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L.A. Affairs: I’m a divorced woman. Was I ready to be naked with a new guy?

An illustration of a man and woman riding a white horse on a beach at sunset.
(Samantha Silverman / For The Times)
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As a newly single woman in my 50s in Los Angeles, I was terrified. I’d been married so long that the last time I’d heard the words “sexy” and “hot” was when I’d ordered sea bass in a spicy shiitake broth. I hadn’t been nipped, tucked, suctioned, filled or augmented. I figured I stood a better chance of being hit by lightning than hit on by a good-looking guy.

Understandably my girlfriends were getting weary of my “I’m going to die alone” attitude so they dragged me out to have some fun, which I assumed meant a glass of wine and a nice cheese plate, not shots of tequila in a trendy nightclub in Westlake. The last time I was in a club I was doing the Hammer Dance in parachute pants! I was in over my head. What if no one checked me out or asked me to dance. My self-esteem was already so low that I considered spending the rest of the year in bed. Maybe I just needed 11 months to reevaluate my Sleep Number and catch up on “The Bachelor.”

The two-hour drive I didn’t want to make became the drive the two of us did willingly, almost every weekend for five years.

April 19, 2024

As it turned out, guys don’t ask you to dance anymore. They just move in on you. One guy moved in so close, it was less about dancing and more about grinding. I joked that in some countries, we were now officially married.

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He didn’t get the joke, and I was not about to stay with a man with no sense of humor. I was starting to enjoy myself when fate reminded me that I was newly separated and supposed to be miserable and made me trip on an unseen step. I fell. Hard. On a concrete floor.

I was mortified. I was sure people were laughing at me, but instead, they just stepped over me on the way to the bar. Alcohol trumps everything. I got up, dusted off my pride and went back on the dance floor. I was in the middle of “raising the roof” when a pocket-sized man approached me and asked if I liked his friend. At first, I thought he was referring to his penis in the most unimaginative way, but then he gestured behind me to his actual friend — a thirtysomething tall, dark and gorgeous man. And me definitely likey!

He introduced himself in broken English as Daniel. He had just moved to Southern California from Italy to be a chef at a local hot spot. I felt like I was stepping into the pages of a Harlequin romance. Pretty soon he’d be shirtless on a horse, and I’d be behind him, holding his abs so I didn’t fall. Like I really needed a reason.

He suggested we go back to his apartment for Prosecco and more dancing, and I did what any mid-50s woman would in my situation: I threw all reason, good sense and safety concerns to the wind and blurted “Yes, God, yes!”

As he courted me, my future husband said he would manage to overlook the fact that my diploma was from USC because he (unfortunately) was a devoted Bruin.

April 12, 2024

Daniel asked if I had a friend who could join us because the pocket-sized man had ironically big pockets and would pick up our tab and drive us in his fancy SUV. I knew convincing a girlfriend wouldn’t be easy, so I went for the jugular. I used guilt. I’d been miserable for months going on years. Did my friends really want to deny me one night of a superficial, meaningless lust connection?

After a speedy ride where I sat on my one good butt cheek, the four of us arrived at Daniel’s apartment in Agoura Hills. He popped open some bubbly and made a toast that was seductive and unintelligible, but I was suddenly in my head.

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What was I doing? I wasn’t ready for sex. I wouldn’t even get naked in front of a mirror! And what about the bump on my butt from the fall that was swelling by the minute? Would it be too conspicuous if I sat on a bag of ice or frozen peas? Before I could get to the freezer, Daniel pulled me and my spiraling in for a slow dance and he started singing to me in Italian. It was corny, off-key and incredibly romantic. My girlfriend, Shauna, seeing where this might go, asked Daniel’s friend to drive her home. (That is a comedy of errors for a whole other essay.)

I didn’t say goodbye. I was too focused on Daniel’s roaming hands that were headed south for warmer regions. I yelped as he touched the bruised cheek then quickly recovered with a flirty laugh. Encouraged by my fake flirty laugh, he started undoing the buttons on my jeans. I stopped him and moved his hands up. He moved them down. I moved them up. I wondered if you could have sex with your clothes on. It had been a minute since I’d had sex with someone new. Maybe things had changed.

As I planned my wedding, I knew that I didn’t want a sweetheart neckline or a tea-length hem. I vowed to have a wedding that felt personal, modern and authentic.

April 5, 2024

He took my hand and led me to the bedroom. I looked at the bed and briefly wondered if the sheets were clean. As a mom, I could get stains out of anything. My domestic reverie was cut short as he took off his shirt. I looked at his ridiculous body and I knew it was my turn. I also knew I wasn’t ready. I got into bed fully clothed, and he crawled in next to me. He pulled me in and kissed me, and I forgot all about the divorce, the heartache and the fear of being alone. I was making out with a hot Italian guy with a hematoma on my butt that was now the size of a ping-pong ball, and it was exactly what I needed. I felt hotter and sexier than any sea bass, but most important, I felt hopeful. Maybe I was going to be OK after all.

The author is a Golden Globe-winning TV comedy writer from England. She lives in Woodland Hills, but her adventures happen everywhere. She’s on Instagram: @mariaannebrown

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $400 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.

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