Women are from Venus, and perhaps men should go to Mars…

My favorite cartoon character is Marvin the Martian.  I love the way he walks, self-important, with his feet moving too quickly to be believed, and the way he uses his “lludium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator” to try to improve his view of Venus by destroying the earth.

It all seems quite apt.

I’ve been dating men for the past four years and I remain confused by them.  Still entranced, yes, but confused. I LIKE men.  They are funny and worldly and they smell good.  And sometimes, if you play it just right, they kiss you and that is loveliness in total. I once naughtily kissed a man when on a date with another and I can still taste the thrill of that kiss, it’s forbiddenness. It was a good kiss, too.

But I don’t get them. Men, I mean.

First of all, for some reason, they all feel they need to inform me that I am short. I’m over 50.  I kind of knew that, after years of hemming, hemming, endlessly hemming. Yet they feel compelled to point it out to me, like it was something new, something that just happened to me that morning. “Oh, dang it, my calves fell off!” I know it’s a shock, but what strikes me is that they don’t say it immediately.  They wait, until I figure they’ve come to terms with the height thing, and then they mention it, in a puzzled sort of way. Like they’ve been waiting for me to fully unfold myself and realize it isn’t going to happen.

Then there’s the whole dating dynamic. The pursuit, as one ex-date-now-friend told me – that’s the thing.  You can never look interested.  you must always look as if you are having a slightly bad time. Otherwise the guy will assume he has you and lose interest himself. You have to make it hard for them. As it were, not to get graphic in a family oriented column.

I have a problem.  When I am enjoying myself, I can’t help but let it show.  I smile outrageously, I laugh, I give spontaneous touches, maybe even a hug. I like kissing, so I do. I can’t pretend to be bored, and even if I am, I feel I am too well-bred (do get your minds out of the gutter) to show it. Politeness is my creed. (combined with whip smarting emails, but that’s another topic)  I remember spending an entire afternoon in a fellow’s basement apartment chewing through my watch band with frustration and boredom but still smiling sweetly whenever he looked at me.  Why?  I dunno.  Some weird Venusian reflex. Heaven forbid he know I was having a bad time.

So my various dates all apparently assume I am easily entertained and they immediately drop the ball (behave!) on the entertainment side, offering to come over and watch movies endlessly, or leaving me to organize entertainments (nice sometimes) rather than planning for an event (nice other times).

I am easily entertained.  Life is filled with joyful things, from crazy 1970’s films to the smell of a woodland pathway to the soaring arias of opera. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a little effort now and again.

So I fail the “be difficult” task, although I try to strive for it by being flighty and trying to avoid commitment.  So far this is working well.  I have no commitments. Hmmm.

Then there are the other misunderstandings. For women, if someone flies miles just to see you and clasps you in an embrace, well, that’s often enough to set our little hearts to pitter patting about romance and breathy long distance phone calls and secret meetings in hotel rooms and professions of endless love. For a man, well, it was a nice contact, and isn’t it great to see her again. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…

I used to think of myself as the anti-romantic. Married for years to the most practical of men, raising kids all over the world, I just gave it all up.  When I started dating, I was totally practical.  One fellow I told, hey, this is just for fun.  We don’t have to get serious ever.  Let’s just enjoy each other’s company. He got romantic and it spoiled everything. Moments after declaring his love for me, he dropped me. It was all very odd. And it hurt.

So, I thought, we’ll give up on the romance thing, totally. We’ll just meet men, get to know their life stories, have fun, and then when they leave me, well, it won’t hurt and really it’s all good. I felt all superior to the women in the gossip columns who were going on and on about how their boyfriend broke their heart.  “Don’t give it to them!” I’d say to the paper. “Keep it in its wrapper and no one will get hurt….”

Well, then I had the misfortune to actually fall in love with someone. It wasn’t easy for him. I was balky, still am, I fought the whole way.  Maybe the pursuit thing kept him going, and my ex-date-now-friend was right. I was there for this man, spent hours with him, etc., etc., but kept a large part of me hidden. Patiently, he teased it out. I let myself slide gently into love. I allowed myself to think about the future.  Eventually, sadly, it didn’t work out. So I picked up my heart and tried to wrap it up again. In tin foil this time, to resist the rays.

But now it’s all ruined for me. I can’t pretend that I don’t want romance any more. I have slipped into the wallowing side of things, daydreaming about past beaux, envisioning living with someone again, sharing lives, vacations, early morning laughter and late night conversations. I have become impractical about love now, and it’s a dangerous place to be. Any day now I will buy a subscription to Harlequin Romances and spend days in fruity bubble bath sobbing over stories of girls who have found their secret prince, despite, of course, not being the type to actually LOOK for one. Because of that pursuit thing.

Marvin, in his desire to see Venus, tries to destroy Earth. Romance, in its passion to look, Mars to Venus, blasts practicality to smithereens with that danged space modulator, leaving nothing standing to ground us. I’m feeling the space wind blowing about my calves.  The ones that surprisingly are still attached to my legs.