IMAGINING OF A FIRST MEETING
Was he a Philosopher or was he part Playboy? Or a Playboy who was part Philosopher? She would ask him, except that she already knew what his answer would be, & better yet, she already knew what the real answer was, anyhow. But she pondered how much time she wanted to invest in reply to an email from a man she had never met? What was the point in continuing to converse with him, anyway, knowing that nothing would probably ever come of it? But she did like the sound of his voice, & their conversations were seldom boring, so sometimes when he was bored he would call her up, & sometimes when she was available she would take his call, & they would engage in unusual yet fascinating conversations for an hour or so until duty beckoned one of them back to reality. Afterwards, he would call or text her another day or two that same week, & then communication would cease until such time that he got bored again. It was a game being played by two people who each claimed not to play games. At times it was amusing, at times annoying. And at the moment she read that email from him, she was feeling more inclined to the latter.
It was only a fragment of a sentence, really, & how much laboring should go into the answer to an incomplete question, anyhow? If the Inquisitor could not be bothered, out of civility or formality, to form a complete question, why should she spend time belaboring the reply? Besides, her mind was far too preoccupied with a personal issue her beloved daughter was facing, as well as a text that she had just received from another Suitor when she received that email, which simply read: “… so tell me about our meeting & first date.”
She had been casually conversing with this gentleman who lived some 100 odd miles away or so for – how many months now? No matter, it was a very casual, on again, off again enterprise, & she highly doubted anything would ever even come of it, although some of their conversations were indeed quite fascinating, She particularly enjoyed the philosophical discussions that they had on occasion regarding a wide range of topics such as religion, politics, & affairs of the heart. But though he hinted from time to time about taking her out on a date, & even said that he planned to do just that one day, she did wonder if he would soon be relegated to the stack of former Pen Pals she had gleaned from online dating sites who had turned out to be either too lazy or too unimaginative to actually make the effort to step outside their search boxes of “within a 50 mile radius.”
Still … there was something about him that intrigued her. Unamused more than once by his penchant for disappearing in the middle of a text conversation, she had intentionally tried to scare him away multiple times by pulling out her worst business Persona. The one that had once caused someone on the other side of the negotiating table to call her a Barracuda, but which had earned her a higher than average number of repeat clients. Still, persistently, like the little cedar tree that God had planted at the end of the row of ornamental Forsythia bushes that she had planted one year, he kept coming back. Like that little tree, though she hacked away at it from time to time with sharp shears, when she was not looking nor expecting, there it reappeared. And so did he.
She tried ignoring phone his calls & texts, only to get yet another one, for he was nothing if not persistent. Or perhaps she would feel badly for ignoring him, for she had a kind heart hidden beneath her pinstriped business suit. Or maybe, lest the truth slip out, just maybe she really did enjoy talking to him.
One thing that she knew, & that was that she sort of liked several things about him: The way he spoke in a calm, soothing, even manner, which meant he possessed a cool business acumen & could hold his emotions in check. The way that he let her finish whatever thought she was putting forth, no matter how nonsensical it might be, before he countered it with a more logical idea. The way he accepted her sometimes acerbic wit, & still did not miss a beat. The way that he painted pictures in her mind of places & activities that he had experienced along his journey with a passion such that she could almost envision herself there. The way that he could intelligently converse on a wide variety of topics, such as history, athletics, science, & humanities. And the way he could explain something of which she had limited knowledge without being condescending while doing so. But she especially liked the way his voice changed into a softer, more malleable thing which seemed to possess a life of its own whenever he spoke to her about his daughters. A man like that could not be that bad, could he?
Her mind briefly flirted with the different meanings behind his question. What was he fishing for, with that, exactly? That question could have multiple connotations, & at first glance she was not sure what he was after? Was he wondering what sort of activities she would enjoy? Did he want to see how creative she might be in her reply? Was he opening the door for her to seduce his mind? Was he wondering whether they would sleep together? The list went on, as she pondered the possibilities, & briefly her mind flirted with how she could manipulate each possibility into a creative work to entertain and/or tease him. For she did like to tease him, as he always seemed to be such a gracious good sport about it all, & a good sense of humor was mandatory in her book for any sort of relationship.
