Four: The Entertainer

This is not me, but hang in there and you’ll see how Ellen figures into this story…IMG_7634Sometime after my escapade with Syd, I met Sue online. She had no photos posted at all, but her ad was really funny and charming. She described herself as “butch,” and spoke of having been an athlete once upon a time. I was to learn that “I was an athlete in high school” is a recurring theme for many middle-aged lesbians, and there seems to be an overwhelming sense of loss and missed opportunity in the absence of career choices in sports. In Sue’s case, she was a soccer star who traveled to New Zealand for some sort of championship in her senior year, and she won a sports scholarship to university. There, the story took a sad twist because¬†nobody would pay women to play professional soccer in those days. Sue had no aspirations to be a phys-ed teacher. She was devastated when her rising star began its premature (and precipitous) descent.
Dropping out of university, Sue began what would become a lifetime of blue-collar work. But she also had a secret identity…

We spent many evenings emailing back and forth, sharing puppy and baby photos. I saw newspaper clips of her in tenth grade, scoring winning goals. After a while we graduated to talking on the phone. She kept strange hours, and seemed to stay up all night and sleep mostly during the day. This suited my on-call lifestyle just fine, because if I got home at 2am and was too pumped up to sleep, I now had someone to talk to.
And talking to Sue was something special. She was one of those people who possess a completely natural, infectious sense of humour. She could take any story, any anecdote, and turn it into an accent-fueled commentary on multi-cultural queer life that should by all rights be offensive, but is so dead-accurate as to be at once hilarious and astounding. Listening to Sue was a lot like attending a personal comedy performance. One night, wiping tears of laughter from my eyes, I asked her if she could sing.
“Why do you ask that?” she wondered.
“Well…you’re so good with accents. You must have a great ear.”
“I have a little something I do,” she replied, “are you sure you don’t know what it is?”
I was flummoxed. How would I know? In fact, she seemed a little suspicious of me…Like I had been stalking her and discovered that she was a famous singer or something. I begged her to tell me what this secret identity was, but she wouldn’t.
“Maybe when I know you better,” she promised. Jeez. Talk about suspense.

Eventually Sue and I decided to meet for coffee at a Starbucks uptown, near her apartment. I wasn’t really nervous, since I felt like I knew her pretty well by then, but I still made a point of arriving first and finding a comfortable place to wait. I recognized her immediately when she walked in; a slightly broader, feathered-hair (in a middle-aged butch way) version of her high school photos.
She bought a coffee and plunked into the chair opposite me.
“Hi!” she grinned awkwardly.
“Hi” I managed. Oh God, I was nervous after all, but I stood up and hugged her across the table, hoping my shirt wasn’t dangling into her coffee.
I really don’t remember much of the date after that first meeting. It flew by, and the nerves we had both acquired seemed to recede quickly. She knew how to command a room, and had come armed with some new stories. In every sense, I felt that she was performing for me. It even had a vaguely rehearsed feel. I wondered if these were stories she had shared with her friends many times over the years, perfecting the punch lines. But I had a great time. So good, in fact, that we made a second date for the next night. Dinner and a movie.

I picked her up on the way to the theater, but she wouldn’t let me come up to her apartment. Retrospectively, that might have been a red flag. But we’d only really met one time, and I could understand her abundance of caution. She met me in the parking lot outside her building. It was a warm night and I was sitting in my car with the windows down listening to Nora Jones when Sue appeared at the passenger side window, resting on her elbows.
“Waiting for me?” she asked, all husky voiced.
“No,” I smiled, “what makes you think that?”

When we arrived at the restaurant, she got out of the car, came around to my side, and opened the door for me. As I unfurled myself from the driver’s seat, I instantly regretted the high heels I had chosen. I don’t often wear heels, but I wanted to try out a new dress, and flats just ruined it. With my natural height and the 3 1/2 extra inches, I was, quite literally, towering over Sue. Her head reached about to my shoulder, and her eyes were in line with my chest. How had I failed to notice how diminutive she was? And what the hell was I thinking when I got dressed?
“Is that a wrap dress?” Sue asked, mischievously, still gazing at my chest.
“Sure is!” I answered, so freaking thankful to her for taking the flirtatious route.
“I like it,” she winked, turning towards the restaurant and taking my hand.
It was a great meal, and we talked and talked, almost missing the beginning of the movie. I don’t even remember what the film was, except that it was a comedy and the theater was half empty.
When I dropped her off at home later that night, Sue took my face in her hands and leaned towards me. She gave me a gentle, sweet kiss. No tongue, just soft lips. I had butterflies.

