Suddenly Single? Talk To The Suddenly Married

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Suddenly single to suddenly married.

When I was asked to speak on a women’s conference panel called “Suddenly Single,” I had to laugh because I’m suddenly married. But then I thought: this makes sense. Who better than me to speak on the subject since I was single for 150 years before I got married? If anyone knows how to be single, how to prepare for it, and how to deal with it, it’s me.

When you’ve been suddenly single as many times as I have, you know your shit.

Girlfriends, I’ve been there. I’ve walked in your shoes, and I’m here to tell you that being single isn’t the worst thing in the world. Ill-fitting shoes are.

“Suddenly Single” was billed as a how-to on “creating a social network, mastering the new dating game safely, and controlling your financial portfolio.” It was part of the conference “Deal With It: Taking Charge & Facing Life’s Curveballs” sponsored by the MPTF (Motion Picture Television Fund).

http://www.mptf.com/dealwithit.

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Imparting wit and wisdom on the panel.

My fellow panelists included a divorce attorney, a former law enforcement guy who now runs his own security firm, and a recently divorced single mom. Together, we shared our insights and experiences on everything from background checks to personal branding, from prenups to pepper spray, from Facebook to finding Mr. Right.

Our goal was to help the newly single navigate the world of dating, mating, hooking-up, and breaking-up, all without fear and loathing. And as the once-perpetually single person on the panel, I felt it was my personal duty to not only enlighten and empower my single sisters in the audience, but to also show them that single life needn’t suck.

Here are some Q&A highlights from the session:

What’s the secret to being a successful single person?

Striking a balance. It’s the ability to be alone with yourself without freaking out, while at the same time being able to stay busy, active, and be social. Having balance is doing what you love with frequency and passion, then knowing when to shut up and stay still.

How do you survive break-up hell?

First, process the grief any way you have to: therapy, exercise, spa treatments, journaling, meditating, drinking in mass quantities or vaping with your buddies. However, if you’re feeling fragile and your heart is still mending, don’t jump into the sack too soon. “Getting over someone by getting under someone” is total bullshit and bad advice unless you’re an unevolved guy who thinks getting laid solves everything.

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Hey Ma look at me! I’m a speaker!

What are some red flags to look out for when dating?

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: a guy who texts all the time and doesn’t pick up the phone to talk isn’t for real. He’s either not available, not a serious contender, a complete pussy, or worse, married. Men who hide behind texts are a huge red flag. So are men who can’t spell.

What are some of your hot tips for meeting guys?

Learn to play golf, teach yourself to make eye contact and smile, take an extension class at a local university, join a gym, hang out inside a Vegas sports book, hang out at coffee houses, go to Happy Hour, hit balls at a driving range, and always show up for jury duty. You never know whom you will meet in the jury pool!

How do you win at the dating game?

Do NOT take it too seriously. Think of it as a game; keep your sense of humor and your sense of SELF so you can laugh the whole thing off. Good self-esteem and self-worth is like dating catnip: it makes you extremely attractive to people. If you think of yourself as the prize, then the best man will win. And so will you.

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My groupies: Robby and Ma.

Hopefully by the end of “Suddenly Single,” attendees (including my mother) came away feeling more confident and less anxious about the prospect of being single. Either that, or they came away needing to take a Xanax and take to their bed.

Been there, done that too.

A Career Dater Finally Quits Her Job

b1110503da138461db47e9ad8643011dOther than a few squabbles about bulk buying at Costco, the transition to married life has been thoroughly exhilarating, horizon-broadening, and perfectly natural all at the same time. It’s new, but not weird. It’s an adjustment, but not a tough one. It’s a life change, but one that I welcomed.

After living alone and being on my own for so long, you’d think that marriage would be a total culture shock – and it is – but it’s really not that shocking. Or crazy. It’s kind of normal actually, kind of like I’ve been a wife all my life. Weird.

No, the crazy part of transitioning into marriage was transitioning out of dating, a way of life for me for nearly 50 years.

I was a career dater. I dated all the time, at all times of the day. Breakfast dates, coffee dates, lunch dates, dinner dates, drink dates, even a driving date to the mechanic to pick up my car.

