Well, I’m sixty fucking years old.
Ten years ago, (TEN!) I started the blog, “One Year of Online Dating at 50” and chronicled 365 days of digital dating. Much has changed in the dating arena over the last decade. There are apps, social media dating such as via Facebook and amid a pandemic, virtual dating. People have fallen in love while Zooming with prospective partners/serial killers living a few blocks away—or even across the pond.
BUT, as much as online dating has evolved, some things remain the same. There’s still a hell of a lot of misfits to weed through and don’t get me started on the Trumpers. They’re constantly skulking around liberal dating profiles, hiding their red hats and unvaccinated arms. My dating profile used to read, “If you voted for Trump, we are not compatible.” Even that didn’t stop some members of the crimson-lidded gang, so I added the three words guaranteed to make even his most ardent (and sneaky) supporters pump the brakes:
So, let’s catch up. What’s new? How’ve you been? Tell me everything. Heck, we were virtual before virtual friendships were cool—or, well, necessary to prevent the brutal experience of inflamed airways and then death by drowning in lung fluid (because there’s that).
I’d like to catch you up too. Much has happened—lots of good and some downright hellish, but that’s life, right? Let’s start with hellish. I was in NYC at the beginning of the pandemic, and it was terrifying. They knew very little about the virus when NYC was the epicenter. Sirens blared round the clock, and I knew what it meant for those inside the ambulances. Eight million people living on top of each other will create the perfect environment for an aerosolized disease and that virus was doing a happy dance in our city. While many residents escaped to second homes, I didn’t have one to run to and hunker down.
Throughout the pandemic, I was living in Harlem after moving from the Upper West Side, two years prior. My youngest daughter was headed back to nursing school, and I needed a roomier apartment with two bedrooms since we would be living together for the first time in a decade. I found what I thought was the perfect place in Harlem.
The Harlem neighborhood I moved to had several funeral homes and the blocks surrounding our apartment were some of the hardest hit in Manhattan. As the death toll climbed, I would see delivery trucks pull up and drop off caskets. There’s nothing more sobering than to see coffins stacked in rows, while funeral directors scrambled to find storage inside.
I was also in the middle of ongoing litigation with my new landlord. Half of that fabulous apartment I rented didn’t have adequate heat. My daughter and I had spent our first winter absolutely freezing while fighting with the landlord as he claimed the frigid indoor temp was just in our minds. We eventually called the city, and he was cited multiple times, but even that didn’t motivate him to fix the problem which required properly insulating the basement level as well as replacing the boiler. Expensive, for sure, but for shit’s sake, it was untenable otherwise.
When I told a friend and former NYer that I was fighting my landlord and I’d hired attorneys, he said, “Cut your losses and leave. It will end up costing you more than you’ll spend on even the most expensive move. That’s what happened to me.”
I should’ve listened because once it was settled, I had spent more in attorney’s fees than the entire rent for a year and an expensive move combined. Sure, we might’ve technically been victorious as the judge believed we had inadequate heat, but in the end the anxiety we had, feeling under siege in that nightmarish living situation, took a toll on my daughter and me. Then, just as we were supposed to move out, the pandemic hit, and we were in lockdown.
Simply writing about that shit show has given me knot in my stomach, so let’s segue to the good stuff. In 2018 I shared with you that I had created a scripted series based on the dating blog. For those who missed that post, the next two paragraphs below recap:
I have an insanely talented friend, Michael, who’s a screenwriter in LA. We’ve known each other since fifth grade. He doesn’t usually collaborate, and he told me that when I asked if he would be willing to work together to create a series. Then I begged, used a bit of “decades of friendship” guilt, pestered him some more, read: I was an imperial pain in the ass, until he finally agreed.
We created the pilot script along with a bible, which is basically, a detailed character breakdown and where the story might go. My friend thought of a fabulous series title, “Broken Heals” and we registered it with WGA. Then not much happened. I don’t have many connections in that world and Michael moved forward with other projects he was in the midst of before he paused to work with me.
Cue the Jeopardy music.
Pre-Covid another old friend, Lisa, I’ve known since my freshman year in HS, visited NYC with her sister, Laura, also my friend. We met for lunch. Lisa is a brilliant costume designer in LA (check out her latest project, “Malignant”). Anyway, my friend told me she and a group of other talented women had formed a production company. Each woman had a pet project she wanted to produce, mostly movies, but I asked if they had considered a series, and then told her about mine. She said she was open to reading the script. Lisa also said she’d be honest even if it was bad news. I was still stoked, and I sent her the pilot script immediately.
And she liked it!
