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Tammy Swift, Published April 26 2014

Swift: Self-esteem boost turns out to be misunderstanding

Divorce is hard on the self-esteem.

It’s hard to feel great about yourself after someone else has gone to great lengths – taking legal action, if necessary – to disengage from you.

But my self-worth recently got a huge boost.

It started when I bumped into my friend Blanche, who works at a local institution of higher learning.

“I have the best story to tell you,” she announced.

Never able to tolerate suspense, I pressed her for more information: “Ooh, give me a hint.”

She grinned. “Let’s just say, I’ve met a young man who is a HUGE T. Swift fan.”

For the next hour, we both bustled off to separate meetings. And for the next hour, I walked on air. My ego could not be contained within the boundaries of Fargo-Moorhead (including Dilworth).

“I’ve still got it!” I thought. “This old show pony can still gussy up any circus.”

My mind quickly wove an imaginary scenario of what had attracted this young man. Was it my wonderful command of the English language? The sensitivity displayed in my columns on divorce? Or maybe he simply fell in love with my photo. Hey, it could happen. I had been wearing a particularly fetching sweatshirt that day.

After the meeting, I hunted down Blanche like a dingo hunts down a pork chop.

“Tell me all about this,” I commanded, trying to wipe the smile of self-satisfaction off my face.

Blanche began talking about a young college guy who worked in her department. We’ll call him Roy. One day, she overheard Roy rhapsodizing about “T. Swift” to fellow students. He talked about her incredible talent, her charm, even her beauty.

Blanche felt compelled to chime in.

“I happen to know T. Swift,” she said. “She’s a good friend of mine.”

With that, every head in the room turned toward her. “You know T. Swift?” Roy asked, awe-struck. “What is she like? I love her.”

They continued to chat about the Legend of T. Swift.

“You know, she’s not married,” Roy said hopefully.

“Yes, I know this,” Blanche replied.

“Well, I’m a pretty decent 22-year-old who manages to clean up after himself with some regularity,” Roy continued. “I can cook a small amount, and I certainly can carry my own in a witty conversation.”

“All admirable qualities,” Blanche said. “But don’t you think she’s a little old for you?”

Roy looked crestfallen and a little surprised.

“Do you think?” he asked. “Well, you can’t blame a boy for trying.”

As Blanche relayed the story, my heart filled with warmth. Never mind the slightly uncomfortable cougar dynamic. So what if I could have been Roy’s mother – and a fairly mature one at that? Maybe he had an old soul and I had a young heart. Our love would triumph over all, even if his parents – who possibly had attended yearbook camp with me back in 1982 – didn’t understand. We could make it work. Our love defied man-made boundaries.

Then Blanche asked, “Would you like to meet her?”

Roy’s eyes lit up with renewed hope.

“Of course! But what could we talk about,” he asked. “What are her interests?”

And Blanche replied: “Do you read her column?”

Roy’s enthusiasm morphed into a blank stare.

“Column?” he said. “She writes a column?”

Blanche realized there had been a misunderstanding worthy of any sitcom. That’s right. The “T. Swift” of Roy’s rhapsodic affection wasn’t me – a middle-aged newspaper columnist. It was Taylor Swift.

And in that moment, you could practically hear the “Pfffft” sound as my overblown pride deflated and flew around the room. The ego had landed.

So there it is: #TheMeteoricRiseandSubsequentCrashofOneWomansEgo.

As for Roy, well, I’m sorry our love wasn’t Taylor-made.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Tammy Swift writes a lifestyle column every Sunday in Variety. Readers can reach her at tswiftsletten@gmail.com