Cecile and Valmont

cecilevalmont2

I’ve begun to think of Mr. Saturday Night as Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) to my Cecile Volanges (Uma Thurman) in Stephen Frears’s brilliant film Dangerous Liaisons. After our last encounter in the bedroom, I joked to some girlfriends that having sex with me is probably like fucking a 17-year-old, because dammit, I’M SO NEW!

Now let’s be clear, Valmont is an evil character, prioritizing his own game of power and desire over what’s even in his own best interest. He destroys nearly everyone in the story, just to try and win a game with the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close). But there are these moments of levity and hotness, when he seduces the young, virginal Celine, awakening the desire within, teaching her the ropes in the bedroom, that I find compelling in my current circumstance.

Mr. SN is an incredible lover. All that actor training means he reacts IN THE MOMENT. He is constantly reading signals and changing up strategies and moves accordingly. A lifelong bachelor, he has probably had dozens of lovers (I’m at six sexual partners at this point) and clearly knows the female body and how to give it pleasure. But what’s more, he revels in giving a woman pleasure, over and over again. He is rough in all the right ways, like he knows just what I need for sexual healing right now. “You’re a gift,” I told him last Saturday night, revelling in the beauty of what occurred between us. “YOU’RE a gift!” he replied and that’s all I needed to get to fireworks. BOOM!

So as I’m writing, I’m realizing what’s standing in the way of all of it IS ME. Me thinking, “What is a beautiful man like this doing with a big-nosed weirdo like me?” Me thinking, “Oh this is never going to work because…” I’m trying, desperately, to stay in the moment, stay grounded, but I can’t help but think, “Would my parents like him?” WTF?! I’m not looking to bring someone into all that again just yet! But traditional dating norms are so ingrained in my psyche, that I can’t shake the romantic fantasies of something that needs to be, to quote Outkast, “forever-eva?”


OK here are the things that bug me about this relationship. Let’s get them all down, shall we?

  1. Lovers, he’s had lots of them, and that’s intimidating for a girl like me. He talks about them A LOT. So I’m having to work through some feelings of insecurity there. We went to dinner in between sex courses and I caught him looking at our young female server with interest. And I couldn’t tell if this is part of a game that he’s playing with innocent little me. Like was he leering intentionally or absent-mindedly. But I DID NOT LIKE IT.
  2. He doesn’t hold hands. Or spoon. Or kiss the top of my forehead affectionately the way Ali does. I get that everyone is scared to catch feels in this brave new world, but sheesh! And I can see it, clearly, how we start out not speaking the love language of the other and how I change and bend to fit the person I’m with, rather than advocate for what’s going to work FOR ME! To his credit, he does ask me a dozen million times, “What do YOU want?” But it’s in a way that makes me nervous, because I’m not used to speaking those things out loud in a relationship. Is this even a relationship?
  3. He kinda tells the same stories over and over, and it kinda works for us, because I have memory problems and can’t retain a lot of the details he so easily spits out. He can recite poetry from memory, give detailed historical facts and dates, and I barely remember them because my brain is funny from 20 years of working on the internet. But while I don’t remember the finer points, I do remember that he’s told me this stuff before, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s all there is to him. If he’s nothing but these perfectly polished stories, worn into pretty beads from years of honing the telling of them.
  4. I’m stuck on the fact that we are not financially in the same place. He lives with roommates, “to help with the rent.” I live with roommates too, but I’ve birthed them. I don’t NEED someone to make as much as I do, but it definitely helps to take the awkward out of who pays for dinner and whether we can do more than meet in a bedroom. If there was a future here, I’d long for travel and trips to the theatre. I also have lived in an income inequity situation, where I made 70% to Theo’s 30%, and while I think that Mr. SN is a more evolved human when it comes to ideas around gender, I really think that most men do not like when their women make more than them.
  5. He ignores texts when it suits him. He has this particular affliction especially when I say something too forward, or send a selfie. He’s controlling in the bedroom, which suits me very well as someone who has to have her shit together in all other areas of her life, but I can’t help but wonder if this non-response is a subtle control technique too. It was really bugging me, but I decided this morning that I would not give a fuck, because at my age, one only has so many fucks to give and if I want to send a selfie, I damn well will. Deal with it. I would, however, really like a dude that texts to say he’s thinking of me. I want someone who sends links with, “Saw this and thought of you.” Between this and the no-PDA, Mr. SN does not have longevity with me, and I have to remember that before I fall for someone who is just going to make me angry over time for not being who I want them to be. Been there, done that.

Holy fark, you guys. Writing it all down so concisely really helps to slay the demons that are plaguing me. Right now I’m in a small beach town on a giant lake, and the ENTIRE COUNTY has the same name as Mr. SN. The museum is named after him, the county roads, the local bakery specialty. It’s not a good place to get thoughts of him out of my mind. There’s even a sign a block from here that has the same word that’s tattooed over his heart, along with http://www.exploreHISNAME.ca under it. It’s torture. I think (?) he knows this. So his silence over text is extra tough on my soft Cancerian heart.

But it’s my last day in my early-forties and the heat wave finally broke. I’ve got a solid bike ride with my kids planned today and a lot of doing nothing. I’m putting a reminder on my phone that says, “Men ain’t shit” (saw that here) to remind myself that I don’t need some dude taking up my valuable brain space. Show up for me in the way I need or fuck right off. That’s what being in my mid-forties is going to be about.

