In the back of my first book The Men I’ve Almost Dated, I included some poems from my next book, The Madness of Love. The poetry collection is best described as an enticing concoction of reality, fantasy and other-worldly insight. It asks the reader to find the line between madness and love. I’m now curating those poems for publication. Here is another one entitled Egg on Her Face. Can you relate?
Focus on the feelings you felt, she said
Not the man you know who gave them
But when I did all I could do
Is think of the man who raised them
I realised then
The drama created
Was always derived from me
My expectations of being trampled on
Let my fear run away with me.
All I wished for now it seemed
Was his stillness and his light
The feeling that all was well
Of calmness with no strife
His air, just present
His eyes so kind
And frequently warmly smiling
While making me laugh
I’ve never felt so torn
As I do now
When I think back
And realise what I’ve done
I helped create the current stance
In fact, I loaded the gun
He had played his part
He had driven it home
But I, oh God
I couldn’t believe
Just what my fear had done
All was well
Until I lost
My way and all perspective
And then all he and I could do
Was drown in the invective
As we rocked from side to side
Carried on unsteady waves
Of fear, anxiety, never confidence
I behaved just like a babe
He had called me so naïve
Was that for trusting him
But perhaps my real issue
Was actually me, not him
He had turned away from me
Because I did not stand
I had not yet put myself first
Fear had the upper hand
I did not stand in my power
I was quite simply
Just all over the place
The thought that I had caused him pain
Simply left me with egg on my face.
My first (and last) foray into online dating didn’t go very well. Actually, it was an unmitigated disaster. It was early 2012 when I met my first match from a well-known dating site. We’d chatted briefly online and agreed to meet in the Valley for drink to get to know each other better.
That first date went really well. It lasted from 4-11pm and we had drinks, then dinner and saw a movie. It was great. We laughed, had things in common and it was clear he didn’t want the date to end. He was also kind of cute (which always helps).
But the second date didn’t go quite as well. In fact, it was so bad it took me a few days to write down the story (which I later featured in my book The Men I’ve Almost Dated). The truth was, I had to process an interaction with a man who turned out to be a truly awful person before I could write about it. After that experience, I wasn’t sure if I ever want to date again.
Anyway, here’s the story…
On a Saturday night, I dressed up and headed out for a second date with DH. I’ll let you work out what those initials could stand for (hint, the first word is a name for the male genitalia) .
Anyway, the first date went really well. It lasted from 4-11pm and we had drinks, then dinner and saw a movie. It was great. We laughed, had things in common and it was clear he didn’t want the date to end. He was also kind of cute (which always helps).
So when he asked me out for dinner on Saturday night I said yes. I was looking forward to it.
We met a local bar and it probably wasn’t a good sign that he confessed to flinging his chewing gum into the street just as I exited the cab. When he’d removed his shoes and socks in the movie I’d thought it was quirky. But throwing his gum onto the footpath for someone to wear as an unwanted shoe ornament just seemed disrespectful.
We settled into a table for two, he ordered me a glass of wine and we chatted about this and that.
He mentioned he’d seen Underworld: Awakening earlier that day and how much he loved the 3-D effects. Then he said he was hanging out for 3-D porn.
I convinced myself that he was joking and changed the subject. After all, we’ve all said stupid things at the wrong moment and maybe he was just nervous.
The conversation seemed to get back on track and I started telling him about my blog.
When he asked, ‘What’s the point of blogging?’ I thought I detected a hint of disparagement but thought ‘No, that would be crazy. After all, why would someone who has never read my work and barely knows me ever disparage my blog?’ So, I told him it was about the discipline of writing and we talked about the book I’m writing.
Then things definitely went downhill.
I told him I was writing about my own life and hoped that people could relate to the things that happened to me. ‘Nobody wants to see a movie or read about someone who is like them,’ DH said. ‘They want to escape.’
