I don’t know what is worse: the eruption of Mt. St. Helens or the wrath of sons. I do know there is not much less daunting than the wait you go through for said son to be free enough to warn him about the date. It was late Friday night, before he and his girlfriend seemed rested enough to handle it. My grandson was in his room, and they were enjoying one of those couple moments on their screens.
“Just to warn you,” I began. “I can’t babysit tomorrow. I need to go out. Saturday, you know?” They nodded and in a single second I knew I was screwed. My son’s phone rang and he went down the hall to answer. My magical moment had past.
He told me he would be right back and was really interested in what I wanted to tell him. This was said in the same distracted way you would ask what the cat was being fed for dinner. Seeing he was taking awhile, his fiance, Abby tried to take up the slack. “What’s up? Are you going to lunch with Lisa or is it work?”
“Work, I suppose. It’s a date….with a man,” I flushed.
Immediately Abby’s eyes lit up. That sounded fun to her. Mom on a date. Didn’t get much better than that, I could tell. “Your Mom’s going on a date,” she called down the hall.
“Nice,” JP replied, distractedly.
Not deterred, Abby pressed on grinning. “So how did you meet him? What’s his name? I need pictures!”
I raced for my cell phone to show her. “He’s Martin,” I smiled, feeling myself blush again. “What do you think of him? I met him online at a dating site. My Time…for old people like me.”
That admission sent Abby into gales of laughter. She called my son. “Too funny, Hon. She met him on a dating site for old people.”
“Now I know she’s yanking your chain. She doesn’t know how to do that,” he called.
I beamed proudly. This was the best part. I’d figure it out all by myself, and leaned to Abby whispering. “But I did do it. I kept pushing buttons until it worked. Took a couple days, but I figured it out.”
By now Abby was in tears with laughter. “Oh, God. Oh, God. He is going to die,” she breathed. “Honey, she did do it. She did it all by herself. She met a guy named Martin and is going on a date. This is real!”
Down the hall we heard, a shout. “Hell no! Hey, I gotta go,” he said into the phone in a panicked voice. "It’s an emergency. Something’s come up with Mom. May have to take her to hospital. Later…..”
Children can be such drama queens at thirty, you know?
Racing toward me, I had visions of being a three year old facing her father for quashing the strawberry plants. I did that once. ME! I I know, it's hard to imagine. “How well do you know this man, Mom?” I tried to reassure him that I had been on the site eleven days. It wasn’t like we were strangers, I said. Lame. “Mom,” he continued. "Don’t you know 11% of the people on those sites are terrorists? Then you add to that the ones who are scammers….”
Abby winked at me and came to my defense. “Well, she’s not on those sites. She’s on a site for old people. How dangerous can an old terrorist be?” Shades of O’Sama Bin Laden came to mind but I decided this was best not to mention that.
My son threw up his hands, not listening to either of us at this point. “He probably just wants a green card.”
“He’s a Native American,” I volunteered, hopefully. “I think they’re issued them at birth. The American part of their title gives it away.”
For the first time, my son smiled. “No, Mom. Native American cards are blue.” To this day, I don’t know how he knew that but I found out later it was true. After half an hour of soothing egos, giving him my complete itinerary, and assuring I may still chicken out…it was over. Happily I realized I didn’t have to tell my daughter until it was over. She would have been cataclysmic.
Saturday, October twelfth dawned in a winter storm. Hurricane force winds and rain are common on Puget Sound and this was settling into on of those days. I blissfully hoped Martin might cancel as he was driving a minimum of an hour and a half through the rain. I say it was a hopeful thought for me as my courage had ebbed in the night and I was back to hoping for an end to this. It was after all, a charade of bravado from the onset. I was not to be so lucky, however, as the text came through at 8:30 that he was almost loaded and planning to leave within the hour. This was more than enough time to get to the museum by noon, I noted. I texted, “Don’t hurry.”
As though my complete terror was being transmitted through those two words, he responded. “I know you’re backing out, but I'm coming through a hurricane to meet you. Please be there.”
