Lorraine Takes the Reins

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Lorraine was snug in her apartment at 44 Cherry Street. Fall was turning to winter, but the old-fashioned radiators worked like a charm, in spite of some loud banging noises every now and then. She had called her landlord, Barry, and he had assured her that the noise was nothing to worry about. Of course, Barry didn’t worry about anything. He was about as laid-back as a person could be and still be awake. He was also single. Sometimes Lorraine wondered whether he might be available, but as he never showed any particular interest in her or anyone else, for that matter, she decided not to even go there in her imagination.

Thinking about Barry gave her the urge to check her email to see what was going on at Match.com. She climbed out of her old-fashioned carved wooden bed, threw back the lacy sheets and down comforter, slipped on her little feather-trimmed slippers and wispy robe, and sat down at her desk.  As usual, there were no messages from prospective suitors. She could just as easily  have posted a more recent photo of herself instead of the fifteen year old shot of her at the beach, as that cute picture wasn’t helping. After feeling disgusted and let-down, she decided that since this was The Modern Era, she shouldn’t just wait for some guy to notice her. She could go on the hunt. Why not?

She entered her parameters on the website: Area–100 mile radius of Asheville, Age: forty to seventy, and then she decided to skip the other variables. She would deal with interests, religion, occupation, and all the rest after she had a chance to look them over on-line. Two can play the game of judging others based on superficial characteristics. She clicked “search.”

Before her eyes, photos of men filled the computer screen. Some of the pictures looked like the kind you might find in a picture frame you just bought: men with sparkling smiles of even,white teeth, abundant hair casually-tousled, come-hither expressions on their faces. Others looked neat and professional. Still others, most of the others, were grossly overweight and bald with sad smiles on their faces. Some were scary, mullet-wearing guys with twisted smiles. They reminded Lorraine of the boys in her junior high school in the “hoods” clique. She had been terrified of those guys ever since she had accidentally bumped into one in the hall, and he had said he was going to wait for her outside after school, and he was going to kick her ass. He didn’t do it, but she was scared of guys with slicked back hair ever since.

Suddenly her eyes landed on a slim man with a warm smile. She could see a bit of twinkle in his eye, and decided he might be fun to get to know. She clicked on his profile and read what he had to say. He was living in Asheville, had an advanced degree, and loved to travel. He grew up in New York City, as she had, and was passionate about skiing. He had just returned from an extended ski vacation in Colorado, and he was looking for a “petite woman” to share his adventures.

Lorraine was petite. She was just over five feet tall. She could afford to lose a bit of weight around her middle. And in her thighs. And in her butt. But she shopped in the petite department, so she was petite. She liked the way this man looked, and she liked his interest in travel and skiing. So many people her age were turning off the lights, locking the doors, and waiting to die. It  was refreshing to run across someone her age who was still active and on the go. She, too, had a great deal of youthful energy. It was worth a try. She pictured herself checking into a beautiful ski lodge in Aspen with her new companion. She would have to get new ski clothes, but what fun it would be to get back on the slopes! She hoped his pockets were deep, though, because she didn’t like to travel coach. She took a deep breath and clicked “Wink.”

Lorraine called to her dog, cradled her in her arms, and gave her a big hug. She felt flooded with positive energy and felt confident that this man, Fred Turner, would get back with her soon. She showered and dressed and took the dog for a walk to the Dripolator so she could get a latte, all the while humming “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

The interior of the Dripolator was warm and welcoming. It was crowded with students from Montreat College conferring with each other at small tables, groups of women gathered together in clusters laughing and talking, people working on their laptops, and young mothers with small children. The air was redolent with the aroma of dark coffee. Just being there made her feel happy. When it was her turn to order, she asked for the “Barista’s choice special, hot.” This was a regular offer that gave the customer the choice of a hot or cold coffee concoction of the barista’s choosing for just $3. Christina liked the element of surprise, and was delighted when she was handed a paper cup containing a hot mocha, her favorite. This was a good sign.

When Lorraine returned, slightly buzzed,  to her apartment at 44 Cherry Street, she sat down at the computer as soon as she had unleashed the dog, who ran into the kitchen to get a drink of water from her crystal water bowl. When she opened her email account, there was a message already from Fred. With trembling hands, she opened the email.

Dear Lorraine,

Thanks for the wink!

I see that you live near Asheville and I had a moment to read your profile and think you seem interesting. (Lorraine clapped her hands and flushed.) I am sixty, so I am just a bit older than you (not really! thought Lorraine), and I want to tell you a little more about myself to see if we should proceed with getting to know each other.

I have lived in many places, but love Asheville the most. I was born and raised in New York City. When I graduated from high school, I moved to Vermont and became an apprentice to a letterpress printer. From there I spent my time learning all I could about a variety of things until I fell upon the field I felt most drawn towards, epidemiology. I entered college at that time and stuck with my  education until I had received my doctorate. That propelled me towards my career at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. I retired early from there last year when I achieved financial independence. It was then that I moved to Asheville because I love and collect art. I love books and film, and see everything that shows at the Fine Arts Theater.

I see from your profile that you, too, love art, books, and film, and would love to talk with you about your preferences in those areas. I see also that you ski and enjoy travel, both passions of mine.

You are a beautiful woman, if your picture is to be believed. Excuse me if this seems rude or superficial, but is this a recent picture of you? (Define recent, Lorraine thought.) Also, and excuse me again for this request, what is your exact weight? I see that you call yourself slim and petite, but there are varying standards for these categories. I have had the unpleasant experience of meeting other women on Match who called themselves slim, but who were far from thin. I have an aversion to fat women, so let’s save some time here, and make sure we are on the same page.

Sincerely,

Fred

“Wow,” thought Lorraine. Aversion to fat women? She stood up and moved to the full length mirror in the hallway outside the bathroom. She sucked in her stomach, and pivoted around. Was she thin? No. But if she wore her spanx, well-cut black pants, and a loose-fitting cashmere sweater, also black, she could hide it. She could also plan a meeting with him in a week’s time and simply starve herself until then. She could easily drop five to ten pounds in a week. She was 140 pounds now.

She went back to the computer and wrote back to Fred.

Dear Fred,

So good to hear from you! I find you interesting and would love to get together for coffee to discuss art, books, and movies. Perhaps we can meet at Filo in East Asheville, which is convenient to both of us.

I’m sorry that you have had other women lie to you about their age and weight. But yes, that is a recent picture of me, and I weigh 120 pounds.

I am very busy this week, but maybe we can schedule a time to meet next week.

Yours truly,

Lorraine