Column Classic: We Are All Ferraris

By Lisa Scottoline

By the time you read this, you will have survived Valentine’s Day. 

Congrats! 

I spent mine with dogs and cats, but I’m not all pathetic and sad about it, and if you were in a similar position, you don’t have to be mopey, either. 

Here’s why. 

You’re not alone. You may feel that way, thanks to TV commercials for conversation hearts and bouquets you aren’t getting, but you’re not the only one. There’s lots of women like us, who end up manless in middle age, whether by choice or not. I know, because I get lots of heartfelt emails from widows and divorcees, as I am fast becoming the poster child for inadvertent celibacy. 

By which I mean, not woe-is-me celibacy, but more like, Oh, has it really been that long? 

Also, why don’t I miss it, when I used to like it well enough?  

And why aren’t I on a mission to find a man? 

To begin, let me tell you about a recent blind date. Most of my dates are blind, as that gives me a fighting chance. 

I thought he was nice, handsome, and smart, which is three more things than I ever expect. And we were having a great time, yapping away though his first and second vodka. But by the time he got to his third vodka, his words slurred, his eyes glistened, and he blurted out the following: 

“I miss my girlfriend. I don’t know why she broke up with me. The kids didn’t like her, but I did.” 

Uh oh. 

This would not be a happy ending. He told me the next day that it was the only time he’d ever tried to kiss somebody who was putting her car into reverse. 

That would be me, and can you even believe he went in for the good-night smooch? 

Could it be worse? 

No. 

So, take a lesson from my horrible blind date. He was bemoaning the loss of his girlfriend, when he had a perfectly fine woman sitting across from him, ready, willing, and able. 

Oh, so able. 

In other words, don’t miss out on the fullness of your life merely because something is missing. 

A man is not a passport. Having one is nice, but not the law. And if you’re alone, you can’t go into suspended animation. You have to live your life and you can be happy. So, make yourself happy. 

How? 

Flip it. If you think that being on your own is the problem, turn that idea on its head.  Make being alone a bonus. For example, if you’re on your own, you don’t have to ask anybody’s permission to do anything or take anyone else’s feelings into account. You can paint your kitchen orange if you want and make all manner of dumb mistakes. 

You’re not single, you’re a cappella! 

Which sounds a lot more fun, plus it’s Italian. 

But how do you figure out what makes you happy? 

Try things. Try anything. Paint. Draw. Take piano lessons. Read a book. Keep a journal. Write a story. Go to night school. Volunteer. Sing. Rearrange the furniture.  Rescue animals. Join a book club or start one. 

Dance! 

Bottom line, any verb will do. 

Do whatever you like. And since I bet you’ve spent most of your life taking care of others, take a little care of yourself. Get your hair done, and your toenails. Especially the amazing disappearing pinkie toenail. 

If you can find it. 

Spend a little money on yourself.  Buy a new sweater and parade around. 

Look at you, girl! 

Here are some of the things that make me happy: Daughter Francesca, dogs, friends, work, books, reading, cats, a big TV, a pony, opera, and chocolate cake. My life and my heart are full, and though I live alone, I don’t feel lonely. 

As for the occasional date, if it happens, great. Maybe I’ll meet a man who doesn’t like vodka that much, but no matter. 

The point isn’t him. 

It’s me, and you. 

Think of yourself as an exotic sports car, like a Ferrari, that leaves its garage only occasionally. 

Not everybody can drive you, and you don’t wait to be driven. 

You’re not that kind of car. 

And neither am I. 

So hit the gas, and live. 

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2011

Column Classic: With Apologies to L’Oreal

by Lisa Scottoline

I’m sweltering because I have low self-esteem.

That’s what I figured out.

Otherwise I can’t explain my own dumb behavior.

This might be a new low, because usually I can explain my dumb behavior. Like if someone says, do you want to get married, I always say, Yes!

Dumb, but I know why.

Temporary insanity.

This time, I don’t, and the stakes are much higher. We’re talking air conditioning.

We begin when summer started, in earnest. The heat wave rolled in with temperatures of ninety degrees, but for some reason, I don’t turn on the air conditioning. One part of my house has central air, and it happens to be where the family room and my office are, but still I can’t bring myself to turn it on. By habit, I try not to turn on the air conditioning unless I absolutely have to.

Dumb.

I tough it out. It’s warm but not unbearable. I drink lots of iced drinks and wear tank tops and shorts. I tell myself I feel cool, even though the dogs pant and flop listlessly on the floor, flat as area rugs.

The cats don’t mince words. They walk around with signs that read: TURN ON THE AC, DUMMY.

I know if I had a window air conditioner, I’d feel differently. Then I would turn it on and it would cool down the one room I was in and nothing else. But central air has to cool the family room, kitchen, and office – all for one person.

Me.

When Daughter Francesca lived home, I would turn it on all the time. It makes sense, for two people.

But for one?

Me?

I sweat as I type away, and I’m on deadline, running out of steam. Still I think if I could just hang in a little longer, I could get through another day. Partly it’s the money, because the bill is so high, but it was high for two people too, so that can’t be the real reason. It’s not the money, but it seems wasteful.

For me alone.

Do you remember the commercial for L’Oreal haircolor, where the tagline said, Because you’re worth it?

I’ll explain, for those under seventy years old.

The idea was that L’Oreal was the most expensive of the at-home hair color kits, costing, if I remember correctly, twelve bucks a box.

Yes, there was a time when things cost twelve dollars.

And yes, there was a time when I did my own haircolor, and it looked it. I was a Nice N’ Easy fan, which went for six bucks and was neither nice nor easy.

They also called it hair painting, and we all know what a lousy painter I am. I’m the girl who paints around the pictures on the wall, so you can imagine what my roots looked like.

Picasso.

By the way, L’Oreal doesn’t use that tagline anymore, though its website asks, What Does Your Haircolor Say About You?

Which, I realized, is a more tactful way of saying, WHY DON’T YOU TURN ON THE AC, DUMMY?

I didn’t spring for the L’Oreal, and frankly, I don’t turn on the air conditioning because, at some, level, I don’t feel worth it.

Really?

Me?

Advocate of strong, independent women everywhere? Writer of books featuring same? Could I really have self-esteem that low?

Ouch.

I don’t know the answer, and I don’t want to know, but I turned on the air conditioning immediately, just to prove it to myself that I wasn’t a loser.

The dogs thanked me.

The cats didn’t.

They knew they were worth it, all along.

Copyright © Lisa Scottoline