Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Our Time is super excited. "You have 110 new profile views and 15 new messages!" it writes, as enthusiastic as a prospector finding gold.

Although weeks earlier I had dropped my membership and checked "do not automatically renew," the online dating site continues to send me these cheery emails. I imagine it -- and JDate, another of my experiments -- somewhere in cyberspace clucking at my resistance.

"What's her problem?" I hear the OT yenta say. (Naturally, if I were going to use my imagination to conjure my pesterers, they wouldn't be coders using algorithms to find me a match. In my zany brain, the two sites are women wearing babushkas, like old-world matchmakers eager to arrange a shidduch between two lonely singles.)

"She thinks she's so high and mighty," sniffs the JDate version. "I fixed her up with four eligibles, each one a mensch, and did she appreciate? Vadyathink?" (Excuse the ethnic patter; but, I'm Jewish so it's allowed. Also, I can't seem to stop.)

Now, here's where my imagination takes another leap. Although these two figments are in cyberspace, and my mother, Min, is in heaven, I figure she can't resist getting in on a conversation where her daughter is the topic.

"Don't look at me," she says. "I tried, told her to be sexier and younger in her profile. But, did she listen to me? It's just like when she was a teenager and...."

"Min," the yentas interrupt. Evidently, they have easily accepted photo-shopping her into the picture and chat. "Please stick to the subject. It's the present day. Your 76-year-old daughter, who is not getting any younger, is the one we're trying to fix up. Forget about the past."

With that, and without validation for her vote, Mom fades out and we're left with OT and JDate.

"Obviously, we're using the wrong approach," OT says to JDate. "She's not buying our daily e-mails. She knows that if she clicks on them, she'll be asked to rejoin."

"We can't let her get away," JDate says. "We don't want to see our CityGirl go through life without a man."

OT laughs. "She was CityGirl with you? Hah! She was Tiny75 with me."

I allowed this silly scenario to enter my brain because I was also wondering why I had put the brakes on my search for a significant other. As the yentas indicated, I did go on dates with four eligible, honest, and wholesome males. Although sparks didn't ignite, based on this positive experience, why didn't I continue to seek a match?

The answer: I found another passion, one as all consuming, thrilling, and with the possibility of a life-changing outcome. If you are a steady reader of this blog (a shonda if you are not), you're up to speed on my decision to test-drive Los Angeles in November for a possible move to that city.

This current project contains all of the delicious elements I require. It: 1) alleviates boredom, 2) allows me to make a checklist, 3) encourages research; i.e. synagogues, civic groups, salons, and therapists, and 4) entertains friends and relatives who vicariously join in on my flights of fancy.

"She's delusional." It's one half of the matchmaking pair intruding on my rationale. "You know once Tiny75 gets to L.A., and sets everything up, I predict that within a year, she's going to need another challenge."

"Oh, you're so right," says JDate. "And then she'll write about it, just like she did about our sites, mocking our sincere desire to link pathetic singles."

"You know, I've often wondered if the only reason CityGirl visited us was to get story ideas," OT says. "I feel so used."

"There is some consolation," JDate continues. "She'll start writing about L.A. and although the first few blog posts will be rah-rah -- the sunshine, her new friends, her family..."

OT interrupted. "Oy, be prepared for her glowing reviews of her grandchildren. How smart! How handsome! How polite! I don't know if I can take it."

"But knowing Tiny75 -- who will soon be Sun-Wrinkled76 -- we won't have to wait long for her beefs to surface."

JDate erupts in giggles. Soon she is rollicking. "She'll be slamming the tall and skinny starlets sipping their lattes at her precious Intelligentsia."

"What about the 20-somethings working on their screenplays? I can't wait to read her critiques of them!"

"Hold on a minute," JDate says. "Those writers are likely to be Jewish, right? Maybe a few will have widowed grandfathers to match with our old girl? What could entice her back into the fold?"

"'Still drives' always works," OT says. "And, if we throw in 'at night;' she's hooked."

To Be Adored

I winced at my dear friend's words. "Why in the world would you want ANOTHER man in your life right now (or EVER)?" she wrote in response to my blog post about a JDate fiasco. "You would probably wind up being a nurse for him. You should be a caregiver for YOURSELF."

Was my friend trying to guard me from a future I wouldn't allow myself to consider? Why indeed did I -- now happily independent in my new downtown digs -- sign up for JDate in the first place?

And, why have I been spying on physically fit grey-haired men at my health club?

Furthermore, why have I asked my paired-up friends to keep me in mind if they know an older single male who meets my criteria; i.e. strolls without the aid of a walker and drives at night?

"Someone to hug," I shot back, believing my pathetic answer would win sympathy and stall further scathing. My response seemed reasonable, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't bodily contact I missed. After all, there's any number of friends and relatives who would welcome my arms wrapped around their torsos.

