The Weekend That Wasn’t


I have been dating The Zookeeper for a few months but since he lives in Phoenix and I’m in the mountains for the summer, it was only three dates. I knew he was lonely and ready to get married, but he didn’t balk when I told him I was interested in a long-term committed relationship but not marriage.

Our third date in Phoenix was for dinner at La Piñata, Mexican food restaurant in mid-town Phoenix. I had great memories of the place when it was on 19th Avenue and Osborn. I lived downtown at the time and went there often.

Unfortunately, the food was terrible the night of our date. It’s hard to mess up cheese enchiladas, but they were beyond bland.

It was the first day of his school year. He taught third grade and I thought he’d talk about his class, but he didn’t. He’s a very bright man. We talked about books, movies, and our lives. I gave him copies of two of my books.

I expected him to ask me back to his house to meet his menagerie:  three dogs, a desert tortoise, an African tortoise which will eventually weigh 350 pounds, and assorted snakes. After dinner, we went out to the parking lot and he gave me a quick peck on the cheek.

We texted the rest of that week, I got the gumption to tell him about my expectation. He answered that he hadn’t asked me to his house because it was a mess, saying he was more like Oscar Madison than Felix Unger, of The Odd Couple. Hmmm. I’m not a neat or clean freak, but how messy was he? I texted that I could be a committed relationship with someone who was messy, but not live with him.

I decided to take a risk and asked him to come up to my cabin for the weekend. I was hoping that the relationship would go to the next level.

He found a sitter for his critters and agreed to drive up on a Friday afternoon after school. I made dinner (machaca chicken/spinach quesadilla, corn on the cob, and homemade guacamole and chips.) I arranged for Aurora to clean the house and put sheets on the bed in the second bedroom. (I didn’t want to push him into anything he wasn’t comfortable with.)

When he arrived, I gave him a hug. I was expecting a kiss to alert me as to his intentions, but he didn’t deliver one. He came in and sat on the couch. I sat next to him, but he didn’t hold my hand or touch me at all.

I finished making dinner and I guess he liked it because he ate it up. He didn’t offer to help with the dishes or take his plate to the sink. Hmmm.

After dinner he sat on the couch and I sat on the chair across from him and we talked quite a bit. The more he conversed, the more red flags went up. Although he wasn’t very mobile now, due to a bad knee, I gathered that he led a very sedentary life, watching old movies. He’d been married three times, not two. He didn’t count one of them since it was for one year. He had two children from his first marriage, but he moved from Oregon to the Phoenix area, so he didn’t see them much and he was estranged from them. Another red flag as far as I was concerned.

He was a Republican. Although he voted for Trump (anyone but Hillary,) he no longer supported him. He went on a rant about how African Americans were racist because 98% of them voted for Obama. Uh-oh, another red flag.

I don’t remember how the topic came up, but he said that once the pill was in wide use, women were as bad as men. Before that, women were on a higher plane, but now they’re the same dogs as men, sleeping around. Another red flag. I was sure he would be scandalized when my next book, Sex and the Single Senior, was published.

It was getting later and later, but he didn’t make any comment about going to bed. Finally, at midnight, I said I was tired. He asked if I wanted him to sleep in the second bedroom, but I said he could sleep with me. I took Louie out for his quick night walk and moved his bed into my bedroom. I gave Louie treats so he would stay in his bed and not get up on mine.

I do have a silky nightgown, but I opted for a thick cotton night shirt. He crawled into bed but kept his distance. He continued to talk while I tried to stay awake. Finally, at 1 a.m., I said I had to sleep. Then he said he wanted to get “frisky,” but I declined.

I didn’t sleep well. In the morning, I got up and took a shower. When I was dressed, he wasn’t in bed. He was sitting on the living room couch, in his clothes and on his smartphone. I told him I was taking Louie for a walk and knew he wouldn’t accompany me because of his knee. It was now 6:30 in the morning.

As I walked down the block, I called my best friend since seventh grade, who lives in northern California and explained the situation. I dreaded spending the weekend with him since I knew there was no chance for a relationship.

First, she said she could call me when I got back to the cabin and I could say there was an emergency in Scottsdale and I had to get back to the Valley. I could pack up a few things, drive behind him until I lost sight of him and then take the next exit back to Munds Park. But that wouldn’t solve the bigger problem and we both agreed that deception wasn’t the way to go. I decided on honesty.

When I got back to the cabin, he was still on the couch with his phone. He’d made coffee but hadn’t found the artificial sweetener and hadn’t wanted to paw through my cupboard. He also informed me that the coffee was decaf. None of my other guests had noticed that! I made him a cup of strong organic black English tea.

I sat down in the chair across from him and said, “I took a risk in asking you to come up this weekend. I thought it might take our relationship to another level. The problem is I don’t feel a personal connection with you. I’m not taking about “chemistry,” but a connection. You’re a great guy. On paper we look like we’re meant for each other. We’re both intelligent, love books and movies, and are into education. It just didn’t pan out in person. You’re a great catch for someone else.”

He was quiet for a moment and said, “I don’t think so. I’ll pack up and go as soon as I finish my tea.”

I felt badly. I guess he liked me, but it didn’t come through.

He left, and I moved Louie’s bed back to the living room. He’ll be sleeping with me tonight.

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