tagRomanceSarah and Her River Rat

Sarah and Her River Rat


Author's Notes:

All persons in this story are well over the age of 18.

This is a true story. It is definitely not a stroke story, so if that's your cup of tea, please look elsewhere.

Names have been changed, of course, and place names may or may not be real. I'm offering it in Romance instead of Non-Erotic because there are a few explicit bits in it, but there is little outright sex. I hope that it brings a little joy into the lives of those who take the time to read it. The writing of it certainly brought some joyful memories into mine -- and Sarah's, of course.

So here we go!

It's a little difficult to say when the forces that brought us together began spinning up. Was it when, on a mild September evening during my fifty-third trip around the sun, that Maggie, my wife of fourteen years told me that she wanted a divorce?

Or was it some years earlier than that, when I began to realize that my mate -- the woman I had loved and made so many compromises and accommodations for through the years we were together -- had stopped loving me? In truth, that she had never truly loved me enough to allow me past the protective barrier that she had built inside her, the barrier that she used to shield herself from the pain of her father's many decades of cheating on her mother. The same pain that made her irrationally jealous and obsessively suspicious of my behavior toward other women. I have to say up front that there was never any cheating. Never. (At least on my part.)

Or was it when I found out that she had never really enjoyed my attempts to satisfy her sexual needs and desires, and had faked her sexual enthusiasm and orgasms with me from the beginning? Why on earth would a woman do that? To lead a gullible man to the altar by his penis? To mate "for life" under false pretenses? Like most clueless guys, I thought from the responses I got that I had been doing a pretty good job in that department -- although the stresses of an increasingly unsettled marriage meant that the frequency and enthusiasm had been suffering for quite a while.

Whatever the cause or reasons, I had been totally blindsided by that revelation, which had come out during "marriage counseling." Well, whatever the answer, my marriage was over because she said it was, and I had to work through the stages of grief as time permitted, and then make plans to move on....

* * * * * *

Or did it begin when another man, many miles away, became restless and unsettled in his own marriage, and began to believe that the grass was, perhaps, greener elsewhere? Possibly, just possibly, a wiser man would have applied some care and fertilizer to the grass he had been tending, but he did not. Instead, 27 years into "forsaking all others," he bolted over the fence to mount a younger filly, leaving Sarah to sort out the broken shards and develop a plan for living the rest of her life.

The man she had lived with and loved and raised children with had given up on their life together and was gone. Only her two sons -- both grown into fine young men -- her friends and family, and her professional life were left to validate her worth as a person. (And at this point, in spite of her sorrow and despair, Sarah was about to enter a new and exciting stage in her life -- that of being an independent woman who would make her own choices!)

* * * * * *

Whenever it truly began, the magical forces did not start to come together until I had started to come out of the grief and despair I felt for the loss of my own "until death do us part" partner. It was on a Sunday in January of 1996, after spending the first New Year's Eve of my life alone, with no family, friends, or loving companion nearby, that I started looking at the Sunday Times-Dispatch for more than news and entertainment.

Yes, kids, before there were Match.com and Plenty of Fish and the plethora of "special interest" Internet dating sites, if you lived in central Virginia, one place you could seek out potential companions was the pre-Internet, dinosaur-era, daily newspaper called the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Before the Internet took over the world, people seeking to meet potential mates (for one-offs or more permanent liaisons) often turned to a section of the newspaper called the Personals. These ads were placed by individuals seeking companionship, love, or sex of all kinds, and were categorized by gender: Men Seeking Women, Men Seeking Men, Women Seeking Men, Women Seeking Women, and so on.

I started looking into the Personals around my 53rd birthday that January. Many of the "Women Seeking Men" ads seemed interesting, but I couldn't bring myself to answer any of them -- until the "Rivertown Artist" put her ad in. Since that was the area where I lived, I listened to her voice message -- several times -- and finally decided to make an attempt to contact her. As nervous as I had been on my very first date as a teen-ager, I left a message in her voice mailbox and hoped that she would call me back.

