“Sign Sign everywhere a sign…”

To paraphrase the old Grouch Marx line, perhaps I shouldn’t date anyone that would go out with me.

Two, maybe three times per week I glean whatever enlightenment I can from Brother Ed. Weary from the day’s travails, huddling at Caribou, we scrutinize matters incapable of analysis, (like my dating life), neither of us afraid to laugh too loud or see too much.

Women, Ed opines, set the gold standard for mixed messages. Reveling in the dysfunction of checkered romance, he points (of course) to my past as the object lesson:

Exhibit A: It was a Sunday that Rochelle called with a question—did I have any interest in going out with so-and-so?
“Blew me off on JDate years ago,” I noted.
“Well, she saw you at Heinens and asked me to call you.”
“I’ll get back to you, “ I sputtered, a bit leery, before hanging up to phone Rooney.
“You may not like her, Dad,” warned the kid. “She’s no whack job.”
I called Rolo back; game on.

The first date went well. She was east coast nice, yet pretty. Round Two was the next Friday and I elevated my game, blatantly discarding the prototype plan (Gamekeepers first, then Little Italy).

“ ’Thought we’d go to Tremont,” I told her. “Great,” she said, “I’m thrilled to get out of the ‘hood.” Crossing the Cuyahoga, the dinner was light, flowing, and much like the first– but better. Moreover, this time there was “incidental contact”—you know, those “message” touches like the ones you get from waitresses coaxing tips.

I continued to up my game:

“We should go walking some time” I offered. (She didn’t hesitate).
“I walk every day. Saturday or Sunday?”
“How about Sunday?” I asked, (no sense suffocating her).
“Great,” she confirmed and told me she’d call that morning.

Driving home I sensed…I was sure…everything was falling into place. Indeed, did not her voice mail moments AFTER the drop off “…saying goodnight” confirm it?

One would have thought so.

It didn’t, of course, play out that way. Sure, she called as promised that Sunday morning. I was in the office on Chagrin as it went to messaging:
“Hi, Bruce…It’s raining…” she said, blowing me off.

I looked outside and saw but clouds. Called Ed.  Clear skies on Cedar!

“I’m on my way, “ I told him, somewhat pissed. “Why can’t they just play by the rules? “ I thought. “Why can’t they just be consistent?”

The post-mortem was brutal: “How could you f#*! it up between Friday night and Sunday morning?” he asked. “What could she have found out about you in 36 hours?” he laughed. (We both did).

Her disinterest bothered us less than the mystery of it all. Women in their fifties know how to say No to a date. Who makes a date just to break it? What WERE we missing? An hour of analysis left us empty and the case closed. “It’s not you,” my friend said, “Not this time.”

I believed him.

Ed opts not to date. He gets the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat through his friend. Me? I can handle rejection. Just don’t shield me with warmth.

Like one of recent vintage: Two dates and her Facebook wall dubbed me “a keeper.” Before I saw her next she’d installed the Browns’ offense: 3 and out.

Stu says I think too much and Ed says I date too much and my son, of course, says I share too much. They may all be right.  I enter yet another weekend with no special plans—all well and good….

I am what I am, I suppose. I’ll continue to think, date, write and smile. But I won’t go back to Tremont. Ever.  There’s way too much to learn at the coffeehouse.

            “…So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
            I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I’m alive and doing fine….”

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