Dear loves:

Head cold, day #2. I've got a little red-Hitler-style moustaches under my nose from blowing it too much. (My facial skin is roughly as sensitive as a newborn's bottom. Which is to say very.) I've been ready for a nap since about, oh, 9 a.m.

I'm sure if someone undid the lock on the basement flap of my brain and threw it open, peeked in there with a telescope, they would have a view very similar to the one outside my window: enormous pieces of fluffy white precipitation falling from the ceiling. In the case of my brain, I think the precipitate is made up of phlegm. (Oooh. Sorry. Gross.) Outside the window here, what's coming down is snow, snow, snow. A lot of it.

YESTERDAY'S DEBATE

I'm glad people had so much to say about Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. Annabelle, since you've read the book, if you want to let us know about any of the finer nuances, please do. But it's my feeling that the author was not exactly trying to make a subtle point. Her main argument is stated quite clearly in the press materials I have (which include a Q+A with her--a kind of journalist's cheat sheet) as well as in the subtitle.

One reader, Mobra, noted:

"What Gottlieb is really saying that we should keep our expectations realistic about how much a man (or anyone else for that matter) can fulfill our true needs (physical/emotional/spiritual, etc.)."

Good point: Many of us do have unrealistic expectations.

All the same, a lot of what most of us want is simply someone we can feel both excited by and at ease with. Many of us know our female friends will probably be better emotional supports than the men in our romantic lives, at least at first. What we are looking for is NOT--at least in my case--men with who fit a very specific description, who have a very specific set of attributes and abilities, but simply men we feel connected to, and comfortable with.

Also, while Gottlieb does make that point about how it's unrealistic to expect a partner who will be best friend, soul mate and sexual virtuoso, all rolled into one ... that argument got lost, for me, in her harping about how women are too picky, how they have inflated views of themselves, how they are dismissing guys based on "technicalities." Hmm, um ... what? That makes me feel like she is completely out of touch with today's female population. ... You think?

SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT HAVE UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS? THAT'D BE ME

Unlike the women Gottlieb fraternizes with, I know at least one person who does not have unrealistic expectations: myself. Or maybe they're unrealistic in different ways. Which is to say ... I should really be finished with the significantly younger men by now, shouldn't I?

THERE WAS THIS 25-YEAR-OLD, IN DECEMBER ...

For instance: I didn't write about this in real time, because I was scared he'd read the blog and it would screw things up, but in December, I went on multiple dates with a 25-year-old. He was really cute, incredibly sweet, an aspiring writer who liked talking about books.

Yes!

But on our third date, we were at Abigail, a groovy little restaurant+wine bar near his apartment, and he was sitting across the table from me talking about how much his job is a drag and he just wants to write, how he doesn't know if he should quit, go to grad school or what. And I understood what he was going through ... because it was the same stuff I'd gone through A MILLION YEARS ago. I felt for him. But more in the way that a mother feels for a son, or a mentor feels for a protege. Not in the way a woman feels for a man she's hot for. We didn't feel like equals. (Whereas while the Baby Fireman was also 25, he was SOOO smart and cocky and single-minded--focused on getting through law school--that I didn't notice the disparity as much.)

As the aspiring writer talked, lit up by the glow of the Christmas lights behind him, I thought: What the hell am I doing here? This is ridiculous. This is never going to be a serious relationship. Because I suppose what I want more than anything, in a romantic partner, is someone who can grow and develop and mature with me--which would be really hard with someone who has a lot of catching up to do. It seemed to me we'd never be the same age, neither literally nor figuratively.

So I wrote him a note, explaining, nicely, that as much as I wanted to overlook the age gap because of how cute and great he is, I just couldn't.

He wrote back saying, yep, he was aware of the age difference too. "But," he wrote, "I was trying to ignore it myself because you're just so damn cute yourself ... and I thought our sex would be great."

Shoot!

That last little line has come back to haunt me a few times since then. And I've thought, Would it have been so bad to make some hay with him while the sun was shining?

And now ... thanks to the online personals ... another 25-year-old has crossed my path. He's an artsy type, doing really cool things--making stuff happen. And he seems really nice. And he lives really close to me. And he wants to hang out this weekend. And the Winter Wonderland part of brain is thinking: Why not? Maybe we'll get along great, we'll date, we'll have fun for a while. ... But the Department of Stormy Weather is like: Maura, it's time to stop thinking that three-month relationships are worth your while! Get serious, would you?

On the other hand ... it couldn't hurt to just meet him, could it? I mean, seriously, there would be no commuting time involved. I'd shower, get dressed and put on make-up (35 minutes); walk down the street; spend an hour or two with him. I could spare that amount of time. So ... might as well, right?

xxx

What Do You Think?