After a couple of weeks, she did. And even though her name was not Sarah (surprise!), my subsequent interaction with her is largely responsible for helping me to meet my Sarah! Here's how it went down. As we talked about our mutual love of the river and its wildlife, I asked this woman what possessed her to put an ad in the Personals, and what kinds of responses she was getting. When she told me how hard it was to meet people out here in the country, and about the quality and quantity of people she had met using this medium -- although she'd not yet met "Mr. Right" -- I thought, "hmmmm, maybe I should do that!"

I'd done something similar when I'd been single many years earlier, in another city, and the results had been quite rewarding, a sexual buffet of sorts, even though I'd not met "Ms. Right." So even though the artist never became more than a casual acquaintance, it was because of her that I became inspired to insert my own small ad in the "Men Seeking Women" section in early February. Here's what it said.

ROMANTIC River rat. Attractive, caring, athletic, humorous DWM, 53.

Love the Bay and its wildlife. Professional life in the city; laid back at home.

Seeking an honest, sensuous mate, to explore life.

In addition to the little ad in the classifieds, the Personals system was set up so the advertiser could leave a one or two minute recorded message that interested respondents could listen to, then leave their own voice message if they wanted to contact me. If you had been one of the callers who listened to my recorded introduction, here's what you would have heard:

"Hi -- my name is Brian. Thanks for responding to my ad. I'm a laid-back kind of guy who lives on the water near Rivertown, with relaxing and romantic views of woods and water and wildlife from almost every window of my home.

"I'm five-ten, with graying hair and brown eyes, and I keep in shape by walking or running a few miles as many times a week as I can. My career as a computer wizard brings me to work in Richmond at least five days a week, and some nights and weekends. I enjoy my work and the people I work with, but there's something missing in my life. When I come home, there's no one here to share the evenings and weekends with.

"I'm a non-smoker, social drinker, who enjoys cooking in and dining out. I'm honest, affectionate, caring and adventurous. I love boating, and find a great inner peace when I'm out on the river or the bay, just kicking around in boats.

"I'm also very sensuous and loving, willing to devote all of my physical and emotional energies to the right woman, one who is as eager to love me as I am to love her.

"If you think you'd like to share my life, please tell me something about yourself and how to contact you. Thanks again for listening."

Now you wouldn't think that an old divorced guy of 53 would get many responses, right? A few, maybe a dozen or so, but hey, it was worth a try, right? Well, let me tell you! That little ad ran for three weeks, three days a week. For the first week, responses in my voice mailbox averaged 2-3 per day. 'Wow! This is great,' I thought! Some were simply "Love your ad, you sound very nice, but I would never date anyone from the Personals. Good luck!" Others were sincere inquiries from women who sounded interested in talking with me and possibly meeting, to see where things might go.

For the second week, responses were 1-2 per day. 'Well,' I thought, 'maybe there are starting to be too many names to handle, here.' But I would soldier on, and deal with them as well as I could in the days and weeks to come.

Finally, during the third week, messages dwindled to 0-1 per day. Even so, I definitely had an overload situation here. After the three weeks was over, the ad dropped out of the newspaper, and honestly I was relieved.

At last, with 37 names and phone numbers of women who were interested enough in meeting me to call and leave a short message, now I would get no more new callers, right? I'd already started talking with and meeting some of the women who'd called, and I knew I was going to be a very busy boy for a while making phone calls and lunch dates, but once a week I would check the voicemail system to see if any stragglers who'd seen the ad toward the end of its run might be checking in. I was also curious about how long the Personals system would leave the voice mailbox active.

* * * * * *

During the first week after the ad stopped running, a couple of additional callers checked in, so I now had 39 names and numbers from my little experiment. As luck would have it, on March 9th, over a week after the print ad disappeared from the newspaper, and only a week before the voice mailbox was taken down, a message from caller number 40 was left for me. Here's what I heard when I listened to it:

"Hey, river rat. I've read your ad for the past three weeks, trying to decide if I should answer it. I've never answered a personal ad before, but something about the 'river rat' kept sticking in my mind. I really never expected to even be reading the personals, let alone answering one. I've spent most of my life in a marriage that I thought would last forever, but I didn't count on male mid-life crisis and the younger woman.

