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Return to dating made a lasting impression

Post-divorce dating can be an frightening thought; it's not that bad, really.

Shortly after my divorce was final, I was asked out to dinner by a handsome lawyer, who also happened to be a family friend -- no background check needed.

I was so looking forward to Saturday night.

Two days before the highly anticipated night out, I slipped on a grape outside the school cafeteria in front of 250 children. The thunderously loud room went silent as I fell in what seemed like slow-motion. With my dress under my armpits, one shoe down the hall, and a throbbing arm dangling from my side, I struggled to my feet. One lone voice came from the silent cafeteria, "Are you OK?"

I was too mortified to do anything but give a thumbs up and squeak out, "Yep, thank you, honey, I'm fine," all the while thinking, "liar!"

I retrieved my class from the lunch room, stopped at the nurse's office for an ice pack, and headed back to my room for story time. I didn't make it through the whole book -- my arm was obviously broken.

My friend Maria drove me, in my car, to the emergency room. She wasn't used to the placement of the turn signals and wipers, and we drove along with the wipers rhythmically sweeping across the windshield, back and forth, on that sunny afternoon in October.

I left the hospital with a lovely cast and a newfound dread of my first post-divorce date.

There I was on Saturday afternoon, trying to decide what to wear. I was rather limited because my cast went past my elbow and froze my arm at an inconvenient 90 degree angle. Choosing a boring but comfortable dress, I began the fiasco of getting ready without the use of my right arm.

My real dilemma was figuring out how to get my pantyhose on; it was nearly impossible with one hand. My face was sweating from all the twisting and pulling, but eventually I completed the task, wiped off my brow, and headed downstairs to wait.

I finally had calmed down and cooled off when the phone rang. He was calling to say he would be a few minutes late, and he sounded as though he'd been drinking -- I could hardly understand him.

I thought great -- what a start. I'm not getting in the car with him if he's drunk already.

I was prepared to forget the whole thing when I heard the knock on the door. (What was I thinking? I hadn't been "out" in 24 years!)

Well, there he was. He looked at me, with my blue and green fingers sticking out of the cast, pantyhose slightly twisted at the ankles, and hair a bit damp around the ends.

I looked at him -- not quite the charming smile I remembered. He had been playing rugby that afternoon and had taken a knee to the mouth. His bottom lip was swollen and stitched -- the whole area was beginning to turn lovely shades of blue and green to match my fingers.

He started to laugh, but stopped when he realized his lips were unforgiving, and the stitches unyielding. Instead, he spit out a slurred, "What happened to you?" just as I was asking the same question of him. He was so sweet and I was flattered to think he hadn't canceled.

The hostess at Hutch's sat us at cozy little table off to the side. I don't think she was trying to promote a romantic evening, probably just hoping to hide us from the other patrons.

Dinner was delightful. He had to cut my meat for me, and I had to share my garlic smashed potatoes with him. My trip to the ladies' room concerned him, though -- I was gone a long time.

It was the pantyhose again; this time maneuvering in a confined space prompted more sweating from the face.

From beginning to end, it was a very, very enjoyable night with a supreme gentleman. We talked, laughed, and I survived, confident that if I could get through that, this dating thing wouldn't be so bad after all.