When reading about Viconte de Valmont now, having not seen the film in many years, it’s clear that he raped Cecile and that in the novel that is expressed as a way to seduce an inexperienced woman. I’m writing that point down because memory and the mind are funny and are often not to be trusted. My fantasizing about this older, experienced conquistador taking control of my body is flawed. You can imbue any relationship or experience with the lens of your choosing. I must be vigilant to ask, “Is that true?” of any idea I concoct around these relationships and my thoughts about them. Because it would be so easy to manufacture something that’s not there and then wake up a decade in, wondering how you got there. Wondering why this person is not the person you fell in love with. And I’m just not willing to fall into that trap again. I’m worth too much for that.

Mr. Saturday Afternoon

My life is an HBO show.


It was Pride this weekend, so we decided to go as a family of four to support our gay child. We had never taken the kids before, mostly because our past Pride experiences were sex, drug and alcohol full dance parties. How would we explain all the naked people? How would we explain the hyper-sexed culture of it all?

We needn’t have worried. Kids are amazing and just roll with things. They laugh if someone’s dingle dongle is hanging out. They are with their parents, so they aren’t nervous. They know us — if they have a question, we’ll answer it honestly. From their vantage point, Pride was about letting your freak flag fly. Completely accurate. Be your brave, bold self in all its rainbow glory.

Kids are smart. More on that later.


Mr. Saturday Night has been a bit more chatty over text this past week. Mostly because, hey, we had an incredible time together two Saturdays ago when I had him over for dinner and he had me for dessert. Ba-dum-cha!

He was texting me yesterday about Pride t-shirts and I assumed he had seen them at the museum where he works most weekends. So the fam and I wandered up the avenue, past the food trucks and the DJ booths and the corporate “activations” to the public school where a big Family Pride event was taking place. We had the option of going into the gym or walking back to the playground, and our adorable queer kid chose the playground because there were monkey bars. This kid has never met a set of monkey bars that weren’t a magnet for them.

I send Mr. SN a photo of my kid standing in the middle of the rainbow-painted avenue in full costume with the caption, “Baby’s First Pride!”

“Awesome. Come visit. We are at the school.”

RECORD SCREECH! Not that I could hear a record screech, my heart was pounding so loudly. I am standing with my ex and my kids and this handsome man, whom I’m smitten with, this gorgeous creature that I just had amazing sex with the week before is saying he happens to be right where we are. I freeze.

“This is why Dr. X says we should stop doing things as a family!” I berated myself. After scanning the schoolyard casually, I excused myself and went to a Port-a-Potty to hyperventilate and consider my next move.

I text my friends and they mostly laugh at me. I would too. I’m an idiot. Why do I keep hanging out with my ex? Breathe, Maria, breathe. OK, just put it all on the table. He’s a grown up.

“So are we! Where are you? Heads up that their dad is here with us. Which is weird [shrug emoji] but perhaps not…”

“Gym.”

Oh phew, I can escape the Port-a-Potty at least. When I reach my fam, they are watching a magic show. I tell them I have a friend in the gym and I’m going to say hi. I wander into the dark gym. There is the usual gym food fare by the stage: a desiccated fruit tray, the orphaned raw broccoli in a veggie tray, some sad-looking pizza with green peppers on it (ew). There’s a mom breastfeeding in a corner, and a painting station and some assorted wee chairs to have a rest on. And there in the back of the gym is the handsomest, most charming man I have ever had sex with. Even in this dull gym, he is SPARKLING.

I try to do a sultry, sly walk-over. I catch his eye and melt a bit as the corners of his mouth turn up at the site of me. I convince my knees not to buckle. He introduces me to his colleague, a 50-something woman with glasses and dark curly hair. I promptly forget her name. “Where’s the gang?” he inquires. Out watching a magic show, I tell him. “We can’t compete with that,” he quips. We talk a bit, he tells me about the community outreach programs they do to educate people about the museum. Then I decide to go get the kids.

This. Is. Happening.

The younger one is immediately interested. The magic show was babyish and pissed her off. We walk in together and I introduce him as “My friend, Sam.” Mr. SN is smiling, clearly pleased to make her acquaintance, and shows her the antique historical artifact he’s brought with him. They use it to make something tangible, my kid’s hand on the same machine as Mr. SN and I can barely contain myself.

He hands us the tangible thing to take home and just as I think we are going to walk away now, my kid wants to play a game of giant checkers, 10 feet from where Mr. SN’s booth is. So I take off my jacket and indulge and try to play it cool at the same time. I text my ex, who is with our other kid, that we are in the gym playing giant checkers, but I don’t want Theo to come into the gym and don’t know how to say it.

The game takes way longer than I’d like it to. Mr. SN is serving visitors and I’m playing giant checkers and we’re pretending not to take notice of each other, but all I want to do is go over and kiss his whole face. Maybe find some bleachers to make out behind or something. But I don’t know how to be in this new world where two worlds are colliding. Not yet. I wasn’t expecting this. I didn’t have time to prepare! Is he even the guy worthy enough to be the first person I introduce to my kids?

Then Theo walks in with our older child, who has just done a project on exactly what Mr. SN knows the most about. Introductions are made. Mr. SN gives an even bigger performance of his subject matter expertise. He wants to slay. I’m not sure who his audience is: me, the kids or Theo? I am so uncomfortable, I just want it to be over and yet I want Mr. SN to impress the shit out of all of them.