"I'm 48, and soon to be divorced. The property settlement's been worked out. I have two wonderful sons, both of whom are grown, so I know the marriage was worth a lot, for that reason if nothing else.

"I have a professional job during the week, but I love to relax on the weekends. I don't have much experience with the river itself, but I love the ocean and the bay. I love water, there's a hot tub in my back yard, and I head to the beach or the bay every chance I get.

"I was born in tidewater, and as soon as I cross the Hampton Roads bridge and smell the salt in the air, I know I'm home. I have a brother who's an avid sailor, and I'm hoping that with some of the extra time I have now, to learn some of what he knows.

"I love nature and the outdoors -- sun, sky, birds, waterfowl. I also love music -- beach music, Jimmy Buffett, but also romantic piano classics, jazz, John Denver.

"I like to dance; I enjoy walking on the beach, dinners by candlelight, and good bottles of wine.

"If any of this sounds appealing, give me a call. I'm at 555-5555. Hope to hear from you. Bye."

OK, then. Does any of this sound appealing? Do ospreys nest all over the bay in the spring? Yes indeed, caller number 40 (since that is the only name I know you by right now), just about everything I've heard here sounds quite appealing!

On Sunday, March 10th, I waited until what I considered to be a reasonable hour (early afternoon in case she was a churchgoer), and tried calling this mystery woman to hopefully get her name. Luck was with me on that call, since she was home and answered (no machine message needed), and I got a great deal more than her name.

She is Sarah, of course, and we talked for about an hour that day. During the conversation, I found out that she:

  • Did aerobics to keep fit;

  • Worked in an administrative position at a local university;

  • Has had back trouble similar to mine, but has worked it out through PT (rather than surgery);

  • Had both B.A. and M.A. degrees;

  • Has medium length brown hair, wears glasses, is 5-2, medium build, and would like to meet me sometime soon(!).

As luck would have it, we were both available for a meet after work on Monday (lunch wouldn't work for logistical reasons, so we set up a meeting at a popular local restaurant). We agreed to meet in the parking lot. She described her car and gave me her tag number, and I did the same. We planned to meet around 6pm for dinner.

* * * * * *

Our First Date -- March 11, 1996

And so we met, on Monday, March 11th. As soon as I got home that night, I jotted down some notes about my thoughts and feelings (as I had been doing when I met some of the other women who had responded to my ad). Here's what happened as I remember it:

We talked over wine and dinner for at least a couple of hours. Fortunately it was a slow night, and our server gave us plenty of space, yet was attentive. (Dinner was my treat, and she got a very nice tip.) My impressions of Sarah are that she is clearly a top-shelf woman who is intelligent, humorous, together (as together as someone going through a break-up could be), and probably vulnerable right now. (Me too -- vulnerable, that is.)

She has some (a lot of?) anger toward the "other woman" and feelings of loss to deal with. She is very easy to talk to, and we shared some mid-depth personal stuff. Neither of us wanted the time together to end that evening -- we kept hanging out at the table and kept on talking.

I see her divorce as the beginning of a period of significant personal growth for her, since she has been married since she was 20 years old (and was pregnant with her first child during her final undergraduate year). She now has the chance to do many different things, and to do many things differently. She is burned out with cooking (after raising two kids and working full time for most of those years). She worked in banking before going to the university.

I felt a warm, solid connection to Sarah, and on my way home I had a kind of epiphany about a half hour down the road that she might well be "the one."

I tried to call Sarah every night for the next three days, but always got her answering machine and left messages. Basically, I said that I enjoyed meeting her and wanted to see her again as soon as we could work it out. She was a very busy lady that week, and I had Reserve weekend coming up March 16-17, so it would have to be the following week at the earliest. I really wanted to talk with her before I had to go away to Fort Eustis for Reserve weekend.

