The Second Time Around

Opportunities for do-overs don't come along often and I wasn't about to let this one pass

A message popped up on my cell asking, "How are you?" from someone named Alan with an email address I didn't recognize. Spam, I figured. But since I know a zillion guys named Alan, I took a chance and asked, "Who are you?"

Rather than offering me a time share in Azerbaijan in exchange for my credit card info, the sender identified himself as a JDate contender from a year ago. Oh, that Alan!

We had gone on only one date. Not because we didn't find one another attractive or interesting but because, frankly, I blew it. He had longish red hair, kind eyes and a gentle manner. The kind of man who instantaneously feels like an old friend, someone I had known in college.

After an idyllic afternoon of wandering around antique shops in a picturesque village, Alan took me to a charming café overlooking a canal. We nibbled on seafood cocktails, along with fine wine and our backstories. I really liked him. But for reasons known only to my ex-boyfriends and therapist, I blurted out a demeaning remark about my JDate experiences.

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"I've got a feeling they are all suffering from depression and joined JDate because their therapist told them to," I said.

My misguided attempt at wit landed hard and raw. The lights went out of Alan's eyes. He didn't suggest we order an entrée. Instead, he asked for the check. That was the last I saw of him. Until now.

It goes without saying that Alan's JDate adventures and mine left us both with the same Facebook status: available. I sent him an upbeat message, suggesting that the next time he's in the neighborhood to give me a call. He promptly replied, "How about this weekend?" Opportunities for do-overs don't come along often. I wasn't about to let this one pass.

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It was a hot date in more ways than one. The temperature was 100 degrees. I got to the meeting place, a neighborhood restaurant with a "Cheers" vibe, and sat self-consciously at the bar nursing an apple cider. I was wearing a "nice" top with shorts and sandals. If he didn't like my pale, skinny legs, might as well deal with it now. Alan appeared a half hour later (traffic) and I instantly sensed a connection.

We talked about politics, our families, our work and, being boomers, our digestive tracts—exchanging symptoms and treatments. What's more romantic than debating the merits of a gluten-free diet? After an hour of schmoozing, Alan suggested we order dinner. He had fish tacos. I had shrimp salad with soba noodles. When the check was placed on the table, I reached for my credit card. Alan gallantly said, "I've got it."

Since he lived an hour away from me and wasn't familiar with my neighborhood, I gave him a brief tour of the quaint shops, cafes and stone houses that comprise my town. He made insightful comments about the local architecture and gardens. My thoughts? This is going to work. We're great together! My female brain was spinning stories of future dates and adventures. I'll meet his kids. We'll go to concerts. We'll go to bed!

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When we finally parted, it was with a hug and a smile. Not a kiss. I was OK with that. But that night, I had sexy dreams. In graphic detail. However, the next day, Alan did not call, email or text. Not the day after that either. Women all over the world and, quite possibly, on other planets know what that means: He's not that into you.

Three days later, Alan sent me an email. "Are you watching the election coverage? What do you think?" he asked. I wondered why he was asking me about the presidential race and not if I'm free next weekend. I also wondered why he chose to email rather than call. Even so, I sent him a thoughtful reply that stuck to the subject. Politics. Not "us."

I do not expect to hear from Alan again. I mentally filed him under "serial dater," someone who enjoys meeting new women, has an easy banter, but can never quite wade into the deeper waters of a relationship for a number of reasons.

Like many men who stay on online dating sites for years without finding "the one," he's too intrigued by the candy store of possibilities to make a commitment. Or he's holding out for "magic," that romantic roller-coaster ride most of took in our late teens or early twenties and have never quite found again. Not for lack of trying, but because we are older and are seeking more than an amusement park ride that shoots us up to the stars, plummets down and leaves our stomachs in limbo.

Then again, there could be another reason Alan has faded into the woodwork. It's August and his therapist might just be on vacation.

Tags: dating