The next time I saw Sue, my friend Diane and I were going to a local tavern to watch a band play because she was hot for the lead singer, and I asked Sue if she would like to tag along. It was one of those Irish bars with a small dance floor, a few dark wood tables and too many people crammed elbow-to-elbow, in perpetual line at the bar or surrounding the small stage. I was on my summer holiday by then, and the kids had gone camping with X, so it would be one of the few nights where I could have a drink and didn’t have to get home to a babysitter.
Di and I had arrived early enough to snag a table close to the stage, and she was busy swooning over the greasy, balding, bearded hipster singer. I did not understand what she liked about the guy, but, you know, I accept her for who she is and so I tried my best to muster enthusiasm for him.
Then Sue arrived, and damn she was hot that night. Of course, I had had a pint and the music was pounding, but even Di stopped mid-sentence when she saw Sue across the room.
“Is that her?” she whisper-yelled in my ear.
“Oh, hell yeah!” I had found some enthusiasm after all.
Sue kind of floated across the room, and squatted on her heels beside Di, placing her hand on Di’s knee briefly as she went down, then extended her hand in introduction. “You must be Diane…”
Diane blushed, then licked her too-red upper lip slowly and smiled.
“Jesus Diane,” I elbowed her, “tone it down a little!”
“I’m just playing,” she smiled. And she was. That’s just Di. Everything is about sex to her.
“Can I get you ladies a drink?” Sue asked.
“Yes please!” Diane demurred.
“Sure, thank you,” I smiled. I needed time to reign Diane in.

I watched Sue cross to the bar. She seemed taller. Her boots were polished black military style lace-ups with a chunky sole, so maybe that was it. She had on blue jeans…not too tight, but not at all baggy. A black t-shirt. A black jacket with the collar turned up under her puff of hair. The turned-up collar could have really ruined the look, but somehow it was sexy. Her tousled hair took on a kind of artful shag. She was a relic from some other time, and she seemed to be oozing confidence. It occurred to me that I was watching another performance,”Sexy Sue,” or “Hot Butch Sue,” I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I watched her talking animatedly with some men at the bar, clapping them on the back as she glided through the line-up, smiling and nodding. Several women noticed her, and she seized the opportunity to sidle¬†closer to them (and the bar). Within moments she had captured the bartender’s attention, bought our drinks, and begun her return journey.

“That was impressive!” I told her, “you have a way with crowds.”
“That’s part of my thing,” she replied.
“What thing would that be?” I asked.
“I’ll show you later.”
Be still my heart.

We drank enough beer that dancing seemed like a good idea. Sue and I were the only obvious lesbians on the dance floor, since, as is the case with most mid-town Irish pubs, it was a mostly straight crowd. But the crowd was happy and indulgent, and everyone seemed intent on not displaying their homophobia. Maybe if we were gay men we’d have seen the ugly teeth of the place, but that night, for me, took on a rosy, happy glow.

Sue excused herself as the dance floor became packed. I assumed she had to use the restroom, and continued dancing. Di gyrated¬†over and declared herself “so happy” that I had found someone nice at last.
“She is cute, isn’t she?” I agreed.

Just then, the music stopped and the guitar player took the mic,
“Hey there folks, I hope you’re having a great time this evening! We have a special treat for you tonight, straight from Memphis Tennessee! Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the one, the only, Elvis Presley!”
The crowd went wild, because who doesn’t love a little Elvis? And then, from stage right, Elvis himself strode onto the platform. Or I should say, “herself,” because Sue was on stage flipping up her collar, grabbing the mic in one hand and throwing the other into the air, legs spread shoulder width apart, posing. Waiting for the band.

IMG_7631

Out of that little butch woman came a powerful, perfect rendition of “Blue Suede Shoes,” followed by a foot stomping, exciting “Jailhouse Rock,” and then a slow, sultry “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” When Sue swaggered off stage there was a crowd of women pushing towards her, and she had a perfect Elvis smile and nod for each admirer. She was used to the attention. She thrived on it. She was a performer, through and through, and at that moment I appreciated the act.

I suppose I can claim a unique distinction: I dated Female Elvis. She was sexy when she was in her Elvis mode. Sue was incredibly talented. She could sing anything as anyone. She did Bono and Cher. She was always a laugh a minute. We had a fun month or so of dating before I began to realize that she also had some peculiar habits, aside from the vampiric sleep tendencies. For example, she worshipped Ellen Degeneres. Like, super-fan worshipped. She would send her letters and audition tapes, comedy sketches and ideas. Then, if something on the show seemed similar to one of her letters, she would complain that Ellen was stealing her ideas. And maybe Ellen was, or maybe it was a paranoid fantasy, but Sue kept sending them. She had a rigid schedule of TV shows during which she could not be interrupted, and was in love with two “TV girlfriends” (Elizabeth Shu was one, and I honestly can’t remember the other). She had a deep sense of loss about her squandered athleticism, and hated trans men for “selling out” butches. She never let me into her apartment, and I came to believe that she was a hoarder. Basically, our life goals were not compatible. She was fun and talented and bitter and angry. I was a mom doing my best to support my family and make a calm, happy life for my kids.

In our own ways, Sue and I were both damaged and lonely, but in the end we realized that our baggage was not compatible, and we drifted into our separate spheres. Our paths have never crossed again, but I think of her from time to time and hope that she has found her real life Elizabeth Shu.

