A Boomer’s Date?
It’s the festive party season and it’s the twice yearly fete. I”m not a party goer although I admit I like to shake out my fancy clothes and preen in front of the mirror. At least this yearly party has great appetizers and while my husband finds colleagues with whom to chat, I head for the tantalizing table of cocktails. All ready people have gathered at the oyster bar and are downing those rubbery delicacies in a variety of condiments to slip deliciously down their tipped gullets. I head for the sushi and the gigantic shrimps that are begging for the spicy sauce. Fortified by champagne, I seek my table.
My table companion is a slim man, my vintage. My inhibitions lowered, I smile and make a comment about the loud din of noise and he nods explaining he wears a hearing aid. All ready a kindred soul, I whip out my appliance from my ear so we can compare. His is a newer model that is partially hidden behind his ear; mine fits deeply into my mine. Not an introduction I might have cottoned to as an ingénue, but I am pleased to have at least discovered a topic that may pass perhaps 5 minutes of conversation before I turn my eyes towards the stunning centerpiece, the extravagant wines and the other dresses in the room.
His name is John and we both note that we are introspective types and this kind of party isn’t exactly our favoured social setting. I chortle that in spite of having a small amplifier to enhance the loudness of the voices, I often don’t hear and that is just fine.: to smile but keep the voices at bay. I begin to think that John’s name sounds familiar and his quiet demeanour reminds me of someone I once knew. My standoffish nature blurred by the drink, I begin to inquire what high school he attended. He says “McKenzie.” Encouraged I proceed, “ Did you ever belong to AZA, part of the B’nai B’rith Association which used to bring Jewish boys and girls together for parties and fund raisers?” “Yes,” he responds. I make an outrageous leap and exclaim, “ I think I knew you from a long time ago”. He politely smiles, no doubt wondering what next.
Intent on maintaining a conversation and rekindling his memory, I continue, “I think you were the first date I ever had.” He looks bemused and responds, “ I’m 69” and very very gently, offers, no doubt to preserve my dignity, “ I don’t recall, but then I don’t remember everything from back then”. We chortle a bit.
By this point, his wife is looking over at me quizzically. Undeterred with a huge sloppy grin, I boldly continue, “ OH! You never forget your first date.” In my mind I am revisiting the shy young man who arrived half an hour early and was so embarrassed, he barely uttered a word all night.
Still I go on, “ Your mother drove us to the party.”
He responds, sympathetically “My mother doesn’t drive.”
Like a roaring wave that has been set on its course that will, of course , crash on the sand, I seem unable to shake the idea that this person beside me may not be who I think he is. I do not admit I may be incorrect because I am stuck in my head that 14 year old John might have turned out to be this pleasant person who is presently sitting beside me. Albeit I am slowly recalling a different nose on the original John. Well, people break their noses in sports or sometimes past adolescent, features do change.
He is unbelievably kind in this situation, not insisting that I am a crazed seat partner who is delusional. Finally allowing the topic to drop, we ruminate on travel, grandkids, etc. and I reflect that John still possesses the same characteristics that would have attracted me more than 50 years ago: quietness, care, sincerity.
When we leave the evening, I confide this story to my husband and suddenly I remember, John’s last name. In deed, it is different to the one of my first date.The second syllable slightly similar but not matching. Oh my!!!!
How could I not have remembered that. I feel silly, ridiculous, thinking I should have turned off my hearing aid completely or stayed at the oyster bar.