Tag Archives: dating over forty

A Few Good Men

The Marines and I have both been looking for a few good men for some time now.  (Well, actually, they need a few while I honestly only need one.)  When I first began online dating I assumed I would meet a lot of good men and that, among all those good men, there would be one who wasn’t perfect but who suited me perfectly.  What I found instead were droves of men who had attained middle-age with little knowledge of themselves.  Among them were those who seemed completely unaware of their needs, their neurosis, their selfishness, their general lack of social skills, and any part they themselves had played in creating their current circumstances.  Then there were those who I’m sure were not necessarily bad men but who were simply, as my sister would say, “odd”.

You can only go on so many failed coffee dates and then most of us, men and women alike, have to take a break from online dating and focus our energy in other ways in order to maintain our optimism about love, life and the pursuit of happiness.  I took just such a break in the last few months.  Then over the holidays, having a lot of time off work and feeling ready to dance again, I updated my profile and threw it out to the universe with a hopeful sigh.

To my great surprise and joy the outcome was emails and subsequent meetings with several good men.  They are each and every one of them, intelligent, respectful, interesting and self-aware and I am completely enjoying my time getting to know them better.  We’ve shared drinks, meals, movies, and conversations about our life’s journey and our hopes for the future and I imagine we will remain friends regardless of the outcome.  It’s been like a breath of fresh air to someone who’s been dating for way too long.

I suspect that part of the reason it’s working out better for me this time is because I’ve been determined to broaden my own horizons.  I tend to be attracted to and to fall for the tall, dark and handsome types.  The problem with this is that judging a book by its cover has gotten me into repeatedly bad relationships over the years.  This time I promised myself I would place more credence on what each match had to say, how he presented himself, and how he approached me, than in his looks.  Not that any of these men are unattractive, they are simply not my usual 6’2” tall charmers.  So, just as the Marines have adjusted their definition of what it means to be “one of the few” over the years in order to enhance recruitment I’ve found that adjusting my perspective has worked as well.

Since I’ve written enough pieces about my bad dating experiences that they have their own category in the archives (https://freethetwins.wordpress.com/category/mckenzie-james/bad-dates/) I thought it only fair that I report here that I’ve found there are still good, single men out there who are looking for relationships with strong, confident, intelligent women.  It’s way too early to tell if one of these men is the match I’ve been looking for but, whether or not one of these new friends turns out to be perfect for me, they have already renewed my faith in men.  What a wonderful way to begin a new year!


Happy Holidays!


I got a” Happy Holiday” greeting the other night

from a man I used to date.

He’d dumped me hard more than one time.

So why be nice now?   Isn’t it a bit too late?

I thought I wasn’t angry any more.

I thought I’d moved on and could feel no more pain.

But his holiday wishes put an edge on me

and they seemed particularly lame.

I wish for him several things

but none of them have to do with holidays or joy.

I wish he’d suffer at least as much as me.

I wish someone would treat him like he’s their toy.

I hope someday he realizes the mistake he’s made.

But it’s too late to change his fate.

I hope he forever wants what he can’t have.

I hope he tries but never has another date.

I hope his clothes never fit right again.

I hope his face breaks out in hives.

I hope he grows hair where men never should.

I hope he learns to hate being alive.

I hope his car breaks down every day.

I hope his bank account gets emptied out.

I hope his penis remains forever limp.

I hope his ankles swell up with gout.

I hope no one will be his friend;

that men walk away and women run.

I hope his misery never ends.

I hope he never again has any fun.

I hope his balls swell up and fall right off.

I hope the doctor can’t stop his cough.

I hope dogs and cats chase him wherever he goes.

I hope he grows numerous warts upon his nose.

I hope every day for him is worse than the last.

Meanwhile I hope I’m having a blast!

I hope he learns from his mistakes

no matter how long on earth it takes.

More than all this I wish for me

that I had never really cared.

I wish I hadn’t let him get into my heart.

I wish my pain had all been spared.


I miss the way he looked at me as if he saw some beauty there.

He’d say, “Come sit and tell me all about your day”.

Then he’d hold me close and stroke my hair

as my troubles drifted away.

