–by Mary Helen Darah

It’s that time of year when all my coupled friends are making plans on how they are going to spend Valentine’s Day. Over the years, as a single female, I have turned the day into a culinary feast celebrating the love of family and friends. It is wonderful, but I must be honest. There is still part of me that ponders how Cupid’s arrow could hit my parents, grandparents and life-long friends smack dab in the heart while his aim has been missed the mark when it comes to me.
Thankfully, I have an amazing posse of women. One evening we had a venting session regarding the struggle of keeping our heads above water as we tread the murky moats of the dating world. We began playing “Can you top this?” in which I thought I would be the hands-down winner. But I was in complete shock and oddly comforted that others had similar challenges.
I never imagined anyone could top my experience of the last time I had a man sleep over. Believe me, this was due to an approaching storm and not passion. I tend to have an archaic value system and combined with the fact that I had a few of my offspring in my home at the time, said male slept in the guest room. In the middle of the night I heard tapping on my bedroom door. I reluctantly got out of bed, opened the door and did not find someone with testosterone on the other side, as expected. Instead, there was a trail of what looked like small fecal matter from my Corgi running down the hallway. I immediately went into sanitation mode and began picking up the little brown nuggets while simultaneously industrial cleaning the carpet. It wasn’t until I picked up the last brown circular object that my brain finally kicked into gear. First and foremost, Corgis are incapable of knocking on bedroom doors and secondly, what emerges from the behind of a canine is rarely perfectly circular and shiny. After two decades of parenting, apparently, I still could not distinguish dark chocolate laid in a directional pattern in a failed attempt to lead me to a guest room–and poop.
Believe it or not, that shared tale did not get the prize.
The stories of the discovery of a man living with another women while insisting on exclusivity when dating them, or of being asked their thoughts about being rubbed with oil then baby powder (now known as the “shake and bake”) or of having a male show up on a first date wearing camo pj pants were clear winners. That is until someone shared that the man she was emailing on a dating site said that he lived in a gated community. FYI: prison does not fall into this category.
The group also had a few things they would love to share with men, especially the women who have tried, and not yet succeeded, in online dating. A few key suggestions were about photos; put on a shirt and find a better place other than your bathroom to take a selfie. Dental work is a beautiful thing and worth the investment. Do not say, “I love you,” or send heart eyeball emojis until a relationship longer than six hours has been established and round up when splitting a bill. Women have a tough time considering a long-term commitment with someone who has informed them that they owe $4.39 for their half of a turkey sandwich.
Even though these amazing, caring, intelligent women I am blessed to call friends have had their share of dating disasters, they have not given up on love and neither have I. We realize, especially at this stage in life, that our Prince Charming isn’t going to appear on a white horse but perhaps on a slow-moving turtle with a few issues under the shell. One friend said it best, “My expectations of tall, good-looking, fun, lover of the outdoors, dancing, travel and other items on a lengthy list have been shortened to having a pulse, hair, employment and his original teeth.” However, having a big, kind, forgiving heart, and being honest and respectful to others will always be on the list.
So Cupid, if you once again are incapable of shooting straight, know that I am, as well as the other “singled out” women I care for, surrounded with love, laughter and new experiences on a daily basis but…
it would be nice if you could improve your aim!

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