Over the past few months, I’ve garnered what I call a “fan club” — a handful of (mostly twentysomething) boys/men who hang around the sober house waiting for me to show up at meetings and who, once I am there, fawn all over me. There is exactly zero hyperbole with this description — it’s as though I have my very own litter of puppy dogs waiting at the doorstep. Don’t get me wrong; I’m quite flattered. But what these boys/men don’t understand is that they wouldn’t be able to handle me.
It has recently occurred to me that while I’m no longer the angry man-eating bitch of a girlfriend I was for so many years, I have indeed retained all of the strong and powerful aspects of my character. I am, to put it mildly, strong willed and free-spirited, and by necessity it takes a man with equal (if not greater) strength of will and spirit for me to feel as though I’ve met a complementary character. Looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever found that in a partner — the closest person would have been The Narcissist, and there was so much violence, anger, and dysfunction wrapped up in his conception of masculinity that ultimately it was a disaster — until recently, with J., who I’d best describe as a Bob Seger kinda guy.
You see, I have this somewhat romantic conception of Bob Seger as the sort of man who was prevalent during the 70s and 80s but has somewhat disappeared: sufficiently masculine and Marlboro Man-esque yet also sensitive and not unaware of the principles of equality, feminism, and compassion. And, okay, this might be an overly generous characterization of 1970s manhood, but give me a break; it’s my conception and as long as it works for me, who can argue? (OK, begging the question, but whatever.)
The point of all of this is twofold: (1) I’m finally the sort of person I’ve always wanted to be, albeit with a much smaller bank account and much less infamy and/or critical acclaim and (2) Despite the age difference (I’m 35, he’ll be 53 next month), I really do think J. and I are a great match — he loves the opera as much as he loves hiking, and he’s as comfortable going with me to a fabulous dinner as he is staying at home cooking up a gourmet meal. Most of all — or, perhaps, best of all — I don’t ever feel as though I have to dampen or dim the person I am in order to make him feel more comfortable. All those puppy dog man-boys? Being with them — and I know this for a fact, because I’ve been with a million of them (not really, but you know…) — means being less “me” because they are intimidated or scared or otherwise threatened when I fully spread my wings. I am 100% exhausted limited myself and my character so as not to offend other people — and I’m 100% grateful I’ve found a man with whom that isn’t even an option. Now if I could only find a way to get the puppy dogs to find another poodle to chase. Namaste.