Mr. SN shakes Theo’s hand. Firmly. Looks him in the eye. There’s a macho-ness to this interaction. The hand that a week before had been all over my body (and way up inside it, too) shaking the hand of another man who had years ago been all over my body (and had seen a baby fly out my vagina). It felt like a Clint Eastwood western.

HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?

We say our goodbyes and I give another sly smile. He sends a happy face emoji and I say something about how hot he looked with the antique machinery. Then I say it was lovely to see him and I was glad he got to meet my humans. He responds saying my humans are great and he was glad to meet them. SWOON. But the fact that Theo is with me makes me question both our uses of the word humans; is Theo included in that?


Theo is CLUELESS. No idea. This is partially because I know EVERYBODY and he can never remember a name. So if I say, “This is my friend Sam,” then he just assumes I know the person through work or social media and never asks. I could have just left it. I assume that someday Mr. SN could be an anecdote, because I’m still new at this. I can’t possibly have found a person I might settle down with so soon.

So I should have said nothing, but I don’t, because I’m neurotic and a fool. “Sorry, I didn’t know Sam was going to be here. I hope that was OK.” Theo still doesn’t get it, and then eventually his old fashioned lightbulb flickers on. “Oh! Well he seems like a nice guy… He’s really good-looking!” Yup. Sigh.

“Does he like you?”

In hindsight, WTF did he mean by that question? But I love that I didn’t waver. “Yes… yes, he likes me.” Because he does, even if it’s mostly just sexually right now. He likes me. He waited 5 dates before trying to sleep with me. Which I now get. Because when you’re as good-looking and as charming as him, you can get women to sleep with you fairly easily. But if you can like getting to know someone enough to last five dates, then it makes it a bit more worthwhile. It means that the person is more than just sexy, there’s something there. Yes, Mr. SN likes me. And I REALLY like him.


So it happened. Everybody met everybody. Nobody died. Nobody had a Russian Roulette style shoot-out outside the saloon. All hearts remain in tact. The kids, however, are not clueless.

“How do you know Sam? Like, where did you meet him?” Uhhhh, work? Kids can see through bullshit like Superman checking out Lois Lane’s undergarments. I resisted the urge to talk about Mr. SN all day. I just wanted to conjugate his name for hours. Sam, Sammy, Samuel… but I kept my glee in check and focused on my time with my littles. I often say I live on two continents since the separation. The one with the kids and the one I occupy when it’s just be and I’m not with them. But yesterday those two states collided. I think it’s inevitable. The lesson is that there is a new me and a new life I’m trying to build. And if I keep a foot in the old life, then I am going to be faced with this kind of awkwardness over and over. (To be clear, it was only awkward for me.)

I need to move forward. And yet part of me is still tethered to Theo. I came home last week, a little sauced after taking Ali to dinner for his birthday. And I waltzed in with a swagger that only three glasses of rosé and a flirty dinner with one of your lovers can provide. And Theo started in. “Do you think that someday we may get back together?” Argh.

I told him no, that “back together” implied backwards and I’m not headed that way. Besides, what exactly would be better? Why, WHY after we broke the kids hearts, would I even consider it? I hate that he asked me this question. His refusal to let me go, whether conscious or subconscious, is problematic. Does he not realize how much hurt and pain he’s caused?

For now, I distract myself with these men, handsome and fun and wanting only me. I need to make some more changes, commit further to myself and treat myself like the lover I’ve always dreamed of. I’m going to practice that this week. Stay tuned…

Can I just title this with drool emojis?

ZOMG! Mr. Saturday Night. Dinner on my deck. And then… fireworks!!!💥

What was I so afraid of? That… was… wow!!! I didn’t know that could happen!! 💦 😍

I mean, I knew THAT could happen, I’d read about it. But I mostly thought it was a myth. When a dude’s been making love to women for 40 odd years, I suppose he gets pretty good at it. Oh lord! * fans self to cool down *

Anyway, tired as all hell. G’night!!

Let’s have a wee look up yer kilt

When I said yes to meeting Gavin (Edinburgh, if you’re keeping track of Gap Year cities), I knew he was married. Because when I asked him what the story was, he was completely honest.

“The open relationship is relatively new and weird and works well for us, but I understand it’s not for everyone. I can be of assistance in three ways:

1. I’m old with kids. So I know how hard/fun it all is. I’m not a demanding fellow. I know what I want and I’m finally a good communicator.

2. Sex is best with someone you know. I can read in a park with you. I can nighttime date you and I can lunchtime ramen you. I love talking on the phone and I’d love to throw you down on the couch and make-out.

3. I don’t need a lot so you won’t get any pressure from me. We’re just a middle-aged married couple that has emotionally matured beyond expectation but can also remember being young and dum and into having fun. But I am happily married and don’t wanna blow anything up.”

You guys, this sounds ideal for where I’m at right now. Plus I LOVE talking on the phone. And being thrown down on a couch for make-outs. The only thing that’s bothering me (other than him being married), is that the dating app settings were set to metric, and I have no idea how tall someone is in centimetres. Gavin is a GIANT. Literally the tallest man I know. Taller than Lars of the Peaches, who is my tallest friend.

My house is a wee Hobbit house. My bedroom ceilings are only 6’2. I stupidly built my bathroom under the bulkhead and it’s only 5’7! This dude will not fit in my home.

But he’s married, so he will never need to fit in my home. He just needs to be able to make it to my bed without getting a concussion. And before you get all judge-y, his wife has a steady boyfriend, so this is not a modern way of excusing adultery. If all adults are consenting, then maybe it’s not for us to judge.

