Brenda felt terrible. She didn’t know which was worse. Being dumped or dumping.
The doorbell rang. She opened it and there was Bruce holding a huge bouquet of yellow tulips. He’d remembered. They were her favorite flowers and they weren’t even in season.
“What’s this for?” she asked.
“Just to make you happy,” he said.
She thanked him and gave him a warm hug. Then she took the flowers and carefully placed them into her best crystal vase.
“Put a penny in the water,” Bruce said. “The girl who sold me the flowers said it would prevent them from drooping. “
Brenda did just that and then placed them on the coffee table in her living room.
“Have a seat,” she told Bruce. “There’s something I need to tell you.” She sat next to him and took his hand.
She thought about the list she’d given him and how he’d improved everything she’d put on it. But even with all those things rectified she realized that something was still missing. A lot of the men she’d dated were dull. Bruce wasn’t. He was also nice to her and generous too. She was fond of him but she didn’t have the spark that she was looking for with a man.
“You can put your feet up on the table, if you want to,” she said.
He did and smiled at her.
“You’re really a nice guy,” she began.
He must have noticed by the tone of her voice that there was something wrong because he sighed heavily and said, “now what?”
“It’s just that I can’t see myself committing to a relationship with you.”
“Why not?” he asked. “I changed everything on your list.”
“I know,” she said. For a moment she thought of telling him another day, but no. It wasn’t fair to him. “I don’t have those romantic feelings,” she said.
“So? I can live with that,” he said.
“But I can’t.”
He was silent for a moment and Brenda stared at the flowers. Her mind was blank.
“Is there someone else?” he asked her.
“No,” she reassured him.
“So,” he said, “I’m not even better than no one.”
“Bruce,” she said, “you’re eighteen years older than I am. When I’m going to be seventy you’ll be eight-eight.”
“So what,” he said. “In Canada we’ve got great health care system.”
It touched her that he was trying so hard. She knew that he didn’t have a large circle of friends. “Maybe we can still be friends,” she said.
“Well maybe that could last for a while,” he said. “It will depend on my testosterone level.”
She refrained from telling him that it wasn’t apparent that he had any testosterone levels for the last few months. What was the point?
“Do you have good possibilities to move on?” he asked her.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“You know, other men?”
It was sweet of him to worry about her like that. She thought about the men who’d contacted her online before she’d hidden her profile. She didn’t tell him about them. “Oh, Bruce,” she said. “You’re such a kind person.”
He didn’t seem to appreciate her saying this. He began to scratch himself. Brenda let him.
“So, let me ask you, while we were separated how many guys did you sleep with?”
Brenda thought it was none of his business. In fact, his question angered her. To punish him she said, “I don’t know. I didn’t count.”
He hesitated before he spoke. “So, who was the best?” he asked.
“None of them. If there was a best I would still be with him.”
He left shortly after and Brenda gave him time to get home before she called him.
“I just want you to know that I didn’t sleep with any guy,” she said.
He seemed happy to hear that and she hung up the phone feeling a bit less lonely. She’d done the right thing even though she’d have to go back on those dreaded online dating sites.