I had been dating for about three months and already beginning to feel discouraged. Rather than feel the excitement of the new, I felt only increasing cynicism. I may have been living as if my hair was on fire but my energy was being sapped. But I was compelled to carry on, and match.com kept sending me prospects.
Then there was Cathy, a slender willow of a woman, blonde, widowed two years ago, 66. We skirted match.com and converted to text and then talk very quickly. We talked for three hours our first attempt. We made a date for Monday evening. She called me Saturday morning and told me how she had announced to everyone at her office that she had just met the perfect partner for her. I asked her what she was doing that day and we soon made plans to meet for lunch – Swiss Chalet. I picked her up at her house as she didn’t drive. She had epilepsy. We told the waitress we were not in a rush, we drank a bottle of wine (red!) and enjoyed the best chicken ever, I think. We talked for another three hours. She told me she knew she wasn’t as smart as me but she could rely on the dumb blonde schtick. I thought to myself, she might be right; I’d been married to another blonde who kept me interested for a long time. She said we were destined to be together, that her husband Mark and Marlene had arranged for this. I was nonplussed by this, but I didn’t want this little odd remark to detract from the otherwise delightful potential. I took her home and we agreed to meet for a walk Sunday afternoon. I called her late that night to wish her good night and to let her know I was thinking about her. But I woke her up from sleep. She was clearly disoriented and struggled to make sense of who I was. She called me the next day, and told me she had had a seizure after I called her, and she had a migraine now and wouldn’t see me that day and probably not for dinner on Monday either. She didn’t return my calls after that, and I shrugged. I guess Mark had got it wrong. I was beginning to see a pattern here.
Stephanie was tall slim, gray-haired Montrealer; McGill, about my age, recently moved to Ottawa after her second husband had died to be near her second son, the doctor. Lived in a quirky old house in the Glebe mere blocks from Lansdowne Park, home of the RedBlacks. She was an Alouette’s fan. We met for brunch one Sunday and a week later for dinner, all within walking distance of her house, she had given up driving and bicycled everywhere. We met for drinks at her house first where I discovered her penchant for suncatchers and Indian brass and incense. Namaste. Over dinner she announced that we had no future together. I was surprised by this early judgment, but not much. After three months of this dating business, striking out was getting to be very familiar. I asked her how she had come to this conclusion, and was only slightly ‘plussed’ (opposite of nonplussed??) by her answer. She said I had too many issues; I gave her credit for that but asked if she was prepared to help me work through them. ‘No’, she said, ‘she had survived her first husband’s bi-polar disease and suicide and she wasn’t going through that again.
Despite this verdict I called her again the next week and suggested that even if we had no future I was sure there were many topics we could still fight over. She agreed and invited me to dinner at her house. She prepared a lovely dinner, I brought the wine; we spent much of the evening debating consciousness – she never quite got my argument (we aren’t conscious) and her argument was mostly about taking responsibility for our actions, which didn’t explain our actions in the first place. Maybe she was right, we had no future. But the following week she did accompany me to the RedBlacks playoff game and she was clearly well-schooled in the intricacies of Canadian football. We snuggled under a blanket and the RedBlacks won. It was a lovely afternoon. I asked if she was going to invite me back to her house afterwards, but she sharply cut me off, decidedly not. I said ‘to watch the Western final on tv’ – she just didn’t get my sense of humour. I left the ball in her court. It’s still there.
And then Monique. Another organic connection, first by chance through an author friend at an NAC event, and then birthday dinner arranged by this same mutual friend. Aristocratic, blonde, vivacious, fish-net stockings, wealthy, five degrees, and not a curious synapse in her head, we had two more long lunches and then dinner at the NAC and a concert. I’ll never know why we the second lunch happened, nevermind the concert. I told her about Emily. She said I was a fool. Probably she was right but it was a blunt blow. I called it off, by email and voicemail (she never answered her phone). I think she was surprised.
Cathy came back. Two months after she had abruptly ended our budding romance, just before Christmas, I got a text from her: ‘Do you think we can rekindle the magic?’ I wondered what magic she was thinking of, but decided to reply: ‘I was surprised to receive this text. A lot has happened to me in the last couple of months, but if you’d like to meet me at Swiss Chalet for lunch…’ And we did, followed by 7 – 8 dates over the next three weeks: movies, restaurants, take-in pizza; I met her dog, she met mine. She was a good kisser and said she wanted us to go further, but she told me I wasn’t ready, not while Emily was still in my head. And she was pretty sure we would be married soon. I suggested July! I don’t think she picked up on my incredulity. A Monday morning we were talking on the phone as she was dressing for the office. She described what she was wearing. I said I’d like to see that knit dress on her and could I meet her for lunch that day, meet her at her office downtown, maybe meet some of her coworkers and her boss. It was a lovely lunch. That evening we talked and talked, I was crying over my break-up with Emily, and she said she would heal me. She texted me the next day at lunch. It was over. Strangely, I wasn’t upset.
I closed my match.com account, ourtime.com too. My time was not going to come through these channels.