If not an embrace, what then have I been seeking in my attempts to find a date? To find clues, I stretched out on the couch, closed my eyes, and reviewed past examples of familiar marriages. And, what I came up with is this: I miss the feeling of being adored.

In my stroll through wedlock history, I realized Tommy spoiled me for future relationships. When I rummaged the drawers of our house before I put it on the market, I found stacks of yellow-lined notes that I had saved and bundled in rubber bands. Each one a sentiment from a love-struck middle-aged man who paused every day to let me know he felt as if he had won the lottery.

Tommy's heartfelt emotions were a revelation because they were unfortunately missing from my first marriage, and tragically one-sided in my parents'.

In my initial go-around, my husband and I appreciated, admired, and cared for each other. But, did we adore one another? Perhaps in the stars-in-our-eyes early years; but after that, with our own personal struggles blinding us, the word went missing.

My parent's marriage was so impressionable that it spurred my memoir, "The Division Street Princess." As I wrote: Irv loved Min from the moment he saw the 19-year-old neighborhood beauty. But alas, Min didn't return his ardor. It wasn't until her old-world mother urged, "You'll learn to love him," that Min accepted Irv's proposal.

Bubbie, you were wrong! Despite Dad's longing, and his purchase of gifts he couldn't pay for -- like the mink stole cradled in tissue and presented in a white box -- Mom never grasped the lesson.

"Take it back, we can't afford it," I remember her saying as she stared at Dad's present. And bity me, channeling my father's pining, pleaded, "Just try it on, Mom, just try it on." She did and twirling in front of a full-length mirror like a 1940's movie star, decided to keep the mink while Dad paid for it in monthly installments.

I never did learn why Mom couldn't return Dad's adoration. I guess some of it could be linked to her disappointment in spending her pretty young life behind the counter of a grocery store on a tenement street. The neighborhood beauty deserved better.

So perhaps glum childhood scenes inspired me to take the part of my mother in my adult life? I would show her how an adored wife acts. When I would find Tommy's love notes, I'd squeal as if they were hidden jewels. Then, I'd get my own post-it and draw a heart with the words, "Love you, hubber! and tuck it into a gym shoe, golf glove, or some other spot he would later discover.

Among the other mementoes I saved was a letter Tommy wrote to me early on. It was the one I read it to him as I sat on the other side of the metal railings of his hospice bed. It was two pages long, written in pen on yellow-lined paper and began: My Darling Elaine, I don't know what lies ahead but I do know I want to spend the rest of my life loving you and taking care of you. We make a great team. When I think about all the years I was alone I realize now that you were the missing part of the puzzle that makes it all fit together.

That's what I'm talking about.


If a guy told you his grown children have refused to speak to him for 20 years, or that the wife he divorced was as silent as their kids, wouldn't your first question be: Another woman?

No? Then, obviously you are not as nosy as I, or not the investigator-reporter type.

My query occurred during a JDate phone conversation. (I realize that on these pages I claimed I was dropping the Jewish online dating site, but I decided to give it one more month.) He -- let's now call him by a new screen name, Offended2013, had given me his phone number and recommended that I block my own cell number. This was a point in his favor, I thought, a gentlemen.

According to my iPhone, we talked for 58 minutes. During that time I learned we had some things in common: we both lived in the city, were around the same age (he claimed 71; I fudged 70), we enjoyed plays, and had Spain and Greece on our travel wish list.  Our differences -- he was not a TV addict like I am, he liked being out frequently in the evenings -- might've been possible for me to overcome.

Before our conversation ended, we made plans to meet for coffee. But the following morning, I received this message from Offended2013, i am cancelling our meeting wed . i really was hurt and offended by your quick remark about my devorce having to do with another woman .i felt you were out of line. that was not the case . i just didnt appreciate it . that is far from the type of person i am .

"I apologize," I wrote in a message back to him. "It's your call. Good luck with your search." But he blocked any further correspondence from me, so my attempt to backpedal is floating somewhere in cyberspace.

Daughter Faith (yes, I had to share), responded, "I am offended he does not know how to spell divorce." From her sister, Jill, "The atrocious spelling is enough for you to block him forever."

Perhaps it was wrong of me to jump to the conclusion I conjured, but I speak from experience; my first husband of 30 years left me for another woman. Our clichéd drama began when I noticed he was looking exceptionally fit and well dressed. "I think he's having an affair," I said to my best friend, Judy.

"Don't ask him if he's having an affair," she said. "Just say, I know you're having an affair."

I'll never forget that 1990 prophetic conversation, which was held during one of our regular Saturday lunches at the Bon Ton restaurant on Chicago's Gold Coast. As Judy and I munched our poached chicken sandwiches, we kept our voices low because adjacent diners seemed to be leaning our way.

