See part one here: :Mel: the Pipes Are Calling Despite Mel not being quite what I favor physically, her profile drew me towards her. This is not to say she was ugly, she certainly was not. She was an attractive woman, just not my type. Her hair looked salon styled, her fingernails manicured, her surroundings elegant. And I thought I was mature enough to see beyond my own particular visual cues. Keep in mind, I’m under no misapprehension that I am a Greek god walking amongst mere mortals less gifted in physical beauty. I am not. I am well into my middle years, a few extra pounds, and balding, but generally have a pleasant look about myself that some women like and some don’t. As I said, the bagpipes were enough of a draw. She was several years younger than me, but not, let us say, creepily so. On Plenty of Fish, either person can send a message right away and so I did.
We chatted on Plenty of Fish for awhile and eventually musical tastes entered the list of topics and I mentioned I was a big fan of ska music, particularly second wave. Second wave ska mostly originated in Great Britain, rather than its birthplace, Jamaica. Ska was a precursor to reggae music. I know there’s a whole musical formula to it, but I can’t explain it. Like pornography, which is defined by knowing it when you see it,I know ska when I hear it,I don’t know how I came across it in 1979-1980 suburban New Jersey, but I did. Just me. I was alone in my devotion for ska.I remember going out to buy my first Specials album, bringing it home and putting it on the turntable so my friends could listen to it too. Unfortunately, I was so unaware, I had bought a 38 Specials album and “HoldOn Loosely” bounced off the walls. So did the album shortly after I realized my mistake. Honestly, my friends were more likely to prefer 38 Special than the Specials. They really thought Eric Clapton was God. Meanwhile, I had my doubts and I had the Clash and the Special spinning on my turntable. I was an outlier, for sure.
When I mention ska as one of my favorite musical genres, no one ever says, “Oh yeah? Me too.” No, usually I get a blank expression (there’s an Easter egg) in return. When I told Mel, she said she had been in a ska band in her college years. There were even recordings of her band on Spotify. Lord! Bagpipes and ska. Was this fate lending love a hand or just all the cylinders lining up coincidentally?
Whatever it was, it was enough for me. I liked her look, I liked her musical tastes, I liked her banter. And after all, banter is all you have at first, besides looks. And looks are dependent on filters. She was smart. I could tell that right from our first exchanges. Like I said, she was several years younger than me, but she had managed to advance herself into an upper mid level position with a major tech giant. Her department handled company news and since the company was composed of tens of thousands employees worldwide, it was a pretty prestigious job, especially considering she was a musical theory major at university. She was whip smart. The world was her oyster and I was just a cracker.
I don’t have a super power, but I do have an above average power. I have one thing I do better than most people. I’m not one of the best; I’m not elite; I’m just this side of better than most, slightly better than let’s say 75% of the male population. I banter pretty well, especially in the written form. And quite a few women write well too, so we tend to get along famously. So with Mel, we messaged back and forth joyfully. We were like two odd shapes that had found our slots. I still had this blog linked to my dating app and she loved it. She read it and gave me pointers on how to make it better. If I made grammatical mistakes, she offered corrections. She said she liked my writing and encouraged me to write more. Wasn’t this basis enough for me to fall in love?
Not long into our conversation, I went away for several prearranged days at the New Jersey shore, made famous in the songs of Bruce Springsteen. We had not been on a date yet. We had not even talked with one another on the phone. I stay at my sister’s House on Long Beach island, a barrier strip betweenthe Atlantic Ocean and New Jersey proper. I went down with my son, but towards the end of the week he decided to go home, so I was looking at a weekend alone in a house at the beach. I told Mel all about it. “ I have thoughts about that,” she said. So do I, I told her.”What are your thoughts?” she asked. I was thinking you should come down and alleviate my loneliness. She said those were her thoughts too. She decided to come down. We had all the appropriate discussions: too early, I don’t know you well enough, I may not like you in person, etc. I said, Listen, come down. Have a glass of wine. Kiss me. There are empty rooms here with doors that lock. You’re welcome to your own decisions the whole night and I’ll respect them. You can say no at any point.
