Sophie lay in bed with her 16-year-old daughter Kalei. “Hmmm, Mom. I want to show you something.” Her daughter looked at her tentatively.
“Sure Baby, what’s up?” Sophie flipped the television channels, hoping to find the perfect mother-daughter movie. She had been working a lot of hours lately and hadn’t been able to spend as much time with the kids as she might have liked. She was looking forward to some bonding time.
“Well, I think that you should consider something,” she said as she opened her computer.
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
“Now before you say no, just take a look. And remember, you’ll never know unless you try it.” Kalei opened her laptop to a site called Match. “It’s been a long time since Mike died. You need to get back on the horse." And before Sophie could even answer, "When was the last time you went out with a man?"
It had been...how long had it been? Sophie couldn't even remember. She looked over her shoulder. Rolled her eyes, something Kalei always accused her of. She never noticed herself doing it. She did notice it in Kalei. Where had her daughter ever learned such an annoying habit? She must have gotten it from her father. She only rarely did it herself, she was sure of that. “Baby, I told you. I will meet someone when God is ready for me to do so.”
“Well, he also says that he helps those who help themselves. That’s what you’re always telling us.”
Why do children always remind us of our worst behaviors? She remembered when Kalie was only five. Sophie liked driving fast…and with no seat belt. She was picking her daughter up from kindergarten. She had promptly put her in her seat, with safety belt securely latched on. She jumped into the front seat and started to speed up. “Mommy, you don’t have your seatbelt on.”
“I know Baby, but I have an airbag in front of me. See, Mommy’s safe.”
Kalei gave her most disapproving frown. Left eyebrow up, eyes wide, forehead wrinkled up, mouth puckered out, lip pulled to the left. “It’s the law, Mommy. It’s the law!”
Sophie gave a big sigh. Who can argue with a five-year old? Are you supposed to tell her the law only applies to others and not yourself? With a sigh, she fastened her seatbelt. “You’re right baby. You’re absolutely right! Everyone must wear their seatbelt,” she said with a smile. But this Match thing was different.
Since Mike had died, she just wasn’t meeting anyone that satisfied her. She was close to nearly 100 men that her well-intentioned friends had tried to set her up with. Susan had invited her to a party and then introduced her to her husband’s good friend. Her husband, Jason was the local District Attorney. His friend the ex-sheriff.
"Dave, I would like to introduce you to Sophie. She’s a doctor.” Sophie all but groaned. This was not a fact she often shared. And she had long ago learned not to share with new men. Most of them, would start out interested and then quickly turn away once they learned of her occupation. Most men didn’t want to be around a woman more successful than themselves. Then there were the few that thought they were getting a sugar-Mama. Unfortunately, like her ex. She wasn’t interested in that either.
And as she was getting older, there was those with their aches and pains, hoping for free medical care. In this small town that she was currently living in, that meant narcotics and benzo’s. Both of which Sophie despised. Sophie knew she could never date a man who either took pain pills or anti-anxiety meds. She felt so strongly about it, that she sneakily asked a man when his birthday was whenever she was first introduced to him. Not how old he was, not his astrological sign. She could calculate both just by having his birthday. But she needed the exact date. With his birthday, she could look him up on the local prescribing site and see what controlled substances that he was on. Probably not totally ethical, but hey, so was not being caught up in a web of writing undesirable meds to friends and family. Which are what certain types of friends tried to do. These were the ones she avoided.
Dave turned out to be the latter. His previously interested eyes really lit up now. A big smile filled his face. He reached out to hold Sophie’s arm…gross. “You know I was in this bad accident last year. I can hardly sleep now. Hurts to walk, can’t go over a half-mile without this excruciating pain right back here.” He pointed to his lower back. Sophie tried to smile and look interested.
“Oh,” she said. “If you’ll excuse me a moment. I promised to help pass out the hors d’oeuvres.”
“The appetizers,” she smiled quickly and ran toward the kitchen. She frowned at Susan, “He has chronic back pain! And he doesn’t know common English!”
“Oh sorry, but's he’s a nice guy.”
“Didn’t he lose his job for letting young girls off of speeding tickets for special favors?”
“The charges were let go. He was never arrested.
“Noooo. That’s because the judge was in on it also.”
“That could just be a rumor. You know how nasty those can be.”
“No matter, he couldn’t pass a drug test. Of that, I am certain.”
And then there was the time that she went to the bar with Susan and Jason. Jason had a few drinks and got up to sing with the band. He was actually pretty good. He threw back his head, strummed his air guitar, and howled, ‘Wild thing, I think I love you. But I want to know for sure.’ The crowd sang back ‘Wild thing, you make my heart sing.’ She laughed and shook her head. Tonight, was a good night…no introductions. She was taking a sip of her margarita when Jason came back, pointed at a guy standing up by the band. “Hey, I would like you to meet a friend. He’s the son of my old partner, Judge Baldwin.”
