I’m not married.
But, I still have many of my old, married habits. I come straight home after work and don’t socialize with people from the office. Of course, most of them are married and head home to their families, like I used to do. And, when I get home, I hurry about doing my nightly routine of making dinner, setting up the coffee for the next day, and wolfing dinner down so I can… What?
There’s no one I’ve rushed home to see. Oh, there’s Hilda, of course, but she’d be happy to see me any time I went away and came home. That uncomplicated, unconditional love is one of the things that make dogs so popular. But, that’s not enough. I want someone to talk to. I can talk to Hilda, but if she starts answering me in complete sentences, I’ll have to pay my therapist a bigger premium every week! Oddly, my ex-wife often didn’t listen to me, either, but, of course, I didn’t know that at the time. Foolishly, I thought she was contemplating what I’d been babbling about and not just plotting her escape.
I tell myself that I rush home for that silly, brown dog that adores me so, who won’t eat until I’m safely home at the end of the day. And, when that’s not enough, I tell myself that it’s the money I don’t have that keeps me home. But, neither are true. Or, at least, they’re not excuse enough. Honestly, I got into the habit of not talking to women when I was married. Even mentioning a woman from work more than once in a week would draw fire, though it was expected that I would simply ignore or forgive the reverse. So, it got to be habit to just not notice the opposite sex.
I know I’ll never find someone being quiet and bookish at home, but I live in terror of the idea that I’ll find someone just like my ex-wife. In my saner moments, I know that won’t happen, because, not only is she, thankfully, unique in all the world, but I’ve changed. I’m a little more suspicious now, a little less willing to let small things slide. Maybe that, too, is why I’m alone. There are just so many opportunities to find silent fault and turn them into excuses for why it’s not even worth asking someone out.
You girls have it easy, let me tell you! Just sit and look pretty or bookish or whatever and veto the “rejects” as we shuffle past. (“No, too short. No, too poor. No, too sensitive. No, not sensitive enough!”) Though, in college, I had the startling opportunity to be on the other end of that. Asked out in an Ethics class, oddly enough. By a Senior Psychology student who found the odd, plain Sophomore Pre-Business Major too interesting to pass by. I wonder what she’s up to tonight?
So, I’m trying to break out of the old habits. I flirt inexpertly with ladies on-line, and in line at the store, or even at church. I’ve been cooking again, instead of eating those deadly delicious Marie Calander Pot Pies. Last week Friday, it was fish. This week Friday, it’s Chicken Marsala. Maybe Chicken Garam Marsala. And, I’ve invited a friend over for dinner. It’s not a date, even though he’s gay, since I’m straight. Just dinner.
And a step closer to changed habits.