How to Pick a Lover

Good Old Charlie

One would be in less danger
From the wiles of a stranger
If one’s own kin and kith
Were more fun to be with.
—Ogden Nash

Let’s consider the plight of the older woman who has happily raised her children for twenty or more years only to find that their need for her has become increasingly limited as they approach adulthood. She anticipates that in a few years, they will have left home for college or marriage and will be busily preoccupied with their own lives.

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She looks at her husband, an accountant—let’s call him Charlie—who is in pretty good shape for a man his age. He makes sensible decisions about stocks and insurance, works hard and loves his kids and cuts the grass and just wants a little peace on the weekends. He’s a nice man. A good man, benevolent, and well-mannered and harmless. There are millions of men like Charlie. If you live with a man like Charlie you learn to become benevolent and well mannered and harmless as well. You learn how to make casseroles, and you shop carefully for sensible shoes. But your life is frittered away in trivia, and nothing new ever happens except that the bathroom needs to be repainted and the living room needs new drapes.

While you are thumbing through samples of materials to make sure that the drapes match the carpet because you cannot afford to replace that too, it will suddenly occur to you that while Charlie is a good man, it would be wonderful to feel again: to feel desirable and dangerous and powerful because of that desirability and that dangerousness. To watch the impact of your beauty and personality on a man, to speculate on how far you will go with him, and to wonder, “Is that really another man watching me from the corner of his eye and biding his time until I’m free to be approached?”

It would be wonderful not to know what was going to happen next. Because with Charlie, who is a good man and is good to you, you know what is going to happen next—the next day, next week, next Christmas, next year. The Charlies of this world are the salt of the earth, and they get the mail out and make the trains run on time, but they are wedded to routine. Worse, they like routine. They like the familiar and the predictable. When they go to the city, they always stay at the same hotel. When they buy a new car, they buy another Toyota. They wear the same kind of white cotton underwear that their fathers wore. They have gone to the same barber for fifteen years. When they dine out, they have roast beef medium. Roast beef medium is not only an entrée, it is a state of mind. The woman remembering her first love is also remembering when men were mysterious, when any damn thing might happen next, when life and relationships were uncertain and unpredictable.

So as a married woman, if you’re considering taking a lover, you have to ask yourself what it is that you want. Well, for one thing, you want to be surprised.

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Comments on: "Good Old Charlie" (6)

  1. (anatomyofaffairs.wordpress.com) said:

    Wow! This is so true. It’s important to know what one wants and what one needs. People have to plan for a life after the kids. Many find that they don’t even like one another after the kids leave…

    • NormalDeviations said:

      I agree totally. It really highlights the importance of communication in the relationship as well.

    • I agree. Mate selection is a very complicated process, and there are many influence that come into play that outside our control. However, the more we clearly understand our wants and needs the more likely we will make a good choice that last a life time. It’s not uncommon to hear people say, “I don’t know whatever attracted me to her/him in first place. We have nothing in common.” Thanks for taking the time to respond to the post. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. (anatomyofaffairs.wordpress.com) said:

    Nice post, as usual!

  3. NormalDeviations said:

    This brings to light a lot of things I’ve thought about over the years. The satisfaction (craving) of endorphins due to NRE (new relationship energy) and the tenure/satisfaction/health of a current relationship, but where in the maturity cycle a person is at.

    In other words, do new empty nesters have a greater craving for NRE endorphins? Would other changes create a similar need (like, say, retirement)?

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