Dating career guy
An acquaintance convinced her friend, a man, and me, a woman, that we should meet.She gave us each other’s contact information so we could fail or succeed in private.
Once you hit a certain professional level, the number of men who feel comfortably equal shrinks, first subtraction. If you’ve got a past you won’t hide—an extended family more like the cast of “Duck Dynasty” than John Cheever’s characters—next subtraction. My conflict resolved the way it does in old-fashioned novels, with a bit of deus ex machina: an unexpected plot twist that solves an otherwise unsolvable problem.
By the time I was a graduate student, the idea that woman was man’s equal was regarded with hostility by the general population but as a mandate for change in universities. By the time I was 35, I was a professor who’d published two books but still hadn’t dated anyone who wasn’t a guy in a local band (he liked Alka-Seltzer with corn flakes for breakfast, hangover remedy); a small-time drug dealer (more than one of these, in fact); or a carpenter ready to knock off early if I’d just turned in a big project.
So I was part of that shift of women trickling into what had been, until then, a mostly male profession. I didn’t get it that a few years of feminism wouldn’t undo centuries of convention about mating and dating, including the idea that men can date or marry women with less status, but when a woman does it’s a scandal, a secret. For years I lived with a rift between my days and nights, between my work self and what I thought was my real self.
He broke up with me as he’d loved me, long-distance. I heated my house with a woodstove, so I explained that fresh-cut wood is green and must season.
If I’d seen him incompletely, he’d objectified me too, socio-economically: He saw my womanhood as so earthy it literally seized up his heart. My date was vegan, but he’d picked out a restaurant that wasn’t—out of courtesy, hospitality, or there weren’t vegan restaurants back then. My date ordered pasta, no sauce; I was too hungry to tell him that pasta contains eggs. We went back to his house where, in the fireplace, he lit wadded-up newspapers under clippings from hedges he’d trimmed that day. He found this interesting, or alluring, because he asked me to spend the night. I’d arranged for a cord of wood to be delivered the next day.
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My friend was in medical school when her longtime fiancé called off the wedding.