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

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Third Date: The Bartender (wherein I prove that I really am that easy)

Looking back from the lofty vantage point of hindsight, this date was doomed from the start. First of all, Syd was everything I find hot in a woman. Although she wasn’t taller than me (and really, that was an unrealistic goal), she was strong, chiseled, had perfect post-Beiber hair, exquisite fashion sense, and was pretty close to my age.

We met at a romantic restaurant of her choosing after speaking on the phone a couple of times. She told me, with no small degree of machismo, that she wanted to be in charge of planning the evening, and treat me “like a lady should be treated.” I know, I know, but that’s what you get when you’re into forty-something masculine identified women! Anyway, I thought it was sexy at the time.

Fast forward to a Friday night in winter. I was on-call. My kids were with their other mom that week. I was then, as now, always either mothering or working (or some combination of the two) so I confined my dating to the “on-call” half of my life, so as not to infringe on my kids’ time. It meant that my dates were always tentative, and could be interrupted by the birth of a baby at any given moment. It also impacted what I wore, since I didn’t want to show up at the hospital in a cocktail dress.

It certainly complicated getting dressed for a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant with ladies’-boi, Syd. In the end, I chose what I hoped were sexy black slacks, mid-healed knee-high boots, a deep v-necked tank top and, in case the pager beeped, a white blouse to cover it up. I threw an extra pair of shoes in the car (black Keds) just in case.

I arrived before Syd and, since our table wasn’t ready, got seated at the bar where I ordered an iced tea, but really REALLY wanted a nice big bowl of wine. I tried to calm my nerves using a trick I had learned in school involving flexing and releasing each muscle in sequence, and was so focused on this routine that I didn’t even notice when cold from the street blasted into the small restaurant, ushering in Syd, who looked exactly as I had expected from her numerous selfies; gorgeous.

She smiled from ear to ear when she saw me, walked right up to me and rested her hand on my back.
“You must be Charlotte,” she crooned, leaning close to my ear.
I smiled back and offered her my hand, “and you must be Syd.”
This was going to be the BEST. DATE. EVER!

We chatted at the bar for the few minutes it took for our table to be ready.
“Do you mind if I drink?” Syd asked.
“Of course not!” I told her, “I wish I could have a drink with you, but, you know, I might have to work.”
She smiled and ordered a double rum and coke.

The conversation was easy and light. Syd commented that she loved my ear-rings.
“I knew you’d be wearing hoops,” she smiled, as she ordered her third double.”I told my friends I was going on a date with a midwife. I was so nervous, but I could tell from your profile that you’re a real lady.” She was slurring a little bit. I decided to ignore the intrusion of reality into my perfect date. Syd was a drinker, and not a social one. A serious one. Like X. I even decided to ignore the “real lady” comment, although if there had been a second date I’m not sure I’d have lived up to her preconception. Fair enough. I had pre-conceived her as well.

Halfway through dinner Syd excused herself and went outside into the frigid winter night for a cigarette. I was alone at the table for fifteen minutes, contemplating the rapidly sinking ship that was this date. Vaguely, I wondered if this was the proper treatment for “a lady.”
When she returned, she seemed refreshed and somehow more sober.
“Sorry about that,” she apologized, “terrible habit. I’m trying to quit, but I’m just having such a good time, I needed a smoke.”

The remainder of dinner was spent, once again, having quite normal conversation. Syd told me that she had confided her nervousness about this date to her best friend, who was a divorced mom like me, and a waitress at the bar they both worked at. The friend had laughed at her and said, “don’t put her on a pedestal Syd, she’s recently divorced. She might just be desperate to get laid.”

I think I blushed deep purple, because it was as if Pandora’s box had burst open in my head. I suddenly noticed the small details about Syd that I hadn’t seen earlier. Her fingernails were short and clean, fingers longer than I would have expected, hands tanned even in winter and corded with veins. Strong hands. And now that my mind was going there, her forearms, almost hairless except for some blonde fuzz, looked thick and solid. Compelled by ten years of neglect, my gaze traveled up her arms, over her chest and neck, past her squarish jaw, and lingered on her slightly chapped lips. It only took a few seconds, but by the time my eyes reached hers, the gig was up. She saw my intention, and probably even the warmth that was spreading south at lightning speed. It was true, her friend’s warning, and we both realized it at exactly the same time.

Syd smiled and motioned for the waiter. When he appeared she¬†requested the bill and two shots of tequila “for the road.” I let it go.
When the bill came, Syd snatched it up before I could get a look and it, sliding her debit card into the folder.
When the waiter returned he explained, apologetically, that they did not accept debit cards. Cash or credit only. In the end I paid the bill.

Once outside, the fresh cold air gave me time to think. I wasn’t sure, after all, about my intentions towards Syd. First of all, she was drunk, and I knew enough about consent for it to concern me. So I offered her a ride home with the growing intention to drop her at her door and never see her again.