Gavin the Giant was supposed to come over Friday night, but I got a nasty head cold and needed to rest. With good reason.


Midweek, midday, on a walk with a female colleague, I butt-dialled Mr. Saturday Night while talking about how big Gavin the Giant’s dick might be. And I left a message.

“Sorry, I butt-dialled you by mistake.” I texted, hoping the butt-dialled message was garbled and incoherent.

“What did your butt want?” SWOON. I adore Mr. Saturday Night, who had tried to engage me several times with some basic “Happy Mother’s Day” (sweet), “Happy [insert public holiday here]” (WTF), and my personal favourite, “Full moon tonight…” He’s mostly a terrible texter, who reveals nothing too personal in writing, but I can’t help but get swoony.

“My booty wanted to know what it would take to get your buns to ask her out sometime.”

“What are you doing Saturday night?”

FUUUUUUUK

I was going to an outdoor concert. I’d bought tickets months ago, thinking, fuck it, I can’t find anyone to go with, it will just work out. And by that I mean, I’d sit on a blanket and run into someone I know. Except by this point, I had a small posse going, including Lars of the Peaches and his wife Zofia and another friend from my writing circles, Matryoshka, who knows Lars from way back to junior high. Matryoshka is a Russian doll of a woman, who looks all sweet on the outside and is full of layers of deep writer inside. She also has two of the cutest, sassiest girls ever.

“I would love to accompany you to THE OUTDOOR CONCERT OF THE YEAR…” Clearly the message my butt left did not come in clearly. Or if it did, this hombre is chill AF and way too sophisticated a dater for a small-fry like me to even be steppin’ to.

SO I PROCEED TO FREAK THE FUCK OUT FOR DAYS WITH NERVES, BECAUSE I’M A FUCKING GUPPY OF A DATER WHO HAS ZEROOOOOOOO CHILL. (We’ve already established this, n’est pas?)

I meet Mr. SN at the venue, which is a historical place that he knows A LOT about as a historian of our city. I am 15 minutes late, which I feel terrible about. Like so bad I’ve convinced myself I should give him head to make up for it. He’s cool and I look good and he immediately notices, but plays it ice cool like he does. He says, “You’re wearing your jewels,” or something like that, noting the crystals around my neck which I fucking baked in the full moon a few nights before, along with my intentions for a good life, because I am now a semi-witch who does this shit. He doesn’t bat a fucking beautiful eyelash, because he’s totally down with witches. SWOON.

OMG you guys, he’s so fucking hot, telling me about the 200-year-old history of the city we live in and the spot on which we stand. He walks me over to a cannon to give me its significance and at this point I’m basically an emoji with hearts for eyes because he’s saying smart shit and he fucking knows it and his confidence on his subject matter is so sexy. Also I am seriously hoping that on Date #4 he’s gonna invite me home after to show me his CANNON. We sit on the deck that supports the cannon and watch some kids playing soccer, while the French Canadian equivalent of Amy Winehouse takes the stage and I just want to sit in the sunshine in this beauty with him for a long time. He suggests we move closer to the stage.

When we get to the stage, I check my phone, because we ran into Matryoshka and her older kid and then she had texted to say she lost her daughter. Meanwhile, Lars messages to ask where I am and I look over and see him. And I know I should give Mr. SN a heads up that I have friends here, but I’m so grateful to see my best guy friend in the wild that I say, “I’ll be right back” and then next thing I know they are meeting. Lars knew to expect Mr. SN. In fact we had a funny text exchange the night before where I joked, “When did I become Lars circa 2009?”

I’m fully excited that Lars meets Mr. SN, because they are both totally my kind of dude who knows shit about this city and can talk dreamily about just about anything smart. It’s funny that intellect is something that attracts me, because my mother always goes on about how my dad was “college educated” but had no social skills or earning potential and I shouldn’t fall for that kind of thing. Sigh.

We smoke some ganja and maybe that wasn’t so smart. Because it’s not what I’ve brought, which is mostly CBD and just super effing relaxing without the head-buzz. It’s Lars’s shit which is kinda heady, and I don’t know how Mr. SN will react. So he kinda goes further into his not-touchy, cool-headed self, while I’m horny AF, but SO FARKING INSECURE that I’m stuck, not able to ask for what I want. And what I want is for this hot piece of walking art to hit on me a little bit, but no dice. Or if he feels like he is, he’s not speaking my language, which is more OPAQUE that a pair of 40+ denier tights. BE A LITTLE OBVIOUS, MAN! Sigh.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Ali Ahmed, it’s that a person’s hotness can build up in your mind. Because how Ali sees me, every single time, even with no makeup and a saggy stomach from having two kids, is so incongruous with what I see in the mirror. I know I’m bigging up Mr. SN in my mind and that there’s the risk of it all being disappointing. But I want to find out for reals this time, you know? I don’t want to talk myself out of it due to fear. I know conceptually that it’s probably nothing, but maybe I’m totally wrong about that. Right now, Mr. SN is like a glass of wine that I don’t need to share with anyone else, but who makes me feel amazing when I’m indulging in its company.

If I sit with the Buddhist books I’m reading, I should basically enjoy that Mr. SN and I are both alive and that our aliveness is somehow speaking to each other. But as I have ZERO CHILL, I died a little when I saw the tattoo over his heart peek through his shirt. I wanted to kiss that hairless spot BADLY. But I couldn’t help but feel like our date had grown platonic, my friends being around not helping this situation. We snuck off to eat some paella in the grass together. He produced some hard-boiled eggs, which I’m actually not a fan of, but ate because a man brought them to me like a slaughtered beast, and then I burped egg the whole night after. SPEAK UP, MARIA!

