alligators in his leisure time. If you see this man, run the other way.
Fast.

Biff King was born to fly. His father, Jack King, was for years the voice of NASA missions. (”T-minus 15 seconds and counting …” Remember?) Chip would charge neighborhood kids a quarter each to hear his dad. Jack would wake up from naps surrounded by nine-year-olds waiting for him to say, “We have a liftoff.”

Biff was to fly me in an F-14D Tomcat, a ridiculously powerful $60 million weapon with nearly as much thrust as weight, not unlike Colin Montgomerie. I was worried about getting airsick, so the night before the flight I asked Biff if there was something I should eat the next morning.

“Bananas,” he said.

“For the potassium?” I asked.

“No,” Biff said, “because they taste about the same coming up as they do going down.”

The next morning, out on the tarmac, I had on my flight suit with my name sewn over the left breast. (No call sign — like Crash or Sticky or Leadfoot. But, still, very cool.) I carried my helmet in the crook of my arm, as Biff had instructed. If ever in my life I had a chance to nail Nicole Kidman, this was it.

A fighter pilot named Psycho gave me a safety briefing and then fastened me into my ejection seat, which, when employed, would “egress” me out of the plane at such a velocity that I would be immediately knocked unconscious.

Just as I was thinking about aborting the flight, the canopy closed over me, and Biff gave the ground crew a thumbs-up. In seconds we were firing nose up at 600 mph. We leveled out and then canopy-rolled over another F-14.

Those 20 minutes were the rush of my life. Unfortunately, the ride lasted 80. It was like being on the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Hell. Only without rails. We did barrel rolls, snap rolls, loops, yanks and banks. We dived, rose and dived again, sometimes with a vertical velocity of 30,000 feet per minute. We chased another F-14, and it chased us.

We broke the speed of sound. Sea was sky and sky was sea. Flying at 200 feet we did 90-degree turns at 550 mph, creating a G force of 6.5, which is to say I felt as if 6.5 times my body weight was smashing against me, thereby approximating life as Mrs. Colin Montgomerie.

And I egressed the bananas.

And I egressed the pizza from the night before.

And the lunch before that.

I egressed a box of Milk Duds from the sixth grade.

I made Linda Blair look polite. Because of the G’s, I was egressing stuff that I never thought would be egressed.

I went through not one airsick bag, but two.

Biff said I passed out. Twice. I was coated in sweat. At one point, as we were coming in upside down in a banked curve on a mock bombing target and the G’s were flattening me like a tortilla and I was in and out of consciousness, I realized I was the first person in history to throw down.

I used to know ‘cool’. Cool was Elway throwing a touchdown pass, or Norman making a five-iron bite. But now I really know ‘cool’. Cool is guys like Biff, men with cast-iron stomachs and freon nerves. I wouldn’t go up there again for Derek Jeter’s black book, but I’m glad Biff does every day, and for less a year than a rookie reliever makes in a home stand.

A week later, when the spins finally stopped, Biff called. He said he and the fighters had the perfect call sign for me and said he’d send it on a patch for my flight suit.

What is it? I asked.

“Two Bags.”

50 First Dates

As flattery is the sincerest form of imitation, and since I seem to have a few dates under my belt and quite a few more to go, I have decided to continue an exercise that a wonderful friend started a few years ago. She had some issues because of putting it out on the interweb before she completed her 50 dates, and didn’t finish the project. Oh yeah, and because she met a wonderful guy. Success!

About me
My friends call me Gigi, and have since I was three years old. This presents a special challenge when the inevitable “what’s your name” question arises. My parents weren’t thinking I’d ever be finding dates online when they named me after a fictional child who was being raised to be a professional courtesan in turn-of-the-century Paris (the last century, not this one.. Possibly because at the time, there was no internet, and I bet they thought I’d get married and stay married. Whoopsie. In any case, the name gets some interesting responses, generally about poodles, great grandmothers, and strippers.

Yet I’ve passed the age of 50, remain 5’-5” tall, have grown slightly overweight due to good living  (more on the curvy side than the fat side), and been off the market since 1995. I enjoy work, traveling, loud exhausts, fine dining, friendships with old bikers and folk music, so I know it’s not going to be an easy match. Plus I’m a fairly forthright gal (which is a nice way of saying that while on many levels I am a lady, I swear like a well-educated sailor when I leave my filter off, which is usually).  I take my time getting to know people; no love at first sight, it’s essential to spend enough time with a man so that he will show who he is, whatever that may be.

My profile is very blunt and straightforward, designed to weed out emotionally broken, chronically broke  high-maintenance men. The kind who will text every half hour during work, and make me the center of his world to the point of smothering; who’s struggling financially, hates to work, blames the world for his issues, has made terrible life choices that cannot be sustained—and chronically feels bad about them, and himself—but can’t figure out how to fix it.  In short, the kind that will use me to further an agenda of their choosing, which benefits them exclusively. Any profile photos of men with sunglasses on, taken inside with their shirts off, or taken inside a vehicle are dismissed. I.just.can’t. Evasive, smarmy, sneaky. No.

