My girlfriend and I went out to eat. Its a normal occurrence in our lives. We’ve been together sixteen years so, honestly, we often go on our own journeys when we’re out. She’ll probably engage people where I will not. Its not that I’m unfriendly, although that’s part of it. And its not that people aren’t interesting, but often they’re not. I’d rather just go on with my day in the manner I prefer.
I’m sitting there watching TV ignoring everything going on around me. All is good. I am truly happy. I like being alone with my own thoughts. I find myself funny, entertaining and I rarely disagree with my opinions. A fine dinner companion.
“Hey you. In the blue coat. What do you think?”
My first thought was, “If you don’t know my name you really shouldn’t engage.” I hold the same truth when talking about pitbulls.
But my girlfriend, who, after all this time, has finally stopped calling me by the names of others, tells me, oh so helpfully, that he’s talking to me.
Why? Why does he need my input? Doesn’t he have enough of a brain trust around him to get to the bottom of whatever pressing need he has? What is it? I’ve seen me. I don’t look smart. I do not appear friendly. But, because my girlfriend has pushed me to the entrance of this conversation, if I don’t want her to tell me in all her ways what an asshole I am for the rest of the evening, I ask what the pressing question of the evening is.
“Do you think you can fall in love later in life?” Asks a sixty-something year old gentleman who, by the looks of it, has spent plenty of time on the love bungee.
I’ve never given the concept a thought. So I open my mouth wondering what I’m going to say.
“No.” I guess that settles that.
“Do you really believe that?” I guess it didn’t.
“Listen, by the time your forty-five if you haven’t experienced every romantic scam and scheme, con and conceit then you are the perfect mark to believe falling in love later in life exists.” Everyone is staring at me so I take that as a sign to continue.
“Falling in love is a facade. Its the perfect you held up in front of the real you to conceal the truly flawed person you are. So if, by forty-five, you’re still holding up your facade figuring this love will be the one then you are a truly deranged person who anyone with a shred of self-worth will scorch the earth in an attempt to flee from. Because you are demented and pose a danger to anyone breathing the same air.” They’re still looking at me. Maybe they need some more. Good thing I’m here, right?
“You may find a relationship but its not predicated on love. That’s impossible because you can’t fall in love at an older age with someone who’s flaws are so pronounced. You’re so set in your ways that the annoying things you could overlook when you were younger just scream out at you now. You can choose to ignore the flaws but you are incapable of falling in love with them. You can enjoy your time with them, be happy around them, but you can’t fall in love with them because the facade of love is gone.” They’re still staring. Have they not understood me yet?
“Think about it. Falling in love means tossing everyone and thing aside. When you’re older you can’t do that. You have jobs and family and friends to answer to. You have commitments that you can’t just drop to be engulfed in love. The bottom line is, when you get older, you don’t have the time or energy for the love experience. The best you’re going to get is, “Yeah, I sort of have something going with him.”
I stop again because I’m pretty much done. I didn’t even know that’s what I thought two minutes ago. And who knows if I really believe that or just wanted to see a bunch of people stare at me unblinking. I do enjoy that, you know. The old love hoping idiot who started all this is staring at me. I know that expression. I’ve seen it many times. Its the expression that says,
“No would have sufficed.”
Then you shouldn’t have prodded me.