We walked slowly and our bodies brushed up against one another with every step. I couldn’t help but wonder what MS Rogers was planning as we strolled along, each step getting us closer and closer to her home. Not counting some after work drinks with the gang my post-divorce dating had been zero. The women at work were either married or my daughter’s age so, even though I’d enjoyed looking down the youngsters’ tops as we sat and lifted a few, commiserating with one another about how much we hated our jobs, I had no delusions that one of the pretty young things had become swept away by me and desired my paunchy, middle-aged bod. Hell, even Winnie was way out of my league as far as looks go but I’ve often heard that women have a superhuman ability to see beyond a suitor’s exterior. I sure hoped so because there was no way that I’d be winning any beauty contests.
It had been Winnie confiding in me this morning that she had tried a little dating that had led to our meeting at the Nighthawk Cafe. Her little anecdote about the man she’d met via Tinder had been something she’d eagerly shared; and she had pretty much said that it was because he’d been under the impression that their meeting was to be a hook-up, not a date, that the evening had ended before it really started. She had quickly set him straight but I couldn’t help but wonder how their night would have progressed if he had treated her more respectfully and allowed the date to progress in a more leisurely fashion.
As we walked along, laughing, smiling, holding tightly to one another, I couldn’t help but think, ‘If she acted with Tinder Man the same way she’s acted with me then I can see how he’d get the impression that she had more than dinner on her mind.’ Thoughts of her in compromising positions altered my blood flow and I wondered if tonight was our first date or our hundredth? -not an unreasonable question considering that we’d been seeing each other every workday morning for the last four-and-a-half months. The only woman I’d been with since Anne had left me was Anne, who, early on and before she and Lizzie had moved, would occasionally consent to some comfort sex; something which I now believed had led to her moving two hundred miles away. So, I couldn’t help but ask myself if this would be a night to remember? I inhaled deeply three times in an attempt to calm down and thought, ‘Just be in the moment,’ something that I often have a hard time doing.
“So, what do you think?” Winnie asked, obviously thinking that I’d been listening to her when, in actuality, I’d been too busy fantasizing about her instead.
“Forgive me,” I said, “I was literally just thinking about how incongruous we must look to anybody who is watching us. I mean, if I saw us I’d be asking, what’s that hot tomato doing with that paunchy old dude?”
“Oh, stop! You always look quite dapper, and besides, when we talk you actually listen; you know? Too many people just wait their turns to talk without really listening to what the other person has to say.”
“Ha!” I said heartily. “That’s pretty funny considering that I wasn’t listening at all just now. I really was thinking about how lovely you are, though.”
Winnie pulled on my arm to stop our progress, looked me in the eyes and said, “That is so sweet,” as she tilted her head up towards mine.
Now, it may have been thirty years since I’ve dated but I was pretty sure Winsome was green lighting me on a kiss; the only question was, what kind? Did she expect a quick, friendly peck or some soul revealing tonsil hockey? Unsure as to what direction to take I pressed her body to mine so that our hips made firm contact, closed my eyes and proceeded to give her a warm, open-mouthed, tongueless kiss; what I thought of as a six on a one to ten scale. I kept my tongue to myself but figured that the roll of quarters that had suddenly materialized in my front pants pocket would let her know that I was anxious to provide whatever she was eager to receive. I was rewarded with a bare flicker of tongue across my upper lip and a nice, solid, double tap on my right cheek; butt cheek that is. We unclenched and after a quick wink and smile she said, “What I asked you was if you were planning to see any of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade?”
I resisted saying something about the pot of gold at the end of her rainbow and instead asked, “That’s Friday this year, right? The parade I mean?”
“Yes,” she answered as we again began walking. “They said it wouldn’t interfere with basketball that way. What do you think? Do you usually go?”
“I don’t, and I doubt I can get away from work. Do you usually go?”
“Oh, for a little while. I just like to see the crazies all decked out and watch the parade. It’s fun, you know?”
“It is, isn’t it? Well, maybe. I mean, I can see, right? Unless you need a commitment right now?”
“Goodness no. I was just thinking it would be nice to have you by my side, that’s all.”
“Well, thanks. I’ll see; really. I’ll have to let you know.”
We had turned off the main roads and were heading east along a side street filled with houses that must have been built in the late fifties. Though the street had sidewalks many of the slabs had been up thrust by tree roots which had to make snow shoveling miserable. We stopped in front of a gray single story that had a short stone wall that partitioned off a patio along the front of the house. The house had a narrow driveway that ended in a single stall garage. When the house was built, the garage must have been detached but the two were now conjoined by a glassed in front family room. “Well, this is my place,” Winnie announced. “Looks like April’s not home yet. Would you like a quick tour?”
I smiled and said, “I’d love one, thanks.”
“Right this way, sir. I’ll give you the full VIP tour and treatment worthy of a man of your stature,” she said, opening the glass storm door and then unlocking her front door and opening it wide for me.