I bet this blog post will be the most popular of all my posts so far. With “sex” in the title, I bet you are already reading it with great anticipation. Such a titillating title. O my goodness, what graphic is Joani going to use for this one? (And as you can see The Vicar of Dibley was the best I could come up with!)
Well, dear readers, if you have religiously followed this blog you already know a great deal about my Holy Family days. You know a lot about my growing up Peacock family days. You know a lot about my parish family days. But you know very little indeed about my Peacock-Clark family days. The married years.
I married the boy next door in 1972. His name is William and he was witty and smart and wrote poetry. We would sit on our front lawns and talk long after the sun went down. I asked him out first, to the Queen of Heart’s Dance at my all girls high school. But our first date was to the movies to see “Easy Rider”. What hippy-dippys we were. We both had long hair down to our shoulders. We both wore “granny glasses” with wire-rimmed frames. We wore jeans and flannel shirts bought at Sunny’s Surplus Store. We spent our Saturdays in Georgetown cruising beatnik bookstores and alternative record stores.
We’d go to foreign films at the Bayou Theater. We drank pitchers of beer at the Tombs, a bar so loud you could barely hear yourself talk. Just a year older than me, William was my best friend not just my boyfriend. Though he was a year ahead of me in school, I skipped senior year at Immaculata Prep so we could matriculate together at Catholic University. We got married in a little civil service at the courthouse and then setup household in a tiny apartment on Connecticut Avenue. We even worked together at a bilingual day care center in Adams Morgan. We were made for each other.
I was happily, happily hyphenated for 28 years – as Joani Peacock-Clark. We both juggled jobs, school, three children, friends, family, schedules, vacations, church, just about everything you can think of beautifully for a very long time. William was a stay at home dad, a fabulous cook and did all the grocery shopping. I was the career mom who was very good at doing the dishes. And when it came to parenting we were incredibly simpatico – on all the things that really mattered. But those last two years we weren’t very good jugglers anymore and everything came crashing down. And like Humpty Dumpty — we couldn’t quite seem to put our marriage back together again.
And now I have been happily, happily divorced for 10 years. I married so young I had never ever really been single. Now I LOVE being on my own. I LOVE my independence. I LOVE being mistress of my own domain, space, and time. It makes me feel powerful to pick out my own appliances. It makes me feel like an Apple Genius when I install my own wireless whatevers. I love that every room in my house says, “Joani lives here”. I love that I can watch Star Trek reruns or the Borgias or Cosmos, A SpaceTime Oddysey whenever I want and no one argues with me. I love that I don’t need an office because my whole house is my office. Queen of my own castle, I love to lower the drawbridge and have friends of all kinds visit. And I love just as much for my friends to go home.
I am alone and on my own but I am not the least bit lonely. I have some fabulous guy friends – colleagues mostly. I am still quite enamored with the opposite sex. There is nothing sexier than having a very engaging conversation about just about everything under the sun with an attractive fellow of a certain age. The most erotic part of our persons is the organ between our ears – our brains. Bipolar brains especially light up like fireflies when thoroughly engaged. Without a pause button, bipolar brains often jump into bed with strange bedfellows. Bipolar brains — stuck in mania mode — can get folks like me into trouble – especially when it comes to money, speed and sex. Not to worry – there will be no true confession here!! But this makes the bipolar balancing act that much more challenging. We have to walk this line o so carefully and as clergy even more so — o so carefully. So in these last ten years I have not gone out on anything you would actually call a date.
You see I have been the married vicar for ten years. I have been the divorced vicar for as many years. But now I am finally ready to be the single vicar. Here is where the dating game begins. And I am really not very good at games.
So with a little help from my fabulous therapist friend, I have done a little homework. I read “How to Get a Date Worth Keeping” by Dr. Henry Cloud. It’s a little too Evangelical in parts for my taste but it makes an enormous amount of sense: meet interesting people for their own sake: change your traffic patterns; forget love at first sight; don’t play games; be yourself. Good stuff. So I have started talking up interesting fellows in line at the bank and at the grocery store. Power walking through Old Town and Delray I am making eye contact with passers-by. Walking my old dog, Bailey, five times a day I am chatting up my attractive fellow dog walkers. I joined the Alexandria Trailblazers and I am going on my first hike this Saturday. Woo hoo! I can do this.
I am brilliant, beautiful and bold – so who wouldn’t want go out on a date with me? (A little grandiosity is most helpful at a time like this!) So just as Dr. Cloud’s book suggests I signed up not just for one but for two dating services: Eharmony and Match.com. Just a few weeks into this dating game, it’s already a bit of a bipolar roller coaster.
Both services ask similar questions, Eharmony’s being a little longer than Match’s. As you know from this blog I have no problem talking or writing about myself, so I flew through the online questionnaires. My responses are witty, honest, and intelligent – I just swear they are! My photos are not only recent they are as flattering as I could manage with my Iphone. I have inherited my mother’s good genes. Both she and I throughout our lives have been mistaken for being younger than we are – an asset I hope to leverage to my advantage!
So all set up and ready to go, here is the draft of the first chapter of “Bipolar: A’ Courting I Will Go.”
Eharmony says they are not a “Christian” company. But I think they lie. I think they lie just a little bit. Being “Christian” in my profile and specifying no religious preference for my match, I have been paired almost exclusively with holy rollers, bible thumpers, and I think maybe a snake handler or two. While the five things I cannot live without are: books, coffee, Toms and Chucks shoes, sparkling water and my glasses — my match’s five things he cannot live without are: “his Christian faith, going to church, seeking to serve Christ, iced tea, and reading.” The three things I am most thankful for are my three rocking adult children, my independence, and my theological profession. My match’s answer is very trinitarian. He is thankful for “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Or a variation on a theme, he is thankful for “salvation, eternal life, and Jesus.” The last book I read was “Einstein’s Cosmos” by the astrophysicist, Michio Kaku. The last book he read was “The Bible” by God. My profile photo is one of me hiking along the Potomac. My match’s photo is one of him sitting in a pew. The most terrifying profile match photo of all was a selfie taken in a restroom with the stall as a backdrop, a urinal visible in the background, with the guy holding a bible in his outstretched hands. I am not making this up. Horrifying, absolutely horrifying. I want my money back.
Match.com is a step through the Looking Glass. As soon as I completed the questionnaire and hit “enter” my email box was immediately flooded with “winks”, “likes”, and “favorites”. Do not ask what the difference is I really have no idea. While I specified geographically a fifty-mile radius around my fair city of Alexandria – I was getting creepy messages from trolling trolls all across the country. These fine fellows don’t bother with actually reading your profile. Based on your picture alone they send you their one size fits all creepy come-on. It goes something like this “Wow, I really like your smile. Why are you still single? You should have guys crawling all over you. Let’s skip this nonsense. Please get in touch with me at email@example.com or 555 555 5555. Please hurry as my membership expires soon.” Now isn’t that attractive? What woman wouldn’t jump at the chance to hook up with one of these guys? Apparently this deluge of perverse attention is a marketing ploy to keep you logged on to Match.com. I quickly figured out how to disable all those instant messages and email notifications. Yikes!
But just before pulling the plug and deactivating my account entirely, the matches Match actually and officially paired me with turned out to be attractive indeed: a sailing enthusiast who has a philosophy club at Politics & Prose; a life long learner who loves history, takes cooking lessons and volunteers as a Big Brother; a professor who loves hiking, Mexican food, and Coen Brothers’ movies. Much more attractive indeed.
Maybe my matches and I do have something to talk about after all.
So friends, if you dare would you care to share your own stories of “Sex and the Single Vicar”?