And she said, “And so can you.”
I liked that. I thought I was being a true gentleman, but she was saying, “No, you’re just being human.”
She came down. I met her in person for the first time I opened a bottle of wine and we drank it on a couch by open windows conveying the roar of the waves on the beach a couple of hundred yards away, She was everything her profile and messages promised: a good looking woman of intellect, humor and refinement. We spent the night together. It was lovely. We spent the next day on the beach…in sunshine.
“O Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling From glen to glen and down the mountainside The summer’s gone and all the roses falling ‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow Or all the valley’s hushed and white with snow ‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow O Danny boy, O Danny boy, I love you so”
Let me go back to my very early days of online dating, when I was still on Plenty of Fish. Actually, it was so early I had a link to my blog on my dating profile, so you could read my posts which were reflective of my recent (but not current) dating activities. I had built myself up a decent little audience at the time, but it was pointed out to me, people I knew in real life could find the blog and then pass it onto my children or siblings or parents. I had seen women who I knew during my swiping sessions. There was the divorced mother of one of my son’s friends, another went to the town pool. My son or daughter reading about my dating exploits was not a scenario I would’ve liked to have seen fulfilled. Before I ended the link, however, I connected with a woman named Mel.
Those first weeks and months of online dating were a heady, adventure for me. I had never had so much and, frankly, such easy access to women. For a while there, I was going on a few dates a week. I think I may even have arranged two dates on a single Saturday. Behind the curtain though, hidden from everyone’s view, was a woman named Pía. She entered the picture even earlier than Mel. She is a several post series by herself and remains in my life from those days to this, mostly peripherally now. The importance of Pía is that I was dreadfully in lust with her and just the slightest bit of encouragement from loving her. (This poem is about Pía The Rightest Wrong One) The thing about Pía was she was an expert at handling men in general and me in particular. For a brief moment, she considered falling in love with me, but quite quickly decided no. It took a considerable amount of time for me to get that memorandum. What i did do correctly, despite my all-consuming lust for her, was not just twiddle my thumbs waiting on Pía. I was out there dating hard. It was during those Wild West dating days, I found Mel.
Some of the details are fuzzy, this is over three years ago now, but I must have seen her profile on Plenty of Fish. The one thing I remember from that profile was that it included a picture of her playing a bagpipe in a marching band. I’m not going to say I love the bagpipes. That might be overselling the point a bit, but I’ve been known to stop everything to listen to the skirl of “Amazing Grace”. She was a handsome woman, with a broad brow and a square jaw. She didn’t look overweight, but still had an appearance of substance, if you will. She looked to be large breasted, but that’s not my thing, so held no great attraction for me that it might have for other red blooded American men. Her upper teeth had never seen the inside of an orthodontia office, which is apparently a British trait that she shared with her countrymen, as she was in fact British. I thought she was probably not my type, but the pipes, the pipes were calling.
So I sent her a message saying hello. And began a whirlwind romance, wherein our hero (me) is really the villain.
Gabriella and I had already agreed to have dinner in Hoboken. Hoboken is another small city, lying just east of Union City, but she is right on the banks of the Hudson River. It was once a hard-scrabble town full of blue collar workers and gangsters. It’s the disavowed hometown of Frank Sinatra and the basis for the classic film “On the Waterfront” with Marlon Brando (“I coulda been a contendah”). Now though it’s a jewel of luxury condominiums and apartments, bustling with nightlife and beautiful young people. And on that Thursday evening in early September, two older adults, who did not speak each other’s language.
Gabriella was just as her pictures and video calls had shown her to be, a vibrant, youthful woman in her early 50’s. She had light brown hair (probably dyed), brown eyes, buxom, and with a few extra pounds she carried well. She smiled easily and laughed often. We talked into our phones and the translator app spewed sentences resembling what we had said. I parked my car and we walked along the main avenue looking for a place to eat. There were plenty of restaurants, but most of them had wait lists. We kept searching until we found a little Italian place with seating outside. We had a cocktail and ordered our food. I felt I knew her intimately in many ways, but it was still a strange interaction because of the pauses during translation.