I miss the way he’d dance with me just because he knew

it was the one thing I truly enjoyed.

Dancing mattered to him not at all.

He simply wished to please.

Perhaps he needed more from me than just being there for him?

I miss seeing him across the table as we sipped a glass of wine.

I loved the way he’d speak to me about his life and world.

I loved that when I spoke to him he seemed to hear my words.

I miss when he’d stop talking and take me in his arms.

I miss him making love to me and sleeping all night wrapped in his arms.

How can one miss what one never really had?

How could I have been so wrong?

Your mind plays tricks on you as you age.

Have we become too old to love?

Is it possible hearts broken so many times can no longer feel?

Is it possible none of it was ever real?


McKenzie James

November 8, 2011

The Long Good-Byes

In my experience breaking up isn’t as hard to do as the song suggests.  The actual break-up is usually short and sweet.  The hard part is the much longer good-bye that takes place inside your own head for months, sometimes years, after the relationship ends.  The things you were too polite to say; the things you wish you’d said but you know they couldn’t hear, and; the questions you wish you’d asked but knew they wouldn’t answer honestly.

NOTE:  Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Dear Garei (pronounced Gary),

                I know you think spelling your name strangely makes you unique and interesting but really it just makes people think your parents were stupid.  No, I don’t think smoking pot and drinking daily is a normal pastime for a middle-aged male unless he’s a total loser.   It’s called addiction.  Did you really think a woman would continue to respect a man who couldn’t make it home from the bar without stopping for more beer at the grocery store and then had to ask her to come in with him because he didn’t have any money to pay for it himself?

 Dear Geoffrey,

I told you the first day we met that I had no problems dating a recovering alcoholic but that if you ever took another drink the only word you’d hear from me again was good-bye.  Did you think I was kidding?

Dear Frank,

                You have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to such an extent that you can’t fit anything, or anyone, new into your daily routine.   Astronauts go to the moon with less planning than it takes you to go to Hawaii for a week.   Just for the record, having sex between 3 and 6 in the afternoon won’t fit most working women’s schedules even if that is the only time of the day when your “mojo” is working.  Plus, it was just plain stingy of you not to share your blueberries with a woman you were willing to share your bed with.

 Dear Paul,

I can’t believe you didn’t even call to apologize after the woman you failed to mention you were living with chased me across the yard and tried to pummel me.  I was pleased to note as I drove away that she had redirected her aim toward the true villain of the affair.

Dear Samuel,    

               Exactly how long had you been sleeping with the woman you told me you’d “just met”?

 Dear Bruce,

I vacillated for months between wondering if you were the cruelest man I ever dated, or simply the craziest, until one day a good friend reminded me that the two are not mutually exclusive.

Dear Larry,

               Please stop calling me.  No, I’m not mad.  Sadly I never cared enough to get mad.  The truth is you simply bore me.

 Dear Steven,

You’d pull me towards you and as soon as I got close you’d push me away.  I still can’t decide if it amused your ego or if you really were that confused.  Regardless, it was suppose to be a relationship – not a swing set.

Dear Geezzz,

                We haven’t broken up yet.  We’ve barely begun to see each other.  But you did say you’d like to see your name on my BLOG. 

               When you do break up with me I suspect you’ll do it using very few words in the same strong, responsible, calm way you take care of everything else.


McKenzie James

October 6, 2011































McKenzie James

 October 5, 2011


Thank God for the Oregon Rain!

The wet days have arrived and they’ll hide my pain.

I can let my tears flow and no one need know.

How many times can the same heart break?

How many heart aches can one woman take?

I tried to hold back and not get hurt again

but I opened myself up to more of the pain.

I asked all the right questions and I did everything

I could to make it work out

yet I still find myself alone on the couch.

Is this all there is?  Is this all there will ever be?

Just me and Bob alone watching TV?

Never a man who wants more than sex?

No one ever again who I trust has my back?

Men must not need love the same way women do.

They must prefer being alone to being with you.

I feel like joke, a middle-aged cliché;

the woman searching for love while the man walks away.

I’ve been determined to live; to not run and hide.

I’ve tried my best to keep an optimistic heart.

