Turning 40? No Problem

I spent New Years Eve in the broadcast studio of a local radio station with my friend Cheryl. She was doing a live, all-request show to count down the last hours of the year. At midnight, she made the mistake of opening my microphone and asking for my thoughts on the New Year. I took it as an invitation to tell her listening audience that she and I would be turning 40 in the new year. It was the second time in our friendship that I’d seen her at a loss for words.

She’s not happy about turning 40. I have no problem with it. For the past 30 years, I’ve looked forward to 40 as a time when I would be established, when I’d feel completely grown up and comfortable in my own skin. As 40 approaches, my friends say the only thing missing in my life is a man. I’m not sure one is necessary. I just spent more money on my new mattress than I spent on my first car. I don’t plan to share it with just anyone.

Whoever said that revenge is a dish best served cold must have been married. I’ve discovered that dating is a dish best served piping hot, like McDonald’s french fries which, once cooled, become chewy, greasy and decidedly unappetizing. The few guys I’ve dated cooled off, and became unpalatable, very quickly. I can tell a date is going nowhere when the dinner conversation starts to sound like grown-up talk in an animated Peanuts cartoon. I don’t think that my standards are too high. Almost any tall, well-educated man with a dog would do. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to meet the type of man who won’t hide behind me in a bar fight. And now that I’m retired from the police department, I can’t wear the shirt that says, “feel safe, sleep with a cop.” I can, however, still remind them that they have the right to remain silent and that anything, no, everything, they say or do will be held against them. So far, they’ve all taken the hint.

When I was a child, people didn’t ask little girls if they wanted to be astronauts. They asked about the man the girls wanted to marry. Prince Charming always seemed like a reasonable catch. He was tall, good-looking, with a promising future as King. He also had a nice house, a horse-drawn carriage and enough money to buy me a dog. But now I have my own house, a nice car, a decent income and a great dog. My CD collection is organized just the way I like it. My attic and basement are gadget-free. The toilet seat is always down. My television is not the size of a Volkswagen. I don’t guzzle Budweiser. There are no unfinished projects on the dining room table. I always know where my shoes are. I don’t leave towels on the floor. I take out the trash. I don’t yell at the dog when I trip over her. I don’t need Prince Charming anymore. I’ve become the man I wanted to marry.

Still, there’s a certain pull toward the opposite sex that I can’t deny. Men are fun to be with. The things they do and say can be an endless source of amusement. And it’s nice to feel warm and safe and loved in the arms of a man. How hard can it be to find a man who makes me feel that way? So I turned to my friend Aimee, the dating guru. She said something about finding a needle in a haystack and pointed me towards the online personal ads. She enjoys meeting men that way but it isn’t my style, especially after I realized that I already know the first two men the service offered to contact for me!

It would be easier to buy a magnet to search the haystack for that ever-elusive needle. Maybe I’ll get a portable microwave for when things start to cool down. Then again, maybe it’s time to start renewing childhood dreams. I wonder if Prince William is spoken for…

Jill Wragg is a retired police officer in Massachusetts.
She can be reached at JKWragg@yahoo.com

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