Granddad, Is That You?

“Sometimes life has a cruel sense of humor, giving you the thing you always wanted at the worst time possible.” ― Lisa Kleypas, Sugar Daddy

I stepped away from this online dating for a minute.  I thought I had met someone who could be “the one”, so I gave him my full attention.  That’s not how the story ended, so I’m back…and look at this, I have a number of new messages!

Scrolling…scrolling…scrolling.  Not interested.  Scroll.  Is that really your screenname?  Heck no!  Delete. Scroll.

Wait.  Go back.  I can tell by the background and a few other details – bush, 13inch cumberbund, ruffled shirt, wing-tipped shoes, etc. – that this first photo is at least three decades old.   (I’m entertained, but also annoyed.  Why do men do that?  I don’t care what you USED to look like if you look busted now.)

I’m curious though.  Does he have other photos?  Based on THIS photo, it seems he USED TO BE a cutie.  Let me see if he still is.

Next photo –  two inch think side-burns, high-waisted, plaid bellbottoms, a feather in the hat and…a disco ball!!

Next…oh, I can’t.  After quickly scanning about 5 photos, I realize I haven’t seen ONE that was taken after 1965.  Clearly, he’s trying to hide something, because it is 2016.  He should at least have a photo from this decade.  

How old is this man?

I click to his profile’s main page…82!?!?  

No wonder he’s hiding behind non-current photos.  

Just as I was about to click delete, I read his message:

Hello beautiful.  I hope you have had a wonderful day.  I read your profile and I think you are an amazing woman.  You seem confident, smart, and funny.  Most importantly, you seem like you take your Christian walk seriously.  You remind me of my departed wife.  She was an amazing woman, and I miss her.  I’m not expecting anything to blossom from us, but thought it would be refreshing to engage with another woman who is as positive, powerful, and wonderful as she was.  

Let me know if you are interested in chatting.  

I could have deleted or said that I wasn’t interested, but…I didn’t.  I thought, “what will it hurt to chat with this man?”  Maybe he’d be a good candidate for my mom or aunt (who are interested in remarrying, but would never go online).  Yeah, I’ll lead with that so that he knows where I stand.

Me:  Hello.  Thank you for the compliment.  I’m glad to hear that your late wife was such an amazing woman.  How blessed you must be to have known her.  I am honored that I remind you of her.

Me:  I do want to be up front about the fact that though I am sure you are a great man, I am not interested in dating someone of your age.  I do have a pretty amazing mother and aunt; if I can confirm that you are not crazy, I’d be happy to introduce you.

Him:  Lol.  Thank you.  That would be fine.

Me:  Great.

Him:  Do you mind if I ask a little more about where you go to church?  I’ve been looking for a new one.

I replied with a few highlights about my church, a link to the website, and service times.  He said he was going to attend in a couple of weeks and that he would let me know.  I told him that would be great and that I’d introduce him to my mother and aunt that day…just because.

THREE DAYS LATER…

Him:  Hello.  How are you?  

Me: Fine.  How are you?

Him:  I’m doing well.  Been thinking about you.

Uh-oh!  What the heck!  Didn’t I tell you…???

Me:  Thinking about me relative to CHURCH??  I was very clear and forthright that I was not interested otherwise.

Him:  I know.  I respect and appreciate that.  I must be honest, however, I think we could really connect and at least be friends.  I can tell by your profile and the way in which you engage me that you are someone I would want in my life.

Me: Slippery slope, my dear.  Also, I’m not on here to meet “friends”.

Him:  That’s fair.  

Me:  Thank you.

NEXT DAY

Him: Good Morning

Oh Lord.  Have I created a monster?  Wait.  Am I being too harsh or too judgmental?  Could he be someone who adds value to my life…even as a friend?  Should I open the door for basic conversation or shut it down now?  He can’t MAKE me date him.  

What’s the risk?  There isn’t one for me because I know how to shut it down.  It’ll just be that his feelings get involved and then I have to hurt an old man’s feelings.  Oh, wait, what if his heart can’t take the rejection?  Then, I will have his blood on my hands and I should have just left the door closed.  Argh.  

For now, I will just say…

Me:  Good Morning.

Him:  I know you have shared that you do not desire to be friends, etc. and I want to respect your feelings.  I just want to say that I would really like to get to know you a little.  Also, I think you’ll be surprised to learn that I am a lot more spry and youthful than my age reflects.  I am active.  I work out, eat right, play pool regularly, etc.  I’m not your average 83 year old.  I think you’d be pleased to make my acquaintance and I am sure I would be pleased to make yours.

Me:  Glad to hear that you are active and healthy.  That’s important.

