I was middle-aged and, suddenly, I was divorced. I hadn’t been out on a date in 30 years, except for the mandatory pre-divorce counseling. That went well? Right? The therapist told us to converse in terms of “What you just said makes me feel like...”
I already knew what she said made me feel like, and I am sure she felt the same about me. That counseling session didn’t last long.
Some time thereafter, I was at Nicholas Roof in Atlanta, Georgia on a warm summer’s evening. It was a gathering for middle-aged singles that presumably were successful professionals. We were having cocktails before dinner. I saw a very attractive Asian woman and elbowed my way toward her. She was talking with two other women who noticed my intention and graciously turned away to let me have her attention. I smiled, introduced myself, and then asked her name. She said in a heavily accented voice, “My name is Jennifer.”
I replied, “No, no, no. That is one of the most popular girl’s names since WWII, but that is not your name. What is your name?”
“What would you like it to be?” she smiled coyly.
“I am sorry.” I replied. “I think I made a mistake. Excuse me. Have a nice evening.” I turned away.
I mingled with the crowd but felt lonely. So, I decided to leave when dinner was announced. I handed over my receipt at valet parking and jokingly said, “That’s a 600 Mercedes.” Actually I was driving a 3 series BMW.
I was shocked when a beautiful, navy 600 Mercedes with dark brown leather interior pulled to a stop in front of me. “Oh my god.” I said. “I was only kidding.”
Just then the beautiful Asian woman who called herself Jennifer pushed past me saying “It’s okay, honey. That’s my car.” She tipped the valet a $20, got in the car, and drove away.
Now, that wasn’t the first time I had made a fool of myself, nor was it to be the last. However, I did learn something and I want to share that with you.
If you read my previous blog, next to last, you know that my stepson recently bought a house. It is in a town about 30 miles away. For some time prior to that, he had lived in a guest log cabin on our property. He frequently came up in the evenings, had drinks and dinner with us, and then he and I played pool. I really enjoyed my time with him and looked forward to those evenings. Alas, they are no more.
My wife said, “Why so sad? You miss him, don’t you?” I mumbled something in reply and continued to sulk. She disappeared but soon was back holding a pool stick and wearing a pool shooter’s glove. “Want to play pool?” she asked. “Think you’re good enough, do you?”
I had to laugh. “Damn right I am. You’re on.”
As I racked the balls, I flashed on “What would you like it to be?” For the first time I realized why I had rejected Jennifer and why I so completely and unconditionally loved my wife. I had known that Jennifer would pretend to be whoever she thought I wanted in order to manipulate me. I would never have known her. All I would have known would have been a projection of my desires, as she perceived them.
On the other hand, my wife was not pretending to be someone she was not. She saw that I missed my stepson and missed playing pool. She offered herself as a companion and a pool competitor to fill that void because she saw the need in me, and her love for me compelled her to fill that need.
Isn’t that an important part of love, to recognize the needs of another, and then offer to fill those needs? Not by pretending to be someone you are not, but by being yourself and giving yourself.
When I started dating, my youngest daughter gave me this advice: “Dad don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Be yourself. Because if you pretend to be someone you are not and you win, then you lose. Only by being yourself can you ever win because that is the only time you are eligible to win. That is the only time you are in the game.”
P.S. My wife won two out of three games. RATS!
I awoke at 4:17 this morning. For most of my life, that would have been an unusual time to awaken. Recently, that has not been so unusual. That is especially so considering that I had gone to bed at 10 p.m. My wife is out of town visiting friends. It is hard to stay awake when she is not here. She is the only thing in my life that I do not find boring.
I lay staring at the clock, considering my next move. My relationship with consciousness has been completely redefined these past few years by arthritis. I was in pain. I am always in pain. But certain movements remind me that pain isn’t really that bad, but severe pain is really that bad. Getting up and out of bed is one of those movements.