I’ve had blind dates, online dates, chance meetings, dates disguised as business meetings, and one Facebook encounter that would lead to the date of all dates. Thank you Robby Scharf, for ending the longest single streak on record (next to yours of course).

After a long and illustrious dating career – one filled with some triples, a couple of doubles, an occasional home run, and lots of times at bat – I finally and gladly retired. I happily hung up the jersey, emptied out my locker, and said goodbye to the game. I’m using a lot of baseball metaphors here, but you get the point.

I left the business.

I didn’t realize how much work went into being single until I got married. And let’s face it people, dating is like having a second job. I don’t care if you’re a guy or a girl, dating is work. Looking good, spending money, getting out there, going to parties, going to the gym, being charming, being social, being “on,” making an effort, making eye contact, strategizing, chatting, flirting, schmoozing, is all very time consuming, not to mention exhausting.

Online dating alone is like a second job. You spend hours managing your sites, then dealing with all the emails, winks, flirts, and instant messages. You have to sort through profiles, respond to inquiries, assess potential prospects, distinguish between the suitors and the posers, coordinate schedules and make plans. Just weeding out the weirdos is work!

So you can imagine when you’re used to doing it 24/7 and all of a sudden you stop. It’s like quitting a job you’ve had all your life. This is why the transition has been so peculiar – I mean, one minute I’m hanging out at Wolfgang’s happy hour with my fellow single girlfriends, the next minute I’m joyfully making my husband a meatloaf.

Two words I never thought I’d say in the same sentence: “husband” and “meatloaf.”

Some feminists might gag at this, but I have also discovered that I love doing his laundry, underwear included. Every time I fold a pair of his boxers, I think: Wow look at me! I’m a wife! And the fact that Robby hasn’t thrown up yet from my cooking must mean I’m doing something right.

Dating might have felt like a second job at times, but I always did it with a smile on my face and a good attitude. The key for me (and for any single person out there) is to not take it too seriously, have fun, and always keep your sense of humor. That way, it won’t feel so much like a job.

And here’s the great news when you’re ready to retire: instead of getting an office party and gold watch, you might just get a diamond ring and a wedding.

Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Costco

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Robby’s happy place: Costco and me.

It was either me move into his man cave/bachelor pad in the heart of gritty, urban downtown L.A., or him move into my charming, old French Normandy apartment on the Westside. Downtown L.A. is cool and groovy if you’re a guy, but not if you’re a princess from Beverly Hills.

We had just gotten married and needed to consolidate and start cohabitating, so Robby came out West. Just like Jed Clampett, he loaded up the Prius, and he moved to BEV-ER-LY. Hills, that is: swimming pools, movie stars, and me.

As he proceeded to cram the contents of his 1,850 square foot loft into my teeny two-bedroom, something occurred to me: MEN ARE FROM COSTCO. They are different animals. They don’t live like us women. They have lots of man stuff: junk, supplies, gear, equipment, electronics, toolboxes, miles of cable and cords, unexplained wires, and gadgets of all kinds and sizes. If men aren’t from Costco, then they’re from big box stores for sure.

Maybe I’m just not used to a man around the house, or maybe I’m too used to living alone, all I know is that Robby moving in has been a fascinating study in how men live and function. Remember, I’ve never even lived with a guy, so this is all new and intriguing. I feel like I’m Marlin Perkins of Wild Kingdom, observing a most unusual creature: my new husband.

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A little light shopping.

My Baby Buys In Bulk

If you’re single and anything like me, you buy just enough food for a week. A couple bags of potato chips, a loaf of bread, a few frozen Trader Joe entrees, some wine maybe, and not too many perishables lest they go bad (single people dine out a lot).

Robby, as I’ve discovered, likes to buy in bulk – everything from bulk paper goods to bulk food. This I don’t understand. What single guy without kids shops at Costco? Where exactly are you going to put those 24 rolls of paper towels?

You should see my pantry now. It’s now stuffed to the brim with industrial size jars of peanut butter, and crammed to an inch of its life with canned goods. I get claustrophobic just looking at it.

