Straw fireI’m a lazy shopper. Always have been. I like owning things. Hate shopping for them.

I don’t return items. I give them to cool friends if the goods are great — but just look lousy on me. I have been known, however, to give wrong items — very wrong items — to family members I am slightly fed up with. Or I will leave them in a public place I know people will populate — and have a picnic with my now dumped castoffs.

My shopping habits are perilously close to my dating habits. Especially in the last three years.

Four years ago, I got my heart unexpectedly pounded. Not in a good way. It happens — it just hadn’t happened to me since Bobby K in 4th grade. And I am decidedly not in the 4th grade.

I needed a good 18 months to repair. By repair I mean: I closed shop … wasn’t the least bit interested in getting to know ANY body “new.” I was, however, very interested in getting to know me. That went well. I liked me. Again.

I am an extremist. I am either very very “out there” or I am very very “in.” My “in” period was rich and bountiful in many ways. I loved it until I suddenly viewed my extended “time off” as a desert … a drought that desperately needed watering and some serious fertilizing.

The last thing I wanted at this point was a real “romance.” What I was interested in was FUN. Light-hearted, people-collecting, life-altering fun after being out of the loop for a solid decade. And so, my comeback years of delicious, exuberant dating began.

Amazing how “marketable” we women over 50 have become. I truly had no idea how “hot” a commodity I’d be. I was clearly and specifically specializing in “wrong” dudes after 10 years with a sweet but extremely predictable (i.e. boring) partner. That tidbit of information probably helped my salability in vast ways on the Internet.

A smattering of my strays:

A. Oh, you’re 26 years younger, have a 1-year-old love child you have sole custody of and you’re knee-deep in radical politics and football, neither of which I give a damn about? You’re IN!

B. You’re still kind of attached to your ex-wife, you’re broke and amazingly hot, but often a kinda drunk artist on a motorcycle with seven children from various women? Sign me up!

C. Oh, you wear woolen socks on your head at all times, text me with, “YO, wanna hang out?” like I was 13 and actually say “awesome” after sex? Yessssss!

Then and now, I’ve been in that in-between stage where I could dip forward or backward with the age range of those I “dated.” (These quotes are purposeful as “dating” ain’t what it used to be.) I was usually dipping backward. No, I was always dipping backward. None of them got my reference points in conversations but there were other advantages…

All this cruising was on the usual online haunts: OK Cupid was my fave. I would go out expecting absolutely nothing but a story … an experience. Sometimes we’d like each other a lot, become soul buddies and friends with benefits. Sometimes we’d just do business together (truly business) and forget the mating part. Often, I’d send them off to my friends if we weren’t a good fit — just like shopping! There was an abundance of riches to go around. The key was to not take any of it seriously — not let any of them “in” and enjoy meeting “characters” for my future archives.

And then a very young friend turned me on to Tinder.

Now, Tinder was my kinda shopping.

I’m sure you’ve read about it or perhaps experienced it. It is like walking into a bar — the bar in Star Wars. It’s like that.

Absolutely nothing is required up front except that you own a smartphone. Done. We don’t have to fill out any of those annoying forms where, for instance, I had been assured that almost every one I was interested in had been “spiritual” or a “Buddhist.” They were neither. Tinder was like the old days. You’re at a bar and it’s strictly gut instinct. You swipe them to the left or you swipe them to the right — considered or not. Want more info? Here’s a good link:

I was told the pickings would be way too young.

Not so. By the time I hit Tinder, there were 40 year olds galore.

At my high point on Tinder — on a roll and undoubtedly bragging about my adventures with a close, married, more conservative girlfriend about a “date” — she said to me with great and loving concern “you may have become an addict.” I mentioned this to a gay boyfriend. His response: “No darling. What you have become is a gay man.” My favorite line ever.

Tinder is ruthless. But it’s also very liberating and extremely fun.

Until it was not.

I never knew the term “IRL” until Tinder. “In real life” for those not in the know — I’d be snow-blinded by a sea of possible mates — many of whom prefer texting to human interaction. Ugh. I know that Tinder has done a lot of marketing work to not be considered a “hook up” site but … know going in, it’s mostly that. Not always that. But a lot of that. It’s the fast lane, baby … and did it ever serve its purpose.

My wake-up call to being ready for more:

A few months ago over Thanksgiving break, I was basking in the LA sunshine with a BFF, texting all of our loved ones and wishing them a happy holiday. I came to someone I have been “dating” for the past year — met through Tinder. I actually care about this man. I understand he has phobias about commitments of any kind — about sharing — about closeness. I get all that. But as I stopped myself from texting “happy thanksgiving,” deliberating with my friend for at least seven minutes what a suitable substitute for giving a shit might be, fearing that “happy thanksgiving” was over the top … we settled on “gobble gobble.” After hitting send, I looked up at my friend, locked eyes and we laughed riotously at who I have become. For at least 20 minutes. Really … has it come to this?!!! I can’t say to a good man I know: “ I hope you are well. I am thinking of you.” No. I can’t. Against our “deal.”

What in the world am I doing at this stage in my life?!?

That’s right: I had the AH HA moment…

One year of “light” and one year of Tinder is enough.

I am considering dating someone who doesn’t wear a sock on his head. Someone in the vicinity of my age range. Someone who might know the references we grew up with: Bobby Seale, Joan Baez, Legs McNeil … why Joe Cocker’s croaking matters. Oh, that would be rapturous…

So, where do I go from here? Do I make the hop from Tinder to age-appropriate OurTime? Ummmm, I don’t think so. Maybe what I will do is march around, eyes wide open and enter 2015 with a new mantra:

FUN…. with possibilities…

Maryjane Fahey is a writer, designer, animator and co author of DUMPED, a breakup bible for women. Her website can be found here:

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