I asked a few more questions just to clarify his meaning. Surely I was misinterpreting him? Sadly, it was very clear. He didn’t think anyone would want to read my writing because it would be too much like their own lives. Just to be clear, this man had never read or asked to see any of my work.
We left the bar and walked along the street to the restaurant. Then it got worse. I wasn’t feeling too great by this stage and he said, ‘You look confused?’
‘I’m perplexed,’ I said. ‘You seem to have a good heart but you’re saying things that are likely to offend me.
‘You’re too sensitive,’ he said. ‘Besides if I don’t say what I think there would be nothing to say.’ Then he tried to make a joke of it.
We didn’t talk a lot during dinner and he continued to act like everything was great. But I wasn’t feeling great. During the strained chitchat, DH said he often offends people and asked me why I thought that was. ‘Maybe you need to consider the feelings of the person you’re talking to,’ I quietly suggested.
Throughout the date I continued to be polite to this man because I’ve been raised to have good manners. Everything I said was politely worded and smilingly delivered because I kept thinking that maybe I was misinterpreting something.
DH had told me on our first date that he always tells his students (he’s a primary school teacher) they can do anything and encourages them to follow their dreams. When I compared this to his comments to me he said, ‘I just wouldn’t want someone to waste their time.’
Yes. That is exactly what he said.
And still I sat there sucking down my sangria like there was no tomorrow and thinking I need to get drunk really quickly or else I’m going to throw this cocktail into his face.
When the waitress returned I declined her offer of dessert because I was really hoping to end the ‘date’ as soon as possible. I put ‘date’ in inverted commas because dates are supposed to be pleasurable and this was definitely not.
But DH went ahead and ordered dessert for us to share!
Then he made some crack that no one wants to see another Sex and the City and laughed when he saw my face. ‘Ha ha, that’s what you’re aiming for isn’t it?’ he said. Then he laughed some more.
That’s not what I’m aiming for and the look on my face was pure shock at his atrocious behaviour. What a jerk. What a complete and utter jerk.
Often when I’m confronted with an insensitive and rude person I continue to smile, be polite and pretend that everything is fine.
But this time I chose a different route. This time I left. I excused myself and went to the bathroom. While there I accosted some poor woman and asked her if she had change for a $50 note. You see, I wanted to go back into the restaurant, fling my half of the money on the table and leave. But the woman (who probably thought I was a little nuts) said, ‘Um, no,’ then fled out the door. I followed close behind but stopped short of making my way back up the hallway to the restaurant.
The woman had gone in the opposite direction and exited through the glass doors into the car park. I watched her leave, then looked back towards the restaurant. Then I looked back at the glass doors. Then back to the restaurant entrance again.
Suddenly I was half-running down the hallway, shoving open those glass doors and emerging into the dark car park beyond.
Yes, I was legging it!
I remember ducking and weaving behind the parked cars because I didn’t want DH to spot me leaving (there was a concrete wall between us but my adrenaline was running and I felt a little crazy). I’d never done anything like that before. My parents had brought me up with good manners for heaven’s sake! Yet there I was fleeing like a fugitive before somehow flagging down a passing cab and throwing myself into the backseat.
When I started laughing (probably a little hysterically) the cab driver asked if I’d had a good date. That made me laugh even more. When he heard the story, the driver started laughing too.
Although I did laugh about it, I think I was also really shocked. The whole thing was unbelievable. I mean, who acts like that?
After about 10 minutes in the cab I sent DH a text saying, ‘Thanks for the not so lovely evening. If you’d like to send me your account details I will transfer you the funds for dinner.’
But I didn’t hear from him and blocked all communication with him on the xxx dating site.
I guess he probably felt humiliated sitting there in the restaurant on his own with his dessert for two. But I can’t really find it in my heart to feel sorry for him. Beside it could have been worse – I could have stained his shirt with my sangria.
Would you like to read more disastrous dating and men-related stories like this one? Check out my new book The Men I’ve Almost Dated. It’s available in eBook and paperback today.
