“Why do I scare you?” I asked, meeting him with a smile.
“This is too good. I can’t keep myself from you. It’s scary,” he said. It was true. It was more than the deep, penetrating conversations. It was more than the sweet caresses. It was more than two people baring their souls so easily and freely in just three dates in less than a week. It was eerie.
“I can see inside you, and you inside me. When you talk about your pain, of the life you left behind in Germany—losing the ability to be in your children’s lives daily, of the pain of your childhood…I feel it too,” I said. “When I talk of my suffering, you just want to protect me, stand up for me, comfort me.” I looked out the window at the dusk sky, milky with clouds. “Maybe this is what happens when two empaths get together.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Mr. Etiquette agreed.
I didn’t intend for this to happen. My first date with Mr. Etiquette was more like a social experiment. I was intrigued by his profile and emails, of course, but I had never dated a man over the age of 39. I’ve never had a problem with numbers, per se, but even the last 39 year old I grew close to thought he was old, was a bit too stodgy in his ways and was afraid to take chances, and he just looked down on everyone as silly and frivolous, regardless of their maturity and intelligence.
As for divorcés, my last boyfriend was divorced but he had almost no positive things to say about his ex-wife, and they didn’t have kids. He was terrified of future commitment because the last girlfriend he had, while he was separated (though still living with his wife), broke up with him just when he was finally fully available to her
I had gone on one date with a divorced dad before, but I quickly found we had nothing in common. So, here with Mr. Etiquette, I was curious what a mature, loving father who’d been married for twelve years, had a stable career in an area of passion, and with whom I had multiple things in common and communicated in a language I spoke, was actually like in person. The fact that he was 41 was a consideration—a man I date has to be young in spirit and actions, whatever age he is.
So, date one was a success. Such a success that the next day Mr. Etiquette—who is so named because he is so out of the dating loop, he constantly asks, “What’s the etiquette on this? Is this a date? Can I pay for your food?” and “What’s the etiquette? Do I call you tomorrow?”—said, when we were on the phone briefly, “I want to see you tomorrow when my out of town visitor leaves. Can we make that happen?”
That Saturday, I was having a rough afternoon physically, so I called Mr Etiquette and told him I understood if we called off the date. “Of course not,” he said. “We’ll just deal with these as they come. Just tell me what I need to do when you’re in trouble.”
“But this is our second date,” I whined. I had fallen in the check-out line in Walmart, in the parking lot of Walmart, on the way into Target, and had to use electric scooters there and at Sam’s. “I don’t want you to see me at my worst.”
“Don’t be silly,” he reassured me. “We’ll get through this together.”
I arrived and he showed me his lovely home. Pictures of his beautiful children were all over the house. His son and daughter’s rooms were decorated for when they come for their five-week visits in the summer. He took me to the basement to show me his electriconic drum set. He played around with the setup and sounds for a little bit before breaking into a Journey song. He was amazing, and I was impressed to hear a rather pleasant voice come out of his mouth as well.
After a dinner of frozen dinner, we sat down to watch SNL highlights of Will Ferrell. We talked about music and comedy and film. We watched Any Which Way But Loose, as I found out that Mr. Etiquette loves him some Clint Eastwood. The main female character was a “biyotch,” Mr. E announced in a hilarious redneck accent, and every time he said it, I tickled him.
It always starts with tickling. By the time we put in Seinfeld, the fun had begun. Mr E had disappeared for a moment and come back with mouthwash breath. I proclaimed the unfairness of the moment as I had stale pizza breath. He said, do you want M&Ms, to go to the bathroom and get some mouthwash of your own, or do you want to use my mouthwash? I’m thinking is he actually giving me my own mouthwash to use? Finally it dawns on me as he looks at me with his penetrating eyes with a flirtatious grin on his face. “I want your mouthwash,” I say shyly. Then he leaned over and gave me the perfect, soft and sensual kiss. “Wow,” we both said.
When we broke away, we watched some more Seinfeld, but he kept saying things that made me tickle him, which led to a dare to see who could endure the longest tickling. I won. Then Mr. E. got saucy and took the dares further and further. By the time 2:30 a.m. rolled around, he said, “This is silly. You could just spend the night here and we can continue this through the night in between sleep.” But then of course, that would scare him…the domesticity of it all.
He texted a brief note on Sunday saying: Okay. Unexpected! Wow! Thank you. Hope you have an awesome day.
Today I texted him a “Hope you’re having a good day.” Within minutes he called. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot. It’s scary. I know I’ve been distant. But you know my past; I’m a little beat up emotionally. But I have been thinking of you.” He mentioned the possibility of a client canceling for the evening and the fact that his German visitors may not arrive on the weekend as early as expected thanks to the volcanic plumes delaying flights in Europe, but he left it there.
I texted him this: Of course I will do my best to respect and honor all the space and time you need. I promise to let you come to me if and when you want to. 🙂
He replied: Wow. The perfect, fantasy girl.
But I meant it. A gun-shy guy always retreats when he feels pressured or too scared. So imagine my surprise when he calls five minutes later to tell me he definitely wants to come out to see me. So we’re on for date number three.
After grabbing some food, I show him a little of the town green, highlights of key places where I grew up, which he seemed to enjoy. Then we headed over to Crandall Park, where I first learned to swim with the pollywogs and unidentified nasties.
We took to the trails, talking about how he missed his little girl’s 9th birthday. We talked about my frustration with the school board that abandoned me when I started getting seriously ill. Mr. E. got indignant on my behalf. He told more about his career plans. We talked more about his former marriage, my past relationships. We talked about intimacy and fantasy. I had my first episode in front of him, and he gently wrapped his arms around me until they subsided. “It’s okay. I’m here. You can lean on me.”
And then when it got dark, we pulled the car under a tree, away from the light, and parked like crazy teenagers, praying we wouldn’t get caught. Apparently, two other couples had the same idea, but they politely left. One tooted his horn, giving us the stamp of horny approval.
We laughed, but held on close to one another, admiring the shimmering chemistry between us: the blend of compatible personalities, interests, sensibilities, and of course, attraction.
I don’t know where this is leading. We have almost three weeks of time and space with his visitors for Mr. Etiquette to decide if he really is ready for this. I think he can picture possibilities of a future. But he also is still trying to find peace with the past. I know that will take time. I know it really is too soon to tell for sure, but my gut is telling me he really might be worth waiting for.