As a tall, skinny, 13-year-old blonde at Camp Lutherhaven, I learned more than how to sing all the verses to “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” around a camp fire. One afternoon in the craft room, a middle-aged pastor’s wife dispensed dating advice to an assembly of young female Lutherans. “Always remember,” she advised, “that a girl with her skirt up can run faster than a boy with his pants down.”
Fast forward forty years. When I re-joined the dating world in midlife, I blithely assumed I was older but wiser, if not young and thin. I had met enough players in my lifetime to read the signs. I would avoid men who only wanted what used to be called a roll in the hay. That was the plan.
The list of what I would look for in a new partner included kindness, character, and a sense of humor. Launching my search, I read the promising profile of a gentleman on an online dating service. In bold print, the phrase above his profile said, “Looking for a long-term relationship.”
A few emails later, when we were in the phone call stage, I asked the man what he meant by that headline. “I’m looking for the love of my life.” he assured me. He wanted “someone to grow old with.” Paul said he was an attorney.
“Oh, that’s a good thing,” I said. A small quiet voice whispered, “Kristine. He wants sex.” I paid it no mind. I listened to the other voice in my head that argued, “Maybe he is sincere.”
The man said, “Let’s meet at the Elephant Bar.”
Full of optimism, I agreed. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I suffered from dating amnesia– the kind of memory loss I had after giving birth to my children. When I held my precious newborn daughter and son, I forgot the pains of labor. Getting ready for my meet-up, images of romance and companionship washed away memories of the bad dates I had lived through.
On the drive to our first face-to-face encounter, I sent up prayers to the universe for things to work out. I silently added, “Would it be asking too much if the next man in my life is taller than me? I know that sounds shallow, but, I am a tall woman, after all.”
Walking into the bar, the first thing I noticed was that the man with the welcoming grin had legs that didn’t quite reach the floor. He was built like a linebacker. Smiling through our handshake, I told myself there is more to a man’s stature than his height.
Paul downed his drink and said, “Let’s get out of here. I know a better place.” Outside, he suggested we take his vehicle to another restaurant. Did lawyers really drive pick-up trucks with silver nudes on the mud flaps? “Let’s talk for a while,” he said. Inside his pick-up truck, he pressed himself on me and suggested we get naked. He wanted to get started on that long-term relationship. Right away. In his truck.
Using all my strength, I pushed him off my chest, turned the door handle, and ran to my car. All these years later, that Lutherans camp counselor’s advice came in handy. I made a speedy exit.
The next day, I’ll be damned if he didn’t call again.
“What part of ‘no’ didn’t you understand?”
“Well, er,” he mumbled weakly.
“Well? What?” I nearly shouted.
“Well, I just wanted to have sex.”
I said good-bye to Mr. Wrong and decided to take a break from dating. Before continuing my search for a partner, I would turn my attention to other pleasures. I fired up my car and headed to Baskin-Robbins for a double dip of jamoca almond fudge ice cream.
After more blind dates than I care to remember, I found a new partner. The universe must have heard my prayers. Mr. Right was 6 foot 7 inches tall, kind, and made me laugh. We took things as fast as a couple of old tortoises. Slowly but surely, we moved beyond dating.