But now I want to get off this ride

and stay under the covers the rest of my life.

I’m tired of soaring to heights

only to crash once again on the rocks down below.

There are only so many hits a woman can take

before the pain begins to show.

I loved you a bit.

You couldn’t stay and let it grow.

You loved me not at all.

I should have known.

McKenzie James

September 26, 2011

Is Heartbreak One Word or Two?

My husband and I were together for 19 years and then just two weeks before my 49th birthday he asked for a divorce.  Happy Birthday to me and then almost before I knew what was happening I was single and thrown into the dating world again.  Looking back I remember that my mother was only 50 when my father died.  As far as I know she never dated or slept with another man again.  At the time that didn’t seem the least bit strange to me, but now it occurs to me that perhaps she understood more about men than I ever gave her credit for.  She always had admirers, even at 85 she had a gentleman sending her poetry about her beauty, but she just smiled with a twinkle in her eye and carried on alone.

Recently I received one of those funny emails where someone had written eloquently (and humorously) about how men and women view their bodies at different stages of life.  I wish I knew who wrote it (actually I wish I had written it myself!) and I would give her credit here.  What she said so profoundly is that women feel very differently about their bodies at every stage of their lives until around age 50 when we finally all figure out that regardless of our body shape…we’re awesome!  Men, on the other hand feel the same about their bodies at every stage until old age.  They have a penis, it works, and they’re obsessed with it!

It was right on target and it made me think perhaps this is one of the reasons why men and women find dating so hard in middle age.   We’re finally at a stage of acceptance and the men we’re dating still feel the same way they did as teenagers.  It also explains a great deal about why so many middle aged men want to date women who are so much younger than they are.  Because they have a penis, it works, and they’re obsessed with it.  Wow, I never realized it was so simple!

Seriously though, sitting here today after suffering yet another middle-aged heart ache, I have to admit there must be more to it than that.  I swore I would not become one of those bitter, middle-aged women who hate men and have given up on relationships altogether.  But, it’s been seven years, and I have to admit to dating a lot of men, and each time things became serious, one by one, they broke my heart.  Some slowly, some quickly, some in person, some over the phone or with a text!  And every time I got up, brushed my heart off, and got on with my life.

Somehow, today feels very different.  This was, by all accounts, a very good man.  A nice, well-educated, well-spoken, attractive, fun, sexy man who just two days ago told me he wanted a “relationship”.  Just forty-eight hours later, nothing at all has changed in the world, and he calls me at work to let me know he can’t do it.

Is everyone so broken down by their previous heart aches that they just can’t do it again?  I try not to be cynical but I’ve heard it all before.  He actually said the “I’d like to be friends” phrase!  What is wrong with men that they think after you’ve slept with them and given a piece of your soul up you can just turn back the clock and be friends?  I can only determine they don’t “feel” things the same way women do.

I miss my twenties.  Not just the hot, firm body I had.  Not even the fact that everyone else was single too and there were a lot more men to choose from.  Mostly I miss that there were rules.  I have fond memories of dating in my twenties.  The rules were clear and everyone was aware of them.  You met a man somehow… through friends, or out at a club, or in the grocery store, or the parking lot of your apartment building.  You struck up a conversation.  If he was interested in getting to know you better he asked you out, usually for lunch first.   If that went well he’d ask you out again — usually for a Thursday night — because Thursday night was official first date night.

If you weren’t in a relationship, Friday night both men and women went out with their friends and continued to try and meet people of the opposite sex.  Saturday night was serious date night.  You didn’t ask a woman out on Saturday night unless you were serious about her or already in a relationship with her.  If you wanted to see a woman on Saturday night you had to call and ask her by Wednesday.  No self respecting woman would say yes to a weekend date any later than Wednesday.  If all went well after your first Saturday night date…you began to see each other regularly.  After a few weeks you began having sex and you were now a couple.  It was simple, everyone knew the rules, and it worked really well.

