Looking for a hero
March 25, 2014
Being single in my 40s, I often worry I'm being too picky. I imagine that's the perceived perception. I wonder if I've set my standards too high. Maybe I'm stuck on the idea my soul mate is still out there, somewhere.
Or maybe I've seen "An American Tail" one too many times.
When it comes down to it, I would rather be alone than unhappy. Sometimes when the words come out of my mouth — and, oh, have they — I probably sound like an old marm. I probably sound more like an old marm when I call myself one.
I'm not even sure people use that word anymore.
The key to being single is being alone and happy. For the most part, I am. Except when I wish I had a significant other to share a nice meal or go to a sappy movie with, or take a ride on a Ferris wheel.
Luckily, I don't come across a lot of Ferris wheels in my life.
Most of the pressure I put on myself has to do with past relationships that didn't work out. Failure can be hard on the heart. For many, it can also be hard on the pocket book. That's why there are divorce lawyers. Watch "The War of the Roses" for some perspective.
Again, aging myself.
There are all types of fears that go along with being single after passing the threshold of the 30s and embarking into the 40s. Dying alone is one. I know that makes my mom cringe, but I always imagined having a big family and having loads of grandkids and great-grandkids surround me when I meet my maker.
Stray animals I collect in my golden years don't count.
Admittedly, there are many moments when I feel self-pity about not having a romantic interest to ride a parking lot carnival ride or overeat at a Chinese buffet with, and I panic. I forget all the unsuccessful runs I've had at online dating. I almost shell out the $35 a month it takes to find my soul mate digitally, but then something stops me.
Probably that I'm kind of tight with money.
I've often been overcome with romantic notions. By concept, love seems as natural to me as a dog getting excited to go on a walk. I've never met one that isn't immediately ecstatic about a walk.
I'm the same when I sabotage a relationship and move too fast.
Maybe it's all the romantic comedies I've watched on my couch with pounds of chocolate and boxes of wine. Rom coms are the worst for people like me, the hopeless romantics who believe a meet-cute situation could happen at any moment. In movie-speak, a meet-cute is when two lovers unexpectedly meet in a seemingly cute way. This could be the next time I do stand-up comedy and he heckles me in the audience. Or it could be when I run into him at the wholesale liquor store with my cart full of boxed wine. Maybe it's when I'm on my fourth trip up to the Chinese buffet and we realize how much we both adore General Tso's chicken.
A girl can dream.
Just when I think maybe I'm relying too heavily on a meet-cute scenario or I've set my standards too high, I come across an old note my grandfather documented on his old green typewriter. We found it after his passing, in his files of highly organized papers, forms and notes. I know why I have such high expectations, because I want a guy a lot like him.
I suppose I can wait as long as it takes.
The note was not dated or signed. Just knowing my grandpa spent most of his life serving his country in the military and as a volunteer firefighter and First Responder, plus driving an 18-wheeler for the same company he retired from, we knew they were his words. It went like this:
"A few years ago I was returning from an Illinois run quite late in the evening. Just east of Martinsville, Ill. on Road 40 I noticed a bright glow in the sky, which attracted my attention.
"I parked my rig safely off the road and crossed a large field toward the bright sky. Upon arriving at the scene, I found a large barn and office building on fire. A small-framed house with blinds drawn sat not far from the buildings. Sparks were blowing over onto the roof of the house.
"I started pounding on the door and finally aroused a Mr. Golden McNary and his sister. Then with the help of other passersby, I helped remove some things from the office and some antique furniture from the house. We also saved some of the livestock from the barn. The fire department arrived in time to save the house. After ruining a pair of trousers and a pair of shoes, I returned to my rig and continued on my run."
I have hope that people still exude the type of bravery my grandfather had. His was exceptional, I know.
That's the soul mate I'm talking about — and he's somewhere out there.
— April E. Clark is craving General Tso's chicken, extra spicy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.