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An old boyfriend came to town this week, and when I say “old”, I mean super old. He’s 63! What happened to when I was 22 and he was 44, we lived in Alaska for the fun of it, and dating an older man seemed exotic? What happened to when he had two kids, not four…when I had two boyfriends, not zero…when seeing him made my heart warm up and turn over instead of leaping into my throat for fear he would slip and fall and break a hip? Gone were those mysterious snowy Alaska days when I was still impressed with a man who added canned vegetables to his spaghetti to make it healthier. Long gone.
“Mac” was in town for a golfing vacation and he invited me to join him and his friends for dinner at the mini-mansion one of them owns in far north Scottsdale. This is the kind of house where you feel as if you have money too, just by the very fact of being there. You must have money to have somehow finagled an invitation to this Tuscan retreat with the negative edge pool and well-contained fires in every corner. I do not have money (let it be known) so I waltzed in with what I have instead: a helpful nature. The lady of the house was bent over a cutting board, slicing tomatoes with the blade coming towards her hand. “Hello and oh my God!” I said, walking in. “You should never cut towards yourself! Never ever. Always slice away from yourself. Do you want me to do it? My dad taught me how.”
Mac told her my name and she gave me the knife; I was inside the circle, building Insalata Caprese.
But later I had to run back to the bedroom that I would or would not be sharing with Mac, which of course had its own bathroom, sitting area, library, and shower for seven. I attempted to wash my hands and noticed that Mac had not yet twisted open the new bottle of hand soap by the sink. He had been there for three days and evidently had not been washing his hands after going to the bathroom. My head cocked, my face twisted up, and I ran with the unopened bottle to the lady of the house: “Do you see this?” I tiny-shouted. “Mac has not been washing his hands after using the bathroom!” I quickly tracked down Mac, who suggested that he had instead been showering after each use of the toilet.
I was not impressed or convinced, two of my basic jobs in life.
And much later, sitting outside around a beautiful table with a fire built right into the middle of it—I use candles myself, but evidently that’s out of fashion—I realized, once again, that you bring yourself wherever you go. You can’t help it; you’re attached to yourself. If you’re lucky like me, you end up in the company of six other people who celebrate you for being friends with a guy for twenty years, a guy they have loved for fifty, even though he doesn’t wash his hands. Even though—short on hair, sunburned from golfing and stiff with a bad back—he still cannot pick the right girl.