Inner Third-Grader

A friend asked me if I would be willing to share some of my dating experiences and be a guest writer on her blog. She explained that I came to mind because she felt the perspectives of the twenty- and thirty-something crowd were pretty well covered, but she was curious about the view of someone in the over-forty demographic.  (I wanted to tell her to stop using that particular f-word but we were at church so I was afraid my statement would turn a few heads.)

Besides, what do I know about living in my forties, much less dating in them?  Sure, I was born before 1970 but I’m definitely not your typical forty-something.  Plus I had to think of whether or not I’d actually been on a real date in my forties yet.  But I have to admit to my share of romantic disasters already in my forties so I guess that should count for something.

I suppose she approached me because she somehow assumed that my biological age would give me insight and wisdom that I could pass along to inspire the younger generation. Instead, she got this:

I have a very robust inner third-grader.  My i3g generally serves me well; it’s kind of like having an internal fun magnet.  It reminds me of the mystery of how my dad can make open parking spaces magically appear in front of him, and my mom has a sixth sense of when there’s a sale in the vicinity.

Maybe my dating life would be more successful if I put my i3g on the case.  I really think I was a lot smarter when I was about eight.  The younger version of myself wouldn’t put up with some of the things that I do now, things that we are taught as adults to accept.  For one, my i3g wouldn’t go out with someone “just to be nice,” even when not interested in the other person.  She also wouldn’t spend an excessive amount of time worrying about her appearance or trying to be cool.

And let’s talk about cooties.  Your i3g knows they’re real.  When the thought “that person has cooties” goes through your mind, it means that something is creepy—a boundary has been crossed and things are not right.  The adult world might tell you that you are jumping to conclusions and that you need to override that sentiment.  But your i3g knows that things are amiss—listen to her!

Dates:  Most of the stuff that’s considered part of the standard repertoire for dates is somewhere on a continuum between stressful and boring—certainly not anything fun that brings out the best in each of you.  Or maybe the fun activities don’t bring out the best in my date, in which case I’d like to know that, as it would be a whole lot more helpful in getting to know someone than some contrived, artificial situation.

Here’s a quick checklist for anyone wanting to take me out:  Does it involve roller skates, bubble wrap, ice cream, animals, or bluegrass music?  Count me in.  A big no: overpriced pretentious food, excessive air conditioning, shopping, or anybody asking me, “And now what exactly is it that you do?” in a snotty tone of voice.  I’ll make sure I need to stay home and clean the bathroom that night.

What about gifts?  You got me flowers to show me how you feel about me.  They died within the week.  Not really, I think, what you were trying to convey.  But you found me a heart-shaped rock when you were out hiking?  This tells me you were thinking about me even when I wasn’t there.  If you catch me a frog, we’re in business. (Especially if it’s a talking frog.  No, not one that turns into Prince Charming.  I mean a real talking frog.  That would be pretty neat.)

We should address another adult concept—the dreaded Friendzone.  Kids aren’t really concerned about this.  “So you don’t wanna be my girlfriend?”  Pause.  “Ok, how ‘bout we climb trees instead?”  And suddenly everything is all good again.

I think I’ll approach dating with my i3g at the helm.  At the very least, I’ll have fun and end up with some good stories.  And maybe I’ll find someone out there with his own i3g—and no cooties.