An attractive Hispanic man had referred to his love of Pablo Neruda’s poetry in his profile, and I found myself wondering what it would be like to date a man whose sensibilities included an appreciation for great poets. I pulled a volume of Neruda’s poetry off the shelf next to my computer and scanned it for possibilities. I was looking for a little taste of Neruda that might get his attention. I found what I was looking for and included it in a short message.
He messaged back. After a few more exchanges, we met for lunch and spent four hours talking about his life, my life, and our dating experiences. I liked him. I wasn’t at all sure that there would be chemistry there, but I liked him. Because I had been the one to suggest lunch, I snagged the bill when it came. It was gratifying to pay it. Derek had always paid for our lunches out, in large measure because I had fed him dinners and lunches at my house. And before Derek, the men I’d met had paid for brunch, appetizers, and drinks, though I had offered to pay for half. I did not want the men I saw to feel taken advantage of, and though I could do nothing about the men who had already come and gone, I could at least pay for this lunch and begin to settle the score between mankind and womankind.
We agreed to get together again, and I suggested he give me some ideas as we left the restaurant. He texted later to suggest that we get together that evening to cook, watch a movie at home, or just hang out. If I had wondered about his interest, I need not have. But I didn’t see the text until a couple of hours after he sent it, and anyway, four hours was enough for one day. I suggested we get together the following day for drinks and small plates in my gazebo.
On the massage table the next morning, I filled in my longtime massage therapist, David Kochevar, who also happened to be one of my favorite people in the world. David had seen me through jobs that had come and gone, my apprenticeship, Howard’s time abroad, Howard’s illness and death, my grieving, life as a widow, and numerous pulled and strained muscles. I had been with him as his children grew from infancy to young adulthood. We had shared a lot from the massage table, but I valued him for more than that and even for more than his considerable skills as a massage therapist. We often ended up at the same place where spiritual and metaphysical matters were concerned, though we usually got there from somewhat different starting points. I respected him as a fellow spiritual elder.
So when I mentioned that I was unsure that this latest date and I had much in the way of chemistry between us, he speculated that chemistry might be something that sparked after the initial meeting, that it might develop over time. I admitted that I had been considering that very possibility, which was exactly why I was seeing the man again that evening.
It was a lovely evening in the gazebo. We talked easily and well. And then, when it cooled and dusk was settling in, we went inside. What had been easy and comfortable in the gazebo became a bit more awkward once we settled on the couch. Either it was a matter of mismatched chemistry or it was just too soon for me to welcome any kind of physical closeness with this man. Or both. The evening ended on an awkward note.
And despite some discussion about seeing one another again, we did not. But he did give me several gifts nonetheless. One was the sure knowledge that there were, indeed, good men out there. A second gift was a sense of validation that the chemistry with Derek had been powerful and not easily found with another man. A third was an understanding of what a lack of chemistry felt like. And a fourth was the name of a dating site he proclaimed to like better than the one he’d met me on, a site that was free to use at pretty robust levels, a site with dozens of questions to help its members sort out what might be a good match.
I felt I had nothing to lose, so I logged in and set up a profile.
Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall