I haven’t been doing a lot of dating lately. I was busy with work, family, the holidays, and I went on a great hiking trip in late October. When I did take the time to meet someone — well, let’s just say that I seemed to be on the receiving end of some unpleasant surprises. Like “Renaissance Man,” the fella that had a 99% match score with me — and who was significantly smaller than his profile indicated. I’m barely 5’4” and I TOWERED over this guy like some sort of Amazon princess! He had a hard time making eye contact with me (probably because he was ashamed about lying about his height – or maybe because he couldn’t actually see my eyes from way down there). Then there was “The Engineer,” the guy with a masters degree in computer sciences and aviation engineering, who had the teeth of a meth addict. It DID explain why he wasn’t smiling in any of his profile pictures. Or “The Survivalist” — who wanted to know if I was a nurse, as he was specifically looking for a nurse/girlfriend to come and live with him at his “off the grid” compound in the desert.
However, a few weeks ago, The Hiker came up as a mutual match on my dating site. I read his profile with interest — he enjoys hiking — a lot. He also likes to cook, relax in front of his fireplace, and likes a wide range of music. He had one close up head shot in his profile pictures — showing a very good-looking young man with a full mane of flowing hair and a beard. Rather like Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall — but with glasses. I figured the picture was taken quite a few years ago, but from what I could tell of the longer shots of him hiking, he was now clean-shaven and, while I couldn’t really see any other details, he wasn’t bad looking now.
My hiking group was putting on a photography show last night — and it occurred to me about 10am that morning that perhaps The Hiker would like to go. We had been messaging about my group and he had mentioned he was planning to join. I thought it would be an easy way for me to meet him, as well as giving him a chance to meet others in the group and see some pictures of some of the hikes we went on this year. I sent him a quick message, apologizing for the late invitation. He responded that he planned to go out of town that morning, but if he got back in time, he would let me know. Quite frankly, I figured that was a polite blow off — and when I checked the site before heading out that evening and didn’t see a message from him, I wasn’t surprised.
At the show, I took a look at the photographs and then sat down to chat with a friend. At one point, I looked around the room and noticed a handsome man looking at me. When our eyes met, he smiled and waved. I was confused for a second — and then I realized, it was The Hiker! I smiled back and motioned him over, my brain racing as I tried to figure out how he found the location of the show, if I had dropped anything on my chest while I was eating a slice of cake, and…bloody hell…what was his NAME?
When he arrived, I quickly introduced my friend, hoping against hope that she would realize I didn’t remember his name and would ask him to save me the embarrassment. She was clueless — probably so enchanted by his beauty that she didn’t notice the panicked look in my eye. I asked him for his name, admitting it had slipped my mind, and he provided it. After exchanging some pleasantries, I took him around the room to show him the photos, explaining the location and some information about each hike and about the person who had taken the picture. By the time we made the rounds, I was calmer. The conversation was fairly easy and we were finding we had some additional things in common. However, I kept wondering why I would have messaged someone who was obviously so much younger than me. Did he lie about his age? Did he somehow slip past my filters (I have them set for men who are between the ages of 45-65) and I just didn’t notice?
I also was distracted by his looks — this boy was pretty. Besides his good looks, he also had silky hair that brushed his shoulders and he was very fit. His phone was holstered at his waist, and at one point it rang. He apologized for the interruption and lifted his shirt to reach it and turn it off — revealing an inch or two of his abdomen in the process. My breath caught and I was struck by an immediate desire to reach out and caress his stomach. You’ll be pleased to know I controlled myself — something I was not able to do later.
You see, we were standing in a corner chatting, as to be out of the way of others who were walking by to see the photographs. It was then that I realized that the bok choy, which I had consumed in a stir fry for my lunch, had decided to make it’s presence known. My gut rumbled quietly and I could tell that there was an explosion of gas very eager to make an immediate escape from the confines of my bowels. There was no time to flee — but thankfully, when the deed occurred, it was silent. I took a deep breath of relief, and then quickly understood that the bok choy had just been waiting to unleash it’s fury until it was free. You’ve heard the phrase, “Silent, but deadly?” Oh yes, I had no doubt what that meant now.
I looked around to see if there was any nearby members of my group that I could wrinkle my nose at, passing the blame for the fumigation silently onto them. No such luck — we were totally alone. My mouth was talking, but I have no idea what I was saying, as my brain was fully occupied, trying to figure out some way — any way — to turn back time, to deflect attention, to mitigate the damage. I even debated punching The Hiker in the nose in order to destroy his sense of smell — but that seemed extreme.
I finally choked out, “I’d like some coffee! Do you want something drink?” This may not have been the best course of action, as 1) I don’t drink coffee and 2) the table holding the beverages was only two feet away. The Hiker enthusiastically agreed to a drink — too enthusiastically — and he sniffed at his mint tea appreciatively once he had the cup in his hands.
I’d like to be able to tell you that my gas explosion was a one and done deal — but it wasn’t. After a second mortifying incident, I decided that there was strength in numbers and I introduced The Hiker to some other members of my group, involving them in conversation and stepping away from time to time when needed, as if I had an urgent hunger for a cashew or cracker from the snack table. So focused was I on my subterfuge that I don’t recall any of the conversation — except when The Hiker mentioned to someone that the current hiking group he belonged to made new members go to a class to learn how to “get along” with other members. He said, “…like I was five or something! I’m 50 years old! I think I know how to get along with others.” I recollect that I was surprised that he was actually 50, as he looked so much younger.
When the others finally drifted away, The Hiker let me know that he had to be going. I was actually grateful. I offered my hand and, as he shook it, he mentioned he had joined the group (which is how he had access to the location of the show). I assured him he would enjoy the hikes and spouted off some other platitudes — I don’t even remember what they were at this point.
I went out for drinks with some friends from the group after the show. I asked them how old they thought The Hiker was, and each one said he must be in his 30’s and were genuinely shocked that he was actually 50. At one point, I mentioned how good looking The Hiker had been and I wasn’t sure how I felt about dating someone so much prettier and younger looking than me. One friend, who shares my sense of humor, agreed, saying, “Just think — by the time you were 80, you’d be all haggy looking — and he’d still be beautiful!”
Somehow I don’t think I’ll have to face that dilemma. The Bok Choy incident probably took care of that for me. Still, it will be pleasant to run into The Hiker and his abdomen on one of the group’s outings — I’ll just be sure to hike downwind.