“Caroline?” His voice would be a baritone, if he’s a singer, I thought. Rich and full. I stand to greet Mike, and he looks much like his photo on Match. Maybe he has a little more grey in his hair. Mike smiles as they shake hands. He’s wearing nice jeans and a blue button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. A hint of brown curls shows at his collar and on his forearms. He’s freshly shaved.
“Hi, Mike, it’s good to meet you after our email exchange.”
“You, too. Can I get you something?”
“A latte, please.” I smile at Mike and he walks toward the line at the door, which is often long. I can have my fill of looking at Mike as he stands there. I watch for his interactions with others in line. Will he be silent? Will he greet others, or make room for a server coming out with arms and hands full of food and hot beverages? I study his body; he is different from Christopher, my wasband; my ex.
Mike is tall and lean, medium width shoulders, nice backside, beginning to thicken around the middle, his straight brown hair is cut and parted to one side. He keeps it short.
Christopher is tall and built: his many hours in the gym reflected in his body, as well as his college football days. Christopher still has thick wavy hair; the brown now has grey added at the temples, giving him a distinguished look.
I first met Christopher at the University of Michigan. The leaves were turning: amber, yellow, bright orange and brown, falling from Elms, Maples, Chinkapin Oak, Horse Chestnut. We were both walking through the Diag to Freshman English, and I was deep in thought, kicking the leaves with my loafers. “Hey, kicker, want to join the football team? We could use a good kicker?” I stopped kicking and turned toward the young man. He was tall, and already muscular from high school football, as I later learned. I smiled, shook my head, no, and kept walking. The young man caught up to me and walked beside me.
“There you go,” Mike says as he sets my latte down in front of me. I shake off the past to look at Mike. “I got a chocolate chip cookie, if you’d like any. It has walnuts in it, hope that’s okay.”
I reach for my latte and then break off a bit of cookie. “Thank you.”
A silence descends between us. I start to wonder what we’ll talk about.
My friends urged me to put a profile on Match, and I was reluctant. Do I want to date? What will I write about myself? That roadblock took a few weeks to overcome. I may have let it go completely, but Marilyn kept after me. In the end, she helped me write it.
I’m so grateful for my small group of girlfriends; what would I do without them?
Mike takes a deep breath, and I realize he’s nervous. I’m used to easing any situation with bright smiles, questions, and good listening. That’s part of what made me a good corporate lawyer’s wife. “So, tell me about your kids?”
Mike begins to talk about his two college-age kids, a boy and a girl. Once he’s on a familiar topic, Mike talks for a while. He’s not good at eye contact, I notice. Fifteen minutes go by, and Mike is still talking. He hasn’t asked me a question. I realize this is a dud date. I’m not attracted to him, and I want a great love. I want to be seen. Heard. Wanted. Adored, and made to feel precious. I want my man to have my back. I want to give that, too. I want home to be the re- and generative place of energy for all aspects of our life.
Now I’m trying to figure out how to leave gracefully. Dating at 52? My own body is changing. Will someone find me attractive? Will I be seen beyond my physical attributes? I know I have a lot to offer. And I have a few worries that nip at my heels.
We’re 30 minutes into the coffee date, and I’ve mostly nodded and said, “Mmhmm.” I wonder how to get out of this situation. Will I hurt Mike’s feelings by ending the date? I’ve always been conscious of how others feel. Then I realize that it’s okay to take care of myself, to address my needs. After years of taking care of my husband, kids, and work, I’ve decided it’s my turn.
Finally, I interrupt, as I’m no longer a young woman worried what everyone will think of me, especially a man. “Mike, I need to get going. I need to get back to work. Nice to meet you. Thanks for the latte and cookie.” I’m standing as I speak, holding out my hand for Mike to shake it. I know this move: I’ve done the stand-and-shake-hands in one motion when I had to fire a man at work. It seems I’m firing Mike, too, hopefully gently.
Mike stands and reaches for my hand. “Would you like to have dinner?’ he asks.
“No thanks, Mike. I appreciate the offer, though. Have a great day.” I turn and walk toward the underground parking, taking a deep breath.
Phew, I think, one date down, and I survived. No spark, though.