James / Guy Whisperer Case 93
Is love defined as someone who is willing?
An Atlanta Singles Club offers a class in “How to Get Married in a Year.” I’ve been at this for a year and know by now where the more interesting characters hang out. The registration line is long and I feel hot breath on my neck. The hot air belongs to James. He’s successful, good-looking and driven to marry. He’s eager to be heard and quickly schedules an interview.
The following day James and I are eating take-out at the coffee table in his living room. This real estate agent’s home is a pleasant brick ranch on a tree-shaded street in Buckhead, a pricey neighborhood just outside downtown Atlanta.
I look away as he forces another bite of sandwich, mayo oozing, and continues to tell me his tale. “This girl I had been dating for six months broke up with me and went back to her old boyfriend. As she went out the door she asked if we could still be friends in case her relationship didn’t work. She wanted to keep me available while she ran off with someone else.”
James swallows the mouthful of turkey sub that’s been choking his words and touches a paper napkin to the blob of white that clings to his lower lip.
“She tells me, ‘I think you’re such a great guy. I want to be able to come crawling back to you in case this other thing doesn’t work out.’
“This happens to me all the time,” he grumbles. “We start going out. We become intimate. Then the woman tells me about her past boyfriends.”
He gnaws on the sandwich again. “One woman was in her early thirties. She said her ‘ex’ was an ‘older guy’ like me. I’m forty-nine. He shakes his head in disgust. “Old… And I’ve never been married. Can you believe it?”
Initially, no, but I was in the process of reevaluating my first impressions.
He continues, “We went out for a couple of months. Things were going fine. I started talking about something we might do over the summer. We might go boating. And she just flinched. My intuition told me something clicked in her mind that she didn’t like when I mentioned that.”
He’s having trouble swallowing and pauses to wash down the sandwich with a slug of Diet Coke. “I asked her what was wrong and she said her old boyfriend called her up. He wanted to get back together and she was going to give him another try.” The words fly in a torrent. He barely stops for a breath.
I mentally rehearse the Heimlich maneuver, just in case.
“I told her to call me if things didn’t work out with him. That was the end of it. I never heard from her again.”
James looks at me for a response. I hide behind a bite of my pastrami sandwich as he races on. “And then I met another woman. I fell head-over-heels in love with this girl. She was separated from her husband and in the process of getting a divorce. I flipped out over her.”
He swigs his Coke. “To make another long story short, she went back with her ex. I’m starting to get tired of all my girlfriends going back with their old boyfriends and ex-husbands.” The rest of his words are lost in another mouthful of turkey. He gulps.
“This happens all the time. These girls will go out on my boat with me, take off all their clothes, make me have sex with them and then when we’re done, tell me ‘I’ve got a boyfriend, forget it.’”
His cell phone rings a jarring computerized jingle. It’s a call from his office. He dispatches it quickly and we return to his problems.
“Why haven’t you ever married?” I ask, leery of the temper I sense lurking under the surface.
“I haven’t found the right woman and that gives me huge periods of real depression and loneliness. Maybe I’m too picky. I just don’t feel like my married friends can relate to me anymore because they have families there for them. I don’t and it’s extremely difficult to be alone in a world of couples. I sometimes I get furious ‘cause I feel short-changed by life.”
The thought of telling him that he needs to mellow crosses my mind. But I don’t know that for sure. I’m no expert. Just here to listen.
Is love defined as someone who is willing?
“When I was thirty, I was just the most immature little puppy toad you ever did see. I’m a late bloomer. I wasn’t even close to being ready for any long-term serious relationship. I didn’t have my shit together. Now I’m way beyond that. I do have my career, and my life, and my shit together . . . if I could only find some willing woman to love.”
I have no words of encouragement. I think of my female friends and wonder if any of them would be … willing?
Mr. Real Estate Success Story gives me a hurting look. He has no idea why he’s still on the market. He’s appears uncomfortable with my clinical stare. “What?” He asks.
An idea bubble forms over my head – this dude feels safe in picking up what other men lay down. He’s never “out there” risking commitment – not when the chances are excellent that the woman he chooses will return to the other guy. He’s looking to lose from the beginning. Wow. I’m getting good at drive-by analysis.
James excuses himself and returns with a framed photo of a smiling woman – a digitally enhanced picture of a female in full war paint– lashes and cheeks professionally made up and big hair that might snap at a touch.
“This is, or was Mina. She went back to her husband.” He places the picture on the coffee table, sits down, and stares at it as if willing it to life.
“Once I fall in love it’s hard for me to fall out. It’s hard for me going in and harder coming out.” He looks at the ceiling, a glint of grease perched on his chin.
Still staring upward, he speaks. “There is nothing I would like more than a monogamous relationship. I’m known in certain circles for being the biggest damn tom cat and the biggest heartbreaker playboy type, which is ridiculous.”
I silently agree.
He snaps back and makes eye contact with me. “You know, my boat’s docked at Holiday Marina on Lake Lanier.”
Oh, oh . . . Where’s this going?
“Why don’t we just run up and take the boat out for the day?”
“Thanks. I have another interview this afternoon. Besides, I like to keep a professional distance.”
“Yeah, I get it.” His voice takes on a testy tone.
Without a second thought, he eyes my pastrami. “Can I have a bite of your sandwich, since you’ve obviously stopped eating it?”
I hand over my sandwich icked at the thought of my DNA touching his mouth.
“Well, thanks for the interview. Don‘t get up, I can find my way out.” I feel the need to be on the other side his door – now.
Mr. Lonely follows me continuing to talk even as I back down his driveway. In my haste, I forget to take the parking brake off. Creep.
Shaken but not stirred, I continue my investigation, sorting through the men of Atlanta. Surely there are some really nice dudes in this town. I just have to look harder.The Adventures of a Love Investigator