Late Date

byKrenna Smart©

I had my first date in two decades the other week. Boy can I pick 'em. Or maybe they find me. If that's the case, I'd better get my little o'le man magnetizer readjusted.

It all started with a simple, friendly conversation between cross country seat-mates on Jet Blue. I didn't really want to talk. It was my first flight in eight years. I'd just tossed out about nine tenths of my possessions, lost my cat, said good-bye to the soon to be ex-husband. To say I was anxious about my future as an unemployed camper in my older brother's family living room would be putting it mildly. I just wanted to worry my way across the continental divide.

But I'm a tolerant person. And when the good-looking guy sitting in the window seat to my right struck up a conversation I did my best to participate. We discovered we had a few things in common. I'm an ex-lawyer; he's been in Court a lot defending himself in a divorce.

The red flag should have gone up when he mentioned his ex-wife and six kids but face it, I'm rusty. I kept smiling and interjected a joke or a comment here or there as we jetted across the country. I learned he was a contractor coming to LA for a three month job. This was his first trip to Southern California. He'd be staying in a friend's loft in downtown LA.

He had a couple of scotches. I stayed stalwartly sober thinking "twelve years in September. What wouldn't I give for a good stiff belt?"

We exchanges e-mail addresses as we clicked on our seat belts. He courteously assisted me with my hand luggage as we de-planed. We smiled in farewell as we walked through the gate and that, I thought, was that.

To my surprise he bounded over to me and my brother as we were struggling to drag my worldly possessions out of the airport. He said to my brother, Dan, "I just wanted to say good-bye to your beautiful sister."

My brother's jaw dropped. I blushed. Dan said "Oh here, I'll give you our number," and scribbled it hurriedly on the back of a bank envelope. I prayed the envelope didn't have any banking information in it, remembering the time the bus mate who hit on me on the way out to California stole my sister's guitar. I didn't really expect to hear from the seat mate.

He called three days later. We exchanged notes on our progress adjusting to life on the sweeter side of the country. He was working, working, working, but "hey," he said, "maybe we could get together Sunday and go to the beach."

"Uh, sure" I said, feeling faintly guilty. My forth finger still had a white streak where the ring used to be. I was also exhilarated. A date! I hadn't been on a date in, gosh, 20 years. Gulp.

Sunday rolled around. My friend called and we arranged to meet at the end of the Santa Monica Pier at 3:00. My sister-in-law and I figured out the subway and bus schedule. I packed a towel and a comb and a few other necessities and off I went for my big adventure feeling young and sexy and slightly naughty. Steppin' out. So what if he has an ex-wife and six kids.

We met as planned on the pier and strolled side by side down the beach. He spread out a blanket and we stripped to our swimsuits. We're the same age. He's in great shape. I weigh more than I've ever weighed and felt awkward to say the least. He didn't seem to notice.

We frolicked and played in the waves as the afternoon waned. After the swim he pulled out a bottle of red wine and yup, I did it. The first sip tasted, I imagined, as a deep suck of blood would have to a vampire who hadn't fed in a dozen years.

The wine was smooth. Evening fell. We became chilly and went in search of a restaurant. We had a romantic dinner. More wine. My conscience didn't hurt a bit. I was enjoying myself.

After dinner we got carried away on a blanket in the sand. As nice as "From Here To Eternity" makes it look, beach sex is just plain gritty. At least from my stand point. We swam nude afterwards to wash away the traces of our folly.

Blue lipped, with teeth chattering we re-robed and headed off in search of Venice Beach's drum circle. As we walked hand in hand he talked about being a born again Christian and leaving the fold. Did that make him an unborn again Christian I wondered. I thought you were in it for life – errant born agains were burned at the stake or something. I wasn't really listening when he slipped in a comment about his girlfriend who'd be visiting him in a few weeks.

When I realized what he was talking about I asked him if she got along with his six kids. My sarcastic side was finally kicking in. Or maybe the wine was wearing off.

He said the girlfriend hadn't really met the kids. Oh, except for the oldest and they got along fine. Being the same age and all.

How old is that? I asked.

29.

Well at least he wasn't breaking the law. For a minute there I was worried. But I started to wonder what the heck he was doing with me. Guess it's just too difficult for this guy to keep it in his pants for two or three weeks.

I smiled and kept walking thinking "beam me up Scottie. Now! And wipe out the tape of the last five hours."

The date came to an end when my friend left me at my bust stop to walk on to his own stop a few blocks over. I'd missed the last "Big Blue Bus" so I had to take the milk run to Union Station. I got there at 12:10, ten minutes after the last subway. The next train wouldn't be until 3:45. It was going to be a long night.

So I drank a cup of coffee and sat down on one of the comfortable Amtrak chairs. I fell asleep with the empty cup in my hand. Around 3:00 a security guard woke me saying "you can't sleep here miss." When I roused myself I noticed a nice, crisp two dollar bill nestled in my coffee cup. Some stray traveler had taken pity on my sorry circumstance.

I stood up and stretched. As I headed towards gate number 1 and the Gold Line I tucked the bill into the pocket of my shorts thinking at least the evening wasn't a total loss.

KMC 8/04

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