Sunday, December 18, 2011

In her eyes

My wife was speaking to me of a lady in her coffee klatsch. The woman is our age, widowed, and looking for another husband. She goes on dates arranged through an online service. My wife told her, "You're a brave woman."

I suppose she is, but I thought about it from my vantage point as a man who has worked with women for decades. Women who have reached a certain age know how men really are, and what they want in a man. Men who early in life found it easy to impress women sometimes have a rude awakening when they meet a woman who is seeing through them.


Copyright © 2011 Postino

The pretty, fortyish woman, Angela her name was, Angela Jones or Johnson, he didn't remember, sat across from him in the restaurant, Juniper's, a mid-priced restaurant with good food and low noise level. She looked at him while he talked. Another woman he took to the same restaurant a few weeks before looked at the ceiling or at a point on the wall behind his head while he talked. His feeling was she wanted the night to end. He had a devilish urge, because his ego was hurt, to protract the evening as much as possible, talk about his job, his kids, his dog or his elderly mother, and so he did all of those things. She gave him an uh-huh every few sentences, but he could tell she wasn't interested.

Angela Jones-or-Johnson had more of a steady gaze, in her own way more intimidating than the woman who counted ceiling tiles while he talked. She was assessing him. What else do people do on blind dates from an online dating service? He thought, I should have taken a Valium before the date. He was on some sort of nervous conversational topic that was not unlike a fully loaded semi-truck with no brakes going down a steep grade. He talked about cars he'd owned. He asked her what she drove and she said a Subaru. He said, I thought only gay people drove Subarus and she narrowed her eyes at him. She was thinking, Oh brother, I've got a lulu here, a bigot. He saw her reaction and wished he could suck those words right out of the air and back into his mouth. It's because of the snow here, she explained, with an edge to her voice. I have an all-wheel drive car because I visit clients, she said, and sometimes I need to drive in snowy weather.

He tried to rescue himself. Of course, he said. I didn't mean that the way it sounded. Nothing against gay people. What kind of clients do you visit, you're a tax consultant didn’t you say? I’d ask you for tax advice but I know you'd have to charge me for talking, ha-ha. I drive a Toyota four-wheel drive for the same reason. This climate it can snow six months out of the year, ha-ha. She didn't laugh back, just kept her eyes narrowed. He then proceeded to go into a dissertation on cars he'd owned, which she listened to politely, but he could tell by the way she was looking at him, steady gaze or not, she wished this topic to end. Even so he couldn't stop talking.

The date ended after they shook hands. He said I had a nice time and she said me too but although outwardly polite her tone said you are boring and I won't be taking your calls so don't ask me out again. Driving home he realized he hadn't really talked to a woman in years. It was more that he talked at them. He was out of practice at carrying on a conversation with a woman. He hadn't talked to his wife for at least twenty years, not beyond what household things needed to be done, or some conversation about their kids. Once their two sons and daughter were out on their own, graduated from college and living in other cities, she was off several times a year visiting them and their growing families. The older boy was married with two kids, the girl was married and pregnant with her first child and he didn't know what his other son was doing. That boy didn't seem interested in women or in marriage. Maybe he's gay, he thought. I'll have to see if he drives a Subaru.

It got to the point where the marriage was just heading in different directions so his wife divorced him. He didn't fight it because he couldn't think of anything to say about it. When they divided their property in the lawyer's office he could tell by the way her eyes were sparking he'd better just go along with her demands. After thirty years he knew those looks, even if for the past twenty he'd ignored what they meant.

In his career as the district manager for a department store chain he worked with many women. He hadn't thought much about it. They were there in the office and they had to talk to him and sometimes their eyes sparked like his ex-wife's, sometimes a female subordinate narrowed her eyes like Angela Jones-or-Johnson did with him when she thought he was boring or maybe just full of shit, trying to impress. He laid in bed and had one of those self-revelations that can shake a man down to his center. He thought, I have to do some soul searching now that I'm back in the dating game and I realize who I thought I was, an interesting, funny and intelligent 53-year-old male, maybe isn't any of that to the women who work for me or to the two women I dated. He remembered that before he met tonight's date he'd had a fantasy about spending the night with her. His fantasy bubble popped the instant her eyes narrowed.

You can tell from the looks they give you, he thought, and the looks I get from women aren't too good. He felt he needed to sit down and really think about what he wanted out of life. Did he want a woman or not? Did thirty years of marriage teach him anything? Apparently not, but a couple of dates with women he didn't know, watching their eyes, taught him something, anyway.


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