Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Three
- 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 GO TO A MOVIE
My minivan putters through traffic and emits a chugging cough every couple of minutes. Mike, the Ex-hole, would have promised to fix it. A few days later, I would remind him, and another reminder at a week. Then two weeks. Until finally, he’d yell at me about being a nag and storm to the garage. I shake myself from the memories. Bitter is not my best look. Besides, an element of freedom comes with divorce—no more Nagging Anna. If I want the car fixed, I’ll take it to a shop, no permission needed.
A vibration echoes from the cupholder, and I reach for my cell. Since this van pre-dates Bluetooth, I put the phone on speaker and set it on the dash. “Hello?”
“Are you nervous about tonight?” My best friend and self-appointed dating advisor, Kira, studied my date’s profile more intently than Sherlock Holmes at a crime scene. Following my first-date-after-divorce disaster, she took it upon herself to scope out the prospects. This guy received the Kira stamp of approval.
“I’m nervous about running late. Stupid traffic.” Glancing at the clock, I see the digital display creeping closer to 7:00 p.m.
“No worrying. Anxiety makes you perspire.”
“Tell me about it!” I aim the vents to blow in the general direction of my armpits. A new and unfortunate side effect of hitting forty is that stress gives me the sweats. It rolls from my bra strap to pool in the small of my back. The air conditioning spits icicles at the wet stains blossoming on my shirt.
“You’ll be fine. And don’t forget to check for a wedding band.” She harasses me on my oversight from a couple of weeks ago.
The ring lapse hails back to Deltoid Dan—actual name unknown. While his squeezable biceps made my pulse thrummy, his kindness won me over. And he called me his friend. I told Kira about it, and she asked if he was married. To which I replied, uhhh.
“I’m new to the single lady life. No judging.” But she’s right. I should have looked.
“Everyone knows to look for a ring, Anna.”
“Well, I do now.” And I will check next time I see him. If I ever do. Even though I frequent the gym not, our paths have yet to cross again.
The light turns green, and I make it through the intersection. But, unfortunately, I screech into a parking spot two minutes late. “Gotta run. Off to meet Brad.”
“Call me later,” she says and hangs up.
Racing from my van, I hustle to the entrance. I hate being late. The dim theater lights contrast to the bright sun outside, and I blink to adjust my vision. Movie posters stand sentinel to guard the open space. A crush of people hover, mingling and buying snacks. Picking my way through the masses, I reach the ticket kiosk where my date waits.
I recognized him right away, his dark hair sprinkled with gray, a perfect match to his profile picture, which is a relief. Lots of guys post pictures from a decade ago, thirty pounds ago, or a couple of ex-wives ago. As if nobody would notice.
“Anna?” His eyebrows lift, and he steps forward.
“That’s me. Nice to meet you.” Date introductions give me the fidgets, the floundering words, and gawky motions. Do I go in for a handshake or a hug? Does my smile look forced or too friendly?
“I’m glad you made it,” he says and opens wide for a welcoming embrace.
Hug it is. Going in headfirst, I stretch my arms like a bird in flight. At the last possible second, he shifts and turns his body to the side. I crash land, nose in his collarbone, my chest pressed to his ribcage. Did I read that wrong? He pats my shoulder. A tap, tap, tap to emphasize the awkward side-hug. “Are you ready to go in?” he asks.
“Yeah.” Drawing back, I ignore the strange greeting. “Mind if I grab some popcorn first?”
“No need. I brought snacks.” On his side, the one I didn’t hug, hangs a bag. Somewhere between the hello and the half-embrace, I missed the square cooler dangling near his hip.
“Okay…I guess that works.” But, unless the bag contains hidden depths, I will be without popcorn. Movies minus that salty, buttery goodness are like rainbows without color, a bleached-out version of full enjoyment.
I follow him to our seats with a longing glance at the concession stand. We make small talk as we settle in, and he turns to me. “Tell me about yourself, Anna.”
“I’m divorced and have two boys. How about you?”
“Never married. No kids,” he says.
Red flags raise in my brain. Never married can mean commitment issues. Maybe a mama’s boy. Or a cheapskate who refuses to buy proper movie snacks for his date. But I’m no expert. And when did I get so skeptical?
The room darkens, and the screen brightens. The sound reverberates from the speakers, loud enough to rattle the floor. I lean back and relax, ready to watch the latest Marvel flick—sans popcorn. Previews run, which can be my favorite part of the whole experience. An upcoming comedy with Leo has me smiling when warm air tickles my ear.
“Don’t worry. I put on clean socks.” Brad leans across the seat, invading my space, and his hot whisper slinks down my neck.
I jerk away, swiping off the remains of his breath. “What?” My voice stays soft, respecting the other cinemagoers.
“My socks.” He makes no effort to whisper and speaks in a regular volume. “They’re clean.”
