No Country for Old Men

As many of you know, I have been on an extended dating hiatus for the past six months or so. What started off as an intentional choice ended up dragging on longer than I expected. For the past few months I’ve been telling people that I’m going to give online dating another try. I’ll say, “Oh yes, I’m totally going to create my profile this weekend” and then the next time we see each other it still hasn’t happened. On Friday night, when I caught myself browsing Etsy for tiny, ugly Christmas sweaters for Joe the Intern, I realized that drastic measures were in order. I opened a new window and immediately signed up for an OK Cupid account.

Although I haven’t gone any dates yet, I feel like this is the first step towards taking control of and revitalizing my love life – and it feels good. Now that I’m officially on the market again, I’ve sensed a change in my attitude. I’m feeling optimistic and I’ve started to notice men everywhere. The world is full of possibilities!  Or, something. I’m feeling pretty good about myself lately and I feel like men are responding to that – perhaps, too much. I’ve been attracting men – very, very old men.

I don't mind a slightly older guy - i.e. late 30's, early 40's. This is NOT what I am going for.

Let me explain –

If you follow my Instagram or Facebook, you’re probably aware that for the past few months I have been helping my Mom sell her vintage wares at our local flea market. Ideally, it’s not how I’d like to spend every Sunday but I like doing it because I know it helps my Mom. Also, hanging out at a flea market makes for some pretty entertaining people watching and encounters with quirky characters. These are the kind of people who wear ugly Christmas sweaters un-ironically. But most of them – like the lady who has been supplying me with “friends” for Joe the Intern – are really sweet.

As you may have imagined, as a early 30-something I’m usually the youngest person there. Because of this – and the fact that my Mom also possesses the “Izma” (who do you think I inherited it from?!) –  our table usually gets a lot of attention from the ahem, male flea marketers.

There’s Jerry, the guy who sells coffee and donuts, Noel the scrap metal guy, and of course, Jim who usually has a table next to us. When it comes to the flea market, Jim is definitely the “big man on campus.” The ladies love Jim and the men want to be him because his table always has a really great spread of old coins and watch parts. However, I also suspect his popularity also has something to do with the fact that he’s well over 65 and still has a full head of white hair. People flock to his table of broken down watches and jewelry like Tweens at a One Direction autograph signing. It’s uncanny.

I spend a lot of time chatting with these guys, which usually involves helping them figure out how to properly use their iPhones. It helps pass the time and sometimes they’ll give me a deal on a piece of vintage jewelry. To be honest, I thought that by being friendly, I might be able to score a date for my Mom – seeing how they’re single and the same age.

On Sunday we were all standing around our respective tables – My Mom, Me, Noel and Jim – chatting, when Jim announces to my Mom,

“I really like chatting to your daughter. I mean, you’re great too…but,”

She responded by letting him know, “Well Jim, a lot of people like Simone. It’s OK, I’m used to it!”

That’s when Noel jokingly put his arm around me and told everyone, “That’s right! You’re going to have to fight me for her!”

I laughed it off, because hello these guys are senior citizens and we’re all a flea market. This banter was all in good fun – or so I thought.

Later that afternoon I wandered over to Noel’s table to see what he was selling. As I was looking at his scrap metal collection, trying to kill time, he says to me:

“So, Simone – I guess, um, Jim has a claim on you?”

“Sorry, Noel – what?!”

“You and Jim”

“Oh, Noel. I was just joking around!”

(Um, I thought that was painfully obvious?!)

“Well, are you available?”

“Oh, no I’m sorry – I’m not.”

“That’s too bad, I was going to ask you out for dinner. I like nice restaurants.”

“That’s nice Noel, but I think we’re in different age brackets.”

“What do you mean?”

(Was he serious?!)

“I think you’re a little too old for me.”

“Really? I’m only in my mid-50’s and work out.”

Eventually I managed to make a graceful exit from that conversation. When I got back to the table where my Mom was sitting, she handed me a piece of paper.

“Simone, Jim wanted me to give you his phone number.”

“WHAT?! Um, exactly what did he say?”

“He told me to give you his number ‘in case your daughter ever wants company.’ Trust me, I didn’t know what to say.”

“Mom, I was just joking around!”

“I know honey, but I think he must have got the wrong impression when you helped him download that movie app on his iPhone”

JEEBUS, WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!

It felt like I had landed myself in the middle of my very own  Grumpy Old Men situation, where I had somehow been cast against my own will as the Ann Margaret to their Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau. Shudder.

Hi. Welcome to my Sunday.

To get away from the heat, I went over to another table to take a better look this cook book I had spied earlier.

While I was photographing what is surely the most Canadian thing I have ever laid eyes on, an older gentleman approached me from behind.

“Hello, miss. I see you’re photographing that cook book. Would you be interested in photographing my paintings sometime?”

“Um, I don’t know?”

“Oh, you like the cookbook? I’ll buy you that cookbook!”

Before I could register what had just happened, the older gentleman handed someone a dollar and I was walking away with my very own copy of “Let’s Cook, Eh?”

I’m wondering if he was hoping that by buying me the book, I’d invite him over for some Fish Mousse, Shrimp Tarts or Clam Burgers?

FYI, I've never met a Canadian...or human who enjoys any of this stuff. Ok, maybe clam burgers.

Either way, I was so confused by the experience that as soon as I saw my Mom, I told her,

“I think I need a break from the flea market.”

Let’s just hope that what happens at the flea market, stays at the flea market.

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