She was quiet for most of the ride home, but as we got closer to her street she turned towards me with a roguish grin. “You’re really beautiful, you know?” she half whispered. I didn’t feel beautiful, but it felt good to hear her say it. She took my right hand in both of hers and gently stroked my fingers. “Pretty hands,” she declared, “I bet they could tell a lot of stories…”
It was agony. Such a handsome, perfect butch dyke, her touch sending sparks directly into my soul, but she could not be in my future.
She was a lesson I had already learned, and I knew better that to compete with alcohol.

But I still accepted her offer to come in for a cup of tea. The sparks had worked their magic, and although I wasn’t certain of the outcome, I had to see it through.

We drank herbal chai in her kitchen and I told her that I didn’t really like being left alone at the table while she went outside for a cigarette. I don’t know why I told her, but it was true and I just felt like being myself. I didn’t tell her that I recognized her behavior, that I had already done my time with an alcoholic, because I didn’t want to judge her, not knowing her story, and I didn’t plan to see her again.

It was late, but I am well used to keeping strange hours. We sat in her tiny kitchen and talked and talked. She told me about her plans to become a paramedic and I told her that I secretly write poetry. She smiled and proclaimed “I knew it!” I guess it fit with the idealized vision of me she had made up and still clung to.

As dawn started to break, I stood up to go. She followed as far as the front hallway, where she slowly backed me up against the wall and kissed me. Her hands held my hips, and when she pulled back she did a thing that I couldn’t really explain, but it lit me on fire. It was a tilt of the head, a leaning back in and grazing of my neck with her lips, a soft breath in my ear.
I felt a decade of ice crack in the core of me. We became a movie cliche, but a good one, a queer one. Clothes flying, hands and tongues ravenous…

Several hours later, as I searched for my discarded clothes, Syd, perched on her elbow in bed, asked the inevitable question, “Will I see you again?”

“I don’t think so Syd,” I replied.
“I’ll quit smoking,” she smiled. “I feel like we really have chemistry.”

Chemistry. Yes. We had chemistry. But, as it happens, chemistry just isn’t enough.

Second Date: The Femme

Shortly after returning from the disastrous date with Mo, the social worker who, in retrospect, was almost certainly on the spectrum (I am an expert, having been raised by a strictly no eye-contact mother), I went back to my OK Cupid profile¬†and started from scratch. I updated my bio, added photos, and proclaimed clearly, in the title, that I was “Searching For My Ivan E. Coyote!”

And who, you are probably dying to know, responded to this very specific casting call? There was an adorable 23 year-old cap-backwards, ironic t-shirt wearing baby-dyke; a tiny (really, like 4’11”) elder-dyke from Wisconsin with a thing for golden retrievers and anyone in lipstick; and many, many long-haired lipstick wearing “I’m not really femme, I’m just me” lesbians. And by “many, many,” I mean “three.”

I asked Baby Dyke if she had read my actual profile, because it clearly stated my age, the fact that I have two young children, and was searching for a soul-mate, not a playmate. She replied that “age is just a number,” and was shocked at how old I was¬†(I guess all that time spent perfecting the perfect, ironic, slightly edgy, but not too insane profile written entirely in iambic pentameter was a little over the top). Anyway, she told me I was “super hot,” and proclaimed to have had years of lesbian life experience that made her an old soul. I understood;¬†¬†I felt pretty weathered myself at her age. But looking at her photo I saw a very recent ex-teenager. I could practically smell her . . . ¬†locker rooms, cleats, cheap cologne and beer. She was cute, and I would have loved to be a role model for her. I was, of course, flattered¬†that she thought I was “super hot,” as this was not anything I had ever been called before.¬†I fall in the Annette Bening “The Kids are Alright” category of middle aged lesbian. My son’s grade three teacher thought I was a ringer for Maggie Gyllenhaal in her shorn-hair days. I fit nicely in between Annette and Maggie in terms of my vintage, so you can understand why I might not be interested in playing Spank-Me-Mommy with Baby Dyke.

Elder Dyke was all huff and bravado. I had so much fun corresponding with her that I almost forgot that Wisconsin is nowhere near where I live. She offered¬†to ride her vintage 1980 Harley Shovelhead across¬†the border for the sole purpose of sweeping me off my feet. She promised to “treat me like a lady,” which made me¬†equal parts titillated and suspicious. When I mentioned our very inequitable height distribution, she gamely replied “height doesn’t matter when you’re horizontal.” ¬†Touch√©, Elder dyke, touch√©. It was an interesting fantasy, but the reality of being a divorced working mom with shared custody of two grade school boys left absolutely no room for cross-border sapphic adventures.¬†Although I badly wanted to feel, well, pretty much anyone’s touch on my naked skin, I could read the writing on the wall. I said good-bye to Elder Dyke, wishing her and her dogs (Harley and Davidson) merry adventures in Lesbo-land.

