Beauty Queen pt4


Tasha and I bantered back and forth over the next few days, still on the dating app dm,  and decided upon a place to meet (catch up with the story here, pt1, pt2, and pt3). First meetups are precarious things. They can be as casual as getting a cup of coffee some where to full-blown dinners at an elegant restaurant and everything in between. If a woman chooses a coffee date, I know right away she’s a cynic and I might as well not even go. She has eyed me up and down, weighed what she has gleaned of my personality, and has decided I’m worth just 15 minutes of her valuable time to audition beneath her furrowed brow, Entertain me, court jester, I’ll gift you my brief attention to win me over. A fine dinner at the best restaurant in the area raises a huge red flag as well. Maybe for the fabulously wealthy, an expensive first date is no big deal, but I’m not wealthy, fabulously or otherwise. And my experience has been, I will be picking up that check. The waiters are even helpful in that regard, sliding the fancy check folder to my side of the table. Some times, my date will say, Can I help? Of course, you can help, I think, but not if you ask me that way. The answer will always be no. If you really want to help pay, push your credit card across the table while saying, Let’s split it. No question, all statement. In other words, a fancy restaurant is just too much for a first date. A coffee is too cheap and a  medium rare porterhouse steak with all the trimmings too expensive. I prefer a happy medium, perhaps drinks and some appetizers at a decent restaurant. One can always suggest dinner, if things are going well.

Honestly though, my rule book on first dates had been flung out the window with Tasha. Hire a limousine for the night? I’m in! Caviar and fine champagne during the drive, while basking in each other’s glow? You bet! Fancy New York City restaurant and a Broadway show? Absolutely! Luckily for me, Tasha was not quite so splashy and named several places in the area for drinks and an appetizer. They were all upscale restaurants, no Outbacks* for Tasha. We agreed upon a place closer to her house than mine, saying she went there often and knew the place would be comfortable for getting acquainted. At some point in those discussions of where to go, we exchanged phone numbers and started texting. She had an easy texting style, always furthering the conversation. There were no deadends with her. She was flirtatious without being sexual. I enjoyed her chat. She gave me the feeling she was looking forward to our date as much as I was.

As the date drew closer, we discussed what we’d wear. I’d be going in slacks, button-down shirt, shoes and matching belt. Everything would be ironed. I’d be well-shaved, freshly showered, and wearing cologne that reminded women of the 90’s. She said she had picked out just the dress. It flattered the figure, while not looking like she’d be walking the red light district later that evening. Will heads turn? I asked. Heads always turn, my dear, she replied. No matter what I’m wearing. Men will turn and look at most anything. Big boobs, a shapely ass, a flash of thigh, a pretty face. We’re on it. We’re going to look. If we’re on a date, we discreetly sneak a quick glance. Humans as a whole may have descended from the ape, but men have a bit of the wolf in them, slavering and constantly on the prowl. Occasionally though, a woman will capture the whole room. At some point, as she is led to her table, everyone will turn and look, including all the other women. They will measure her up and they will know a beauty queen has walked into their midst. It’s electric. I have seen it often when I have taken Pia out. She has this effect in restaurants and she is well aware. It is the natural state of affairs for her. The waiters recommendations will go on forever. The water glasses are constantly refilled. The chef may even ask how the dinner was. The valet always opens her door. I expect Tasha is much the same.

And so we finally reached the day of our date, each having admitted how much we were looking forward to meeting. We had been so comfortable in our chats (mind you, we hadn’t actually talked, only texted), I was confident I’d be comfortable seeing Tasha in person. Oddly, I was not at all nervous. We had agreed I would pick her up at her house. I texted her in the afternoon, Don’t forget I still need your address. Two hours later and just two hours before I was supposed to ring her door bell, she sent back this: Please don’t hate me, James, but I’m going to have to cancel on you. Something I ate at lunch made me terribly sick-been trying to get over it, but to no avail. Can I ask for a raincheck??? I’m so, so sorry!!

What can one do but forgive when faced with two so’s and two exclamation points? Of course, I told her not to give it a second thought and to text me when she felt better. I’m not an idiot though. I hoped she was being honest and was in fact a prisoner to diarrhea and nausea, but I doubted it. John Mulvaney likens canceling plans to injecting heroin, instant relief and joy. I get it. I love not to go places. And as far as excuses go, upset stomach is the classic gold standard of excuses, which is why people have been using it their entire lives to get out of going to school because they hadn’t finished a report to getting out of a date with a guy they were’t quite sure was up to snuff. I honestly thought we had again reached the end of this virtual relationship. The next day, Tasha texted me to apologize profusely once more. There may even had been a third so and exclamation point involved. Online dating usually follows several scenarios. This one had the earmarks of the scenario where we make a date; one of us cancels; and full stop. All communication ends and we quickly move on. Tasha ignored the usual trends. We bantered back and forth for several days, rescheduled the date, and then, just when I had grown optimistic about seeing her, she went full ghost.

*An Outback is a mid-level chain restaurant with an Australian theme. It’s neither going to impress nor insult most people. Your results may vary, as they say.

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc #bergencounty #nnj #biography #covid19 #coronavirus #beautyqueen #scotland #rutgers #johnmulvaney #ghosting


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