“What is the most romantic thing that has ever happened to you?” asks one of our lunch servers. She is in her 20s, has a one-year-old, and is mightily struggling to lose the last 20 pounds of her baby weight in time for the big wedding this summer when she marries the father of the baby.
“Come on, RG,” she smiles, “You were married for a really long time!”
“But I’m only separated,” I remind her.
“Okay, so, what about the most romantic thing lately, then?” she winks.
I stare at this beautiful yet annoying, cloying girl, whose baby I have met and who is also as adorable and beautiful as her mom, and thankfully has a personality as yet to be determined.
“I mean, when it was my boyfriend’s and my first anniversary of dating,” she continues, “I covered our bed in flowers, and then I lit candles all around the bedroom, and then I set up all our sex toys right by the bed and…” at which point I stop listening. I am not a prude. I just didn’t want the visual of this girl and her toys.
“So it was all about sex, huh?” I ask, pretending to care more about my private event calendar corrections than I do about the conversation, which is mostly true.
“Isn’t it always about sex?” she asks, giggling.
I regard her bright blue eyes, her fair and perfect skin, her long, thick and shiny ash-blond hair. Maybe for now it is, I want to say, but don’t. But wait, just wait, I would never dream of saying.
“Please, let me buy you dinner,” says the sort-of handsome guy whom the bartender at my regular spot has encouraged to chat with me. “In return, do you know of a nearby liquor store so I can get some vodka for some friends coming into town?”
I consider this nice man for a moment. He is buying me dinner, and we have only barely met. I have a bottle of Kettle One gathering dust on top of my fridge because I forgot to bring it to my friend who was visiting her grandmother in Miami before Christmas. I decide I have the perfect trade in order to not feel beholden.
“Hey, I have a bottle of decent enough vodka I will never drink. Happy to give it to you,” I tell him.
“Great!” he says. “Drop it at the front desk of my hotel. We’ll party tomorrow, okay? Here’s my card.” His room number is already scrawled on the back of it.
“For now, take a walk down the street with me?” he smiles, holding out his hand.
I agree to his obvious overture, knowing the walk is where it will end for me, because I want to test my new-found strength of self, my new, confident aloneness. And who knows, maybe he really only wants to walk and talk? Uh huh.
It takes, oh, about five minutes into the walk, and talk turns to this: “How long were you married? Did you split up because he had an affair? Did you have an affair? Have you dated anyone seriously since you moved here?”
“Because, you know,” he says. “I mean, you’re okay, right? You, know, really okay?”
F— my new-found strength of self. F— my confident aloneness. I am f—ing no one. NO ONE. And certainly never this guy!
“Can I call you?” asks a seemingly reserved gentleman my age or older.
No. Never. But whatever.
“Well, I don’t know,” I answer. “I am still married….”
“Look,” he says, interrupting. “I have a 28-year-old girlfriend back home. She tells me, ‘You can have this every night,’ but I don’t know that I want that, you know?”
“I don’t want that kind of sex every night, do you?” he asks, completely serious. “Besides, there’s such a generational gap between us. Huge, you know? I think she may be more interested in my money. Do you think?”
“Nah,” I reassure him. “It’s definitely all about the sex,” I say as I reach for my check.
“I am so done with dating,” says my two-doors-down neighbor who is drinking whiskey straight up along with the gay neighbor who lives in the apartment between us. “The things these guys do! The things they ask!” she laments.
I nod, sipping my wine. As much as I want to move to a place located right on the beach, I love my neighbors here in my current neighborhood that is two miles from the ocean. I love it simply because I love this unexpected banter on our shared balcony.
“Oh my God, the lines I hear,” laughs our gay neighbor. “You have no idea.”
“Ha, I do!” laughs my neighbor, and I toast her whiskey with my wine.
“The latest pick-up for me was about my watch,” he laughs, knocking back the rest of his drink. “I mean, come on. A watch?”
This reminds me of the conversation I witnessed in the vet’s waiting room this afternoon, when I was waiting for the vet to dispense eye drops for my dog.
“I have that exact watch!” an older guy said to a younger guy. “But you have the orange band. Mine is black.”
“I know what you mean,” I tell my neighbor. He is understandably skeptical. No really, I will him to believe, I do!
When you make up your mind to try to relax and have fun, to go out on your own and make nice with everyone, you tend to hear so many more stories.
You also find out one very important truth: It is all–absolutely all–about sex.