Sunday, September 8, 2013

THE TRAVELING SHOW--Part 1

“I’ve never done this before.” It’s rare for a middle-aged man to say that about anything, but I believed him.

When it comes to dating, I am usually the one with the more extraordinary journey, heading out of the house hours before the agreed upon time and schlepping over to Vancouver via ferry and car. But this time Roland had me beat. He was flying in.

When Roland first messaged me on Plenty of Fish, I was immediately skeptical. I replied by saying I was a ferry ride away from Vancouver and two ferries away from his home on Vancouver Island. But rather than going to fade out, Roland responded by suggesting we meet in Vancouver, a halfway point of sorts—I’d go the familiar ferry route while he planned to arrive by float plane.

Well, okay. I must admit that the set-up sounded romantic. I pictured us as one of those older couples in the vignettes of “When Harry Met Sally.”  He came by plane, I came by boat. What’s a little distance?

But, of course, that is getting several decades ahead of myself. We still had to get through the first date.

I had reason to be optimistic. At the very least, Roland had impeccable timing. His initial message came right after I stumbled upon my adorable and definitely taken family doctor on a trip to Whistler. The encounter had thrown me into a fit of envy and a whiny state of unfulfilled entitlement. Why can’t I find me a gentle, hunky doctor?

Roland just so happened to be a doctor. More importantly, he’d written a thoughtful profile and was articulate in his messages. (By contrast, another would-be suitor who first messaged me within five minutes of Roland, ends every run-on sentence with “he he he”, “ha, ha, ha” or a should-be-forever-banned-from-all-discourse “LOL.”)

Our date was supposed to be a week ago, but Roland cancelled when friends from Calgary showed up. At the time my mind naturally went to “The Brady Bunch”. Remember that episode when Greg advised Marcia to back out of a date by saying, “Something suddenly came up”? No?! Am I the only one whose childhood was shaped by syndicated sitcoms? Such a shame...

The week’s delay gave me too much time to think. As much as I repressed our “When Harry Met Sally” cameo, I couldn’t help but entertain the idea of dating a doctor in Victoria. He’d fly to me, I’d fly to him. Would they allow my dog on the float plane? I barely held it together aboard large aircraft; how would I handle being on a wobbly toy plane? Every dream has a little turbulence.

I checked my messages when I woke up, bracing for another something suddenly coming up. Nothing. The date was on.

I took an early ferry in so I could meet up with my friend Ron at a farmers’ market. As much as Ron and I have in common, I don’t talk to him about dating. He is completely indifferent on the subject. In the eighteen years I’ve known him, he has never been in a relationship, has never groused about men or pined for a date. As far as I can tell, his one true love is sushi. So when I casually told him what I was doing later on, I was taken aback by his enthusiasm. “Oh, that’s great! A doctor! From Victoria!” And that’s when it became clear that, while I was excited about a guy, he was more enthused about a dead queen. “It’s perfect! I can come visit you guys! Victoria!” Fortunately, Ron’s mind (and stomach) drifted to other matters. On the ride back to Ron’s, he downed an entire bag of fresh cherry tomatoes. “These are the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever had! I have to go back for more. They’re amazing! This is the highlight of my week!” That’s when it dawned on me that Ron was cheating on sushi.

Distraction over, I headed to the float plane terminal. Long-range visions were replaced by imagining our first moment. What should I say? Would a handshake be too formal? A hug too friendly? Coffee dates were so much easier. I always arrived early, got my coffee and settled in a booth.

As I idled at a traffic light, my phone rang. The screen displayed a Victoria number. Roland called to say his flight was delayed due to fog in Victoria. Subsequent calls and texts kept me apprised of further delays and cancellations. Finally, he texted, “Should I give up?”

Where’s the romance in that? I let him know that my dog and I were content sitting at Kits Beach, with me starting a new book and the pooch enjoying some prime butt sniffing. Fog schmog. This was one medical appointment I would will to happen.

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