She had assumed too soon. She glanced warily in the direction he pointed. Finally, things were looking up. He looked pretty good from a distance. Blue jeans with a jacket. Just her style. A little sophisticated while still being casual. He reminded her of Michael, the one that got away. “He’s here for Christmas and his birthday. Lives in LA. Studied movie production at Berkley and trying to land a big job in Hollywood. Working as a junior executive now. Was on one of the early seasons of Survivor. So, what do you think? Like to meet him?”
She nodded. At least he must be physically fit if he was on Survivor. And intelligent if he went to Berkley. And came from a good family, even if his father was a little bit of a jerk. But aren’t all wealthy, good-looking judges a little bit of a jerk. Overall, he was a decent man. Jason waved at him to join them. She looked up and smiled as he put a hand on the back of her chair and sat down next to her. My God, he was gorgeous. Her opinion from a long-distance glance was not nearly accurate. He had cute dimples. An air of confidence that she greatly appreciated. An easy sense of humor. A good conversationalist. Easy without being stilted or forced. Yeah, she could like this guy. He asked her to dance.
They tapped their way to the front of the dance floor to an energetic beat. But just as they got there, it wound down to a nice slow easy rhythm. Careless Whispers by George Michaels. He starts singing to her, ‘Something in your eyes,’ He looks her straight in the eyes and bends to nibble on her neck. Oh man, she was a sucker for a man that could sing. They swayed slowly. The song ended way too soon. He bent and kissed her softly, keeping it light while not taking his eyes from hers. They both smiled, clasped hands and walked back to their seats. Did she dare ask the big question? She asked everyone. Did she really want to know? Did she want to mar this perfection?
Luckily, she was saved. The band started singing Happy Birthday to someone in the audience. A bunch of drunken or at least half-drunken people stood, raised their bottles and drinks in the air and started singing with them. Her perfect chance. Why was she hesitating? Hell, just get it over with. She took a slow, deep breath, “So, Jason says it’s your birthday.”
“Yeah, I’m going to be 28.”
Sophie choked on her drink. She covered her mouth as her Margarita sputtered everywhere. Damn, she was going to be sticky now. Shit, she was going to be sick. Hell, she was 52. What was she thinking? He looked older, yeah, but not 52. Maybe 42. Holy cow, what was she going to do?
“You said you went to the Methodist Church. My mom goes there. Her name is Amarylis.”
Now Sophie knew for sure that she was going to be sick. There was only one Amarylis in town. The beautiful, fun lady in her Sunday school class. She had been fostering a friendship with her at the gym. When she had moved to this small town, there were so few people that either she felt she could relate to or that wasn’t intimidated by her. Amarylis was one of them. She was training for a triathlon and Sophie had started joining her. She had always been a runner, but swimming was one of her weaknesses. Amarylis was helping her with that. They had gone to lunch and talked for hours.
They had told each other their deepest fears and secrets. Amarylis, even though she was thin, was rather large-breasted. And let’s face it, starting to droop, but just a little. Actually, Sophie thought she looked amazing for her age. Hell, she looked amazing for any age. But women can be funny about those kinds of things. She wanted it fixed, so Sophie had set her up with the best plastic surgeon she knew. One several hours away, so that she could go to another city for the surgery. In kind, Sophie had told her about her loneliness and but also lack of motivation to really do anything about it. How she found so very few men attractive. How no one compared to Mike. Now what she supposed to say, “Oh, by the way, I met your son. We danced and kissed. And by the way, I wanted to jump his bones. He’s the first man I have found sexy in a long time.”
While Sophie was panicking, Nick had led her to the dance floor once more. He bent and nibbled on her neck. Looked at her sadly, sang ‘I can’t make you love me.’ Finished the song, “I guess you know her.”
Sophie nodded weakly. She had not known that her new found friend had been previously married to Judge Baldwin. She had met her new husband, Dr. Smith, and met their young children. Children from a second marriage.
“Just my luck,” he said. “You know that you are the first woman that I have been attracted to in a long time.”
Not knowing what to say, Sophie just laid her head on his chest. Swayed, finished the dance, walked slowly away. Grabbed her purse and keys from the table. Susan and Jason just watched as she left the dance hall. This was her luck. And now her daughter wanted her to look at men on Match.
She lay in bed with her daughter, thoughts of a movie long gone. Kalie pointed at a guy. Sophie read his profile. “No, he wants a younger woman.”
“What does that have to do with anything.”
“Not looking for a cradle robber,” she knew how tempting that could be.
“What about this one?”
“No, his dog is too big,” glancing at his picture of him with a German Shepherd.
“Too many fishing pictures.”
“Too many sporting events pictures.”
“No, his wife died young?”
“That’s tragic. Maybe he’s a nice man.”
“Maybe he’s a serial killer looking to get a lot of women’s insurance money. No one with young, dead wives.”