Finally, on Thursday, March 14, we connected on the phone. She'd called me at work (I'd already left) and left me a message, and left another one for me at home. When I called back later that evening, I told her that even though I don't really believe in the "thunderbolt" and love at first sight, I just can't get her out of my mind! 'This one's a keeper,' I thought, and I wanted to be very careful that this wouldn't just be a short "rebound romance" for either of us, and possibly miss out on a whole lot more. I wanted to spend a lot more time with her and talk about "stuff" -- no subject would be sacred or off limits!

With the feedback I was gathering from her end of the conversation, the signals that I was picking up at dinner were loud and clear -- she enjoys my company, too, and wants to get closer.

When I thought about her and listened to her voice messages at home and work (you think I would delete them? Hell no! I listened to her voice over and over!), I was having both an emotional response as well as physical arousal -- and I'd only been with her in person for a couple of hours!

Around lunchtime on Monday, March 18th, we made contact on the phone after playing voicemail tag a few times, and I thanked her for the sweet messages that she had left for me. She told me "I listen to your messages, too...." Before we got off the phone, we set a date for dinner on Thursday after work -- at her house! It was a little surprising to me that she had that much trust in me so soon, but there it was! I was hoping for some hot tub time with her, was definitely gonna be packing a bathing suit!

Monday evening, we spoke again. She told me about how her home was her sanctuary during the rough times she'd been through. I told her about my prior marriages, and how I had hoped that each one was "forever" -- but I'll keep doing it 'till I get it right! I told her that I'd had several lovers through the years (as a teenager, between marriages, and my wives, of course), and she told me that her husband had been her only lover (ever), and had always felt that sexual intimacy is the ultimate expression of love (as do I). She alluded to her emotional and physical needs and desires ("I'm a healthy person with normal libido"). I told her that during the past few years of my marriage, physical intimacy was part of what was missing for me with Maggie, and how important it was to me.

Sarah said that she doesn't want any pressure, to feel as though she's being rushed into things -- and I told her that if she draws me to her, I will come -- but there will never, ever be any pressure.

* * * * * *

Our Second Date -- Thursday, March 21, 1996

What an incredible evening! From a 2-3 hour "first date" over dinner at the restaurant ten days ago, through several deep (no subject taboo), lengthy phone calls and long voicemail messages getting to know each other better, we have shared dinner, our first hot tub time (where she "accidentally" gave me a few pretty nice peeks at her lovely, big-nippled breasts when they tried to float out of the top of her "modest" bathing suit), and so much more!

The visit to the hot tub was toward the end of a pretty hot six-hour cuddling, rubbing, kissing, make-out session that could have gone on all night if we'd let it. (I know, I know! Only our second date!) The attraction between us was pretty overwhelming for both of us! I discovered in a very short time that Sarah was a very passionate, loving, sensuous, sensual, caring woman with lots of smarts and independence -- who wanted and needed "someone special" in her life. And I knew that I was going to be that someone! I just knew it!

I know that she felt it too, but she was a little skittish that it was happening so fast. However, it felt "so right" to both of us that we went charging forward together, hand in hand, letting this runaway train carry us along.

I could tell that Sarah felt a bit shy about her body: weight, stretch marks from her pregnancies, soft tummy, etc. I tried to reassure her that I found her very attractive, that I loved holding and feeling the softness of her body, that stretch marks are not disfiguring, but "badges of honor" of motherhood. I wasn't looking for a 25-year-old self-absorbed hard-body -- I was looking for a real woman!

I was aroused all night, with one of those 6-hour erections that they warn you about in Viagra ads, so there was not much question about how she turned me on! And as we all know, it's all about what's happening between the ears that makes the magic, and the magic was sure as hell happening for me! As the song says, I'll be "circling her runway of love, waiting for permission to land!"

Because of the long drive time to Rivertown and back, and this being a work night, Sarah even let me stay overnight in her guest room! So much trust, so soon! God, she is amazing! Sharing that first cup of coffee with her on Friday morning was delightful! I am so smitten! I want to wake up with her, next to her, every day!

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