When divorce revealed itself as holy-shit-this-is-really-happening-I’m-about-to-become-a-statistic, I told Shrink Nancy that seeing as I have a family so phenomenal they seem fictional and I’m rockstar at being on my own, I would abstain from dating. Seriously, for what did a I need a man? Experience taught me that things with penises were naught but nuisance. The dear psychologist responded that I was setting myself up for a life of stagnant loneliness. I countered that I was looking at unfettered productivity.
But the mind wanders and, as so often it does, mine took me to list-making. Okay, Shrink Nancy, so say I do date; there’s stuff I’m gonna require in a man. My list was specific, brief, born of caprice, and included stuff like:
He must give hot yoga a fair try, be a Mac user, love dogs, be more of a man than I am, and must not be mistaken for a dude that prefers dudes.
These things are less shallow than they may seem. If a guy isn’t open-minded enough to at least try my Bikram, he won’t ever understand why I merit a high five when I come home from class unrecognizable through the wet of my own sweat and unable to link words into sentences. If he’s a dedicated Microsoft man, he’s dense, and I require someone with smarts. And I don’t ever want to again be imprisoned in my current situation—constantly being asked if my ex is now ex because he finally came out.
Since the beginning of 2013, I’ve indulged in the luxury of adding cockamamie specifics to my portrait of a man worth maneuvering off the market.
I want a guy who lifts me into his car when a pencil skirt is prohibitively tight, who shows up with an iced tea—that he couldn’t have known I was craving—just as yoga ends, and who holds me when I cry, waiting for when I’m ready to explain the outburst. I want a man who tries hummus and—hey, why not?—likes it, a guy who remembers that I hate mayonnaise, avoids nonessential garlic because I think it stinks, and, even though he loves to barbecue, the guy I want won’t mind that I’m a vegetarian. And that guy, he’ll make bread.
I want a man who appreciates that I would rather jam forks in my neck than put people out.
The ideal guy for me will think I have skill with words, will love to hear me read my writing, can respect the well-placed curse word, and won’t mind that I swear like a sailor; maybe he’ll even like it.
I need a man who exercises without badgering.
I want a guy whose kiss makes me forget my name, who holds my hand automatically, and, as a blessed change, only gives a damn about fashion when it comes to what I think. Also, he’ll look sexy as hell in glasses.
Because I’m in my 30s, the guy I date will probably have kids, so I’m gonna say he has to be a kickass dad, the kind that doesn’t freak out when it’s not necessary, gets out his fog machine and laser show when the children need entertainment, and loves his offspring like my dad loves me and my sissies. (Read: lots.) He will be the kind of man who is pals with his siblings and who has earned friends who will do anything for him. His friends will be funny, and they’ll be game to give me a shot. My ideal man will text my sisters sometimes, and his parents will see me as the good part of a bad situation.
It’ll be important that he has a ruefully intimate understanding of what it’s like to have your spouse ditch you for someone else.
This guy’ll help me loosen up, will make me see that 80% of the stuff that stresses me out isn’t worth that kind of energy. Just associating with this man will motivate me to be better at living. He’ll think that watching sports on TV is a waste of time. He will be able to juggle. Sometimes he'll have get off the phone because there's a lizard in his front yard, and he must go catch it. And if he snores, I have to find it inexplicably endearing.
I want this guy to know shit; like, say, when I point at a piece of furniture and ask, “What kind of wood is that?” he can inspect the grain and name it. And when he finds out that key lime pie is one of my most favorite things in the entire world, he’ll research the best one in America and order two. From Florida.
It’s all a helluva lot to ask, I know. But aren't I worthy of something like that? Someone like him?
You know, I think I might be. Which is good news, because, well, I have that. I have him.
My husband left me for another woman. And—oh, so blissfully and so very gratefully—I am dating her ex-husband.