Sweet Nothings

by Evelyn Duboff

Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at a party in Pacific Palisades. Wore a green velvet dress, drank white wine, and danced to the blues with a gray-haired guy.

For some men I write poetry. For him I wrote a ditty:

Met a widower from Pasadena,

An older guy

With a twinkle in his eye,

Called Peter O’Krinkle.

Married forty years,

He’s a latter-day Rip van Winkle.

Said he’d like to take me out,

But here’s the rub or the wrinkle:

He left me suddenly after a dance

Without saying goodbye;

I wondered why . . .

He was having a nicotine fit

And went outside for a bit.

It was biting cold, but he didn’t feel it;

What kept him warm was a cigarette.

He drove from Pasadena a week later to meet me at the Cheesecake Factory in Brentwood. He was at the bar when I walked in, gray-haired and handsome, sprung from his seat, and kissed me like a long lost lover.

I said: “Shouldn’t that wait for dessert?”

He said: “That’s an appetizer.”

I’m in trouble, I thought. Married forty years . . . Now he’s reawakened!

We had a drink at the bar, and then he wanted to find an intimate candlelit restaurant for dinner, where he could whisper “sweet nothings” in my ear.

We stepped a few doors away to a French café. Dimly lit, but jam-packed.

We walked a block to another spot. Bright—like daylight.

We settled on Divino, a small Italian restaurant in my neighborhood, where the maitre d’ always says to me, a smoldering look in his eyes: “It is good to see you.” And I always answer: “It’s good to see you, too.” (Now, that’s romantic.)

The dinner was divine (or Divino), although O’Krinkle complained: We sat opposite each other instead of together, so he couldn’t whisper “sweet nothings” in my ear.

Afterward, he walked me home, lit a cigarette, and asked, “Are you inviting me up?”

I shook my head. “We hardly know each other.”

“We know each other well enough,” he said, fuming, and left me in a cloud of smoke.

I took home part of my dinner, so I was able to enjoy it the next day as well.

That’s what I call a happy ending