Sometimes when fishing you reel in the unexpected.
I had an interesting new message on Plenty of Fish this morning. Nothing about the words stood out. You have a great profile. Have a good weekend. But the photo caught my eye. No, it wasn’t because the face staring at me was particularly attractive or unattractive. It’s just that I knew him.
Sure, it was fifteen years ago and the hair had receded, but it was still the same face. Ben was a fitness instructor at the first gym I belonged to in Vancouver. He was one of the most popular. You had to call to reserve your spot in the morning and still arrive early to stake your step spot. (Oh, he taught all kinds of aerobics, but step class moves were all I could handle.)
As a revered instructor, he always had his groupies at the gym. But I would see him at the gay coffee haven of the time, Delany’s on Denman. He’d nod, smile, move on. Always moving. What fat did he have left to burn?
On weekends, I’d occasionally run into him at a club. The smile seemed different. Sexy. He’d give me a quick hug as he brushed by. Always toying with me, it seemed. There was something there and yet something not there at the same time. Never gave it much thought. Fitness instructors were so far above me.
I glanced at the computer screen again. Maybe it was a Ben lookalike. I clicked on the profile. Interests: fitness, jogging, cycling, hiking.
This isn’t the first time I’ve stumbled upon someone on Plenty of Fish. The site has a “Viewed Me” tab. Click on it and everyone who has clicked on your profile shows up. You look, they know. I have been mortified a few times when double clicking on a too-small-but-no-I-don’t-need-glasses thumbnail picture. Egad! It’s Michael, the lawyer who played a whole season on my gay volleyball team! Seriously not interested, but what would he think? And that’s Tad (or Ted?) whom I already met for coffee. Why did he change his photo to one with him in front of a fountain? Why get the whole fountain in the shot? Doesn’t he know how hard it is to identify him in that teeny-tiny thumbnail? He’ll think I’m a stalker.
Viewing is one thing; messaging is another. Then there was the time Allen went that step further and sent me a message. Really?! I hadn’t realized he’d returned from England. Six months goes so quickly. And apparently he’d brought the London fog back with him. How else to explain that he’d contacted me on a dating site? We’d played tennis together once or twice a week for almost a year. And his ex was a friend of mine! Oops. Sorry, came the reply after I wrote him back and set him straight. The dolt.
Back to Ben. Why was he sending me a message? Perhaps fitness instructors approaching fifty aren’t so far above me. I hesitated before I messaged back. Went for a lap around the dining room table. Jogged my memory if not my body. (Yes, my fitness status has changed, too.) But then I typed away. I filled him in. I playfully cursed him for upping the degree of difficulty in his step classes after I’d finally mastered the not-so-complex L-steps and U-turns, even the silly Grapevines. When I started taking water breaks to avoid the more intricate moves, I realized my fitness routine wasn’t getting me any fitter. Dammit, I had to abandon step classes and jog the seawall which I’d been trying to avoid from the outset.
No doubt Ben will be embarrassed. Or worse, he’ll read my message, look at my photos and say, “Still not ringing any bells.”
Whatever. The message had the unintended effect of reminding me of my first years in Vancouver and the close group of friends I had, four of us traveling to the East Coast one summer. (No Ben wasn’t one of them. Fitness instructor, remember?) John, Kim, Takeshi. Alas, we’ve lost touch. Hadn’t expected to feel nostalgic after logging in on Plenty of Fish. Amused, yet a tinge melancholy. And that’s not bad at all.