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I Wanna See You Be Brave

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This morning, my childhood friend Becky posted a Sara Bareilles song on Facebook: Brave. And it triggered a memory of Becky’s mother.

Many years ago, after becoming engaged, I visited the mom of my friends Mike, Bobby and Becky Bruce-West. By that time, I had known Mrs. Bruce many years; since I was ten or eleven years old. She was like a second mom to me, and she really was a second mom to my cousin, Pam Bruce, who had become her daughter-in-law. As much as I loved Mrs. Bruce, I had only been in sporadic contact with her over the last several years. College took me out of town, then working and living in the Atlanta area kept me away. Pam and Mike were married and living in other parts of the world, Becky was married and living in Florida. The reasons for me to visit the Bruce home had grown up and moved on.

But once I was betrothed, I had a strong need to see her. I called and asked if I could come visit for an afternoon. She laughed. “Of course you can come see me! Anytime!”.

We caught up and laughed about old times. Then, in her sweet, aging voice, she asked: “Well Danita Clark, what will your new name be?”

“Able”, I said.

“Able”, she paused, and her blue eyes lit up like sparklers. “I can’t think of a more perfect name for you. Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve been one of the most able people I’ve ever known. Brave, too.”

Hearing her words, I was overjoyed, because Mrs. Bruce wasn’t one to spout empty accolades. I also felt like an impostor. She had no way of knowing, but already, the little girl Mrs. B had known as able and brave, had become a young woman stripped of bravery.

When did that happen? Where did I leave the bravery? When? I’m not fully certain, but I think I know. I believe I left little pieces of bravery and able-ness on the ground around me, under my feet. Anytime I felt inadequate, I gave away bravery. No one took it from me. I handed it over, let it slip from my hands and hit the red clay, where it sank deep and became buried.

Unwittingly, as my friend Teresa recently said, I had set myself up to marry a man who didn’t value me. After I married him, I became less able, less brave. For twenty-four years, I had no bravery.
All that changed six years ago, come this July.

Glory to God, I survived.
And with a lot of help from Him, many good friends, some vagabond travels, family, and a new Rodan+Fields business, I have been ‘able’ to recover my bravery.

The insecurity, uncertainty and no-bravery, is now nothing more than an oily, greasy mark in the middle of the road. It sort of looks like an old, empty can of Crisco.

Hey Baby!

myfavoritemartian

I blame SnowJam2014, boredom and a mullett, for my brief foray into the mystifying world of online dating.

I’ve just never been curious or brave/interested enough to give dating sites a try. I mean, looking at a stranger’s photo, reading a (most likely fake) profile, and then meeting the person behind the photo/fakeprofile in a public setting…where both parties will be scrutinizing the other, doesn’t sound like fun to me. Yet, it works out for some. For instance, I have a sweet friend married to the man of her dreams; a debonair Englishman whom she met on a dating site. But she is young and beautiful, and I’m thinking her case is probably rare.

A while back, and as a matter of Research, a friend allowed me to enter her online dating page. I crossed that threshold once….once was enough. A quick perusing of the site convinced me online dating wasn’t for me. Weeding through all those cheesy photos and goofy usernames…made my tummy feel yucky.

Two days ago, yet another ‘fifty-something, divorced friend’ and I were commiserating over the good, bad and sometimes hilarious aspects of dating at our age. She had me in stitches with her stories. “I look at photos of these men, see their grey hair or no hair and think….’Heavens! Not that one! He’s much too old for me!’ Never mind that I may be five years older and have more grey hair than he does,” she said. And there was the scrutiny. My old friend confirmed my fear.

