I hunted down the fecking Irishman like I was in the IRA.
The year after the divorce, I lost a lot of weight. I guess anxiety and fear agreed with me. I got my sexy new divorcee hairdo, bought myself a new water bra, and then I went into the big city to get me a man.
Some people go online. But I window-shopped where I always did: recovery meetings.
This is where I met the feckin Irishman named Don (or Dean depending if he was back in the old country), and he had a reputation for treating women like dirt. So of course, given my track record, of purchasing fixer-uppers, I was all over him.
On our first date, he took me to see the Dali Lama. I didn’t understand a word the Dali said because he has a thick accent and Sean smelled like a new car. Leather interior all the bells and whistles. The fasten seatbelt alarm went off and we hadn’t even opened the door.
It baffles me that the Dali Lama’s talk on world peace would act as a kind of foreplay, but it did. Some people use oysters, but a man of faith was my aphrodisiac.
I said I was taking it slow. This was my first dating situation in twenty years and I was doing everything I could to avoid the topic of sex. On the fourth date, he drove down from Toronto again, and I had organized for us to go for a brisk walk in the country – a good hike would sweat off some of that sexual tension.
We went to a place called Hell Holes. It was about ten miles north of where I grew up and has a series of underground caves, aptly named because to climb in and out of them are hell.
The grounds are stunning: 100 acres of forest. It was fall, and the earth was carpeted in orange and red leaves. We paid our admission, and we were not even 100 yards into the park when we came upon two people copulating. Fornicating. Hiding the banana in the lunch box. Whatever you call it they were going at it. The woman was bent over a tree; ass in the air and the man had his pants down around his knees, pumping her madly from behind.
I let out a gasp. The woman turned around, ‘Oh, shit’ then stood up and hopped into the woods with her pants around her knees, while he hollered after he, “How was it for you?”
My family thinks these things happen to me because I am a comic, “Leave it to you”, they sigh. Like I was the one with the ass in my air in the woods. Or that I conjured this up. But it did happen and if I had come upon this scene with a friend of mine we would have likely split a gut. But this was my first date in twenty years and it left me incensed. How could I possibly ward off lust when there were sexual re-enactors on the path in front of me?
The Fecking Irishman thought it was a hoot. He couldn’t quit laughing. The more he laughed, the more tightly wound I became.
“You’re a comic, don’t you have a sense of humor?” He said breathlessly because encountered the fornication installment, I had picked up the walking pace.
“No, actually I don’t find it funny.”
Telling a comic what they should and shouldn’t find amusing makes most comics furious. In fact, tell us what we should find funny and we won’t laugh just to spite you.
I trucked over hill and over dale like I was a Girl Guide being tested for my hiking badge. I was racing through the forest, but The Fecker was short, and his white Gaelic peasant legs couldn’t keep up. He kept yelling, “Slow the feck down.”
I was yammering a mile a minute, giving a breezy commentary on the history of the hellholes, which suddenly had become a dirty metaphor for what we had witnessed.
We then went to town for a quick bite, and when he kissed me, all he could do was laugh.
I pushed him away and got back into my car and gripped the steering wheel. I felt undone.
When he called me that night, he made a joke, “You folks do things differently down in the country.”
And I said, “Well, it’s the Hell Holes. I guess they’ve taken to acting out the seven deadly sins – and the first installation was lust.”
———- (PAUSE FOR THE CAUSE DONATE HERE TO MY WRITING)———–
I wondered what this experience meant. I prayed to God, and I got a homeless guy puking in a garbage can. I wanted to have post-marital sex, and I was getting lust being enacted in front of me.
The real issue is this guy was unnerving me. He was the first man I had been this attracted to since I had left my husband. And I had felt safe with David.
But this fecking Irishman- stirred me up! In my drinking days, I had been extraordinarily promiscuous, but now, as a single 50-year-old woman, I didn’t know who I was.
Or what I wanted.
Or how to do any of it!
I’d wanted to have an affair. Like the French, do.
Friends said, take a lover.
I lived on an island. Where was I going to find a lover? The dump?
I wanted to be casual about all this sexual stuff. But you’re fifty you don’t get to do that. You can’t go back to twenty when all that energy is there.
See, I had always sacrificed safety for excitement.
This guy was not safe. He was suave, devastatingly attractive, and contrived.
Everything he did seemed rehearsed and I felt like I was in a play. I would go out with him and about 72 hours after our date a creepy sensation would come over me.
I would feel sick to my stomach, remembering something he said or did to undermine me.
Despite his sophisticated veneer, he was a crass man! He took me to the opera and after he walked me out of the chapel said he rented a room at the Holiday Inn.
He’d take me to a restaurant in Yorkville, and then he kicked his dog. He appalled me, but I kept going back for more.
Then he brought God into it. He said he had prayed that he’d let me know when God told him this relationship would go to the next level.
What the fuck was wrong with this person?
I knew this was insane. I knew it. But another part of me that thought he had some direct line to God I didn’t have. A familiar thought that had plagued me my entire life.
My gut was screaming to get out of there. This is not good for you, but I was running on pure cortisol and sexuality, and I kept going back one more time.
Does that smell like shit?
Yep it does! Let’s do it again.
Being with him was like crawling under an electric fence. I didn’t know when I was going to get zapped.
Lust, the sin I loved the most in my twenties, was now doing me in.
The first relationship you have right after a divorce is a lot like making pancakes.
You need to throw the first one away.
Because even if this guy had been the nicest man in history, there was desperation in me I was familiar with.
Since the beginning, it was the same pattern with all men. As you remember from my twenties, I had dated a musician for 4 years who was a terrible alcoholic and drug addict.