If you ever run out of toilet paper though, come on over. We’ve got enough to cover everyone for the next two years.

Guys Like Projects

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Drill baby drill!

Robby loves a project. The minute he moved in, he started retrofitting, wiring, re-wiring, installing, hooking up, dismantling, and assembling. He tossed out all my ancient cordless phones, and replaced all my light bulbs with energy-saving LEDs, which I hate, but marriage is compromise, and I love the environment, so the bulbs stay. He’s outfitted our place with lots of other much-needed things, which as a single woman, I never thought to buy.

For this reason, he’s made up a song for me. It’s called “The Absence Of A Man,” (sung to the tune of “The Shadow Of Your Smile”).

Robby is very handy. He loves to build shelves, organize stuff, and hang things. And I let him because I love a Jew with a drill.

Men And Their TVs

Robby wasted no time in giving away my old TVs, and installing his new big screens into every room of my apartment. You know the fancy kind with all the bells and whistles and super complicated remote controls? The HD quality is fantastic, but now I don’t know how to change the channel.

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Welcome to NASA West.

He also promptly renegotiated my cable bill, which was way too high. Who knew?

Hey Time Warner, stop ripping off your female customers!

Robby loves his TVs, and his laptop, and his iPad. His office looks like a cross between Mission Control and Command Central.

Houston, we have a problem: NASA is now in Beverly Hills.

So now we’re all settled in, but the debate still rages on whether women are from Venus and men are from Costco. As soon as I get back from shoe shopping and Robby returns from stockpiling jars of relish, the discussion will certainly continue. So stay tuned (to one of Robby’s TVs of course).

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Need. More. Condiments.

Late Bloomers: Marching To The Beat Of Our Own Drummers

Are you in your 40s and just hitting your stride? Are you in your 50s and finding your groove? Are you in your 60s, 70, and beyond, and are finally getting your shit together?

Do you march to the beat of your own drummer? Do you follow your own cadence, create your own tempo, and set your own pace, regardless of the rhythm around you?

UnknownIf so, then welcome to the late bloomers club. You are in good company. Other members of the club include artist Paul Cezanne, poet Robert Frost, scientist Charles Darwin, as well as tons of other great literary, scientific, and artistic masters, whose finest works came later in life.

David Galenson, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, has written about late bloomers and has this to say: “Late bloomers muddle ahead, experimenting and failing and trudging forward for decades before they’re a success, or even noticed at all.”

Social commentator Malcom Gladwell wrote about the old masters vs. young prodigies debate in his insightful October 20, 2008 New Yorker essay “Late Bloomers.” He notes that “Doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth.”

But the beautiful truth is that one’s talent, gifts, and self-discovery can bloom late.

So if you’re not where you think you should be in life, if you haven’t accomplished all that you set out to, or if you think you haven’t realized your potential yet, take heart. There’s still time.

Unknown-1Success happens at all stages of life, and sometimes having to wait, or do the necessary work for it, makes the success that much sweeter. Whether it’s learning to cook at age 49 like Julia Child, or getting your first novel published at 59 like Pulitzer Prize winning writer Frank McCourt, or getting discovered at age 48, like singing sensation Susan Boyle, or getting re-discovered like folk singer Rodriguez, who at age 70, finally got recognition after years of working construction jobs and living in obscurity (his story inspired “Searching For Sugar Man”, a MUST see documentary about Rodriguez’s incredible journey).

Or there’s always getting married for the first time at 56 and 51, like Robby and me.

One of my favorite late blooming stories is Marc Maron, a stand-up comedian who struggled for years with drugs and alcohol, while struggling to get traction in the comedy world. Finally, at 50-years-old, he found his footing and long awaited success with the creation of “WTF,” an original podcast that just marked its 500th episode.

“You know, when I look back on all the things I did. I don’t have any regrets. But I also know that maybe I wasn’t ready for whatever was going on. There was some stroke of cosmic timing in that — out of desperation, I turned to podcasting. Things aligned, so now I can be the comic I want to be and sell some tickets in some markets, and now I got a TV show on the air. And the one thing I can say, whether I changed myself or whether it was a series of events, is that, because I was humbled, and because I let go of a lot of expectation, I was truly ready to show up for everything that’s happened.”