Lisa arranged a Zoom meeting that included another woman from the production company along with a potential (and impressive) showrunner. I thought I was pitching, so I began selling the series. A few minutes into my hard sell the showrunner stopped me and asked, “Do you think you’re pitching?” I awkwardly replied, “Um, I thought I was.” She said, “No, you don’t have to pitch. I’m in.” I thought my heart was going to explode from relief and pure joy. The right showrunner is the most important factor to a series’ success. Think Shonda Rhimes and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
We needed money for series development and to shoot the pilot episode to sell to streaming. All those Hulu, Netflix, Prime “Originals” you watch, started exactly this way with an outside production company.
Because I don’t happen to have $1.5 – 2 Million lying around, I began approaching potential investors. Many turned me down but with one avenue I pursued, it looked like it was going to happen. Then Covid hit, the stock market crashed, and investors got nervous. As much as it felt like a gut punch, I understood. Everything was so volatile, and there would be no return on the investment unless/until the project was sold. Obviously, most filming shutdown during the pandemic and there was no clear timeline of when it would resume.
I’m proud of the series premise and it’s about goddamn time we see women of a certain age as interesting, sensual, sexy, complex and full human beings. Paulina Porizkova, a supermodel, often writes about the invisibility of women, herself included, in the age demo “between JLo and Betty White.” Why is that?
It reminds me of the scene in “Something’s Gotta Give” when Harry (Jack Nicolson) accidentally saw Erica (Diane Keaton) naked. He acted like acid had been flung in his eyes. He was overweight and losing his hair and yet he was horrified by her body? Her body was amazing, and he should be so lucky, but we live in a world that reminds women every single day that aging faces and bodies are repulsive. Aging men, on the other hand, are still sex symbols and are often paired in television and movies, with women half their age. It’s insane.
If you have any doubt about how aging women are shamed, just say “menopause” in a conversation with a group of men and watch their body language.
Erectile disfunction has been absolutely normalized. Hell, you can’t swing a dead cock without hitting an ad for the latest ED drug.
I meant deceased rooster. My god, I forgot how quick to judge you all could be!
AND why, goddamnit, are there very few drugs on the market for menopause and research in women’s health and aging remains sparse too? Well, that’s because researchers have historically been men. That’s changing, gradually, but the more we talk about it and demand menopause be addressed plus NORMALIZED, the quicker women will have relief—and good sex.
By the way, who are these old dudes fucking? They can shwing through life with an on-demand hard-on, and yet the age-appropriate women, one hopes they’re intimate with, often suffer from untreated vaginal wall thinning, vaginal dryness (atrophied vagina) and low libido. For a woman experiencing these symptoms it often means going to several doctors including female OB-GYNs to try to find a solution. It’s insane and I won’t even get into the struggle to find someone to prescribe hormone replacement therapy that isn’t the one size fits all estrogen patch, especially on the East Coast. It’s as if doctors are in cahoots with Hollywood. “Hey, babe, your lady parts have expired. You’re officially irrelevant.
This mindset is exactly what “Broken Heals” will address bluntly, clearly and through a main character who refuses to allow anyone to tell her she’s no longer sexy, sensual or interesting. “Melanie” knows exactly what she has to offer and is as comfortable getting naked as she is in her unabashed desire to have all the steamy sex her hormonally-normalized WAP can handle.
There’s no other series like this AND it’s about time.
Prior to Covid, streaming services had allocated billions for new content. Now that we’ve all Netflixed and chilled for the last 18 months, there’s an even higher demand for new stuff and more money allocated to buy it.
It was many of you who inspired me to think beyond the blog to a series. The comments you left, telling me exactly that, came at a time when I was only focused on pivoting from the blog to a book. Thanks to each of you who made that suggestion.
If anyone has a unique avenue to raise the money needed for series development and the pilot episode, please share in the comments or email me privately through the website. I’m open to any suggestions.
Lastly, after a ten-year break from blogging about my dates, I’m ready to do it again. “One Year of Online Dating at 50” was a lot of work, and the content I created was done without getting paid—it actually cost me money to blog. I was trying to build a following, hone my writing skills and make a name for myself, all of which I succeeded in doing. I had little confidence as a writer when I began a decade ago, but I do know my worth now. The podcast was even more expensive as each episode had to be outsourced for editing, but there has been an uptick in listeners to the existing episodes during the pandemic, and I may revive that too.
I hope you’ll support my work through my Patreon page (click here) now that I’m back to dishing the dirt. I have many stories to tell you, each as ridiculous as the next and it hasn’t been just the men I’ve dated. I’ve been a complete asshole as well. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I’ll post the beginning of new blog posts here and if you’re supporting my work through Patreon, you’ll receive the whole enchilada. Beyond the new dating stories, each month I will also rerelease popular blog posts from “One Year.” There are currently three of those popular posts on my Patreon page. If you can’t afford to subscribe, I get it, we’ve all been there but please reach out to me privately via “Contact Melani” and we’ll work something out. In the meantime, buckle up. I’ve got some stories to tell and the first one, coming this week, is a doozy.
“A woman my age isn’t supposed to be attractive or sexually appealing. I just get kinda tired of that.”