Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 11
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Two
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Three
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 4
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 5
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 6
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 7
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 8
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 9
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 10
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 12
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 11
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 13
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 14
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 17
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 15
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 16
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 18
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 19
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 20
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 21
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 22
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disaster at Age 40: Part 23
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 24
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 25
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Epilogue
Recently divorced Anna Waite is learning to appreciate life after first love. With the support of her best friend Kira and a solid sense of humor, Anna tackles the world of dating. This is her coming-of-middle-age story.
THE DATE WHERE I EAT AT KIRA’S HOUSE
Music plays from my van speakers, Bruno Mars’s soulful timbre crooning to me about being locked out of heaven. I sing along, tapping my fingers on the steering wheel. Tonight’s the night. THE night. Capital T, capital H, capital E. My first date with Dylan Pound, the swipe right-iest of men.
Nerves spiral in my belly, like tumbleweeds bouncing in a gusty wind. Sweat dribbles in all my crevices: small of the back, cleavage, armpits, knee pits. I inhale a deep breath, searching for my Zen, but thoughts of potential pitfalls that could ruin the evening keep my senses on high alert. Cold air blasts, the vents (hopefully) drying my perspiration from a humid Texas swelter to a sexy glisten.
I’m parked in front of Kira’s, waiting for Dylan to arrive. We agreed to meet outside and walk up together, presenting a united front. Therefore thwarting Mrs. Song’s inevitable attempt to criticize us individually before packing in the collective judgment. At least that’s what I told Dylan. But there’s more to it than that. Kira’s mom scares me, and I don’t want to approach her alone.
Why does she intimidate you? Dylan asked last night when we texted. Because, yes, I told him Mrs. Song breathes fire and sacrifices small, fluffy animals. But his question forced me to confront my reasons, and they revolve back to the same thing: I think Kira is a faultless being. And if Mrs. Song finds so much disapproval in her perfection, my flaming hot mess life is the lowest hanging fruit.
I’m not really in a criticize-able place right now. Maybe next time she visits. I texted.
I wrote it as a joke, adding an amused emoji. Nothing to see here, just Anna being silly. But he saw through the crying with laughter face and offered his own truth. After my divorce, I avoided my parents for a month because I felt like a failure.
The confession resonated with me, emotional fragments piecing together like a stained-glass window. A scrap of dissolved marriage here, a hunk of identity crisis there. The broken bits blistered together with fear and the need for change. My past self felt shame over the window, not wanting anyone to see. But now, the colorful glass and copper-lined scars makes me proud. The stains of my past creating something new and lovely.
Coming back to the present, I watch a white Jeep Cherokee pull up. Calm envelops me, the prospect of an evening with Dylan smoothing the edges of anxiety. Whether it’s the eye of the hurricane or the calm after the storm, I have no idea. But I embrace the feeling and climb from my car to greet him.
He exits his Jeep and walks towards me like a superhero ready to save the world. The porch light and bright moon work together, spotlighting his magnificence. Gone are the athletic shorts and sneakers. This version of Dylan means business. Dark blue jeans stretch over long legs. His gray sports coat emphasizes his broad shoulders. Tall, dark, and handsome, check, check, and check. He easily ranks in the top four things I’ve ever seen. The countdown goes:
4. Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico
3. The Grand Canyon
2. A short line at Disneyland
- Dylan Pound in jeans and a sports coat
He carries a bouquet, the agreed upon hostess gift he offered to pick up. Purple lilies peek out above the wrapping. No daisies, much to my relief. They will now forever remind me of Les Mis Junior and Greg pelting an old lady on the head.
Part way between mine and Dylan’s cars, where a large oak stretches overhead, we meet on the sidewalk. “You look beautiful,” he says.
Warmth bubbles in my chest, like a package of my boys’ Pop Rocks, found their way next to my heart. “I was going to tell you the same thing. Except, I’d have said handsome. Maybe throw in a wolf whistle.”
His eyes crinkle at the corners, and a half-smile touches his lips. “Have I even made an effort if I don’t inspire a good wolf whistle?”
“Technically, I didn’t give you one. Just thought about it.”
The half-smile blooms to full glory, and his chuckle slips out. “Guess I’ll have to try a little harder.”
A soft creak echoes from the front porch, and Kira pops her head out. “I saw you pull in. Hurry up. I’m dying here.” And then the door clicks shut.
“So…I’m guessing that’s your friend,” he says.
“Yeah.” I stare at the vacated space, the decorative wreath swaying from her exit. “Mrs. Song must be on a roll.”
“Kira seems nice.”
“She is.” A surprised laugh catches me because what she seems is crazy. Watching the street like a stalker, peeking her head out and demanding we come in. “You ready for this?”
“I’ve been looking forward to it all week.” He guides me to the porch with a hand on my back.
A light chime dings as I press the doorbell. Within seconds Kira greets us. Her strained smile pinches at the corners, and tension lines crease her eyes. One section of dark hair lifts from the others, the stray strands out of place. It disconcerts me, this flyaway. I’ve never seen Kira anything but perfectly put together. During childbirth: expertly coifed. At the grocery store: supermodel. I reach over and smooth the misbehaving hair.
“Are you okay?” I whisper.
“I’m so glad you’re here.” Tears build in her eyes, and she blinks them into non-existence, gone before they manifest. “Welcome to my home. You must be Dylan.”