I’m not completely opposed to meeting you and getting to know you.  I just want to be clear that I am not planning to begin a relationship with you.  Sometimes people think they will change others’ minds, but I want to be clear up front so that there are no hurt feelings, etc.  As long as we are clear on this, I am happy to talk.

Maybe he’d be someone interesting to know.  Maybe.  But, absolutely no relationship action with someone forty plus years my senior!  Not happening.  For goodness’ sake, he was a REAL grown man when I was born.  

Besides, there would be significant gaps on most of the things we discussed.   

  • I would talk about falling in love with New Edition and he’d bring up the Spinners first album.  
  • I would talk about MY first car and he would talk about THE first car.
  • I would talk about eating Froot Loops on the way to school and he’d talk about his Mama making porridge after picking the morning’s cotton
  • I would talk about when I got saved and he would say how he walked with Jesus…and his disciples!
  • I would be on the couch reading Essence and he’d be reading AARP.
  • I would want to go for a walk/run and he’d go reach for his cane.
  • God forbid I think about what might be necessary to be intimate!  Not even going there!

Oh goodness.  I’m cracking myself up.  I think I would never be able to let the age jokes go!  How disrespectful and unhealthy…but so hilarious!!   Definitely NOT a long-term option!  

I hope he doesn’t die from heartbreak because I’m going in.

Me:  Alright.  You’ve been forewarned.  I’m pretty amazing.  🙂  I’m happy to chat periodically, but will stand on “no relationship interest”.

Him: Fair and fine with me.

We exchanged numbers and agreed to talk the next day.

Phone Conversation #1

Phone rings.  

Me:  Oh Lord, it’s the old guy.  Let me get ready and try to engage seriously.

Him: Good evening.  This is _____.  How are you?

Oh my goodness.  Even his greeting is slow

Me: I’m well, thanks.

Him:  Good to hear your voice.

Good to hear yours, too, Granddaddy.  I miss you.

Me:  Thanks.

We continued to chat for about thirty minutes.  We talked about the Lord, politics, local spots, and billiards (since he played pool almost daily).  Actually not a bad conversation at all.  We closed by agreeing to touch base periodically.

Phone Conversation #2

We picked up where we left off.  Made more local connections.  Talked about family.  Jobs and careers we had and wanted.  And somehow, we started discussing financial literacy and investing.  This was an area where he was very knowledgeable and I was not.  He talked about how he got into investing and monitoring stocks.  He also shared a few pointers/strategies.  

Ok, this might be a beneficial connection.  Not that it’s all about what I can get, but I believed he was getting comradery and fellowship (and maybe I was a bit), and I could get guidance and insight in an area where I wanted insight.Phone Conversations 3, 4, and 5 went similarly.  

Laughs and connecting moments.  Easy flow.  New insights.  NO RELATIONSHIP TALK.

Phone Conversation #6

Him:  Hey you.

Me:  Hey.

Him:  I’ve been thinking.

Me:  That’s an important thing to do.  Guess that avocado every morning is working.  (Laughing.)

Him:  It does.  You should try it.

But, seriously, I have been thinking about the fact that I want to meet you in person.  I know you’re going to say that you don’t want to go out on a date, so it doesn’t have to be that.  Let’s get tea, play pool, or do something.  I just want to see you in person.

Argh.  I should have known this would happen.  I like chatting with him, but I am nervous about meeting him in person.  Can’t we just be pen/phone pals? I don’t want to know what you look like in person.  I want to keep thinking I am talking to the cutie in the photos from the 60s.  What if he hasn’t grown up to be a cute but dapper older man.  What if he looks like…my real granddad???  [My granddad was 20 years older than my grandmother and looked 80 – to me – my entire life.  He was always well-groomed and dapper, but slow in speech and speed.  He walked with a cane, smelled like mothballs with cologne on top, and passed out Tootsie Roll pops.  He was bald, but hair still seemed to grow in his nose and ears.  He tried to keep them trimmed, but I’d catch a glimpse of a few whenever we visited.  Nice man, but his age definitely showed.]  I wasn’t ready.  Not only did I not want to see him and have him look older.  I didn’t want to be seen with him.  I have a rep to protect.

Me:  I’ll consider it, but first – this is going to sound shallow – I need to see a recent photo.

Him:  You know I don’t have one.


Me
:  Get someone at the pool hall to take a photo of you and send it to me.

Him:  I’ll try to do that today.  Can we still arrange to meet?

Me:  I’m nervous and I’m not ready.

Him:  Will seeing my photo make you more ready?

Me:  Shallow as it may seem…YES!  I will feel more comfortable about meeting you in person.  Besides, you have seen photos of me.