I think that is when I took my first Rolaids. Later I took the Exedrin, but noon did come as it always does. It came despite three outfit changes, and tears. Looking at the clock, it was almost twelve. I was supposed to be at the museum but I was standing in my room looking at my reflection in the mirror. In thirty minutes, i knew it would be over. I'd be free of this dratted ordeal forever and would know better than to try it again. It simply had been a mistake, and all I had to do now was wait until it was over.
But before I was even legitimately late, at one minute before noon, the text came.
“I know you’re still home,” he wrote. “I know how scared you are. I’ve just driven nearly two hours in this rain to meet you. Please, I am begging. Don’t let me down. I’m scared, too.”
That’s when something in me snapped. He knew me that well. With tears in my eyes I grabbed the keys.
Ten minutes later I was in the parking lot and a man leaped out of his car beaming at me. Puget Sound rain can be savage, but the joy in his face was radiant. I had come.
He'd been honest about himself I noted. True to his photo, his easy smile lit up his face, giving him a youthful look. I felt my brows furrow into a frown as I pondered if I could like him in the end…..or more importantly, if he could really learn to like me. Instantly, I realized he was seeing the frown, not the worrisome thoughts behind it, and I needed to smile through the rain.
"Let me look at you; let me look at you," he repeated in pleasure. "I'm so lucky! Did I tell you I was lucky? I want to see you." and he whipped my hood off and let the rain fall in my face. Realizing this might be a mistake on his part, he reached into his pockets to pull out a packet of earrings as we raced for the museum door. "Earrings," he said, hopefully. "I spent the week beading you earrings. I hope, you aren't disappointed it isn't flowers."
My mouth dropped in amazement at the beautiful treasures resting in my palms. the bead work truly had been done by an artist, and five whole pairs to be exact. As one of my co workers told me later, she hoped I'd reassured him that there was always hope for the man who brings a woman jewelry. Turns out I was too stunned to think, and put a pair on to model for him. Once in the musem he regaled me with talk of growing up on the reservation, and I told him about the Suquamish tribe. At some point he snatched my hand, to rush me to the basketry display to discuss the artistry of the craft. By the time we realized we were holding hands, we both expressed surprised at how natural it felt.
"Meant to be," he mused, kissing my cheek. No, I didn't stop him.
Following the museum we went to lunch on the waterfront at a cozy little cafe. We found ourselves laughing at a couple nearby, who were struggling through what had to be a first date for them. The younger man put his arm on her back as she sat in her chair, then nervously removed it lest she be offended. She in turn listened much to eagerly to his lifeless exposes of work and war stories from his past.
"Awkward," I commented, chuckling. "That's supposed to be us. We're supposed to doing that. What's wrong with us anyway?"
"Watch this," he told me, taking out his phone. "I want to show you something." As I watched curiously, he navigated his way to My Time...the dating site. His eyes danced with delight. Muttering something about how he knew how to use the delete key, I watched as he cancelled his membership to the site. "I've only been on a month," he said, his delightful warm eyes on me. "But I'm done with online dating forever. I've found what I've been looking for."
My heart skipped a beat and that latent teen ager in me screamed for joy. It was by far the most romantic thing I could imagine. Aloud, I shyly smiled and said, "Does that mean, I passed the audition?"
Laughing, he told me he'd never fought so hard for a woman in his life. The question was did I want him. I could hardly believe what i was hearing. Me? I'd only been on the site for twelve days, and I was sitting with the man of my dreams. I was the sixty year old woman without hope, and I was beside the man I'd never expected to find. My eyes were momentarily blinded by my own tears. "Are you asking me for a second date?"
"When?" said Martin. "Torture me and ask for a third."
I'd like to finish by saying its been five months since then, but alas and alack it's been five years. As I type this now, I look on my hand and see the opal ring Martin gave me this Christmas. (I have a thing for opals. They are my mystic stone...and if you know me better, I'll explain.) But Martin was then, and still is the man of my dreams, so I guess I won the lotto.
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