I wanted him to hold my hand. But yet I never reached for his. I was waiting for some bullshit patriarchy version of romance. And he’s smart enough not to fall for that shiz, I think. Because he’s probably played all those roles, to varying effects. And he’s 50 and has even fewer fucks to give than me. But will it work for me? I have had difficulty accepting male energy and detachment in my marriage. Can I accept this now?


We parted ways at the end of the amazing concerts. There was a moment of perfect happiness mid-day, where he was lying back on my picnic blanket, and I leaned back to look up at the quintessentially sky blue sky while my favourite band played, and I was a bit buzzed, this gorgeous human specimen beside me. I looked over at him and smiled, “I’m really happy right now.” And everything about that moment was as true as the sunrise when my second child was born.

The crowd existed en masse and I really felt like he should grab my hand and guide me through the crowd. My ex would have done that. Ali would too. But nope. Maybe he’s a bigger feminist than me? Who knows? He walked with me to my bike, and I STUPIDLY PUT MY HELMET ON, because I was trying to play it cool when he asked me which route I take home, and I sputtered my actual route when what I really wanted to say was, “Which way are YOU going Billy?” Which is not his name but a Susan Jacks song I have on vinyl that my mom always played for me, but considering I’m writing this after three glasses of rose, you’ll have to permit me the indulgence of this bullshit. Our kiss goodnight felt lacklustre. Helmets make heads safe but make kisses too safe for my liking.


I went home and settled it with battery powered devices. I texted Ali the next day to give me a testosterone embrace, fully out of weakness. But I don’t feel bad about it at all. I chose it consciously. And it was perfectly what I needed on that day. I fired up the apps, disappointed at the ending of the date the night before, but not ready to tell Mr. SN what I can’t tolerate, which is someone playing it TOO COOL.

I made a date for Gavin the Giant to come over, but even though he’s all cool about the situation, I can’t shake my puritanical good girl need to understand if I can morally accept that I made that choice. But he’s so fun and flirty. Just SO WHITE and SO TALL and SO MARRIED. How will this go? Is him not needing anything what I need right now? And yet he needs something, and it seems to be flirting and sex. For me that comes at a cost. But what is my value? And what exactly is open for business? I’ve yet to figure that out dear reader. I’ve yet to shag anyone other than Ali. But maybe, just maybe, I’m going to go to a new town just yet. So far, I’m not very good at this Gap Year thing…

As the story unfolds

I hate writing things as they are happening, because you don’t get enough distance and then you can’t really trust if how you’re putting things down is really what’s going on.

My head is kind of spinning today. I published an article about dating after many years of not dating and felt REALLY vulnerable. Like so nervous. I think I respectfully spoke to the end of my marriage without maligning my ex and I probably deserve a medal for that.

And BOOM! The universe opened up. Public messages from friends and loved ones cheering me on. Quiet messages from women in the shadows suffering in silence. Three gay men reached out (OK one of them was Grey), because gay men are the unicorns of the male universe. Two talk shows. Like bananas. And it’s hard to experience that mindfully, because there’s a lot of ego that starts to play a part in how you respond and how you see yourself, which can be dangerous.

I’m not hot shit. I’m a regular average human like you. I’ve got cellulite and a big ol’ zit on my cheek and I should really put my clothes away after taking them off. I have anxieties and neuroses, and an overbearing mother and debt. But I’m choosing to be optimistic, choosing to believe that with effort and focus I can improve my experience here on earth. One day at a time.


After I published the story and shared it on social media, the men started messaging. Only Ali is on my social media accounts, so I doubt the others would have seen it, unless they follow the women’s magazine I wrote for.

The only one I truly care about hearing from is the elusive Mr. Saturday Night. OK and my buddy work-Drew. Le Prof messaged to cancel our date due to flu, and I was relieved because his last text to me was “Do you have high heels?” First off, have you seen me? Obviously dude, and really great ones at that. Second, I don’t want to be somebody’s fetish. I mean yes, I want to explore my sexuality, but if all we ever talk about is how much you want to see my tits, I’m out. BORING! Sigh.

Ali messaged a condescending message, because our relationship has been nothing but stupid since he first decided to come onto his friend (ME) when I was still pretty vulnerable. “Feel better, Maria. Yeah, it’s hard out there.” Turns out he’s thinking about Russian Twinkie again, even though he couldn’t get her off, because they had so much fun together. And now he can’t have her back, because he dicked her around like he dicks every woman around. I resisted the urge to tell him that he’s never attempted to have fun with me outside the bedroom, because I am just done. Instead, I told him, we are all at a buffet. If you’ve got shrimp in front of you and you like shrimp, don’t get too obsessed with the idea that there may be lobster further up the table.

27 messaged, hoping for a date this Saturday. But ever the consummate planner, once I decided that all the men in my current net were not meeting my needs, even as a collective, I made plans to go dancing with girlfriends. In fact I made a lot of plans with girlfriends, because they fill my fucking bucket.

Still, I want to have sex dammit.


Mr. SN texted. And I texting him right back, telling him I was having a conniption fit because my article was published. He waited, and then asked if he could see it. I made the wincey face emoji three times and flipped him the link. He was appropriately complimentary.

