The next three Titillating Tuesday’s will be brought to you by my good friend and writing colleague, Daphne Divina. It is a series of short personal stories about dating in her younger years and today. Never divulge a person’s age but let’s just say she is in the prime of her prime.
I hope you enjoy this series. As always, we love feedback. Feel free to comment.
The Independent Woman – Part 1 by Daphne Divina
He came up from behind and said “Hello,” a first date with a man whose profile was articulate and provocative. I turned toward the gentle face of a warm man, relieved that he looked exactly like his picture, only alive. I swivelled off my bar stool and glanced at the empty seat beside me.
Moments before, another brunette woman had seated herself two stools down. I thought, “Oh swell, he’ll come in and approach this younger version.” But he didn’t. Thinking that this woman was already well aware that these two middle-aged people were on an internet date, and convinced that she would eavesdrop on every single word – as I certainly would have – I suggested we move to a table. I guess I already knew I wanted to find out what he was like and wanted to hear what he had to say.
My predictable bitchy screening process was already keeping score. Tick off: warm, curious eyes, beautiful soft brown leather jacket that I already had an urge to touch, salt and pepper hair trimmed neat, cool blue textured dress shirt with cooler tie, dark khaki slacks, quiet demeanour, direct gaze, the look of a well dressed engineer just short of a geek. Tallish – taller than I – and slim. Oh no! As a fit and curvaceous woman, I clearly outweighed him.
No non-starters. Not yet. Not so far.
No funny hats, no talking sports, football or basketball jerseys, or playing avid golf, no Republicanisms or any other isms, no poor grammar, no bullshit, no pretensions, macho or otherwise.
Geologist, professor, paddler, potter, biker, runner, world traveler, man who’s worked at a desk, a salt mine and an oil field, man who likes women as humans, man with a penis, has fallen out of the sky and landed in my lap.
Large empty table next to me starts filling, first with a friend of mine, Ralph. “Hello, Ralph,” I say, “This is Jerry. We’re on a date!” Laughing at myself because I can’t believe I just said that. Ralph and Jerry exchange quick geology hither and yons, and Ralph joins his associates. Later, Ralph comes back and asks, “So how’s the date going?” It was adorable. Ralph crouches down to chat, and in that brief exchange I realize that this guy Jerry and I have a lot in common.
Except age. Which sure as hell doesn’t matter to me and it doesn’t seem to matter to him. He likes smart, accomplished women, been married to a doc and then a psychologist. Been around many women – must know what they like by now – what works and what doesn’t. Later he tells me that at 18, he’d run off with a married woman of 28 for some kind of adventure. I laugh and confess, “Well we have that in common; when I was 30 I had a fling with an 18 year old. What a coincidence.”
In fact, my fling was a same-time-next-year kind of fling. Those pheromones that attract – like bears to honey. I’m confessing. The boy was barely legal and I couldn’t keep my hands off him. I could smell him from 10 feet away. Not that he smelled. Nobody else could smell him but I could. I almost still can. I went to his wedding, and when we hugged, his hands slid down to my ass. Good lord, I hope nobody saw, but they’re still married, and he’s the same age as Jerry today.
Surely legal by now.
Lunch over, we stood on the sidewalk, he to walk west, me east. I looked at his sensual leather jacket and wanted to run my hands over his shoulders and down his biceped sleeves. Awkward but good. I wanted to hug goodbye but didn’t. He didn’t. I shook his hand, strong hand, surprisingly soft hand. I didn’t bolt, I didn’t run. It felt easy.
I felt pursued and that felt great. I had to take a long look at myself, my need not to control others, but to be in control of me. I’d always been the pursuer. When separated years ago, my few relationships were casual, non-committal, sexual, shallow. Perhaps it was that I hadn’t found anyone more consistent than my husband who was at least reliable. Reliable but unimaginative, I used to say.
Perhaps I became an adult on the cusp of feminism, whatever that was, born with an independent streak, hitting a professional world where women had to fight for position, for power. I had that personality. It wasn’t compatible with a spouse who’d grown up in a traditional home with a subservient mom. Perhaps, after a long marriage, I had become conditioned to defend my autonomy.