I also let the man do the courting. That means they must initiate contact, and not just a “hi” or “your hot” on a dating site. (Ew.) If we meet and they like me, it’s up to them ask me out on a date … unlike many women these days, I just don’t think it’s right to chase men and shower them with love and attention right out of the gate.  I’m kinda old-fashioned like that.  What can I say, I prefer to be pursued. *shrug*

The dates
What follows is an account of my first dates, how we met, what happened, if there was a second date … and if I learned anything.

1. 12-Apr-2012: Dan-O. Friend of a friend. He had a party last summer at his ranch, so we’d already met. Has his own company and works a lot. Our mutual friend had been hounding me to date him for a while and I’d declined because he has three small children, but finally let him set it up. We met at my favorite seaside fried clam place. I was nervous; drank a little too much and talked a little too quickly, but he seemed like a nice guy. I left thinking perhaps he was too much of a nice guy. Either he wasn’t into me or he was very very polite. We haven’t had dinner together again, despite a few text message promises. (I learned that I need to relax, dating is not a big deal or the beginning of anything). I still go to his parties, and heard through the grapevine that he didn’t realize it was an actual date. Which is fine, I guess there wasn’t a spark anyways.

2. 6-Jun-2012: Joe is a motorcycle cop in my town. I saw him leading our Memorial Day parade and texted my police officer neighbor/friend “who’s the cutie on the bike?” It took us a few weeks to actually get together for coffee (or, in this case, yerba mate, as Joe is a vegan). He picked me up after work in a cruiser. He’s quite a man with quite a story. When I saw him on the bike, I thought … cop, biker, tattooed … no problem. I know this animal. Yeah, no … TWO master’s degrees. Just out of a 25-year marriage and hooked up with his first love from junior high. You could see the stars in his eyes, and I was happy for him. We had a nice chat sitting at a picnic table and heard out each other’s stories. We decided we’d be friends and he drove me home. And we have stayed friends. (I learned to never, ever judge a book by its cover)

3. 9-Jun-2012: I met “Cajun” (not his real name) on bikerornot.com … he’d sent me a friend request, and we got to chatting up a blue storm for a few days before meeting. He was originally from Louisiana, had lived in England for about 20 years while pursuing his career and marriage #2, was back now and had never been to bike week in Laconia. I told him he wasn’t missing much, but he really wanted to go, so we took a day trip. He picked me up at noon on his Harley, it was a really nice day for riding, and we made one stop at a Burger King on the way up, where we chatted some about traveling, exes, and being child-free. The date was good, we walked around Laconia looking at the bikes and the vendor stuff, had a couple of drinks, something to eat, and lots more talk. He seemed like he wanted an immediate serious relationship, and I told him that wasn’t what I was looking for, then we rode on home. There were many annoying sexual innuendos dropped, but when I ignored them he didn’t seem to mind, so all was well. He gave me a sweet kiss and said he wanted to see me again. Fine by me, but we both had plenty of stuff going on so it wasn’t until June 28th that we had a second date. He’d flown back from Chicago early (work) so we could go to dinner. On his 49th birthday, it turns out. He ordered a bottle of nice red, I had the risotto, he had the steak. Towards the end of the second glass of wine, I noticed that both wine glasses had landed near my plate. I was certain that I was drinking from the glass on the right, and continued to do that. Although I’m pretty sure the wine on the left was fizzing … we left shortly after (he took his birthday cake to go), and when we were kissing goodbye in the parking lot he began to get very aggressive, drunkenly groping me. I shut him down; drunk, groping men are not my thing (although it is kinda cute when you’ve been married to them for a while). A few days went by and he texted me, asking if I got home OK and if I wanted to get together over the 4th of July holiday. We chatted a bit, and, in the interest of keeping the conversation light, I told him I’d given myself a patriotic manicure. He texted back that he’d like to see that manicure wrapped around my nipple. WHAT? An hour later I took a picture of my manicure: middle finger extended, my angry face in the background, with the note “there’s the manicure, got it?” 2012-07-02_08-59-05_55He said he had, and I haven’t heard a word from him since. Good riddance. I was telling one of my galpals about this after it happened, and she clued me in on something I hadn’t thought of before: the fizzing wine. Looks like ‘ol Cajun roofied himself. On his birthday. What a dumbass… (I learned to watch my drink!!!) I peeked at Cajun’s BON profile in 2015, looks like he’s found himself another wife. Glad it’s not me.