Over wine with a friend tonight, I decided I would just be bold. “So questions? I’m here for them?”

He offered similar, “vice versa.” Stalemate, I replied, who goes first? He responded with “ladies first, always.” And then, “Even as a feminist…”

Hot. Why does he get so up into my brain?! He’s fucking cool as a cucumber, or that’s how it feels, and I (as we WELL know) have ZERO CHILL!

I was probably too eager in my question responses. So stalemate again. I’m learning that men are skittish creatures and not to take it personally. I’m learning that I have to temper my intensity a bit. I can’t help it, but I think if I’m more mindful, I can keep it in check. My more experienced friends suggested that I calm down. #slowyourroll has become our new hashtag. I joke that I’m gonna tattoo it on my forehead. Maybe if I gave myself a rule, like wait an hour before responding unless it’s critical, I could CTFD. I’ve definitely learned that sleeping on it is a great way to deal wit lots of things that seem urgent or stressful at 10/11pm.

As a feminist, I just want the opportunity to be myself and ask for what I want, but perhaps, as my pal pointed out, I’m rushing things. I don’t even know what I want yet. I don’t. I’m just scratching the surface.  And it’s going to take a LOT more bad dates and dates who aren’t showing up how I’d like before I even know! I’m just gonna keep doing me, keep writing the good write, going to yoga and therapy and pushing forward. If you’re into personal growth, I’m here for it!

Ooh-la-la

So I went to “Paris” on Thursday, and I’ve been to the moon a few times since then. Mr. Saturday Night fizzled rather than sizzled alas, but once I changed my perception of my current predicament with men and focused on thinking about it as a gap year, something began to shift. It’s only been a few days, but I can feel the difference in my mind and it’s powerful. More to come on that.

Monsieur Le Professeur and I had been texting in a dating app a little while ago. He’s extremely handsome, 50 and French AF. Separated, two kids and, most notably, has a public and a private persona. When we realized we were on opposite kid-free weekends, he suggested we meet for lunch. I ran out of a meeting and walked at lightening speed in the rain to get to the French restaurant, forgetting to look at my phone, where he’d messaged to say he was going to be late. So I ordered a Prosecco and texted with my handsome, adorable British GBF, let’s call him Grey (because he’s a greyhound of a man without an ounce of body fat on him), and also with Drew (my divorce buddy from work, who is fast becoming one of my closest friends). Grey was in a mood so we started imagining my wedding to Drew (“you guys can come in on horses”) and had a good giggle. Drew was nervous about a date he had the next night and so I talked him through that and he wished me well with the Frenchman.

(Truth be told, I’m fixing Drew up with a friend of mine, because I’ve tried to take our friendship outside of work a few times and nothing has materialized, so probably best to stay friends.)

When Monsieur Le Professeur, finally appeared, he was extremely apologetic for getting stuck at work. I meant to get up and give him a double cheek kiss greeting, to show that I know my way around a Frenchy, but he hurriedly sat down and started talking. Our conversation was flirty, we have the same dry sense of humour, and it was immediately apparent that we were well-matched intellectually. And fuck, what woman does not get totally turned on by a French accent? I may be trying to get to Zen Master status, but I go weak in the knees when he stumbles on his English and reverts to French. Serendipitously my 1:30pm meeting was cancelled and I had a bit of time to linger and get the full benefit of our time together.

Unlike most of the other guys I’ve dated (save for Felipe the Brazilian), he texted later that night to say he was thinking of me and how much he enjoyed our time together. “Equal Enthusiasm” has shot up to the top of my list of requirements for moving on to the next round and Le Prof definitely passed.


I went to therapy the next day to level-set. “I need to talk about my fear of sex and my Madonna/Whore complex,” I said frankly. I desperately need to explore what it means to own my desires—fuck, we all do! Most women have been taught to bottle it in for fear of being a “slut.” Many men have been taught that they are not responsible for theirs and that they can do whatever they want when their desire arises. This is maybe why I love gay men so much. Many realize early on that they can’t fight their desires, which society has always frowned upon, so their culture celebrates the entire freaky spectrum of sexuality.

My therapist worked through it with me. Religious uprbringing? Check! Sexual assaults? Yeppers! I’ve got a whole post sitting in drafts about my hangups with sex. But basically, I have a lot of shame around sex. And some of that comes from my marriage, where my endless desire was positioned as a negative. I have the sexual appetite of a “man.” I know what I want. I want to speak it out loud. But I’ve been afraid to for so long.

My therapist also wants me to add other notches on my belt. She said that by the sounds of it, Mr. Saturday Night was not going to show up for me the way I needed him to and that Le Prof is the one I should go forward with in terms of sexual exploration. So, alons-y!

“What are you going to do about Ali,” she asked. The answer is fucked. I’m not ready to let him go, even though he’s consistently inconsiderate, even though that relationship does not feed me. He’s my training wheels, and I’m not quite steady on this sexual bike ride without them just yet. I mean, he’s a sure thing… WHEN he shows up.


Le Prof swiped through my profile, pointing out why he decided we could meet. “La première chose que j’ai remarquée est que vous souriez. Ce n’est pas garanti!”  He noticed my smile, which apparently not all women do when trying to look sexy in an app. “You look like a happy person!”

Then he proceeded to assess the percentage match that the algorithm had given us in terms of match potential. “94% Dating, good! 86% Lifestyle, très bien… Sex, 74%. You have to do better,” he said with a smirk and a dirty Frenchman’s twinkle in the eye.

