Embers – Tales of Romance with Adrienne


Internet dating has made meeting people so easy and throws a single person into the dating pool filled with all kinds of interesting and not so interesting men and women all looking for someone. Times really having changed. In the past singles had to make special efforts to even be exposed to potential mates. Dances, hanging out at produce bins, coffee shops, joining endless clubs, hoping to find that spark. Now, merely log in. No jacket required. I thought of this yesterday as I spent the day in the city, going from one haunt to another. I couldn’t help but scan for any sign of a ghost from relationship past.

I thought of Buddha Man as I ate my lunch at the Organic Cafe, a quiet oasis in the hub of the city. I used to meet him there on my days off. His job was blocks away and I’d pick him up; we’d park and join the throngs of downtown workers queuing up for organic mulch. I enjoyed those times with him. He introduced me to organic foods, recycling and composting. Meditation. We really thought we were in love in the beginning. On several occasion strangers walked up to us and remarked how obvious it was that we were lovers and they envied our chemistry. But all was not bliss. I remember him chastising me for washing my hands to get rid of the tiny ants that crawled on me from his garden. According to him, I was a murderer. I shrugged my shoulders and ignored his disapproving clucking tongue. I sat on his patio and sulked. He followed with one tiny ant on this spatula. He blew it off onto the wood table and looked at me in that haughty way that com-posters glare at garbage-dumpers.

We shared a love of music, especially African music. He made a CD for me that I still play and still it mesmerizes me. When I listen to it I remember the wood fire Buddha Man would build on cold wintery nights and his open beam ceiling in his home, the smell of cedar. The calmness.

But it became obvious that our lifestyles did not mesh. I ate my soup by the recycling bins, half expecting to see that gangly man fold himself up into the chair next to me.

As I waited for my friend to finish work in the downtown area, I pulled my laptop out of its case and viewed old pictures that I have stored there. I have photos that I’ve forgotten about. Fly Boy. There we were on one of the Islands at a pub having their roast beef dinner. We flew there via his small plane. I look different somehow. Well, my hair is long, but I know that there is something more inner that I have now and didn’t then. I wasn’t so comfortable in my own skin. I viewed myself sitting across from this man and his friends whom I didn’t know at all and wondered why he invited them at that early point in our relationship. Yes, I remember, Fly Boy and his nervousness around me. He always had to have other people around. But, oh, how I loved the take-offs and the landings. But, that’s all we had. That first embrace and warm lingering kiss at the hanger after a wonderful flight, was fleeting. It never happened again. He was afraid of me. I just wanted that promise fulfilled. He just couldn’t. I remember the sound of the rain on the roof of his plane, excitement, and hope.

We did a drive by with my friend seated next to me. She didn’t know we did, but I admit we did. It was the home of the first internet relationship I was involved in. He was the one who ran past me when we had the drunken bookstore owner chasing us. He drove me crazy, this one, but he introduced me to so many activities that I still to this day partake in. He toured the city showing me all the parks and beaches, where to have coffee, where to buy the best hot dogs in Stanley Park. He explored The Stawamus Chief with me, Shannon Falls. We bought bikes together and toured the Seawall. He was 13 years younger than me and everything we did he acted like he’d just been let out of a cage to explore the world.

‘Wow whee!’ was one of his favorite sayings. His exuberance of a child, embarrassed me. He didn’t have a ‘lick of sense,’ is what my artist friend, Max, would laughingly sum up after I recanted yet another story about this guy. On our first date he brought takeout soup to a movie theatre and when the lights went out, slurped noisily. He was a very oral-fixated person. His cupboards were over stocked with items like jars of nuts, chocolate, specialty coffees.

‘Why do you have so much, Robert? Do you expect a famine? An earthquake? Who buys so much food?’

He loved to lick his plate after dinner. I asked him to please, please don’t do that. He looked at me with that same look of guilt that a child does when his hand is caught in the cookie jar. He looked at me with that same kind of hunger. I didn’t want to be devoured. I had him sleep on the couch. He soon tired of this and found himself another girl on the internet. They found each other on the intimate section and they are still together from the looks of his Facebook page. I checked a month ago and was amazed at the photos he posted there. She’s moved in with him, obviously. Facebook stalking is a common activity amongst the single and still looking set. But he’s turned his privacy settings on now and I can’t get in. I was disappointed. I know now how he knew I was looking, because someone else from my past was checking me out.

Mr. Hong Kong.

I received notices from Facebook that read: Do you know Mr. Hong Kong? Why did I keep receiving this, I wondered? But, now I know. Once you view someone’s Facebook page they will receive this and it lets them know what you are visiting their page.

Mr. Hong Kong. He was a business man living here in Canada but had a very successful business in Hong Kong. He consulted people from other countries who wanted to set up companies in his Homeland. Very smart man, this one. He was also a Tai Chi instructor. That’s what happened on our first date. We met in his adjoining city to mine at a park where he showed me a few moves. He showed me a few more that I know are not part of this ancient art. I fell for this guy, stupidly. He left for Hong Kong on business weeks after we met and I actually waited the three months that he was gone.

What can I say about him? I feel cold just thinking about Mr. Hong Kong. Think about the old ways of Asian couples, where the man walks ahead of the woman and she follows with her head down. This is him and his expectations of a woman. Once he arrived back to Canada I knew after our first reunion that he was as cold as the fish symbolizing Tai Chi.

My friend and I arrived back to our seaside town later on in the evening, just when the the sun is down, the stars are visible in the sky; the Autumn leaves scattered messily everywhere. We parked at the beach and walked along the pier.

‘Papa Jay sighting,’ I whispered to her.

There he was, approaching us, his phone pressed to his ear, as always. This guy had everything materially that I desired. He lives in my town, so moving for anyone was not necessary. He shares my love of the area. He has a great home across from the water and the view is breathtaking. He’s generous with his money. But it ends there.

He’s such a racist and his remarks are shocking. I tried to ignore; I tried to speak to him about it. But a racist is cell deep. He can silence his mouth, but the attitude will live on. It permeates everything he does. He talks constantly and much of what he says doesn’t make sense; he just wants center stage. The world truly does revolve around him; he makes it so. If you disagree with him, he hisses like a snake poked with a stick.

I ended it twice with him. I recycled and threw him back and I know he’s hurt. He saw us.

‘Hi Papa Jay,’ I smiled at him.

We exchanged hellos. He looked very uncomfortable. I mentioned how cold the air was that night. And then he does what I’ve seen him do many times. He just speaks nonsense.

‘The cold? The cold night? You cold? I’m cold? They’re cold?’

Bewildering kind of jabberwocky. And then he turned and stumbled, practically ran away from us. We giggled and shrugged and continued on.

A gorgeous evening it was. We decided to walk along the pebbly beach away from all the lights and people. We could hear the waves slowly creeping back to shore. The stars were twinkling at us much brighter now. What’s that in the distance, J? I ask her. Embers, she told me. Embers. A fire on its way out. Let’s go. We found the abandoned fire, pulled a log close to the warmth and sat. I’d been telling her about my African Man whom I’ve been matched with by his cousin living here and working with me. He lives in the US and we are corresponding. I love his voice. I love how he talks to me. He told me that he knows that we haven’t met yet but he feels he’s known me for a long long time. He said, that he doesn’t know how to express his feelings for me. I like his honesty and lack of pretense. I plan to go see him in November, during their Thanksgiving. I pulled out my cell and replayed his last voice message. I wanted her to hear his voice. She just smiled.

We added more wood and I bent down and blew as hard as I could into the the embers. I sat back and like magic we had fire.


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