I have a date this coming week.
A blind date with a baritone voice.
I’m in a bit of a flutter and if it were possible, I would insist on training wheels until I find my balance. The whole story began in the strangest place – a wake. Yes, Vita’s mother’s wake to be exact. I had just come from my meeting with the Nurse Practitioner and she reiterated the fact that she would be shocked if my cancer came back. This conversation came on the heels of my surgeon’s comments and finally broke through my fears. I was feeling really happy as I drove to the funeral home. Yes, I knew at the time that was the wrong emotion for the moment but I just couldn’t help myself. Once I saw Vita and her father in tears, that helped me shelve my exuberance for later that evening.
Wakes are like strange parties. People from the past show up and that includes ex’s of a cousin who adored the deceased and had kept in touch over the years. How the ex reacts when seeing the other ex is something the living have to trip over. That was the case when Vita pulled me aside and said, “That’s J. and she’s sitting behind her ex, my cousin T. who has his arm around his current wife. We adore J. and she was really good to my mother so please go sit with her as this is a very uncomfortable situation for her.
I don’t ask for details and do as I am told.
Cousin J. looks like Sophia Loren in her late 50’s with a bit less bust vavoom. She’s beautiful with flawless olive skin and a slight Italian accent. I went up and introduced myself as Vita’s friend. We were sitting in the fourth row in wooden folding chairs, two rows behind her ex and directly in front of us was the open casket of Mrs M. The moment I sat down we fell into conversation and strangely enough it was about canning tomatoes. It seems J. is renowned for her recipe. She cans 250 jars over a two-day period. I was fascinated and almost begged her to teach me too. It was during a lull in the conversation that she turned to me and asked, “Are you seeing anyone?”
I made noises and a face that signaled no. I’m not sure why I couldn’t just say the word, “No.” She immediately replied, “What? A beautiful woman like you alone? I have a cousin who is single. He’s 66 is that too old for you?” I shrugged and squinted my eyes.
She continued, “He looks like Joe Biden. Would you have dinner with Joe Biden?”
I had never thought about our current Vice President as the poster representative of a guy I would like to date. I was confused but my Sophia Loren companion continued and her Italian accent lulled me. “He will take you to dinner and the theater and he will pay.” I liked her style but needed a moment to think so I switched the conversation back to the tomatoes. While we chatted about the art of canning a separate conversation took place in the back of my head. Strangely enough, the voice debating with my thoughts was the recently deceased Mrs M’s. Her very thick Italian accent whispered, “Joe Biden is a good-looking man and 66 isn’t too old to have dinner with. That’s just 13 years older than you.”
I still felt like resisting and just wanted to ignore J’s suggestion I meet her cousin. I pretended it was the age difference but knew deep down it was my own fears that fueled the resistance. Mrs M’s voice continued.
“How are you going to get back to dating if you don’t even try? You live in a gay neighborhood so you won’t meet anyone there. Give J. your card. Trust me. It’s just dinner and you need the practice.”
J. and I had just about exhausted the subject of canning when I said, “We never finished our earlier conversation. Yes, I would have dinner with Joe Biden. Give your cousin my card.”
I have the funny feeling it would be considered wrong in some circles to be handing out your business card at a wake for a date. It was odd that it happened right in front of the Mrs M’s coffin and even stranger her voice is giving me sound advice in my head as I am doing it. Still, once I handed over my card my fears dissipated. There is a part of me that wonders if the spirit of Mrs. M. didn’t have something to do with my blind date too. I know this would have pleased her.
Five days later my phone rings and a voice says,”My cousin met you at a wake and told me I should call you.” I burst out into laughter and said that was the saddest line I had ever heard. He laughed and agreed he should have pretended he was selling me insurance instead. We talked for an hour and planned to meet this coming week.
As for the date itself. Well, it’s been nearly four years and another lifetime ago since I had one. Since then, the woman I was is no longer the woman I am. I’m not really sure how to even answer the question, “Tell me about yourself.” There is a part of me that hopes Mrs M might be there to coach me from the sidelines as I answer.