Sunny Chanel’s marriage is circling the drain when her husband marks his colonoscopy on the calendar and ignores their anniversary. With divorce papers instead of roses on the horizon, she says “au revoir” Paris and croissants, and “hello” cheap New Haven apartment and ramen noodles.
With the encouragement of her friends, Sunny jumps into online dating, twenty-three years and twenty pounds after her last date. To her surprise she discovers dating might require a helmet, and occasionally armor to protect her heart, but after years of being ignored, her adventurous side craves fun and conversation. She’s middle-aged not dead. Then suddenly, on the way to reinventing herself, life takes a left turn when the one man she can’t forget calls with an unexpected request.
The first profile on the dating site was from Luke. Soulmate Guy, I called him, because he was the first who’d mentioned it—even though there were 7,354 other guys online clamoring for a soulmate.
Before I’d finished reading, he popped up in a cartoon bubble: Would you like to chat with Luke?
I hit, yes. Chat was the site’s version of texting, and this was my first time.
—Luke: Hey, got a few minutes? This messaging is friendlier than old school emails. How goes it? Back from vacation. Went to the island. So different there in the winter. Beautiful in a different way. Just came home from doing a little bar dancing. I stayed about an hour. Every once in a while, I do that on a tense night. This was my tense night.
—Sunny: Tense, shmense. What’s wrong?
—Luke: One of those old girlfriend things. We have a lot in common—biking, riding, skiing, and some total madness thrown in, but she doesn’t give me space. It’s complicated.
— Sunny: What’s with the old girlfriend thing? If you’ll be so kind as to be my dating mentor, I have a question. Dating mentor, is it wise to redate old girl/boy friends?
—Luke: Absolutely not, are you nuts? My prob is I don’t like being alone. I like sharing things with someone.
—Sunny: So what is it you look for in a woman? Really, I’m not fooling around here.
—Luke: I know you’re not. I’m taking your question seriously. Well, I’m past craving the 30-year olds with zero body fat and total flawless skin. That is a truly good thing since I’m 54 and they wouldn’t want me anyhow. But our bodies are important, the only one we have, so I can’t pretend I don’t care about the shape a woman is in. I like smiles, legs, arms, necks. You get the picture. Oh, can’t forget that erotic zone called the mind. That’s most of it.
—Luke: I can’t stand it anymore. I’m signing off here so I can call you. Give me your phone number. Please. Now—
Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website http://midagedating.com offers a humorous look into dating in mid life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. Middle Ageish is her first book in the series Starting Over. Her character believes you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.