There was a time when my goal was to write a book before I turned 60. Well, actually, the original goal was 40, the same year I was going to stop smoking. But, like so many things, it got pushed back. I'm 60 now, cigarette in hand, and haven't written a single word. Although I do have a title.
It comes from a book I read several years ago called, "The Men My Mother Dated." The book wasn't quite as good as the promise of the title, but I loved the concept and decided I should write my own book about the men I had dated. It could be a sort of memoir of my life told through the progression of dates. There were just a few snags. When I did a rough outline in my head, I realized I hadn't dated enough men to fill up a decent number of pages. Even worse, I had to face the fact that, if I was going to be honest, my memoir would have to end at about the age of 26.
So I regrouped and came up with a more workable title, "The Men I Never Dated." This one was full of possibilities. Almost frighteningly so.
I could probably count the men I've dated on all my digits. I might not even need my toes. But the men I've never dated? Well, that was limitless. It wasn't long before I had moved past the idea of a single book and began planning a whole series. I realized I could even include the men I had dated by adding a chapter about men I dated, but never should have. Or, going back to the heady early 70's, a chapter about men I dated, but can never remember.
It was all pretty overwhelming and a little depressing thinking of all those men. Particularly the ones I never dated. I couldn't understand why there were so many. Was I boring? Maybe. Too standoffish? Probably. Not flirty enough? Almost certainly. Too likely to attract really strange men? Sure seemed like it.
Although maybe it was something else.
Sitting in the State's Attorney's office a couple years back, in my navy suit and Naturalizer pumps, ready to negotiate a plea bargain, he mentioned that he had run into a friend of mine recently.
"Oh?" I said, "Who?"
"A friend of yours from your school days. Vern something."
"Oh sure, we went to school together. Nice guy."
"Yeah," he continued with a slight smirk, "He told me you were the fastest girl in the class."
"Hmm...," I'm thinking. "How do I want to handle this?"
The State's Attorney was 20 years my junior, and clearly getting a chuckle out of thinking of me as "fast." Maybe even seeing me in a new light. No longer the serious attorney, but the "fast girl of Marshall High."
I kind of liked it. Even though it was far from the truth.
Vern and I went to high school together, but we also went to the same grade school. And in Marshall Elementary I could beat just about anybody in a foot race. Certainly all of the girls. But, on a good day, even Vern, who was the fastest boy in the class. Those blacktop races had left an impression on him, and now they were leaving an impression about me. One I hadn't earned and didn't deserve--but found that I didn't mind.
So I just laughed and ended up leaving with a pretty good plea bargain.
The State's Attorney is a man I never dated. One of the many. Enough to fill a book easily. When I get around to writing it, he'll be the first chapter since he helped me understand all those men I never dated.
It seems I scared them off. My reputation preceded me.