Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Memoir Monday: “Plenty of Fish” by Freddi Fullington

My friend Candice and I were having coffee when she told me she met a nice man on an Internet dating site. Candice, who was divorced and newly turned sixty, was looking for someone to hike and travel with her. She found him on the Internet site and encouraged me to check it out.

My jaw dropped. Candice was the last person I’d ever picture using an Internet dating site. She was so together. I mean, people who used those sites were losers, right? Desperate. Candice was none of these things, and I certainly wasn’t.

“No way I want to meet someone on line,” I said. “No way.”

“It is the new way of meeting people. Better than a bar, ” she said. “Just check it out. It’s free.”

I had separated from my husband of thirty years two years previously and divorced a year ago. Initially, I had sworn off men. Now I was beginning to think it might be nice to have someone to go to dinner or a movie with once in a while or those occasions like a wedding when I need a date. I certainly wanted nothing more.

I had hated the dating scene in my twenties and now it seems much worse. I had no luck just running into someone at the market (daddies with kids), the Laundromat (too young) or events I volunteered my services (I knew those guys too well.)  So, one boring evening I decided to take a look at Candice’s site. And I did just want to look. Period.

Hmm, some of these guys looked okay. I could only see the photos and could not access the full site unless I signed up and completed my profile. Alright, I will put in my profile. I had to pick from lists. Let’s see, I’m divorced, a non-smoker, a light drinker, a non-drug user, Christian, female-looking-for-a-male. The next questions asked what I was looking to get out of this match. The only choice listed that did not make me squirm was “friendship and maybe more.” Okay, I picked that. Not marriage or a one night stand for me.

Then I set my parameters: male, ages 56-60 years old, non-smoker, light drinker, non-drug user, no preference for religion, and single, divorced or widowed. He also had to live within 50 miles of Santa Fe. I clicked the button. I now had full access to the site.

“Oh, this guy looks perfect,” I muttered to myself as I read his profile and looked at his photo. I sent him a message.Then I sat back and waited, expecting nothing to come of it. I gave myself a limit: three strikes and I’d get out. I would not tell a soul. Days later Mr. Perfect sent me a message saying he was taken.

Okay. I tried another guy, Joe. He made a date to meet me for a drink at the bar of a restaurant.  ”Why did I agree to do this?” I asked myself as I tried to find something to wear. I had not been on a date in 30 years. What do people wear? I found my good black pants. Had to be careful about potential panty lines and dog hair with these pants. I took a tape roller to the pants. Four sheets later I was satisfied. I would do a last minute roll off of dog hair when I got out of the truck, which of course was covered in dog hair. I prayed the bar was dark. Next, the top. When I tried on my first choice, a slightly snug knit top, I heard my mother’s voice, saying, “Are you trying to look like Elizabeth Taylor?” Right, I wish. Took that one off and put on another blouse with buttons. I am not good at buttons with my M.S. I got frustrated and pulled it off. Too low cut anyway. After trying on six more tops i settled on a simple black and white pull-over and my leather jacket. I left for my date, which felt more like I was going to my own hanging.

I looked into the bar and looked for Joe. I asked one man if he were Joe. He was. Yikes! He had white hair. An old man! Then I remembered the color of my own hair but for the blonde hair dye. Joe was courteous. He asked me if I was hungry or wanted a drink. I was too nervous to eat. I asked for a glass of white wine and a glass of water. He was drinking a beer. Joe was apparently a regular at this bar. I calmed down as we chatted with each other and the people working the bar.

Joe had been divorced for many years. His three grown children wanted Dad to find someone so he would not be alone. His daughter had offered dating tips on what women expected on dates. He also shared the fact he had survived three heart attacks, but was now healthy. It was certainly positive that he was now healthy, but I figured he might not be out of the woods yet and I sure did not want to be his nurse. He told me he had just completed a major remodel of his house so he was skilled and creative, both pluses. I declined another glass of wine, we chatted a bit more, then it was time to leave. He walked me to my truck. We both had a nice evening, but neither of us found who we were looking for. Strike one.

The second man Tony said he belonged to a Christian rock group and sent me some of his music. It sounded weird, but I had vowed to keep an open mind. He asked me to lunch at a downtown restaurant. When we first set eyes on each other, I think we both decided to get lunch over quickly. I really don’t know what it was, but something did not click and it was obvious.