As her fingers graced her keyboard to begin a suitable reply, the IPhone sitting beside her illuminated with a text from that gentleman that she had been seeing locally. Though she had been adamantly, even vehemently clear to him on numerous occasions that she was not interested in being in an exclusive relationship with him, she had to tell him earlier that afternoon that she just did not want to go on any more actual dates with him. Yes, she had to put him back into the Friend Zone, & he was not going quietly. Of course, she had not been intimate with him, as she was not that sort of woman that sleeps around. And she had told him, in so many words, that he was not her boy friend on 8 of the 9 times that they had gone out together. But she had sensed by the love poetry, the flowers, & all of the little gifts he kept bringing her that he had reached a dangerous point, & she could not bear to break his heart, so she had tried to cut ties. But there it was, in plain text, him telling her that he was heartbroken, & then, there was that “L” word. He told her that he LOVED her, something that he had not ever said to her. And this made her very, very sad, because she had tried to avoid that at all costs. She would never intentionally hurt anyone.
Her mind drifted back to a time when she was 20 years old, & had broken it off with a short term boy friend because she could sense that he liked her far more than she did him. She had held his head against her shoulder as he sobbed. She hated that feeling! She did not want to go there ever again. Then, of course there was the divorce. She had held on far too long, & whatever affection there had once been had been replaced with malice on his part, but still, she knew that she had hurt his pride when she left him, & that hurt her, too. She did not want to hurt another man ever again. Not ever.
She sighed a big, deep, painful sigh as she debated what to say in answer to that text. Preoccupied with breaking off a relationship that never really existed, she took the easy road, & gave an answer to the email question from her Philosophical friend in Tennessee of what their first meeting & date would be like a very cursory reply. One that was not in keeping with their previous conversations of whether it was better to love or to be loved. But at the moment, it was all that she had available to put forth. Besides, though she really was beginning to like this man who lived in Tennessee, she was not so sure she wanted to allow him access to certain chambers of her heart. Not yet, anyway. That was usually reserved for the very few men who made it past the first few dates. The ones whose souls she had glimpsed into by looking into their eyes. And she had done neither of those with this man. So she pretended to be obtuse & gave him a perfunctory answer, saying that they both liked the water, & that obvious one, which is that it is not the setting, but the company that counts. And she did believe that. But still, she already knew that he was looking for something more with that question. Though she hated to disappoint, she had fires to put out. Her daughter needed her, & she had to soothe a man’s broken heart to boot.
But he had called her the very next day for a brief chat, & somehow had managed to work that same question back into the conversation. Once again, she was preoccupied with matters weighing heavily upon her heart. She did not know him well enough to tell him these things, & besides, she was driving as they were speaking. So she repeated the same reply she had given him the day before, & half-heartedly at that. After he hung up the phone, she wondered if he was disappointed in her response. But duty called, & she soon wrapped her mind around other things, well until nightfall.
Why was he all at once cropping up into her head, as he sometimes did on her phone? This she did not like at all! Though he had told her, more than once, that anyone that claimed that they were not looking for someone was in reality lying, she was not looking for a boy friend! Well, okay so truth be told, maybe she was not looking for a long distance boy friend. And she certainly was not interested in a boy friend that she did not care deeply about. She did not date men for free dinners or to have something to do on Friday nights. She had quite an active life, & many friends, & she had no problem doing something every night of the week, if she so desired. But secretly, she knew that he was right. She had the same Maslovian need for love & acceptance as the next girl. She just liked to think that she was more emotionally evolved than some of them. She sighed aloud again, wishing that this man, whom she had never met in person, was not so insightful, but delighting in the fact that he was such.
She did not like to waste time on things that were not going to come to fruition, but it had been a long & stressful day, & she did possess quite an active imagination. She retrieved the key to her heart’s hidden chambers from its secret hiding place, & she raised her wine glass to her lips & tilted her head to watch the sun setting as she paused to give a bit more consideration to that question: “… so what will our first meeting & date be like?”
