Open Letter on my Anniversay: Letting Go of Fear

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One year ago today, I went on a Match.com date with a guy I call Jimmy Jailbait. You may have read the story; I peed myself cause I waited too long to head to the bathroom. Tonight I’ll head to his house after I work-out. Then I’ll cook dinner while he’s at a “back to school night” with his ex-wife and kids. But tonight, instead of pee, it will be tears. Like many other days this year, I’ll just cry.

I’ll cry because I’m happy. I’m learning to let go of fear. I’m returning to that sweet, bright, happy person I used to be. To the core of myself that loves people. To the one who wasn’t cheated on by really important people in her life. To the one who wasn’t surprised by lies. I’m making a return to the one who knows people are worthy of trust.

It’s been a rough year. I can’t count the times in the past year I’ve driven to work in tears. I can’t count the times I’ve cried through sessions with my counselor. And how many times have I cried with my friends? I’m supposed to be in love. Why am I crying?

I already know. It’s because I feel like I’m “walking the plank” with Jimmy. Because I am. I have been so vulnerable. I’ve revealed so much to him. Lame things. Insecure things. Horrible thoughts. Things like “I can’t go to see the Wonder Woman movie with you because she’s beautiful. I will feel like a nothing sitting in the seat next to you because I know you’ll think she’s hot. I’ve never been insecure about my looks before. And now I’m not sure what is happening to me. Aging? Being cheated on numerous times? I’m not sure what it is.”

And Jimmy is there. He hears all of my stupid-ass shit. He lets me cry. He lets me be funny. He lets me be strong. He lets me be weak. He lets me be damaged. And sad. And smart. And powerful. And goofy.

He has let me in too. He has been vulnerable. And honest. And caring. And I can see that he really listens. I feel really loved.

I see how he treats his kids. I see how he treats my kids. I see how he treats his ex-wife. And I see how he treats his peers – and the server at the restaurant. And I’m in.

He gives me a lot of his time. He shares a lot of his thoughts. I do feel very loved. Maybe that’s what scares me. I have felt loved before. And then…

The thought of facing the pain I’ve felt in the past makes me cry. I’m crying as I write this. But I’ve never been one to shy away from living. So here I am. Living.

I can trust myself. And I can trust him. I just need to keep breathing.

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* Over this past year, I’ve been to lots of counseling, read lots of books, and I love listening to Dr. Laura Berman’s podcasts. In January, my friend Debbie and I will launch a divorce support group called “Rebuilders.”  Stay tuned.

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The Best Text I’ve Ever Gotten

You may have read the story about my first date with Jimmy Jailbait, the one where I peed myself. It’s called “First Date: The Big Lie.” Well, here’s a text I got from him after our 4th date.

Five things before you start: 1) We often talk about each other in the third person. 2) This is ONE text. 3) I got this while on-air. 4) I did NOT strip. 5) By the time I was done reading this, I could barely breathe, as I was unaware of my “effect” upon JJ. 🙂

Dearest Madonna,

I hope you had a pleasant Thursday evening. I had a hot date with an extremely funny, cute, and smart Cougar milf.

I really like this woman, but unfortunately she is sort of a Skank Ho. And as such, regularly seeks to seduce and corrupt me.  It appears that demolishing the strength of my character has become some sort of game or sport for her.

Take for example last night when she was in particularly rare form, playing the part of a sexy Cougar tease.

She opened the evening strutting about in her skintight yoga pants, claiming to have just completed an evening of intense and exhausting exercise.  Yet, notably absent from her physique was any evidence of perspiration or any other telltale sign of extreme physical exertion.

Within 30 seconds of broaching the threshold to her abode, she stripped down to a bra and thong (at least that is my recollection—things are still a bit hazy, as I am quite certain that she included a  “roofie” amid the chewy starbursts that she insisted I consume).