The Beach Boys knew what Saturday night meant.  In their famous cruising song, “I Get Around”, they sang:

None of the guys go steady ‘cause it wouldn’t be right
To leave their best girl home on a Saturday night”

We all followed the rules back then and a good time was had by all.  Now dating again at middle age it appears there are no rules.  For one thing dating was designed for two people to spend time together in order to see if they have the possibility of making good partners.  In middle age, very few people are looking for a life partner any more.  In fact most of the men I’ve met have no idea what they’re looking for.

You can date a man for weeks, sometimes months, and it usually never gets past lunch or a walk by the river.  (Walking by the river seems to be big with men over 50.  Don’t ask me why because I can’t answer for them.   I suspect it’s for budgetary reasons, since they’re all divorced and have been hit financially, but that would just be a guess.)  After hours spent talking, eating, walking sometimes you get to the sex part but you still have no idea what it means to them.

For me, sex means we’ve reached a new level of intimacy.  We now have a new dimension to our relationship; a joyful, exciting, fresh area to explore.  For men it appears to mean one of two things:  either they now own you and expect you to be with them every free moment, or the relationship is now over.  They become uncomfortable, don’t want to talk about what it meant, become frightened about commitment and ride off into the sunset.

Most recently:  I met a man.  That’s how it usually starts!  We enjoyed a lot of the same things and had a lot in common.   We met for coffee and couldn’t stop talking.  We enjoyed some lunches and dinners and a wonderful trip to the coast.   We dated casually for a while and then one Saturday night I invited him over for dinner and a movie.  We had some dinner, we watched part of the movie, and then in the middle of a quiet boring patch…he made his move… and we ended up having sex.  The next morning we got up and took my dog for a walk, after which he went home.

No flowers were delivered.  No phone call telling me what a wonderful evening he had.  Days came and went with no phone call, email or text.  Finally, being a person who has a need to know, I called him and asked why he would walk away without so much as a word.  He hadn’t called because: he didn’t know what to say; it was too soon; he shouldn’t have done it; it’s not me it’s him; he didn’t want a relationship, etc.   Oh my God — I’ve heard it all before – from men I’ve dated and similar stories from my girlfriend’s forays into the dating world.

Sometimes I wish they’d make up some fascinating new reason simply for entertainment.  Something like this: His first wife, who he believed walked out on him, really was in a car accident in New Mexico and suffered from amnesia.  She just recovered and remembered she was married and showed up on his door step the very morning he left my house.   If you’re going to dump me at least be creative so I have something new to write about!

It makes a woman wonder if she’s no good at the sex thing –but over the years I have had the opportunity to learn that can’t be the case.  Sex just simply seems to turn most middle aged men back into foolish teenage boys who treat girls badly because they’re embarrassed by their own behavior and it’s easier to make light of it in front of the other boys in the locker room.

I’ve been thinking of writing a sitcom entitled “Another One Bites the Dust” wherein every week a middle-aged woman meets a new man who for one reason or another isn’t ready for love.  My girlfriend said she can’t see the humor in it but I think if I’m going to survive middle-age and not become a bitter, old woman I’m going to have to find a way to laugh about it.

As I sit here alone again tonight, just having been dumped by my most recent love and drinking the bottle of wine he bought me and told me to save for a “special occasion”, I find myself wondering: Is heartbreak one word, or two?  (Because that’s the kind of things writers think about even when they’re in pain.)  The other thing I’m wondering is:  Is getting dumped “special” enough of an occasion?  And:  Is this it for me?  Is there a limit on the number of heartaches one person can endure?  Have I reached mine?  Will I now become that cliché I so wanted to avoid?  Will I have to learn to live alone for the next thirty years?  Other than the spelling of heartbreak, I don’t have the answers.  We’ll have to stay tuned to life and see what happens next.

McKenzie James

September 27, 2011

Fix Me Up! (Fourth in a Series)

Fix Me Up!

This town is devoid of interesting, single men between the ages of 45 and 60.  It’s not just a complaint, it’s a fact.  So when my girlfriend down the street told me her former brother-in-law who she was really fond of had recently moved back from Hawaii and asked if I would like to go out with him, I said “sure, fix me up!”