She already knew the answer to that loaded question before the trigger was ever even pulled. She was fluent in entertaining strangers from all walks of life, so she knew without a doubt that she could engage him in a successful dinner date, should she so desire. And though it was not her policy to even kiss on a first date, she also had the surety that there was a seldom a man she ever went out with who did not ask her for a second date. What if she told him that? Ha! Would she ever hear from him again? She had already danced with delight on that fine line by telling him some of her online dating adventures with other men, something she knew better than to do. Those were slightly amusing, although ill-advised topics to broach with prospective suitors, but she for some inexplicable reason felt comfortable telling him just about anything that popped into her head. And that was a luxury she shared with few people, male or female. Nonetheless, she had moved him into the Friend Zone quite some time ago. Though she had an initial attraction to him when they first started communicating online, Patience was never her biggest virtue, & she had grown weary of him implying that they would meet, but never following through. She had enough on the buffet of her non-existent Love Life, so it did not really ever bother her when he stopped calling. Only when he started back up again. BUT WHY?!?
The answer to that question was that, for some odd reason, unlike the men who intentionally & transparently pulled out all of the stops to get her attention, this man, seemingly without trying, was somehow able to, ever so slightly, pull on her heart strings. And she was not so sure that she wanted to grant him permission to do so.
Therefore, their first meeting would definitely involve the heart – no matter which way it went. Whether they decided that there was absolutely no physical chemistry, or they were immensely attracted to each other, her heart would be involved. She could not fully grasp the right answer to his question, because she was not sure herself. Would she unlock those secret chambers of her heart that contained her soft, feminine side, or leave the key at home? She was not afraid of showing people her vulnerability, but then again, she was not sure if she wanted to feel anything other than friendship for him.
But that meeting, it would be fraught with dejavu, laced with wonder, & would contain a mixture of the known & the unknown, for they had been communicating for quite awhile now. She was never timid, & loved physical intimacy more than most people; however, she did not give that away freely, nor easily at first meeting. Nonetheless, she already knew that she would hug him immediately upon seeing him, because after all, they were already friends. He had listened patiently to her career dilemmas, & given her sound & free advice. He had laughed with her about her dating misadventures. Of course, they would hug, & it would be agreeable. Would he, like so many gentlemen before him, try to impress her? Oh, she did hope that he would do so, because she was not easily impressed, & usually saw through the transparent attempts of men who pretended to love God, who borrowed sports cars, who quoted their annual income, or who did, oh, so many various & sundry things in an attempt to get her attention. And they did get it, at least for a little while. You see, she was a hopeless romantic who loves sweet talking – as long as it is sincere. But it takes more than that to hold a lady of such eclectic taste’s attention. Besides, truly impressing her was a difficult undertaking – after all, how does one follow eating cupcakes with an active Three Star General who is only one layer removed from the Leader of the Free World? Even that did not impress her, as she looked past rank, past socioeconomic status, past honors, & straight to a person’s heart. That is where she saw whether or not they were real, genuine, & sincere people, & those were her favorite kinds, & the only ones she allowed true access to the inner workings of her soul. So yes, she hoped that he would bring along something to impress her, & she hoped it would be his heart. But the question lingered, would she be able to make an accurate assessment? Or would his charm & effervescent personality keep her off balance enough that she would not be able to pause long enough to make fair determination? But she did know, she would at least try to take a peek into this self-assured man’s interior, to see if it was a lyrical as his voice over the cell phone.
Somewhere along the timeline of that date, she would elicit a big smile from him, & perhaps a laugh or two or three or four, for this was something that she was very good at, & known for being able to do. She was more real, more down to earth, & more affable in person, anyway. She would finally get to see his two rows of white teeth. She knew that he did, as he claimed, possess them, for she vaguely remembered that he had a nice smile from his online dating profile, though he stubbornly had not sent her a recent picture of him smiling. And making him smile would make her smile in return. And she loved to laugh and smile. To her, a “Day without laughter was like a a day without oxygen.”
