Part Six–I’ll Drink Your Milkshake but I Will Not Count Your Beers
Discouraged by striking out three times in a row, I sought the advice of my 23-year-old son, who had previously mentioned that his friends liked the app Coffee Meets Bagel.
“The company was started by three sisters,” T-bone told me. “They use a format where they pair you with different men, which they call ‘bagels,’ every day.”
“Why are the men called bagels?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” T-bone said. “Maybe because people like bagels?”
“And who is Coffee?” I asked. “Me?”
“No one is coffee,” he said. “That’s, like, how you meet. Over coffee. Or something. I’m not sure, Mom. I’ve never used a dating app.”
No matter the lingo, the app was free so I registered and soon found that it was less Coffee Meets Bagel and more Crone Meets Baby. I got hit up by 18- and 19-year-olds. Oy, no! Where oh where were the men my age? They seemed to have mass-migrated to an undisclosed location. But after a few weeks, like a birder in search of a rare species to note on their life list, I found one. Let him be known as a Beautiful Mind. He was a professor with multiple post-graduate degrees. He liked to hike as well as build furniture from decommissioned aircraft parts. He came by his creativity honestly: his dad was an expert cross-stitcher. I had never met anyone whose dad was an expert cross-stitcher.
I will state now that Phoenix is the smallest big town in America because A Beautiful Mind happened to be a client of my friend, a hair stylist. She had a friend who had also gone out with him. When I asked what my friend and her friend thought of a Beautiful Mind, my friend said that he was smart, interesting, and I believe the word “unique” was used. I found out later from my friend that about a month after I went out with a Beautiful Mind, he decided he wanted to try to date something like 75 women in a month, which is a little more than “unique.” At more than two dates a day, that’s just downright nuts. Anyway, this would not be the last time that I went on a date with a complete stranger who knew a friend or two of mine. There was the one who once worked with my friend’s ex-husband. Another one who worked with a runner I knew from my favorite running store. And a runner who knew other runner friends of mine.
A Beautiful Mind and I met at a brewery and sat outside on the patio. He was quite tall and wore a fleece pullover sporting the logo of an Ivy League school from which he’d received his undergraduate degree. He’d also played on the football team. We looked over the menu and I ordered a glass of wine. He ordered a pitcher of beer. We talked about our kids and work and interests. A light December rain began. We moved to a table with an umbrella and continued talking while the rest of the customers headed inside. Eventually the rain came down harder and the temperature dropped so we went inside too where a Beautiful Mind ordered another beer. And another. At a certain point, he lost his balance on his stool and knocked over the stool next to him. Around that time, our server came by with the bill. He looked at it and said that the total was incorrect, that she had charged him for an extra beer. They went through each charge together.
“This is wrong, right?” he asked me.
In my ideal relationship, my partner and I are on a path, walking (as well as running) side by side, supporting and encouraging each other in our individual and collective endeavors in this adventure called life. But many times a date floundered because I was on such a completely different path, with seemingly no intersections, as my date. And occasionally I also found myself face-to-face with a path that I had already traveled and had no intention of setting my Size 7.5s on ever again. I had spent 30 years counting how many beers Zippy consumed nearly each and every day, wrong-headedly appointing myself as his Coors accountant in failed attempt after failed attempt to stop his drinking, or at least slow it down. Once I divorced, I retired from being anyone’s alcohol auditor. While I didn’t know how many beers a Beautiful Mind drank that night, I did know that he had had more than enough. And I had too, but in a different way. “I have to go to the bathroom,” I said to a Beautiful Mind and the server, leaving them to sort their issue out on their own.
Yup. Dead End #4.
Next time: Part Seven–Hello 2017 and a Brand New Clean Slate–Wait, Never Mind–It’s the Same Old, Same Old