As soon as Brenda read his profile she knew that he was the guy for her.
Likes trips to the ocean. Romantic evenings sitting by a fire. Owner of a small business. Sincere. Confident. Wants to enjoy life. What more could she ask for?
Okay he wasn’t really handsome. Not even cute. In fact he had the look of a desperate man. But since she had chucked handsome off her Mr. Right list Brenda forced herself to ignore the disappointment rapidly spreading throughout her entire body. No, she reprimanded herself, like a stern school teacher. It was high time to go beyond outward superficialities and focus on what was really important. Besides maybe it was only a bad photo. Perhaps he was one of these unfortunate souls who hadn’t an ounce of photogenic endowment swirling through him. Or maybe, hopefully, he was simply camera shy. That endeared him. Didn’t it?
He suggested they go for a walk along the St. Laurence Seaway. How romantically refreshing, she thought. So many men she’d met online wanted to come over to her house or, that failing, proposed that dreadfully boring cup of coffee.
She recognized him immediately, standing at the entrance of the Island Park. In order to camouflage the disappointment that surely must be evident in her face she produced a magnificent smile, one that she might have spontaneously given if presented an award.
It annoyed Brenda that he was a bit stand-offish. That distasteful trait hadn’t even appeared on her list. She immediately found herself clamming up and then luckily she remembered her new motto of not being so picky. He’s only shy, she thought. Better shy than loud.
His wife had divorced him twelve years ago and his girlfriend of eleven years had also ditched him. At least he had the credentials of a long term relationship. There was potential there, she thought.
He told her that he had just returned from Myrtle Beach. “Every year I drive there and stay for three months on a camp ground.”
Brenda wasn’t at all certain she’d want to spend twelve weeks of her life every year on a the same campground. She thought of Hugh and his RV and how he aspired to be like the old folks with nothing to do all day except buy a tube of toothpaste. She counseled herself not to be so judgmental. Maybe he was different.
“I’m an early bird type of guy,” he said. “In bed by nine. How about you?”
“Oh,” she said, “It depends.” And as soon as she said that all she could imagine were the Depends diapers on him. “I’m a writer so sometimes I can write pretty late.”
“If you and I got together,” he said, “you could bring your writing along and write on the campground while I worked on my RV motor.”
“Yes,” she said, “That’s really my dream.”
After that date in the park he sent her pictures of himself standing in front of his RV in different parks. They all looked the same to Brenda.
Not one to admit defeat so easily she accorded him a second date when he told her he’d like to take her to this Italian restaurant on Stanley Street. She had read rave reviews of this restaurant. On her tight budget she likely couldn’t even afford an appetizer there.
“What are you going to order,” he asked her.
Brenda examined the menu. “I’m thinking of ordering the salmon,” she said. “I’m not much of a meat eater.”
He responded by saying, “If meat was good enough for my parents then it’s good enough for me. I’m a meat and potatoes man.”
Brenda reminded herself that there was more to a relationship than what one ate.
The waiter brought them glasses of water and he ordered a white wine.
“One glass each,” he said.
As she took a sip of her wine she said in an attempt to know him better, “So what did you do today?”
“Oh,” he said, “I mowed the lawn and then changed a few light bulbs. I got my brakes fixed.”
An excruciating silence fell between them. “It took you all day to do that?” she asked.
“Well, I had a nap in between,” he said.
Brenda reached for her glass of wine and drowned it in one huge gulp. “I’ll have another one of these,” she told him.
By the shocked look in his beady eyes Brenda knew that he was already thinking of her as an alcoholic set free. Yet, she was willing to give him another chance. “What kind of things do you like to read?” she asked him.
“RV magazines mostly,” he said. “Otherwise I don’t waste my time reading.”
He talked about the two houses he had built. “Come for a bar-b-q,” he said.
Perhaps it was the third glass of wine that made Brenda accept and so a few days later she found herself standing before his house.
It was on the water, an immense and beautiful grey stone, only five years old. With a 20 inch ceiling in the garage to accommodate his RV. He gave Brenda a tour of his RV. There were large TV screens at the front so the driver could see the sides and rear of the vehicle. He said, “I’m, really looking for a woman to drive it for me across the country.”
It was so huge that it scared Brenda. She couldn’t imagine herself behind the wheel of this monster.
He made a beautiful salmon on the grill and served salad and vegetables and a dessert. They sat at a long table in a dining room overlooking the water. Everything was laid out perfectly.
When she didn’t see any dressing for the salad she asked for some. He brought several bottles from the fridge and as soon as she had poured a vinaigrette one he whisked all the bottles back into the kitchen.
“I’m an obsessive-compulsive when it comes to food,” he said. Brenda noticed that nothing stayed on the table more than a few minutes. He was constantly popping up to put away the food as soon as they had served themselves. Brenda quickly took butter in case that was taken away before she got a chance to do so.
She looked at his walls. They were all bare. “Why don’t you have any pictures on the wall?” she asked.
“Oh,” he said, “I’m waiting for a new girlfriend to move in. She can choose to put what she wants on them.”
After dinner they sat in his living room in front of a magnificent fireplace. Brenda thought she could easily be tempted to this luxurious life style. She had to remind herself not to be intoxicated by this existence and focus on the man.
“Have you had many responses to your ad online?” she asked him.
“No one except you has answered.”
She told him that maybe he should put another photo. She took pictures of him with his camera and posted one of him standing in front of his RV. It was taken from afar so you couldn’t really see him all that well.
His new profile must have worked for she never heard from him again. It made her a little sad but then she knew he was not the man for her.