Dateland: Bewitched


I’m wild again, beguiled again
A simpering, whimpering child again
Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I

“Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart

Sometimes, when I’m happy, I like to open a bottle of wine, listen to heart-wrenching music, and weep. Melancholy only deepens my joyfulness. I have no explanation for this, other than I might be crazy.

Anyway, last night, I was sitting on my back porch, listening to the great jazz singers of the 1940s, working my way through a bottle of cabernet, and crying like a drunken baby. I was as happy as a clam.

But, suddenly, I had a startling revelation. “This is very odd behavior,” I said out loud to my dogs, who were sprawled about in various states of sloppy repose, not at all shocked by the trickle of wine slowly winding down my chin. They’ve seen worse.

“We’ve got to straighten up our act,” I lectured the dogs. “She can’t see us like this.”

But then I ignored myself, took another drink of wine, and stared into mid-distance for what seemed like two hours. This staring into mid-distance has been happening a lot lately. It generally happens directly after I say her name, conjure her image, capture a whiff of her phantom scent.

In case you geniuses haven’t figured it out yet, I’m in love.

This is only a 600-word column, so I’m not going to go into specifics on how this all came about. Just know that she’s super awesome, completely out of my league, and you should all be very jealous of my good fortune.

Instead, I’d like to tell you about what it’s like to fall in love at age 50. In a nutshell, it’s a wonderful mess. It’s very similar to falling in love at 20, but there are a few key differences. For starters, instead of worrying that your love interest will abandon you for another lover, you now fret that they might die.

I don’t consider 50 to be old, and I have medical evidence to back this up! At my annual checkup, my doctor told me that the medical community considers 50 to still be “youngish.” (Never mind that she laughed when she said it.) Yet, all evidence points to the fact that I’ll live only another 30 years or so. Before this love thing happened, I felt this was a reasonable enough time to eat and drink everything I desire and see my share of Broadway musicals. But now, suddenly, it seems very short indeed.

She puts butter in her coffee for some nutritional benefit that makes absolutely no sense to me, and I’m worried sick that she is clogging up her heart. I want to yank the butter coffee from her, grab her by the shoulders and scream, “Don’t die!” But the relationship is still awfully new and I fear this behavior might scare her off or, frankly, give her a heart attack.

Another important difference to falling in love when you are “youngish” is that it’s almost impossible to pretend you’re someone that you’re not. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to temporarily morph into the person you think would most intrigue — and least disgust — your love. But at age 50, you realized just how much work that is and that you can never sustain the pretense, so it’s not worth the effort.

So, as I sat on the porch, considering how to become a different person for her, I realized that my strangeness is fully baked into me and can’t be extracted. I’m just a weirdo who emotionally manipulates herself with wine and music, and she’s slowly committing suicide via butter coffee. Yet, I’m completely bewitched.

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