Thursday, August 20, 2009

On a Widower's Dance

I am a nice guy. A nice, Christian guy. And while I’m certainly no Adonis, I’m also not exactly grotesque. I try to eat right and am in decent physical shape, even with the extra ten pounds I’ve put on since last spring. I’m fairly book-smart and possess at least as much common sense as the average person. I take care of all aspects of the house and yard. I recycle. I make sure the dog is fed and taken out. And I am a good father. Maybe even a really good one.

So it should come as no surprise that I am viewed as somewhat generally attractive to a certain thirty-something subset of single ladies. This actually does surprise me most of the time when it comes up, although I am learning to remember that the rest of the world has forgotten that I am still grieving and may not be thinking much about dating again at this juncture. But clearly there are certain afore-mentioned ladies that are.

Or at least appear to be.

Such is the case with my neighbor’s out-of-state sister. We’ll call her Ms. D. She and her daughter come for a visit each summer, and while our daughters have played together (said neighbor does not have any children), she and I have gotten to know one another a bit. I am always careful not to send out any unnecessary signals that might make a nice, young single woman think I am attracted to her when I am not, but I’m also not sure that I’m very good at that. And in her defense, I’m not sure she’s attracted to me either. But it certainly appears to be so.

The weekend before last, we entertained some friends from college who now live in two other states, neither of which being the one where we all attended said college. Two of the friends, Mr. and Mrs. K, are married to each other and the third, Ms. T, is single and seeking. Now, to set the stage, it is important to know that both of the girls in this friend group had self-acknowledged crushes on me during our college years, but I never dated either of them. In fact, I was virtually excommunicated from the group when I dared to date outside the circle early in my junior year. (On a side note, this girl was actually the one I dated before my wife. I did not date much, but I tend to refer to her as “the one who showed me what I didn’t want in a wife”). They still weren’t too happy when I started dating my wife about six months after that break-up, even though they knew and liked her. In fact, had we not reconciled the friendship shortly before my wife died (and with her encouragement), I doubt I would presently have any sort of relationship with these three friends.

Now, to be fair, I have good reason to think that Ms. T may once again see me as a viable candidate for her husbandry. And I have heard Mrs. K encourage such things, though in the subtlest of ways. How much is coming from Ms. T and how much is coming from the suggestions of Mrs. K is anybody’s guess. But needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive about their visit. Especially as it was to take place at my house.

As guarded as I try to be, however, I could not have been prepared for what happened when they arrived.

My friends arrived late on Wednesday. My neighbor’s sister arrived early on Thursday. Suddenly I was forced into a position where I would have to guard myself against sending signals to two very nice, very different women for whom I have no romantic inclinations. Normally this sort of situation would send me into a panic, complete with cold sweat and stomach knots. But not this time.

In a rare moment of widower humor, I instead stood back and watched the dance unfold.

There were several moments over the next few days when I would find myself talking to one of these ladies and the other would suddenly materialize as if out of nowhere, only typically in closer proximity to me than the other. It was like those scenes from “reality” dating shows where one woman cuts into the conversation/date/make-out session so as to get her own time with the man whose affection she is so desperately vying for. Only I was under no obligation to stop conversing with the one, simply because the other had made her presence known to us. So they joined in the conversation each time, but were seldom successful in drawing me completely away from the other. However, as we stood and talked, I was very aware of the body language and physical repositioning between the two of them and also with regard to me. It was a very slow and subtle, yet also seemingly very deliberate, dance.

Now, for those of you who have read even one of my previous entries, you will note that I am generally a very humble man. I do not attempt to blow my own horn and try to relate very honestly how grief over my wife’s death has affected my daughter and me. But during the course of the grieving process, I have also learned that it is okay to see situations for what they are (or at least appear to be). And if such situations call for humor and/or laughter, then so be it.

So during those few days, I stood and watched a dance that I believe was apparent only to me. And inside, I allowed myself to chuckle a bit.

Looking back on it now, I continue to chuckle, if but only for a moment.


  1. i must say that i cracked a smile over this and also shook my head at what you have to endure. people do not seem to understand until they are thrust into this life.

    i watch the abc family network a lot simply for the canned laughter and light humor. i don't like anything too heavy these days and that's coming from a long-time horror buff. on the show "10 Things I Hate About You" last Monday night, the father of the two girls was asked his marital status by what can only be called a woman on the prowl.

    his reply was, "I am a recent widower."

    the aggressive woman was taken aback. she hadn't thought of anything other than divorced male. she cooed sympathetically seeing 'he's available and not the instigator of a vicious divorce so i'll wait this grief thing out' dancing in her head. she asked him, "oh, i'm sorry. how long has it been."

    his smile was pensive and knowing. her dance, as you called it, was obvious to him. his choice of words was eloquent. "seven years."

    i'm glad you can see the humor in situations like you described above. maybe there will come a time when you are ready. pursue it on your own in your own time. women get a little scared sometimes to be on their own. i'm 51 and i'm afraid but only about the length of time until i see my Dragon again. i've already lived long enough and through too much and i think i can positively say i will only want my Dragon. i know how to be alone. i have no problem with it. i just wish i was alone with him.

    go ahead and look for the humor when you can. breath in and secretly smile when women approach. they see in you what your wife saw. and looks, beyond good health, are not important - spoken by a woman who thought her Marine husband was adorable. (talk about a man shaking his head and blushing.)

    as for your ranking as a father. trust me, you are light years ahead of "really good." you are a daddy and that is so much better than "father." if i sat my 25 year-old daughter down to read your writing, she would whole-heartedly back me on this. her father is only her father. the Dragon was her daddy. she has experience and criteria. you meet the criteria.

    peace always

  2. WNS - Thank you, first and foremost, for the compliment regarding my parenting. That means a great deal to me.

    I think I have been afraid to see humor in widowerhood. We can both attest to how un-funny it is most of the time. But my wife had a great sense of humor (however unintentional it may have been at times) and a beautiful laugh. I'd like to think that if she had witnessed the scene she might have likened it to a pack of wolves circling about fresh prey - as she smiled.

    I had to smile at the moment you related from the tv show. I might have to check that one out. Maybe I can learn something from that character.

    As always, thank you for your kind words and insights.

  3. Yes, it's good to realise these things. I had never expected that a widower with children could appear 'a catch.' But you definitely are.

    I think there is something about witnessing good parenting which is attactive to women. That makes sense, when you think about it.

    And the more you seem in control of things, from the outside at least, the more attractive you may seem.

    It's good that you recognise that. But one day perhaps that calm and controlled exterior will have to crumble. And maybe that's not such a bad thought, after all...

  4. Roads - You are once again right on all counts. I had a similar experience just tonight which I will hopefully get around to relaying here in the near future.

    I think there is something to be said for the strength that women see in a good single father, but I think they are often equally attracted to what they percieve as our vulnerability as well.