(With Apologies to Fredric Chopin)
By Sandy Olson
I was excited about going to the San Francisco Main Library that night. Anne Lamott was going to read from her new book Notes on Hope. I got there early and found a seat in the front row. People started to come in and a man sat down next to me and smiled. I smiled back. Anne was introduced at length by the emcee. I failed to listen because, as a longtime fan, I already knew all about her and I was distracted by The Man.
I felt encouraged by his friendly smile, then another friendly smile, and a few words, and I started an inspection. He was slender. Check. Tall. Check. Gray haired and maybe in my age range. Check. Friendly and with an open face. Check. Wearing sandals and a couple of sweaters. Check. On the “off” side, his khakis had a couple of holes. His nails, however, looked clean. Check.
We exchanged a few more glances and a few words during the reading.
I drifted out of the room and into the future. Here’s what was going to happen. We’d strike up a conversation after the end of the reading. He’d ask me a couple of questions and then suggest we have coffee at Max’s Diner. We’d go to coffee and really hit it off. I’d like his sense of humor. I’d love that he was a man who enjoyed Anne Lamott. I’d sit opposite him at Max’s and enjoy the light in his blue eyes.
Warming up, I progressed with the story. We’d share our histories. He’d be single, maybe widowed, with grown children that he’s on good terms with but who aren’t around that much. We’d have things in common, even a couple of mutual friends from the old days when I lived in San Francisco.
We would stay at Max’s for a couple of hours. After the coffee we’d agree to meet again. I would see that he was eager to spend time with me and I liked that. My heart would start to go pitty-pat and I’d like that too. It’s been a long time.
But there’s a problem. I go back to Ajijic in two weeks. This is far too new to think about changing my departure date, so I start to feel regret and loss. But I like him. I ask, “Have you ever been to Mexico?” He responds, “Yes, years ago.” He mentions a few beach resorts. I see he’s probably open to the idea of visiting again. I think about suggesting a visit to Guadalajara, but don’t. Too fast, Sandy, too fast.
I heard that familiar warning voice: “This could be another mistake. Remember that tee shirt your friends had made for you that last time that read ‘I hope I learned my lesson.’”
I decide to take it easy and just focus on our next meeting. I take a look into the future and decide not to rush into things in spite of his eagerness. I feel a bit worried by now about letting this man into my life. Is he in good health? Do I want to start cooking? I don’t really want to get married again and hope he won’t be disappointed when he asks. I manage to pull my attention toward Anne Lamott, who has finished her reading and is answering questions. Soon the MC makes a few closing remarks, we applaud and stand up. I look at him but he has turned away to talk to someone.
I stand there briefly and then make my way through the crowd toward the door. When I stop and look back he is nowhere in sight so I go home. Later some people told me that it was one of Anne’s best evenings.