Whether it’s cosmic timing, the planets aligning, patience, perseverance, following your own drummer’s beat, or having good old-fashioned faith, it’s never too late to bloom.

One Last Blast Before Take Off

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The gang gathers for the big send off.

When you’ve been single as long as I have, every night is a sort of a bachelorette party. With no husband, no kids, not even a pet, I’ve been able to come and go as I please. I can get wild, go crazy, live it up, party hard, stay out late or not come home at all.

Let me tell you, single life might sound exciting, but it gets old and boring especially after so many years of it.

I’ve seen it all, dated it all, experienced it all, and have sowed every last wild oat. I have memories and stories and lots of secrets and stuff that I’ve shared with my curious married girlfriends. You know, like the time me my friend and I ended up in a limo with Rick James and his entourage, or the time I had to take a blind date to the emergency room because he got bit by a scorpion, or the like the time I tripped on pot brownies in the middle of the ritzy El Paseo shopping area in Palm Desert.

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A few shots in.

You get the picture.

I look at my single life as one big horizon-broadening learning experience for which I am grateful. Sometimes it was challenging, sometimes it was painful, but mostly, it was a wild, wacky, and wonderful ride that made me who I am today. Now, after 50+ years of bachelorette hood, it’s time to move on to something a little quieter, a little more stable, a little more permanent, and a lot more domestic.

Not before one last blast though! Bring on the bachelorette party, middle-age style, that is!

No male strippers here, no tequila luge, no body shots, no stripper poles in the party van, and no puking at the end of the night, although some of us did come close. We were just a bunch of old friends ready for some fun, a few laughs, and a chance to stay up past 10pm.

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Official bachelorette head gear.

I’d share with you the naughty things we did and who got drunk as a skunk, but you know what they say: “What happens at the bachelorette party stays at the bachelorette party.” The only people that will ever know for sure are our Uber drivers.

I’m ready for take off. I am ready to start this new chapter of my life. The best way to say goodbye I’ve decided, is to let my good friend Joanne Sala do it for me. This was her toast to me; it wasn’t so much a farewell to single life as it was a warm WELCOME to married life.

“I cannot believe your single days are behind you. How am I going to live vicariously through you if you’re not going to have any more crazy single girl escapades? I guess it’s goodbye stolen kisses, brazen flirtations, and hysterical dating horror stories.

This marriage thing is going to be a major adjustment for you, but I know you’re ready. As someone who’s been married for 23 years, I can tell you that you have to be loyal, faithful, trustworthy and have sex with your husband at least once a month, whether you want to or not. But bonus – take it from me – being married means never having to swallow again!

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Joanne Sala, former single gal, current married sage.

But seriously, I wish you and Robby every happiness in the world. My advice to you is to be good to each other. Be kind. Patient. Put each other first. Resolve conflicts quickly. Don’t hold grudges. Let the phrases: ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘You’re right honey,’ and ‘I don’t know, what do YOU want for dinner tonight’ roll off your tongue.

Enjoy this next phase of your life as the happy honeymooners I know you will be. I love you guys so much.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

See ya later single life. It was fun, but I can’t say I’ll miss you.

Sexy Lingerie + Mature Bride = Old Floozy?

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The “Open Bra” worn the mature way.

If you look inside my drawers – not those drawers, but yes, those drawers too – you’ll find a lot of beige. Beige underwear, beige bras, beige everything. Nothing too exciting, nothing too fancy, sexy, lacey, or daring, just a lot of functional, practical beige that gets the job done.

I know what you’re thinking right now. I have boring drawers.

Crazy as it sounds, somehow I managed to get through my entire swinging single life without ever buying a stitch of lingerie. Never owned a garter belt, a thigh-high stocking, or a push-up bra. And what’s really crazy is that I love lingerie! But every time I’d set out to go buy myself a sexy little something, I’d get distracted by other things: like buying new sneakers or some cute workout wear.

Hey, Lululemon is sexy, isn’t it?

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The “Open Bra” worn the right way.