The place was busy and noisy. Tony had a strong voice that carried so I had no trouble hearing him. After we ordered he started going on and on about his loaded BMW. He complained, though, about how there was even a sensor that tells him when the tires are low.  One time when he was out in the middle of nowhere he got a flat tire he could not change because the wheel needed a key. The salesman had neglected to tell him the key was in the glove box. Tony needed to have his car towed at great expense. I am thinking, too bad he didn’t buy a Ford or Chevy like we commoners then he would not have such  problems. And why did he think I was even remotely interested in cars? Nothing in my profile suggested I wanted to be a motor head’s girlfriend. Then the food arrived. In the middle of a busy restaurant, with his booming voice, he proceeded to pray over our lunches. Strike two.

Then there was Jack. He had a sense of fun, was polite online and was into the cowboy thing. We arranged a date. I decided to drive twenty miles north and meet him for lunch near his home. Jack was waiting in the parking lot when I drove up. He had white hair, but I had worked through that issue. He also had quite a paunch, but then again he was wearing a terrific cowboy hat. After we ordered lunch, he said he needed to call his mother and check in. Huh? Jack said his 90-something year old mother lived with him. She was a widow and still quite lively. In fact, she was dating a younger 80- something year old man.

“She either had to live with me in the doublewide or go to a nursing home, and she is no where ready to do that,” he said. “You have to meet mom. She is a character.” So, after lunch we drove in tandem to Jack’s doublewide. Every square inch of the interior was covered with stuff–magazines, newspapers, large bags of water softener salt, pellet stove pellets, and empty cereal boxes. I moved aside a stack of magazines and sat down on the sofa.

Mom was a character and very sweet. She told me Jack was building his own house next door. Jack gave me a tour of his new house. It was really very nice. One unique feature was that the garage door allowed his truck to be parked inside the house.

He told me he had never married.  Hmmm,  a sixty year old man who never married and who was still living with his mother. The red flags were waving. But I kept an open mind. Jack was actually a lot of fun. On the second date, however, Jack turned into a groping octopus. Strike three.

Oh, well, I had my girlfriends to go out with and my dogs to keep me warm at night. Life could be worse. But I didn’t want to live my life as one that could be worse. I wanted a couldn’t be better life. So , I went back on the site, reset the parameters to include men a few years younger and eliminated the non-smoking requirement. I hit the button.

Oh my God. There he was, dressed as a gambler wearing a Western shirt, brocade vest and black hat in an old-time photo. He was looking over a hand of cards with a dead, poker faced stare that looked so dangerous. This man would probably not give me the time of day, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I sent him a message. He responded almost immediately. His name was Alan. He was a widower with no children, retired from the Army.  No negatives.

We agreed to meet for coffee. We had arranged to meet outside under the overhang over the door. He was there when I drove up to the place. I was early so I watched him as I calmed myself. What a unique impression he gave. He was dressed in dark blue canvas pants in a vintage style with the pant legs tucked into tall, black well polished boots. He stood tall and straight and wore an old fashioned shirt under a suede Mexican jacket and hat. I was very interested in hearing his story.

I walked up to him. “Are you Alan?” I asked. He gave me the sweetest smile as he shook my hand. When I first meet someone I take note of their eyes and their hands. Alan had very dark brown eyes with long lashes. His hands looked strong with well shaped, long fingers.

We ordered coffees. I started to pay for mine. I never wanted any man to feel I was taking advantage of his generosity by assuming he’d pay my way. Alan would not allow me to buy my own coffee. I kept it to just coffee, no scone or muffin. We talked. We talked about everything for three hours.. We both came from a strong military family background, we both studied our family genealogy, we had been raised in religious families, we liked many of the same movies, actors, recording artists and on and on.

When it was time to leave, he walked me to my truck. He called me later to be sure I made it home safely. We set another date. When I look back, he was hooked already. I soon followed.

 

©Freddi Fullington 2014

Freddi Fullington lives, writes and pet sits in Eldorado, NM. In her past life she has been a nurse, teacher, beekeeper, firefighter and EMT. Along the way, she found the love of her life on the Internet.

 

Comments

  1. Deb says:

    Just a lovely story.

  2. Heidi says:

    Well told, Freddi! I would be hard pressed to have done as well. (I mean the writing, not the dating!)

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