Anyway, whence it became clear that I was not to be corrupted by her perfectly proportioned half naked body, she then set about “stretching” on the floor.  This particular activity was little more than a well masked sales pitch for why highly flexible women (e.g., those who can put their legs behind their heads) are sexier than inflexible trolls.

Candidly, it was tough to resist this Siren’s song, but alas my moral fortitude trumped the Skank Ho attempts at seduction, or so I thought.  For, unbeknownst to me, she was but getting started–as it turned out, stripping and stretching were simply the first arrows she was to loose from her quiver of Skankdom.

The next arrow she launched assumed the form of “spooning” on her couch (in the dark whilst viewing a scary TV show, so as too further set the stage for physical intimacy). In order to spoon her (in the manner that she deemed appropriate), I was forced to place my hand in very close proximity to her perfectly formed bosom.  Of course, I would have preferred to sit alone in a high back wooden chair, ideally one that had been relocated into the corner of the living room. Sadly, such chairs were notably absent from the Lair of the Cougar.  Instead, I was required to recline with her upon a plush settee and ottoman.

When it became clear to the Skank Ho that my personal ethics were not to be compromised, she then fired an even more powerful arrow from her seduction quiver. This particular missile was sent not once, but repeatedly and sporadically throughout the evening. It assumed the form of the her tight and shapely buttocks subtly gyrating in quiet synchronicity with the melodies comprising the musical score of our television program.  Suffice to say, in our spooning position, her gyrating buttocks were proximally located to my manhood.  After a discreet “adjustment”, I was able to return to the viewing of the program. Yet, as I would learn throughout the evening, any reprieve from her assaults or sense of sexual safety I might experience was fleeting and illusory.  Again and again, this particular projectile was fired at me.  And, each time I endured the bitter sting of its enticing barb. And, each time, following a few “adjustments”, I was coerced into reengaging the seductress in her game of spooning.

In spite of her best efforts to detonate a grenade of sin upon my sense of right-and-wrong, I remained veridic to my convictions.  It was only when I was about to leave, that I experienced a most profound shockwave to my ethos.  The Skank Ho carefully drew a final arrow from her quiver and loosed it truly and directly upon my heart — it was a simple weapon, yet a dangerous one, too.

The bolt she fired was a lovely and impassioned kiss — an osculation whose sweet taste still lingers in my mouth. It pierced me — a fulmination of the decency and integrity that I had avowed to uphold. It struck my virtue as a hammer would a glass.

But by happenstance, this bolt had been omitted from her opening salvo. For, had she wielded this particular armament during our initial greeting, it would have breached the armor of my morality (and, most likely would have engendered the pitching of a tent–one so tall and true that it might have proven difficult to collapse).

Although I had been assured that I would be free to depart the Cougar’s Lair at 10:30pm, I was not released from her Cougary confines until nearly 1:00am.

As the above recollection accounts, I was fortunate to escape with my integrity and righteousness still whole.

Upon returning to my domicile, and following a very long and very cold shower, I retired to the comfort and asylum afforded to me by my bed. I fell dormant by 2am (and, my subconscious only subjected me to a single dream whose cast included the Skank Ho).

So, how was your night?

Cougar Bait, PhD

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To say that I was gasping for air is an understatement. Ladies, he’s mine.  🙂

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Jailbait, Me, family, and friends a few months after we met. (Thanks for cooking Ming!)

First Date: The Big Lie

At some point during our 5.5 hour first date, “Jimmy Jailbait” and I had come up with nicknames for each other. He’s 8 years younger than me, so his was easy. Mine was Trollopy Madonna Cougar Skank ‘Ho. I obviously have a sense of humor. The revealing chatter was quite a hoot. But not nearly as much fun as the part where I peed myself.

We met on Match.com. Mr. Jailbait “winked” at me. I never responded to winks. If a man was truly interested, he’d write a message, right?

What I failed to mention was that I was desperate. My online dating life was in the toilet. My inbox was full of messages from 26-year olds who wanted to hook-up with a “magical” MILF or men who had profile pics with selfies featuring actual toilets.