Him:  True.  I will try.

For two days, he didn’t go to the pool hall.  Wasn’t feeling well.  So, no photos came my way.   Although I was fine with our conversations, I felt like he wasn’t taking me seriously on the photo.  I decided to slow down my responses and engagement, and I told him so.

About a week later, during one of these “slow conversations”, he asked me what I was doing and I said I was driving to the grocery store (and I named which one).  The conversation continued for about five more minutes and then I hung up.  Ten minutes later, he called me back:

Him:  Hello.  What are you doing?

Me:  Told you.  I’m at the grocery store.

Him:  What are you getting?

How bored is he?  I’m just picking up groceries; I guess it won’t hurt me to indulge him.

Me: Just picking up a few fruits and vegetables, and a couple of other items for the weekend.

Him:  Oh, what are you cooking this weekend?

Me:  Jerk salmon, braised kale, jasmine rice and some homemade sorrel.  

Him: Nice.  Are you having company? Company? COMPANY?

What’s wrong with his phone?  Why is it echoing? Getting louder?  Oh Lord.  I know why!  I slowly turned around, forgetting to breathe.  

Me: Granddad, is that you?

I said it…exactly what was on my mind when I saw him.  Glasses.  Nose hairs.  Ear hair.  Slightly humped over.  Nice smile – I think those were his teeth.  Not my granddad exactly, but surely could have been his friend.  Bottom line is that I was face-to-face with the man I had been speaking to and he was a senior citizen!

The bigger issue was that here I stood facing him in the produce section of a major and popular grocery store – the only of its kind in our area.  That’s when it hit me that not only did I have to navigate how I felt meeting him off-guard, but I potentially had to deal with being seen with him.  

I ALWAYS run into someone I know at this store.  ALWAYS.  What will I say?  “Hi ________, this is my granddad.”  Or, will I say, “This is my friend, _______.”  Or will I ignore him, pretending he is just another shopper, and not introduce him at all?  Likely the latter.  (If you put me in an awkward situation, I have no problem letting you own and feel the awkwardness.)

Me:  Well, ok.  I guess this is our meeting.  (With a not-so-pleasant smirk on my face.)

Him: I figured I should just make it happen to help eliminate all the awkwardness.

Me:  Oh, well, you were definitely not successful at that.  On some level, I feel like you manipulated me/the situation and I don’t like it at all.

Him:  Well, can I at least buy you a cup of coffee while we chat in the café area?

Me:  I came to get groceries, not sit and chat.

Him:  You’re just trying to be difficult.  You already told me you don’t have much to do today.

Me:  That doesn’t mean that this is what I want to do right now.

Yes, I was being difficult.  I despise manipulation.  I also hate being rude, especially to my elders.  (See why this was extra awkward.  This was both a guy who was interested in me…and AN ELDER – of significant age.)

I put my produce down and walked with an apparent attitude to the café stand, ordered a cup of tea, and let him pay at the check out.  He started talking and as he spat his words, I leaned back in disgust, taking it all in.  

Sip.

Here I was on a forced date with “my granddad”.  

Sip.

How desperate was I?

Sip.

He reached to touch my hand.

Sip.

Is that Bro. Thompson from church heading my way?

Gulp.

I stood up, said “thank you”, and walked out.

Bye Granddad.

Male Commentary

So you receive a message on a dating site from a profile that you say you’re not interested in.  Why would you respond?  She responded because there was some interest.  (I don’t care what she said.)  Unless she just wanted to play games, she was interested – at least in the time and attention…and maybe his inheritance.  (It’s a possibility.)

Now let me address the real problem.  I will start with him.  He knowingly hid the truth about who he was and his intentions.  Though he shifted to being okay with “just being friends”, that was not his true intention or desire.  He was interested in her and just because she said she was not interested in him, that did not sway him.  He simply adjusted his strategy…and she fell for it.

He offered friendship (in so many words) and she accepted.  Did she want an 82 year old friend?  Probably not, but she clearly was in need of something and she went for him.  He didn’t steal her number.  She willingly gave it.  Though she put a fence up to keep the “relationship” in a certain area of her life, it comes as no surprise that he found a way to break through.  

If you truly don’t want him in your life, don’t provide a point of entry.   Though the brother really violated with the grocery store pop up, that couldn’t have happened if the sister hadn’t entertained him.

I could go deeper and analyze the father-figure aspect of this, but I will leave that alone for now.   I’ll just leave it at this – I don’t know what her relationship was with her father or grandfather, but there was a reason she was open to time with Big Poppa.

That’s all I’m saying.

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