Posted on 2019.07.22
She walked into the restaurant and I felt like a young man again. I stood to greet her and she returned my greeting with the warmest smile. She leaned in for a kiss on the cheek and I caught the slightest whisper of her perfume. Roses, just as I requested. Her dress was a shade of navy and while it the cut of it was demure, it definitely did not hide the beautiful body underneath.
She told me she had spent the day getting ready for our date and had been looking forward it all week. I’ll admit that I had been looking forward to it myself.
Being in the presence of her energy and enthusiasm was like stepping into a fountain of youth. I’m an older man, and even more old-fashioned; if you had asked me ten years ago if I would ever spend time with a Companion, I would ask if you were crazy. But on nights like this, her presence is a welcome intermission in my life. I know that there are people who look and judge and frankly, I’m at that age where I don’t care anymore. They can stare all they want. I know some of it is judgement, but the rest of it is just jealousy. What man wouldn’t want a beautiful woman to treat him as if he was the only man in the room? What man would say “no” to one wonderful night to break the monotony of so many lonely ones? Show me the man that tells you he’d say no, and I’ll show you a liar.
The waiter brought over our drinks order: white wine for her and a whiskey neat for me. I’m not a heavy drinker, but I could use a little liquid courage as they say. My Companion asks me how my day has gone and tell her about the day before – the details of that day I’m willing to share. What happens today is a little different. As I talk, she discreetly blots the cherry red lipstick on a cocktail napkin before taking her first sip of her wine, and I find myself distracted by my own story. Her mouth forms into a perfect cupid’s bow, and for a moment I wonder if that’s why she works for Cupid’s. I regain my focus and continue talking. I don’t know if it’s that her own interests are similar, or because she’s done her homework, but it’s really easy to talk “shop” with her. Being able to speak so freely relaxes me, which is exactly what I need after such a long day. She takes a sip of her wine and rests her hand on the table. By instinct, I reach for it.
She doesn’t object. I feel a twinge of guilt and take my hand back to my side of the table.
She smiles and understanding smile and asks me another question to break the awkward silence and in that moment, the night felt like it used to.
Tonight is my anniversary and I’m here without my wife.
Every year for our anniversary we’d go for a dinner at our favourite restaurant. It was the only night my wife would drink any alcohol: a glass of white wine and some sherry with dessert. When I first started my business, I had to travel a lot. Back then, there was no technology to make things happen; if you wanted to close the deal, you had to get in car or hop on a plane to do it in person. In those early days, I probably spent about 250 days on the road, but I never missed an anniversary. I never forgot.
It’s my wife who forgets them now. She forgets most things to be honest, but she still remembers my face when I go to visit. I spend more time at home as well and visit her almost every day. But anniversaries are the hardest days to visit.
It’s been many years, and I’ve gotten used to my situation. All those years on the road prepared me for a solitary life. My kids have asked me to move in with them, but I won’t sell our home.
It’s big and a lot to take care of, but it’s the home I always come back to. When I first felt the need for companionship, I spent time with women closer to my own age. In our circles, they knew who I was, what I had, and what I’ve lost. Many of these women tried to latch on in hopes of filling my home and my life with their presence, but I wasn’t looking for a replacement. Back then, I couldn’t even tell you what it was I was looking for but I knew they weren’t it.
When an associate mentioned Cupid’s, the old fashioned part of me kicked in, but then I listened to what he had to say. No emotional entanglements, no demands outside of the time I had to give, a small amount of money to buy myself a lot of peace of mind? The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. We had a delicious meal and wonderful conversation.
She laughed at all my lame jokes and flirted with me. As beautiful as she was, I made sure to spend time with a Companion who didn’t remind me of my wife. For me that would feel disloyal. Instead, she reminded me of an actress I had a crush on in my youth. I admitted that to her and felt a blush creep across my cheeks. She laughed and felt embarrassed until she told me her name was inspired by one of the actress’ roles. Our waiter came over to take our dessert orders. I ordered a coffee and she ordered a sherry, choosing to share a slice of cake. That was the only other request I had.
When we were done, we walked out of the restaurant and my step was definitely lighter than when it was when I had arrived hours earlier, still feeling like a young man. I knew the feeling wouldn’t last last but, for now I was blissfully unaware of my present; I could return that tomorrow. Tonight I would stay here, in the embrace of my past and the beautiful Companion by my side.
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