For women of a certain age the prospect of dating can be social whirl of a nightmare. But when Rebecca Brockway found herself single in her 40s, she documented her next decade of dating experiences in a humorous memoir, “Miss Matched At Midlife” with a positively can-do attitude. After her marriage of 17 years ended with four kids in tow, Rebecca set out to look for The One – or at least make up for lost time in the dating arena – going on more than 150 first dates – probably more first dates than most of us have ever been on!
The book is written with a lyricism that will draw you in: it starts with the line, “Once upon a time I was a bride…” going on to describe a stomach flu that ruined her wedding entirely, like some kind of foreboding she should have listened to.
She continues, “At home, following the festivities, I peeled my dress and undergarments from my body. They’d felt like painful scabs.” This kind of writing is what makes this book stand out, and Brockway presents an all-too-familiar picture that women everywhere who maybe married out of low self-esteem and panic will recognize like an old nemesis.
Even by the time she gets through the honeymoon it’s clear her husband is not going to cut it, but like many of us, she perseveres with the mind-boggling adoption of four children, maybe looking for that missing piece of happiness, until the (in hindsight maybe) inevitable collapse of the marriage nearly two decades later.
It must be said author Brockway is something of a looker, with a poise and assertiveness most women would die for, her mane of blonde hair and flaming heart tattoo on slender limbs calling out to the reader from the cover of her book. While this is surely to her advantage for her fabulous dating journey, this book will speak to any woman who has found herself suddenly single – maybe the fact she is such an attractive women means she gets to try it out for the rest of us.
Not only will readers be laughing, “Yes, yes, yes!” to the book in agreement and recognition of her stories, but the book is also full of dating hacks that are actually very proactive for those lost on the dating highway, such as how to choose dates from dating websites without much disaster, and how to deal with it when disaster strikes – one of the beauties of this book is that Brockway hasn’t always followed her own advice, so we get to see what happens when it goes wrong too.
The standout stories (without spoilers) are that of the man who revealed his ugly yellow teeth with a first smile (I myself went on a date with a man who had always worn a hat, and on our date he took it off for the first time – to reveal a lustrous comb-over!) and her amusing encounter with a sex party scene. It’s almost investigative journalism into dating here. Someone give this lady a column!
It’s always been the feeling in certain quarters that middle-aged women found single should take the “dregs” and be “grateful” for whoever they can get. Brockway shows us this is not the case, and that there are wonderful men out there on the same journey if you are prepared to put in the legwork to find them. There is something of Cheryl Strayed (Wild) to Brockway, and this powerful author aura permeates the writing, and makes this a classic book in the making – Brockway is not writing feminism or unrealistic girly fluff aka Sex In The City here – she’s unapologetically reinventing the “game” of how women “should be.” In other words, it’s OK to be attractive and single and happy in your forties, and claim the board. Just don’t forget the riot gear.