“I’m going to guess I haven’t answered enough questions,” I countered. “Also, do you want to let an algorithm cheat you out of what could be a really hot experience?” I texted later when he asked if I was doing my homework. Answering the sex survey in the app made it very clear: He’s way more kinky and sexual than I am. I still have this fear that holds me back. After therapy on Friday, I decide I’m going to let him do the driving and see what happens.


The first night after meeting, he texted, as I mentioned. And it got a little flirty. And I put him in his place in a way that would keep him wanting more. He kept asking for photos. At first, a selfie, I thought I would suffice. He sent me one too, first in a jacket, and then without the jacket. “Your turn,” he quipped.

“Pace yourself, cowboy,” I replied. He didn’t understand, because French! “Sorta like ‘Soyez patient!'” I told him. He said patience is his worst quality or something lost in translation that should have alerted me to the fact that he was gonna be asking for more than selfies in a hurry. I manage to hold him off with, “Oh but if I behave you will get bored so quickly,” which he loves.

The next night, he asked if I was interested in sexting. I was apprehensive (because ME: scared of men’s desires!), but as I’d just discussed exploring my sexual self with him via the therapist, I thought, OK, why not? Let’s give it a try. I knew I was going out and would be tipsy when I got home.

I got home from a fundraiser, HAMMERED. I hit on Theo while we were trading off for the night and he was wise enough to just leave. We had a good laugh though. Then I had my first sext. That’s right. I have never sexted before. I mean, if I was ever going to do it, it was when Theo was living in another city for work, but we were so broken then.

So I sexted, while drunk, and it escalated quickly. He begged for photos, so I got creative, making sure I had some clothing on and that my face was never in the shot. And it was fun, and HOT! I could get the hang of this!


The next day, I was so horny that I messaged Ali, after he went through my entire social feed liking everything. I figured, he’s online and thinking about me, maybe I’ll tell him about my escapades! I’ll admit, I was feeling cocky, like perhaps I could juggle a few men at the same time for a bit. As it turned out, Ali was watching movies with a “chick friend.” Because of course. He’s got a woman on his couch and he’s looking at photos of me. For what? Inspiration? Am I like some kind of virtual fluffer?

I felt like a fool, because I’ve mostly been avoiding Ali since he never messages me unless he wants sex. But something about the high I felt after Le Prof made me try to attempt vulnerability with him again. I can’t help thinking that I’m getting Ali all wrong. Yet whenever I attempt to get close to him or to get to the next plane, he disappears. Ugh.

Meanwhile, Le Prof is now insatiable. He wants to “play” nightly. I participate two nights in a row, but this ain’t Victoria’s Secret, and by the third night, the pressure to look a certain way to keep up the game exhausts me and I cancel our nightly text chat so that I could watch Beychella and fold laundry (which was INFINITELY more rewarding, frankly). He is the cliche of a 50-something Frenchman. He wants to take me shopping for lingerie. He asks if I have high heels. He begs for one final photo each night. It’s all a bit much.

Here’s what’s not sitting well with me:

a) Don’t I just want to date a normal guy in the traditional way for a while? Or have I tried that already? Or is that just a unicorn at this point?

b) Will I ever even meet a “normal guy”? (Drew at work is the closest to normal straight male.)

c) If I do decide to play with my sexuality in a more risqué way, how do I reconcile being a feminist with also being a man’s fetish in garters and heels?

d) Do I really want to start a relationship with someone who has the energy to sext every single night?

And still, I’m committed to seeing if Le Prof can CTFD enough to get what might be good out of this. I’m seeing him tomorrow night, in a public place, just for a drink. If I’m going to pursue this for a few weeks, I need to beef up the vocabulary of an impudent North American lover who sets boundaries in a flirty way with her Frenchman. I mean, I gotta go there at least once, right? Maybe this is the perfect experience to play with expressing what I want, understanding my desires? Still, so scared. And honestly, bored. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.

 

I’m getting ready

Why do we always rush the ready? Is it fear that we’ll wait too long and miss an opportunity? Do we lack the faith that another opportunity will come along?

I think there’s something in there about faith. It’s a big theme in the book I haven’t been writing because I’ve been here spinning yarns and trying to process what is happening in my brain and in my heart.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Michael Kiwanuka this week, and so I’ll take my inspiration from him. Listen along here.

Oh my
I didn’t know what it means to believe
Oh my
I didn’t know what it means to believe

Do I still believe in love? And what kind of love is it that I believe in? Eckhardt Tolle says that “true love has no opposite” but how many married couples believe that they love each other, yet can also feel a deep resentment bordering on hatred when their partner does something as offensive as putting the toilet paper roll on the wrong way? (YES THERE IS A WRONG WAY! It’s OVER not under, fuck off already.)

My friend Gryff often asks, “What do you believe?” We’ll be in a meeting trying to solve something complex about our business and he will always bring it right back to beliefs. I don’t give beliefs enough credit or brain space. What do I believe?

My favourite belief rant of all time is performed by Kevin Costner in the film Bull Durham. I will leave it here for you (he kicks in at about 1:04).

“Well, I believe in the soul… the cock…the pussy… the small of a woman’s back… the hangin’ curveball… high fiber… good scotch… that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent overrated crap… I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a Constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. Goodnight.”

