A Boy, a Girl, and a Bottle of Vodka

bar 2

Common wisdom says, if you’re looking for true love, don’t look in a bar.

You won’t find your future spouse in a watering hole. They’re for hook-ups, not good catches. People go to bars for looking for instant gratification, not happily ever after.

However.

My husband and I met at a bar. (Well, it was more of a pop-up soju tent in a vacant lot, but that’s another story for another time.)

And we’re not alone. The more couples I talk to, the more I realize how common our story is. Whether it was a college pub night or after-work cocktails, many of the couples I know first exchanged witty banter (or drunken compliments) in the womb-like atmosphere of a bar.

If you haven’t met your spouse yet, here’s why you should give up online dating and park yourself at your local pub:

Well, Aren’t You Looking Fine?

It’s a fact: Everyone looks better in a bar. No, it’s not about beer goggles. It’s about lighting. Low lighting creates an intimate atmosphere, but it also blurs those minor imperfections. In the dim, flickering cave-like atmosphere of a pub, Average Joe can start to look a lot more like Prince Charming. And if you give him a chance, he might sound like him, too.

Come a Little Closer

Bars are loud. If you want to have a conversation with someone, you have two options. A) Yell at the top of your lungs or B) move in close. Closer. So close your lips are almost touching his ear. And you probably have to lean up against him or put your hand of his shoulder. Now isn’t that cozy?

Let the Good Times Roll

Sure, some people head to a bar to drown their sorrows, but not most. After all, if oblivion is your aim, a liquor store will give you more bang for your buck. Most people go to a bar to socialize. They’re there to talk. Laugh. Have fun. They’re feeling positive and open to possibilities, ready to take a chance on something – or someone – new.

In a Word, Alcohol

Granted, the inhibition-lowering effects of excess consumption of alcohol have led to many a regretted one-night-stand. But having just a drink or two can make you relax and open up. Talk to a stranger. Laugh at his bad jokes. Tell a few of your own. Share things you usually don’t. Skip the small talk and get familiar, fast.

Who knows? You might discover your soulmate, like me. Or like Sherry and Alexi, the protagonists of my romantic suspense, Dance with Me. Their story starts with verbal sparring over a bottle of icy vodka and leads to so much more.

Yes, common wisdom says you won’t find love at a bar. But sometimes common wisdom is just plain stupid.

 

 

No, you haven’t wandered onto the wrong blog. This is about love.

hands

I’m thinking about Nice, France.

My dad called me last night, in a rage. No, not about the man who plowed a truck through crowds of Bastille Day revelers, killing 80 or more. He hadn’t heard about that.

He was angry because a bank manager had treated him unfairly, denied him his rights. In his words, “an unctuous arrogant little man humiliated” him.

Dad wanted to vent. But he also wanted revenge. He wanted the little man to suffer for his crimes. To get fired or reprimanded. To be humiliated.

My dad is a good man. Kind, patient, infinitely generous. He gives to charity and feeds the crows in the winter.

Surely a man who can love crows can also love his fellow man? Not, apparently, when that man uses his power to make him feel powerless.

It’s human nature. Are any of us any different?

The man driving that truck made us feel powerless and afraid. He may be dead, but there are others just like him. We want them to suffer for his crimes, or their future crimes. We want revenge.

It may be human nature, but it’s wrong.

Violence and hatred are seeds with only one fruit. More violence and hatred.

Sure, it’s easy to dismiss the man who drove the truck as evil. Sick. Twisted by his religion. Not Like Us. More difficult to seek to understand what drove him to think killing random innocent people would be a good thing to do on a Thursday afternoon.

It’s common knowledge that Arabs in France are ghettoized and treated as second-class citizens.

Perhaps the driver, like my father had been humiliated, made to feel powerless. Maybe he wanted revenge.

Not to excuse what he did. Only to understand it. So that we can react to this horrific act in a way that goes against human nature, but is our only hope for a peaceful future.

As natural as it is to be afraid and close our doors and hearts to people Not Like Us, if we want to prevent similar attacks, we must do the opposite.

Open our arms.

Seek to understand.

Love.

Dating A Younger Man: Why It Works In 2016

May December couple

Please forgive my clumsy Photoshopping, but older woman/younger man photos are hard to find. Just like actual couples.

This romantic dynamic has always fascinated me. It’s normal for a man to marry a woman ten years his junior. But when a woman ties the knot with a younger man, get ready for smirks, sly comments and bets placed on the divorce date. Why?

In a nutshell: money, looks, babies, common interests and societal expectations. But that is all changing as Generation X and Y enter middle age. Here’s why.

We’re Making Our Own Cheddar:

One of the reasons women tend to favor older men is because of their greater earning ability. Let’s face it ladies. We may be romantic, but we’re practical, too. We want nice things. But now that we make up nearly 50% of the workforce and are gradually worming our way into those higher-paying fields and positions, we don’t need men to buy them for us. Cross “high salary” off the list of deal-breakers and the dating pool just got a lot deeper. And younger.

But We’re Not Eating It:

In two words, Jennifer Aniston. Almost fifty and hotter than ever. Sure, she’s had a bit of the kind of help that only money can buy, buy who hasn’t? Women take care of themselves. Men? Not so much. According to Statistics Canada, women of any age are far less likely to be obese than men. We spend more on appearance, and care more about it. Think about a same-aged married couple you know. Which of the two has gray hair and a roll of fat spilling over the top of his Dockers? And which of the two would look just fine in her skinny jeans holding hands with a man ten years younger?

We’re in It to Win It: 

Once upon a time, a middle-class girl knew how her life was going to go. High school. University or the typing pool. Marriage. Kids. The end. Today neither marriage nor kids are necessarily a given. In fact, more women than ever are choosing not to have children. Traditionally, a woman’s relatively short span of fertility put the kybosh on the possibility of a relationship with a younger man. With more women focused on growing their careers rather than raising children, fertility isn’t the obstacle to a reverse May-December relationship that it used to be.

But We Want to Enjoy the Ride:

Ever hear of Creamfields? It’s a massive dance music festival where DJs  whip crowds of scantily-clad electronica freaks into a beat-mad frenzy. I went to my first when I was forty. Sure, the demographic skewed Millennial, but I wasn’t the only Gen-Xer there. A good friend of mine is celebrating her 50th birthday with a scuba-diving trip to Iceland. Another just took up snowboarding. The interests and activities of the middle-aged are no longer age-specific. Generation X women are more open to new experiences, different foods, out-of-the-way places. Which we want to share with equally adventurous men.

And We Don’t Give a Damn if Grandma Approves:

Interracial marriage, forbidden by law in West Virginia until 1967, is legal. Gay marriage is legal in Canada, the US, and a growing number of other countries. The old social norms are breaking down. Things that were not just frowned upon but punishable by law are becoming part of the spectrum of normal. In most urban, educated areas, dating outside one’s own religion or race doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. Transgressing age stereotypes still gets a wink, but that is changing, too. Soon couples like Fifty Shades of Grey director Samantha Taylor-Johnson and actor husband Aaron will be as yawn-worthy as Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart.

Isn’t it about time?

My erotic romance novel Please is the story of Elizabeth Holmes, a 38-year-old small-town romance writer and Sebastian Faulkner, the 28-year-old Hollywood bad-boy who seduces her.