Sunday, June 26, 2022

Who Will Be There

This past winter, I was talking to a guy, who I shall refer to as Disturbing Fetish Guy, on Bumble who said, "Is that really you in your profile pictures?"

"Yes," I said. 

"I'm just asking because I've been catfished before," Disturbing Fetish Guy said.

"I'm not a catfish," I said.

"But you look really young," he insisted. "How old are those pictures?"

I've been told by many people that I look young for my age. I went to the movies recently, and the cashier asked to see my ID because I bought a ticket to watch an R-rated movie (Everything Everywhere All the Time - awesome movie! I love Michelle Yeoh!). Apparently, although I am forty-one years old, I still look like a teenager. Or maybe it was my Mickey Mouse T-shirt. 

"Well, people often say that I look young," I said. "But they're all pictures from the past two years."

"You do realize that I'm eight years younger than you, right?" I didn't like how he made a point of mentioning that, as if I'd done something wrong. If he'd matched with someone eight years younger, I doubt he would have said, "You do realize I'm eight years older than you, right?"

"Yeah, it says so in your profile." 

Then Disturbing Fetish Guy asked me what my racial identity was (he belongs to a different race). I told him, and he said, "YES! My friends and I all want to date women of your race. You're like the Holy Grail of dating." 

I didn't even fully register what he meant at first, but eventually, I thought to myself, "Annnd we're done here." I don't like anyone who tries to fetishize my racial identity. I put my profile on Bumble on "Snooze", which means that you can make your profile invisible to everyone else on the site. It also means you can't see anyone else's profiles until you deactivate the Snooze option, but at least you can take a break for as long as you want without deleting your profile.

When I first joined an online dating site, I was still in my twenties. I felt excited, nervous and hopeful that I would meet someone special. Seven online dating memberships and countless bad dates later, I don't feel hopeful anymore. 

I thought I was finally ready to date again, which is why I set up a coffee date with a guy last fall, who then stood me up at the last minute and didn't even explain or apologize. 

Ever since I turned forty, I've become a lot less tolerant of other people's b.s., like the guy who wrote this in his profile: "Respectfully, if you're vaccinated I don't want it. The nano particles from within it transfer person to person. Your DNA/bloodline is forever changed. Welcome to the new life of a cyborg." (I WISH I made that up, but I seriously did see that in someone's profile.)

I am vaccinated. I got the booster shot too. If I am a cyborg, does this mean I now have superhuman strength? Does it mean that I can pick up people who cut in front of me in line at Starbucks and toss them out the door? Because that would be awesome. (Whenever people cut in front of me, I revert back into my Chicago persona and start yelling scary nothings in their ear until they move back.)

I put my profile on Snooze not just because of Disturbing Fetish guy but because I'm just sick of it: online dating, the weird stuff that people put in their profiles, the awkward/bad/boring first dates, the unrequited crushes, etc., etc.

I spent the last few months binge-watching House on the Peacock app, where you can watch certain shows for free. I was able to watch literally every episode of the series for free on that app while I was working out. In one episode, called "One Day, One Room," a patient played by Katheryn Winnick tells Dr. House, "I'm going to base this moment on whom I'm stuck in a room with. That's what life is. It's a series of rooms, and who we get stuck in those rooms with adds up to what our lives are." 

Another thing I noticed about the show was who stayed with the patient in the hospital room while they were receiving treatment. Sometimes it would be family members. Other times it would be the patient's friend, and in one episode, it was the patient's dominatrix. It made me wonder who would be in the room with me when I go into end-stage renal failure and end up in the hospital.

I have to get tested every six months to ensure that my kidneys are still stable. I was tested recently, and the results showed that my kidney function has declined since last December. I am still at least a few years away from the end-stage, but I know that eventually, I will be hooked up to dialysis machines three times a week, for hours at a time, until I get a kidney. 

I think that the right person for me would be someone who would be "in the room" and willing to be there for me at my worst moment, and who wouldn't judge me for it. I recently binge-watched the TV series Girls (they have the complete series on DVD at the public library in College Town). I watched it and thought, Was I as self-absorbed and annoying as these characters when I was twenty-four? 

Nevertheless, it was a very good show, and my favorite scene in the show is the one (FYI: Adam is cursing a lot at the beginning of this scene) where Adam literally runs across the city to be with Hannah when he finds out she's having a nervous breakdown. (Side note: do you notice that in romantic movies and TV shows, the guy often starts running when he wants to be with his love interest? Harry did it in When Harry Met Sally, for example.) 

I thought that scene from Girls was really romantic and moving because it showed how much Adam loved Hannah, and how he was willing to be there for her at her worst moment.

There were other patients on House, M.D. who didn't have anyone in the hospital room with them, and that showed a lot about what their lives were like too. It made me wonder if I would be one of those people who would end up alone in a hospital room. I definitely wouldn't want my parents there. They would just make it worse. They always do. I still haven't told my mother that I'm sick. My father knows, but he recently told me that he doesn't want to hear about my health anymore; he thinks I talk about it too much, and he doubled down in an email he sent, where he berated me for how I'm dealing with this disease. 

My parents have been unhappily married for more than forty years. When you grow up witnessing how much your parents hate each other, it tends to warp your ideas about love and marriage. I think that's a major reason why the idea of remaining unmarried for the rest of my life does not scare me as much as the idea of being married to the wrong person just so I won't have to be alone. I think if you marry the wrong person, you will still be alone in a sense. Being with the wrong person makes you feel like you can't fully relate to them or like they won't be there for you when you need them to be. My parents were wrong for each other from the beginning, but they will never get divorced because they're both too stubborn and proud to do so. 

My mother said to me on my birthday a few years ago, "But aren't you ashamed to be an old maid?" 

"No, I'm not," I said. I wanted to say, I think you should be ashamed for asking me that question, especially on my birthday.

I try to picture myself with someone in the future, and I can't. I've been alone for so long that I've gotten used to it, and I even prefer it sometimes. As I've stated before, being single comes with a certain kind of freedom. 

Now that I'm in my forties, most of the single men my age who live in College Town (and there aren't that many of them) are divorced with children, and many of them don't want to date me because I'm too "old" for them. In movies where middle-aged women date younger men, the men are often very romantic and sensitive; they genuinely want relationships with those women, like in the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back. But in real life, or at least in my life, younger men just want to hook up, like the thirty-year-old guy on Bumble who asked me what my bra size was and the twenty-nine-year-old guy who immediately asked what my address was and whether he could come over within two minutes of our first (and only) conversation. 

Also, now that I'm in my forties, I somehow feel less anxious about being in a relationship. For me, the "happy ending" was never really about a guy. For a long time, it was about my work because I'm a workaholic. Now it's about living my life on my terms for as long as I can. It's about getting a kidney sooner rather than later so that I don't have to be on dialysis for too long. It's about making the most of the time that I have now, while I still have it. And I think that's nothing to be ashamed of.

And I suppose it's just as well that I'm single, considering the idiotic and horrifying decision made by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. But I could go on for several posts about that. I'm still full of fury and fear about it.

What about you? Do you have a favorite romantic story or movie? (One of my favorites is While You Were Sleeping, partly because it's set in Chicago and also because I love Sandra Bullock.)