Jailbait’s profile was great. Or maybe good enough. Remember, I was desperate.

Our first date was at a restaurant I’ve been to many times. After ten years of dating, relationships, and a debacle of a second marriage, I’d learned to keep expectations low.

When I first saw Jailbait I said something stupid like “You look just like your picture.” Now he knows this is a lie as he is cute and adorable and his profile pics kinda sucked. I guess dumb things fly out of my mouth on occasion. Only many hours later would things fly out of my bladder.

Anyway we ate dinner and I had one beer and a soda. He drank lemonade and water. A few hours into the date I had to pee. And I ignored it. I have a bladder the size of a whale. I’m not one of those pansies who has to pee every five damn minutes.

The conversation was rolling. We were laughing. We were chit chatting about all kinds of crap; divorce, kids, work, politics. And I remember feeling stupid about getting up to pee. Like I’m telling my silly story about the time I did some stupid thing – and now it’s Jailbait’s turn to tell me a story – and I have to stop him to say “oh sorry, hold that thought, I have to pee.” No. Sorry. First date. I don’t pee. I’m much too demure to contain actual urine.

I guess demure would not be the correct term.  He now says one thing that endeared me to him was that I used the term “pussy” to describe someone. What endeared him to me is that he made the international hand symbol for jerking off to describe a thought. Obviously we’re a match made in heaven.

Besides the fact that I was too weird to say “Hold that thought, I have to use the ladies room,” I was also aware of the fact that he was sitting with his back to the wall – and if I got up to walk to the bathroom he’d be checking out my ass. This also made me uncomfortable. Ew. Men are dogs. Checking out my ass. Ew. I’m not one of those women who does some sexy sashay as she leaves the table. I’m more likely to slip on a stray olive.

Five-and-a-half hours later the check had been paid and we were still there blabbing. Ok, I was doing most of the blabbing and he was obviously falling in love with me as I spoke. I guess he had to pee too cause he got up and headed toward the men’s room. I was left behind thinking “Shit! Now what? I can’t leave to go pee cause if he comes back to an empty table he might think I’ve ditched him.”  So I waited until he got back. We chatted for a minute and then I muttered something about heading to the bathroom.  And then it happened.

I stood up. The simple force of standing was enough to unhinge the poor sphincter muscle that had been doing such a bang-up job all evening. As I got to the full standing position I felt the warm rush of fresh pee-pee coming out of my pee-pee hole.

So rather than worrying about what he thought of my pancake ass as I sashayed to the bathroom, I walked like a crazed, 52-year-old, post-menopausal idiot who was trying not to pee herself.

I got to the bathroom and had to simultaneously hold in 85 gallons of wee whilst fumbling with a button and a zipper with a toilet in plain sight. As I frantically sat on the seat to release a torrent of tinkle, I assessed the damage to the crotch area of my pants. There it was: A circle of moistness the size of a salad plate. Trying to dab up the damage was futile. I was laughing, gasping, and thinking at the same time. Hey everyone on Match.com, try this on your first date; pee yourself and then try to think of a way out of the big pee mark on your britches. Go!

I got to the sink to assess the damage from the public perspective. From the backside I was fine. JJ could check out my ass all he wanted. No visible pee. But right there on the front; pee. So now what? No, the dryer was not an option. I’m tall but my crotch does not reach the dryer. Take off my pants to dry the crotch? Oh, yeah, great. Just what ladies want to see when they walk into the bathroom: Some tall chick in her pee-pee thong with the crotch of her pants under the dryer. Plus, JJ would have wondered what the hell I was doing in the bathroom for 10 minutes. IBS? Explosive diarrhea?

I washed my hands. I shook the water from my wet hands onto the front of my pants. Perfect.  I was in and out of the bathroom in the same amount of time that a normal non-peeing-herself-person would have been.

