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  • It was one of those internet dates. A service that screens and ‘matches’ people. We had skipped the guided conversations and gone straight to email. Probably my first mistake. Not ever, of course, just in this context.

    Had we done the guided conversations advised by the site, I might have learned more about him and had an opportunity to decide to meet or not based upon deeper information.

    He was tall, not over weight, involved in banking and a little older than I wanted, but lived close and who knows – we set up a date. He suggested meeting at some cowboy steak house where a friend of his was playing music in the bar. Again, what was I thinking? What was he thinking? First dates should be about the date and getting to know each other better. Meeting and talking at a coffee house is a much better choice. Plus, if there’s no spark, you aren’t stuck having dinner with someone when you’d rather be home washing the bathroom floor.

    As a dating veteran, I knew this. He was making rookie mistakes and I was just following along. Ding.

    I was up for something different. And, I wasn’t. Almost cancelled a couple of times in the few days before our meeting.

    What little I knew of him didn’t bode especially well:

    Like me, he was a first born. A natural born leader as he said. Huh. I’m not much of a follower, although given my willingness to follow him into first date hell, a case could be made for my following gene. He seemed more a natural born pusher and I was beginning to understand why after a 30 plus year marriage, he was let go.

    All his emails with me included a huge amount of exclamation points!!! Always a red flag. Either this person has low self-esteem and is trying to puff themselves up or shouts all the time in conversations or both. Yek. Or, he’s new at this game and doesn’t yet know how to be… smooth. I bet on the latter. Well, I hoped for the latter, past experience told me to bet on the former… but hated to cancel.

    Told myself that no matter what, I just needed to get out more. It had been eons since I’d had a Friday night date. By choice of course. By choice. I’d taken myself off the dating radar for a year in an effort to reset my priorities, do some personal inner work and gain some clarity as to --- everything.

    So, I’d gained some clarity about some things. Felt more in tune with my inner radar and was trying out the dating thing again – cautiously.

    I’d had a few nice dates with a few nice men. One really swept me, but on the fateful date four, amidst a kissing frenzy and my unwillingness to go to bed with him just then, he blurted out that he couldn’t commit. Too soon after his horrid divorce, he was frankly giddy with his singleness. Having power over your own life after having been under the thumb for decades was a giddy feeling I understood well.

    Just… I was over it. He wasn’t, even though he had hotly pursued me and I was giddy with that feeling. We bade each other a tearful goodbye. Damn it! Timing is oh so critical.

    I was heartbroken for a week. I’m still a little bummed. Odd being on this side of that kind of conversation after having been such a heart-breaker for years. Got a bit of comeuppance there. And was able to see that I had pierced the veil between being giddy in my singleness power and being ready willing and able to commit to the right person. Was super cool to see that my heart could open up – had been wondering about that – and that I could be hurt - it had been so long.

    Pain can be encouraging.

    And the man who swept me – he wasn’t the handsomest and certainly not the tallest or the youngest. He was romantic, successful, humble, kind and incredibly, surprisingly sexy. I was hopeful that I had broken my habit of falling for tall, handsome, super charming puffed up ego filled insecure men who didn’t put me first.

    Ah yes, back to first date in a loud bar.

    On the day of the date – before I left to meet him, he texted me to say that he would be late because he was coaching for some youth sports group and would meet me there after his coaching session.

    Oh – not good. You do not ask a woman you have not met to enter a bar of strangers, order a drink and wait for you. How long had he known he would be coaching at the youth group – and at what times?

    Again, I wanted to just cancel. But by then I was dressed up and looking forward to getting out of the house. Even if it was to a cowboy steak house bar of strangers.

    I thought – how awful can this be? I’m used to taking myself out to a bar and having dinner. Not a cowboy steak house bar to be sure…

    Oh never mind. I went. I was a little late too, so was hoping we’d arrive close to the same time.

    Now, who knows why, but I was expecting a band. Ya know. Musicians and a crowded rowdy bar scene.

    I opened the door to the restaurant – the bar was attached to a chain looking steak house – and heard music coming from the bar. Not great music, but fine.

    I walked into the sparsely attended bar with tables and a long bar in the rear, to find a man with a guitar, one speaker and… upon scanning the occupants, no date.

    Fine, I thought to myself, I’ll head back to the bar and get a cocktail.

    A woman rose from a large table with three couples and intercepted me.

    “Are you Mr. X’s date?” she asked.

    I looked at her, a little surprised. Then looked beyond her shoulder to see the entire bar – hushed and waiting for my answer.

    “Yes.” I said.

    “He called and asked me to show you to a table.” She walked over to a small table right in front of the hapless singer. “He usually sits here.”

    Oh boy. Do not ask a woman to meet you on a first date by herself in your local hang bar where everyone knows you. Go to neutral territory.

    Everyone in the bar watched me walk to the table. I couldn’t help myself. I was at the front of the group. I turned and said to the room. “Well, just so you all know, I’m Mr. X’s date.”

    The room burst into applause and I sat. Glowing in my reception. Till I realized that they were all clapping for the singer who had just finished a number and I had been dumbly standing right in front of him with my announcement.

    Still people laughed and I didn’t care, mostly.

    A few moments after I sat a man – let’s call him Mr. B - disengaged himself from the large couple’s table and sat at my table. He smiled charmingly.

    I looked over at the couple’s table. Was this the woman’s date? Why was he sitting with me?

    “I’ll just sit here till he comes” The man said in answer to my quizzical expression.