We finished our dinner and crossed the street to the esplanade that runs along the Hudson River. We sat on a bench and gazed across the water to the grand view of Manhattan, the lights of midtown and the stars above reflected as if in a mirror . It really is beautiful and I suspect awesome to visitors. I don’t think many other cities have that iconic a view. We snuggled and made out a bit, finally returning to my car.
There comes that moment during a date when both participants consider the next move at the tail end of the night. Neither of us was drunk, but there was clearly an intoxicating physical attraction. She was pretty frisky; I was fairly randy. I knew she was going back to Colombia the next day and this would be our one chance to consummate our attraction for a very long time. (How long, I could not have guessed those several months before the pandemic shut down the world.) On the other hand, it was already past my self-imposed curfew. It was late in the week, I had to get up shortly after 4am and I work hard. I was facing a 45 minute drive to my house, consummation, a drive back to where she was staying, (there wouldn’t be time to drive her back next morning), and then return back to my house again (for a grand total of at least 3 hours, give or take a few minutes depending on the conjugation). I was already a bit sleepy. I was leaning towards bringing her home. It would just be too late for this old fellow. She slipped into the passenger seat and then slipped her hands between my legs. Before I was quite aware of it the app was translating my words into, “¿Quisiera venir a ver mi casa?” The translator app had plans of its own and who was I to argue?
Gabriella proved to be as sensual in person as I imagined. The ride north to my house was a bit more touchy-feely than it should have been. Our phones were forgotten, but buttons were still being pressed. Somehow I managed to pull into my driveway. I gave her a cursory tour of the first floor, conveniently ending in my bedroom. We fell into the bed and then into each other and played out in real what we had fantasized. It was lovely and satisfying for the both of us. Then I had to face the 90 minutes of driving her back and then come back home. It was 2 am when all was said and done. I managed to get a couple of hours sleep before the alarm buzzed. I did text her later, wishing her a safe trip home. She told me she’d be back in the States early the next year.
We texted quite a bit at first and just as she was thinking of coming back, Covid-19 hit and the world just shut down. Colombia was especially hit hard. Our texts slowed down once again. A year or so later, we barely chatted at all and I had embarked on a new relationship of my own. Riots and protests broke out in Colombia, so I checked in on her. She was actively marching in the streets. Nearly another year has passed. The relationship I had been in ended abruptly and I floundered. I reached out to Gabriella. She was happy to hear from me and told me she was coming back this May. She would love to see me. Ironically, I had been trying to learn Spanish for the woman who left me, but maybe I could put it to good use with Gabriella and not be so dependent on that damn horny translator app.
Gabriella had been in the United States for a few months on a work permit of some sort, but had been in other parts of the country. By the time I noticed her again, she was already getting ready to go back to Colombia. It seemed a repeat of the scenario we had the year before. You can read about our relationship here: A Chat with Gabriella, Which Movie Plot Am I Living Out?, and Gabriella Redux. I was convinced there’d be a bunch of back and forth, but before we actually hooked up, she’d be back in Colombia. Imagine my surprise when she contacted me on a Thursday morning in early September, 2019 and said she was back in New Jersey. She was available that very night to meet up.
During the period of our initial flirtation a year earlier, Gabriella had stated unexpectedly her feelings ran deeper than I thought our superficial relationship warranted. We flirted, petted, sexted, videoed, all virtually. Yet, we did not really know each other. How could we? You need real contact to fall in love. Lust…that I knew could be accomplished through satellites and wires, pictures and videos. There’s a whole industry devoted to lust delivered virtually. And I most certainly had fallen head over heels in lust with her, but not love.
Whatever she may or may not have been feeling faded with our dying communication though and now it felt almost like we were old friends that once had a non-contact sexual fling. We were meeting up as amigos of the opposite sexes, as penpals, as representatives of our two countries and cultures, if you will, almost like diplomats of two extremely amicable countries.