The Sirens, as I thought of them, were a group of interchangeable women with long hair, painted nails and lipstick who all repeated the same mantra, which went something like: “Your fixation on masculine-oriented women is narrow-minded and unnecessarily limiting. It’s old-school and out-dated. Nobody is into those gendered stereotypes anymore, and anyway, I’m tom-boyish and strong and play soccer too. I just prefer to be pretty.”
Hmmmm…I smelled hypocrisy, and perhaps a whiff of homophobia.¬†One thing I knew very clearly about myself was that I was not going to apologize for¬†¬†my sexuality or be ashamed of my desires. I had absolutely no intention of¬†debating whether or not my ideals¬†were hetero-normative; I was done with being told what to think and who to find attractive. But the Sirens were like Jehova’s Witnesses. They showed up in my in-box every Sunday and preached their liturgy of salvation, until finally, one particularly boring, rainy day¬†when my kids were with their other mom, I thought,”Well, fuck-it, okay then.”

And that’s how I found myself sitting in a crowded corner of Famous Thai waiting for Julia. I had picked the prettiest, most feminine of the Sirens because I figured I might as well go big or go home. I had learned from my first date that arriving¬†second was uncomfortable, so I was¬†happily sipping my iced tea when she arrived, pink cheeked and glistening, at the table. I stood up and gave her a hug (maybe over-kill, but I didn’t want to be like Mo had been on that first date). She was much curvier than her pictures suggested, which was a pleasant surprise. Blond hair cascaded over her broad shoulders and didn’t do much to conceal her ample cleavage, which was displayed provocatively in a low-cut black sweater. Bad choice, I thought. She’s going to be way too hot in that sweater. We chatted nervously for a few minutes, before settling in to examine the ten paged menu. It was a perfect place to go on a first date. The food was amazing, the hub-bub kept things lively and offered lots of opportunities for people watching, and Julia had picked it because, it turns out, she knew the owner.

“Julia!” a small man in white shouted. “Where have you been!”

“Afghanistan,” she replied, smiling, “working on the show.”

So, it turns out, Julia worked in television, which seemed to mean that she knew everybody. Our conversation moved easily from Afghanistan¬†to chocolate to sex clubs (neither of us had been to one) to politics to children (she had none, but liked them). We laughed loudly and often. I learned that Julia was bisexual and was recently divorced. Unlike me, it was from a man. She was bitter because her ex-husband had never wanted children so they had remained childless. One year after the divorce, almost to the day, his younger girlfriend gave birth. Julia was past the age of unexpected pregnancy by then. ¬†I told her how X had cashed in our kids’ RESPs and drank them away before leaving me and hooking up with a 25 year old, whom she planned to marry and have another child with using the same donor as our children. ¬†We agreed that they were both assholes and toasted to moving on.¬†¬†I was curious how many women she had been with, and was not surprised to learn that it was a grand total of one. She had had a college room-mate who she fooled around with. Eye-roll.

I genuinely enjoyed the date, except for one small problem. I could easily be her friend, but I was not attracted to her at all. I could see that she was beautiful, and had a look that many people would be attracted to, particularly heterosexual men, some butches, and the other Sirens. But not me. Sexual attraction is not something that can be forced, any more than the church can turn people straight. I considered that building a new life with someone smart, employed, beautiful, funny, well connected and secure would be lovely, and tried to imagine us together. All I could envision were platonic shoulder-rubs and sisterly hugs. Sigh. I tried, I really did.

As the date ended we both agreed that we had no chemistry. I offered to introduce her to a single bi friend of mine who was also recently divorced. I met Julia one more time at a women’s dance, where she showed up with my bi friend. They struck up a connection, of sorts, and I learned months later that they had gone to a sex club together. Rock on Julia, rock on!

1Sagefemme All Rights reserved 2016

Queer Spawn

I was going to write about my second date since the divorce (I succumbed to peer pressure and went out for Thai food with a “Femme” from out west), but that will have to wait because, for whatever reason, I feel inspired to share a story from my life today. The inspiration to stray from the dating theme struck while I was reading a post by Baroness Buttercup (Baronessbuttercup.com) called “Single Status Marathon.” First of all, she’s hilarious. Secondly, she was in a 17 year lesbi-marriage, like me, and thirdly she describes herself as a bit of a “project.” My sister! I even dated a dissociated “fixer”¬†for a year, (wait for the fourth date installment. No wait, the fifth. There was Mo, the Femme, the Bartender, the Entertainer, THEN the Fixer) until I realized that she just¬†had a fetish for broken ¬†things.

Anyway, I was sitting on my throne reading The Baroness and giggling, when she mentioned¬†her ovaries and how it was unfortunate that she didn’t have a kid to take care of her in her old age. This got me thinking. Because I did heed the call of the shriveling ovaries and squeeze out a couple of kids in my late thirties. I considered what I got for my effort, aside from hiding in the bathroom for privacy:

Last night I was finally off-call after a week of deliveries.¬†If you’ve read my poetry blog, you may know that I’m a midwife, although I prefer to focus my writing on my private life. Being off-call means a night of uninterrupted sleep. I was so excited about it that I stayed up late watching “Tiny Home Builders” and dreaming about what kind of house I’d buy if I won the Super-Seven. My life is complicated by the fact that my week off-call coincides with the week I have my kids. Now, I love my kids more than my own life, and not being with them 100% of the time has been the hardest part of my divorce. BUT, as any parent will tell you, children ruin the fuck out of sleeping. So, having fallen asleep at midnight like a smug parent of no-longer-babies, I was startled to find my seven year old (The Kid)¬†staring at me at 4 am, clad only in his boxers. “I’m scared,” he whispered. He was so damn cute, and I couldn’t help myself. I opened the covers and motioned for him to climb in bed with me. That was the beginning of the end.

