Men lie, but erections don’t. Men can be fluffed or stimulated in numerous ways, including with thoughts about someone else, but ultimately an erection is an honest expression of arousal. Oscar’s erections were probably the only sincere thing about him—the erections he kept having in public places in my company and that he felt compelled to point out to me.
He wore baggy clothes. I wouldn’t have noticed his erections if he hadn't informed me of them. The second time he did this we were walking through a park. He pointed to his erection and then confessed feeling embarrassed. I thought, Why tell me about it if it embarrasses you? I’m looking ahead, not at your crotch. Instead I said I’d worked as an AIDS service provider for a long time, and it takes a lot more than that to bother me. Oscar’s behavior seemed odd, especially since he’d told me he wanted to take sex slowly. I refrained from telling him that I’d had rocking-hot sex for much of my fifties and didn’t feel sexually needy. Savoring six years’ worth of afterglow, I didn’t care about his erections. We could go as slow as he wanted to.
I’ve dated more than I ever imagined I would at my age. I broke up with a long-term boyfriend when I was fifty. The split was followed by a year-long dry spell. But since then I’ve rarely been single. There have been two overlapping friends with benefits, both of whom lasted about three years; a couple of long-distance relationships; a handful of short relationships; and too many first, second, and third dates to count. But no long-lasting love. So while my body has been deeply satisfied, my heart has been lacking.
Oscar and I got as far as date number four. On the third date, he declared he was looking for a serious relationship and hoped we could develop one. I liked him enough to say I also hoped we could. He often told me how much he enjoyed my company and how comfortable he felt with me. He rescheduled our first two dates, which I didn’t think much about at the time. Dates one through three were in daylight over coffee and lasted a couple of hours each. As we planned our last date, I observed that if he wanted to get to know me, we needed to spend more time together. He agreed, and our fourth date started with lunch and ended shortly before dinnertime. He'd told me he couldn't drive at night due to a bad eye, unless it was on a specific highway he was familiar with. I initially believed him because the previous year I’d had three eye surgeries, and while recovering I couldn’t drive anywhere unless I knew the roads well. I told him I lived close to this highway and that he could easily get there from my home in a few short turns. His bad eye was no doubt a lie.
While naïvely and eternally optimistic, I’m not entirely stupid. Four daytime dates is more than a red flag—it’s a red banner. During our last date, we talked about having dinner together and then watching a film on pay-per-view for our next get together. I received a phone message and two texts from Oscar shortly after this final encounter, but no explicit overtures for a fifth date. I called him once. He answered but ended the call quickly, saying he couldn’t talk but would call me later. He never did. His last communication was a text stating we’d miscommunicated and assuring me of his interest. He asked if he could call me. I texted back saying sure, mostly out of curiosity. Then he disappeared—again. Oscar is clearly married or otherwise attached. The glaring signs were his rescheduling our first dates, the four daytime dates, and the nighttime limitations. One of these behaviors might not have been suspect, but all of them lead me to believe he lied about being single. Initially I was angry, but eventually I felt manipulated and stupid. I think his need to point out his erections coupled with his expressed wish to wait for sex was a strange manipulation with an unknown end game. For a brief while, though, he felt like the real thing.
Initially I felt ashamed that I allowed myself to be hopeful. But the beauty of dating in my fifties is that I’ve experienced so many ups and downs, I rebound quickly. I’m feeling fine about allowing myself to be hopeful again now that I have some perspective. I know so many women my age who have given up on dating entirely. Friends my age tell me they don't have the emotional fortitude that finding love requires. But I do, even if I’m disappointed. So the guy lied. I hate liars, but he’s gone, and I’m now available again. I’m proud of my resiliency.
At the end of this particular dating venture, one of my long distance romantic interests resurfaced after a short lull. I like this man, an artist, and we often talk for hours. He asked me if he could call me on Saturday night for a phone date. Once again, I’m off to the races.