After VS exited stage left (well, was pushed off stage left, continuing to try & sneak back on), I decided I had to take an active decision to find someone else for fear of drifting back into something with Mr F-M. So, I joined an online dating site. Of course, all my friends thought I was completely insane - having already met two clearly unsuitable men online, there could only be axe-murderers waiting in line for me, but ever being the optimist...
I trawled through the profiles and made a shortlist, contacted some of them and found myself with a dinner date. Judging him by his profile he was very good-looking, had his own business, didn't live too far from me, and wasn't too recently separated, so not too much baggage. However, he turned out to be the foulest-mouthed, most racist, good-looking businessman I have ever come across. I can only imagine it was my immaculate good manners that prevented me from walking out of the date there & then. That and disbelief at the stuff spouting from his mouth. Things like how women of a certain ethnic minority are absolutely gorgeous to look at, but get anywhere near them and they stink. Lovely. He said he'd love to see me again, and we are both adults aren't we? You see, a born romantic too.
Oh well, back to the short-list.
And next on the list was R. His photo was a rather good shot of him leaning nonchantly against a cottage wall, wearing a white linen shirt, his hands in the pockets of his jeans. He looked gorgeous. Slightly older than I was looking for, and living quite a lot further away from me than was practical, but otherwise the profile was ideal. We progressed rather quickly from emails, via MSN to phonecalls, and he had a gorgeous voice too. We soon slipped into a routine of talking every evening until we could fix up a Saturday lunchtime meet.
It was, I have to say, the best date I've probably ever been on. He was utterly charming. The first thing he said to me when I walked towards him was "Darling, your photos don't do you justice". I was lost. Fifteen years of being told "Yeh, you look fine. Can we just go now" disappeared instantly. We drove to a pretty Cotswold pub for lunch, then went for a walk round the village. The conversation was still flowing and the chemistry was buzzing. And I hadn't planned beyond that. He suggested we drive down to London to take in a show. So we did, with me texting friends to say I was ok & wouldn't be back home quite yet. We saw a play, had a meal in Chinatown, took a cycle rickshaw back to his car (all the way to Marble Arch), and only then did he kiss me. So, we got in his car and he drove me back to my house, afraid that I was going to expect him to drive the two and a half hour trip back to his own house. Which of course I didn't. And as I was drifting off to sleep he whispered that tomorrow he would wake me up and make love to me all over again, all morning.
We spent the next three months speaking on the phone every night, spending the weekends together either at his or at mine. He charmed my children and my friends, he introduced me to his family who were all lovely, we spent a wonderful, romantic weekend in Florence, he told me life was good again for him because of me.
"So what went wrong?" I hear you ask. One evening he didn't ring. I knew something had happened. The something was his ex-girlfriend of a year before turning up on his doorstep out of the blue, offering to leave her husband for him. I wanted to talk about it straight away but he wouldn't see me for two weeks, by which time he'd made up his mind. Apparently someone had taken photos of them making love in a field some eighteen months before, recently posted them on the internet and sent copies to her husband. Because of this he felt they were bound together in some way. You can't fight that, can you? It all came as a bolt out of the blue for me. Cliched phrase, but the only one to describe it.
He said he wanted to remain friends and maybe I'd be in touch if I felt like it in a few months time. Of course that was a load of old bullshit, and when I did phone him six months later and feeling fine, he was rather terse because (it turned out) she was with him & he felt awkward talking to me in her presence. I could ring him at his office if I wanted. I didn't want. But I suppose it did prove I could fall in love & forget Mr F-M, if only for a while.