I was still game to give it a try even after she told me he had a handle-bar mustache which I find completely offensive.  I figured, what the heck, if he’s a good guy we can work on the facial hair issue sometime down the road.  And, I didn’t even flinch when she told me his name was “Lester”.  A person has no control over what his parent’s name him, right?  I could always call him “Les”.

So he called and we talked on the phone.  He sounded relatively normal, other than the fact that he couldn’t make a plan, so I took the reins and said, “Let’s meet for dinner”.  He couldn’t figure out where to go, so I said, “Let’s go to P.F. Changs”.  He wanted to pick me up and since he was a friend of a friend, and not an online connection, I gave him my address and we set an evening and a time.

The evening came and I was looking gorgeous as always and waiting for my date to arrive at my door.  When he did I looked out the window and what did I see?  A short, bald man with a handle-bar mustache wearing stained chinos at least two sizes too big for him cinched at the waist with a belt.  Don’t be shallow, I told myself as I opened the door, she said he’s a great guy.

After the initial introductions and a little “how’s your friend Joanie doing?” we’re on our way to the restaurant.  He hardly spoke at all in the car.  Luckily, the restaurant was only five minutes away.

There was a long wait so we asked to be seated in the bar.  The waiter brought the menus and we began to take a look.  Then he leaned over and asked me, “What do the numbers mean in front of the items?”  I thought, finally a bit of a sense of humor, but then I realized he was asking a serious question.  “That’s the price of the item,” I told him.  Okay…things were going downhill fast.  Fifty years old and he’d never seen a restaurant menu where the prices were in front, rather than behind the entrée names?

So, we order, and still he doesn’t have much to say.  In an attempt to draw him out, I think…what do men like to talk about?   Someone had just recently been teaching me to target shoot so I asked him, “Do you shoot?”   “Oh yeah,” he replied, “I’d never hesitate to kill someone that’s why they loved me when I was a prison guard.”  Once again, completely straight faced and totally serious!  Now, I was getting worried.  I was married for nineteen years to a Marine who served three tours in Vietnam and I know he killed people when he had to, obviously it was a war, but I NEVER heard him speak of it and certainly not in an off the cuff manner that suggested people’s lives don’t really matter.  The evening had crossed a line from boring and not my type to a little bit scary.

Silence again, so I made an attempt to change the subject to something lighter, “What did you do for fun in Hawaii.” I asked him.  I was expecting him to tell me about the sun and the surf or exploring the islands but instead he replied, “Gambled and hung out at strip clubs.”  OH MY!!!!  If this had not been a friend of a friend this would have been the cue for me to excuse myself to the ladies room and never come back.  Instead, I sat through the rest of the meal relatively quietly and let the man take me home after which I left my friend a voice mail that I’m sure you can imagine for yourself!

The best part of the story is the next day Joanie responded to my voice mail and called to let me know she had heard from Lester and he had told her I really wasn’t his type.  “Of course not”, I told her, “I don’t dance naked around a pole in public!”

Needless to say…should you ever know a guy, an old friend or someone new in town who’s looking to date…please…DON’T FIX ME UP!

McKenzie James

July 27, 2011


Note to self:   Never use but and love in the same sentence!

I love you but…

I can’t commit.

I love you but…

you’re just too fat.

I love you but…

I forgot I’m married.

I love you but…

the timing’s not right.

I love you but…

it’s not the BIG love

I love you but…

my kids come first.

I love you but…

my mother says you’re wrong for me.

I love you but…

I need my space.

I love you but…

I’m not attracted to you sexually.

I love you but…

you should guard your heart.

I love you but…

can we just stay in?

I love you but…

only as a friend.

I love you but…

I can’t promise you anything.

I love you but….

your sister’s cute too.

I love you but…

I’m too tired to come over.

I love you but…

I sleep better alone.

I love you but…

I have to go home.

I love you but…

I’m confused about it.

I love you but…

I can’t be exclusive.

I love you but…

I’m on a spiritual journey I must make alone.

I love you but…


It’s hard to say BUT really

I don’t,

I don’t love you at all.

