We were in Puerto Vallerta, seated outdoors at a romantic seaside restaurant. A waiter walked over and asked for our drink order.
I looked up at him and had to catch my breath. He was about 28, with jet black hair, deeply tanned skin, pearly white teeth and a killer smile that showcased two perfect dimples. He was flawless.
I leaned into Mighty Marc and, in a thick, husky voice I found hard to conceal, I said, "Oh... My... God. That boy is breathtakingly gorgeous."
"Would you like to take him home with you?" he laughed.
"Well, if you wouldn't mind........maybe just for a few hours."
When the waiter returned Marc said, "My wife thinks you're very handsome, and would like to take you home with her." Then he turned back to me and flashed a devilish grin.
I wanted to disappear. I wished I was wearing sharp, pointy-toed high heels so I could kick my beloved husband in the shin; hard enough to leave a dent.
Instead, I smiled. "Yes," I said. "I would like to take you home with me. My husband said I can, if you'll agree to it."
We laughed, and the tension was broken.
At the end of the meal I had to go to the restroom. It was then I remembered my walker, which was several feet away, against a wall. Normally my arthritis has me using a cane, but because we planned to do a lot of walking and shopping, I brought my walker, which offers more support.
Now, I regretted that decision.
I looked across the room where Mr. Magnificent was leaning against the bar speaking with another server. I did not want him to see me pushing a walker. I had been flirting like a school girl. He had responded with playful winks and smiles. And now, I was about to confirm what he already knew, but I had pretended he didn't: I was old, and I needed a walker.
Suddenly, my time-worn body reminded me of what I would never be again: Young. Pretty. Desirable.
I adore my husband. He never lets a day pass without expressing his love for me, and his belief that I am beautiful. That has always sustained me. Just not at that moment.
I wondered if I could make it to the restroom without using my walker. I took several steps and realized that I probably could, but without it, I moved with the grace of a zombie.
The object of my affection saw me hobbling toward my walker, which was roughly a tables length away, and came running to my rescue. He grabbed the walker and rolled it to me. As if that wasn't humiliating enough, he proceeded to lead me to the restroom where he pushed open the door and ushered me in, with the panache of Vanna White gesturing toward the winning contestant's Brand New Car.
As the door shut behind me I was painfully in touch with the cruel reality that flirting and walkers go together about as well as a hot pastrami on white bread, with butter.
* * *
Several weeks later we were sitting in a diner eating breakfast. It was a Sunday and it appeared that the church crowd had all converged at the same time. Included in the line of those waiting to be seated was an elderly woman -- maybe in her mid 80s, leaning heavily on her walker. She and her husband were laughing. It was apparent that the woman had a crackerjack personality when, with both hands leaning on her walker she did a kind of dance, gyrating her hips in a humorously suggestive manner, then kicking one foot up at a time, like a Radio City Rockette. She had a radiant smile, and her laugh was contagious. The small crowd that encircled her was captivated. She was someone I would have liked to know. Neither her age nor her disability mattered. She was delightfully playful, young at heart, confident, and at peace with who she was.
This woman will never know that she impacted my life. I realized that a person's true self shines through whether she is standing on her own or leaning on a piece of metal, and youthfulness is a state of mind; not a state of body.
I'd like to believe that Mr. Magnificent saw me in the same positive way that I viewed this fun-loving, playful, woman, who just happened to be old.