Confusion bounces in my head, and my eyes shift to his feet. Brad has removed his shoes. The black Nikes nestle under his chair, tucked out of the way. Then, lifting his stocking-clad feet, he places them on the seatback in front of us. The white socks practically glow in the dim theater.
His eyebrows lift, waiting for my response. I have no words. Whether or not he wears clean socks doesn’t matter because his nasty feet perch inches away from the back of a stranger’s head. Gross. Mumbling something incoherent, I nod and face the screen. But the socks glare in my periphery. Now I know they’re there. I can’t unsee them.
Focus on the movie. The classic superhero opening lights up, comic strips flashing, and dynamic instrumental music pounding my eardrums. The intro ends, the music fades. I ignore my date’s inexplicable urge to treat the theater as his personal viewing room.
Riiiiip. Brad tears open the Velcro on his bag, the deafening noise destroying the cinematic atmosphere. Then, balancing the cooler on his lap, he pulls out a selection of food: beef jerky, a large box of Gobstoppers, and baggie-wrapped sandwiches.
“It’s roast beef.” He holds out a sandwich, the layers of meat, cheese, pickles, and onions straining the plastic wrapping.
A person behind shushes him. To my right comes a softly whispered, seriously? I shake my head and push aside the offering, hoping no one plans an all-out assault on the ill-mannered heathen next to me. No wonder he’s never been married. Breaking the sanctity of the theater, no popcorn, no shoes. The guy is one step shy of undomesticated.
At least I can enjoy the movie. Despite the loud chewing. Despite the pungent aroma of onions and jerky floating on the air like a perfume of man food. Hopefully, he harbors no delusions about a good night kiss with his inevitable halitosis.
“I didn’t know Wonder Woman was in this.” He points at a character that shares no resemblance to the DC superhero. Emphasis on the DC. Double emphasis on the no resemblance, aside from being female.
“It’s not Wonder Woman. This is a Marvel movie.” I sink lower in my seat, wanting to hide from the angry stares.
A cacophony clatters beside me. Time for Brad to break out the Gobstoppers. They shift in the box, and he sticks his finger in, digging around as he searches for The One. My jaw clenches tighter, the movie forgotten as I count the seconds it takes him to find the perfect match.
“Is that Wonder Woman?” he asks after a different female character appears.
More shushing pelts us from every direction. The girl wearing a “Stan Lee Forever” shirt in front of me looks ready to jump over a few rows to strangle him. My own patience stretches thinner than a photoshopped Instagram influencer.
The jawbreakers rattle in another search for true love, and he drops the box. Gobstoppers scatter, rolling like a hundred loose marbles. They wheel down the concrete steps, plinking row after row in an endless cascade of noise. I clench the armrests, waiting for the clattering to stop and for the candies to find their final resting place.
“So, is it—”
“Stop talking!” I shout, cutting him off. “Put the food away and watch the movie.”
Brad stares at me, his wide eyes shellshocked. The audience applauds, and the Stan Lee Girl shouts hallelujah. A person behind me pats my back, thanking me for my service. Guilt wants to weasel in, but I’m too relieved at his silence to drum up any remorse.
The rest of the movie passes in blessed enjoyment—no questions about Wonder Woman and no jangling candy. An occasional whiff of popcorn teases my nostrils, but I let it go in favor of an undisrupted viewing experience.
After the credits and the final cut scene, we walk out of the theater. The crowded hallway makes conversation difficult as we wind our way through. My tongue feels thick, and I try to think of what to say. Finally, I tug his sleeve and clear my throat. “Sorry I yelled at you.”
He stops next to me, a few feet shy of the exit. He runs a hand through his hair and bites his lip. Crinkles appear at the edges of his eyes, and I realize he really is cute. Too bad he’s barely housebroken. “Oh, no worries. I’m sorry I made so much noise.”
“It’s all good.” I smile, no hard feelings.
“Thanks for tonight. I did have fun.” He opens his arms, a conciliatory embrace in the making. As I go in, he turns, giving me the strange side hug again. Might as well close out the night in the most awkward way possible.
I head to my Mom-Mobile, sliding in and closing the door. Resting my head against the steering wheel, I take a deep breath and wonder what just happened. Laughter bubbles out, and soon I’m wiping delirious tears from my eyes.
Picking up my phone, I call Kira. Instead of a hello, she greets me with, “Shouldn’t your lips be busy kissing?”
“You wouldn’t believe how my date went, even if I swore on a stack of Bibles. But it gave me an idea.”
“What?” she asks.
“I should open a business and call it Worth the Wait. An etiquette school for the modern man.”
“And this would be….” She draws out the last word, letting me fill in the blank.
“A place for male re-education, to teach them the intricacies of how to behave.” I envision it now, me, a forty-year-old divorcee, saving others from the trauma of bad dates. Maybe this is my calling in midlife. Or maybe my luck draws all the uncivilized straws in the dating pool. Either way… “Anna Waite, savior of women’s sanity.”