This post was originally published on October 8, 2015.
I don’t date since I got sober—aside from a few lapses into temporary insanity.
In one I found myself relentlessly pursuing a biker who really wanted nothing to do with me and the other involved being 13th stepped by another biker, with me two stepping back like a fool. Believe me, that little dance didn’t last long. So, I just don’t date.
After those disasters, I decided I would learn to love myself. Perhaps that process will take the rest of my life on this earth. If you believe in reincarnation, which I do, I sense that this process of learning amour de soi might take me several lifetimes. During this time, I plan to not date.
I even wrote on my calendar, Thou shalt not date (for now, anyway).
Maybe it’s not just about acquiring self-love, it’s logistics. When I go to bed at night, I squeeze into bed among my pit bulls. There is the 80 pound Zeus snoring away, Stella who weighs 100 pounds and Jade curled up on my pillow. Then I have the new arrival Loki, staring at me with his eyes glowing like one of those dogs from The Omen. Oh, and my two little Chihuahua mixes gazing at me.
Forget sharing the bed with a guy, I don’t even have room for a freaking Cabbage Patch Kid!
But somewhere in my temporal lobe, the part of the brain that stores memories, is the recollection of my Great Aunt Anastasia. She died at the age of 98 and was buried next to her beloved husband, my Great Uncle Steve. I believe that her ghost, a four-foot tall apparition dressed in black, haunts me up here in the Mojave. She peers through my plexiglass window, yelling in Greek.
Why don’t you date? Do you want to die alone? You can still find a man! You need a man to fix your garbage disposal! Isn’t this Tim a handy man??
I tell myself that it is the wind chimes rattling in the trees, but when my dogs bark I get the willies. I swear to God I can almost smell her Greek cookies burning in the oven. Then again, I do have generalized anxiety disorder so perhaps this is all in my head.
I started going to a new AA meeting at some ranch in the Mojave. There is a guy there that I have seen before at other meetings. Tim is a regular at this meeting. I was oblivious to the fact that Tim was interested in me until one night he chased me to my car. He asked if I knew of anyone who wanted a cocker spaniel. (I seem to be known as the “dog lady” of the Antelope Valley.)
The next week he wasn’t at the meeting, but the old timer, Bob, who owned the ranch and was about 88 years old, asked me, “Is Tim 13th stepping you?”
I thought for minute, “He asked me if I knew someone who wanted a cocker spaniel.”
“I think he likes you,” said the old-timer. “Stay away from Tim. He is a moron.”
The first time Tim texted me—yes, I gave him my number—I thought I was reading an excerpt from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake.
Heed, Sava’zzzzz. Mingle mingle? Isolatin’, put my own twitchie poo on names! No glasses on nose..mingle? Damn! Where u be, gurl? Hara hara! Glasses? Loss ‘em. No see well.
I stared at the text. Oh, my God.
A few days later, I ran into him at McDonalds on Rosamond Boulevard. It was about 10 am. I had just dropped Zeus off at the local vet for a surgical procedure on his toenail and decided I would run some errands while my beloved pooch was having his surgery. I was dying for a medium hazelnut iced coffee.
There was Tim sitting at a table, with a small hot coffee (it was 100 degrees out) and an egg mcmuffin.
He saw me and broke out into a grin. “I was just thinking about you. Have a seat!” he said. Panic—what do I do? I sit, even though I don’t want to. “Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked. Wow, he is not wasting any time. “No, I don’t,” I said, as if I am taking a lie detector test and I must speak the truth or else I will be convicted of some crime that I don’t know about. “I am into this whole amour de soi.”
He stared at me.
“Amour de soi versus amour-propre,” I said, knowing full well that he has no clue what I am talking about. Then for a good measure, I add, “It’s a concept that the philosopher Rousseau wrote about. Self-love, you know. That kind of thing.”
“Kind of like doing the steps?”
Ugh. Why do people in AA always bring up the damn steps?
“Hey! Do you ever want to have coffee or dinner?” he asked, changing the subject. “I don’t know, then go see a movie or something?” I had a vision of Tim and I at the Mojave Senior Center’s Weekly Movie Night some years from now, eating Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes, playing Bingo, reading our Big Books and watching On Golden Pond.
“Okay.“ I said.
Perhaps I want to date? But I am not interested in Tim. Or am I? And I don’t know that I am interested? Am I that fucking confused? Well, I never heard from him—nor did I see him at the next meeting.
The old timer Bob said, again, “Stay away from Tim. He is bad news.”
“Doesn’t Tim have 17 years of sobriety?” I asked.
“So? He is a buffoon.”
The following week, I ran into Tim again at the Rite-Aid parking lot on Rosamond Boulevard. I had just picked up my refills of Celexa and Cymbalta. There he was waving at me, as if he had some weird telekinetic sense and knew that I was arriving.
What the hell is he doing here?
As if he read my mind, he said, “I have to go pick up one of my kids. We are having dinner at Taco Bell.” “Don’t let me keep you. I am just here to pick up my medication,” I said. “I have a half hour to kill,” he said, shuffling behind me like a mummy.
After I picked up my meds, he said, “Listen, I like you.”
“Okay.” I said.
“There are two options that I thought about in regards to us. The first option is that we are just friends. The second option is that we have something more intimate. You know, like sex. I like the second option. It’s what most people do in these situations.”
Instead of visualizing my Greek aunt, I hear Bob from the meeting.
Stay away from this buffoon.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you. I am married,” Tim said. “But my wife and I don’t live together. Do you like the second option?”
I can hear Bob saying, “Just say no to this moron! A two-letter word! If you can say, amour de whatever, you can say, NO!“
“No!” I said.
Finally. I said it! And I felt a sense of relief!! He stared at me, and then he bolted into the restroom. Should I wait for him? NO.
I could hear the voice of my beloved Greek aunt.
Aren’t you scared of dying alone with a broken garbage disposal?
“No,” I said, out loud, as I walked out of Rite-Aid, making a mental note to call the landlord again.
And I meant it.