Chapter 20 — Men, And Dog

Men don’ t live the way we do, not when they’re single.  Some of them reside happily in homes where the only thing keeping the kitchen floor clean is the mice.  Some will accumulate a stack of 20 empty pizza boxes and  express  scientific interest in how high the tower can go before it topples, but never dream of moving the boxes to the recycle bin.  Some can spend two hours discoursing on chain saws, but can’t get out a single sentence about anything involving relationships.

Greta knew two things about human males: they are different and if they want her trust, they had better be prepared to earn it. She’s not going to cut them any slack.  She probably could tell the difference between men and women by men’s deeper voices and generally taller, huskier frames.  She always tried to see whether their rear ends smelled different, but if I were around she found herself thwarted in that effort.

Greta warms up to women almost immediately, waving her tail and tilting her head up to be petted.  But she meets men by barking, growling and backing away,  and it takes some effort on their part to win her acceptance.  She has been this way since we met, so she may be remembering bad experiences with men from  her days on the street.

In the first year after my husband’s death, the occasional  man crossed our threshold, but only because he was hired to perform a task I could not handle or because he was one-half of a couple who came to dinner.  Greta never threatened to bite any of them, and she eventually allowed some of them to pet her.  But her default position was: keep them out.

I disagreed with Greta on opposition to men in general, but I didn’t want to be involved with any of them in a man-woman way.  I remember one man in a support group whose wife  had died three months earlier saying,  “I will eventually begin dating.”

I was shocked.  How could he think about dating with his wife’s death still a throbbing new wound?

“If the man’s not Ron, I’m not interested,”  I told friends.  Yes, I knew intellectually that he wasn’t coming back.  But if . .  .

About 18 months after Ron died, I began to understand,  on all levels.  No, he’s not coming back.  Girlfriends are great, and so is Greta, but she’s a dog, not a dinner companion.  Weekends were too long.  I had spent too many evenings alone with Netflix.

I didn’t know any men who weren’t married, and I most emphatically did not want the company of one who was.  It didn’t seem likely I would find anyone in my small community.  So I turned to that great magical virtual meeting place where letters on a screen are transformed into ones and zeros and back again to letters on a receiver’s screen.

There is a singles website operated under the auspices of my church’s national association.  It turned out to be less than a wildly successful way to meet men.   I filled out the profile, forked over the registration fee and contacted four or five guys in my region and  age group.  No replies.

“Oh,” said a church friend, “I learned about this at GA (General Assembly, the national convention).  Most of the men are in a relationship.  They just stay on the website to keep their options open.”

So, it’s not me.  Or perhaps it is, since none of them was sufficiently impressed to sneak down to the computer late at night to connect with me while their girlfriends slept upstairs.  Somehow, I’m just fine with that.

It was time to rethink the situation.

(To Be Continued)

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