I believe in the rule of three. Within a narrow space of time I suffered Stage 4 lymphoma, beating the odds by surviving, and was strongly encouraged, albeit with financial incentives, to take early retirement. Then, my marriage ended.
Armed with the temporary immunity that comes with the rule of three, it was time to reenter the dating pool. (Spoiler alert: As you start your sixth decade, the water is much colder. Difficult icebreakers replace the easy familiarity of youth.)
Fortunately, the harshness of that reality was buffered by the virtual world of online dating. It turns out I loved the efficiency of Match.com, Plenty of Fish and other online options. I also believe a relationship is based on the two Cs: chemistry and compatibility. Of the two, compatibility is the hardest. After a few minutes, attraction is obvious, but it takes a few dates to determine a possible good fit.
That’s where the efficiency of online dating excels. I could waste a lifetime meeting 500 women, selecting those with mutual attraction and going out on dates with each. By contrast, I could review 500 profiles in the time it would take to read a short novel.
I set about taking my task seriously, setting priorities and moving quickly past anyone who didn’t make the cut.
My criteria started with basic intelligence: Can someone string a couple of coherent sentences together? I wanted someone politically liberal, not religious, socially aware and open to other cultures, both through travel, and locally, by exploring ethnic cuisines. (As a devout carnivore, I had to rule out vegans and vegetarians.) My search narrowed: 500 women quickly became around 30, of which 10 women responded. Ten is a manageable number.
I went on a couple of dates that did not work out. No horror stories, but no magic either.
One profile, though, fired my imagination.
Roslyn checked all the boxes. And she was beautiful. I plodded on the keyboard with as much wit and charm as I could muster. We corresponded for a few weeks and advanced to phone calls.
After about five weeks, she agreed to meet in Thai Town. The food was good, the conversation better. I was amazed at how much a white Jewish boy from the Valley had in common with a black Motown transplant who’d been raised Baptist.
I ended the night looking forward to our second date. But there was just one problem.
Roslyn had two jobs, auditioning as an actress (with the usual percentage of callbacks), and working as a personal assistant. Actually, she had three jobs. Shortly after our first date, her hours were cut back and she began working at a pharmacy.
Each time I called her, the conversation flowed, but she was always too tired to go out.
I tried again and again. It was all testing my persistence, my confidence and, ultimately, my ingenuity. I would suggest dinner, or movies. Nothing moved the needle.
Two months passed, and still no second date with Roslyn.
Maybe I needed to take a hint?
Now, when I was growing up, my family owned a jewelry store. During the busy Christmas season, I worked at the store, sometimes as much as 60 hours a week. Like most retail stores, the floor was concrete covered with linoleum.
Standing all day took its toll, particularly on my feet.
I wondered if Roslyn was feeling the same.
I decided to give it one last try. I called Roslyn and asked her if she wanted to go to the San Gabriel Valley for a foot massage and hot pot.
I had her at foot massage.
We finished the evening with Taiwanese shaved ice, and we never looked back. (I learned to supplement our trips to the SGV with my own, less trained, fingers.)
About a year later, for her birthday, we drove up to Santa Ynez to sample the fruits of the vine and check on a thoroughbred at a horse farm. For the trip, I bought sandwiches at the justly revered Mario’s deli in Glendale (turkey and provolone for her, a spicy soppressata for me). I planned to propose when we stopped for lunch. And plan I did.
I thought she might be on to me, so I tried to gain some element of surprise by pretending I was prepared to stop at any old place and haul out the lunch basket. (Meanwhile, I had carefully charted out romantic locations all up the coast.) Hiding my nerves, I would periodically ask if she was feeling hungry.
By the time her appetite flowered, mine had nearly shriveled.
We finally pulled off at Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara County. We parked; I retrieved lunch. I also had a box loaded with gag birthday gifts. The ring box was at the very bottom.
I got down on one knee and proposed.
And after she helped me up, she said yes.
The author has been married for six years. He is a writer and retired attorney.
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