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About the author:
I’m a freelance writer and editor who for many years labored as a reporter. I live in the amalgamation fondly known as North Texas, where I’ve been cast in my own version of “This Old House.” Thankfully, while repairs are a pain, things like patching a hole in the wall and having the reparation all but disappear bolster my ego in a way little else can. My housemates are three rescue dogs: Bella, Marti and Sparky. While undeniably a beautiful American terrier, Bella is named for her penchant to bellow when I come home. Her sister, Marti, has a mostly white face that’s alien-looking, not to mention she’s downright spooky at knowing which hand’s holding the treat. Sparky is a large goofy Dalmatian mix. The way he opens his mouth and shakes his head when he’s playing makes me think that must be how dogs laugh. And, yes, I sometimes wonder who rescued who.
What inspired you to write your book?
I heard an acquaintance complaining about online dating. He said many of the women knew who they were looking for down to his height, weight and eye color. There was little room left for serendipity. I thought it would be fun to play around with that idea in a book.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Kate sat inside a gold 1970 Pontiac Bonneville convertible parked cockeyed in her driveway. Her companion was an older man with jet-black hair, which clashed with the tufts of gray peeking over the yoke of a T-shirt covered by an unbuttoned denim jacket.
The man shut off the engine and sat on the bench seat with his legs splayed. He not-so-idly flipped a pair of expensive distressed Oxfords, as if modeling them.
“Man, that was a hoot,” he said, flashing two rows of teeth so perfectly aligned and uniformly white that Kate straightaway took them to be dentures.
“It was different.”
“Come on. They didn’t know what hit them. We were like the Dynamic Duo. Pow! Bang! Zowie!”
He bopped a fist against his palm.
“I don’t know that I’d say that, Harry,” Kate said, picking fuzz off her cropped pants.
Harry turned, pulled down the armrest and grunted as he strained to grasp a small trophy nestled amongst the jumble on the back floorboard. Three tries later, he hoisted it over his head.
“Second place in our first horseshoes tournament together. I’d like to know how else you’d put it?”
“Our last horseshoes tournament together?”
Harry laughed, flipped up the armrest and laid the trophy depicting a leaner between them.
“I like you. You’ve got moxie.”
“Not enough, I’m afraid.”
“I know what’s wrong. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. The doctor gave me a clean bill of health last week, if you know what I mean. And I think you do. You were giving off serious vibes in my direction the whole night.”
“That would explain why your hearing aid kept screeching.”
“You’re a funny gal. Give us a kiss.”
Harry scooted sideways on the bench seat as Kate retreated, a retreat blocked by the passenger door. The side armrest pinched the back of her half-zip polo top as she twisted and planted the sole of a sandal in Harry’s chest, pushing him behind the wheel.
“Stop it. I’m not kissing you or us or anyone. Besides, I’ve got a cold.”
After the rebuff, Harry reached under the seat, blindly casting his arm about. Finding what he was after, he pulled out an old Texas Instruments calculator with an extra-large numeric keypad.
“Let’s see. I spent $23 on our meal. Tipped the waitress $5. Plus, the entry fee for the tournament cost me $10 and the refreshments ran $7.”
Harry hit the total key. He looked at the calculator, turning it, and his head, incrementally.
“Want me to read it for you?”
“I got it, I got it. Okay, that comes to $45. You’re telling me I can’t get a lousy kiss for $45?”
“Sorry, Harry. Even my lousy kisses don’t come that cheap.”
Harry’s head wagged. Soon, though, his eyes twinkled. Looking at Kate, he jutted his tongue against his bottom teeth, resulting in his dentures sliding out.
“Oh, gross, Harry.”
“What? The gals I usually date find that funny.”
“Which brings up what you’re doing here with me. Not to mention why you lied.”
Harry gaped at Kate as if he’d never been accused of lying before.
“When did I lie to you?”
“You led me to believe you were a much younger man.”