I made arrangements to meet her at a friend’s house in one of the small cities about 15 miles south of me. There are few of these quasi-cities that are primarily made up of Hispanics in the county south of me, which clings to the Hudson River. A woman like Gabriella could reside there and never have to speak a word of English. I got home from work, showered, changed into weekday evening neat, but casual (jeans and a polo for a warm September night). Driving into that area is always tough, because there’s always so much traffic, especially at that hour when folks were still commuting home from work. The streets were narrow and one-way. The houses crowded each other and were a little rundown. Following the directions from Waze, I got there in about 45 minutes. In the fading light of dusk, I saw her waiting for me in front of the house. She too was dressed casually, but that late day sunlight lit her just right and she looked golden. How to greet her? How to greet her, I thought. Double park on the crowded street and run around the car to open the door? Shake hands, a hug, a peck on the cheek, maybe even the double kiss like the Europeans do? Very genteel, very amicable. I had texted her a description of my car and how I was near. Before I had a chance to even put the car in park, she dashed over, hopped in my passenger seat, and smiled while saying, “Hola, James.” We kissed…on the lips, as diplomats do. French diplomats.
Well, it sure has been a long time. The last time I wrote with any consistency was during what was the height of the pandemic for me. I was home for several weeks and I wasn’t involved with anyone serious at the time. As it happened, I went back to work consistently in May, 2020 and began to see a woman, with whom I fell in love. She was really lovely and I had such a good time with her, but this isn’t about Mika. This is about Gabriella.
Let me quickly summarize my relationship with Gabriella, but if you have a moment, you can go back and read my two previous posts about her, https://lastfirstkiss.blog/2019/03/08/gabriella-est-muy-caliente/ and https://lastfirstkiss.blog/2019/03/28/which-movie-plot-am-i-living-out/ . Those posts are from March 2019, but they tell the story of Gabriella, who I met virtually a year previously. If I recall correctly, I met her through Plenty of Fish, a site I have since decided is pretty much filled with women I don’t particularly want to meet. The women (probably the men too) on POF seem to choose the fuzziest pictures and put in the least amount of effort on their profiles. The site is hard to navigate, as well. In 2018, however, I knew no better.
If you asked the body type which I’m most attracted, I’d likely say medium height and lithe, but nearly none of my actual romances were with women who could be described thus. Gabriella was about 5’2″ and carried a few extra pounds, but she carried them very well. More Marilyn Monroe-ish than Rubenesque, if you get the difference. She was Colombian, spoke nearly no English, was visiting friends and family not too far away, and was scheduled to leave very soon. We communicated through translator apps and managed our flirtation pretty well, despite not being able to express ourselves directly. The flirtation moved to sexting. We told each other we had go out before her extended vacation was scheduled to end. The days passed without our being able to both be free at the same time. Sadly, we never did meet in person and she returned to Colombia. We continued to communicate for awhile, but the distance really made it too hard to sustain. I moved on, not giving Gabriella much thought after a few months.
In the summer of 2019, she reappeared on my radar. She was back in the USA, across the country this time. Too bad, I told her, I sure would have liked to have seen you in person.
Maybe I’ll stop back in New Jersey, she replied, on my way back to Colombiaand see you. A week or so later, she messaged me: Buenas dias, mi amor. Estoy de vuelta en Nueva Jersey y estoy libre esta noche para verte.
I suspect I’m not alone in wallowing in a sad song when things get kind of tough and what better song for wallowing than “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan. The song begins with the singer being left at the altar and ends with his mother being widowed, after the love of her life dies. Alone again, naturally. It’s 70’s pop, unabashedly wearing its heart on its sleeve.
My own heart has been broken. I often think it’s just karma having its way with me. I refuse to be angry, despite being hurt. I know I haven’t done things correctly in the past. So I’m alone again, but that often means I go back to writing. So here I am again. Alone. Facing the future, but with stories stored from the past. I’ll try and tell a few.