I walked out to Jailbait and he stood up so we could head out to our cars. He, of course, didn’t even notice my damn pants. But, just in case, I motioned to my wet pants and said “Look who just got into a fight with the sink?” He took a quick look and said “Ha! If that would happen to a man somebody would accuse us of peeing ourselves.”

I just laughed. I mean, how ridiculous.

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Jimmy Jailbait and I; 9 months after the first date. I am pee-pee free at the Happy Valley Jam concert.. 🙂

Hands Up!

Yesterday morning I woke up to a text from a girlfriend with a selfie that said “This is why it’s important my man be taller than I am.” It was a cute pic of her making a smoochy face, but I wondered why she’d sent it.

Then I saw it. The pic she took first. The view from down under. The picture she wouldn’t let me post here. I don’t know if I can express to you how much joy the laughter brought. Kinda the way you laugh at somebody who just fell up some steps. Every female friend on the thread woke up to the best laugh of the day. So, like good friends, we joined in by adding similar selfies to the thread. None of them flattering. Blackmail worthy in fact. I have been forbidden from sharing most of them, in fact.

The selfies brought to mind lots of thoughts.  First – my kids taunting me about my lack of selfie-skill. I always took them from down under. And the results were always disastrous. How was I to know you don’t want to see into my sinuses, the chicken skin on my neck, the gobbler on my chin, or my jowls in general?  My kids taught me that I must, under all circumstances, raise my hand above my head when selfie-ing. That’s a lot to remember.

Here’s another thought: My sweetie is a nerd, so he sent me a journal article about how men and women use pics in different ways. We ladies put ourselves in a lower position in the pic to look young and dewey. Dudes post pics where they are in a higher position so they look like the big banana. To sum it up, ladies take pics from overhead to look like hotties and men take pics from down under to show they are the powerful commander of their nose hair. Got it.

Final thought: I work as an on-air personality and just reported that for online dating profiles, selfies pale in comparison to candids. In pictures, women should look off-camera and smile. Men should look into the camera but shouldn’t show any teeth. Sporty pics; good. Posing in sunglasses; bad. Going potty in private; good. Bathroom selfie; bad. That’s a lot to remember.

Enjoy these pics. They are me, my friend Sarah, and my daughter Glynn. This story is dedicated to Katherine….the one who texted that pic yesterday.

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It was a sign.

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Me telling this story, about 10 years after it happened – State Theater (Oct. 2016)

I was naked from the waist up with a man I didn’t even know. He was putting little wires and pads on my chest. I figured he normally did this to old guys with similarly saggy boobs.  All I could think to say was “Can you tell they’re fake?” He laughed.Sorta. Inappropriate things fly out of my mouth all the time, especially when my chesticles are hanging out.  After the devastating four months I’d had I thought I might as well keep things light.  My heart had been obliterated. And I was at the hospital to see if I was having a heart attack. At age 42. It was a sign: God hates me.

I knew getting divorced was not supposed to be fun. But I thought finding Mr. Right would be, like, totally fun. And easy.  I had a sign, on my head, “Hot to trot divorcee looking for true love after a shitball of a marriage.   

Well, I met him innocently enough through one of my kids’ activities. It was such an exciting time. Our kids got along, he was smart, good looking, and seemed to be damaged just enough by his evil ex-wives.  And he talked.  He revealed.  He told me things that made me feel special; you know, it was a sign – he liked me. I was special.

I liked that things were going slowly. We spent a few months hanging out. At the start I thought we were taking things slowly because of his history; two divorces. But months of soul bearing and fancy glances led to nothing but lingering hugs. He still hadn’t stuck his tongue down my throat. Was it a sign? Bad breath? Didn’t he like my butt? 

After months of wondering, one night I gathered my courage and said “I’ve decided I can’t ever kiss you.” He replied, “Oh yeah?” So I said – “Yeah, cause if I do I’ll want to strip you, lick you, and ride you like a mechanical bull.”

His reply: He kissed me…. on the cheek. Looking back, it WAS a sign. I never heard from him again.