“Not true. I told you I passed 40 awhile back. Tell me I’m lying.”
“You didn’t tell me it was so long ago that it’s no longer visible in your rearview mirror.”
“Funny. What’d I say? You’re funny.”
“You want to know what’s hilarious? The 20-year-old photo you posted next to your profile.”
“It’s the only photo I had. Honest.”
Kate put her hands on her hips and assumed her most scornful bearing. For his part, Harry worked up a righteous anger, trying desperately to turn the argument around.
“What have you got to complain about, huh? I’ve got my hair, if not my teeth. I weigh what I did in high school. I’m vigorous — I led us to a second-place finish in horseshoes, didn’t I?”
“Come on, Harry. The couple in third had matching hip replacements.”
“You know what? If you’re so hung up on age, you should have said something earlier.”
“Of all the nerve.”
Harry flung out his arms in innocence.
“Who are you kidding? You show up knowing I think you’re a much younger man, counting on me not having the guts to bring it up. You guessed right. I didn’t want to seem shallow, which maybe I am. But at least I didn’t put you on the spot. Right off the bat. That wasn’t very nice, Harry.”
Harry started to respond, but his hearing aid squawked. Abashed, he turned it down and gathered his thoughts.
“You’re right. It wasn’t. Oh, I don’t know. Your photo reminded me of a gal I once knew. She had spunk, too. But, also, I wanted to go out with someone fun for a change. Someone who wouldn’t spend the whole date telling me her medical history or what she’s too old to do anymore. Is that so wrong?”
“You know, Harry, I almost believe you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that I think there’s more to it. Not all women hang it up at 60. I know a lot of vibrant, sensual women who are well past that age.”
“Names, please. Phone numbers would be helpful, too.”
Harry’s cheeks puffed out air, after which his face collapsed, no attempt made to hold back the years.
“It sure gets harder to find such women the older you get. Okay, I wanted to go out with a younger woman one last time and feel the way it makes you feel. Satisfied?”
“Well, you did that, Harry.”
Harry perked up, the lines in his face relaxing. Kate felt better about being there, too. Some good had come out of the awkwardness. And she had to admit that spending time with Harry beat scrubbing the baseboards.
“I did, didn’t I? Thanks to you, Kate.”
“How about a kiss to commemorate the occasion?”
They smiled at each other, and then Kate started to open the door.
“Let me do it.”
“There’s no need.”
Kate sat back as Harry scrambled out and walked gingerly around the car to open the passenger door. He held Kate’s hand as she exited.
He escorted her to the porch, where Kate put a hand on the doorknob and turned toward Harry.
“If nothing else, you’re a gentleman, Harry. Thanks for a pleasant, if unusual, evening.”
“You know, I could sure use a cup of coffee if you have one. I have a long drive ahead of me.”
“Well, then, thanks for being a good sport. It was fun, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, Harry, I’d have to say it was.”
“Good. Glad to hear it. I like to show my dates a good time.”
“Well, Harry, I’ll. . . I’ll. . .”
Feeling a sneeze coming on, Kate snapped open her purse. She couldn’t find a tissue. Harry offered his handkerchief, which she took and promptly sneezed into. As Kate pulled the handkerchief away, Harry swooped in for a kiss.
“Sorry. I couldn’t resist stealing a quick one. Not from a gal as pretty as you. It’ll give me something to remember as I roar into that good night. Hope you won’t hold it against me. You can keep the hankie as a gift from old Harry. Take care, you’re sweet.”
Harry waved good-bye and hotfooted it back to the Pontiac. As he got into the vehicle, Kate covered her mouth to muffle her cackling.
Harry’s smile was so immense that he couldn’t resist turning on the dome light and checking it out in the Bonneville’s mirror. His choppers looked good, he thought. Money well spent. As his focus widened, though, his smile froze. On his cheek was a gnarly chunk of snot.
“Oh, gross, Harry.”