Clint Eastwood said,
“Walk a straight line through a cow pasture, you gotta step in some cow pies.”
There I was, staring at the laptop before me…the shyest woman you’ve ever known in your life, entering a world I’d expected had ended for me when I turned forty. Dating! Hashtag–cow pie. Suddenly at a wrinkling sixty, I’d discovered at least one man was curious enough to take a chance on me. Of course, the flip side of this was that the dating site I was on seemed to have serious doubts on my success level. “For a few dollars more”…I apparently could enhance my dating experience, too. No frills, no expense and it appeared I was doomed my former life of celibacy.
After checking on my daily matches, i felt more that this desirability factor left much to be desired, actually. There was a dapper gent offering love forever, but his handle bar mustache beside a confederate flag frightened me. There beside that, however, was a message from HIM. I smiled. I emailed him a few photos of my paintings. Just the paintings, I was much too jittery to send a letter. This online dating was not for the faint of heart. Drawing a deep breath, I added another photo of myself and pressed the SEND button. Rising I left to fix dinner.
After what seemed like hours, i checked the time. It was only seven o’clock. Wringing my hands I knew I had promised to touch base with my mystery man and he might be expecting a phone call as opposed to simply an e-mail. Being the shyest woman alive was hardly making this any easier. I knew that I was either going to do this thing or forever be Casey’s voyeur…living vicariously off her exploits. I picked up the phone.
“Are you you busy?” I texted, alot easier than using my voice I reckoned. “I sent you some samples of my work.”
A welcoming smiley appeared on the screen. “The artist, ” he wrote. “Just saw them. I was busy, so…”
My heart sank. It had taken every ounce of courage to text him, and he was busy. “No worries,” I typed. “I was letting you know.”
Immediately, my phone was ringing. It was him! Good God! “Hey! If you are busy–Don’t. We can talk later.”
“I’m busy trying to meet this young , blonde from My Time,” he said laughing. “I hear she lives over there, and I’m always looking over here.”
“Young she’s not. You really have a wrong number,” I chuckled. “I only have five years on you.”
There was a pause. "No," he said softly. That would make me in my fifties. Is 65 or so too old for you?"
I quickly searched the site. He WAS in his sixties. Thank God, I thought. "Most men in their sixties don't look as young as he did
, and for sure! I never expected one who looked like that to ever take time with me."
A lilting laugh came in response that would have melted the most nervous heart. "It's that native thing," he laughed. "Oily skin, I'd imagine. Just a minute. I'll call you right back."
I tried to protest but he was gone. I tried to reassure myself that I still had his phone number, but suddenly I got a phone message. I checked to find a photo of one of the most handsome men I'd ever seen. He had on a black shirt, and obviously worked out to keep his tone. Clean shaven, he had a hint of a dimple on the left side of him mouth. His deep brown eyes were softened by a weathered look showing a life well lived....gentle eyes that appeared to be a safe haven for a shy woman like me. Still, with his good looks, a stunning fifty something like Casey seemed to be more in his league. "How old is that photo?" I texted. "I'd guess you were fifty in it."
"Then you'd guess wrong," he texted. "Took that thing just now. For you."
I quickly protested that presented problems, because I wasn't as good looking. Period.
"I saw your picture," he chided. "You are."
Flattered, I continued. Usually, I'm too old, too busy, and too tired to text. But we texted for over two hours. I reported I needed to delete my thread, because my phone was likely to explode from the shock. "I never text," I said. He responded he didn't either....so this was new to both of us.
The next day he texted me at work, asking if he could text me that evening. I was thrilled but gave a smooth, "That would be good." I was about to set down the phone when I realized, I didn't know his name. "Martin," came the quick reply, and I let the word savor on my tongue. Martin somehow wanted to know ME.
The days that followed were filled with long, happy texts and phone calls. The parallels in our lives both amazed and frightened me. I learned that like me, he lived with his son to ease expenses. Being a para educator has never given me a large income per se! He also had spent the last ten years of his life in virtual isolation...spending his free time beading. Doing it rather to hide. For me, it had been a difficult divorce and an effort to better myself that made me a hermit. It was uncanny to find someone who understood me as I understood him. Much to my surprise, that latent teenager who I thought had grown up years ago, raised up her head and called to me. I really like Martin, she sang.
Still, as time progressed he began pressing for an actual date, the same courage that came easily when dealing with a cantankerous co-worker, now ebbed in the face of an actual meeting with Martin. Even sixty somethings enter dating sites with the expectation of an actual coffee date, I knew. Coffee dates are a rite of passage. It carries with it the mark of real dating, without the cost or commitment. Kind of like going from training wheels to an actual bike. Still, a meeting carried with it, for me, the loss of anonymity. Martin liked me, but my weight and wrinkles were non-existent on the phone. Once we met in person, there were no holds barred and every sagging line on my face was exposed. Casey studied me, and asked if I liked him.
I told her everything. Told her he was a native artist, and how much we had in common. Told her he seemed kind and caring and........."I need pictures," she laughed. "Is he cute?" I told her she needed to be the judge and got his photo.
"No way!" she cried, snatching my phone. "You go girl. He's a hottie. Don't argue with your luck. Just do it. Young men like older women...." I informed her that he was five years older than me. I won't use the expletive deletive she used here, but sensing my tentative responses she asked what was bothering me.