If I had a similar sermon it would be as follows:

“Well, I believe in the soul… that men and women are deliciously different but deserve equal rights… homemade granola… good bourbon… libraries… the curve of a man’s hipbone as best exhibited by Brad Pitt in Fight Club… that Big Bang Theory is indulgent overrated crap… I believe in eye contact that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up… I believe that life is too short for cheap shoes and crappy champagne. I believe in celebrating the over-the-topness of Celine Dion and the Spice Girls, but that indie singer-songwriters offer a path to enlightenment. I believe that your heels may never touch the ground in downward dog, that it’s about the journey not the destination, that Montreal is the most romantic city on earth. And I believe in seizing the moment via long, slow, deep kisses that happen in the 30 seconds before a movie starts. Goodnight.”

Needs work, I’ll admit.

But if I hold on tight, is it true?
Would You take care of all that I do?
Oh Lord
I’m getting ready to believe

Religion and spirituality have long given us an all or nothing approach. Either you believe in what they are selling or you’re out. But my book offers an alternate path for those seeking for something to help them feel tethered in a storm. So many of us shy away from admitting to some kind of belief system, because saying you believe means you’re either a bible thumper, an extremist or a new-age-y fluffernutter. Believing isn’t cool anymore. Unless it’s in a sports team. In true patriarchal style, the last bastions of belief are either extremely rigid or involve a score. Fuck that.

Oh my
I didn’t know how hard it would be
Oh my
I didn’t know how hard it would be

If I’m honest, I’ve been apprehensive to talk about the subject of my book for that exact reason. And it’s been hard to write it. Because the format of writing a book is nothing like writing a blog post or a magazine article. But also, because maybe I didn’t believe that I could do it. And maybe it’s time to have some faith.

But if I hold on tight, is it true?
Would You take care of all that I do?
Oh Lord
I’m getting ready to believe

I’m-a-gettin’ ready to believe. To believe that I’ve got this. That the love will come when I love myself, all of me, even the ugly parts. I posted a super unattractive selfie this morning when I was feeling my lowest. I’m so good at sharing the funny or the fun, but I wanted to see what would happen if I posted the other side of me, the one that plagues me with loneliness and self-doubt. The one that’s full of worry that she’s unlovable, that finding someone worthy of her time is so much work and the task seems impossible.

The response was immediate, an outpouring of love followed by quiet DMs from people suffering in silence. In loving what I perceived to be the unlovable in me, I was greeted with love. Pretty sweet.

And hey, there are parallels! Journalling through your grief allows you to find them. It’s wonderful! What do you do when a task seems too mountainous? You break it down into smaller chunks, into milestones. And writing a book and finding someone to love will both need goal posts to look towards, something to measure oneself against to understand if the achievements and work being done is leading somewhere meaningful.

This involves lists, and I motherfucking LOVE LISTS! Lists I can do. I think. Nah, I BELIEVE.

Then we’ll be waving hands, singing freely
Singing standing tall, it’s now coming easy
Oh, no more looking down, honey, can’t you see?
Oh Lord, I’m getting ready to believe

So I’m getting ready. I know I have to deal with my debt. I’ve been spending stupidly to fill holes in my heart. I need to face that beast before I can consider sharing a life with someone else.

There are a few stragglers from the reno I did around the time that Theo left. I need to complete those and make keeping my space wonderful and inspiring part of my daily practice. To lovingly put things in their homes once I’ve rid our space of ghosts and goblins, AKA the bits of Theo that still hang about the house. I need to mindfully make my bed, like it’s a prayer to have someone great sleep in it, next to me, my hand on his chest, my ear to his heart. That’s a goal worth mindfully pursuing.

I need to practice a morning routine that feeds me. Which means I need to practice a meaningful bedtime routine. I’ve been nagging myself about this for a while, but I want to really try to achieve it. It’s a worthy goal, because it sets me up for hygiene habits that help to ground me and balance my mind.

Then we’ll be waving hands singing freely
Singing standing tall it’s now coming easy
Oh no more looking down, honey, can’t you see?

Spring is technically here, but it’ll be a month before the weather makes me feel like it’s aligned with the calendar. I can’t wait to take my bike out, and maybe I’ve been stalling on that because of the weather and just need to suck it up. I’ve been going to the gym, and need to make exercise a habit, because it sets me up for feeling sexy and wanting to have sex with men who are not going to be my life partner, but are going to teach me a whole lot of things about myself.

I’m not saying I can’t be with men before these list items are tackled, but I can’t seek out someone truly meaningful until I get my house in order, my inner house and my physical house. I’m not ready for the big show yet, but I’m-a-gettin’ ready.

Mr. Saturday Night left me with that breadcrumb about his dog and I decided (with some feedback from my inner council) to leave it there. Because fuck. I don’t want breadcrumbs. I want a meal. I want the fact that I kissed a man in the front seat of his car to leave him slightly breathless with anticipation of where that kiss might go. I want him to be considerate enough to tell me I’ve crossed his mind when I have. I want to believe that he’s not so much like my ex-husband (though so far, signs point to yes). I want him to believe that I could be a lot of fun, and that I’m mature enough to not get carried away imagining that we’re in love when all it’s going to be is a summer of fun.

I want to learn how to be that person, frankly. I want to not go into a tizzy every damn time a dude doesn’t text. I want to be strong enough to walk away, because that’s not for me. Fuck yes, or no. I gotta start saying no to guys who are skim milk. I want cream. Come full fat or fuck off.

Oh Lord, I’m getting ready
Oh Lord, I’m getting ready
Oh Lord, I’m getting ready to believe