Curiouser and... Cal Tony, take two

The Background

 What's the best way to stir up a frenzy in single women over 40? Apparently, it's announcing the arrival in town of an eminently eligible single man, age 50.

That's just what happened following the last Blind Date Challenge, in which Tony, a California-born contractor, went out with Deirdre, a 52-year-old horse lover. Though the chemistry wasn't quite right between those two, Deirdre's glowing report of the date– and Tony's charming responses– caused Matchmaker's email and phone line to clog with messages from women hoping for their chance with Tony.

Tough life, eh?

Though there are plenty of male fish in the sea old enough not to be thrown back– and several of them will be appearing in this column over the next month– the demand for Tony was so high that Matchmaker decided to send him out on another date to see whether the second time would be the charm.

His companion for the evening? Ariel, a 57-year-old career consultant who reports that the single scene after 50 can be difficult. A California-native and a grandmother, Ariel says she has plenty of friends, male and female, and considers herself a catch, but finding that special someone has eluded her over the past several years.

Will these two left-coasters be right for each other? Read on...


The Date

 Tony and Ariel met at Fuel Co. for dinner.


Who arrived first?

 Ariel: I arrived on time but was the second to arrive. I waited about 60 seconds in the foyer for the maitre d', who then escorted me to where Tony was sitting at the bar.

Tony: I arrived first. I sat at the bar, drank water, and talked to the bartender and Charles, our host.


Were you nervous?

 Ariel: Maybe a little... more healthy anticipation. Everything I had heard sounded like he would be a great date. I also think I had the usual anxiety of an older female dating a younger guy. Women in my age group have fewer choices than men, and so dating a younger guy creates doubts.

Tony: I was very relaxed, yet anxious to meet Ariel. It was hot and humid, so it took me a few minutes to cool down.

 First Impression?

 Ariel: My instant first impression was one of attraction toward him, but he seemed to be reserved toward me. The more I got to know him and was able to see how he moved and expressed himself, the more attracted I felt.

Tony: Ariel looked very nice– smiling eyes and face, deliberate walk, and nice warm and firm handshake.


What was your date wearing?

 Ariel: Tony was dressed like he just stepped off a plane from L.A. Given that I am also from California, he was immediately in line with my expectations. However, my California "sense of style" is quite internalized at this point (after living in Charlottesville for almost 30 years), so I may not have dressed compatibly in his eyes.

Tony: Ariel wore a very simple yet nice outfit: tailored black pants and nice, white, v-neck blouse– she looked alive.


Did you drink?

 Ariel: After consulting with me, Tony and the waiter picked a bottle of incredible Kluge Estate burgundy that had to be one of the best I ever tasted.

Tony: We ordered a bottle of Kluge wine. Ariel said, "But only if you'll help me drink it." Well, yeah!


And the food?

 Ariel: I had an appetizer with apricots and goat cheese, and chicken with the most unusual parsley-potato sauce. Dessert was almost too artistic and pretty to eat... and then I did. Wow! I ate orchids for the first time in my life.

Tony: Great food, start to finish. Unique, fresh, and tasty. I ordered a crabmeat salad, Caesar salad, and rack of lamb.


Ariel: The service folks at Fuel are that amazing blend of graceful, non-intrusive, attentive, humorous, intelligent, and every move they made was perfectly timed and artfully executed... true professionals.

Tony: Charles, our host, joined us for a glass of wine.


How was the conversation?

 Ariel: We talked about our pasts, ideas for the future, current situations, kids, and stayed mostly away from religion and politics.

Tony: Ariel sat close by; we easily shared our life stories, places we had lived, our children and work. This lady is busy at work. She's a business consultant and helps place people in the right jobs for them.


Ariel: He made me laugh. He confronted me when I felt intimidated by the situation and was not speaking up and looking directly at him. He made an effort to keep the conversation balanced between us, and touched on some difficult stuff about his past. By 50-something, we know a lot about ourselves and what will work for us in another person.

Therefore, when presented with an equally mature and strong someone new, someone who states upfront that he's looking for a life partner, I found it impossible to turn off the internal dialogue in relation to the experience I was having.

Tony: As we ate and talked, I don't think we flirted, but were both comfortable reaching out and touching one another.


Anything you didn't like?

 Ariel: I got the sense he is holding back his emotions. I think he's hard on himself (although he ascribed this to me) and probably still has some self-forgiveness work to do with regard to his marriage. While he does seem like he's going through a lot of positive change in his ability to appreciate the important people in his life here and now, I did sense he has strong regrets. What I felt was a lack of direct feedback toward me, he compensated for by never missing the opportunity for a gentlemanly gesture. Being treated like this lingers long after the good-bye.

Tony: One thing in particular that bothered me was [Ariel} complaining about past husbands or mates. This can be a downer.


Any surprises?

 Ariel: He's interested in putting together a Bed and Breakfast operation (one of my life dreams).

Tony: Ariel is a grandmother times four.


What happened after dinner?

 Tony: Dinner was very leisurely and long– three hours– and Ariel was anxious to get out and take a stroll on the Downtown Mall.

Ariel: I needed very much to get some exercise, so I suggested we walk. He complained three times that I was walking too fast. This seemed like a red flag and validated my intuition that he might not be feeling real comfortable with our fit as a possible couple.


Tony: We held hands as we walked and right in the middle of the sidewalk, I took a chance and kissed Ariel. We were on the same wavelength. We walked the Mall, took in the parade of people, and kissed a bit more.

Ariel: He's a strong masculine guy who's not afraid to take chances. I did not, however, feel any emotion from his kissing, and quite possibly because he picked up on my uncertainty. Chemistry is a mysterious thing; we think we are receptive to someone, but bodies don't lie. The only emotion I felt from him was the three times he was openly irritated with me about how I was communicating (talking too softly and not making eye contact). I left feeling like we had not really connected in our kissing and wondered how I might have contributed to this when I felt so curious and tender toward him.


How about the very end?

Tony: I walked Ariel to her car and we talked about lunch some time this week.

Ariel: He picked up my hand and held it strongly. I felt like he was missing something that I could not supply and remembered my earlier impression about his wife.


Did you have fun?

Ariel: In spite of what probably seems like an excessive amount of reflection, I did have fun. People either appreciate my two-channel trait (watching while experiencing) or they don't. We shall see.

Tony: It was a very nice evening.


Would you see this person again?

Ariel: Absolutely. None of us will ever find someone to love without pushing our limits, devoting time to the process. Tony would be a good candidate for me to explore with further, but only if he has similar thoughts about me and I cannot answer this part of the question.

Tony: Yes, I would see her again.


On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the date?

 Ariel: 8.

Tony: 7


Well, it looks like Tony hasn't lost his luster– now we'll just have to wait and see whether he'll be ready for Blind Date number three...