Make new friends: Can silver turn to gold?
Blind Date Challenge readers may remember a certain 50-year-old fellow named Tony who went on two consecutive blind dates a month or so ago. After the first date with a woman who– despite calling him "a catch"– said she wasn't interested in dating anyone seriously, Matchmaker's inbox filled up with messages from women offering to give Tony a second chance at happiness. One of those women was 57-year-old Ariel, and in the following column she met Tony at Fuel.
After a bumpy date– in which Tony reprimanded Ariel for mumbling and avoiding eye contact– and a lengthy stroll around downtown, in which the pair kissed on three occasions (but Ariel didn't feel the necessary fireworks), it seemed only right that Ariel be given a second chance. That chance arrived quickly.
"No 50-year-old man is interested in a woman of 57; he's looking for 37," wrote Lee, voicing male confirmation of a complaint Matchmaker has heard from countless women. "I, on the other hand, might be a good candidate for Ariel."
Lee, a 67-year-old retired English professor who now runs a nonprofit agency, described himself as "good-looking, witty, and wealthy."
Could such a man actually exist in Charlottesville– where women over 45 claim a depressing dearth of such specimens?
Ever the good sport, Ariel said she'd give it a second chance.
Would she fare better on date number two? Could Lee live up to his own glowing description?
You know the drill: Read on.
Lee and Ariel met for dinner at The Silver Thatch Inn near Hollymead.
How did you prepare for the date?
Lee: I really didn't do anything out of the ordinary to prepare; in fact, I made a point of not putting on any men's cologne or aftershave lest the real me not come through.
Ariel: I got a manicure because I had terrible "garden nails" on my last date.
Who arrived first?
Lee: I arrived about 20 minutes early because I wanted to relax with a cocktail on my own time. Ariel bustled in a few minutes late, and we were immediately shown to our seats.
Ariel: I arrived about two minutes late.
Lee: I commented that she looked much younger than her advertised age (true), and she said the same thing about me. My initial impression was that she is quite cool and confident in her dealings with people.
Ariel: Lee is a very handsome older fellow who takes good care of himself and has a great smile (although he seldom expresses it). He seemed surprised when I introduced myself.
What was your date wearing?
Lee: She had on black slacks and a neat flowered blouse. For all I know, her clothes were very high-end, but looked a little frumpy to me. She also wears Dame Edna-type eyeglasses, but I found her whole package charming and unpretentious.
Ariel: He was sort of country gentleman style, not overly polished, a little non-conformist and artsy (sort of like me). He was wearing a tweed-linen jacket, dress shirt, and slacks.
What did you order?
Lee: We each had a glass of wine and appetizers (lobster for her, shrimp for me). We both ordered grilled salmon entrees. I thought I ordered the beef tenderloin, but the waiter and Ariel didn't think so, so I didn't make a fuss. (One demerit for Ariel for not taking my side.)
Ariel: I remember thinking the fish was super-fresh and was wild as opposed to farm-raised–- natural foods are my style, and the entire meal was composed of my preferences, from the quality of the ingredients to the method of cooking. We shared everything, including dessert: blackberry cobbler made with fresh blackberries.
Lee: Since I'm more of a meat and mash guy, the dinner didn't make much of an impression on me, but Ariel seemed to enjoy it.
[She certainly did...– MM]
Ariel: Silver Thatch Inn has to be considered one of the area's finest. They know their wines, use fresh, natural, local foodstuffs, and really know how to present a plate. Very nice wait staff and not at all intrusive. I also got a little history lesson about the Silver Thatch Inn. All the rooms are decorated in period colors and furniture, and the property is maintained nicely. Lee and I both thought the Inn would be a wonderful place to stay. [Perhaps together?–MM]
How was the conversation?
Lee: Flowing, unguarded, and continuous... a very good sign.
Ariel: He's a thoughtful guy who cares about the important things in life and apparently has not taken his most recent break-up lightly. I considered this a positive trait and refreshing considering the vast majority of people who think about their life events, "failures," and misunderstandings with people, for about five minutes. I just wish he were more emotionally available (to use the trite but true term) because we could have made more connections.
Lee: Some of the subjects I brought up didn't seem to attract her attention, but there was enough of common interest to avoid any uncomfortable lapses.
Ariel: I think Lee and I could have more in common than anyone I have run across in a long time. The one critical thing that is not in common is our mutual readiness for a love relationship. Lee has a lot of processing to do, and I hope he attends to the task and does not plug in anyone else for a while. When we engage with another, we tend to close off from our inner revelations– this initial learning period (post-engagement) is critical.
Anything interesting happen?
Lee: Not that I can think of.
Ariel: At one point, when Lee was being particularly direct about wanting feedback from me, I leaned over and took his chin and kissed him and told him the things I liked about him. He gave me the first smile of the evening. He's quite handsome when he smiles.
Anything you didn't care for?
Lee: Politically, I gather she is way out there on the left side of the aisle (not where I am), but we didn't really get into that. I really didn't notice anything objectionable about her.
Ariel: That I was the first of presumably many women in what will likely be another whirlwind dating period for him.
What happened at the end?
Lee: We went together to our cars, which were parked side-by-side, indulged in a little courteous nose-rubbing, and went our respective ways.
Ariel: I gave him my telephone number and we agreed to share some time together again... a movie, dinner. I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him good-bye. He smiled again and thanked me, saying he would call.
So there are romantic prospects here?
Lee: I plan to see her again.
Ariel: Lee and I may be able to be "just friends" (the basis of any type of love relationship). Lee will be a great catch for someone, when he's ready.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the date?
Lee: Since I liked Ariel, I'd have to give her at least an 8-plus.
As of press time, Ariel and Lee had not gone out again. But both say they're still interested...