Well, you know I must be far from Winterville in the next scene because I am on a DATE! I know, the excitement may kill us all. Anyway, feel free to point out my flaws and flubs on this date while I try to impress a good-looking blond man!
"I work as a writer in New Town,” I answered, gracefully bypassing mention of Winterville.
“I’ve heard New Town is a pretty cool place,” he said. “Probably better than Fort Myers.”
“That’s where you live?” I asked.
“New Town is great for the under-30 crowd and the retirees,” I said. “I see friends from time to time, and I work with some nice people, but everyone else has spouses and families. I mean, once in a while we’ll go to a concert or something, but most weekends I’m on my own. I don’t have as many friend dates as I used to have when I lived in Tampa Bay.”
“Friend dates, I like that,” he said. “My friends call it meeting up at the bar.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s girly. Sorry,” I said, smiling at him.
“You’re not dating anyone now, I take it?”
“There’s no one to date. I’ve met some unhappy married guys, and I’m not going there. Other than that, they’re seniors. Seniors in high school or senior citizens. Not much in between.”
“Maybe it’s a Florida thing,” he said. “I go out and see either college girls or cougars.”
“Right, but cougar sounds so much more appealing than dirty old man.”
“Right, but they don’t all look like Anne Bancroft.”
“Yeah, I bet. I tried dating someone 10 years younger than me, but he freaked out when I told him I used to wear a Swatch. Apparently his parents wore Swatches,” I said, and we laughed.
After we ordered lunch, the conversation swung around to food.
“You ordered a salad?” he asked me, after the waitress had left. I could tell from his tone that the busting of chops would begin shortly. “That is so cliché.”
“Sad story, really. I can’t eat a lot of pub food or drink beer. I’m allergic to wheat,” I answered. “I swear I’m not making that up!”
“What are you going to do if you get croutons? Will you die?”
“Shut up. I’ll put them on my napkin and eat the rest of the salad. That is, unless you want them.”
“When did you find out you couldn’t eat wheat?”
“Um,” I thought out loud, “I think I was 31. So it’s been about four years, I guess.”
He looked at me quizzically. “You’re 35?” he asked. “I thought you were about 26.”
“Aren’t you thoughtful. What about you?”
“I’m 35 too.”
“Seriously? Class of 91?”
What were the chances we’d be the same age? I thought everyone else from Generation X was married already. Here I was with a guy who grew up with the same music, TV, and pop culture as I knew, who probably even graduated the same year from high school. This was what I wanted to find in a man if I ever was able to date again, but since my options had been so limited for so long, it wasn’t something I thought about that often anymore.
Then, our food arrived. My salad, which was heaped onto a huge plate, resembled a plant more than an edible thing. I called it a shrubbery. Darren pointed out the window and said, “No, that’s a shrubbery,” while pointing to a bush outside the window behind my chair. I asked him to go chop down the tallest tree in the forest with a herring, and he laughed.Here is a man who understands Monty Python references, I realized. I thought all the good ones were taken, or else really odd ducks.