4. 13-Aug-2012: Generous Dave came from misstravel.com, a website that’s advertised to put together “generous members” with “attractive members” for the purposes of free travel for companionship. The companionship portion is not spelled out, and I figured, what the hell, it’s my rules. Generous Dave lives on the other side of the country, and was in town for a few nights for work. We’d planned to just get a drink but were having such a good time that it turned into dinner and a stroll around Faneuil Hall. Delightful guy. Asian, kinda short, hadn’t ever been out with anyone like that before. Child-free, divorced a year. We hugged and parted around 10:15. Exchanged a couple of emails, which stopped when he wanted to see nude pictures of me. I was unwilling to provide them, so … that was the end of that. (I learned that dating outside my usual parameters—and having clear boundaries—was just fine)

5. 22-Aug-2012: Motorcycle Mark. This is kind of a weird one, as Motorcycle Mark is also Married Mark. Mark’s not a bad guy, but he suffers from the trying-not-to-be-jealous crazies due to the fact that he lets his wife date. They’ve been together 14 years, and, well … sometimes people get bored, I get that, and since by this time I really didn’t have any desire to be in a relationship, dating Mark sounded like a reasonable idea. He wanted someone to go out with while his wife was with her boyfriend. OK. We had dinner and rode for hours along the shore, talking incessantly about his wife and my ex. Kind of cathartic, actually. Mark and I remain distant friends, I hear from him once in a while, usually when he’s about to file for divorce again. (I learned that I am not entertaining crazy anymore, and that I can watch drama as theater without getting involved).

6. 15-Sep-2012: Don. Don’s one of those guys who leaves his number with gals with the standard “call me if you ever get single” line. He sounds smarmy, but he’s really not. I figured I’d look him up, and we met at the Outback. We had a nice conversation and a lovely meal, but Don’s not really heartthrob material. He lives with his Mom and can’t afford to get his bike fixed. He’s kind of a complainer. Solidly built and with a nice smile, but far too old for me. Another kiss good night and home alone. (I learned not to rescue and fix people).

7. 25-Nov-2012: Joe II. Joe II had a profile up on Plenty of Fish with a photograph of a sweet motorcycle, but no face. He’s 41. In his profile he mentions wanting to be with someone who can hand him a wrench, which appealed to my tomboy side, so I wrote him. It turns out that he lives around the corner. We had lunch at an Irish pub in my neighborhood that lasted five hours until I had to go to my folks’ house for dinner. Not a lot of talk about our exes, lots of shared experiences, lots of laughs, not drool material but with nice arms and steely grey hair (which I like). Joe II has two boys aged 17 and 14, and one girl aged 3. He had a busy and lucrative job with an environmental cleanup company that went out of business, is now working for the DPW, and doesn’t want to have a busy and lucrative job anymore. He lives with his brother and hasn’t gotten his poop in a group yet, so too many strikes against him.  (I learned the slow fade away)

8. 20-Jan-2013: Meat Mike, (because he owns a meat and fish provisioning company). We corresponded a bit on match.com and he had a sense of humor and didn’t seem to be hitting “refresh” waiting for my responses (not a good thing to do, ever, as even if I’m not busy I wait a few hours to respond. Or days). I agreed to call him and we had a casual date … in that I was buying a tire at Sears in his town and he kept me company while it was installed. Not a bad guy, pretty normal, actually. Divorced three years, gets along with his ex (“as long as the checks clear”), has two girls, 15 and 18, and lives in a garage converted into an apartment on the same cul-de-sac as his ex. And pays heavily, with college for the girls in the offing. Now, I’m not a gold digger, but I was hoping that a 56-year-old guy would be a little bit more “divorced” … while I admire Mike for being so involved with his girls and their well-being, this guy is far too enmeshed, emotionally and financially, in the past to make good dating material. Plus, he tried to French kiss me when we parted. Ew. Oh, AND, he asked me if he could “use” my number, and I smiled and said “keep in touch” … so he left me two voicemails within an hour of when we went our separate ways for the afternoon. Um … no. (I learned while Meat Mike might have been considered a normal guy for me in the past, he’s not. He’s got issues, and I don’t need that).

9. 11-February-2013: Tim, 48, a high school history teacher at a Catholic private school. Divorced six years with a 15-year-old daughter who’s busy with her own life. Owns a condo, drives a Ford Focus, lives in the same town he grew up in. We’d corresponded and he could string a few words together without talking about his naughty bits, so in a fit of loneliness (during the Blizzard of 2013), I talked him into coming into the city to take me out for a burger. Attractive, nice blue eyes and slender, all good things. But he couldn’t keep his eyes off the TV the entire date, didn’t seem at all interested in me, and wasn’t talking about himself either, so we had a couple of good burgers at yet another Irish pub in my neighborhood, listened to two songs from a live band that had set up, and he took me home around 10:30. We just couldn’t find any common ground. I tried to pay for my share, but he wouldn’t let me. Guess that was a poor investment on his part, but it looked like one of many, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Nice guy, zero attraction. (I learned that sometimes, it’s just not going to happen, and that’s OK).

