In August, seeing that flamenco dancer, and with encouragement from Lil and a dare from another woman in group, I swore I’d dip my toe in. Within a month I was drenched and it was up to my neck, rapidly rising. How did I get there?
Around my birthday I placed an ad on Match.com, a little more elaborate than the one on Plenty of Fish, but same punchy attitude and honest simplicity. It was a big room to play to: Manual laborers, lawyers, investors. Idealists whose jobs I wanted more than their bodies. Losers who wanted to “feel they lady’s breasts.” There were guys who were way out of my league. Fellows who pointed out that they wanted an "HONEST woman for once." Some winked. One asked for a picture "that shows you below the neck" (it was hard to find one -- I was always squatting at kid height).
I was totally a teenager: gawky, awkward, flirty, without perspective, fresh, unaware what guys my age liked. Not sure who I was or why anyone would like me. My personal brand? My story? No fuckin’ idea. This was the story I knew. I held it close during those weeks:
I held an almost-religious faith that I would find someone else, remarry, and live a happy chapter two (or three?). I credited Gavin with this. That first night after diagnosis --- my first birthday since having a child – we drank a bottle of wine and I waved my finger at him saying, "I just want you to know, if I find someone else, and if I want to, I’m going to get married again. You know, on the off chance you don’t make it."
So generous, Gavin looked at my rage and confusion and clarity. “That’s terrific – I want you to be happy!” Two years later in my young widow/ers' group, I heard I was the only one who’d had this conversation at all. Well – after the first few months that practicality wore off and we were in and out of the land of miraculous healing, surrounded by the moat of denial, until it was too late. I suppose chapter two was an appropriate belief, since Gavin was much older than I. But I entered dating grateful that we’d had that conversation. I thought of that faith, mine and his, every day.
So you can see why nothing was working well.
Except – that it sort of was. One of my earliest winkers developed into a slow and mellow conversation. His ad quoted Groucho and pictured him leaning back with a glass of white wine, petting one of two twinned pugs. In the picture, he was talking. Then some of him on flyfishing adventures and on a boat. A man with a yacht would talk to me? Me?
I was so insecure but tried to be honest: “… I'm not even sure if these are the types of things that would make me seem more (or less) interesting. Knowing me, I should probably be trying to convince guys I'm *less* interesting. Though being 40 means being more comfortable in my own skin and less likely to compromise -- right? I suppose I should put some more pictures up. You wrote a very good profile but I still don't have much of a ‘feel’ for what you're like.”
He was relaxed, and he could deal: “… Do you really want to attract men who are attracted to a less interesting you? For that matter, do you really think you can make yourself less interesting? Seriously doubt it. I wouldn't have responded if I didn't think you were really interesting! As for me, well I'm a pretty direct person and I wrote my profile to convey that. But, I'm also REALLY interesting. I'm just not going to give away all the goodies in my profile. What would we have to talk about?”
It was scrumptious. When he expressed confidence that we were going to have coffee some day, I was beside myself. I was pulling up the bucket from the well of horniness and it was running over. I felt flushed with hormones from head to toe. At the same time, there was a lush sadness coming up. It affected my entire body at exactly the same time as the desire. I was complete and full with the conflict.
Short Stack was in toilet training. Over and over, day in day out, I kindly said, “Listen to your body, honey…” One of my challenges is to treat myself with the same loving care I give to my child. At the time, I’d heard a statement on Oprah* that “Our children learn not from how we treat them, but from how we treat ourselves.”
I started to hear what I was saying. Listen to my body. (Maybe someone else would like to listen to my body?). "My body is saying it is sad and horny." Yeah, weird, but it sounds human enough. I told YachtGuy I was flooded with sadness corresponding with him and it didn't freak him out. He said, "Take your time. This is supposed to be fun."
Now hang on a minute, I said have a body? I do?
Oh yes. Yes, honey, I do.
[White lettering on blackscreen, arousing your ire:]
TO BE CONTINUED.
Part 2. Dating Episode 1.0: Really Virtual
Maybe a week after he assured me we’d meet in person, my “relationship” with YachtGuy escalated to talking on the phone, which was richer and more wonderful. We had rapport, we laughed. I called him “French” because he shopped each day for that night’s dinner; I could hear his playful sneer when he threatened to hang up.