“I am. You must be Kira.” He offers the flowers, and she takes them with a thank you.
The impressive entryway features white tile marbled with gray and a shaggy gray rug. Above us hangs a silver fixture, and big, lighted glass balls dangle in varying lengths. I’ve been here a million times, but I try to see it through Dylan’s perspective; this home without a speck of dirt or dust. His gaze passes over the intricate mirror hanging atop a Bombay chest, and Kira catches my attention. Nodding her head, she waves her hand like a fan and mouths the words he’s hot.
“Thank you.” A smirk lights his face. “For inviting me,” he finishes, even though he speaks to Kira’s reflection, and he clearly saw her enthusiastic compliment.
She takes it all in stride, not even embarrassed at getting caught. Besides, it’s true. He IS hot. “Happy to have you over,” she says.
Leading the way, she directs us to the formal dining room. A long, hardwood table fills the space, and six upholstered chairs surround it. Kira’s husband, Jonathan, sits, his blond hair and blue eyes representing the all-American boy he is. Much to Mrs. Song’s dismay. Their son, Nikko, is next to him, his dark hair and eyes making him a male mini-Kira. They both wear suits and an expression of discomfort.
The regal Mrs. Song sits at the head, a queen surveying her kingdom. Her black hair slicks into a severe bun, and her tasteful makeup compliments her features. A white pearl necklace decorates her neck, matching pearl studs pierce her ears, and a vertical row of pearl buttons trail down her dress. The stylish long-sleeved, black ensemble probably cost more than my entire wardrobe.
“I’m going to put these in water,” Kira says, holding up the flowers and making a quick exit.
“Never trust a man who brings flowers.” Mrs. Song folds her skinny fingers together, and her ring sparkles under the chandelier. “The man who brings a bouquet hides his stink behind the sweet scent.”
“Even still, it’s good to take the time to smell the roses.” Dylan straightens, refusing to be cowed. “Otherwise, you forget to appreciate the beautiful things around you.”
Jonathan lifts a brow in surprise. Nikko stares at the wood grain in the table, like it holds the secret of life. Mrs. Song narrows her eyes and harrumphs – maybe a chuckle? Maybe a scoff? I can’t tell, but before the discussion goes further, Kira returns and intervenes with introductions. Kira, Dylan, and I take a seat and join the uncomfortable table squad.
As if a signal lights to announce our readiness, a small catering crew enters, placing dishes on the table. Bowls of soup, sides of rice, seaweed, tofu, and kimchi stretch before us. Having been to a dinner with Mrs. Song, I’m accustomed to chopsticks being the only available utensils, and I should have thought to warn Dylan. But he picks up the sticks like a pro, clacking the ends together.
I put some kimchi in my mouth, a little sour, a little spicy, a lot delicious. Closing my eyes, I enjoy the flavor, almost forgetting the tormentor of fluffy animals watches.
“What do you do for a living, Mr. Pound?” Mrs. Song waits until he takes a large bite to ask.
Holding up a finger, he takes his time, chewing his food and swallowing. Then drinking from his glass of water before he answers. “I have several real estate ventures that I’m involved in.”
Real estate ventures? Does he own more than the gym?
“A man with many pots cannot hold one properly.” Mrs. Song dips into the rice, taking a few grains and nibbling like the rabbits she sacrifices to stay young.
“A man with too few pots becomes a burden to society. It’s a tough balance, wouldn’t you say?” He sees her three grains and raises her a mouthful, and I’ve never been so attracted to a man.
She harrumphs again, this one sounding distinctly scoff-esque, and a strained silence descends over the table. Clinking food ware and chewing mouths amplify in sound, my every bite filling my head like a drumbeat. I count every chomp and gulp while casting side glances at Dylan. His easy stance and steady eating belies the building tension.
“Mother.” Kira sets her chopsticks down and clears her throat. “I’ve been thinking about adding a splash of color to the entryway. What do you think?”
“Anna,” she says, ignoring her daughter. “I hear you are now a divorced woman.”
Oh boy, let the awkward times roll. I inhale, ready to answer the question, and a piece of tofu lodges in my throat. A coughing fit attacks in a desperate attempt to hack the food from my lungs. My eyes water, tears escaping in trailing rivulets. Reaching for my water, I knock the glass over, and a puddle spreads, leaving me to scramble for the napkins. Dylan helps, as does Jonathan, and we sop up the mess I created. Kira refills my water, and I take a few gulps to clear my esophagus.
“I’m divorced as well.” Like the best partner, Dylan takes the volley and sends it back, allowing me a minute to recover from the tofu assault.
“Two boats set adrift should be tied together.”
For the first time tonight, he struggles with a comeback. His eyebrows scrunch, and he looks at me. But I have no words.
“Mother, leave them alone.” Kira stands and puts her hands on her hips.
She rolls her eyes, the gesture conflicting with her dignified presence. “Anna and Dylan, when are you getting married?”
My jaw drops. Kira’s eyes go wide. Dylan freezes with the chopsticks halfway to his mouth.
Talking about divorce, choking on tofu, and spilling my water have nothing on this moment. Mrs. Song detonated the mother of all conversational bombs on the table. And now I’m left with the debris.
Let the real awkwardness begin.