10. 16-February-2013: Bert, 54, a lineman. I saw a pic of him on match.com laying on a gorgeous FLH, wearing a cowboy hat and boots, cute smile, blue eyes, “smoker but trying to quit” with a down-to-earth profile, so left a message on his pic. He wrote me back a couple of days later and I suggested coffee. We went back and forth a few times, nice light flirting, so when he wrote me on Saturday while I was out getting my hair done with plans to buy myself a steak after, I wrote back and told him my plans. Said it was probably too soon, but maybe he wanted to keep me company? He did. Disaster! By the time he’d showered and shown up there was an hour wait for dinner, and as far as I could tell, he’d gotten the complete wrong impression of me by then. My determination he saw as stubbornness. Honesty was abrasive. He didn’t like that I’d been married twice, no matter what the circumstances.  Thought I was “brave” to eat in a restaurant alone. Had a hard time wrapping his head around my tomboy nature. Unhappily surprised when I lit up a smoke after dinner (Why? I didn’t lie on my profile. I smoke. Looking at his profile later he’d changed his smoking status to “cigar aficionado).” Flirted with the waitress, to the point where I started to wonder if he was looking forward to her coming over to “save” him (she was in her 60’s and married). The conversation didn’t seem that painfully uncomfortable, but looking back … I wasn’t that impressed with him, either. He didn’t look or act like his profile and talked about his awful childhood at the hands of his abusive ex-Marine father … which isn’t the worst thing in the world, he’d gotten therapy, but that’s hardly first-date fodder. I dunno. By the time the meal came I was starting to pick out flaws, too. I paid my half and left at 9:15, no harm done. (Not sure what I learned here, but I hid my profiles for a few months and took a break).

11. 27-June-2013: Mark, 49, software engineer. Not sure where he’s from, as his profile said a town where he stays—in a hotel, for work. EN-OH. NO. Nice online, witty and clever, and absolutely no attraction in person. Thin high voice, talked too much and too fast, lied on his profile about all his kids being over 18, plus very touchy-feely. All we talked about was our exes, big turn-off. Not even sure why I went, but we’d been chatting a little for weeks and he was in the area. On foot. For at least 10 miles. At least I went for a walk. (I learned people can be “so much cooler online.”)

12. 2-August-2013: Jim, 51, lineman for years, now works for his town heading up the lighting department. He must’ve seen me checking out his picture on POF (which was posted sideways), and wrote me. His profile, two words “work motorcycles” so not a lot to go on. Turns out he’s a computer and typing dunce, didn’t even have a phone that can text. This accelerated the “in-person” process, and we met for an ice cream. Short and shy with a nice Harley and gorgeous blue eyes (when he actually looked at me), he’s clearly spent a lot of time outside over the years and dealt with some psychos, but didn’t seem to have any real baggage. A truthful guy, not evasive at all, but rough around the edges. Didn’t laugh. Works a LOT. I didn’t get the feeling he was that into me, but he asked me out to dinner/riding. I was going to put him off, but had a bad day and really wanted to ride, so the next Wednesday I took him up on his offer. We had a blast. Very refreshing, nice guy, gentleman, low-key and fun. We actually had seven dates. Sadly, even though he was fairly attractive and met many of the “stable, secure life” items on my list (job, home, bike, adult independent children, great friends, generous), he drank far too much—daily—and got clingy FAST. I stopped responding after he got pissy and pouty because I didn’t call him the second I woke up one Saturday when we had plans, and thankfully he went away quietly. (I learned that maybe I don’t want to be in a relationship just yet, at least not a clingy one)

13. 21-December-2013: Jay, 54. Redheaded, loves cats, owns his own business. Jay contacted me on POF and it was obvious that he’d actually read my profile. We emailed back and forth for a week, long fun emails. I wanted to meet for a lunch, he insisted on dinner. So our first meeting was a veal dinner, followed by a couple of hours chatting. Not a bad guy, but he didn’t seem to relax and be himself. I suspect he suffers from “being myself doesn’t get me a second date” syndrome; sounds like his past dates were pretty ruthless about ditching him (if they showed up at all). Very talkative. Brought my cats gifts and a card. Sadly, he seemed to feel a spark but I did not. (I learned my feminine skills are still intact, but they work on the wrong men. Nothing has changed since high school).

14. 9-January-2014: James, 56. He didn’t want to email back and forth at all, so I took a chance and met him for a drink (one for me, two for him) a block from work one weeknight. James is retired, and travels to war zones doing volunteer work for kicks. Bald but cute, James seems broken by his divorce and missing the good life he had in his house with his gardens and trees. While it wasn’t the main topic of conversation, it did keep coming up. Very bitter. He’s only been divorced five months, and lacked the personal magnetism I like in men. Plus, his hands shook until he’d had a drink. Not sure if it was nerves or not, and not willing to find out. (I learned some people just need to be single longer, despite what their profile says).

