“I’m not sure I could date a fifty-year-old,” a friend noted when I mentioned the latest eHarmony prospect.
I understood what she was saying. Fifty does sound old. Though, to this day, I totally crush over Robert Redford and that man is now seventy-five. By the way, I sat next to his daughter at a friend’s wedding and I’m pretty sure, based on what I said, I’ll never get within a hundred miles of that man. Anyway, I’ve comfortably dated up ten years. At thirty-eight, that doesn’t put fifty too far off the radar. Plus, this new suitor claimed to have the spirit of a thirty-year-old. I decided to keep the lines of communication open.
“I just can’t figure out what he does for a living,” I said to Leslie. “He surfs a lot. He mentioned construction and teaching. I don’t know. He went to Stanford for undergraduate and Harvard for an advanced degree. Based on his age, he could’ve retired early.”
“Maybe he cashed out during the dot-com boom,” Leslie added.
From our emails back and forth, I knew he liked to hit the beach early to catch waves. He admitted an appreciation for the New Yorker and he did make me laugh. I agreed to a phone conversation.
“Not to pry but what is it exactly you do?”
“Well, I just finished a construction job on this renowned surfer’s house. I’ve been writing some web content for a friend. Sometimes I tutor. I don’t know, maybe I should get a more traditional job.”
Having recently watched an incredible documentary chronicling one man’s attempt to retrace the adventures of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, two men who dismissed the nine-to-five grind and instead explored the world (also two men who later went on to found The North Face and Patagonia), I sought out an explanation for this new suitor’s wayward life. Maybe his passion for surfing inspired nonprofit work benefiting the oceans. Perhaps in his quest to build a beautiful home, he mentored underprivileged kids, teaching them a marketable trade.
“Why did you stop teaching?”
“I just didn’t like having to be somewhere at a specific time. I mean, if the swells are insane, that’s where I want to be. But I’d get a job at McDonald’s if I had to support my family.”
I decided to not point out that with his two prestigious degrees, he could make more money tutoring kids. Or, in light of his love of construction, Habitat for Humanity would embrace his technical skills. I also didn’t point out that, though he desperately wanted kids, those creatures tend to dictate a schedule of their own and it’s a schedule that doesn’t usually align with the tide chart.
“Do you work a lot?” he asked.
“Typically a fifty-hour week, upwards of seventy in the busy season.”
“And up until recently, I had a part-time gig as well. I stuck that out for fifteen years.”
He was quiet for a second. I heard a muffling sound and then he yelled, “I’ll be right down, Mom!”