Do you….?

When a promising first date takes an unexpected turn

Ignore the Rules by Patricia Thornton
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readFeb 5, 2024

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Boxes of the canned soft drink Squirt
Photo by author

I recognized him a half block away even though we had never met in real life. The shoulder-length hair, the leather satchel across his back, the black-and-white patterned shirt on his diminutive, yet muscular frame. As he waited for the light, I caught up to him and introduced myself.

We had met “virtually” on OurTime, a dating site for people over fifty. Or as I like to explain to those who’ve never heard of it, the dating app for older folks making a last-ditch effort to find love before devoting whatever energy is left to shopping for Depends.

I’ve come to believe OurTime should be called Just in Time. I was sixty years old and had been on a slew of dating sites since leaving my decades-long marriage. In the past four years I had dated over seventy men, but this was my first suitor through this site. I was exhausted from all the bad dates and dashed expectations. And then a friend, who was unexpectedly successful on OurTime, suggested I sign up… before giving up.

We walked through my Manhattan neighborhood to a wine bar. We chatted about his job as a biology teacher in a Brooklyn charter school — a noble profession in my opinion. It was early September and the school year had just started. He wore glasses as did I. He had a neatly trimmed salt-and- pepper goatee that set off his kind smile. From where I was sitting, his profession, his pride at being the father of a spunky twelve-year-old girl, and his good looks placed him in the “hot” category.

We sat next to each other and looked out onto the street. The sun was setting, we watched passersby on the sidewalk, and the conversation flowed seamlessly. That is until his cell phone rang. Usually, when on a date, the guy will apologize and silence his phone.

Not this guy.

“Hey”, he said and listened. “Yep,” he responded, followed by, “All good. Talk to you soon, man.”

Had this guy answered a “safety call”? (This is a call that women sometimes arrange with a friend who phones at a particular time to make sure the woman is safe, or just not into the guy, and needs an excuse to bolt.) This was the first time I’d been with a man who had done this. I was intrigued. Clearly, he had someone in his…

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Ignore the Rules by Patricia Thornton
Human Parts

Personal essay writer challenging the status quo on all things related to sex and the older single woman.