15. 1-March-2014: Rich, 62 (I think). Rich is a friend of a friend. We had a ton in common, in that we’re both building bobbers out of Sportsters this winter, we both are connected with re-enacting Revolutionary War events (he’s a Brit, my brother is a Colonial Colonel), and we both wanted to grow up to be rock stars. He’s a drummer, and his closest friend from childhood is the drummer for The Cars. Rich is fun to talk to, we enjoyed telling war stories. Our first date was nearly a disaster; he took me to some hipster place that was loud and crowded, and drank a ton of margaritas to my two. But he called me up the next week and apologized for drinking so much, so we went out again, this time to a loud (but good) club where we agreed not to try to carry on a conversation. We had a few drinks, and he stopped drinking 90 minutes before it was time to go so he’d be sober to drive (I am a stickler for this). Nice guy, never married, no kids, owns his family home in the suburbs. He’s an industrial engineer working on contract for a very recognizable company, but has never had a direct job. He also desperately needs a hip and walks with a pronounced limp. Bad, bad teeth. Nice blue eyes, long-ish grey hair and balding. He never make it out of the friendzone but at least he wasn’t pushy (which was nice) and we enjoyed each other’s company for a few months. Eventually, I invited him to an audition to play drums, and he was arrogant and rude to my friends, so … let it drop. (I learned that if I’m not serious about a man, “breaking up” is just a case of not contacting him. What a relief.)

16. 26-May-2014: Chris, 43. Another friend of a friend. Not really a “date” date. Chris pinstriped my motorcycle and did a great job, including the photography. He also had some great photos and illustrations of cars, and gorgeous flames/pinstripes in his FB photo album. A real artist. He spent 17 hours wet sanding, compounding, polishing and waxing my car, then took some photos. After it was done we took a ride up the coast to antique and bomb around. However, listening to him overshare about his sexual deviance, adult photo shoots, trouble he’d been in, stuff his psycho exes pulled … plus his financial, legal, cable, electricity, family, and truck woes … not at all a turn-on. He texted me after I got home to bitch that I didn’t tag him in my FaceBook checkins (but added a “LOL” so that made it all right?). This man is a self-proclaimed asshole and proud of it. (I learned it’s totally OK to not go along with this nonsense on the platform of “cool girl” or “this man needs help/rescuing.”) Chris has become the friend who I can call if I need anything moved, detailed or repaired. He comes over for dinner sometimes, and we binge-watch TV series and go to car shows.  I am delighted that Chris has found a full-time girlfriend.

17. 15-October-2014: Ted, 49. Ted contacted me on POF, he also has an old Corvette and is building a 60’s-era Firebird to drag race next year. He’s recently gotten a degree and was valedictorian in his class. We met at my favorite Chinese restaurant for a meal and a drink. Nice smile, blue eyes and white hair (my kryptonite), but there was just something not right about him. Not creepy or ill, but maybe he’s had too many head injuries in life, not sure, he did talk about the many crashes he’s been in. No spark. We had a pleasant dinner. (Didn’t have to learn anything with this one)

18. 14-November-2014: Marco, 47. Another POF contact. He’d read my profile through, and told me he qualified. An engineer, pleasantly sarcastic, nice smile, and we both enjoy non-hit music. Doesn’t drink. Wanted to go for a ride in the Corvette, so we did just that, then had a pizza at Santarpio’s. Very casual. Not the most attractive man in the world, but there was enough interest there to want to explore his personality further. No kids, never wanted them. He’s got the same job, for the same company, as a very good friend of mine. Different division, but the same workaholic from home deal, and I’m lucky to understand that dynamic. So there’s that. Stability doesn’t always come in a dreamboat package! (two days later, I texted him hello, and we had a fun text conversation including photos of what we were cooking that Sunday. Two days after that, I saw him back on POF. Guess I wasn’t what he was looking for … and yet he texts me every few months for absolutely no reason) Nothing to learn here either, except maybe that we’re all a little weird.

19. 13-December-2014: Tom, 53. OKCupid. Not my “type” but I was exploring. Accomplished and successful at his business, four grown sons living in CA, two years out of a 30-year marriage, no drama with the ex, and had had a couple of girlfriends since the marriage ended. Sadly, he’s rattling around his empty 5-bedroom house with his dogs and very needy and vulnerable. We went for a mai tai to get to know each other, and I got to hear all about how he wants to find a wonderful girl to cuddle on the couch with. Blech. I asked him several times to change the subject, and kept having to pull my hands out of his. Said he was a total gentleman, and on the phone and in text he was … then told me I had a nice ass when we met. Double blech. (I learned that being the only good thing in a man’s life is draining and exhausting. The whole experience made me wonder why I want to be in a relationship at all, ever). RUN.

20. 5-January-2015: Jon, 49. POF. Tattoo artist. More of a meet than a date. His profile photo looked quiet and introspective, perhaps passionate as an artist? He was working in his shop the next town over and invited me over. We chatted a bit, but no spark at all. Nice guy, just not my type. He didn’t contact me again either, so the feeling was mutual. (Thankfully didn’t have to learn anything with this guy, either, and it started 2015 off nicely).