The red digital light on the clock changed to remind me that I was one minute less away from death. Am I boring you? Hang in there just a little bit longer. You will see.
I had just watched an episode of “Outlander.” I enjoyed reading all of the books and the mini-series on Starz is pretty true to the written story.
It had taken me back to Scotland on April 16, 1746, near Inverness. It had taken me back to the Battle of Culloden Field, the last battle of that civil war and the last pitched battle fought on British soil. Allegedly, the Scotts lost nearly 2,000 men, while the Brits lost only a few hundred men. But we need to remember that the victors write the history books.
At any rate, the Scots with swords drawn, charging the ranks of British riflemen, were met with a wall of flying lead projectiles that ushered them into another world, into a life that we in this world call death. But what impressed me was their battle cry. I wondered if it helped in anyway.
I didn’t hesitate. I know that a coward dies a thousand deaths but a brave man only one. ARHARHARHARHARHARHARAH! I sprang out of bed. Then I stood quite still, attune to the pain receptors in my back, hips, and legs. Nothing. Well, at least nothing exceptional. What had happened? How had I managed to elude the extreme pain always brought on by that movement? Did I surprise it and sneak by before it had time to react or did I simply overwhelm it? I think the answer is somewhat more the latter than the former.
I remember that after my first date with my wife, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything but think about her. I reran in my mind, over and over, the way she looked, the way she moved, the way she talked, and everything she said. I knew she was the one I had been searching for all of my life, and I was afraid to stop thinking about her, even for one second, lest she disappear. I was afraid that, if I let her go, I would realize she had been only a dream, a cruel delusion.
But what was I going to do? She was too young for me, too beautiful, too smart, and too accomplished. What was I going to do? As happy as I was at having found her, I was equally unhappy at the prospect of losing her. And I knew that if that really happened, it would be a pain I could not bear. It would be a loss from which I could never recover. But what was I going to do? ARHARHARHARHARHARHARHA! I sprang to my feet and started cleaning the log cabin where I was living. I swept it. Then I mopped it. I dusted it and then I polished every finished wood surface with bees wax. I was obsessed. I worked passionately all day, and then I performed a white glove inspection. Actually, I didn’t have white gloves so I used a white T-shirt. The cabin was immaculate. I felt better.
The next day, I detailed my car. No professional detailer had ever done a better job. The M6 had never looked so good. I felt better. Next, I started looking at the landscaping near the cabin. I was shocked. How had I never seen it before? Everything needed pruning. I worked until dark, then started again the next morning. When I had finished everything looked perfect. I felt better.
I wanted to be with her all of the time, but I could not do that. So, I concentrated on trying to not go crazy when I was not with her. Think. What can I do today? I know. It has been 17 days since I met her. I will send her roses, but not a dozen or two dozen. I will send her 17.
Soon it will be Valentine’s Day. She will be gone. She is going to Savannah for several days to visit with relatives. What am I going to do? ARHARHARHARHARHARHARH! I called my oldest daughter who is an event planner. She owns her own company and puts on events worldwide. I explained the problem to her. She said “Okay, Dad. Give me your credit card info, and I will take care of it.”
In Savannah on Valentine’s Day, I checked into the Mansion on Forsyth Park. I was booked into the Tower Room. After I picked her up, we went back to the Mansion for dinner. At the restaurant, we followed the Maitre d’ across the room and up the stairs. He opened a door on his right to reveal a room that normally accommodated 24 patrons, but this evening only a table for two was there in front of the fireplace. The warm glow from the fire and the candlelight played beautifully on the petals of the white roses placed around the room. The food and wine were perfect. The wait staff was perfect. The evening was perfect. She was perfect. Everything was perfect.
We were married in Paris several months later. It is now several years later. She makes the sun come up every morning and when she brings me hot tea she says, “I love you.” She is still perfect.
What do you want? I recommend you stop agonizing over it, scream ARHARHARHARHARH, spring to your feet, and go for it. You might be surprised.