Another Chance to fall in Love: Autofictional Story

To T

And so, my wife and I are finally separated.

“Dad, you need a girlfriend so that you don’t feel lonely,” my teenage son advises me.

“Do you have one?” I smile.

“No; I don’t need yet,” he admits. “But I’ll have a normal family.”

“Good luck,” I hug him.

“Living alone does not necessarily mean feeling lonely,” I inform my son. “I enjoy solitude quite often. When you do research full time, you prefer living mostly in silence.”

But he is right, of course.

                                    ***

My coworker, Ben, introduces me to his wife’s friend, Lisa. According to Ben, she has recently gone through a nasty divorce. We all meet in a Russian restaurant. Both women look quite sexy but not appealing to me. We quickly consume a couple of drinks for “ice breaking.”

“I married a wrong man, an Israeli,” Ben’s wife tells me.

She means her former husband.

“I have talent; I could have become an actress,” she sighs, “but he made me a housewife.”

“Are you capable of unconditional love?” Ben’s wife suddenly looks at me with languishing eyes.

“Oh, no,” I smile, “I have a whole page of requirements.”

“Okay then.” She returns to her appetizer.

I look at Ben, who stole the Israeli’s wife, and conclude that of the two men, the Israeli is more fortunate.

“I love you unconditionally,” Ben informs his wife after another shot of vodka, “and I’ll prove it as soon as I can, maybe even tonight.”

“I enjoy Russian restaurants,” Lisa tells me. “I feel at home here.”

I glance around, looking for some symbol of home. I see people trying to chew and talk over loud music simultaneously.

“Okay then.” I return to my entree.

                                    ***

I split the restaurant bill with Ben.

“Thank you so much.” Lisa puts her hand on mine.

“My pleasure.” I smile absentmindedly.

This turns out to be a mistake.

“Why don’t we all go to my place for coffee?” Lisa takes my arm and leans on it.

I feel her breasts with my elbow, but I have already had enough socializing tonight. I just cannot find a polite reason for parting.

                                    ***

We drink coffee with cognac in Lisa’s apartment. She sits on a sofa, raising her feet onto an ottoman. I admit that she has great legs. She catches my glance and smiles condescendingly.

“All the furniture here must be replaced; don’t you think so?” Lisa pushes the ottoman in my direction with an inviting gesture.

“Furniture… Do I need this conversation?” I ask myself.

I look at Ben but he is focused on his wife’s cleavage.

“I’ll definitely prove you my love tonight,” he assures her.

“I have to get up early tomorrow,” I finally find an excuse for leaving the party.

                                    ***

 “Actually, I do not like Lisa either,” Ben tells me the next day. “She is overly materialistic, and she has a bad influence on my wife. But she is very sexy and, you know, people sometimes fall in love irrationally.”

“And unconditionally,” I remind him.

We smile together but, I think, for different reasons.

                                    ***

I open an account on JDate.com.

“Papa, you don’t stand a chance,” my daughter tells me. “Women don’t trust separated men.”

“Why?” I’m puzzled. “Can’t single or divorced men be serial philanders?”

“I tell you how it is,” she shrugs.

I start sending notes to the women I like. Soon I find that my daughter has a point. Most replies I receive, if any, say something like “Thank you, but I don’t date married men.”

Now I read women’s profiles more attentively.

“I’d love to meet an art collector,” dreams one of them.

“I want him to smell roses in the morning rather than rushing to work,” writes another. She also expects her man to be truly generous.  

“To be happy, I need to be near water, on an island (love St. Bart’s). Boating in Palm Beach is also nice,” confesses yet another.

Almost everyone has similar answers to the question “The things I could never live without”: kids, family, friends. Some cannot live without morning coffee and iPhone.  

One day, I see an attractive mother of two who answers that question with a single word: “Love.”

“Romantic face, romantic personality,” I shrug.

Then, a few days later, her photo disappears. “Success story,” the website informs.

“She found it!” I’m almost shocked.

“Maybe that’s exactly what I need,” I wonder. “Not just a pretty face with benefits, but love. But do I really have a chance in my sixties?”

***

I keep browsing JDate, and one day I see T: a young, beautiful woman who lives close to my place. I shoot her a note, not even bothering to correct my typos.

“Thank you,” I read the next day. “I just started on JDate and will be slow to reply.”

I ask her out the next weekend. She writes me back that she won’t be available. Ironically, this is a good sign: those who aren’t interested in me don’t reply at all. Finally, two weeks later, my patience is rewarded:  we’ll have an early dinner on Friday, and we’ll talk on the phone the day before.

***

On Wednesday, I have flu with fever… On Thursday evening, T calls me. Her warm voice is really soothing. T tells me about herself. She is also separated and still lives with her estranged husband who doesn’t want to divorce.

“My lawyer is my only hope,” T sighs. “And I have to be very careful.”

She obviously does not want her husband to know that she sees someone.

I admit that I still have a fever and we can’t meet tomorrow. We continue to talk until I hear her saying “Mama, I’m on the phone.” We agree to talk tomorrow again.

The next day I hear a different, aloof person.

“You told your mom about me and she was shocked,” I make a guess.

“What would you expect from the mother?” she says dryly. “We are not a good match.”

Well, I wouldn’t be happy either if my daughter dated someone eighteen years older. But I’m so overwhelmed with T’s beauty and warmth that I refuse to give up.

***

I keep asking T out. Sometimes she replies that she is busy; mostly she doesn’t answer at all.

But then there is an event that she cannot resist: wine tasting and dancing at the closing of an impressionist exhibition in a local museum.

We finally meet. She looks very elegant, exceeding all my expectations.

“I didn’t know about this bonus,” my cynical alter ego makes a clumsy joke while glancing at her full bosom.

She looks at me unapprovingly.