There was a moment during the editing process for The Men I’ve Almost Dated, when I said I wanted to rewrite the entire thing. I think my editor, Kristy, almost had conniptions at that point. There she was trying to steer me towards the finishing line while I was suggesting a rewind to the beginning.
I was half-serious because as I re-read my stories, it felt like they were written by someone else. Oh, I knew I’d definitely done all the things in the book and lived through those experiences. But the person I’d become was very different from that 30-something woman who somewhat blindly made her way out of a 10-year marriage, through divorce and into the dysfunctional world of dating.
Take for instance my chapter entitled, Why Men Are Like Feral Cats. Even now it seems like an outrageous statement to make but, back then, I came across a number of men who were exactly like our feline friends. As I wrote, ‘Men couldn’t have anything in common with previously domesticated but now wild animals running the streets with absolutely no sense of responsibility. Could they?’
If you’ve been single for any period of time you’ll know the types of ‘cats’ I’m referring to here. In my book I’ve broken them down into some categories. These include the Never-Been-Faithful Cat who ‘flirts and behaves like the most unattached man with any attractive woman within a five-kilometre radius.’ There’s the Shameless Cat who ‘will chat up multiple women in the same location, within minutes of each other’ (for him it’s purely a numbers game). And of course, there’s the Shady Cat. He’s the one disguised as the nice guy until his partner is out of earshot (or in the next room) and then suddenly he’s all hands and innuendo.
Are you seeing the similarities yet between some men and feral cats? I’ll give you a hint…it may have something to do with their need to copulate with as many females as possible, regardless of their relationship status.
Fortunately, I‘ve also come to know some lovely men who don’t resemble feral cats in any way whatsoever. Ladies they do exist, thank goodness! But the feral cats are still out there and when I look back at the woman who had those experiences, I shake my head ruefully. I was so naïve about men and human behaviour when I ventured into the Land of Single. Learning about feral cats was just one of the lessons I learned the hard way.
As I read my book from beginning to end, I realised how much I’d grown from all the experiences it described. I was wiser but in many ways, when it comes to men, yet still just as clueless.
Today I wonder if that will ever change? Or is that just one of the constant mysteries of life…that men and women are different creatures so we must always be prone to miscommunication, misdirection and misdemeanors while we navigate the dating world?
I’m not sure, but I’m still out there hoping for the best. Except these days, I can usually spot a ‘feral cat’ at 10 paces.
Would you like to read more about men, feral cats, divorce and dysfunctional dating? The Men I’ve Almost Dated is available now in eBook and paperback. Get your copy today!
It’s interesting to observe people’s reactions when I start telling people about some of the less than ideal male behaviour I’ve described in my book, The Men I’ve Almost Dated. The thing is, I’ve been pretty honest about my dating experiences and often men don’t come off as behaving very well.
One recent conversation with a couple (let’s call them Maggie and James) went something like this.
‘I think it sounds great!’ Maggie said enthusiastically after I’d briefly described the content of the book.
‘Are you dating anyone now?’ James asked.
‘No,’ I said.
‘Well no one’s going to ask you out once you publish,’ he said. ‘No one will want to date you!’
‘Of course they will. It will just weed at the ones she doesn’t want because they’ll know she’ll just call them on their crap if they try it on,’ Maggie said indignantly.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naïve to the fact that occasionally the things I mention in my book might polarise opinion or make some people uncomfortable. The very topics of divorce, dating, sex and pursuing the wrong men is highly topical and a lot of people will have opinions about it.
The suggestion that I will be deemed less attractive by the opposite sex because I’m honest about some very ordinary male behaviour is a little disconcerting yet not surprising. The inference from James’ comments was that I might be too ‘scary’ or ‘intimidating’ because I put it all out there.