21. 16-January-2015: Stephen, 49. POF. Stephen’s profile indicates he’s not interested in a relationship, just wants someone to go to dinner with, so after passing a few sentences back and forth we agreed to meet for dinner at a Greek place local to me. Nice enough guy, no spark to speak of, we had three dinner dates and just stopped contacting each other. Although one snowy afternoon when we were out, a married male friend texted me to say if the roads got bad and I needed a ride to let him know; I explained who he was, and Stephen asked me if I’d slept with him. Um, what? Ol’ Stephen couldn’t wrap his poor little head around the idea that I was fortunate to have platonic friends that care about my well-being. Kinda said enough about him, and his mindset. (I learned that I do not need to explain to anyone why I’m not seeing them anymore … )

22. 22-February-2015: Mike, 49. POF. Mike met all of my checklist requirements. Stable job, house, car, toys. Good sense of humor. Caring. Listens. We had a few fun, quirky messages back and forth, and a super long telephone conversation. He’d thrown a few stupid sexual innuendos into the messages, and when I called him on this BS, he stopped. All good things, and I was so looking forward to meeting him. However, his personality stopped in person, and I didn’t feel a spark. Apparently he did, so I went out with him a second time just to make sure, and discovered he needs a lot of validation, plus has some boundary issues (invited himself to stay over after the date!). Pouty, desperate and pathetic does not work for me. Then tried to blame “my trust issues” for his sneakiness. And he’s cheap. Sorry, Mike. You are nexted. (I learned that if someone tries to guilt me into doing anything I’m not 100% comfortable doing, there’s something wrong with THEM, not me).

23. 6-May-2015: Al, 53. Friend of a friend. A good galpal of mine invited him to go with us to a baseball game to round out a quartet of four free tickets one Sunday night, and since she did it by a group text, he figured out my number and contacted me. So we’d already met and I’d already heard the highlights of his divorce horror story, therefore the “first date” stuff was out of the way. He’s is an insurance guy, and has a 14 year old son, and a dog named S_. As he says, “S_” The Dog, check the initials. STD? Ew. Yeah, whatever. But his dog invited me for a drink and it was a gorgeous afternoon … so … we had a blast laughing and talking. So much so, that we went on to dinner across the street. And drinks a couple of days later. And a date the night after. And dinner at his place the following week. Lots of laughs, but it was about here that I started thinking HEY THIS IS TOO MUCH TOO DAMN FAST. Well that, plus he’d emailed me “Hey” for no reason (which drives me nuts; do people really email each other with nothing to say?), and let me know he’d been solo on a Saturday night while I had dinner plans with our mutual friend (and?). I noticed how into drinking and gambling he was, and how often he talked about how much things cost, how much he won gambling, and $$ in general. Not impressive. (I learned that just because a man can afford bad habits, doesn’t make them acceptable, and that insecurity is my #1 turnoff. FYI, dear readers … just because your ex did something awful doesn’t mean the next woman will do the same thing, given the chance. Stop acting like it).

24. 6-June-2015: Phil, says he’s 49, looks mid-60’s. POF. I truly don’t know why I turned my POF profile back on. This guy wrote “coffee or a drink, be nice and write back” so I did. His profile complained that no one met anymore so me, being me, decided to take up the slack for the non-meeting females on the East Coast. Real old school tattooed pony-tailed biker. Showed up in a 1966 Mustang he’s restoring. Lives in South Boston. We chatted pleasantly for a couple of hours in the sunshine. He said “we should do something” and I said “we should” and that was the last of Phil. (My mother would have a stroke if she met him anyways.)

8-July-2015 Pause for reflection. I’ve been “officially” single for 3½ years at this point, and have nearly hit the halfway mark to “50 First Dates.” That’s roughly a date and three quarters a month, and so far … nothing. Not even close. If there was a tiny spark, it was extinguished quickly and completely. Is every man broken? Is a stable, chivalrous, emotionally secure and strong man too much to ask for? Seeing a trend here, also. If a man likes me, he moves too fast—to the point of smothering—which shows why his last relationships failed. Some guys just HAVE to be hooked up, that’s their comfort zone, which is fine. It’s when they fall into the high-contact must-know-everything-this-instant, heart-right-out-on-their-sleeve sucking-vortex-of-need you-must-respond-or-I’ll-pout manipulative behavior that probably got them single in the first place that I feel drained, not flattered, and certainly not in a safe enough place to allow love to grow.  There’s a fine line between a man being interested and being obsessed.  Not sure where that line is, but very sure of what makes me uncomfortable.

I may just be single for the remainder of my days, and this thought is not unpleasant any more. It beats fending off someone else’s internal chaos, constantly feeding their insecurities, or chronically feeling pity for them.  Sorry, victims, you are not attractive.

This has been exhausting instead of the fun adventure it was supposed to be …

25. 30-August-2015  Paul, early 50’s.  Again, not really a “date” date. Some friends had invited a bunch of people to go riding on Sunday and I took a chance and asked if there was an open back seat.  A friend of theirs found me one, so Paul is a friend of a friend of a friend. Seems like a nice guy with a nice bike who lives around the corner from me.  Didn’t really have any “game” or seem into me at all.  I didn’t feel an instant attraction, but then again I really never do, people either grow on me or they don’t.  We’ll see, he never asked for my number.  Hopefully we can at least go riding again, we had a blast that day.  (Nope, didn’t happen).

