Oh what the hell.

I've loved and lost so many times it isn't funny. Might as well write down the next step in the ongoing saga, right? You see, I've met this woman...

DOOMED! you say, DOOMED!, right from the start. Ah, you may be so right. The truth is, I have no sense of the rightness of a relationship any more. I used to be confident in my abilities to assess people, but now? Nothing. The future is unknowable. So here's the story so far, and then you can decide for yourself how the rest of the story is going to play out.

Tonight is our third date. A Valentine's Day dinner at a place in Reston, VA. If you see a man grinning like an idiot, that would be me. If you see a cute little blonde, 5'4", patiently sitting with him, that would be her. If you see him sliding a card to her and you're wondering what's in it, that would be a poem I wrote for her. It's like my other poems, nothing more than doggerel and moochie-pooch. No use of the L word. (As I get older, I'm getting the concept of 'restraint'.) If you see her sliding a card to him and you're wondering what's in it, I won't know until tonight of course, but it would probably be a Hallmark card, and when I open it up, black panties will slide out and fall to the floor, and the card would say "Saturday." She's like that. Disconcertingly direct.

I happened to run across a photo of her on Plenty of Fish, one of the legions of sites for dating. Older adults love it, mostly because it's free, and because you don't have to fill out tons of annoying questions. Her self-description was brief and intriguing. I messaged her just to say hello. That's how these things get started.

She must have read my profile. I described my archetypal woman: brainy, yet buxom. Could talk to janitors as well as kings. Loved the outdoors, yet also loved dressing up. Sociable, but also needed her quiet time. Outgoing, yet literate. Gracious and proper, yet could tell stories that would make a bartender blush. Someone you don't find in real life. All the qualities were too self-contradictory. She wrote back and said "I'm the woman in your profile."

This was an interesting response, and I'll tell you why. Most women, when they do write back, and it's not full of invectives, will say "I'm that woman, but I'm not built like a model," or "Hey you sound fun but whats 'Chaucer'? 'Dante'? Your pretty smart huh. Dont worry Im a good kissr." Makes me want to take an electric drill to my temple. But she, this mystery woman, did not qualify. She said she was that woman, and furthermore she was intrigued by any man who could describe her just like that.

Fast forward to first date. It was a movie and then drinks at the Ritz. We meet at Tyson's Corner mall by the movie theater. The movie theater is a megaplex, which happens to be adjacent to a food court (visualize: unwashed masses) and a children's play area (visualize: grubby urchins with unwashed hands, offspring of the unwashed masses). OK? Got the visual? Not a promising place to meet. We chose this place because it was close to her, close to the Ritz, and it had the movie I wanted to see, The King's Speech. I have no expectations, and I don't even remember what she looks like. I get there at 3:30, the movie starts at 4:00. Waiting. Looking around. Waiting. Waiting. Maybe she stood me up. At 3:55 she messages and says, Had trouble finding a parking spot. Pls dont be mad. R U still there? Hurrying in.

The message was reassuring, but I'm still baffled. At this point, everyone starts looking alike, and she's going to have to walk up to me because of my mind-wipe memory. Plus, the movie crowd is beginning to walk in, and I'm getting nervous. Want to get a good seat!

4 o'clock comes and goes. 4:05. They're starting to show movie previews. I'm dying. I love the previews. Then I look up.

A woman detaches herself from the crowd. These are the first things I see: Mane of blonde hair. Bright red coat. Nice legs. Black stockings. Bright red heels. She looks far better than her grainy photos, and she sure knows how to make an entrance. She's not nervous or self conscious. She looks like she's done this a million times.

She grabs my arm and walks me into the theater. "I hope I'm not too late. It's the first time I've had to park for this theater. Are you mad?"

I look at her eyes. She has green eyes.

No honey, I'm not mad. How could I be mad? I can barely talk.

We get seats in the up-front rows, where we're pretty much looking straight up at the screen. She takes off her leather gloves. Have you ever seen a nice looking woman take off black kid-leather gloves? One finger at a time. It's worth the price of a movie ticket. Oh. My. God. She holds my hand. Unexpected, that. She has a ring with a big rock on her finger. What's that, I ask? Oh that, she says. That's just so men don't bother me.

After the movie, which we both loved, we head out for drinks and conversation. Finally! I get a chance to talk with her.

The Ritz Carlton has a quiet bar with couches and big screen televisions. More importantly, the waiters are invisible until you want them. So they get us drinks and leave us alone. She immediately apologizes for being late again. She has a smoky voice. It sounds like gin and cigarettes, but she doesn't smoke and she rarely drinks. She's wearing a red dress. She sits an appropriate distance away - not too close. It's our first date. After a few drinks, we sit closer.

She had written me, before that first date, that a perfect first date would have the man asking her for a second date. So I did. Would she have Valentine's Day dinner with me? Her response, "Why honey sure, but that's too far into the future. Why don't we try something sooner?"

The second date went well too.

So here we are, Valentine's Day. She told me a week ago she would like me to write her a poem. I'm still scratching my head. No pressure. I think about those green eyes. She studied classical literature and biochemistry at William & Mary. She's read Edmund Spenser and Christopher Marlowe. She likes Byron, Shelley and Keats.

She mentioned she has next weekend free. I asked her to spend the night with me. She said sure.

This is how you do things when you are in your midlife years. You see the sands of time falling, and there's no way of turning that hourglass upside down. You're in a hurry.

I got to thinking about that first night together, and I wrote her and said, That first night is going be full of fail. I won't be comfortable, you will be nervous. So let's just assume that our first night together won't be terribly satisfying. I'm hedging my bets. It's what old guys do.

She wrote back and said, "If it's not, you're not trying hard enough."

Ha ha ha. Got to love that positive attitude. Now I'll REALLY be worried.

Who knows what will happen? I'm going for a run. Perhaps a head-clearing run will grant me clarity about the future.

Green eyes. Green eyes and blonde hair.

If you haven't met anyone with green eyes and blonde hair, you should try it some time. It's a pleasing combination.