    No one seemed to mind that he had left the table.

    “You can keep his seat warm for him.” I said.

    We all laughed.

    “Are you with the group?” I asked, nodding toward the couple’s table.

    “Oh no.” he said. “I’m a friend of the singer. Just visiting. Used to live here.”

    On a rainy cold November evening, he wore an ill fitting out of season cream sport coat. His hair was mad professor frizzy. And he had the goofiest smile. Wide and warm and open. He made eye contact. He was easy to be around – instantly.

    “Blind date?” He asked.

    “Sort of.”



    We smiled.

    “So, you don’t know what he looks like.” Mr. B. said.

    “Oh no, I’ve seen his picture.”

    We chatted over and under the loud music for a few minutes until Mr. X arrived in a flurry of look at me lateness. He was in his sweat clothes – a statement as to his rush to get to see me, carried a gym bag and was surprised as hell to see another man sitting in his seat.

    Mr. B immediately gave way. “If you’re not interested, let me know. She’s pretty darn cute.” He winked at me as he went to another table.

    The bar was full of Mr. X’s friends who laughed uproariously at his appearance. Mr. X played his surprise at finding another in his seat to full theatrical advantage.

    “So sorry I’m late. So sorry to make you wait.” He was flustered and flurried and having dated a couple of these types, I knew what kind of an evening I was in for.

    “Spark!” he hollered, pointing to the singer. “Play some Motown!!” He turned back to me. “I have a shirt and pants in here.” He held up the gym bag. “I’m going to change and I’ll be right back.”

    “You know I don’t play Motown.” Spark lit into some loud guitar number as Mr. X made his exit to applause from the couple’s table. More people entered the bar and the room became more crowded and noisy.

    As I watched X leave, B slid into his chair again, a shit-eating grin on his face.

    “Hi.” He said.

    The bar roared with laughter.

    “Hi.” I said.

    Spark played loud and non-stop.

    Mr. X returned to find B again in his seat. And so began the evening.

    Mr. X insisting on what we should eat. He was right and I went along. Mr. X the constant center of attention by shouting requests at Spark by fussing over the ordering, et al. We tried to talk, but it just didn’t go well. We couldn’t hear well, every time Mr. X answered a question I asked, he had to talk loud enough for the entire bar to hear him. Talking became not worth the effort and watching Mr. X perform for me became terribly boring.

    Thank goodness he occasionally needed to get up for various reasons and – voila – Mr. B, to everyone’s amusement, would join me.

    “How’s the date going?” Mr. B asked.

    We too had to shout over the music.

    “Can’t tell.” I said. “no chance to talk.”

    He nodded.

    “Should go to a quieter place.”


    Mr. X returned.

    “Is this going to happen every time I leave the table?” he asked.

    “Probably.” Said Mr. B as he slipped back to his seat.

    It did. Several times Mr. X got up from our table and each time Mr. B magically appeared, sporting his by now trade mark grin and goofy hair. Each time he asked me how the date was going.

    I learned a little about Mr. B: he moved to LA to start some sort of manufacturing business. His goal is to move back to the central coast and live in Morro Bay. Guys seem to like Morro Bay. Too consistently foggy for me. Housing is a little less there – as a compensation for the weather I’m guessing. Views are great, when/if the sun shines. A cute little fishing village, just 10 minutes from my house. Amazing what a weather difference the shape of the coast line makes.

    I learned a little about Mr. X: He’s a super early riser. Likes to watch the sun rise. I’m a sunset watcher. last year the bank he worked for was bought out and his department moved to the desert on the Mexican border, he declined to move, so lost his 30-plus year career, took a small buy out, the next month, his wife filed for divorce, the following month, their family home sold. Uh – major transitions. Too soon for him to be looking for any kind of a serious relationship. Fine for him, but not my kind of guy. I wasn’t prepared to be the fill in for his lost wife or the get over girl or his side kick.

    Our table was right under the air conditioning vents and I got colder and colder. Finally told Mr. X that I was going to get a sweater out of the car. When I returned, yep, Mr. B was sitting in my seat talking with Mr. X. Everyone giggled when I entered, watching to see what I would do.

    I promptly went over and sat on Mr. B’s lap. Mr. X stared open-mouthed. The bar roared.

    “Now we’re getting somewhere.” Mr. B whispered in my ear.

    I leapt off his lap and gave him an eyebrow raised look.

    He got off my chair.

    Spark played his last song, Mr. X said he was going bribe him to play longer and I’d had enough.

    “I’m going home.” I said to a surprised Mr. X, who’d had a grand time being (mostly) the center of attention with his back and forth talking with Spark, his sweeping gestures with the wait staff and of course sitting at the front of the stage.

    I was done. I liked Mr. B but could find no good way to get him my contact info. All eyes being on us and me being Mr. X’s date.

    The couple’s table got up to leave. They came to bid us both good night. One of the women at the table leaned in and said: “You have been such a good sport. I think you’re just adorable.”

    Mr. X, finally convinced that I was leaving, stood up to walk me out. Mr. B and Mr. X shook hands.

    “Maybe I’ll see you in here again sometime.” Mr. B said to me.

    “Maybe.” I said.

    I gave Spark a hug. “Enjoyed your singing.”

    The next morning at 7AM I vaguely heard my cell phone text alert beep twice.

    Messages from Mr. X. He’d had a great time, wanted to see me again and was, by the way, watching one of the most spectacular sunrises on record.

    I don’t think so.
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