Seems there are only 30 dunes in the entire world that are musically-inclined. As people slide down such sandy slopes, the sand songs can be heard from very far away and "sound as loud as a low-flying airplane."
Scientists are guessing that grains of singing sand are different from ordinary ones. "They're round, with a smooth coating of silicon, iron, and manganese. With this coating, even small amounts of sand can sing. But once it wears away, the sand loses its voice."
So sand gets to be middle-aged too. Interesting.
Friday afternoon I shared an elevator ride to the lobby of an Alexandria VA office building with a man and woman, both looking to be middle-aged, who were discussing one of the major online dating services. "It's great," the fellow exclaimed to his colleague. "I just joined and you can meet so many people. You oughta try it."
I sighed and simply watched the elevator floor lights go from 5 > 4 > 3 > 2 > Lobby and went on my way as the two elevator mates stood in the marbled vestibule and chirped on about how many dates they were about to achieve and how they were going to meet "the one."
For those of you who don't know, I was widowed almost five years ago, and after I began feeling better, decided to give the aforementioned online dating service a try myself. I've also had the experience of writing marketing copy for the first 15 years of my career, and as one who has been under the hood of some mondo promo machines, know the online match marketers are masters of rendering messages that convince you to part with what you hold dear.
Back in the 1920s, a direct mail copywriter named Victor O. Schwab (who wrote the famous body-builder Charles Atlas ads and went on to help create the giant Book-of-the-Month Club) penned a list of what he called "pain points," spelling out the reasons why people buy what they don't necessarily need but feel they want. People purchase stuff and services because it eases some pain they have about themselves:
"They want to avoid discomfort, risks, worry, embarrassment, and doubts. They want to express their personalities, satisfy their curiosities, appreciate beauty, win others' affections, resist domination by others, emulate the admirable, acquire or collect things, and generally improve themselves."
And you think I would have known better? Nah, I plunked down my dough-re-mi with the rest and wrote a profile and put my photo up and started meeting some fellahs. It was short story material, a lot of it. Sometimes it was fun. Other times it just plain hurt. I am a writer. I am used to rejection. I am just not used to paying someone else to hand it to me.
What I learned:
1) Dating is a linear system. Tough for someone who believes life is round, that there are no set answers, and naive enough to think that in today's world, liking each other is what really counts.
2) At this age, everyone has been wounded somehow by life.
3) At this age, we are all delusional about ourselves in many ways.
I like men. Always have. Perhaps it was because I was raised with brothers. I met some interesting men...three come to mind, who I will always like because they are good people. I found out how the other side feels, how some women demanded to know the make of car, alma mater and annual salary as criteria to determine whether the man was good enough to even talk with on the phone. One gent told me he learned he had to be careful what he told any potential mate, as he felt, after a long marriage, his ex-wife turned such confidentialities back on him during their nasty divorce. So he learned to shut up. What makes us attractive to each other? One friend told me it's pheromones only...that we can't help it when we're attracted to someone who may not be good for us. Another claims it's just plain luck.
I guess, like singing sand, it really can't be explained.
Last year I was told by an acquaintance that it's easier to be unwanted.
I also learned that being part of that system made me act like someone I am not. What was I doing there, playing the game? Was it because, here in my middle age and forever Irish, I felt compelled to compete with my personality and humor against others who won by looking better on the outside? Maybe. But in a society where 16 year olds are opting for plastic surgery, can personality and kindness really compete with all the pretty faces? Believe me, I know there are barnacles attached to this mothership, and if I had the gumption to continue to compete against the better-looking, I would begin scraping. Weight and sagging chinlines can be removed. But at what price? Being middle-aged makes one invisible to others looking only at the external. But I've always lived my life in and out of the invisible. So why should it change now? I guess if that's all that's going on out there, I don't wanna get got.
Is it just a numbers game? Maybe. When I cancelled my online matchmaking account last spring, one of my male friends told me, "You'll be back, Mary."
And this Yankee replied in her best imitation southern accent, "No suh, I won't."
You see, methinks this life is a big experiment, and when we keep doing the exact same thing over and over again and truly expect different results, that particular test is bound to fail.