Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Searching For A Soulmate
by Arlene Mandell
Long ago, in the days before Match.com and J-Date, I placed an item in Singles World, a New Jersey magazine where you could describe yourself, truthfully or otherwise, and advertise for companionship.
First I analyzed the listings. I noticed that most of the women had included such phrases as "looking for a long-term relationship," "non-smoking, non-drinking," and "must love children."
I was the divorced mother of two, living in a dull suburban town, facts I chose not to include in my 40-words-or less pitch: "Blonde, green-eyed writer, age 32, great cook and companion. Loves Dylan, dancing and laughing. Write to me."
Thirty-seven men responded! One was 6'3" with arms that hung down to his knees. He took me to a Monty Python movie where he snorted loudly throughout and didn't even offer to buy popcorn. Another was cute in a shaggy, hippie sort of way. We went out to dinner at a casual steak house. He had only enough cash for his own dinner, not even enough to leave the tip.
Then there was "L," a man who wrote that he was divorced, no children, a business executive. "Laughing is something I haven't done much of lately, but perhaps in the right company. . . ."
I liked what I perceived to be the honesty of his letter, but didn't want to have a total stranger picking me up at my house. So we arranged to meet for a drink in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. It was a clean, well-lighted place, and I could make a quick getaway if necessary.
"L" was well groomed and pleasant looking, but I didn't feel a spark. He invited me to join him for dinner at the restaurant at the top of the Marriott. I wasn't particularly hungry, but my children were at sleepaway camp, so I thought I might as well.
He was reserved, revealing the sort of information I might have gleaned from his resume: an engineering degree from Cornell, an MBA from Rutgers and four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy. I described my part-time job as a reporter for a local newspaper. He explained that he was an international steel trader, dealing mainly in "rebar," steel reinforcing bars used in construction. We appeared to have nothing whatsoever in common.
As we rode down in the elevator, I was mentally going through the remaining answers to my ad, trying to decide who to contact next. He walked me to my car, and I sensed we were both relieved our awkward blind date was coming to an end.
Then, for some reason, he started telling me a convoluted story about some friends who were divorced and seeing others in the same circle, with all sorts of dramatic and hilarious complications. He said he'd dated one of the women, who was very pretty, but revealed every intimate detail of her life over a dinner he thought would never end.
I realized I was finally enjoying myself. He said he'd call. I drove off.
That was 38 years ago. Larry and I have been together ever since.
Arlene Mandell, a friend of Tiny Lights for the past 15 years, waves a tearful farewell from Santa Rosa, CA.
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