Convenience – the restaurant was within walking distance of my office – and a “what-the-hell” attitude prompted me to respond to James’ invitation to meet for lunch with “Just tell me when and where.” It was September 2011 and after two long years of on-again, off again online dating, my shame was gradually diminishing.
James was a balding Irish guy with local roots and a career path that transcend both New York City politics and law, which made for an interesting, lively conversation.
It was somewhere between his tales of working for the Koch administration and growing up on Staten Island during the Guido invasion that he stated his intent: “My wife and I are separated. No papers have been filed, and I honestly don’t know if we’ll divorce, go to marriage counseling or get back together.”
Silence. He then proceeded: “But I have needs and really like to meet and connect with someone.” Translated: I want to get laid.
I knew the type well, and, unfortunately at my age they’re prevalent. They’re the guys, who’ve having been married since the Ice Ages, are testing the dating waters. Terrified of being alone (“But who will iron my underwear?”) and having too much at financial stake, the only way they’re leaving their dead marriage is in a body bag. Often it’s the disgruntled wife that files for divorce.
Short and stocky I didn’t doubt he had been white-knuckling the marriage for
years. I imagined a wife who resembled a Granny Crabapple doll and with a Hasidic woman’s view of sex. (“Honey, grab the sheet with the hole in it.”)
There was a spilt second when my loneliness caused me to forget my anger and I thought, “What’s sex for free food? Hell, I’ve done worst for less.” Yet, I’ve know the experienced the pain and frustration of being emotionally invested with someone who feeds you relationship crumbs
My back stiffened and I became professional-like. “Thank you for being honest,” I said.
Later, taking a friend’s advice, I fired an e-mail suggesting that should he ever want company – just company – for movie or dinner, I’d be interested.” After all, I did sense some chemistry and one can always use more friends, right?
I never heard back, reinforcing a lesson that keeps getting repeated: Girlfriends want to hang out. Men want sex.