The puppy, who had previously been fast asleep with her butt on my shoulder, woke up and went crazy with joy at seeing The Kid again, because 8 hours is an eternity to puppies. The Kid scrambled over me, grabbing the puppy as he went, and curled up with her in the middle of the bed. The cat jumped up on the other side of me, pinning¬†the covers down. And I boiled in silence. The Kid tossed and turned, kicked and elbowed, and finally piped up “Mommy?”

“Yes Sweetie?”

“Can you not be so hot?”

Sweat prickled on my upper lip as I thought about this. “No love,” my mind replied, “I can’t be ‘not so hot,’ because I’m in f*#*ing menopause and you’re in my f*@*ing¬†personal¬†space!”

“Sorry love,” I replied out loud. “Let me move the cat.”

At this, (spoiler alert) my partner woke up. “What’s going on?” she muttered. “I was dreaming that I was dating Donald Trump.”

“That must be like a nightmare for you,” The Kid whispered, to which my partner snorted out a laugh. The Kid¬†then turned and caressed my face with his hot little hand. I could smell the distinct odor of urine on his fingers, but I kept my mouth shut (literally and figuratively) and let him be. About an hour later he was still tossing and turning, and I was getting worried about how I’d get the kids to school and myself to the clinic on time.

“Kid?” I whispered,”how about I take you back yo your own bed?”

“No Mommy, I’m too scared,” he replied.

“Well, how about if I go sleep in your room, and you stay here?”

“I just want to be with you,” he replied.

“What if I take you back to your bed and sleep on the futon in your room?”

“Okay,” he acquiesced.

So I spent another 45 minutes curled up in The Kid’s room wrapped in a sheet waiting until I heard rhythmic breathing. I then crawled off the futon and across the carpet, carefully avoiding the squeaky areas. When I sank gratefully back into my own cozy bed, the older dog woke up. I shushed her but not before Puppy noticed I was back and did her happy dance. I grabbed Puppy and made her lie in my arms while I pretended to sleep; the same tactic I had used with my kids when they were younger.

By now it was 5:45 am and Kitty, who is basically an asshole, was wide awake. She slunk up the side of the bed and whacked Puppy on the nose. Mayhem ensued.

Fast forward to 7:05 am. The Tween woke up happy and perky as I was about to hop into the shower.

“Mom?” he asked through the door.

“Mmm hmm?”

“Can I use the bathroom?”

I exited my refuge wrapped in a towel, trudged down to the kitchen, cracked some eggs into a frying pan (my kids need protein or they get really ADD), popped some toast in the toaster, fed the dogs and the cat, made myself a latte (it’s Tassimo, I’m not super-mom), turned on the TV, woke up The Kid (who was REALLY tired) and served breakfast. When the queer spawn were eating, I returned to my throne room and decided to take this moment to check the blogosphere. There, I found a hilarious article by my soul sister, Baroness Buttercup, but I¬†wasn’t¬†able to get through it.

“MOMMY!” I heard.

“I’m busy,” I yelled under my breath, so The Girlfriend would think I was at least trying to be quiet.

“Mommy, the antenna isn’t working!” The Tween shouted. When I didn’t respond, he actually came upstairs and complained through the door.

“How can I help you with that right now?” I asked him.

And here’s the good part of the morning. He laughed. So I ran with it, “Do you even know what an antenna is?” I asked him, “Because we have cable.”

So, Baroness, should you have had a kid to look after you in your old age? The jury is still out on this one!

1Sagefemme All rights reserved 2016

The First Date

Online dating;  The First Date:

The¬†first thing I learned when I hesitantly uploaded my POF and OK Cupid profiles is that it’s mostly the same people on both sites . . . go figure! I kept seeing the same faces repeatedly, and there were a good number I recognized from my previous twenty-five years in the lesbian community. I saw women¬†I had dated twenty years earlier. I even saw my first girlfriend pop up one day. Except she had long hair, lipstick,and her profile read “I used to be butch.” Used to be butch?¬†¬†She wanted to transition back in the 80’s and at that time I was young and couldn’t understand why. I begged her not to have top surgery, which is ironic now. Don’t shoot me, it was a long time ago.
Anyway, I sent her a message, like:
“Hi, um, how weird is this? How ya doin’?” to which she replied:
“Great! Good to see you on here. What’s up with you these days?”
So, because I’m a lesbian, I sent an inappropriately long reply telling her all about the preceding twenty years of my life, my kids, my divorce. Hell, I probably even mentioned my dogs and cats. Needless to say, she didn’t respond.
I said I was lonely, right? And not all that filtered, apparently.

