Monday, August 4, 2014

Que bicho raro – dating in rural Spain

In the darkness of 3 a.m., I felt something scurrying along my arm. In a half-daze I grabbed at it, only to feel sharp cuts across my palm. I jumped out of bed, turned on the light, and found a cockroach with huge razor-antlers scurrying across the sheets. After annihilating it with my slipper, I stared at it, my heart beating rapidly. First I was shocked, then I felt bummed out. This disgusting insect had seen more action in my bed than any man in the past year – which is a strange thought to have when a large insect is lying dead in the middle of your bedroom. Somehow, though, this very strange occurrence had become metaphoric. Probably because dating in Spain – or lackthereof, in my case, has been coming up in conversation lately.

While on vacation with 6 women, all hovering around 40, they were shocked to find out I hadn't had any for a year. Not that they had found the best solutions either. One was in love with a married man, who was spewing the typical line, “I'm trying to work things out with my wife” yet meanwhile coming over for a weekly humpfest. Another found out that her husband has had a lover on the side for two years. Another was in a sexless relationship. Another was having no luck finding a man in a large city. Another was married with two kids, but meeting up with her lover during vacations – including during ours in Cádiz. Based on their reactions, they seemed to think that any sex (their solution) was better than waiting a year or more for a great guy and a great relationship (my hope).

It's not that I haven't tested the waters. I am extroverted, but when you want to flirt with someone who speaks another language, it's deflating to conjure up a simple line -“¿Como conociste a Carlos?” 'How do you know Carlos?' - only to be met with a look of confusion and a blunt “¿Qué?”

There have been a few whom I was interested in or who seemed interested in me. But they were either too young (Hovering around 20? Step aside, son.) or taken; what makes a guy with a girlfriend or wife think I'm going to mess with that?

A few locals have explained it to me as such: men don't ask women out formally for a date. Rather, it's a friendly, “Want to grab a coffee / drink sometime?” However, I respond with an enthusiastic yes, and then.....nothing. My friends tell me that I have to remind the guy: “How about that coffee?” Which I do. (I have to say, having to remind a guy about our get-together takes the romance out – why did they forget in the first place?) With one guy, we had drinks a couple of times together, but afterwards ...nothing.

It's frustrating. In Canada, my girlfriends attempted to teach me the “rules” of dating: don't ask a guy out, wait for him to ask you, make sure he pays, use dating sites, blah blah blah. Now that I'm in Spain, I have to learn ANOTHER set of rules? I'm in my mid-thirties; do I really have to go through that all over again? My secret dream is to be able to put on a great dress, waltz into a room, bat my eyelashes a few times and have a swarm of men hand over their number. BUT THAT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

I want to give up, to bury my head in the sand. In a land where wild passion abounds, where people freely curse and express their love outwardly, I feel like casting mine to the side. As I stare at the squished cockroach, my overdramatic self can't help but wonder if it's a symbol of my love life.

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