I explained that in all my wildest dreams, I'd had visions of what kind of man would want me at my age. He'd be gentle and kind, of course, but probably rating a little low on the attractiveness scale. I'm no spring chicken, I said. This guy probably even drives a sports car. "Way out of my league," I sighed.
She laughed. "You talk like having a sports car is a bad thing. I pictured mine as wearing a paper bag over his head. Girl, you have a chance to have real fun here. Go for it. He likes you already and he will like you then. You're a hoot to be around. He's gonna love you, and I'm guessing he already does. Want some advice, though?"
Advice was a thing! I was desperate for it. She put her arm around me. "Don't do the coffee thing. Make it a romantic. Maybe a real dinner. Meet at the theater. Something that makes it feel like a real date. You deserve that."
Easy for her to say, I thought as I watched her walk away. Easy for her at fifty with her little tight butt and wrinkle free zones. At a war torn sixty with osteo perosis and glaucoma lurking around the corner, enjoying the attentions of a handsome man felt like star trekking.
By the time I got home that afternoon, I'd lost my enthusiasm. I had this stupid crush on this total stranger who was never going to like me. I wanted to call the whole thing off. Getting out of my car, I slammed the door in frustration, ran into the house, and threw myself on the bed. This was bigger than a date with Martin. It was about being over sixty, and never having had that one unimaginable treasure of a kind man....one tender man who cared about me....maybe even spoiled me just a little. I'd HAD the man who broke my bones. I'd HAD the man who lied. Because of that I was probably the strongest woman I knew; I'd had to be. Before me now was probably one of the kindest men I'd ever known, and even better, he seemed to like me. Standing between me and this dream was one little date, and that was where it all fell apart. I clasped a photo of my deceased mother and gazed into her eyes. "Tell me what to do," I whispered. "I need a sign, Mom."
Immediately, the phone rang. It was Martin. Picking up the phone, I heard my mother whisper. "Tell him the truth. Tell him you can't go through with it...but be sure to tell him why."
Picking up the phone, I whispered a soft hello. Noting that, Martin quickly asked what was wrong. "I can't do this," I said. "It's not gonna happen, and it's not fair to keep talking to you if that's so. I'm sorry, I really am." Thanks alot, Mother, I found myself thinking. Losing the best thing that ever happened to me.
There was a long pause on the other end as the man who hadn't been on a date in ten years tried to grasp what he was hearing. When he spoke I could hear the disappointment in his voice. "When you're as old as I am, every date feels like it's your last chance," he said. "Can I ask why?"
I told him, this was all me. It had nothing to do with him. I should never have joined the site. It was a stupid idea from the get go. I could post pone this meeting and post pone this meeting. But the date would come up sooner or later. "I'm just to frightened to handle it," I said, my voice breaking.
"You won't be able to do it at all then," he laughed, surprisingly not upset nor apparently discouraged. "We can do this! If the man who hasn't gone on a single date in ten years can get up the nerve to meet YOU, he can help you meet HIM."
"Are you sure?" I asked hopefully. "I swear, this is not about hurting your feelings. You are the only man I've opened up to on this site."
He assured me he felt the same way. "Let's stop with the coffee thing then. It looks like this is to be the date of your life. Maybe the last date you ever have. I want it to be the date that lasts a lifetime. So let's do it right."
I thought a moment. "You're right. I know I will never date again, so let's do an afternoon long day of it. Chief Seattle is buried here. There's a tribal museum. Maybe that would interest you, and we could go out to dinner after." There was a brief pause as he considered it. "Why are you on the site?" I asked. "What made you decide to date again?"
He sighed. He said after the big divorce, he felt like crawling under a rock which is what he did. He focused his efforts on his crafts, beading in the old way. "You have to like yourself, to really believe anyone else can like you. I guess I didn't like myself at all then."
My heart broke. I saw myself in those words. Two failed marriages, two abusive mates had left me shredded emotionally. My only escape had been to work and fill my free time with paints. I'd decided my fate would be to live my life alone. If it hadn't been for Casey, I wouldn't be on the phone with this man now. This stranger and I were so connected. "You could be me," I sighed.
"Not quite," he responded, sounding re-energized. "Because you are talking about retreating, and I'm not giving up without meeting you." The phone went dead. I was puzzled at his sudden flight. I was no longer stupid enough to believe he was disappearing, however. True to course, my text messenger sounded. There was a picture of a bed with seven shirts on it.
He'd written, "I'm formally asking you to the Suquamish Museum on Saturday. Which shirt would you like me to wear? I'm too nervous to choose. Too scared to ask you twice to I am hoping for a yes."
I grinned at the idea of a potential date, and told him he looked smashing in the photo he had sent in black. There was another message. Three black shirts remained. "Which?" he texted.
I told him I preferred the black satin as it looked soft to touch. "Not that there will be any touching," I finished with amusement.
"Touching sounded good," he responded. "But point taken." Smiley face.
I asked him if that meant I'd accepted the date. He responded that yes, I had. That it would be Saturday, with crossed fingers. Patience he had, he said but that if he gave ME too much time to think, he knew I would flee. Again. The less time I had to worry, the better. I knew in my heart, he was right.
That being set into motion, I knew the next but last arrangement to be made was to let someone know I was meeting someone I'd met online. I'd seen way too many Datelines on television to use some caution. Right. For me, that meant telling my thirty year old son Mommy was going on a date. Sometimes its better not to have children. I was facing my next cow pie. Ouch
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