26. 5-Nov-2015  Danny, 58.  Chatted a bit on POF and decided to meet.  Turns out, on his 36th anniversary of working for the railroad.  We went for a pizza on an unseasonably warm evening, near where he was working, because he’d gotten called in.  He looked like his profile picture from a distance; up close, not so much … but that wasn’t the issue.  No attraction.  Awkward silences. Super smug.  I learned I don’t have to carry a conversation, that it makes more sense to shut up and let the guy show me who he is.  This one was all about the Benjamins; how his potential mate wouldn’t cut into his retirement account.  Next!!

27. 22-Nov-2015 Frank, 53.  OKQ.  An engineer from CT, but his mom and adult children live in my city.  He came up for a visit and took me to breakfast.  Kind of cute in a Frank Zappa sort of way, I thought we’d hit it off enough to explore a longer date, but he never contacted me again.  I know that goes both ways, but I’m looking for someone who is REALLY interested and takes the lead.  I guess ol’ Frank’s not that person.  I learned there’s a great breakfast place nearby, and that when there’s free wifi every table will be taken up by single people with laptops.

28. 17-Jan-16 Shawn, 50.  Friend of a friend.  Originally from way up in Maine, truck driver.  His Facebook photos didn’t do him justice at all.  He’s a year out of a marriage and seems like a nice man.  It’s going to be a struggle to overlook the instant spark long enough see if he IS a nice man.  I hope so.  So far, it’s all good.  Finally!

Final edit:  Shawn has turned out to be everything I was looking for.  His nickname is now “28.”

A gaggle, a murder, a flock …

Stolen from someone else’s site.  Thanks to “thealmightyguru.”

