I got a call last week from someone who needed to talk about the fact that he's been just a little unlucky in love during his 50 years on Earth.
He met a woman at a shopping center in the early '80s, he said. "She loved to shop. She would just shop and shop."
Then he shopped, too, for a ring. And she kept on shopping.
"She just shopped me out of house and home," he said. "I could barely make the bills."
They eventually divorced, not as much because of the shopping, he said, as the man with whom his wife ran off.
He met another woman, in a bar. "Boy, she just loved to drink," he recalled. "She wouldn't hardly eat, but she loved to drink. She would drink a 12-pack a day."
There was a third, he said, from work, and she was the best, but she was "a little crazy."
At that point, I started thinking maybe this man had some questionable taste in females. Perhaps? Possibly?
His luck, he said, hasn't changed. "It's kind of quirky, isn't it?" he asked.
Honestly? Not really.
"I know a lot of people who end up more or less in your shoes," I told him. "They meet people; they turn out to be a little bit crazy..."
You all know I'm right. Anyone who's dated someone just a few Froot Loops shy of a box, raise your hand.
So I started thinking about his history. A shopping center ... a bar ... work ...
"You pick the wrong places to meet women," I informed him bluntly.
"Where do you meet 'em?" he countered.
Well, shoot. I should have figured that one was coming. I know enough to tell the guy that bars probably aren't the place to meet decent women his age, but I can't throw out a location and guarantee he'll be sure to find his happily ever after there. Still, there's a lot more logic to this whole human interaction thing than we often let ourselves remember, right?
Cultural places, I told him -- adult education classes, art galleries, church, doing volunteer work -- that makes some sense, right? Maybe he could join a group or an activity, find someone with a common interest.
"I've been to AA for 22 years," he piped up.
Yeah, I was thinking more along the lines of a book club or hiking group.
"We're being misled," he complained. "There ought to be a dating site on a computer for churches." He found one, he said, but didn't have much luck with that. I have mixed feelings about online dating, so I didn't really feel comfortable recommending that route. Maybe his friends could introduce him to someone. I know, I know, setting up friends is a recipe for disaster, right?
At least, that's been my experience at times with my own friends, but this man is 50, and for the love of all things, if there's not a modicum of maturity to be gained in the next 20 to 30 years, my hope for humanity is all but lost.
He seemed doubtful, anyway.
"They think I'm just hard and set in my ways."
"Well, are you?"
Oh, and he's also scared to death, he said, of someone spending all his money. Can't blame the guy after the shopaholic, eh?
Perhaps a nice, rich widow is the way to go?
All right, before I start suggesting the man take a "Fight Club"-style approach and start faking diseases to meet women at support groups, chime in:
Where might a man in his 50s meet a nice lady? Any of you have a good story about finding love in your later years? Tell us about it. Maybe my new friend will read it. Maybe someone else will.
Maybe you'll be an inspiration.