A Few Good Men, Part 1

I was keeping an open mind and an open heart, though in my core, I wanted a date with a guy who would bewilder and delight me. A date that conjured up something like Edward Cullen’s effect on Bella Swan in the Twilight series would be nice. Being mortal instead of a vampire would be a plus, but, hey, I was trying to be open-minded and open-hearted.

Early in June, one man’s photo and profile made me sit up and take notice. He looked a bit like Mel Gibson at his best (before the heavy drinking and questionable behavior). He had been a university professor and professional in the kind of field that made Jewish mothers proud. He played the piano, exercised regularly, was a longtime member of a men’s group, and seemed to have both breadth and depth of interests. He even knew something about shamanism. He was older than me, but for once, I was undeterred by that. During our message exchanges, he commented that he thought we had a lot in common and pointed me to his personal web site, which he suggested I read as a way of getting to know him better.

There was a lot of material on that site. I waded through it like the good trooper I am, and in doing so, I became just a little concerned that he was a bit too sensitive and spiritual in nature for me–which was saying something considering how spiritually oriented I am. But I wanted to meet him and see, in person, what he was made of.

Then my internet connection, which had been sporadic for some time, came to a crashing halt. It took days and a visit from Century Link to repair a line problem to fix it. I struggled to keep on top of things from my cell phone, but I was even having problems with that. When I was reliably back online, I saw that I had no contact from the man with whom I’d been interacting. I waited a few days, and then I sent him a message. In the ensuring exchange, it became clear that each of us had thought the other had simply stopped communicating for lack of interest. I suspected that messages had been lost during my internet problems, but it hardly mattered. While I was struggling with the internet, he was forming a relationship for which he had high hopes.

Perhaps the universe had been intervening on my behalf to save me from spending time on something that would have gone nowhere, but I was a little disappointed. Maybe he was my version of Edward Cullen; maybe not. I wasn’t going to find out.

The man who had sent me the message saying “Like a babe with guns” in response to my gym photo had been texting me, and we’d had several phone conversations. We finally got together for dinner at a restaurant. Spending time with him was like spending time with a good male friend. Of course, that was something of a problem. No bells and banjos. No bewilderment and just a benign sort of delight. We continued to communicate after that dinner, but the relationship eventually fizzled out.

Soon after that dinner, I met with a man named John whose profile had intrigued me. He was chairman of the board of a nonprofit I knew of, and he had several business ventures going. We met over a glass of wine, and I found him intelligent, engaging, and even a bit intense. In a rather startling move, John asked me if I cooked. It was in my profile. He knew that I cooked. “Yes, do you?” I replied.

“I’m not finished with my question,” he said with the kind of authority that only comes after years of being boss. “Where is the best farmers market in the metro area?”

I admitted that I didn’t often go to farmers markets.

“It’s in Golden,” he said with confidence.

“And how do you know that?” I asked.

“I have friends I trust. They’ve told me,” he replied. His tone dared me to challenge him. I didn’t.

John suggested that we go to the Golden farmers market that Saturday, buy some vegies, and retire to one of our homes to cook. I was stunned speechless for a moment, then asked if I’d told him that one of my fantasies was to cook with a man. He said I hadn’t. I fleetingly wondered if I had said something about that fantasy in my profile and had forgotten it was there. Didn’t matter. I liked his thinking.

We met at the farmers market when it opened that Saturday. I was prepared to wander among the stalls in a relaxed manner, but John was all business. We bought food and agreed to meet at my house later in the day. He would procure some salmon and bring it with him, along with a bottle of wine.

He had brought his dog with him, and the two of them took off, heading for the gym and other worthwhile activities. I went back to wander among the stalls and buy some beautiful handmade baskets.

From our conversations, I could tell that John was clearly bright enough for me, and that was important. A man needed mental horsepower to keep up with me. I liked the fact that he was doing important work in the world, and I liked that he had a close relationship with his kids. But he began every phone conversation with, “What have you accomplished today?” There was something off-putting about it. Would he find it acceptable if I answered that I had experienced a deeply satisfying meditation, had communed with a few of the birds in my yard, and had done a little writing? I doubted it. What if I said I’d outdone myself at the gym, had spoken to a potential client, and had spent three hours mowing, trimming, and otherwise tending to my yard and gardens? I doubted that would cut it either. If I said I’d spent four hours editing, I suspected he would want to know why it wasn’t eight and whether the book was any good.

In short, the man seemed very geared to certain kinds of accomplishments. I had worked in the corporate world for many years and had once held myself accountable for accomplishing things that so-called successful people would find worthy. But in the years since completing my apprenticeship in shamanism, I’d left behind that way of being in the world. What I considered accomplishment and what I considered success were highly personal and largely unrelated to what many educated, upwardly mobile Americans strove for.

Would we come together over the shared task of preparing food? Would we find common ground over dinner conversation on my lower deck? Like the other men I’d been dating, he was a good man, but would he bewilder and delight me?

I would soon find out.


Note: The name John is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall



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