Caveat emptor: The names in this tale have been changed to protect the innocent and titillate the guilty.
“I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still . . . a doo run run, a doo run run . ”
Love is a mysterious emotion, appearing when one least expects it in ways that make no sense and ending without seeming explanation. You can find it lurking everywhere – even on a street corner on a cool foggy summer morning in Oakland, California. When love is looking for you, it claims you without reason.
At sixty and substracting I had given up the idea of looking for a desirable eligible man with whom I could share some meaningful companionship or even a good laugh. I had tried all the usual venues for a woman of my age and station in life.
In the eighties my girlfriends and I barhopped the finest establishments in San Francisco. I could spot a desirable man at one hundred paces, and often did, being wined and dined by the successful and the famous from time to time. I once placed an ad in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, stating that I was looking for my Rhett Butler. My respondent sounded great on the telephone and we agreed to meet in the bar at Jeremiah Tower's very elegant and popular Stars Restaurant in San Francisco where he would be the man with the pink roses. Entering through the side entrance, I took note of a little straggly haired nebbish whose feet barely touched the floor – of course, he had the roses -- and fled as quickly as I had entered, never to repeat that mistake ever again and felt disgusted with myself in the process.
I've attended an endless circuit of fancy charity events where handsome, well-coifed, well-heeled professional men chatted me up while looking over my shoulder for someone younger or richer or prettier or slimmer or sexier. I became a privileged member of Para Livermore's elite singles 'Red and White Ball circuit where the richest finest single men and most eligtible beautiful women in San Francisco can be found. I looked good, smelled good, and knew how to behave . . . alas it was futile. Why, darlin', I could be living in the south of France with a young Adonis at my side for all the money I wasted on those bad boys and all those parties.
I tried internet dating, eventually meeting four delightful men, none of whom lived within spitting distance of my home. One of the four is best described as drop dead handsome. I had both the best and the worst sex in my entire life with him. I veritably swooned when we met one another in the Dulles International Airport in Washington, D. C. Intelligent and handsome in an English general's kind of way, he possessed a brilliant gift with words that he had parlayed his talents into a successful career as a White House correspondent, newsman, and public relations consultant. Why he even wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan. Like most of my romantic affairs, this one proved to be adventurous, fleeting, provocative, and fun for a time. I treasured, and still do, hearing the sound of his voice over the telephone. We managed to salvage a friendship and an occasional conjugal visit with one another from time to time. This unusual Republican was at the end of a list of thirty years of short-lived, less than fulfilling romances in my life. I should have stuck with the Democrats.
On my own in the world of love and war, let's face it, I was a dismal failure --- though still optimistic. Hence I decided to turn my dating life over to a higher power. If God wanted me to have a man, he would just have to present him to me up front and center. Meanwhile I would just go on about my life, drinking tea and coffee in the neighborhood cafes, having dinners with friends, finding ways to fill my time when I wasn’t being the good grandmother, mother, or mother-in-law. God has a great sense of humor and timing when she decides to answer our prayers. No sooner than my words leapt from my lips to God's ears, love appeared.
As usual after saying my prayers, I headed to College Avenue for my morning refreshment at any one of a number of Rockridge district cafes where I engaged myself in doing the daily crossword puzzles, and adding my two cents in the political conversations. Observing the lack of seating outside as I came through the door of Cole Coffee with my Earl Grey tea in hand, I could not help but notice a well-formed tanned bald head glistening in the sunlight, attached to an interesting looking man who was sitting alone at a metal table outside a Rockridge District neighborhood café, one empty chair across from him. He flashed an inviting smile and large perfectly straight white teeth at me. Politely I smiled back and inquired, “Hi, may I share your table?” I wouldn't find out till later that God had a most unusual sense of humor.
Unlike any other man I’ve ever met in Oakland or Berkeley, he, jumped up, pulled out the chair, and responded in a deep clear English accent. “Hi, I’d be delighted. I’m Trevor Fincham” as he extended his hand. “I’ve seen you around the neighborhood and think you are absolutely beautiful. I hoped we would meet one day. If I weren’t married, I’d ask you out.” He grinned, again flashing his perfect straight white teeth.
I responded with a nervous laugh as he firmly grasped my hand in his, “Hi, I’m Morgan Stewart” pausing with a warm smile, “and if you weren’t married, I’d accept.”
Believe you me, I would not have hesitated for a New York minute. I felt an immediate aliveness and reawakening, and very happy in that moment. It had been a very long time between compliments. And as we like to say in the South, “He was easy on the eyes.” ANd probably easier on other things if you get my drift.
Trevor confided that he was a scientist and professor at a nearby prestigious university. His very official business card, quickly presented to me, proved the point. Well educated with a PhD from the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of London, he had achieved a degree of success in the academic community and world of engineering. He lived nearby in a well-manicured if modest home. He proudly shared that he was the father of three sons whom he’d raised on his own and in the telling I noted a gentle, humble side of this clearly complex man. So far he was batting a thousand with his direct conversation, gentle reflections and quiet hints of a few regrets in his journey through life . . . except, of course, for the all too obvious masculine hand-wrought platinum wedding ring on his finger. All too quickly Trevor was waving good-bye and smiling at me as he pulled out of the Safeway parking lot in his shiny black high-powered Corvette convertible with the top down and off to the university to his laboratory where he had projects to develop, students to advise, inventions to pursue, and dreams to dream.
I shared that I too had raised a family on my own, Vietnam and all that sadness and that I served the community as a mediator and owned a small B & B. He listened intently, taking it all in with his huge blue eyes. He seemed touched, empathetic, caring. I instantly liked him and secretly wished there wasn’t a Mrs. Fincham, whoever this lucky woman was, lurking around in the bushes. I noted the sameness in our lives – the age, the common history, the shared life experiences. We resonated with one another. And besides he thought I was beautiful . . . and interesting . . . and . . . and . . . even though I had a few extra pounds on my tall frame and had essentially lost that loving feeling that fades with menopause and a dearth of serious male attention.
That’s how our friendship began, innocently enough on a clear crisp sunny California day. But then again this is a story in progress.
The truth is that we’d both been observing one another from afar since the prior summer and unknowingly circling one another’s wagons for too many years. My earliest remembrance of a live sighting of Trevor Fincham etched clearly in my mind, occurred many months before that first innocent conversation on that beautiful spring morning in 2005. A tall, fit, bald scantily clad man with perspiration gleaming from his nearly bare shoulders caught my attention while I was standing in long line at the very popular Peaberry’s Coffee at Market Hall on College Avenue and staring out at the chaotic social whirl of the café. Perhaps it was the oversized trendy tank top that he wore over his very brief white running shorts, or his long tanned runner’s legs, or that he reeked masculinity, or his innate aliveness. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Beside him stood a thin, pale-faced young woman with poofy mousy brown bobbed hair askew. She picked uncomfortably at her face and shifted back on forth in her running shoes and baggy shorts while he animatedly chatted with his friends. She looked unhappy, disinterested and bored, staring into the nothingness of life. I thought to myself, “How nice that he’s out running with his daughter.” His eyes met mine and a momentary connection was made. It was as if I had known him my entire life. I wondered who he was, where he had come from, where he was going. And, why was his daughter so melancholic?