Thursday, August 15, 2013
You remind me of Princess Di. Are you of British origin?
Really? Princess Di herself? I know I am blonde, more or less her height, and more, rather than less, her weight. I was born just a couple of weeks after her. But when last I checked, I never looked pleadingly at the world with large brimming doe eyes (chin sulkily tucked in), bemoaning crowded marriages. Though like her, I too have three in my domestic arrangement. Mine comprises myself and a geriatric dog/cat combo, though Mr B is no Rottweiler, as Di famously called Camilla. Or was it the sexy nanny, Tiggy-Legs who was the Rottweiler? Or Charles himself? I forget…there definitely was a Rotweiller in her domestic arrangement.
He continues, warming to his PD theme: You look poised and confident, tall and graceful. I can just imagine you speaking with a British accent.
Sorry to disappoint, Allan. The accent is not British. I do, however hail from one of the colonies. I will tell you no more. You’ll have to guess.
Being a girl that harbours a yen for one with a British Accent, (though Irish would trump all) I can sympathise with his sentiment. A British Man could melt me at the “Hello, Anne.” It’s obvious, though, that Allan is Canadian. In his pictures, he sports an iconic lumberjackish brown and blue checked jacket. He looks tanned and healthy, cycling in one shot, and in another, on a forest trail hefting a weighty backpack. He’s neatly groomed with short cut dark grey hair, a pair of deeply set intense eyes and an open smile. A couple of his pictures feature a boat as prop. Maritime themes are very prevalent on the site. Perhaps the nautical name, “Plenty of fish” ensures that sailorish-type men are disproportionately heavily represented? Astonishingly often the men pose proudly next to a vessel of some sort, with or without fish. My guess is the inclusion of fish indicates angling prowess, but more importantly a subliminal message regarding being a good provider. Allan is without the fish so I may go hungry, but the boat is white and gleamish and of substantial length. Being distinctly unseaworthy, I’d have to consult my sailing friends regarding calibre of his vessel. Possibly it’s not his, but one he’s posing next to at some random marina? One never really knows what deceptions are at play with these visual lures.
I like to think I present a very attractive package, well educated, genial, sociable… he goes on to list various positive attributes. The audacious words ‘very attractive package’ bring a wry smile to my lips, is it humour or shameless egotism? Is he really serious? I continue reading.
Unsettled at noticing ‘sex’ included in his list of interests, and that he’d choose ‘making love in a forest rather than walking in a forest’, I consult my daughter Cammy, (a necessary stabilizing influence; ballast for my unbalanced morals) before our correspondence progresses to the next level, talk of connecting.
“For heaven’s sake, mum, he’s a man! What do you expect? What man would actually rather walk in the forest if given the chance for livelier activities? At least he’s honest.”
It transpires that we agree on a breakfast meeting at our local White Spot.
Upon arrival, I barely recognize the elderly man acknowledging me from a window booth. He's practiced the age-old (ha!) deception of posting dated pictures online. My guess is that he’s high-sixties or beyond. The dark grey hair of the photos now borders on white and there’s a cane resting against the banquette seat beside him. He levers himself up with his hands on the table, standing (unsteadily?) to greet me. Chuckling wheezily, he indicates the cane, remarking, “This is just until my new hip makes itself more at home!” Impelled by inbred politeness, I sit heavily opposite him causing the air to expel through the vinyl with a soft sigh. I resolve to chat and enjoy my feed anyway. They do a passable pile of pancakes at the White Spot, and it had been some time since I’d indulged.
Coffees are brought to the table and I am alarmed at the extent of Allan’s Parkinsonian tremors. Such is their vigour that as he lifts his juddering cup to his lips, coffee sloshes all over the table and down his shirt. Napkins are called for. I feel awkward, unsure where to look. Possibly his quaking is exacerbated by his excitement at seeing Yours T, but it is obvious to me that there are serious medical issues at play, especially when he says, “What did you say your name was again?”
I am committed to a meal with the man now; our food has been ordered and I can’t hoof it out of there, much as I’d like to.
We progress to talking about my life drawing group, and he compliments me on my work. He explains he’s seen many drawings that are not of my standard. I ask if he too, does life drawing. He awkwardly admits that he’s to be found nude on the other side of the easel. Such is my enthusiasm for all aspects of life drawing, I speak without thinking, remarking on how many art models struggle to hold down jobs, need money or have psychological problems. (Models reading this, don’t take offence, I model too. For all three reasons.) Allan denies any of the above and speaks in vague terms about art appreciation. Then the realization dawns on me. Does he harbour hopes that a lovely lady artist, overwhelmed by desire at the sight of his aforementioned “Very Attractive Package”, will corner him after class and suggest he might want to see her etchings?
For a rash moment, I am tempted to ask him to model for our group. He would be brilliant to draw, alive with character and meandering line. Sharron and Kaye would love me forever if I landed this fish. But no, I don’t want him to think I’m interested. That would be unfair. Sharron and Kaye love me forever anyway.
As I look across at Allan, I shudder at his having put down ‘sex’ as an interest. And on the forest floor? Sylvan visions of the two of us cuddling under the canopy, walking stick within convenient reach, flood uninvited into my head. Given his decrepitude, he’d never be able to get himself up. (either way!) Surely the man is long past all of that nonsense? The expression, “There may be snow on the roof but there’s fire in the furnace!” may be all very well in theory, but I would not be a willing participant in the practical application. God, no!
These thoughts bring to mind an experience related by a friend. She’d been dating a man of mature years for some weeks before making the decision that she could no longer continue with both the meals paid for and deferment of his advances. A special night out, complete with hotel suite, was arranged. It all ended disastrously because he had both over imbibed, and misplaced his Viagra, so was unable to rise to the occasion.
Breakfast may not be an appropriate time for regaling Allan with this narrative. Besides, though he’d brought it up first, I wasn’t about to lay bare the topic of sex.
It’s been said that, after a certain age, many men are just looking for a purse or a nurse. Looking at the relic before me, it is clear that I’m dealing with the latter here. My heart hurt for him. He was genuinely a sweetie, and I know would treat his woman very well. I, however, have done more than my fair share in the care-giving department. The horror of facing major health issues without a loved one walking the journey alongside must be a difficult reality.
I leave our meeting in a contemplative mood. The prospect of facing my future alone doesn’t hold the appeal that it did before the morning’s revelations. As I heard recently on my BBC comedy podcast, “Life kicks you in the teeth and then you die.”