When I first got divorced, more years ago than I care to count, exploring the dating scene was fascinating, even in the days it was done through personal ads in newspapers. Los Angeles had a thriving paper devoted to personal ads: The Singles Register. Meeting men through old-fashioned letter writing was a great way to begin. The same lies were exchanged then as they are nowadays online.

A sucker for imaginative writing, I learned a few lessons about truth or fiction when I answered an ad from a man who called himself handsome and a talented writer of energy and spirit. His ad claimed that trumpets would blare and cymbals would crash when he met the right woman. When we talked, he told me in a deep, sexy voice he lived in Redondo Beach and had a view of the Pacific Ocean. He owned some unusual decorations, like a six-foot long, hand-carved Polynesian alligator, but his prized possessions were a line drawing by Picasso and a Spanish bullfighter’s cape.

When I met him, I discovered he was much older than I’d thought (he hadn’t admitted his age). He had difficulty walking, was hunchbacked and had prostrate problems. He told me he wasn’t expecting Dolly Parton, and I took that as a compliment–I was in shorts and a low-cut blouse. His beach apartment balcony had an ocean view if you leaned over and squinted through the buildings in front of his. The treasured wooden alligator made walking difficult, but it was one of the few mementoes that had survived five marriages and lots of alimony.

Turned out he was a child psychiatrist, a rival of the famous Dr. Benjamin Spock of Baby and Child Care fame. My date had written five books and claimed he’d coined the term “parenting.” I did find a couple of his books in my local library afterward.

He bought lunch after showing me all his treasures, but it was a litany of his complaints about all his former wives. About thirty years older than I was at the time, he was looking for someone to take care of him and listen to all his misery. I wondered why I’d spent so much time listening to him. Was I too polite or just not savvy enough yet? I went home early and never heard from him again.

The most daring experience I had was flying to New Orleans to meet an Israeli biochemistry professor at Tulane University. He had read my ad and didn’t care that we were geographically challenged. We had several interesting conversations and after he’d seen my photo, he was convinced I was the one a psychic had said was perfect for him. He made good money, evidently, and wanted to fly me to New Orleans for a weekend. I felt he sounded trustworthy and I’d never been to the “Big Easy.” One of my girlfriends thought I was out of my mind, but agreed to keep an eye on my kids.

The professor was fairly recently divorced and had come to the States to forget his troubles with his former wife, who had custody of their children and had remained in Israel. He was polite for the most part and did show me around New Orleans, but after he’d shared all his anguish with me, he soon realized he’d made a mistake and wasn’t ready for any kind of relationship. I left a day early.

It seems my psychic reading of a few years before was coming true. This woman had told me that I would not leave any stone unturned in life. I hadn’t found the right stone yet, apparently.

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