One of them would become enamored with the other one – whom would that be? He would confidently take the lead, & she would amiably let him, as she liked a strong man who knew what he wanted. In return, he would politely take her wants for the evening into consideration. And they would dance an elegant dance of give & take, as they explored whether there was a mutuality of interest to be found. She did not know many things, but she knew how to find common ground with just about anyone. But with him, she already knew that she would not have to work that hard in order to do so.
She knew, without certainty, but with a certain knowing, that should they ever indeed find themselves face to face that they would each allow a little of the veils to fall. Though he pretended that he did not like games, & in reality, neither of them did, & though he was able to adequately convey a sense of sincerity & genuineness over the phone, that face to face meeting would be the moment of reckoning for each of them. She knew she was the real deal. What she did not know for sure was whether or not he could handle that. She knew a secret that she assumed he did not, & that was that she had nothing to offer him that he needed, but everything to offer him that he wanted. But did she want to give it to this stranger who, somehow, through the miracles of modern technology, was not a stranger? That she did not know.
Would they hold hands & walk beside the water? Would they find a moment of companionable silence to just absorb the moment? Would there be any physical attraction between them? She thought so, for she did believe that the most passionate & best seduction begins in the mind, & they had been probing & exploring each other’s intellects for awhile now. Would she shiver at his glance, or quiver at his touch? Would he feel in control, or want to lose control? So many questions. The answers were all there, lying in wait, but only for those brave enough to seek them.
Little did he know that he had only yet encountered a small portion of what this woman had to offer: he had yet to see the character traits that made her the woman she really was, & though she knew not everyone could handle a woman like her, she was beginning to suspect that perhaps he might be a candidate for such a task, & if so, well, that was very seductive in & of itself. And she knew that she adored physical intimacy more than most women did, but like the winner of the trophy cup in a sporting event, only with someone who was willing to work to get to the Winner’s Circle. She was not a prize to be had. She was the Grand Prize. Though she cringed a little at seeing those words in writing, for fear that they sounded arrogant, (& she truly hated & despised arrogance of all sorts), she felt a quiet confidence in that she knew that it was true. And you do not get to be the Grand Prize by being easy, shallow, cold or uncaring. Neither do you get it by working for it. It is something that you either are, or you are not. It is a combination of being a loving soul, a loyal friend, a giving lover, & a nice person.
Would she – considering the fact that they had been conversing for how many months now – Would she break her iron clad rule & allow him to kiss her on the first date? (For she knew that he would want to do so – they always did, you know.) Maybe. Just maybe. If she liked the sparkle in his eyes, the warmth if his hand touched hers, the shape of his mouth, & if he did in fact have all of his teeth. Maybe. If he treated her like the lady that she is, made her laugh, & could seduce her mind. Yes, maybe. And if she did, would he be a good kisser? That was always a consideration. But usually she held herself in check until there had been sufficient meetings & she knew, by intuition or study, or whatever, who was hiding behind the mask before she ever allowed her lips to touch theirs.
But if they did indeed dare to kiss, well, then one of them would be in trouble, & she avoided trouble, so it was not going to be her. There was a reason that she did not kiss on the first date. She was a good kisser, & she knew it. And she really did not want to lead a guy on if she had no interest whatsoever in going on a second date with him. She just did not have the heart for it. But if she allowed this confident yet cautious, stubborn yet flexible, studied yet seeking, enigma of a man to take her into his (hopefully) strong arms & kiss her, well, she knew that there was a good chance that he would want to do so again. And that would mean that the first meeting, fraught with dejavu, would also hold the promise of a second date, & that, she knew is exactly how that first meeting would go. The question now was, would she be brave enough to share all of that with him? She had spunk. She had backbone. She was not afraid of many things. But was she afraid of chasing him away. “Nah”, she thought as she smiled to herself, & hit “SEND.”
Stay tuned for the second essay: Realization of a First Meeting