I’ve heard this argument before about women being ‘intimidating’ or ‘too confident’ and that it apparently scares men off. James’ remarks were just another edition of that same old story. Honestly, I think these types of comments are just another way to keep women small. The very idea that we should hold ourselves back in some way to make men more comfortable is completely repellant to me. That being said, I don’t believe women are better than men or that we should exclude them from our lives. Relationships between men and women are a delicate balancing act that should be based on mutual respect and freedom to be precisely who you are. But that’s a soapbox for another day.
In the meantime, am I worried that no man will ever ask me out once they read my book?
Um, no, because I’m more in Maggie’s camp and hope that it actually turns away the players from my life. Because the truth is, I don’t want any more men I’ve almost dated. I want the real thing now. If some men find me too intimidating, full frontal or whatever because I choose to tell a story based on my perspectives and experience, then they are clearly not the men for me.
And I’m really 100 percent okay with that.
The Men I’ve Almost Dated is now on sale. Find out more>
Last year I found myself discussing my sexual history with a man I really liked. Actually, a more accurate description would be I found myself talking about my sexual history completely by accident and then desperately tried to dig myself out of a bottomless pit while feeling like a completely foolish woman who should’ve known better than to get herself into that situation in the first place.
Let me go back to the beginning. This man (let’s call him Nate) and I were talking about my book and I was sharing my mother’s reaction to reading a recent draft. You see, my Mum has been a strong supporter of my writing journey and I’d finally decided my manuscript was ready for her eyes.
You can read my full description of her response here.
Anyway, Nate was always interested in my writing so I began telling him about her reaction. Basically Mum said, ‘I thought it was very well written but I don’t think I really want to read about all the men you’ve had sex with.’
It was as these words tripped off my tongue that I realised I’d put myself into a sticky corner by even beginning the conversation with a man I liked. And then I made it worse. My following comments were along the lines of, ‘I explained to her that I haven’t slept with all the men in there and that’s why it’s called The Men I’ve Almost Dated…not that there’s been that many anyway. Not that it would matter if there was…’
I also realised that I’d begun telling a man I liked (who I hadn’t even dated yet) about my sexual history. I believe the following words travelled through my brain at this point, ‘Oh fuck. This is not good.’
My words continued to vomit from my mouth as I dug a hole further into the ground. You see I’m a feminist and firmly believe my body is mine to do with what I wish. I’m not a prude about sex and I believe you should have as much or as little as you want whether you are male or female. I don’t believe in antiquated notions of one night stands making you a slut or that I should ‘keep myself nice’ and wait for the right man. I’m too old, too independent and far too open about who I am to buy into any of that stuff.
Yet there I was, a grown-up of 42 years, suddenly stumbling over my words like an embarrassed schoolgirl as all the limiting cultural conditioning that still permeates our society about women and their sexual choices arched over me like a tidal wave and threatened to engulf me.
Before I knew it I’d said, ‘…not that there’s been that many’ again at which point he turned to me and said calmly, ‘You’ve said that three times now.’
With his eyes fixed firmly on my mine I honestly wanted to flee the building.
‘Um, look, I can’t be having this conversation,’ I said. The unspoken words ‘with you’ hung in the air after I uttered this sentence. ‘Can we please talk about something else,’ I added (I daresay there was more than a hint of desperation in my tone at this point).
Nate studied my face for a moment with what can only be described as an inscrutable expression (something he does amazingly and annoying well; I swear he’d make a killing at poker) and then obligingly changed the subject.
When I thought about it later I was seriously disappointed in myself. There I was, with all my modern beliefs about sex and women’s sovereignty over their own bodies, and I jumped immediately into justifying my sexual history. It’s not as if I would ever have expected him to do that, or anyone for that matter.
So why did I take what was simply an amusing story about my mother’s reaction to my book and expand it into this awkward, lumpy ball of discomfort?