“No, he’s an Aries.”
“Mike was an Aries.”
“Not even asking. You loved him.”
“Yes, hot passionate sex. Equally passionate differences.”
“Too much information.”
“Done with this.”
“Mom, you’re never going to meet anyone.”
“So…Look baby, dating isn't what it used to be like. It used to be easy. Girl meets boy. Boy and girl like each other. Now it's about games. The only game I want to play is Hit the road Jack...No more, no more, no more'," Sophie sang. There's no more Mikes out there...only Jacks.
“You’re hopeless. No one will ever be Mike. That does not mean that they won’t be nice. Just in different way.”
"I'm too old for this."
"Love doesn't have an age. You're never too old. And youth certainly doesn't have a monopoly on tenderness. Besides, you're the youngest Mom at heart that I know. As my friends keep reminding me," Kalei rolled her eyes. "Where's my scuba-diving, hang-gliding, mountain-climbing mom gone to?"
“Fine! You pick one," Sophie finally relented, knowing Kalei wouldn't give up. "But just remember, you might not like the one I end up with. Then you will be stuck with him as a stepfather." She gave a witchy cackle.
Kalei just rolled her eyes and gave another sigh, indicating her opinion of her mother's hopelessness. "This is supposed to be a Broadway romance. Instead, it's turning into a Laurel and Hardy farce. You need to learn how to become the leading lady of your own life?"
It was a disaster. The first man that answered had never even heard of Jackson. My goodness. The town was only 45 minutes away. Sophie had to show him how to get there. And she had just moved there. The man had never left his small town of 30,000. “And the conversation was worse,” Sophie reported to Kalei.
“Hi,” said Sophie to the second guy. His car was nice and immaculate.
“Sorry for the mess,” he looked anxiously at the single piece of paper on his back seat. “I hate it when things are a mess. But I didn’t want to be late picking you up. I ran late at the office and must take this home.”
Sophie knew guys were cleaner with their cars. “Well, I’m sure it’s ok. You will feel better when it’s home. Are you cleaner there?”
“Oh yeah. Spend an hour every day on cleaning, plus have a lady come in 3 days a week.”
“Three times a week?”
“Yeah, you know how it is. Hate a mess.”
“Know what you mean.” Sophie knew this was not going to work. They had finally arrived at the table. He pulled out her chair. A gentleman.
He sat down and fiddled with his napkin and silverware. He picked up his fork, held it up in the light. Frowned. Then he started wiping it with his napkin. “Spots,” he smiled at me.
“Excuse me, could you bring me new silverware?” he asked the waitress. He was starting to get impatient when she finally brought new. He examined it. “Spots...this is why I hate eating out.”
“He was a neat freak. You know how I can be,” Sophie told Kalei.
“Well, you can stand to be a little neater, Mom.
“I’m not dirty. Just a little cluttered.”
Kalei raised her eyebrows. “A little?”
“I work a lot of hours. I am raising two kids on my own. And when we have free time, I like to spend it with you guys in quality time.”
“Maybe you need a little quality time with a man.”
“I’ve had men. Now I have you.”
“Hopeless. Just hopeless. This is the last one, Mom. You will like him…or else.”
And they had a good time. And she didn’t meet him on Match. He was writing an article on her for the town newspaper. His name was John. He was from New York. He had been a senior editor on a leading magazine. He had only come home because his 80-year mother had fell ill. They could talk…for hours. For weeks…. For months. Then he kissed her. His breath was bad. There was no magic. “You’re really not attracted to me that way, are you?” he asked.
“I’m sorry. You’re such a nice guy. It’s just me. How could you tell?”
“A guy just knows these things.”
“Friends?” she asked. He nodded yes. “Can we not tell Kalei?" They burst out laughing. At least she still had a best friend. Afterall, you’ll never know if you don’t try.
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I like the approach you took to the prompt! The line right before the end, "A guy knows these things” resonated w/ me, considering for most of the piece, it seemed like it was Sophie who took the position of knowing more than the men she dated. My reading was a bit bogged down by grammatical errors, some of which are noted below. Missing a question mark - Where had her daughter ever learned such an annoying habit. The second 'she' is capitalized - She must have gotten it from her father She only rarely did it, herself, she was sure o...
Thanks, Scott, for the comments. I must admit that I am on vacation and working off a different computer that frequently catches those things for me. The one incomplete sentence is a style that I like to use. But the other mistakes were carelessness. I appreciate the wisdom.
Very useful article, as now at any age people want to be loved.
Not really my kind of story but it was well written and that kept me going. Good dialogue.
Thanks Graham, The story is about an older woman trying to learn how to reenter the dating game, so probably a specific audience. I am happy that the writing kept you going though. Thank you for the comments.
Weird how I relate to this but not at the same time considering everyone's writings styles on reedsy. Wonderful story!