A Bridge Too Far

You can believe it or not, but Sophia really had a smile that could light up a room. Her smile was more dazzling than Mary Tyler Moore’s (and hers could turn the world on, whatever that meant). Think Julia Roberts during the press conference at the end of Notting Hill. I first saw a hint of her smile in her profile pictures, but the pictures were just faint representations of the reality. Her pictures revealed a beautiful woman in her mid-fifties, but with the appearance of someone younger. She was in the medical profession and obviously took care of herself. Blonde hair, hazel eyes, 5’6″. We discovered we both loved reggae. She hit all the marks on my dating checklist. Except one.

Sophia lived in Brooklyn. Brooklyn has become the jewel of New York City in recent years, but Brooklyn is a bitch to get in or out. I had recently read a different woman’s profile and she said she wouldn’t limit the distance she would travel, because love was worth the effort. I kinda liked that, but I did set a limit: if I was willing to travel the same distance to work (which I’m not that crazy about), I’ll travel that far for the chance to date a beautiful woman and the possibility of love. And I have worked in Brooklyn many times. So we set a date for a weekday mid afternoon in Bay Ridge. I wouldn’t go home, but leave straight from work in lovely downtown Newark.

The drive includes a trip over the Goethals Bridge, through the wilds of The island of Staten, over the Verrazano Bridge, and right into Bay Ridge. It’s a middle-class neighborhood that has maintained its small town feel, with many stores and bars lining the main streets and neat houses along the side streets. Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever would still feel at home there.

We met at the Salty Dog, a saloon converted from a firehouse on 3rd Avenue. They had the garage doors open, so the street outside was part of the atmosphere inside. And they played good 70s and 80s rock songs. I ordered a cider at the bar and waited for Sophia; she texted a few times to say she was still a few minutes away. It was the usual story, the closer you are, the later you are. She arrived, pretty as her pictures, but her smile could’ve stopped a forest fire. I thought, my God, doesn’t she know about her smile? I don’t think she did.

Sophia said before she ordered her drink, “I really shouldn’t get this, because it gives me brain freeze.” She did order it, a drink that looked like a slushee, took a sip from the straw and immediately gave herself brain freeze. She gave me the smile after the thaw. We talked through two drinks about family and music. Two is my limit and we said our goodbyes with a hug and a peck on the cheek. Later, we wondered why we hadn’t kissed more passionately. I certainly regret it.

I then drove home from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn during rush hour on a Thursday evening. I went north to the Brooklyn Bridge to the Westside Highway (Yes, I know that’s not its name. You can call it whatever the hell you want) to the George Washington Bridge. I crawled in bumper to bumper traffic nearly the whole way home. It took me 2 1/2 hours.

We texted often over the next week or so, but were unable to see each other and somehow the smile faded from my memory, but the 2 1/2 hours of traffic did not. She graciously said goodbye a week later after bigger gaps between our chats and I called her to apologize. Lesson for myself, two bridges may be a bridge too far.

#onlinedating #middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #brooklyn #brooklynbridge #marytylermoore #juliaroberts #nottinghill #smile

One thought on “A Bridge Too Far

  1. Hi James,

    I love this piece. You lay out the dilemma of dating in Northern NJ so well, and represent it with the bridges. I also loved how you painted Sophia. So often pictures don’t portray the full effect of the person. I especially loved how she said she shouldn’t order the blue drink and ordered it anyway. Charming. I imagined it also stained her lips or tongue a faint blue as well?

    How do we bridge the distance between people when dating in our 50’s? Thank you for your male perspective, your curiosity, willingness to share, and not-bitter mindset.


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