I can only explain the four months after he quit coming around as annihilating. I felt sick to my stomach which meant I couldn’t eat. I lost weight. I looked nasty. I also cried constantly. I cried. And I cried.  And I cried. It was a sign – something was coming. The loss I felt was the first thing that hit me when I woke up and it sat on me all day. Why did he leave?

I managed to hold it together when I had to, which is, most of the time – but I used to sit through doctor’s appointments and just cry to the nurses. I also cried through sessions with a counselor once a week. I didn’t care about anything.  Nothing made me happy. I went on with life, but only because I had to. I had three kids and I had to keep going to grad school classes.

So, four months of crying later, it was the end of the semester – early December.  I was going out to jog.  Well, jog is a strong word.  Flounder around with legs in motion like Olive Oyl is more like it. I started my jog and noticed my left arm and hand hurt. I thought it was weird, so I just quit jogging and walked.  The pain stopped. I jogged again. The pain came back. It was a sign!

I walked for a few miles then went home and stretched.  My son got off the school bus and I got on my computer to finish writing a big paper that was due the next day.  One of my girlfriends called and I noticed the pain was back. So, I told my friend, Heidi, I was probably having a heart attack. Great.  Fucking great. Next thing you know it’s two housefraus in a minivan headed to Mt. Nittany medical center.

So fast forward to the pads and wires on my chest. Not long after that, a nice, female ER doc came in very casually so I could give her the blow-by-blow. Fast forward to the lifeflight helicopter that was already on its way to haul me out of there. Before she came in she’d read the EKG – it was a sign! This chick is screwed! 

One lifeflight, an angioplasty, and two stents later, I was in a hospital about an hour from home.  I stayed for two nights, had the worst migraine of my life, and managed to scare the living shit out of my ex.  Even though we weren’t together, we are still family.  The best part of being a 42-year-old cardiac patient was the odd looks from doctors.  I was in shape, had low cholesterol, a low resting pulse, and normal blood pressure.  It always seemed to make them feel better when I told them my dad died at 57 from heart disease and that I used to smoke. “Good good good! Makes sense…thanks.”

But wait.  I didn’t have a heart attack because of family history or prior smoking.  No.  I had a heart attack because some fucktard broke it.  Crying every day for four months is not normal.  Neither is not sleeping and not eating.  Stupid fuck bag.  But I couldn’t tell the doctors any of that.  I already felt like an idiot.  And they were all men.  They would roll their eyes.  Poor girl with a broken heart.  Boo frickin’ hoo. They would’ve put me on anti-depressants; I already knew they didn’t help. They would’ve told me to see a different counselor for my delusions. How do you fall for someone after two months of no kissing? Idiot! It was a sign – I was a nincompoop! 

Six days after the heart attack I was back in class.  What else was there to do?  Plus, I had a semester to finish.

About two months after the heart attack I got a call from the cardiologist’s office. They asked if I would talk about my ordeal for something called “Go Red for Women” day.  Apparently, it’s a heart health awareness thing that comes around once a year.  I said I would, so I went to a couple of radio stations and talked about my heart attack. A few days later one of the stations offered me a job on a morning show.  I even ended up on a country music morning show. Words cannot tell you how much I hated country music. It was a sign – God still hates me!

But – it was a sign! I ended up writing my Master’s thesis about country music and advertising. And now – 10 years later, I still happily and joyfully work in country music radio. I even taught at Penn State for a few years and I used to brutalize my students by teaching with country music lyrics.

And as far as the “sign” I got – the heart attack – the sign that God hates me? Well, that actually saved me. I found out months later that Mr. Wonderful was actually Mr. Massive Piece of Shit – he did this and this and this and I was saved from him. And the heart attack got me off the track of thinking about him. I had to re-focus and worry about recovery. God Bless my cardiologists and country music.

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My three kids  🙂

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Florida Georgia Line in the early days (as if they’ve been around forever)