My friend, Kim, was considering penning a memoir about her romantic life until she discovered “Smart Women, Foolish Choices” had already been written.
Kim has been so successful at moving in and out of unstable relationships with sexy, psychological wrecks, you’d think it was her job. The more emotionally inaccessible the guy, the deeper she falls. There was Kevin, the school teacher who removed a thriving collection of Xanax bottles from his bedside before inviting Kim into his room, and Josh, a former drug dealer still weaning himself off a co-dependent relationship with his ex-wife. Perhaps a better title for her biography would be “Still Life with Weirdoes” or perhaps, “Him?!? You Gotta Be Kiddin’ Me.”
So imagine the relief I felt when Kim became smitten with Allan, an affable café owner who played guitar on the side. A group of us were at Allan’s café, envying the romantic focus with which he attended Kim; bringing her free food and booze, becoming bashful whenever they made eye contact and printing out the bibliographies of his favorite authors once he found out she wrote. Allan was smart, funny and unlike Kim’s previous conquests, seemed relatively free of the emotional luggage that makes modern lovin’ so taxing.
If only we knew.
For the next several weeks, Kim showed up for lunch at Allan’s café, ostensibly to write but really to ogle, while he continued to seduce her with free food and beverage. Often, he sat with her to enjoy a pseudo-date and just as often, the lunch date would turn into a dinner date, would turn into a close-down-the-bar-and-drink-until-four-in-the-morning date.
Thus, everyone was enthused about the possibility of “Kim and Allan.” Until the day he asked her out for real, then warned her they’d have to schedule the date “on a whim.” Seemed Allan was crazy about our dear friend Kim, though there was one tiny gap on the track of his love train. His five-year-old son.
Kim rarely met a pile of baggage she couldn’t sort through, but she’d always steered clear of “the kid thing.” A kid meant having to impress an undeveloped ego still smarting from the sting of his parents’ breakup. A kid meant getting ditched on your birthday because Junior came down with the flu. A kid meant pretending to like cyborgs and spending Saturday nights at Pizza Hut. And a kid meant an ex-wife or girlfriend who would never, ever go away…ever.
But Kim was nearing the big 4-0 and Allan had already hit it. Even by thirty, failed dreams and heartbreak leave many people with a stunning set of emotional luggage strapped to their aching limbs. By forty, it’s a surprise more folks aren’t found in fetal position at the foot of their beds sucking their thumbs.
Singles always object to dating people with baggage, an understandable but wholly impractical goal. A better plan might be to determine what kind of issues you can handle. On what kind of psychological shit stream might you find yourself carrying a paddle? Really, it could be quite fun as dating becomes like a game show or a dinner buffet; “I’ll take two servings of mommy issues and a smidgeon of erectile dysfunction.”
Kim decided to go for it with Allan, but became disappointed after weeks went by without a commitment for a date. When they finally met, he came clean. Not only did he have a five-year old, Allan still lived with the child’s mother. But no need to fret, he assured Kim. They were on the verge of a divorce and living in separate bedrooms.
Allan had dropped one too many bags into my friend’s generously extended arms. The subsequent split was tough on Kim who thought she’d finally met a man with a shallow shit stream. In the aftermath, she wept, she swore off men, she considered titling her romantic memoirs, “One Hundred Years of Solitude Redux.”
And then, she met Jimmy, a divorced architect with a perfectly manageable case of OCD. Three months in, Kim has been coping successfully with her new boyfriend’s issues and rediscovering her faith in love. You can read all about it in her new book, “Mama’s Got A Brand New Bag.”