I had a peculiar dream about speed dating in a nursing home. Probably because I’ve been thinking about the alacrity of elder hook-ups. It’s not like when we were young and our parents advised, “Don’t rush into anything. Take your time. You’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you.” Fifty years later, when the rest of your life feels near at hand, unconditional love becomes conditional, and speed dating just makes sense. In my dream there were a few old men seated alone at different tables in a big dining room with a long line of old women waiting to sit with them for a three minute chat before an egg timer would ding and the women would move on to the next man at the next table.
When my turn came, I introduced myself and the guy said, “Hello, Betty. That was my first wife’s name.” And I said, “No, my name is Billie.” And he said, “Yes, I know. That was my first wife’s name.” And I said, “Do you have trouble hearing?” And he said, “No, she died.” And I said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” And he said, “I don’t think I could have another wife named Betty. It would just be too confusing.”
Then the egg timer dinged, and I moved on to a table with a white-haired man in a beret holding an unlit pipe between his teeth. Oh, an intellectual, I thought. How nice. And I began to fantasize about vacations in Paris. Then he took the pipe out of his mouth and said, “Can you cook?” And I said, “Yes, I’m a very good cook.” “What can you cook?” he asked. There must have been a lot of traffic on the Champs Elysees because I was suddenly overwhelmed by a blinking yellow light and horns honking all around me. He folded his arms across his chest. “I don’t like eggs,” he said. “What do you cook?” The light turned red. “Hotdogs,” I said. “The only thing I cook is hotdogs.”
In my dream I had amused myself with that wry answer, but I was also anxious about being alone for the rest of my life, so I took my seat at the next table in front of a guy with a crewcut who scanned my body. “You’re not wearing a watch,” he said. “How can you be on time if you don’t wear a watch?” Instead of answering him, I smirked and waved my phone in the air until he smacked his hand on the table to get my attention. I jumped. “I hate it when women are late,” he said. He was the spitting image of my high school math teacher. “Phones tell time now,” I said. He squinted in disbelief, the class bell rang, and he started licking my face. I pushed him away and my dog jumped back on the bed and licked my face again until I got up. What a dream. For the rest of the day I psychoanalyzed myself, decoding the messages from my subconscious: You be you. Don’t expect a relationship to be a vacation. And don’t wait for someone else to love you. Love yourself the way your dog loves you, unconditionally.