Then today, the third day of SnowJam2014, I received a message with a photo attached. I admit to having gone on a few dates with old friends I’ve become re-acquainted with on Facebook. Sometimes I even joke about Facebook being a dating site in disguise. But it feels safe and generally, mutual interest is shown and a fair amount of dialogue takes place before a date is scheduled. Generally. Nothing quite like the following encounter has happened before…

Have you ever crossed paths with someone you (vaguely) knew in high school and, although you are now over fifty, you realize he is still sixteen years old? No? Probably just my good fortune, so please bear with me while I describe such an (facebook) encounter. The Message: “Hey baby! Whats up! Hit me up! Lets go out!!! Lets get together soon!”
Baby? I barely knew the man over thirty years ago. I think Baby is a wonderful name of endearment, but I didn’t like hearing it from this guy. Perhaps my displeasure had something to do with the photo. A man wouldn’t send a photo of himself to the opposite sex unless he felt it was an impressive likeness, would he? The Photo: His hair was still mullettish. His belly hung over his belt and a wife-beater stretched across the belly. Dark sunglasses covered his eyes; no smile. I guessed it was his ‘I’m Cool’ expression. He held a Pabst Blue Ribbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

“Why, would you send this photo to me,” I wondered? And at that moment, an absurd but true thought struck me and I laughed out loud, literally. I laughed not at my ‘friend’, but at myself. This man obviously has much more self-confidence than I do, I realized. I dislike photos of myself and would never send one, unsolicited or otherwise, to someone I might wish to go out with. But this guy put himself…in all his glory…out there and took a chance; something I would never have the courage to do. So, I developed something of an admiration for his pluckiness and deleted the connection.

Later in the day, boredom settled in and my mind wandered to the conversation with my girlfriend and, for some reason, I decided to subscribe to a free dating site. Once again, I was in uncomfortable territory, but I lingered a little longer this time and had a few laughs. Oh, and I saw some old familiar faces too. 😉 (An old friend had his senior photo locked in as his profile picture, burgundy tuxedo and all. He graduated in 1978).

In the event you’ve deprived yourself of the amusing experiencing of logging onto a dating site, consider yourself no longer deprived. The following profile information was copied and pasted straight from the site. Usernames have been slightly altered to protect the innocent, but the posts remain the same. Enjoy.

hungry69: (Nonsmoker) Looking for ladies in my area for fun and companionship. I try to stay in decent shape and physical attractiveness is important to me. I do not require a beauty queen, however ,if you describe your body type as average, it means that you are not overweight. Pretty but pleasingly plump could be an exception! Also, I don’t have the time to educate bleeding heart liberals .I only smoke some if I’m enjoying an adult beverage in evening(never during the day).

kingofducktown Hello, Howdy, Hey, and Hi,How are you doing? What’s Up?What’s Cooking? Now don’t be shy, come a bit closer, closer, come on closer I won’t bite…hard,I promise you that I wont.
First off, let me tell you that I was Georgian born and raised, I hope you won’t hold that against me.
I am a somewhat shy person but don’t worry, I’ll open up soon as I get to know somebody, and watch out! My humor could come out of left field and hit you like a ton of bricks and you won’t even know it!
Let me see, hmmm, “scratching his head”, I have been depressed somewhat for the past year, I have been lonely. While being burnt by other online dating services, I think I should try it once more. I hope that I can meet some nice lady here. As for money, You Can’t Take It With You When You Go!

iamdoctor: With muliple college degrees and a passion for life learning and passing along great values to others…I am a caring and passionate Man , driven and focused with lots of love inside to give to the right woman, I have a very young and able body, was recently tested scientifically to be biologically 39, will tell you more , open minded to try new things, positive and a all around very nice guy, drop me a line, as I work two careers and am away from the PC during the days, I will respond to all your messages, flirts are fun too, to begin with, to break the ice, if you do want to really get to know me please write to me,,, thank you for viewing my profile

blinky: Im here to just look around and see if any ladies may be interested. And I know we all have been around the track at least once. Theres no 50 yr old virgins-we all have our past. Get over it. Lets do this!

drgoodman: Fit, good looking. First, combine Doctor Huckstable with Al Yankovick into a Vin Diesel body. Next add a passion for children and good food. Looking for someone to be passionate about me.

Friends….I shook my head and laughed a little today…whittled away another snow day and confirmed I would rather watch reruns of My Favorite Martian and Land of the Giants than try to find love on a dating site. I’m not criticizing those courageous souls who do, but they’re just too funny (and a tad bit intimidating) for me to seriously consider.

Danita

Author, Letters From A Whoremonger’s Wife

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