I nearly pee’d my pants laughing when he told me he was living on his yacht, hours from work, since the separation. We told life stories, compared marriages, talked about our dysfunctional first families. We had a similar level of intensity but I was insecure; he was gracious, reassuring, and patient, a southerner raised by bohemians, who facilitated complex accounting transactions.
Perhaps for some women “settled charges resulting from an SEC investigation” might raise a red flag. I found out that I am not one of those women.
During my work day, I’d think of him, or exchange an e-mail or two, and that sorrow and lust would rise in me again. I sought and clung to this deliciousness.
I was still scared to have a date, even coffee, even with him. Finally I allowed that I could get together for coffee in two weeks – enough time to visit the woman who kindly but firmly disciplines my hair a few times each year. I could at least prepare on the surface.
Wow -- my first date. I wouldn’t even call what I’d done before Gavin “dating.” This was fresh territory and I only had rusty tools, though I guess my compass was strong. I warned YachtGuy that I would cry when I met him, no matter what. He warned me that he would kiss me, no matter what. I melted into an even more tangled ball of tension and pestered Vivi and Lil until they consented to chaperone the coffee date. Lil told Vivi, “Don’t forget your fake glasses and nose so we won’t be recognized.”
There were some other difficult things going on in my life – the subject of a long, separate, widowhood-related story – and they came to a head the weekend before our date. I vented to YachtGuy by e-mail and we made a date to talk by phone that evening.
As I look back on it now, after so much else has happened, I know I was a tinderbox. I couldn’t contain my excitement at any stage so far. I drank half a bottle of wine before I got him on the line. Perhaps what happened was pre-ordained. Destiny or kismet or drunken dumbness, it was a fucking total blast.
The next day I had to process with the girls:
Viv: Three hours! What did you talk about?
SDF: Um…. We only talked for one hour...
Viv: Oh my. Was the hour of talk before or after?
SDF: Before. We were pretty spent at the end as you can imagine.
Viv: Was it just dirty talk or….
SDF: The latter. So here’s how I foresee Sunday: I’m sitting across from him saying YOU'RE the guy I fucked?????? and laughing my ass off. PLEASE chaperone!
Viv: What are going to wear, and for the love of God, have you had your hair done recently? You totally have a boyfriend. I NEED DETAILS.
SDF: I do NOT have a boyfriend. What details do you want?
Viv: Basically, um … the transcript.
SDF: Transcript: First hour is like, how was your day and what do you think you want in life and let’s just have fun. He tells me how relaxed he is and how he can see the stars from his bed. I do the same except I say I can see the TV from here on the couch. He tells me some things he likes about women and what he likes to do to them. I tell him how much I enjoy those things. Things escalate to a lot of heavy breathing that cannot be heard very well and some descriptions of what we imagine we are each doing to the other except probably not accurate b/c hard to keep track of what’s sposed to be where when, breathing gets faster, I can hardly hear anything and have to keep checking if he’s still there, heavier breathing and some imaginative descriptions, exclamations and exhortations and some cursing, I hang up about 3 times (chin pushes handset buttons, or switch phones because battery dies) and one of us has to call back, then there are some louder noises. I hang up by accident again. He calls back. We make appropriate small nice talk for a while and then we say goodnight. DOES THAT HELP?
Viv: Well… it sounds almost romantic.
After phone sex, coffee had to be a piece of cake, right? I still felt that real physical contact, even the threatened kiss, would be more than I could handle easily, but at least I had some basis of recent experience with some kind of partner. I sure felt different, and people at work kept asking me about my “glow.”
Four nights before the date, just after finishing story time, I opened my inbox:
Lots of thoughts in recent days. Three significant points pertaining to you:
1. I don't want to meet you yet. In fact, I've decided to drop dating (the in-person type) altogether for the time being. Very personal reasons having nothing to do with the wonderful women I have met, you included. Sorry, but must postpone coffee for a while. For some reason I think you will understand without explanation...at least I hope.
2. I am strangely attracted to you. I am simultaneously troubled and intrigued by that.
3. The other night was amazingly erotic. I want to fuck you tonight. Please call.
Sent from my iPhone
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