HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

A DATE WITH POACHED SALMON

by Simon Ordever

Scrolling through several dating websites, I chose one that seemed to offer a plethora of unattached women in search of one my own age.

The usual offer of being able to browse free of charge tempted me to build a profile. So many questions to be answered, it felt more like one of those HIPAA forms that are required on the first visit to a new medical practitioner.

Most impatient men, like me, surely take shortcuts. However, I only intended to browse. My aversion to that long search through the wheel of birthdays that takes a lifetime until I finally reach the year of my birth, always makes me smile with astonishment.

My birth month was way down the list, so I just stopped at the first month I came to and used that.

After a few non-starters, I came across Dawn58. Like myself recently divorced with independent offsprings, and a CenLa, where I live, resident to boot, the usual rather uncomfortable banter commenced. I was interested enough to become a fully paid subscriber to the site, and direct messages soon became emails.

I realized early on that we were both Jewish attending family Seder meals at Passover and attending a Jewish Temple over the High Holidays. Dawn58 told me she was originally from Queens, N.Y. “I’m also from back east” I chimed in, “way back east, London, England!” She sent me a smiley. Old Woody Allen movies are a favorite of mine, and hers too. I mentioned Supertramp and Nina Simone just to prove my eclectic taste in music and PBS Masterpiece to impress her regarding my educated taste in television shows.

Being a regular salaried middle manager, and a homeowner with a large mortgage, the thought of not being able to meet her expectations led me to fear any demands she might hold. I was hoping for someone like me, someone who would understand the realities of dating in the shadow of divorce.

Both of us had already lost our parents, all four at a reasonably young age and neither of us had siblings. My son and daughter lived across the pond, Dawn’s son in the neighboring parish. We both grew up in homes where our parents had divorced when we were of an age for it not to matter that much. We, both Dawn and I, had gone through messy proceedings ourselves when our own children were of a similar age when our respective parents had split.

Suddenly, all the trepidation of a real relationship began to rear their ugly heads, the bickering, the ‘I know best,’ the feeling of being underappreciated. Having lived alone for five years, allowing myself to eat dinner in front of the T.V. and falling asleep before the end of the Netflix movie, it was all so comfortable. Then again? A constant companion, instant family life again and, of course, regular intimacy were enticing. The potential ‘return on investment’ made a first date a worthwhile toe-dip into what I hoped would be shallow water.

I waited in the foyer of the restaurant, I was early, she arrived on time. I was much taller than she and she was far younger looking than I believed myself to be. She ordered poached salmon; I ordered steak. We talked about the upcoming Thanksgiving Day and the fact that I had celebrated my birthday the previous Thursday with only phone calls and e-cards.

“Sagittarius?” she said, looking surprised. I had no idea why! However, my ex, whenever I would spout new unreachable goals, and with her ‘two feet on the ground’ approach, would describe me as a typical Sagittarian, unconnected to reality and most annoyingly, an underachiever. “On the cusp” I replied, “depends in which newspaper you read the horoscopes.” I feel the embarrassment now as I write this, (Men from Mars, Women from Venus, anyone)?

On inquiring about the poached salmon she had ordered, I was met with an icy silence. My reporting of the perfection of my meat did not change an atmosphere that had suddenly been conjured up out of thin air, it remained as cold as the Canadian ocean out of which her salmon had been fished. “My ex was a Sagittarian” she barked, “I thought you were a Capricorn”. I had no bloody  idea what she was talking about. “No”, I limply explained, the 23 rd is the first day of the Archer. When is Capricorn? “I swore never to date another Sagittarian, I’m going to leave now.”

Her untouched piece of poached salmon could be boxed up to take home I thought, never missing a beat. I hoped she would leave it there for me to enjoy for lunch the next day in the office – and she did, and I did – take it home.

And when did the penny drop? When did the birthdate in my online profile finally provide the answer to the puzzling moment?

It certainly took me a while!

 

 

©Simon Ordever 2024

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