Well, at my age and experience, I can relax. No need to prove myself, I’m realizing. No power needed.
My male friend, Fred, came over to visit shortly after I’d had my third date with Jerry, a party where the host had said to us, “Well, if you have too much to drink, you can always stay in the Princess room.” “Oh no,” I said, “We’re not sleeping together yet.” Only slightly mortified at myself and my outspoken response. Everyone laughed, including Jerry.
Fred told me that after his divorce, he’d bought a self-help book: How to Date Independent Women. In the book, independent women were analogous to cats. They like to snuggle and come close, but then have to leave. They come and go, return and go, off to have alone time and do their own independent cat thing. I thought about the dog I’d once had who couldn’t be alone, had to follow me everywhere. Needy creature, part of my pack.
I’m a cat, I realize. This is a major epiphany for me. A cat. I get it now.
So I told this to Jerry, as he came into my kitchen and backed me up against the counter, about the theory of the cat. He murmured with his lips nestled tightly against my neck, that he has two cats. He said that if I’m a cat, he’s my catnip.
Works for me.
Remember when you were a kid and you kissed a boy so hard and long that you got whisker burns? Well, that is if you liked kissing boys. Which I did. I liked kissing them and still remember briefly kissing a black kid who was in our choir. He had full lips, the softest most wonderful lips I’d ever experienced.
I remember kissing boys and how great it was, and then with marriage, no more kissing. Not that kind of soft lingering endlessly erotic kissing.
I remember the feel of my high school boyfriend’s thigh, his strong lean muscles beneath tight jeans, my hand on his leg next to mine, the Levi texture of the fabric. Jerry wears jeans. Oil field jeans by Wrangler with built-in fire retardant that make the fabric heavier, slower to burn. His pockets are frayed with years of use.
Hot. I link my fingers through his loops and pull him close.
This morning, as I write my way into my feelings, I touch my chin and feel the abrasion whiskers have made against my skin. Surprised and more than a little awed that I can feel like this, like that 30 year old felt. Irresistibly drawn. That I can’t resist, don’t want to resist. Awed that I don’t feel like bolting, that I can stay or go and return, that it’s all so remarkably easy. It’s not a question of recovering my youth. I’m perfectly happy to be my age, shirking the last vestiges of having to prove myself in some annoying, indefinable way, that even with the brief encounters I’ve had, I had to be the one to leave first.
See? See how independent I am? I’m going to leave first. I’m casual. See?
I remember a brief encounter at a lake resort years ago on a “mommy’s weekend” that got just short of out-of-control. Four women at an oyster bar, two men with NBC News. Cameramen. Ending up with the blond, shorter than I thought as he got off the stool, to follow us to a dance place down the street. Crazy bar, dirty dancing, fight in the bar (had never seen a bar fight), out on their boat making the wise decision not to take the boat out. Ending up on the stern wrapped in the guy’s arms, gentle waves licking the side of the boat, kissing him endlessly. Wanting him endlessly. In front of my friends. What the hell? Coming to our senses at about 3 in the morning. Meeting the two NBC guys for breakfast, hot summer sun burning, meeting the blond once more. Good thing a war started and he was sent off to film it.
And I feel like I should leave this essay now. End it in some clever way. Bolt off knowing I’m in control of me. But I’m going to stay a little longer.
It’s raining outside. The heat is on, my feet are cold, I’m hungry. It’s 9:19 a.m. on a cold, dismal day, but the rain is welcome. I welcome surprises, amazements, smells and tastes and textures, the vista around the corner or over the mountain, down the stream and into the lakes.
I always have, but now more than ever.
About the author: Daphne Devina is an essayist and artist with an irrepressible curiosity about life, adventure, and especially men. Join her as she explores a new world of irresponsibility after many years of juggling career, kids and marriage. Can she finally “have it all?” Can she reawaken passion in a body long dormant?
- This is the third and last installment in a series written for Madison Lake Pages. Read here Part 2 and Part 3.