“Idiot! You may lose her tonight.” I scream at him and quickly return to a polite, restrained style. We drink wine, talk, and even dance. I feel electroshocked while slightly touching her breasts with my chest. 

“I know I’m not your perfect match.” I tell her when we return from the dancing floor and refill our glasses with wine. “But in your situation, you can’t even date, you just need a loyal friend. You need someone who is always waiting for you. That’s me.”

“Oh, you’re such a home-bred Casanova,” my alter ego smirks.

“But that’s what I truly believe in,” I defend myself.

“Yes; because all you really need is a short visit of a beautiful chick, so that you can quickly return to your stupid science,” he keeps mocking me.

“Shut up! You ruin the chance of my life,” I tell him and look in T’s eyes.

“And I live just twenty minutes away from your home. Please, let me show you my place.” 

“Do you really think I’ll go to you tonight?” She looks at me incredulously.

“Yes!” I smile encouragingly. “You know that I cannot hurt you; don’t you?”

“Well, I trust you,” she says reluctantly.

“Give me fifteen minutes. You walk in; have some coffee, and go home.”

“Ha-ha,” my alter ego grins. “Good luck with that.”

“It’s crazy,” T says after a pause. “Promise me that this will be exactly like you said.”

“You bet,” I assure her. “I want you to come again and again.”

And so, T walks in my place and I feel that she likes it. 

“Coffee, wine, cognac?” I ask her.

“I actually prefer champagne,” she smiles slyly.

“Well, it may take more than fifteen minutes to get it,” I smile, too.

“I’m kidding,” she sounds completely relaxed now. “I just need some coffee. But I’ll make it myself.”

She brews a small cup of insanely strong coffee.  

“Why don’t you sit down?” I point at a sofa.

“Indeed,” my alter ego reminds about himself.

“No, thank you; I have to run.” She finishes off her coffee in the kitchen.

I kiss T on the temple at the door. She slightly touches my cheek with her lips.

“That’s all you’ve got?” my alter ego smirks.

I ignore this jerk.

***

T comes to me again a few days later. It’s hot summer and she wears a short dress. I can’t take my eyes off her toned legs. 

We sit on the sofa, drink champagne and talk about our kids.

After the second glass, I cannot contain myself anymore. I put my face on her smooth knees and start kissing them. She doesn’t resist. 

We come simultaneously. T has her eyes closed and I keep kissing her face; her beautiful face.

***

T usually comes to me once a week, after work. There is always champagne and sushi for her. Sometimes we go out for a quick dinner. Then, if she is not tired or depressed, we make love. 

I see that T continues to browse JDate, even on the days of our dates. I forgive her: she keeps coming to me and that’s all that matters.

“You may need a plan B,” my alter ego suggests.

“I’m in love,” I shut him up.

***

“I’m sorry; I’ve met someone and think this may work,” I get T’s email one day. “I wish you the best. Really.”

“I knew that,” my alter ego shrugs.

“Have fun. I’ll check on you in a while,” I reply to her. 

“XOX,” she writes me back.

“How are you?” I text her two weeks later; then again, four weeks later. She doesn’t reply. Then I see that T has disabled her profile on JDate.

I’m so overwhelmed with my memories and fantasies that I decide to put them in writing. 

***

A couple months later, I meet an attractive woman online; let’s call her D. Ironically, she is a screenwriter.

“By the way, I’m writing a story,” I mention unassumingly.

“Really? What is it about?” D asks politely.

“Well, it’s about an aging scientist divorcing his young wife who suddenly realizes that it’s an opportunity; an opportunity to fall in love again,” I tell her. “And then he finds one.”

“Is that me?” she smiles slyly.      

“Maybe,” I answer after a pause. A new idea comes to my mind.

We start dating and we get along well. Luckily, D can handle my sarcasm and I don’t have to keep my alter ego on a short leash.

“I’ve finished my story,” I tell D after a while. “Would you be interested to consider it for a screenplay?”

“I’ll look,” she says un-committedly.

***

 “We have to talk,” D calls me over the phone a few days later.

I hear metallic overtones in her voice and wonder what it’s all about.

“You’re still in love with T!” D exclaims just as I walk in her door.

 “Oh, please, I’m in love with you,” I’m taken aback.

“Actually, you never said that you love me.” She gets even more agitated. “You never did with me what you did with her!” 

I see that she is in pain and I don’t know how to calm her down. I try to hug D but she pushes me back. Then I lose my patience.

“This is ridiculous: you’re jealous of a fantasy. It’s like Nabokov’s wife scolds him for writing ‘Lolita,’” I appeal to her reason.

“A fantasy? You’re not Nabokov.” D is suddenly calm. “Please leave and don’t call me anymore.”

I write her an email the same night, then another one, and another one. I invite D to Paris. This doesn’t help either. 

***

A few months later I notice that T’s profile on JDate is active again.   

“How are you?” I send her a note. “I have written a story about us.”

“What story?” T asks. “Okay, I’ll read.”

“We can meet for coffee, but this doesn’t mean anything,” she writes me a few days later. “By the way, what about that D?”

“Dude, she is jealous,” my alter ego cheers. “We’re back in business!” 

  ***

We meet in a coffee shop.

“What did you do with me that you didn’t do with D?” T asks me slyly.

“It’s too explicit,” I answer after a pause. “I’ve cut off this piece.”

“Tell me,” she insists.

“You’re such a pervert,” T sighs after I explain.

“We all have fantasies, don’t we?” my alter ego shrugs.

We sit in silence for a while.

“Take me to your place,” T suddenly says.

***

“Yesterday I just wanted to thank you for your feelings to me. I hope you appreciate this,” I read T’s email the next day. “Still, we’re not a good match. I’m really sorry. XOX. T”