(This is an excerpt from Love, Loss and Moving On, a memoir by Lorie Kleiner Eckert, about life post-divorce, which she discovers includes both challenges and opportunities.)
Going on this date is either a very romantic or an entirely insane thing to do. If things work out, it will make a wonderful tale. If not, I hope to laugh and learn from the experience.
I’ve been fixed up exactly twice in the five years since my divorce, both times by my daughter. The first man was one of her professors at the college she attends 45 miles away from home. He was marvelous in many ways except for that other woman he confessed to living with several weeks into our torrid relationship.
Setting Up the Blind Date
My daughter felt bad and somewhat responsible for the pain I suffered and thus was compelled to make it up to me. She therefore kept an open eye on campus for another prospect — a man of the right age and bearing, a man who would appeal to me — and found him living in the house next door to the one she rented.
It is my hope he is the romantic type and that he is waiting for love to drop into his lap.
It took several months of watching him walk his dog to find the courage to approach him, and when she did, she had a girlfriend in tow. “We want to ask you out on a date,” they said, to which his response was a horrified and wide-eyed silence. Having failed to mention a 47-year-old mother, they could see thoughts of a ménage à trois with two easy pieces of jailbait explode in his mind.
After managing to define terms and calm him down, they had a little chat with the man and did indeed come away with a date on the calendar, February 19, some three weeks into the future. He said he would meet me at a YMCA on the campus of a nearby but different college, as he knew of a dance there that we could attend.
My daughter called me excited with the news. “You have a date on February 19!” she shouted.
“I do? With who?”
“Kevin. The man next door. With the dog. Remember? I’ve told you about him.”
“Oh, OK, Kevin. But Kevin who?”
“Kevin…um…O’Connor,” she said haltingly, seeming to pick a name from thin air.
“His name is Kevin O’Connor?” I said with doubt.
“Well, he looks like he might be an O’Connor…but I’m not sure.”
“But his first name is Kevin?”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure…and you have a date with him on the nineteenth!”
It’s difficult to explain why I accepted this date. Perhaps it will help if I relate a recent experience. I was home, alone, and the phone rang. I answered it only to have a man’s voice say in a baffled manner, “Oh…sorry…wrong number.”
I wrote in my journal that night that I wanted to shout, “Wait! Don’t hang up! Talk to me!” and I gave that short journal entry a title: “Eleanor Rigby.” So, there you have it: Like Ms. Rigby of Beatles fame, I am a lonely person, and being a lonely person, I accepted the date.
Questions and High Hopes
My daughter has had several short conversations with Kevin in the weeks between their first encounter and now. In each case, she immediately called me and relayed the new information and/or misinformation to me. So now I “know” the following:
- He is 45 to 50 years old.
- He’s probably taller than I am.
- He wears his long, dark hair in a ponytail and he has gray frizzies.
- He’s attractive and he looks like…me?
- He probably teaches college — either at my daughter’s school or at the one near the Y.
- Most likely he teaches art or computer art.
- He is divorced.
- He’s rather shy.
- He’s kinda excited about our plans.
- The dance is a waltz.
- Everyone at the dance will know him, so all I have to do is ask for Kevin.
Having gotten such “solid information” from my daughter, I must confess to doing some detective work. It turns out there are actually two YMCAs in the area of that college. After a few phone calls, I found the one with the dance.
The party is sponsored by a dance club and is a costume ball with a theme, The Great Stock Market Crash of 1929. I am instructed to come in black tie, no tie, in rags or in riches, and I am told we will do the waltz, the foxtrot, the Charleston and the Lindy. Short of the Hokey Pokey, I am not a dancer at all. So I am more than a bit intimidated by these dance steps, and with this step I am taking in life, but take it I will, though I still have questions.
I wonder: Why didn’t he ask for my phone number and call even if just to give me the party specifics? Is he a hermit disinterested in people? Does he lack social skills? Is he an ax murderer trying to stay away from women as he swears off more victims? Or is he just a nice guy who is a little leery of love after experiencing divorce and who is ever so slowly getting back into the dance of life?
It is my hope he is the romantic type and that he is waiting for love to drop into his lap. It is my hope he is sitting alone at his house right now singing old show tunes and wondering if some enchanted evening — February 19 to be precise — he might meet a stranger across a crowded room.
A Romantic at Heart
I am less than 48 hours from my date, and I am excited. I wonder if the outcome of the evening will be determined by my mind-set and expectations. Hoping this is the case, I choose to go into this date with a positive frame of mind and a willingness to show Kevin exactly who I am. Thus, I won’t be dressed as a flapper, though I will wear a vintage dress: a sexy little black number from the back of my closet that is 10 years old. I will also polish my black shoes with the high heels, having faith that he will either be taller than I or that we will be able to handle the differential.
And as I prepare to go, I will continuously sing my rendition of “Some Enchanted Evening.” And with my slightly off-key alto, I will hope to find perfect harmony with his tenor or bass. For I am what I am, a romantic at heart, and I choose to accept this date because I am willing to consider all the possibilities and, like beautiful fireworks, let them explode in my mind.
The View From February 20
Clearly, I was blinded by those fireworks. Clearly, I did not consider all the possibilities, just the ax murderer nightmare and then the dream come true, while there are so many scenarios between those poles, such as Kevin himself.
He is a perfectly attractive, tall, intelligent, outgoing and conversant man, not to mention that he is an accomplished dancer. When he divorced, he lost not only his wife but his fabulous dance partner, and it is only the dance partner he seeks to replace. Unfortunately, “Twinkle Toes” is not my middle name, so I could not help him out in that regard.
Even though things did not work out for Kevin and me, this still makes for a wonderful story — a cautionary tale — with a very succinct lesson that is ever so easy to remember, though I probably won’t. But here it is just the same: Next time around, I should meet the man first and fall in love with him second.
This essay was originally published in Love, Loss, and Moving On. (RoseWK Publishing ©2018.)
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