Strong Hands And A Sponge

After a work week from hell, I met someone for a coffee down at my beach cafe. I figured it was a good start to a vacation: conversation with a perfect stranger. In the past, this has proven to be a great distraction. A friend will let you ruminate, but a stranger might get up and leave—if you persist complaining about some event in your life. It’s annoying, like a record skipping. An internet date forces one to look their best—let’s keep our minds in the present—so we can volley back and forth with conversation.

Vince poked his head in the door of the cafe, spotted me, and slunk into the adjacent chair, like he’s known me for years.

“Hi,” he greeted with a smile.

“Hi!”

“Want to walk?”

“Sure. I’ll take my tea with us.”

Once on the promenade, conversation flowed like the waves moving into high tide.

“Have you ever married, Vince?”

“Never. Women ask me, but many of them don’t like my answer. I tell them to look elsewhere if that’s what they want. Go find someone who has the same war stories.”

“You’ve never wanted to marry, then?”

“No. I think it’s because I’m so shy. The internet has slowly helped me overcome my shyness.”

“I agree. Internet dating forces you to go out and meet complete strangers. I’ve come to enjoy it. It teaches social skills.”

I learned that Vince is one of those people deeply connected to family and roots. He lives in the same city that he was born in. His mother lives in the upper level of a house he owns. He lives in the basement and his mother insists on cooking his meals.

Hmmm.

“How old is she, Vince?”

“She’s 81. She had a close call not long ago—after a knee replacement. She came out of the shower and was walking to her bedroom and she became very dizzy. I caught her just before she hit the ground. It really shook me up. I realized that she’s not always going to be here and what will I do when I don’t have anyone to talk to?”

Aah…I get it. He’s anticipating a void. Pragmatic, but who am I to judge? I know a couple men who married after 40 and went on to become amazing husbands. They don’t have relationship baggage.

Didn’t someone say that you can tell a man’s character by how he treats his mother? I always look for positives and at first saw this as an admirable trait. At first I viewed this as he is looking out for his mom.

Vince continued, “The guy across the street introduced me to this internet dating. He’s a body builder, a handsome guy in his 30’s, and he gets two kinds of women—women who just want sex, and women who want it all. I can’t help but wonder: Can’t I find someone in the middle? For myself? I don’t meet women who want just sex—actually I wouldn’t mind that,” he smiled at me. “but, I’d like to meet someone to do things with, and if it develops into something more, then great.”

We had dinner together, breaking my one hour coffee rule. I found Vince easy to talk to. He makes hot rod parts. Don’t ask me exactly what, but he’s a machinist by trade and now self-employed. He makes these engine parts for guys who want to build their hot rods. He says he enjoys his work because the challenge enables him to use his imagination and he invents solutions to mechanical problems. He’s a mechanical thinker. I’m an emotional, moody sponge. This might be fun.

I believe that we temper each other, the sexes. Think about it. A guy comes home after a terrible day swinging at imaginary bosses and co-workers, muttering threats. His wife/loved one will speak soothingly, “Calm down, they’re just having a rough day.” She will help him to see the other side of the story. Now women, they might come home sobbing about an issue at work, and feeling like everyone is out to get her. Her husband/ loved one will give her a grounded and realistic view to the real or imagined threat.

We temper each other.

An activity partner? This is what Vincent is looking for. I tested him at dinner, telling him a little bit about a problem I’m having. He listened intently. He didn’t offer advice; he just listened. I liked that. I felt strength from him somehow. He didn’t encourage me to dive into the misery I was feeling. I hung onto that positive and decided to ignore the red flags, such as he is probably a Mama’s boy and wouldn’t have a clue what to do with a woman if she were a permanent fixture in his home.

After I arrived back home, and just before I curled up in bed, I checked my emails. Vincent sent a message that he enjoyed our meeting and to call him whenever I wanted. I went to bed with a smile.

 

~zzz~

 

The next few days passed with me thinking through the issues that Vincent has. It bothered me that he still lives with his mother. She still makes his dinner. Also, it’s only when she nearly takes a fatal dive that he realizes he will be alone in this world when she does finally go. Is he looking for a mother replacement?

This is why I have a first meeting rule: Only one hour and let him talk. Encourage him to talk. I used to embark on these dates with the intention to dazzle him—dazzle him with my brilliance and humor—I realized that I was giving away too much, too soon. The trick is to keep asking him questions and no one is going to bury him quicker than himself. You just offer the shovel.

This is day five of my holiday and after four days of activities, I finally feel in vacation mode—I barely got out of my pajamas. After making a huge pot of homemade soup (my way to relax) I fell asleep on the couch in front of the fire, remote in hand, watching a movie called Marie and Bruce. It was rather dull and lulled me to sleep. My cell rang and I woke up. I didn’t recognize the number, but I recognized the voice. It was Vince aka Mama’s_Boy. I rambled on to him half asleep, about it being a day that I felt so lazy, and how this movie on TV put me to sleep.

“Why didn’t you just shut it off!” he said to me with an annoying, patronizing tone to his voice. It bordered on commanding.

That’s it. That’s all it takes. Some relationships end with just a sentence spoken. He wanted to know what I was doing tomorrow. I have plans to go back to the Stawamus Chief. I didn’t make it to the summit last time and I want pictures of the snow capped peaks. If things felt positive with Vince, I would have asked him to come along, but I knew he’s not for me, and he’d be a difficult piece of cargo to lug up the mountainside. I’ve only taken one guy up, and he brought a breathing puffer with him. I didn’t mind that at all. In fact, it meant a lot that he would do something with me that he found that difficult.

But I don’t think Vince was up for trying anything difficult—particularly change. There are reasons some people never marry and I got a glimpse into why Vince never did. It only took one dinner and one phone call. I backed out gracefully, telling him I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do the next day—and I’d get back to him. We hung up. Just as I settled back into the couch, I received a text from the ex-roommate:

“Early day tomorrow I’m off to bed good night xoxo”

A plan. That ended my day with a smile on my face.

 

Strong Hands And A Sponge © 2011 Adrienne S Moody. Read the latest of Adrienne’s outdoor adventures and romantic exploits in her profile on Now.readthisplease.

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