A Date When I Got to Be Dorothy Parker

Bud. I almost disqualified Bud based on his name alone. I was 50, but I thought I was still too young to go out with a person named Bud. On the other hand — as a divorced woman — I was flush with a need for fiscal responsibility, so I was determined to make good on my dating service investment. My strategy was to date all candidates who didn’t ask about threesomes or sound psychotic in their introductory email message.

Bud led me to believe he was a football coach by telling me, “I’m a football coach.” Technically, he turned out to be a little less than this. But by this point I was actively telling potential dates I was a writer. The bigger truth was happening 9-5 in a drab cubicle, with me hunched over, straightening out murky paragraphs that someone else (a real writer) had constructed.

He suggested we — who in the cold light of day had become a lowly editor and a defensive coordinator at a high school known only for its mathematics department — meet at a sports bar. It’s noisy in those places, yes. But you can lose yourself in a bank of televisions on the wall, everything from NASCAR to a tennis tournament in France if there’s a lull in the conversation. We settled in and ordered a pitcher of beer to share.

It turned out he loved the idea of what I did for a living. This hardly ever happened to me. Most men thought something like brain surgeon or sex therapist would have been livelier, so I was surprised when Bud wanted to delve into my occupation.

We moved quickly beyond the difference between semicolon and comma. Then he started quizzing me on the definitions of homonyms that had always confused him, like “except” and “accept.” I found I was even boring myself, which was hard to do. But whatever answer I’d come up with, Bud did a little hitting himself on the side of the head in wonderment as if I’d written the Oxford English Dictionary.

You can’t underestimate the power of someone mistaking you for a member of the Algonquin Round Table just as you take that first sip of cold Yuengling. As you may have figured out by now, it’s usually all about me.

I liked the place, too. I could tell that pleased him. He confided that he came here often, that it was the usual meeting place for him and his friends. And then . . . what do you know? They started streaming through the door, one or two at a time.

“Ask her a question about words. Ask her anything,” he said to the group that had now slid into our booth. I felt like the guy at the sideshow who could guess your weight within two pounds. There was nothing to it, but these men thought I was a genius. I did what I imagine Dorothy Parker would have done. I went with it. Between quick tutorials on stuff most people remembered from 6th grade, I took long, deep, delicious sips. And against my better judgment, I ate loaded potato skins and Buffalo wings for dinner.

At home, I got on my computer and — with an immediacy born of three unfortunate dates in a row — I started going through profiles. I stopped at one of a writer who lived in Maine. He was a long way from home, in every sense of the word. But I felt my fingers on the keys. And then I hit send.

8 thoughts on “A Date When I Got to Be Dorothy Parker

  1. It’s been five years since James died, and I still don’t have the inclination to date. It’s not that he was the only man for me, although in many ways, he was. I think building 1010ParkPlace has taken the majority of my time; time that would otherwise been spent looking at dating profiles. Who am I kidding? The whole idea of online dating sounds awful. Perhaps I’ll just live vicariously through you! More dating stories, please. xoxox, Brenda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What fun! As a widow, now of too long standing, what I remember happening first and foremost was the married “friends” who no longer found me suitable dinner company because it would make for “an odd number.” Ah well. My then job took me on the road to do speaking engagements, one of these engagements took me to the town where my old high school social studies teacher lived. I called, he invited me to drop in after my gig was over, and I did. And he talked, and talked, and talked. After 3 hours, I said I had to leave. He followed me to my car and asked if we could meet in New York that coming Thursday, my brain told me to say “no,” but my mother taught me to be polite – so we met and thus started a 2 and half year disaster – Thomas Wolfe was right, you can’t go home again. You are having much more fun and you’re a much quicker study – but then, maybe your mother had the good sense to tell you you didn’t always need to be polite.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a retired English teacher I relate to the wonder some folks have about grammar and usage. I also liked a lot your honesty about yourself and situation. Your prose reads well, especially with the rhythms that you play with. At 71 I just posted a love poem to my wife. I guess anything is possible!

    Liked by 1 person

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