Tassie Types is about growing up and growing older, facing the mirror, and laughing through it all. Here, you'll find stories of family and friends, courage and love, and laughing without fear of the future.

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February 14, 2020

Tongue-Tied

 For months after my divorce, every night after my children went to bed, I locked myself in the bedroom of my broken home and cried myself to sleep.  Crushed and humiliated, I missed my marriage, my happy family unit, my once perfect life. I allowed my shattered soul to mourn. 

Then I went out, bought some new underwear, and joined an online dating website.

I drooled over the endless possibilities the Internet had to offer a newly divorced woman.  I explored single parent sites.  Hot, shirtless dads cradled babies against their bare chests.  Father of six seeks soccer mom to share game nights and diaper duty.  I scrolled through silver single sites.  Sexy senior octogenarian seeks fun forty-something to share sponge baths and overnight homecare.  

I was about to give up when one site caught my eye.  Find the agape of your life on GreekFriends.com!  On the home page, gorgeous Greek men holding platters of skewered meat smiled seductively in front of whitewashed villas.  I could almost hear the bouzouki music of my ancestors playing in the background.  I imagined my Greek dad nodding his approval. 

Taking a deep breath, I logged in and met the first hopeful, an engineer from Houston named George.  Strong, silent type seeks demure, petite blonde to share quiet dinners.  I fluffed my long brown hair and stretched my statuesque frame. Who cares what he wants?  George hadn’t posted a photo, but I envisioned tall and manly, a Sam Elliott type, rugged and reserved, confident, sexy.  “This one’s for you, Dad,” I whispered to the screen.

One week later, after a flurry of flirty instant messages, I walked into the Olive Garden to meet the man of my dreams. 

I searched the crowd for a Greek version of Sam Elliot who would sweep me off my feet and onto the first plane for Mykonos.  My gaze settled on an unassuming man of medium height with dark hair standing alone by a potted plant.  My heart sank.  The only things visibly strong about him were his black, bushy eyebrows, two caterpillars dominating his face. Clearly my hairy godmother misunderstood my request.  

Instead of Sam Elliott, she sent me Yosemite Sam.

I gave him a weak smile and held out my hand. “You must be George.” 

The caterpillars jumped up on his forehead, then drew together, huddled in disappointment as he scowled up at me. He offered me a sweaty hand and a curt nod.

I sized him up as the hostess led us to a cozy booth by the kitchen. George had claimed to be taller than average on his profile.  This was true only if the common height of an American male was 5’2”. 

At first the waiter talked for us.  He announced the specials and asked easy questions.  Would we like lemon with our water?  Would we like to see a menu? We nodded in unison.  He retreated to the kitchen and a suffocating cloud of silence descended on our table.

I took a deep breath and gave George my most engaging smile.  He flinched and studied his menu, the caterpillars connecting in concentration.

“So, what’s good here?”  I asked with my eyes glued to his brows. They were so mesmerizing I gave them names.  Harry and Forrest. 

He continued to browse the menu, then pointed to a picture of a pasta dish right as the waiter reappeared to take our order.

“Excellent choice,” he said to my date.  He looked at me, pad posed.

I attempted to send him a telepathic message.   “Help me!” I pleaded silently, looking deep into his eyes. “I’m on my first date in twenty years and I’m beginning to believe I wore Spanx for nothing.”   I contemplated spelling out SOS with breadcrumbs on my placemat.  

“Chicken.”  I said, more to myself than the waiter.  “Chicken Afraid-o.  And a bottle of wine.”

“Certainly.  White?  Red?”  He looked at George.  “Do you prefer a full body?”

“This is our first date.” I took a huge gulp of lemon water.  “I don’t know what type of body he prefers.”

Harry and Forest leaped into George’s hairline, clearly shocked.  Then the four of us settled back into an uncomfortable silence.

We were twenty minutes into lunch when I suspected my blind date might also be mute. Amazingly, George still hadn’t uttered one word.  It was so quiet at our table I could hear our lettuce wilting. If he’d been a shade paler and shown up wearing a beret, customers might have mistaken him for a mime.  

The waiter served our food. I peeked up at George over my barely touched meal and admired his hearty appetite.  Twirl. Chew. Swallow.  With the precision of an engineer, he focused on twisting his spaghetti onto his fork. Perhaps he was too polite to talk with his mouth full. 

So I talked.  I tried bonding with him over our common background and gave an animated monologue about growing up Greek. Back in the day, we wouldn’t have met at Olive Garden, I gushed. He would have picked me up and my father would have met him at the door, his muscles bulging out of his undershirt, rifle in hand. 

Harry and Forrest looked up at me in horror.  “Shhh,” they seemed to say.  “Can’t you see we’re eating?”

When George didn’t respond, I asked questions, instead.  Was he a sports enthusiast?  Maybe he’d lost his voice cheering on his favorite team.  Did he have pets?  Maybe his cat had got his tongue. 

Nothing.  My shoulders slumped in defeat.  And why didn’t he have questions for me?  Aren’t you curious, George?  

This date was a Greek tragedy.  I’d just decided to hurl myself off a mountain of pasta and end it all when the waiter brought the check and saved me from my fate.

I reached for my purse, mentally calculating what half of horrible came out to, plus tip.  But George sent me a warning look, shooting Harry up into his hairline while Forrest burrowed down close to one eye.  Browbeaten, I allowed him to pay the bill.  With a buy one, get one free coupon. 

We walked in silence to the parking lot.  I couldn’t wait to go home to my children who had no problem talking back to me.  

I spotted my car and half jogged to where I was parked, George hot on my tail. There would be no awkward pauses, no long goodbyes.  I would leap into my car and speed away, leaving his furry little face forever.

My hand was reaching for the car door when I felt the tip of his finger on my waist. I turned to face him.  The caterpillars gazed at me like I was a tasty leaf they couldn’t wait to munch.  Surely he didn’t expect a kiss!  

To my surprise, in a deep, resonant voice that would put Barry White to shame, he announced his first words of the date.  “Can I call you?”  His eyebrows may have screamed Yosemite Sam, but in that shocking moment, his velvety voice was pure Elliott.

For the first time that day, I was speechless. Then I said the one thing I knew to guarantee I would never hear from him again.

“Shhh-ure.”

He swaggered off to his car.

I knew he wouldn’t call me and he knew I wouldn’t answer if he did, but in the dating world, some things are better left unsaid.

Just ask George.

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