At 39 and chronically single, I was that stereotypical New York career woman who was constantly asked, “Why are YOU still single?”
I’d had years of both talk and group therapy and I still hadn’t figured it out. I blamed New York for being a playground for Peter Pans – men who never have to grow up. I blamed myself for wasting two decades crushing on guys who didn’t want me while simultaneously crushing the ones who did. I told people “I am super picky.” What I really meant was, “I am super jaded.”
After jumping into online dating pools and then scrambling back out of them, disappointed, I was on the verge of giving up on men and having a kid on my own.
And then I got the call that a friend wanted to set me up with a handsome, bald, witty, “I think he’s tall, but I’m short, so everyone is tall to me” Harvard-educated man named Nick. I knew that this time, something had to change.
I told myself, Julyne, your goal on this date is to be 100 percent yourself and to have fun. You are not going to judge this man on his every move and word. If he is shorter than you with a baloney patch, you are not going to write him off. The head can be shaved. You can wear flats.
I did not bat an eye when he showed up to the bar 30 minutes late with his shaved head dotted in beads of sweat that rolled down his face and into his blue eyes. He sat down before I could determine if he was indeed taller than me. He wore a button-down shirt, jacket and khakis.
I shushed the little voice in my head that warned, He looks like an ex-frat guy. If he’s a Republican, you’re leaving.
He was quiet at first and silence makes me nervous, so I filled the silence with chatter.
I told him about my years of talk therapy and how my therapist guilted me into not quitting because I had “34 years of life still to cover.” (And great insurance).
I told him about the semi-erotic massage I accidentally got at the Chinese parlor a block from my apartment.
I cheerily informed him that I wanted to have kids. Relatively soon.
I asked him why he divorced.
When he mentioned that being a single woman in New York must be difficult, I laughed and said, “Oh you have no idea. I can’t even talk about it.”
I then said to him, “You’re newly single, attractive, educated and in your 40s, you must be having a ball in New York relearning your game.”
When he looked down into his drink and said, “Oh, I have no game,” I began to fall in love. Later, when the check came and we went Dutch, I refused to make it a dealbreaker.
The women who wrote that ’90s book, “The Rules,” would have sat there at the bar, shaking their heads at me.
Five hours after we met, we hugged goodnight on the sidewalk outside the bar. Nick kissed me on the cheek. He was tall and handsome and his chaste kiss made me shiver. When I turned to walk away, I could feel his eyes on me.
Five years later, we are happily married with a toddler who has Nick’s cankles and my goofy personality. As for our first date, when I mention how went for broke, Nick says, “Oh, I liked you because you didn’t follow the rules.”