‘Well obviously, duh! I liked the guy so I didn’t want him to get the “wrong impression” of me,’ I thought. This was followed swiftly by a, ‘Hang on a second, when did I become a 1950’s version of myself and why on earth would I feel the need to apologise or justify my sexual history to anyone?’
The truth is I don’t think I’ve had the ‘sexual history’ talk with anyone I’ve dated. I’ve only ever had it with my former husband and, as he was my first sexual partner, you can appreciate it was a fairly short conversation.
However, I know that not everyone has my liberated views about sex. I’ve had conversations in social situations where a man has told me that his girlfriend had been a ‘good girl’ (i.e. not slept around a lot) while the complete reverse was true for him!
I’ve also had men tell me that a woman who would have a one-night-stand with them wouldn’t be a woman they’d marry. Yet those same men believe they themselves are eminently marriageable…even though they’d had one-night-stands.
The double standards of these men (and some women who agree with them) still pervade many parts of our society. So I guess in that moment of nervousness, in that conversation with Nate, I reverted to reflecting some of the restrictive and outdated attitudes still expressed by some people about women and sex. However, I think it also arose from a very genuine desire on my part to not have my history misinterpreted by someone in my present (not that it should’ve mattered anyway!).
Nate and I never did get around to discussing that conversation further. It was simply superseded by other topics and was never raised again.
I would love to know what he was thinking that day. I’m sure it must have been an interesting and perhaps entertaining sight to see someone who is usually so confident start to spin herself into a rather undignified and tongue-tied mess.
Perhaps I’ll never know what was going on in his head behind that inscrutable mask. But just for the record, I haven’t had sex with all the men I talk about in my book. Not that it matters anyway!
The Men I’ve Almost Dated is now on sale through online retailers. Find out more>
As the release date for my book, The Men I’ve Almost Dated, drew closer, I had more than one person query my choice to put my story out there. Comments have include things like, ‘Are you prepared for what people might say?’ and ‘I couldn’t do it. You’re completely putting who you are out there. There could be a bit of a backlash on some of it.’
Their comments are only reflecting some of the fears I’ve had along the way; fears that, to be honest, still occasionally begin to simmer under the surface before sinking back into the depths once again.
My book is my story, that much is true. Some of the content will make some people uncomfortable. That much is also true. Does it reveal who I am and share the lumps and bumps of a small part of my life’s journey? Yes. It does. And finally, do I always appear in a positive, happy-clappy, innocent light in the stories I’ve shared. No, I don’t always and that’s because it’s real. I don’t believe for one second that any adult with any life experience has led as so-called ‘blameless’ life. We have all made mistakes and explored less than ideal situations, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart. I am no different.
But I know in my heart that if I don’t do this thing, if I don’t share my story, then I will always, always regret it because I’m here to share my story; it’s part of my purpose on the planet. I also believe that it actually might help some other women out there who are like me to feel more comfortable with their own story.
It was during a conversation with a work colleague about six years ago when I first began to think my story might have some real value to the outside world. She was going through a separation after a long-term relationship and most of her friends didn’t understand what she was going through. They were used to her as she’d always been – the one who was stable and ‘taken care of’. But now she was transitioning to her new life and many found that process uncomfortable to witness. Of course, all things she was doing were completely normal for a woman in her 30s going through that process – the partying, the shopping up a storm, the younger men, etc. But later she told me that it was only when I’d shared some of my similar stories and experiences that she began to feel she was normal. She said, ‘I felt like a weight lifted from my shoulders.’
That I could help one person feel better about their journey seemed like an incredible gift.
My book isn’t high-brow but it’s honest. It’s also real and I own every bit of the story. And if it can help another woman to feel better and more comfortable with her own sometimes fraught journey through single life, then I think it’s totally worth putting myself out there.
If it makes others feel uncomfortable, then I think that has far more to do with them than it has to do with me. So I’m going to feel the fears about putting my story out there…and go ahead and do it anyway.
The Men I’ve Almost Dated is now on sale. Find out more>