Animal Group Name
Albatross Rookery
Alligators Congregation
Apes Shrewdness, Troop
Antelope Herd
Ants Colony, Army, Swarm, Nest
Asses Pace, Herd, Drove
Auks Colony, Flock, Raft
Baboons Troop, Flange
Bacteria Culture
Badgers Cete, Colony, Set, Company
Barracudas Battery
Bats Colony, Cloud
Bass Shoal
Bears (General) Sloth, Sleuth
Bears (Cubs) Litter
Beavers Colony, Family
Bees Grist, Hive, Swarm, Nest
Birds (Chicks) Brood, Clutch
Birds (Flight) Flight
Birds (Game) Volary, Brace, Plump, Knob
Birds (Ground) Flock, Dissimulation
Birds (Sea) Wreck
Bison Herd
Bitterns Sedge, Seige
Bloodhounds Sute
Bobolinks Chain
Buffalo Herd, Troop, Gang, Obstinancy
Bullfinches Bellowing
Bullocks Drove
Butterflies Flight, Flutter, (Many more)
Buzzards Wake
Camels Caravan, Train, Flock
Capons Mews
Caribou Herd
Caterpillars Army
Cats (General) Clowder, Clutter, Pounce, Dout, Nuisance, Glorying, Glare
Cats (Kittens) Kindle, Litter, Intrigue
Cats (Wild) Destruction
Cattle Drove, Herd, Team
Cheetahs Coalition
Chickens (General) Brood, Peep
Chickens (Chicks) Clutch, Chattering
Chinchilla Colony
Choughs Clattering
Clams Bed
Cobras Quiver
Cockroaches Intrusion
Cod Lap
Coots Cover, Raft
Cormorants Gulp
Cows Kine
Coyotes Band
Crabs Cast
Cranes Sedge, Seige
Crocodiles Bask, Float
Crows Murder, Horde, Parcel, Storytelling
Curlews Herd
Deer (General) Herd, Leash, Gang
Deer (Buck) Brace, Clash
Deer (Roe) Bevy
Dogs (General) Kennel
Dogs (Curs) Cowardice
Dogs (Hounds) Cry, Mute, Pack
Dogs (Puppies) Litter
Dogs (Wild) Pack
Dolphins Pod
Donkeys Drove, Pace, Herd
Dotterel Trip
Doves (General) Dule, Bevy, Cote, Dole, Paddling
Doves (Turtle) Pitying, Piteousness
Ducks (Flight) Flock
Ducks (Ground) Brace, badling
Ducks (Water) Raft, Team, Paddling
Dunlins Fling
Eagles Convocation, Aerie
Eels Swarm, Bed, Fry
Elephants Herd, Memory
Elk Gang, Herd
Emus Mob
Falcons Cast
Ferrets Business, Cast, Fesnying
Finches Charm
Fish (General) Draft, Nest, Shoal, School (“school” is possibly a corruption of shoal)
Fish (Caught) Catch, Drought, Haul
Flamingoes Stand, Flamboyance
Flies Business, Swarm, Cloud
Frogs Army, Colony, Knot
Fox Leash, Skulk, Earth, Lead, Troop
Geese (General) Flock
Geese (Flight) Skein
Geese (Ground) Gaggle, Herd, Corps
Giraffes Tower
Gnats Cloud, Horde, Swarm
Gnus Implausibility
Goats Tribe, Trip, Drove, Herd, Flock
Goldfinches Charm
Goldfish Glint, Troubling
Gorillas Band, Troop
Goshawks Flight
Grasshoppers Cloud
Greyhounds Leash
Grouse Pack, Covey
Guillemots Bazaar
Gulls Colony, Screech
Guinea Fowl Confusion
Hawks (General) Cast
Hawks (Flight) Kettle
Hawks (Spiraling) Boil
Hedgehogs Array
Herons Sedge, Siege, Hedge
Herring Army, Shoal
Hippopotamuses Bloat
Hornets Nest, Bike
Horses (General) Team, Harras, Stable, Troop, Stud (a group belonging to one owner)
Horses (Colts) Rag, Rake
Horses (Ponies) String
Horses (Wild) Herd
Hummingbirds Charm
Hyenas Cackle, Clan
Impalas Herd
Insects Horde, Nest, Swarm, Rabble, Plague
Jays Party, Scold, Band
Jellyfish Smack, Brood
Kangaroos Troop, Mob, Herd
Lapwings Deceit
Larks Exaltation, Ascension
Leopards Leap
Lice Flock
Lions Pride, Sault, Troop
Lizards Lounge
Locusts Plague
Magpies Tiding, Gulp, Murder, Charm
Mallards (General) Brace
Mallards (Flight) Sord
Martens Richness
Mice Mischief
Midges Bite
Minnows Shoal, Steam, Swarm
Moles Labor, Company, Movement
Monkeys Troop, Barrel, Carload, Cartload, Tribe
Moose Herd
Mosquitoes Scourge
Mudhens Fleet
Mules Pack, Span, Barren, Rake
Nightingales Watch
Otters Romp, Bevy, Family, Raft
Owls Parliament, Stare
Oxen Team, Yoke, Drove
Oysters Bed
Parrots Company, Pandemonium
Partridge Covey, Bew
Peacocks Muster, Ostentation, Pride
Pekingese Pomp
Pelicans Pod
Penguins (General) Colony, Rookery, Huddle
Penguins (Nursery) Crèche
Pheasants (General) Nest, Nye
Pheasants (Brood) Nide
Pheasants (Take-Off) Bouquet
Pigeons Flight, Flock, Kit
Pigs (General) Drift, Drove
Pigs (Boars) Singular, Sounder
Pigs (Hogs) Team, Passel, Drift, Parcel
Pigs (Piglets) Litter, Farrow
Pigs (Swine) Sounder
Pilchards Shoal
Plovers (General) Congregation
Plovers (Flight) Wing
Polecats Chine
Porcupines Prickle
Porpoises Herd, Pod, School, Crowd, Shoal
Prairie Dogs Coterie
Ptarmigans Covey
Quail Bevy, Covey
Rabbits (General) Colony, Warren, Bury, Trace, Trip
Rabbits (Domestic) Herd
Rabbits (Hares) Down, Husk
Rabbits (Jackrabbit) Husk
Rabbits (Young) Litter, Nest
Raccoons Gaze
Rats Colony, Pack, Plague, Swarm
Rattlesnakes Rhumba
Ravens Unkindness, Storytelling
Reindeer Herd
Rhinoceroses Crash, Stubbornness
Roebucks Bevy
Rooks Building, Clamor, Parliament
Ruffs Hill
Salamandars Congress
Salmon Run
Sandpipers Fling
Sardines Family
Scorpions Bed, Nest
Seabirds Wreck
Seals Pod, Bob, Harem, Herd, Rookery
Sharks Shiver, School, Shoal
Sheep Drove, Flock, Down, Hurtle, Fold, Pack, Trip
Sheldrakes Doading
Skylarks Exultation
Squirrels Dray, Scurry
Snails Escargatoire, Rout, Walk
Snakes Den, Nest, Pit, Bed, Knot
Snipe Walk, Wisp
Sparrows Host
Spiders Cluster, Clutter
Springbok Herd
Squirrels Dray, Scurry
Starlings Murmuration, Chattering
Stingrays Fever
Stoats Pack, Trip
Storks Mustering, Muster
Swallows Flight, Gulp
Swans (General) Bevy, Bank, Herd
Swans (Flight) Wedge, Flight
Swifts Flock
Teal Spring
Termites Colony, Nest, Swarm, Brood
Thrush Mutation
Tigers Streak, Ambush
Toads Knot, Knab, Nest
Trout Hover
Turkeys Rafter, Gang, Posse
Turtles Bale, Nest, Turn, Dole
Turtle Doves Pitying, Dule
Vipers Generation, Nest
Vultures Venue
Vultures (Circling) Kettle
Walruses Herd, Pod
Wasps Nest, Swarm
Waterfowl Knob, Plump
Weasles Gang, Colony, Pack
Whales Pod, Gam, Herd, School, Mod
Widgeons Company
Wildfowl Plump
Wolves (General) Pack
Wolves (Moving) Route, Rout
Wombats Wisdom
Woodcocks Fall
Woodpeckers Descent
Worms Bed, Clew, Bunch, Clat
Wrens Herd
Zebras Zeal, Crossing, Dazzle, Cohorts, Herd

*Another animal group that you may consider is a nag of wives and a jerk of husbands.