When Tiger‘s birthday rolled around again, I sent him an email. I wished him well. Hoped his children were excelling at whatever combination of musical instrument/sporting competition each was no doubt enrolled in. Shared a funny anecdote about finding an old card he’d given me after my surgery that read “Take care.”
“You were such a romantic!” I teased him. Blah, blah, blah happy birthday. I am sincerely, et cetera.
I waited for the polite but distantly impersonal response. And waited. And got nothing.
It annoyed me. Not even a “Thanks for the note” with an ironic “Take care”?
I’m so completely unsurprised at myself for wasting energy on this. Do any of us ever fundamentally change? I know I’m more mature and less impulsive than I was at 25 and even at 35. But I don’t believe I’ve “changed.”
I was a cheater. If a man (or woman) I was attracted to came on to me, and the opportunity to hook up was there, I took it. Being in a relationship was a trivial detail to me. Am I still a cheater? No. Because I’m more mature and less impulsive.
I’m also in my forties and married with kids, so most social situations I’m in are with other married people and our kids. Women in their forties don’t get hit on so much, with or without the hubby and kids in tow. The single women I know my age and older despair about it whenever we talk. Our “Tinder” hookup culture exacerbates the male’s already annoying tendency to keep an eye on the door for someone slightly hotter/younger/sexier. Now he just has to swipe through an online catalog of available women, one that has new pictures on the daily. When my friend Helena has a nice date, she often waits patiently for the promised text, only to have her patience turn to frustration. “There’s always another picture to swipe,” she laments.
I read about people who reconnect with old flames on Facebook and cheat on their spouses or even leave them. It isn’t urban legend either. I personally know a woman who friended her high school boyfriend on Facebook. It went from liking each other’s statuses and photos to private messaging to texting to talking. Now, Laura and Manny are divorced from their first spouses and married to each other, with a six month old daughter-half sister to Laura’s three kids and his two.
Stories like this are why my friend Mabel suggests “Maybe his wife told him he couldn’t talk to you,” after I share my Tiger birthday email story with her. “I don’t let my husband be Facebook friends with his ex-girlfriends.”
The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that even 20 years later, I’m still trying to get Tiger to love me and pay attention to me.
Last week, a coworker paid me a wonderful compliment. My fitness instructor told me he thinks my body looks amazing. My husband chased me around the house, eyes crackling with lust, for most of the week, then finally caught me on Sunday morning (thank you, Sunday morning cartoons and bedroom doors that lock). What kind of validation was I jonesing for? Attention from the guy who doesn’t give it? And not just that one. I have at least one other person I’ve managed to cast in the role of “disapproving parent” or “distracted daddy.” I can laugh at myself, though. I can be grateful for my friends, coworkers, and lustful husband. I’m still doing the “Love me-love me Dance” but the intensity of my obsession and disappointment dulls ever more as time passes.
Next year, I might even forget his birthday.
I want to hug you. I understand.