"I don't see how you can go out in public with a man who wears a mullet," says Annie Zito's daughter, Marly, in the book Strange Love.
"It's not a mullet," Annie replies. "He just has a few wispy pieces of hair in the back."
"That's a mullet, mom," Marly argues. "And a bald guy with a mullet, that's as bad as you can get."
In Lisa Lenzo’s Strange Love, divorcee and mom Annie Zito is always trying to justify her latest bad date. Lenzo, a Saugatuck native, says the story is partially autobiographical.
"I would come home from a date with somebody and think, 'I've got to write this down," says Lenzo. "This is just hysterical and sad and funny all at once."
But despite date after date, Annie's character keeps trying to make bad matches work. Lenzo says, like Annie, she's maybe too optimistic about relationships. She says she often accepts damaged lovers because she recognizes the damage in herself.
"You know, they've got their damaged qualities, but they're all decent people to my mind. Damaged in various ways, but aren't we all damaged?"
If trial and error doesn't work, what's the best way to go about middle aged dating? Lenzo says look for a someone who has been divorced for a long time from a long marriage, where it was their partner's idea to separate.
"This is somebody who wants to be married and tried to stay married, but wasn't able to," she says. "And you don' t want to get to that man too soon because they need to get through their divorce traumas."
It just so happens Lenzo's now husband just fit that description.
The teen daughter, Marly, is also based on Lenzo's own daughter. In the book, Marly has a way of pinpointing what's wrong with each of Annie's boyfriends. But she has trouble seeing the faults in the men in her life.
"I think it is easier to look at another person's life than realize your own mistakes," says Lenzo.