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  • ....sensibility. (50)

    There began the usual flurry of beguiling emails. The digital pictures that described this particular man as handsome, confident and witty. The pictures included a beautiful daughter he courageously raised alone. The pictures revealed interesting paintings and sculptures he created in his live / work loft in urban Berkeley.
    I say to myself,
    O this one will be perfect. This will be the one who will help me exorcise S. from my soul. Heal my broken heart , replace the bleak monologue of despair and longing. The renewal Spring promises was imminent.

    There were possibilities here. Yes, possibilities. I would prove wrong the psychic from Arizona who told me that I would have no more romances. That S. and I would reunite in the fall, marry and live happily ever after.

    We arranged to meet Friday night
    at a tiny Japanese restaurant in San Anselmo. As he walked through the door, I thought, well, he looks pretty good, taller than I thought. We greeted one another with a reticent hug. He smelled like cigarettes. We sat down at the table and instantly he became insulting , demanding and belligerent to the waiter who came to get our drink order and tell us the specials.
    He tried to smell my neck nearly ten minutes after we introduced ourselves but I had not invited him to do so.
    We settled into the evening and ordered a Saki flight, and I could see his face flushing, and I felt the color in mine return as well.

    He confessed he was 54 though his posting said he was 50. When I asked him about that he replied ” ah well what’s a few years here or there, age doesn’t mean anything ! ”.

    He asked me if I had written to S. , telling him I had met someone, fallen in love and had finally moved on. I replied I had not. I said that it never occurred to me to do that.

    He then told me about the women in his life. The woman he really loved and the woman he longed for. When he spoke of the woman he longed for, he painted a dark portrait of a disturbed woman, who he lovingly described as looking much like a dwarf. He said her head was elongated and she has small rat like eyes. He said they had a violent relationship and now she refused to see him because she felt him to be an abusive alcoholic. He then began to cry . Big discolored tears fell down his cheeks. He wiped his nose on his jacket sleeve.
    He grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from a little bundle of cookies I made earlier that day, and had brought to the date as an offering… he grabbed the cookie, as he was still sitting in front of a plate of albacore belly.

    I think I may have shrieked! “ what are you doing?”.
    I think I did that. I did shriek. I apologized, I said,” O I am sorry, you do what ever you want. Those are your cookies…”

    When I asked him what happened with the woman he loved, a woman he was with for nearly 10 years, on and off….
    He told me the woman he loved would no longer sleep with him because, “ I would not go down on her”.
    I sat in the corner looking at the hand blown glass soy sauce dish. It was luminous turquoise and reminded me of the 80’s rage in
    craft glass blowing. I thought about my first marriage, and the dress I wore at my wedding was sort of this color. Shot silk it was made of. I remember going to the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles and looking at hand blown glass then, to register for the wedding… something arty and different. The soy sauce dish was something I would have registered for.

    He said, “ Oh, you know, it’s not that I don’t like doing that kind of thing, I do but…..”

    I looked down at the cobalt blue water glass and thought of
    The Welsh spring water I once served at my restaurant.
    He looked at me, I think he may have sensed my discomfort and asked, “Where exactly is Lebanon”.

    Ty Nant… that was the name. I chose it because my father was Welsh. I had Welsh water for Welsh my father and Lebanese wine, for my Lebanese mother… this liquid ode to my parents. They are dead and have been for a long time now.

    It seems that my description of the geographical location of Lebanon satisfied him and he then continued to explain his predicament to me.

    “ I did not like the way she tasted” and I put down the piece of perfect Spanish mackerel , for a moment.
    I too had the albacore belly that night as well, it was
    Really Very Good.
    The waiter came by and asked if we wanted anything else so se ordered the Fish Miso Soup, which I knew was just something to do with the fish that wasn’t fresh enough to cut, I believed it held the bones of a big sea bass. I did not warn him.
    It was cloudy and unrefined. Fishy tasting.

    He told me “ I did not like the way she smelled” and I looked for the waiter to make eye contact, but you know, at this point in the evening, he hated our table. He hated the guy. He may have hated me. Every so often I got a whiff of stale cigarette. There was a damp spot on his sleeve where he wiped his nose when he was crying about the other woman.

    I used to smoke. I remember when I quit. I remember how hard that was. How I struck deals for garnering strength with deities and the ghost of my father who died of lung cancer.
    He had the pallor of a smoker and the urgency of someone who wanted so desperately to light up but could not, not for the date, not for the impression he was trying to make on me, knowing the the hip Marin restaurant would be intolerant.
    People who smoke can’t smell or taste very well… you know. The waiter looked at me with a sort of peculiar empathy.

    At one point
    I realized that I was sitting there with my arms crossed over my chest. Hands on opposite shoulders cowered , feet up on the bench, knees against my chest cowering in the corner of the pretty little wooden booth . I was trapped. I fixed my attention on the interesting glassware, on the bus boy’s perfect white uniform, on the bus boy’s waxen black hair. on the sushi chef who wore a handwoven dark charcoal grey scarf on his head that was longish in the back and elegant.
    The room was ambient with crazy chaotic fusion jazz… there were these tense moments of musical hysteria and there were moments where my hysteria was reduced to a fixated obsession with the swirls of green wasabi in the soy sauce dish.

    He said the sushi chef was a control freak.
    The bus boy, who looked Mayan, hovered around our table. Swooping up empty dishes as fast as we could empty them.

    We split the tab, he offered to pay, but I wanted no part of that, I wanted to leave it clean, without feeling obliged, knowing that if he paid for dinner, he might expect a kiss or possibly more.

    We both admitted with certainty and relief we had no chemistry. That we would stay in touch, you know. But we won’t. We didn’t.

    As we walked out into the night, back to our cars, he said, “ Well, I wish you luck in finding someone, you know, you’re probably menopausal and that means that pretty soon you won’t even care about sex anymore”.
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