New Year’s Eve and I was alone. I don’t think there is any more alone than alone on New Year’s Eve. I guess, if you think about it, getting a date should be pretty easy. After all, no one wants to be by themselves that night. Yet, here I was on my couch, turning on Netflix, resigned to a dismal evening. My girlfriend had broken up with me less than a month before; my “friend” Pia had escaped to the shore; and the woman I had met earlier rang no romantic bells (catch up with pt1 here). And then I got a notification I had a match on a dating app. This must be some woman even more desperate than me, I thought, as I signed in only to find a beautiful woman staring back from her profile pic. Tasha.
I joked I was wearing the same sweater she had on in her profile pic. Really? she asked. Yes, I replied. My abs aren’t as defined as yours and my cleavage isn’t as sexy, but definitely the same cropped sweater. I accomplished a lot with that line, I think. I acknowledged I wasn’t as hot as her. It wasn’t false modesty on my part. This woman was more beautiful than 95% of the world’s population. For the time being, you’ll just have to trust my subjective opinion on the matter. I noted her obvious sexiness without howling like a wolf. And I displayed a sense of humor. She lol’d me and said she loved a man with cleavage. And so the dance began.
In all relationships, I think, there is an alpha and a beta. One person is reaching higher and the other is holding a hand behind. Maybe it’s looks or personality or maturity or finance, but there’s always something. In this case, Tasha was most definitely the alpha. I had two choices from there: bow down before her beauty or ignore it. I suspect a woman like Tasha is accustomed to men fawning over her. I decided to go the opposite way. I had nothing to lose and possibly a beautiful woman to gain.
I often think back to my college days a very long time. I went to Rutgers, the state university here in New Jersey, USA. As you might imagine, most of the students were in-state, as it was a cheaper alternative to private university. The school itself had a decent reputation nationwide. Rarely would you find anyone from California at Rutgers. There just was no reason. Why would anyone travel from that fantasy land on the west coast to the much-maligned state of New Jersey on the east coast? Don’t get me wrong, I love New Jersey. In fact, I think it has so much to offer from bustling beaches to skiing, access to New York City pizza and Philly cheese steaks from the source, and high tech corporations to family farms. I consider it the most eclectic of states. Come visit, you’ll see. That said, I cannot think of a single reason anyone would voluntarily leave California to go to Rutgers University.
Nevertheless, I saw Catherine from California in a bikini playing frisbee on the quad between the apartment buildings the first week of September 1981. She had clearly stepped out of a Beach Boys song and taken a wrong turn. She was blonde and blue-eyed, lithe and tanned. She was like a beacon of pure light on the green expanse of lawn. She laughed with each toss of the frisbee to her friend, like no one was there watching them. I was mesmerized. Every boy within eyesight was. All of a sudden, every one of them wanted to hang out on the quad. The Buffs felt the need to lose their t-shirts. Other frisbees started gliding back and forth. She was the focal point of all conversations the rest of the day and by day’s end, most of us knew she was from California and single. For some reason, she got the nickname “Senior Project”. I’m not sure why. She was a freshman and most of the guys were not seniors, but I guess the idea was to make her your own by senior year. And dozens of guys took their shot. She shot them all down as gently as can be. I bring Catherine up because she was actually the most wonderful of girls, beautiful inside as well. I did fawn over her too for some time, but she never went for it. She was always attentive and polite to me, but did not encourage my boy games. In the end, she began dating a guy. He was neither the most handsome nor the most athletic, but they connected completely and it was easy to see they had fallen in love. I knew such things were possible.
Tasha and I passed the night easily. We each made a cocktail or two at our respective houses, asking questions, making jokes, just talking about movies and music and food. The dm’ing was delightful and the night passed quickly. I learned she was from a state out west, she was of Scot ancestry, owned her own cosmetic business, had one daughter, lived fairly close, and was divorced. For the briefest of moments, I wondered if I should invite her over. No, no, I realized this was just one of those magical times when I connect with a wonderful woman, but it was destined to be brief and, in the long run, inconsequential. I didn’t really think Tasha would fall in love with me like Catherine had with her boyfriend so many years ago. This would just be a very nice memory tomorrow. We watched the ball drop in Times Square and wished each other the best of new years. We were just two lonely strangers passing the night. She sent me the kiss emoji and I sent one back. Just before we said good night, she said, Tell me something very few people know about you. I told her I had written an unpublished book some time ago. I’m proud of it and consider it one of my few, but great, accomplishments. And you? I asked.
She sent me a picture. Tasha was considerably younger, but the woman in the picture was her. She was in a flowing teal gown. There was a line of gorgeous women in a row behind her, also in long gowns with sashes naming counties I did not know. She was smiling broadly and genuinely, while grasping a huge bouquet of roses. She had a tiara on her head and a sash draped diagonally from her shoulder proclaiming her Mrs. ******** County*. She was being crowned a state beauty queen. And the beauty queen was saying good night.
*the number of *’s does not correspond to the name of the county.
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