Chapter 3: The Candy Heart Fish - Part 1

Hey girl! you are dreamy! If you're ever planning to travel to NYC, please don't hesitate to reach out to me (cell: xxx-xxx-xxxx; email: we can trade pics for the fun of it! Ps. I have a vivid imagination and for a moment I did fantasize somethin happenin between us lol  - Jeff (Imurman)

Really? Imurman really thought this was a good introduction?

Jeff – I'm sorry but there won't be any pictures or visits. There won't be any more contact. This is creepy. I’m not interested. Jackie


Since my first attempt at dating again came up, well, a little short, I am looking at options farther afield than the boys next door. It’s been a few months since I signed up for and started online dating, and I’m more callus now with my responses as I sort through each day’s set of winks, looks, and messages. The experience has changed from excitement over every visit to a routine of sort and delete to get through the overwhelming numbers. To make things quicker, I've come up with a clearing-house of requirements. Can't proofread your profile or you use text writing? Gone. Don’t enjoy spending time doing at least something more than golf or hunting? Gone. Doesn't read or consider books important enough to list some favorite authors? Gone. Obviously didn't read my profile? Gone. Bit by bit, I have refined my profile and laundry lists for my “ideal man.”

One thing I've considered adding is that my ideal man won’t be shocked that I’m interested in talking about the subject of sex. I’m 50, for heaven’s sake, and I grew up with “Our Bodies, Our Selves” on my reading list. It just makes sense to exchange perspectives about this topic, particularly since it seems that everything I read says midlife dating almost always involves some sex. Talking about such things, though, reduces most guys to 5th grade boys sneaking peeks at Victoria’s Secret catalogues.

After clearing out Imurman, Wannameetyou, JCMachoMan, and ABS2435, I open the last message. It's from Stanley, one I had told no because on the surface we have little in common. He’s very particular and we have quite different interests. He wants a woman with a minimal income that I don't have and he’s the vice-president of a company that creates GMO corn. He hasn't taken “no” for an answer, though.

You are right, our back grounds and education as well as our situations are significantly different.  I think that’s the main reason why I continue to write you.  I would love to discuss success and education with you; that would be a great conversation.   Whatever position you take I'll take the other side even if I agree with yours.  Is there a connection between the two and if so how do they influence each other?

I have to admit, his persistence has a type of attractiveness to it. I still think we don't quite match, so I reply: 
I find you an interesting man, but I still don't see the connections between us.

In less than 20 minutes, he comes back with: 
Okay, why am I interested in you?  Just read your profile. If you are really the person you describe then I can't wait to meet you. Your ability to write your thoughts is evident and well done.  When I read the last sentence (it's the best I've seen) in your profile I was impressed enough to continue “bothering” you.

Maybe he’s worth a try. I don't have any other prospects, certainly none as tireless:
Well, you have piqued my interest and so let’s continue this conversation. If you send me your phone number, I can call you tomorrow. After a couple very annoying situations, I've learned to always be the one to call.

After a couple phone calls filled with easy talk and laughter, we coordinate a date on the first weekend of May.
“So where are you and Stanley Sullivan going?” Stacey asks the Friday evening before the “big day.” Prom wasn't as anticipated as this.

“Well, I thought we'd go to Je Parle Fran├žais in Johnson City. He asked me to choose so I might as well take the chance to eat somewhere I have never gone … or can afford. I think it might mean something that he’s willing to come from Ithaca.” I'm sorting through the clothes in my closet.

“He’s driving an hour just for dinner? This does sound interesting.  And… what are you wearing?”

“I was just trying to decide. I'm not completely sure.  Right now it’s between my black dress that’s form fitting yet covers any extraneous bumps or my floral flair skirt and white blouse.  What do you think?”

“I definitely think this is a little black dress situation!”

“Ok. I have another problem. We're meeting there, but I really don't want to show up in my little beat-up VW.”

“Take our Miata!  Dan just got it washed and detailed. You'll look really great pulling up in a silver convertible.”

“I'll definitely take you up on that.” I like the impression I’ll make.
On Saturday, though, despite having my wardrobe and ride worked out, I am fraught with performance anxiety. I think about how things had gone with Ryan and I take comfort that at least my body – even as non-20ish as it is – isn’t going to be a problem. Jane was right: for heterosexual men, a naked woman is a naked woman. But I don't have a long history of partners. John and I had been each other’s “first” and until the divorce, each other’s only, something he assured me. So here I am, getting ready to go on a date that might, no likely will, end with both of us being naked, and if Stanley is even a little more considerate than Ryan, that will mean much more than distracted oral sex on his part.

I call Jane.

