A Strange Turn of Events

This is a special and unusual reblog. Meet Rex – he’s a relatively new blogger and he’s on one helluva journey of self-discovery. His story is riveting, frank and engaging, seemingly without effort. He’s a naturally gifted writer and I’ve just adored following his journey. There’s a twist, but I’ll allow you to discover that. Read on if you dare….to enjoy the tale of Rex’s cougar!


A week ago I had a fascinating encounter with one of my neighbours.

Some background required. My wife and I moved into a standalone house in our little cul de sac about 7 years ago, after 5 years of isolated city apartment living. A year later, she fell sick with cancer. The disease was a slow descent into hell for both of us. Months of suffering and treatments followed by weeks of relative calm and reprieve.

In amongst all the hospital visits and trying to deal with the mundane, we made close friends with every one of our lovely neighbours. They baked. They sat with my wife and held her hand, they grocery shopped. They laughed and cried with us. We got drunk together. They became our second family.

They have kept me close over the past 4 years. Sometimes it has been overwhelming and almost embarrassing, so generous has been their genuine care. Over recent months I have begun to spread my wings a little as you have read in my blog posts, but I have not abandoned my cul de sac family.

An opportunity has arisen for me to give back. Two years ago, the neighbour at No 3, I’ll call her Naomi, lost her husband. We all gathered around as we always do, and our support has been ongoing for her. Naomi is reserved and quite introverted, preferring to stay independent. But rarely have I been allowed to walk past her driveway without an exchange and a hug.

So I was shocked the other evening when we stopped to talk and as I gave her a hug, she burst into tears. Initially, I held just her in the driveway. But I sensed this wasn’t just a short event and I walked her inside, sat beside her, and enfolded her in my arms. Not a word was exchanged. Somehow none was required. We sat there for I guess an hour as she sobbed and sobbed.

Eventually, she calmed. She told me that this was the first time she’d really let her emotions run free. We talked into the night, sharing our separate grief, and laughing and recalling many happy times as well.

At this point, I took a chance and as it was getting late, I shared a sliver of what I had been up to recently….hold on folks!!!…no, not THAT… just that I found massage and human touch very healing, Would she let me massage her neck and shoulders?

Expecting to be refused, I was surprised when she accepted gladly! I wondered if I’d done the right thing as it started the tears again, but gradually she was quiet. After a while we had a cuppa and with a promise to spend time together the next day I left her to head off to bed.

Somewhat stunned, I walked the few paces home and tried to sleep myself. But something strange had stirred inside me. There was an excitement. A feeling of deep connection with another human soul, and a freedom to explore more uncharted territory within and outside my personal bubble.

I’ve always had the feeling of being confined, like a river within two man-made banks of social convention and moral constriction. Safely and uneventfully, my life has meandered quietly and unobtrusively downstream towards its eventual arrival at the entrance to the great ocean, where we are all bound. And now, in the space of four months, the flow has expanded. The banks are no longer containing it. The river is cutting its own path downstream!

Naomi and I had a lovely lunch the following day and talked and talked. Tears flowed from both of us. To hold each other’s hands, hold eye contact and sense authenticity is a great blessing. I remember a wise person once said to me “it is more wonderful to be known than to know.”

She began to share her story with me. We so often assume we know someone because we live close by, chat occasionally and get social together. But we don’t.

As Teal Swan suggests, “we live behind the overlay of our lives. We don’t dare reveal the true self. If I tell you who I am, and you reject me that’s all I have and I’m bereft and gone.”

Well, Naomi began to peel back the layers one by one. Her marriage had been to a man who treated her very well; he was generous and kind, and a wonderful father. But, he had no interest in the sexual side of their relationship. She told me she could count on two hands the number of times they’d “engaged in intercourse” as she called it. My heart ached for her. Although my marriage hadn’t been perfect, it was certainly in another realm to hers.

In almost whispered, embarrassed tones she shared the emptiness she had endured, never daring to share this with even her own family and close friends. I fed her a glass or two of wine as we talked. It’s amazing, when we scratch beneath the surface, what hurts and bruises we all have and hide.

She and Les had often been to our place for meals but Les had always been averse to sharing our Jacuzzi. “Well… what about a soak in the hot tub Naomi?…wearing swimming costumes of course!” I asked. I normally don’t wear anything myself, and my yard is very private. She didn’t own ‘togs’ and so Naomi was happy to strip to her bra and knickers.

Another wine and I’m pretty sure that at one stage I heard gentle snoring in the dark from across the pool, although she assured me she was just very relaxed. The next stage was a massage. This was a beautiful thing to enjoy – caring for another vulnerable human being. I love touch. Feeling my energy flowing through my body into hers. I was aroused but I finished the massage and covered her with a warm towel.

I helped her off the table and into her robe. There was a peaceful silence between us, so relaxed and uninhibited. She told me she so enjoyed the massage. I was elated.

What a strange turn of events.

Editor’s Postscript:

In case you didn’t guess, Rex’s cougar, the stunning Naomi, is 80 years old. He’s 65 – well and truly into the toy-boy category!
Their unfolding relationship and sexual discovery is heart-warming, exciting and a cracking good tale. Head on over to their (now combined) blog at https://gristle1953.wordpress.com/ and start from the bottom. This piece has been edited with permission and is one of Rex’s first stories. I just adore these two!