McKenzie James

August 9, 2011

The Essential Coffee Date (Third in a Series)

The Initial Coffee Meet – An Online Dating Necessity (Third in Series)

First, let me tell you that I don’t drink coffee.  I have never been able to stand the taste of it.  I don’t even like a little mocha flavoring in my chocolate cake.  It ruins the entire thing for me.  But, I’ve learned the hard way that the initial coffee meet is the only way to go for online dating.

When I first got divorced and moved back to town I tried good, old Match.com.  How else are you expected to meet men when you’re not in your twenties anymore?  No one I knew appeared to know one, single man they felt was socially acceptable.  So, I signed up.  I wrote a unique and witty profile.  I posted numerous clear, recent photos of me smiling and having fun with friends and family.  And then I waited for the men to find me.  And find me they did.

Oh, how depressing it is the first time you see the long list of photos of the men in your age group who might be interested in you.  I’m sure among them are mostly nice, loving, decent men.  But, multiple images of pot-bellied, ball cap-wearing, unsmiling men holding large dead fish, cans of beer, or stupidly another woman’s hand doesn’t make a woman’s heart soar.

So, out of all of these wonderful pictures, one man had the courage to send me an email and say hello.  He had only one photo posted (something I know now to avoid in a “match”) but it was a nice photo of his shoulders and face.  He was attractive, with a full head of brown hair and beautiful, deep green eyes.  So, we began to chat.  His profile said he was a veterinarian; although no longer practicing.  He loved hiking and biking just like me.

After a couple of days of chatting online he asked me to dinner.   I thought, “I’m a very social person.  Certainly there isn’t anyone I couldn’t have dinner with?”  So we made a date and met for dinner at a local restaurant in my neighborhood.

That night I got ready with the usual care.  Make-up and hair perfect, an outfit that best framed my figure and brought out the color of my eyes, and I walked down to the restaurant and through the door with a light feeling of hopefulness.  I looked around and didn’t see anyone that looked like my date.  Then, I heard my name being called.  At a table across the room a man was standing smiling at me; a bald man, who looked to weigh about 400 pounds, wearing suspenders to hold up his enormous pants.

At the very same moment that I realized this man was my date and my jaw dropped open, the waitress walked by me with a smile her face and asked “drink?”  “Oh yes,” I told her, “and keep ‘em coming”.

I try not to be a shallow person and I’m not exactly svelte myself, so across the room I went to meet my date.  This signified the beginning of one of the most tortuous meals of my life.  He started the conversation by telling me he was a widower who had lost his wife to cancer and then went on to tell the painful story.  Now, I’m a compassionate person but, it seems to me that if you still have to relive the events of your wife’s death in detail you’re probably not ready to enter the dating pool.

After the stories of his wife, came the problems with his father, also a veterinarian who apparently didn’t respect him or think he could be a success in the field.   Many people have difficult relationships with their parents, and this wouldn’t be the worst topic I’ve discussed on a date if it weren’t for the fact that his parents had both been dead for over ten years.  Ten years and he still had unresolved issues he felt worthy to talk about on a first date.

Worst of all, as I tried to eat my chicken and polenta dish, he told me that he had stopped practicing as a veterinarian and now worked for the USDA inspecting poultry plants.  Oh yes, he described in detail the sanitation problems he found every day inside poultry plants.  I had to ask him to stop but I still couldn’t finish my chicken.  Thanks for dinner!

As soon as we were done eating, I made my escape saying “No Thank You” to an offer of a ride home.  The next day as I was telling the story to a male friend of mine he asked, “Why didn’t you just turn around and walk out when you saw that he didn’t look like his picture?”  “I’d never do that to someone,” I replied, “I’m overweight myself so I wouldn’t walk out on someone for being overweight.”  “You wouldn’t have been walking out on him for being fat,” he said, “you’d be walking out on him for being a big, fat liar.”  And that, I realized, was the truth.  In posting a picture that was probably ten years old he wasn’t honestly portraying who he really was.

I learned two things from this experience and you can learn from my mistake.  First, never agree to meet someone who’s only posted one photo and, second, only agree to meet for coffee or a drink thereby limiting the time you have to spend with someone who may not be your cup of tea.  These two little pieces of advice could save you hours of uncomfortable, boring time that once spent you can never get back.

McKenzie James

July 20, 2011

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