The New Guy

When a friend called me and told me she’d met a new guy, my initial reaction was anything but congratulatory.

To be clear, her track record isn’t so hot.

She’s older, but remarkably beautiful, really a catch for any guy. Add to that a gentle personality and a quiet intelligence and, well, she is the whole package.

And…she’d been down this road before. The words, “I’ve met someone…” are like, yeah, tattooed into my eustachian tube. I’ve heard it many times before and each situation, over many years, has frankly sucked. She ends up in crappy circumstances and I literally don’t know how she is able to withstand the stress of it. As I said, she’s the whole package. This is the type of girl who’s able to maintain a strict, age-defying diet and fitness routine despite the worst kinds of emotional upheavals—from ornery adult children who don’t take kindly to their new ”mom” to guests that she doesn’t know and who never seem to leave.

It didn’t help that at the time I was sorting out the dismal remains of my own marriage which had fallen into bits like the carcass of a chicken: decent meat and boney bits, sharp shards, gross stringy stuff and confounding ligament knobs. My whole attitude about relationships was pretty far from rosy and more into the irritation category.

The real problem was that this was not the first ”great guy.” This was the same great guy all over again. And again. And again. And again. Still, I just felt mean and petty.

While my relationship was like the crumbs of a meal, I really didn’t want to hear about her giant Costco chicken dinner, browned and ready for a sexy dinner. Probably mashed potatoes figured into her plan while wilted lettuce headed for the compost was my immediate predicament. As the conversation ran on I found myself not wanting to know the private details of what she ”was up to.”

A few days later my life had smoothed out a bit and my emotions had moved into more neutral territory. I called her up—I thought she’d be out galivanting with her new beau, dining, dancing, playing pickleball, and ending the date by body-steaming her new high-count bedsheets.

But lo and behold, that was not the case. I couldn’t hear glasses of champagne clinking in the background or nature sounds, or god-forbid, other sounds. No, in fact, she was cleaning her new home. Not new, but new to her. He had asked her to move in and there was a lot of cleaning to do, some clandestine removal of old female items, and possibly large furniture shifting. He’d been a bachelor for quite some time.

The phone call went on and as the natural ending came near, I could hear water running—dishes were being done. We discussed the merits of wearing gloves for a while. I could relate to this conversation. And then, like a smooth, clean bell, she said, “I’m just so happy—this is the best time of my life.”

Immediately I realized that I was not acting out of envy, it was more of a jaded, ”not again.” But, this joy from her was new—and such a relief. I thought, could it be true? Could she have escaped the repeats of the past? That crisp tone to her voice made me think so, and at that moment I felt a glimmer of possibility.

Maybe, just maybe, this umpteenth attempt is the charm—it has to be—I’m depending on her.

I think we all are.

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