But here I was, twenty-five years later, and I thought marriage had healed it but I was now in the middle of menopause at the mercy of hormones that were surging and waning. My lady parts were having a -going-out-of-business sale.
Why was I so out of control?
Why did I keep going back to a man I mostly despised?
Why was I now saying lady-parts?
So, I “broke up” with the fecking Irish man by phone but when I said it’s best we didn’t see each other anymore, he wouldn’t accept my decision.
My friends told me this would happen. In fact they told me when he called back, to not pick up. And I didn’t When he called back 6 hours later and left a message on my phone to inform me that I couldn’t break up with him, but he was breaking up with me, a painful truth came to roost.
When you’re young, you think getting older would improve how stupid men and women can act, but it’s the one area that despite the self- improvement can reduce you to Grade nine statuses in about twenty-eight seconds flat.
The only good news I got out of this relationship within six weeks.
Withdrawing from this guy was worse than getting off cigarettes. With the ‘smokes’, you get a patch. I had no patch. I was craving him, like a junkie.
What do you do when you are withdrawing from a fecking Irishman?
Go online dating.
There is a process that is guaranteed to improve your mental health.
I needed a man, but I was cheap. I didn’t want to pay for one, so I went on PlentyofFish.Com.
The men I met were neither good nor bad. But I had never dated on the Internet, so likes and swipes don’t work for a co-dependent person like me. I’d write and rewrite a reply, and then when they didn’t respond I’d be devastated.
And if it did happen, it was terrifying to go out with people I didn’t know.
To even call these “dates” was inaccurate, they were more like meet and greets. Drive-bys.
It seemed no one liked the idea of getting to know you. Some wanted relationship security before we had even had a coffee.
Others had wild views of sex that were out of my comfort zone. Call me “old fashioned”, but I think we should find out each other’s last names before we start engaging in performance art.
And the sexuality was strange. It was like we were putting on a Fringe show where you worked really hard, and nobody comes.
To be fair, when you are vulnerable, you will not be attracting the best kind of person.
I already had enough stress trying to get work. As a comic and actor, I hustled to get paid and put food on the table. I didn’t need that kind of excitement in my love life.
People used to say, “You’ll find someone.” But after 50, they were saying, “You need to love yourself.” I loved myself so much I wrote off my vibrators as a medical-dental expense.
I got off the dating sites because I knew my time of chasing men was over.
I threw out the sexy underwear and bought old lady underwear and flannel pajamas.
I talked about the fecking Irishman to the point of exhaustion. Talking about your love life is not as exciting as you think it is. Most people humor you. In fact, when I forget how bad it was, I seek out a heartbroken younger woman and listen to her go on about every detail of her -he-said and- then- I -said love life and it acts as aversion therapy. But then I was obsessed and sad. Very sad. I was doing the best I had ever done in my career. I was writing and performing and speaking a lot of motivational ‘we are women, hear us roar’ conferences.
People would give me standing ovations, but by the time I’d get to the car, I’d be crying.
In my off hours, I was wearing a housecoat with ink stains on it. I smelled like Vicks. I always rubbed it on even though I didn’t have a cold.
I was making soup. Nights were spent chopping vegetables and cooking beans and making freeze-dried packages of every kind of soup you could think of.
I picked up the self-help journey. While searching online, I found a course in California called, “There’s Nothing Wrong With You.”
When I told my friend, Rachel said, “You’re going to spend a 1000 dollars to find out nothing is wrong with you?”
The penny dropped. This was ridiculous.
I was stuck with one person.
So I finally was forced to do what Mari had coached me about so many years ago sit with the girl and love her.
Breathing, loving myself, and 1 mg Zoloft. A small dosage was what the doctor said was a vitamin for the brain. It didn’t turn me into anyone else, but it did help me be able to face the feelings that were coming up through me.
For the first time in my life, I was alone without my kids and without a man to distract me. There was no one to rescue, to help or to boss around. At least to who I was related.
Was it even possible to exist without the potential of the next man coming around the corner?
Since I was 15, I had never been without one.
Even if I didn’t have one, I knew there would be a guy I could set my eyes on.
But now, men were not looking at me.
Ruth, the crone from Casa Loma, warned me of this. “One day, you will walk into a room, and you will not turn any heads.” At 30, I thought this was the saddest thing I had ever heard.
Then it happened. I walked into a room and sat down, and no man looked at me. But, it wasn’t sad.
In fact, I didn’t notice it at first. I just had a strange sensation that perhaps I had forgotten my keys. Then I noticed I didn’t notice men either.
But soon, I felt fine, just being me.
Friends who were married felt terrible that this was happening. For them, being single was akin to amputation. I needed to grow a limb back.
But I always felt their smugness, as they’d clutch their husband’s arm.
“ I am married to my best friend.”
I knew best friend marriages existed – just like I knew Idaho had existed, buut I had never been there.
And so inch-by-inch, minute-by-minute, I went from seeing being single as a failure of mine to seeing this new stage of life as mine.
Lust finally left town.
I think I saw it traveling down the road with a younger version of myself.
I rescued a dog- cute shiatsu with an under-bite and a reverse mullet. The shelter had shaved his back end because he had fleas. When I saw him, I thought our haircuts were the same.
Gus didn’t understand the word leash. Or walk. Or sit. He didn’t do anything but sit on my lap and sleep. He didn’t understand the word dog any more than I understood the word, single.
But he and I learned. We walked and hugged and I got him fixed so like me he wouldn’t hump people’s legs when they came to visit.
This chapter is from my book: Windowshopping for God. I earn my living as a performer and writer and if you would like to support this book or any of my stories please donate here!!