I can’t say I’ve never WORN lingerie because I have. For about 10 minutes, about 20 years ago. It was a creepy crotchless catsuit an ex-boyfriend gave me for Valentine’s Day when I lived in New York. It was so cheap and disgusting I threw it down the trash shoot when he wasn’t looking right after I tried it on. I couldn’t get it off me fast enough. Two weeks later I broke up with him, his tacky taste in lingerie having a lot to do with it.

So just when I thought my lingerie days had passed me by (and who was really paying attention?) something life-changing happened.

I had a bridal shower.

And I scored. I am now flush with lingerie. Each gift box I opened contained the most beautiful, hot, gorgeous, delicate, outrageous undergarments I had ever seen. Everything from Victoria’s Secret to La Perla, to Cosa Bella, to chic exotic labels I’ve never even heard of. I even got some edible undies.

All this new lingerie is great, but now I have to wear it. The question is, should I? I’m in my 50s, I don’t want to look like a total idiot in a teddy.

Ladies, at what point are you too old to wear lingerie? Is there a maximum age limit? An expiration date? I realize there’s a moment in life when one can go from being a hot babe to looking like an old floozy. Am I there?

Should I be age-appropriate and stick to what I’m comfortable with – a nice beige Wacoal bra and underwear set? Or should I let out my inner sexy bitch and say fuck it?

Fuck it!

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A sexy bitch in the bedroom and in the kitchen!

My inner sexy bitch says you’re never too old for lingerie…as long as it’s got a crotch.

Look inside my drawers and you’ll see a whole new me. You’ll see an explosion of COLOR with fabric and styles that scream sex! Along with some new hot pink panties, boy shorts, and lacey thongs, my drawers also have a few black silky things that make me feel like a Bond girl. I think I’ll wear them for my next jewel heist.

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Hungry and horny, anyone?

And for those times that I feel a little self-conscious about my body and age, I’ll just turn off the lights and let Robby eat my undies.

Same Footsteps, Different Paths

IMG_0003She was in her early 20s, just off the boat from Scotland; he was in his early 30s, newly transplanted from Brooklyn when they met and married in the 50’s.

Robby and I will be well into our 50s when we walk down the aisle for the first time.

They had a half a handful of relationships before tying the knot; Robby and I will have dated half the world before getting hitched.

They were young and inexperienced: she was an entry-level secretary at CBS; he was right out of the mailroom at William Morris; Robby and I are old pros with years of life experience under our belt.

They were just starting out, finding their way, not fully knowing themselves, or the ways of the world; Robby and I have been around the block, graduated from the school of hard knocks, and have the battle scars to show for it.

When they got married, they were building a life, planning for a family, and preparing for the future; Robby and I are already established and are looking forward to building on what we already have.

When my parents had sex, they made a baby; in about five minutes Robby and I will be sexy senior citizens.

When they moved in together, they had nothing, not even a pot to piss in; Robby and I already have our own sets of dishes, a blender, a hand mixer, a vacuum, AND a pot to piss in. We don’t really need anything, but we registered anyway because who couldn’t use a new pot?

They had goals and hopes and dreams for the future; so do we, but we’re also happy to be in the present.

They were early adopters; we’re late bloomers.

The comparisons and differences are many, but there’s one thing we all proudly did together:

WE MARRIED FOR LOVE.

Not for money, not for power, not for status, not for a green card, or because of obligation or pressure. Not for any other reason, just love.

IMG_0002Like Frank Sinatra, we did it our way – on our terms, at our own pace, in our own time. And like Paul and Sonjia Brandon, we’re doing it with integrity.

Here’s how my mother describes starting out with my father:

SONJIA:

“He was handsome, he was nice, he was a good person, and he appreciated my humor. We didn’t have much money, but we had love, and we got by. We had a small wedding at a little shul on Beverly Blvd., and had to borrow a car to go on our honeymoon since his car was in the shop. In those days, you didn’t wait to get married. It was the thing to do, and I’m glad we did because, well, we had you.”

Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last, but knowing their story and hearing how they met has always been a source of inspiration for me. Robby’s and my path to the altar may look very different from my parents’ path, but in many ways, we’re following exactly in their footsteps.