A few days after my friend's counsel, I put the phrase to use. I had been asleep in our king-sized bed when the phone rang. Because my husband's profession often brought emergency requests, I knew the call would be for him. "The phone's ringing," I said, as I rolled over to rouse him. But, there was an empty space where he usually slept.

I went downstairs, dumped myself on the couch, and waited. "What are you doing up?" he asked as he entered through the back door. He appeared to be playing a soap opera part. If he hadn't spotted me, he surely would've been toting his Oxfords and tiptoeing in on stocking feet.

Then came my line, "I know you're having an affair."

"How did you know?"

"Your new clothes, your slimmer body, your indifference to me and the kids."

He sunk down next to me on the couch. We both cried. (What can I say? I'm not the pottery slinging type and I held some responsibility for a marriage gone sour.) "Will you come with to a marriage counselor?" I asked.

We had one session. The morning after, he descended the stairs with a gym bag in his hand. "I'm checking into a hotel; I'll call you later." He was glum; I was, I must admit, relieved, and grateful to the other woman for handing him the bad guy role and me the sympathetic character.

Fortunately, in our intervening 23 years, my ex and I have remained good friends. He is my emergency contact and I am his companion for doctor visits.

So, with this history, I stand firm in defense of my question. Now I think Offended2013 doth protest too much. If not another woman, what then?


Double Dating With My Mother

I could chalk it up to the difficulty older Jewish men have when they try to navigate technology. Or, I can just admit I'm a loser on JDate. My evidence: although I've "Favorited" 16 matches, zero have returned the compliment.

"I thought you weren't interested in meeting men." It was my deceased mother elbowing herself past Tommy into my subconscious.

Her arrival was hardly a surprise. After all, rather than my late husband being invested in finding me a date, it was more likely to be my mother, Min, a beauty who died at the age of 67.

"Mom," I said to the apparition pulling up a chair next to me, " I don't want anyone moving in, but I think I'd enjoy dinner or a play with a nice guy my age."

"Well, I can tell you what your problem is," she said, "Your profile isn't sexy enough."

"Sexy isn't me. I'm trying to be honest."

"Honest, hah!" she said. "I see you've put your age at 70. Remember I was present at your birth and you're off by 5 years."

"No one admits their real age in online dating," I said. "I recall you telling me more than once you never wanted to get old."

In my mind's eye I could see my mother hesitate before responding. She would be using her right hand to sweep her hairdo upwards and a mirror to be certain her eye shadow, mascara, and red lipstick were in place.

"Well, if I would've known what good shape a woman could be in her '70s I might have stuck around. I have to admit you've kept your weight down."

A compliment from my mother! I preened in my office chair and brushed aside childhood memories of her fixated on my chubbiness rather than my brain.

"I see two matches answered your emails," she went on. "It's a shame you had to make the first move."

Ah, here's the familiar motherly dig. "That's not a problem for me, Mom, being aggressive. That's how I landed Tommy. I asked him out for our first date."

There was silence on the other end of our celestial chat. Although she died before Tommy and I met and married, I knew Mom would have had mixed feelings about my second husband. It wasn't the fact that he wasn't Jewish, but that he wasn't rich.

"Don't blame your mother for wanting an easier life for her daughter," she said, evidently overhearing my thoughts. "But I did appreciate how much he loved you."

I didn't want to keep Tommy in this scenario, so I quickly returned to my failure on JDate. "Did you notice, Mom, that no matter their age, all of my matches wanted someone between 50 and 65? "

"So," she said, stretching out the vowel, "you couldn't have dropped 10 years?"

I sighed. "Mom, that's just not me. I've come a long way and I'm proud of the woman I've become. I'm not that desperate to make myself over for some dude."

Now, a sigh from Min. "So, try it your way. Be honest. Don't say you're passionate, fun, adventurous in the bedroom."

I laughed. "So you've been reading my competition."

"Of course, it can get boring up here. It's a change of pace to read fantasies about ideal matches. My girlfriends and I had a good laugh."

"Were you laughing when one of the guys answered my email with the news he had already fallen in love with the second woman he met on JDate?" I said.

"See, you didn't move fast enough. You have to jump in as soon as you find someone interesting."

"I don't know, Mom. Did you also read that he was now spending all of his time with his new romance?"

"So, what's the problem?"

"I gagged when I saw that. I don't want anyone spending all of his time with me; it's suffocating. Like I said, dinner out, a movie, a play, that's all I'm thinking about, not him taking over my life."

"So, have it your way," she said. "I assume, with your record of zero and sixteen you're bowing out. No more online dating?"

"Not completely," I said. "It is kind of a fun game and my ego is strong enough to take the rejections. So next month, I'm going to the other side."

"Women!" she said. "Don't tell me you're going to become a lesbian."

"No, Mom, match dot com. I'm going to check out the Gentiles. Maybe they'll be more open to an adorable grey-haired woman in her mid-seventies."

"Try sixty-five and you may have a shot," she said.