In Her Words
Q & A: Dating at Any Age
Meet Jane Ganahl, dating columnist and author
I’ve been writing weekly first-person columns about my love life for about eight years now and I know first-hand how awkward it can get when you’re trying to date. Some guys get all excited to see themselves in print, others flee as fast as they can. It’s a very odd profession, and one mainly populated by twinkies and gay men – not aging broads like me. Which is why I was so excited to read Jane Ganahl‘s charming and hilarious accounting of her life as the San Francisco Chronicle‘s dating columnist, Naked on the Page. As awesome as the book is, I wanted to know more, so I tracked Jane down and asked her a few questions via email.
What’s going on with the TV deal? (Congrats, BTW.) If you were in charge of it, with no budgetary or other constraints, which actress would you pick to play you?
TBS declined to film the pilot, but graciously returned the rights to me, writer Elaine Pope and director Betty Thomas. It’s now being shopped around again, and there seems to be interest from Lifetime network. If I could choose?? How about… Edie Falco, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney, Bonnie Hunt, Annette Bening… There are so many fabulous women actresses pushing 50!
Maybe it’s because you’ve been married before, but you don’t seem to catch much of the crap that a lot of us single people of a certain age do. For example, the “what’s wrong with you?” talks. Or the way that any successes you experience are negated by the fact that you’re not in a relationship. Did you just not include this? Or was it seriously not a part of your life? Please tell.
Oh no, I definitely got crap about re-marrying or otherwise “finding a nice man!” It took my dad YEARS after my last divorce to stop asking who I was seeing! But he was really the only major sinner – many of my friends are single, either by choice or default, so we just assume if someone is getting some action they’ll share about it.
I’ve always found that the men I dated who demanded that I not write about them weren’t interesting enough to write about in the first place. Have you dated men who insisted you not write about them? If so, did you honor their request?
Yes, I’ve been told by a couple of people that they didn’t want to date me because of what I did! I’ve also told a few that even though I write about my love life, I won’t spill about anything that happens between us.
Tell me about your all-time worst date, please.
Two of them are in my book!! The southern lawyer who flew to SF to meet me, and then proceeded to get smashed, snap his fingers at a bus boy (and call him “Paco”) and then insulted my small breasts! The other was an ex-boyfriend who also got smashed and couldn’t … well … it’s best that your readers buy the book to find out…
You write about an on and off relationship you had with a fairly famous musician – I know you won’t tell me who it is, but do you think he’s read the book? Are you still in touch?
I don’t know if he has!! Although this year, on my birthday, I got my first “happy birthday” from him in YEARS – which tells me perhaps he did? Since I complained bitterly in my book that he never remembered…
Have you ever regretted writing about someone or a certain situation? If so, why?
I pissed off a girlfriend once with a column I wrote for the Chronicle. You can bet I steered clear of her for the book! But otherwise, no. I think I have a pretty good sense of who I can write about, and who is litigious.
Have you ever had the experience where someone you dated turned the tables and wrote about you? If so, how did it make you feel? If not, would it worry you? (It happened to me and I was mortified! Yes, I’m a hypocrite).
NO!! That would be really weird … I need to hear about what happened to YOU!
One of the only people in the book that you identify by full name is Phil Bronstein. Was he okay with you dishing about him and Sharon Stone? And why didn’t you two ever get together?
I used his full name because it was obvious who he was when I wrote about the executive editor of the Chronicle, who’d been my good friend for decades. He was fine with it – I told him what I was planning to write and he was cool, though he cautioned me about using too many details about Sharon since she does not suffer these things lightly. So I steered clear of her. And as for why we never got together – it was actually considered a couple times in our history together! But usually I was involved when he wasn’t, and then vice versa. It’s for the best – we would not be such good friends now if we’d been lovers.
I always tell readers that finding a mate (or even a date) is a combination of luck and timing. Do you agree or disagree and why?
Absolutely! You can doll yourself up and go out every Saturday night for a year and be frustrated – and then meet someone in line for espresso when you’re in your Saturday morning sweats. And BOOM! It’s the old “luck is where preparation meets opportunity …”
Are you seeing anyone now? If so, what’s he like and how’d you meet?
No – I was seeing someone in the Spring but the Summer and Fall have been man-free! I do have a couple guys I go out/hang out with, but they are not lovers. I am currently auditioning if you know any prospects …
Did you find your column a hindrance or help to your dating life?
Actually a hindrance! After a year or so, when it started to get better known, I’d meet people who’d seem interested, and then after I told them what I did, suddenly they’d have to leave immediately to attend to a stain on their tie …?
What do you feel is the most important thing – philosophy, knowledge or body part – you’ve passed onto your daughter?
To be true to herself. She’s done beautifully in that regard.
Have you ever embarrassed her in print, even unwittingly?
Probably so, but she’s too kind to tell me!! I did just submit an essay to More about my jonesing for a grandchild, and showed it to her, and she corrected me on a couple of minor things. But she has NEVER told me not to print something! I guess I’ve also used pretty good discretion about what is on and off-limits…
What are you working on now?
I have a new book proposal that is starting to make the rounds, about an INSANE semester I spent as a student in Spain when I was 20 years old. It’s full of foreign intrigue, political uprisings (this was 1973), Spanish mafia, sex in parking lots, and discovering my calling – that I was a writer.
Looking forward to reading it – thanks, Jane!