Substitute teaching suited me fine because I didn’t want to waste my evenings and weekends correcting boring papers. I never taught much. I mainly just fooled around with the kids and told them jokes to make them laugh. They liked me and behaved because I gave them what every kid yearns for: fun.
The teacher’s room was filled to capacity as it always is at ten o’clock when everybody is in a rush for their mid-morning fix that will let them get through the remainder of the morning.
There were two teachers I got close to. Julie and Patty. Julie was forty and had two children, seven and nine and was divorced while Patty was fifty and also divorced. I was smack in between them, age wise. Patty had been married twice. Once to a man who abused her and the second time to a man she never loved.
“Why did you marry him if you didn’t love him?”
“Because of this strong physical connection I thought I was in love with him.” It depressed me to hear that because not only did I think that but I also longed for that.
Patty and Julie each had profiles online and that’s all they talked about, the men they met and dated. Those they had lined up for the flowing weekend. How could they do it I thought. “How can you trust them? Aren’t you afraid you might run into a psychopath? Who knows if they’ve been in jail or terrorists wanting a place to build their bombs.“
The truth was I thought dating online was geeky. I could never bring myself so low. Patty and Julie tried to coax me into putting my profile online but I told them that I wasn’t ready. I was still obsessed with Max though my obsession had dwindled from crazy to mildly crazy and sometimes I would go to bed thinking, I haven’t thought of Max all day and that made me feel good.
“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince,” Patty said.
“How many have you kissed so far?” I asked.
“Over a hundred. But you have to understand by kiss I mean meet.”
Julie, who was newer to online dating and because of her small children whom she had every second weekend had a lower number, “About forty,” she said.
I sighed and went back to telling jokes to my class. Then in November I received the McGill newsletter and in it was an ad for a dating agency. I decided to try it. Somehow it seemed more private and dignified than flaunting yourself on the internet so the entire planet can see what a loser you are.
The agency was run by two gay men. At the time it cost three hundred to join. It was a lot of money and when I expressed that one of the men said, “yes but it’s for life.” That only discouraged me for I didn’t want a life membership. I wanted to meet another man who would help me get totally over Max and I would settle in with him and be happier than I’d ever been.
The agency had all kinds of activities you could attend for its members. Bowling. Hiking. Miniature golf. But it was the cocktail hours on Friday evenings at the Hotel Bonaventure downtown that I went to. I dreaded going to these events, walking in alone, having one of the gay men stick a name tag below my collar-bone and then having to mingle with the crowd. We all were looking for the same thing. All looking like sly, hungry tigers ready to attack. It was all overwhelming and intimidating. Everyone else but me, I thought, had social skills.