Saturday, November 3, 2012

Training Wheels

They say if you learn something and don't use it, you lose it. But, if you begin to use it once more, it's like riding a bicycle. It will come back to you. Maybe.

I studied German in high school and college, until I transferred to a state university that didn't offer it at the level I needed, because in Southern California, there is little call for German. Spanish, yes. And Asian languages come in handy, being we're on the Pacific Rim. So, I didn't use my German frequently enough and ultimately forgot most of it. Therefore, I was both excited and nervous when my ex and I went to Germany in 1998; excited to try and practice a language I hadn't used since 1978 or so, and nervous as I didn't want to make mistakes because I prided myself on being an excellent foreign language student, since I had studied several of them throughout my educational career and they came relatively easy to me. Languages had always fascinated me as a child, and I even studied a few on my own. I have since forgotten most of them as I have not used them, again because of living in SoCal. About the only things I can remember from my year of college Russian is "I love you", "Where is the restaurant?", "Kiss me" and "I'm gay." Some very useful phrases to use in Moscow, to be sure!

Well, we arrived in Germany, and I was very disappointed. Everyone spoke English, Scheiße! Everyone, but the older generation, seemed to refuse to speak to me in German, try as I might. They wanted to practice their English.  But, in those situations where I did get to speak German, it was indeed like riding a bicycle. It came back, ein bißchen. A bit. I wobbled a bit, fumbling for a word I knew that I knew but could not recall at that moment. But, at least I was able to make myself understood, and I could comprehend most of what I heard.

As I look at my life today, a single gay man at mid life, I have realized something which traumatized me. As I begin to think about contemplating the possibility of commencing to start to wonder about when I might be ready to consider dating, it dawned on me, I DON'T KNOW HOW! There, I have said it. I don't know how to date. I have made a few vain attempts to meet men post-divorce, and I have cataloged two of the could-be four attempts here in this blog. Though some may argue that the first attempt I have described here  was not an out-and-out dating situation because we never actually had a real date. (Actually, this was the second man I had met, as I haven't really talked about the first one.) But, to me, after meeting Second Man in person, I ended up hoping it would turn into one. Epic fail. Oh, well. And I'm not even sure what to call this last attempt, being that we possibly might go out sometime, maybe, in the future when his schedule frees up. I asked him over two months ago, and he's still busy. 24/7? I get it. Fail number two, or is it three? Hell, it's number four.

When I last dated, over 26 years ago, we didn't have smartphones (I still don't have one), cell phones didn't even exist in those dark ages. And without smartphones, there weren't any apps. There wasn't even the internet. (I feel like such a dinosaur!) You actually had to physically meet the man in some geographic location; a friend's party, a gay community center, a bar, or a back alley. Now, it seems you can meet someone without leaving home, thanks to all the apps: Grindr, Scruff, Growlr, Jack'd, u2nite, idate, Mister, Hornet, Cybermen, to name just a few. (I no longer have a profile on any of them. And that is just fine with me.)

I have commented before in other posts that the rules of dating seem to have changed with the arrival of this new technology. So, where does one go for a course in learning how to date again in this frightening new technoworld? I feel like this isn't a bike I'm trying to relearn to ride, but a motorcycle. It goes very fast, and if you're not careful, it will take off and leave you in the dust and then fall on you crushing your spirit, and maybe breaking a bone or two.

Perhaps, I should consider the four attempts I've made at dating as training wheels. Perhaps, even the two long term relationships I've had should also be considered training wheels. After all, isn't a relationship about learning about yourself? About how we see ourselves in relation to others? Aren't they a mirror into our inner soul? They are if we see how we are reflected in them. They're training us for either the long term or the next relationship.

As some of the physical difficulties that have affected my life post-divorce are now settling; the mortgage refi is done, the book is out and doing well- though I still need to promote it more, teaching is still difficult due to the nature of this class and politics surrounding education in general, I may be ready to get back on the dating bicycle motorcycle soon.

Once I figure out the new rules.

And once I'm ready to take a chance on falling off and getting bruised. Again.

Which is my next hurdle to cross.


  1. Whatever vehicle you use in the search of a meaningful relationship, stay on the road; don't get lost by taking a shortcut...

    1. Thank you, Nancy. I am of the mind that as I walk my road, (or drive, or bike...) my road will cross others. And it's at those intersections, I may meet someone of interest. But, my big question is for I willing to risk getting hurt again?