When I first narrowed the list of potential matches I tried to stick with women over forty and over 5’7″ who described themselves as masculine of center, butch, boi, or any other tag that I thought might denote that special combination of swagger and charm that I find so attractive. The height thing was only because I’m 5’9″ and was hoping to be the shorter one for a change. What I discovered is that there seems to be an inverse correlation between what I will call “butchness” and height. All the amazons were self-identified femmes with long hair. My “advanced search” showed me face after beautiful face belonging to hot, (allegedly) single feminine women. But here’s the thing, and again, hold the judgement; that’s not what turns me on. I had lots of really funny, awesome conversations with different women, some of whom I assume were actual real people and some of whom may have been men, straight women, and general frauds. I didn’t really care, since I had no intention of actually meeting them. It was entertaining at a time in life that I needed a little levity.

But a couple of people on my (admittedly restrictive) list stood out: one was a tall social worker who was a self-declared motorcycle enthusiast. Her profile showed her standing confidently beside a really sexy bike in a leather jacket with a helmet tucked under her arm, squinting against the sun at whoever took the photo. Swoon. The other was a creative artist who billed themself as “tall and boi-ish.” Double swoon. I was almost immediately smitten with their profile photo, despite the fact that it depicted only the back of their expertly barbered head.

The social worker (I’ll call her Mo) was the first one to respond to my message of interest. I tried to avoid introduction lines like “hi,” which I had received so many times. Speaking of openers like that, I’m going to go off on a tangent right now:
People, if you’re really serious about wanting to meet and date someone, just sending “hi” is NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Put some bloody effort into it, for crying out loud. Read their profile. Make a comment about something they like, a mutual interest, or something you notice about them. Give them something to respond to. Rant over.

Mo responded to my message and we had a witty, fun exchange of messages for a week or so before deciding that there was enough interest to meet up in person. Like me, she believed in social justice, worked in a “helping profession,” and was new to online dating. We decided on a public place, in this case a cute little coffee shop frequented by film-studio types. I called my best friend (I’ll call her J) and gave her the low-down on exactly where I would be (you know, in case I was meeting a serial killer), and set off, sweaty-palmed, on my first date in 17 years.

The first thing I learned was that it’s always best to be the first to arrive. In this case, I was on time. I mean, on the nose, to the second, on time. I’m weird that way sometimes. The thought of being early or late makes me anxious. The second thing I learned is that it’s not a good idea to go somewhere small, cramped, and hot where everyone is in your business, the tables all seem too low, and you have to squeeze your lady-thighs between other patrons’ miniature chairs.

So I arrived at the coffee shop, squeezed in the door and up a few stairs with my big winter parka on, scanned the room nervously, and immediately saw Mo sitting by herself at the farthest table, her head buried in a book. She didn’t look up when I walked in, although everyone else in the place did. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I made my way to the counter, which was sunken into the floor, so that the barristas were on a completely different level about a foot below me. Whether it was the heat or my nerves, I’m not sure, but it occurred to me that this must be how Gulliver felt when he found Lilliput. I suppressed a bad case of nervous giggling as I took the London Fog in what now seemed to be my giant hand, and slowly lumbered through a maze of uncomfortably low chairs. If only J was here, I kept thinking. We’d have had such a laugh.

As I crossed the room, I kept my eyes straight ahead, trying to catch Mo’s eye. I attempted to plaster a conspiratorial grin on my face, so that when she looked up she would see me and smile, and we’d maybe laugh and enjoy the ridiculousness of the space together. I’m sure that by the time I reached her, my smile had become contorted and mask-like. How strange is it, though, that she never once looked up from that book? I mean, she was waiting for me. Shouldn’t she scan the room at least one fricking time? I got right in front of her table and stood there for a few seconds with my tea in hand, staring down at the top of her head as sweat trickled down my back. When she still didn’t acknowledge me I had a sudden fear that I was at the wrong place, and I was now staring at some poor introverted woman caught up reading her book, oblivious to the world around her.
“Um, Mo?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” she replied, without smiling. She put the book down and looked in the general direction of my crotch, which was awkward despite the fact that it was right across the table from her. I quickly pulled out one of the child-sized chairs, made a comment I hoped was funny about Gulliver’s Travels, and sat down to stony silence.

For the first thirty minutes of what would ultimately be a very uncomfortable ninety minute date with Mo, I really tried to engage her. I asked her all about her work, her motorcycle, her dog, her parents, past relationships… Anything to try and get her to engage in some sort of human-like way. She was polite and answered all my questions, but with none of the humour and personality that she had expressed in writing. She asked me nothing about myself, and I found myself offering bits of information that fit with her stories, in the hopes that she would pick up the offerings and run with them. She didn’t. I could, quite literally, feel time ticking away as I interviewed Mo about her life and tried to make polite conversation. After half an hour, I decided to change tactics and not try to fill the void with talk. What followed was excruciating silence. Crickets chirped in my head. I was already telling myself stories about this date, rolling my eyes at myself and slapping my own imaginary back, telling myself “well, what were you expecting?”
I studied Mo in detail. Her profile photos showed a confident, sexy, forty-something professional with a bit of biker on the side; her afro was cut close to the scalp, she wore leather, she owned a HARLEY!
The Mo I was looking at was clearly in her late fifties. Her hair had grown several inches, although it was very tidy and professional. She had lots of grey hair blossoming halo-like around her head. A fact I was able to observe in great detail as she continued to keep her eyes averted, and mostly addressed the table or the sugar jar as she spoke. Now, I love grey hair (not on me, but you know what I mean). What I don’t love is people lying about their age to get a date. It seems weird. Why would you want to set yourself up to disappoint somebody? For a long time I didn’t have a picture of myself on my profile, and if anyone messaged me and asked if I was attractive I would reply, “sometimes.” I never want to set myself up for rejection.