PS – Naomi has started a blog so you can take a look at this stunning cougar and give her some love at The Merry Widow.

Did the Date Go Good or Bad?

I found this wise and interesting response to Captain Awkward’s ‘It came from the search terms’ regular spot. This is her answer to the question of how to assess a date after the event. At first I found it odd that we’d have to ask, but then I realised that we never know another person’s perspective or the view from inside their mind, which leads to the guessing games we all know from dating . Read on if you dare!

CA says: This is a great question. You can’t control whether another person will like you, so after a date ask yourself:

  • Did I enjoy myself?
  • Was I relaxed and comfortable with this person?
  • Could I be myself around this person?
  • Did the conversation flow?
  • Did I feel like the other person was on my team, helping the date go smoothly and laughing gently at any awkward moments? Or did the awkward silences turn into awkward chasms on the edge of the awkward abyss?
  • Did the other person seem at ease and comfortable with me?
  • Was the actual time we spent together fun/enjoyable/comfortable/pleasurable?
  • Was it as good as spending time alone doing something enjoyable or with a good friend or do I wish I’d just spent the evening at home?
  • Was I bored? Checked out? Apprehensive?
  • Was it easy to make plans?
  • Do I feel like the person was listening/paying attention/engaged?
  • (If kissing is a thing you’re interested in) Can I picture myself kissing them?
  • Am I looking forward to hanging out again?
  • Were there any red flags?*

If the date went well for you, where you enjoyed yourself and felt good, ask the person for another date. The rest is up to the other person.

If you can get in the habit of checking in with yourself about your own comfort and enjoyment levels during and after dates, even a “meh” date can be useful because you’ll know more about yourself and what you’re looking for.

Below is a bonus list of some of my personal First Date red flags from back in the day when I bravely put on clean shirts and lip gloss and met strangers from the Internet for drinks:

  • Was the person I was meeting generally congruent with the person presented on the dating site and during any prior conversations? If you’re “single” on the dating site and suddenly “planning to get divorced btw we still live together and no one at work knows we’re separated so I’d appreciate your discretion” when we meet, if you’re 28 in all your dating site photos and 58 in person…it’s not going to work.
  • Did the person monologue the whole time?
  • Did I feel like I was monologuing the whole time at someone who just shyly stared at me and nodded? (The Silent Type is a great type and it may be your type but experience tells me it’s not mine).
  • Did I feel like I was an unpaid nonconsensual therapist while someone shared everything about their life?
  • Did the person constantly talk about their ex and exes?
  • Was literally everything they said a complaint about someone or something?
  • Were these complaints at least funny and entertaining?
  • In these complaints was nothing ever their responsibility? Was it just a long list of Ways I Have Been Wronged By Others with a subtext of Surely You Have A Duty To Not Disappoint Me Like Everyone Else Has (Now That You Know My Tale of Woe)?
  • Ugh, mansplaining, especially politics or philosophy, how movies get made, the “authenticity” of whatever food we were eating, the makeup and history of the neighborhood where I lived and they did not …
  • Talking during movies. No.
  • Taking me to some sort of performance and then critiquing how much it sucks into my ear in real time. No.
  • Overfamiliarity, over-investment.I can’t wait to introduce you to my son, he’s going to love you!
  • Overdoing innuendo and sex talk too soon, like, “I just got a new bed, it’s very comfortable, you’ll have to come test it out with me later heh heh.
  • Overdoing it with the touching. If dinner and a movie remind me of how my cat likes to constantly crawl all over me and make annoying biscuits everywhere it’s too much touching!
  • Negging of all sorts, especially “I don’t usually date ________, but you seem really cool.
  • Constant contact, expecting constant texts/calls/emails before we’ve even met in person, all up in my social media biz, “liking” every single photo/comment going back through the archives. It feels good to be seen and not so good to be ‘surveilled’.
  • Neediness  – We literally just met, so, surely there is someone else in your life who can drive you home from dental surgery or hold your hand while you put your dog to sleep or fly home with you to your father’s funeral or weigh in with you about whether you should accept this job offer?
  • Casual, ‘ironic’ sexist or racist comments, dropping code sentences like “I hate all the political correctness these days, I feel like I can’t say anything.
  • Bringing your feature screenplay to the date for me to read.
(Note that the bold text shows the most common experiences for me!)

Your Mileage May Vary, as the great saying goes. My list doesn’t look like anyone else’s and I may have had stuff on there that is not necessarily a problem in itself or not a problem for you, or where there are exceptions to be made. It’s not meant to be universal and it’s about compatibility with you vs. any one thing being Good or Bad.

I developed [the list] over time by paying attention to what made me feel good, comfortable, safe, relaxed, happy, excited and what made me feel the opposite.I stopped asking people “Is this normal/cool/okay thing when you date?” and started asking “Am I good with this?” and “Am I delighted by this?” Those experiences (and the decision to be picky about second and third dates) helped me avoid some entanglements that would have been fleeting at best and draining at worst, and it helped me know “Just Right” when I saw it.

We focus so much on the auditioning aspect of dating – Am I good enough?

Does the other person like me back? – that our own comfort and needs and pleasure can get lost right when we need them most.

It was a good date if you enjoyed yourself and felt good and did your best to be kind and considerate. It was a bad date if you didn’t enjoy yourself. Whether a good date will lead to another one is up to more than just you.

Thanks to Captain Awkward at https://captainawkward.com/category/dating/page/3/