“Help me! I don't know if I can do this after all. I crossed that first hurdle with Ryan by getting naked, but I didn't even consider before we were in his apartment the potential progress. Now I’ve had time to think about things, and I don't know what I'm doing.” I might be able to talk about sex in the abstract, but the idea of actually performing with someone other than a well-worn husband is frightening. To just not have sex on this date doesn't enter the picture.

“Jackie, don’t panic. Be in control of the situation, and just give him a blow job. There are few situations where you will be able to so thoroughly have him be putty in your hands.”

“That’s part of the problem. I didn't really ever figure out how to do that right.” This was even more embarrassing than I had imagined, and here I was only talking to Jane.

“Really? What did you and John do?” I could hear her amazement through the phone. “Wait, don't tell me. I don't want to be that depressed.” Oh great, pity. Just what I want.

“Will you just give me some ideas? I know you have some. If it helps, you can pretend you're working with a particularly inept client.”

“Ok. Well here is my best advice. Along with ‘confidence is sexy,’ keep in mind one phrase: ice cream cone.”

“I’m supposed to use an ice cream cone? Won't that be rather cold?”

“No, you treat his dick like an ice cream cone. You know, when the ice cream starts to melt and you need to catch the drips before they get all over your hand? Picture that you are holding an ice cream cone and run your tongue around like you're catching the drips, which, if this goes on long enough, you might be doing.”

This image equally disturbs and fascinates me. I also understand why I haven't talked about certain things with my kids, even now that they're in their twenties. And suddenly I wish I hadn't thought about my kids.

“What about the condom? How does all that come into this? Or onto this?”

“Oh that’s easy. Just put it on the tip and then use your mouth to roll it down onto the shaft. Do that before the BJ and Stanley will be so caught up with the sight he won't know what hit him.”

I can't even imagine what she just described. I want to google a video, but I don't really want to risk my computer getting a virus while I learn how to avoid one. It’s moot, though, since I have to get ready to go. I'll figure it out when it's time. I put in my purse a box of condoms, a collection of gels, an extra pair of panties, a travel toothbrush, and eye-makeup remover so my mascara won't get all over the place.
I park in front of the restaurant and sit out on the patio with a glass of water. I'm glad I've worn a light sweater. A few minutes later a brand new Corvette convertible comes up and a man who resembles Stanley’s pictures steps out. I smooth down my dress. Stanley looks a little older than I expected, but then he’s 56. He hugs me and kisses my cheek.

“Hello, Jackie. You don't know how excited I’ve been for today and to meet you after our exchanges. You are lovelier in person than I pictured.”

“Hi Stanley. I'm excited to meet you as well.” I forgot the awkward small talk of the first meeting.

Once seated, I realize as I read the menu that the only “French” food I've eaten is French fries and French onion soup.  Why did I pick this place?  Still I recognize the word “bouillabaisse” and “ratatouille,” the second one from the movie. Maybe I will try those.

“I can't decide what to order,” I murmur. “It all looks so … good.”

“I know how this can get overwhelming.  I spent a summer in Lyon and after fumbling for most of the first week with eating in restaurants, came home craving a few dishes that I see they make here. Why don't I pick us some appetizers and you see what you want for the soup and main course.”

Now I'm really glad this dress has a little stretch in it. I decide on the bouillabaisse, chicken with garlic, and a side of ratatouille. I mentally cross my fingers that I'll be able to eat all of this and that he picks something small for the appetizer other than frog's legs or snails. 

Luckily, the earlier phone calls between us, as well as the bottle of fancy wine Stanley picks out, help the conversation develop beyond small talk. It turns out I do like real French food, though I keep taking bites at the wrong time during the conversation. Finally the waiter clears our dinner plates, and Stanley picks up the dessert menu.

“Do you want dessert? Cherry clafoutis is usually amazing.”

Do I want dessert? When don't I want dessert? I feel my stomach pressing against my dress, though, and accidentally groan.

“Are you ok? Did I suggest something wrong?”

“No, not at all. I would love dessert but I have eaten too much, I think. Maybe we could have ice cream cones later?” As soon as I say it, I mentally throttle Jane.

“That’s a great idea,” Stanley coolly waves over the waiter for the check. “Ok, then what do you want to do now?”

We walk outside and I look at his Corvette and blurt out, “Take a ride in your car!”

“Sure. We can drive to my house. The hills and curves are great in this baby.”

Thirty minutes later Stanley is driving the back roads at about 90 mph while the wind whips over the windshield. 

“Don’t worry. I grew up here and know these roads like the back of my hand.” 

I grip the door handle anyway, use my other hand to keep my hair from winding into a matted mess, and though I try to “breezily” laugh, I end up giving out unconvincing gasps. He might know these roads well, but how does he know if anyone is coming over the next hill?

We finally pull into his driveway. That just took a lot less than an hour. 

Posted by Jackie Connolly

No comments: