It takes a village to make a show happen and the biz is all consuming, especially with a show up and running. Our musical opened in February in its off-Broadway run, broke all box office records and extended twice. We gals spent most evenings at the theater, watching audience reactions to what the critics were calling “history making in American Musical Theater.” We connected via daily emails, pre-theater meet-ups and conversations about every nuance of the book or score that we felt needed tweaking. There began the shaping of a rhythm that was defining our relationship to the business — and cementing our appreciation for each other. We glowed over the success of our first joint venture and in spending so much more time together, confided more details in the daily Soap in days of our lives …
Paley was selling her marital co-op and shopping for her first one-bedroom rental. She signed on to J-Date (passing on her rejects which included a very sweet older man with a hearing problem who suggested I practice yelling in prep for our next date – and another more plausible candidate who committed a major yuck when he French kissed me goodnight on the second date) and It’s Just Lunch, a more personalized (and expensive) dating service, while batting her eyelashes at every stranger passing by. She rallied the rest of us to hit the bar scene on Friday nights while anxiously waiting for midweek texts from Mr. CEO (still bi-coastal) suggesting after work dinners to “discuss business” and winding up in upscale bars with soft sofas, making out. She was falling more in love with his company with every insider tidbit he whispered in her ear; she knew they needed her skill set and was ready to give up that free parking space that came along with her part-time, non-profit job. Warned not to mix business with pleasure by each of us in turn, she was sure she could have it all – until he made promises he couldn’t keep and (finally) admitted the “she’s nothing” girlfriend back in LA was the one he couldn’t hurt.
Emma’s guy was coming back to town again but wasn’t going to be staying with her this time. Whenever she mustered up the courage to give him the “it’s now or never” speech, he managed to short-circuit it by changing gears. This time he surprised her by not asking to stay at her place for his 2-week stay … he wound up spending more time with her than he might have if they cohabitated but she chickened out of talking the talk, saving it for a later date when she’d feel less vulnerable.
Karen and Tool Man had fallen in to a routine … one that had her up late waiting for him to arrive after his workday was through — and alone on weekends. He’d been divorced long enough to have a gang of guys he liked to hang with on weekends and wasn’t ready to give them up any time soon – a serious point at this age: old friends are a casualty of divorce and new ones are hard to find. Knowing what we know about the expiration dates on new lovers, when is the right time to bring the new babe in, go exclusive and let go of the swinging single party hardy pals?
Surfer Dude was out of town for a few weeks, partial business/partial none-of-my-business pleasure — which meant the coast was clear for the BF-from-out-of-town to re-enter on a sunny afternoon and catch a Sunday matinee of my show. Curtain call and a sweet walk hand-in-hand through the park with appetizers at one of my favorite downtown restaurants, he said “I love you but I can’t be with you” for the last time. Lots of trauma drama, peppered with real tears and more than a few harsh words. I sent him out of my life and into a future sans moi. Stunned at my unexpected outburst, I wound up back in the same park we walked through a couple hours earlier and texted Bond, Jams. Luckily in town on business: NEED HERO, GOT A WHITE HORSE??…He was kind enough to jump in a cab and save my retched soul with a few kind words (and a glass of vino) before putting me in a cab for home.
…We’d become good friends when, after the end of a lovely evening a couple of weeks earlier, he confessed to his unrequited love for another gal who lives closer to his condo in Tampa — And left me, unrequited. Oye.
My girlfriends and I thought we knew men – we were good wives and mothers; we were the ones who opted out of our marriages, not our hubbies, but these guys were driving us nuts. This was new; we were not the mothers of their children, we didn’t have a shared history with them – in fact, we were realizing, we barely knew them. We’re used to be coupled and more comfortable in a relationship but how do you make it work??
As we gal pals sat at the bar in the restaurant next door to the theater waiting for the curtain calls, we relayed the stories in minute detail, sought each others counsel and became co-conspirators in navigating the maze of mid-life dating – what’s it all about, Alfie??
And then I got an email from a daily website I subscribe to that I passed on to all … the genius behind it masquerading as “The Universe” it’s often enlightening:
“Actually, Shaz,” it wrote (cleverly plugging in my name to its universal message), “it’s easier to accept others, than to change them. It’s wiser to understand them, than to get angry. And most of the time, it’s more fun to love ‘em, than to leave ‘em.
Your cal! The Universe.”
We decided not to give up but to step back, lighten up – and keep dating.
Note to self: Men ARE from Mars.