That’s what we were talking about, sitting at the bar, sipping our beer, Ben, my suitor of the moment, and me. But, as conversations often do, it veered unexpectedly.
The bartender was the catalyst. Of course, he was tattooed. Aren’t they all? Our waitresses, waiters, bartenders, don’t they all sport permanent body art?
This bartender’s right arm was branded with a single word spreading down its length. Surrounding it in random patterns were cross hatches, as if he were keeping score; sets of four vertical parallel lines,
each set with one diagonal line crossing over it.
The year is 1968. I’m late for a date, hurrying down a long line of people waiting outside the civic center. This is the teenage virgin ice princess Georgia, searching all these faces for the one belonging to my escort. He’s older than I am, a college boy who holds out the promise of initiation into mysterious secrets of adulthood.
The people in the crowd are between 16 and 25 years old. They wear broadly flared jeans with brilliantly colored patches, woven headbands holding back their long hair, peasant dresses, beaded necklaces, feather earrings and bells. I wear a canary yellow mini dress, high-heeled sandals, pink toe nails, and giant gold hoop earrings bobbing out from my long hair.
As I scan the faces, seeking the familiar eyes and smile of my young man, I’m met with glances of unsettling hunger. Although I don’t fully understand the desire in the eyes of these men, I read it as one of the mysterious secrets of adulthood.
After a lifetime of poking into the cobwebby, secret corners of the human heart, Sigmund Freud had this to say about women: “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”
Too bad he died before he and I could explore this question over cups of coffee at Café Central in Vienna. I’d have some answers for him. Pretty simple ones at that.
My first experience with internet dating began and ended with a phone call. The same call.
This was a short relationship.
He (name soon lost in the cobwebs of my memory) described himself as an engineer, in his late 50’s, recently retired from a long and successful career at one of our major manufacturing firms.
That sounded promising.
He named the suburb in which he lived, one of the more affluent addresses in my town.
He said he loved going to art museums and told me a sweet tale of being moved as an adolescent, almost to the point of tears, by a painting of a beautiful woman. I thought I knew the painting he meant. Alan, my ex, grew watery eyed as we sat on a bench looking at it, our first visit to the museum.
Both men were moved by the beauty of Lucretia and the tragedy of her plight.
“Time to take your own advice, Georgia”. That’s what Brenda said when she showed up at my door one recent Sunday morning.
Eons ago – well, make that six years ago – I showed up at her door with the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly clutched in my hot little hand. ) A foolish, weak man had tromped on her aorta big time. That wound needed major suturing.
Why did I think The Atlantic Monthly held the cure? Because the cover article was one of their thoroughly researched delvings into a topic, this one being the science and psychology behind the matchmaking processes of Match.com and EHarmony.
I handed the magazine to her and said, “ I’ve read this article. If I were single, this is what I’d do. How about giving it a try?”
Picture him lying on his back on a dusty road, naked from the waist up. I’m standing over him, in a short, tight black dress and black shoes with monstrously thin high heels. One of those stilettos is on his chest, pressing into his heart. A drop of blood seeps from his chest and rolls down to the heel of my shoe.
His head is turned toward you. His expression pleads
with you. “Make it stop. What did I do to deserve this?”
- Have you ever met a man who didn’t look great in a tux? I haven’t.
I live in a city where the opening night of the opera season is still an Event. Men pull their tuxedoes from the back of their closets, practice tying their bow ties and search out the studs for their dress shirts. Some of them even polish their patent leather shoes to their glossiest shine.
Women visit their hairdressers and their manicurists. They plan their ensemble for the evening weeks in advance. Some of them, like me, put in extra hours at the gym to fit perfectly in that favorite gown.
Despite all this forethought, I experienced wardrobe malfunction Saturday night as I readied myself for Bennett to ring my doorbell. I pulled on my flesh-colored sheer pantyhose. I looked with dismay at my feet with reinforced toes. Wrong. My dress calls for my open-toed black sandals with glass beads decorating the straps. Reinforced toes would destroy the whole outfit.
Only when I’m with Bennett. I swear these things only happen when Bennett and I are together. First, we stumbled on a John Philip Sousa concert in small town America. That’s when he decided things happen around me (see Adventures Happen). He also decided he wanted to stick close. To experience more, I guess.
Now it’s the State Fair. Our State Fair is the best state fair in our state.
No, this is not Bennett and me. He’s not quite this good looking. This is Ann Margaret and Pat Boone in the 1962 movie, State Fair.
His dog greets me first, one of those leaping, tail wagging, friendly animals, golden retriever, I think. Oscar is his name. Happy as can be, wants everyone to like him. What is it they say about dogs and their owners, they’re a lot alike? Couldn’t be truer in this case.
His owner stands at some distance, by the river bank, phone to his ear. Doesn’t smile, doesn’t wave, doesn’t acknowledge me at all. “This isn’t a good start. Not like him at all,” I think as Oscar and I while away an uncomfortably long time
The phone finally goes into his pocket as he heads in my direction. He stops further away from me than normal social convention dictates. No welcoming hug or kiss on the cheek or even a hand shake. Totally out of keeping with the way I’ve seen him greet other women, the safe ones; the beaming smile, the warm embrace. But this has been the unspoken rule between us, no physical contact. (Read Toying and In the Circle of His Arms.)
I lied. Interesting things happen to me quite regularly. Not only when I’m with Bennett. (You first met him in Adventures Happen.)
Like the other night, when Cassie, Alex and I were kidnapped.