But there was Mo, wearing librarian bifocals on a string around her neck, beige pants that actually had pleats in front and reminded me of Gram (may she rest in peace), and plum coloured lipstick. She could have been my elementary school principal. I’m sure it will be unnecessary to even state this, but the chemistry in the room was zero. Nada. Zilch. After an hour and a half of painful social experimentation, Mo was still sitting across from me nodding and making no effort to end the encounter. I finally had to resort to an awkward “well…. I guess I should get going…”
She actually appeared surprised, as though we’d just been in the middle of such a wonderful conversation and I suddenly, for no apparent reason, decided to go and wash my hair. I think she may have even gazed up from the table for a second or two, because I feel like I did see the colour of her eyes briefly (hazel).

I smiled apologetically (hey, I was raised female, it’s what we do) and beat a hasty retreat. I didn’t even lumber my way over to the tiny bathroom. I had to pee so badly that I stopped at a fast food place on the way home, used the facilities, bought some fries (because, as my son likes to say, fries make everything better) and phoned my friend to whine. I had had such high hopes for Mo.
In my very fertile imagination, we were supposed to have locked eyes over the steam from my London Fog in a romantic little nook of a place. The conversation would flow naturally and easily and there would be sparks. After a few dates (I’m not THAT easy, right?) she would sweep me onto the back of her Harley (who cares if it’s snowing) and we would go back to her place and rip each other’s clothes off. Sigh. Back to the drawing board. There’s still that hot tall boi. Well, the back of their head is sexy anyway.

Tales of a middle-aged lesbian: Adventures in online dating

Tales of a Middle-Aged Lesbian; Adventures in online dating.

The back story:

After the better part of two decades and two kids together, my wife (let’s call her X) and I split up. I’m going to go out on a limb here and just say that we were a normal lesbian couple in that we didn’t have much sex after the first ten years of marriage. Actually, we didn’t have any, unless you count that time at the Best Western when baby #1 was five months old and we made a solid effort in the huge in-room bathtub. I was bitter about having to go back to work so soon after the baby was born because X was an alcoholic and could never seem to keep a full time job. Or any job, a lot of the time (a fact which was a lot less irritating in our baby-dyke party days than after the kids were born). But I loved her and had not yet realized that I am a huge enabler. It’s like my super-power. If I were a superhero, I’d be “The Amazing Invisible Enabler,” working behind the scenes to excuse all X’s bad behaviour and uphold the lie that she was “just starting out” in whatever given career she was into at the time. Plus, she was the charismatic charming one. Life was fun, until it wasn’t.

Anyway, I’d like to say that after the kids came along I woke up and kicked her ass to the curb, but that isn’t what happened. I was angry and stopped feeding her ego. I asked her to get help for her drinking, but like any alcoholic who isn’t ready to change, she denied having a problem. Then one day she sent me an email from the dock of a cottage we were staying at telling me it was over. She was in love with someone else, although I didn’t know it at the time. It ended up not being reciprocal because the object of X’s affection didn’t like how X drank a tumbler of red wine for breakfast. Go figure! If any of you are divorced, you know it wasn’t an easy time. For you young ones who have never been married, I have one word for you: “pre-nup.”

So, after crawling into a dark hole for six months, I emerged to a whole new world. And I was really fucking horny. Unfortunately, I was also sad and lonely. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t find sad, lonely, horny women of a certain age all that hot. There’s no challenge in it, for one thing, and the distinct stench of low self-esteem is a real turn off. I’d feel kind of sorry for the women I dated in that time, but they were just as messed up as me, in their own quirky ways.

So there I was; lonely, horny, and the last time I had been on a date was 1995. Back then lesbians just congregated in women’s bars, women’s centres, or at “take back the night” marches; everyone was androgynous, leather was a thing, and I didn’t even have a cell phone.

Flash forward to 2012. I can’t find a lesbian bar anywhere. There are some lesbian dances, but they’re few and far between, and they’re mostly populated by the under 30 crowd. “Femmes loving femmes” is a thing. And to make matters worse, I’ve forgotten how to dance. What’s a desperate, lonely divorcee to do? I turned to the Internet.

Stay tuned for tales of my first date; I call her “the one who never looked up from the table.”

1sagefemme All rights reserved 2016