THURSDAY: Plenty of Fish


Joanne McAuley is a celtic fiddler and world traveller. Copyright is held by the author.


A SLOW STEADY GRIN spread across my face. I was already visualizing a tall, handsome charming musician by my side.

“Look Mom, Just try the site for three months….you’ve nothing to lose and who knows how many lonely musicians are out there?”

“But I just don’t know when I’ll ever find the time to fit a new man into my life. I’m too happy and don’t want to give up all this freedom.”

“Just give it a go! Your profile and photos are so interesting that you will have endless coffee dates while you get back into the dating scene. Trust me, you’ll love all the attention and you may even find that musician of your dreams!”

“Can it really be this easy?” I thought. “Do 60 year olds really find true happiness on dating sites?” I looked over the profile my daughter created and changed a few things, bringing out my sense of humour, “If you ride a motorcycle, please don’t email me! If you have cats, don’t read, hate to travel, and need to drink, please don’t email me. If you ski, give yourself an extra five points, and if you wilderness canoe trip, 10 points. If you play the guitar or any instrument and are a professional musician, please, please email me!”

I clicked on the send button and held my breath.

Oh My God! Within minutes I had several messages. My daughter was killing herself with laughter as she read my Plenty Of Fish emails.

“Gosh Mom, I had no idea there would be this many men after you. Just remember not all of them are sincere, so don’t get ‘fished in.’ But have fun and date lots and lots. Promise to always let us know when you head off on a date so we can send a search party out to find you if you miss your curfew!”

But I barely heard her. I was already looking at my potential dates. Oh my! So many to choose from. It took me all of three hours to find the perfect man.

His eyes, his smile, and his interesting profile had me hooked enough to send Mark a response. He seemed ideal, a professional musician, with his own group, my age, tall,  divorced, didn’t smoke, and lived an hour away in Toronto. Mark and I emailed and soon we were chatting on the phone. I loved that he was relaxed, passionate about his band and that his friendly voice matched his sparkly eyes and big smile posted on his profile photo. We set up a coffee date.

Mark was easy to spot in the bookstore. I could have hugged him! His friendly relaxed manner and interesting conversation had me wishing we had more time together. The cafe next door to the bookstore was the perfect spot for our first date. We agreed to meet at the same time, same place the following week, lingering longer over lunch.

We emailed and chatted several times that week, he was often in my thoughts.

He  had many positive attributes. An avid reader, Mark was very close to his two adult daughters, and spoke with respect for his ex. I also liked that he had been on his own for a few years, indicating that he didn’t jump from relationship to relationship.

Date Five was the Biggie as he would introduce me to his Band, his best friends. Seeing that I was rather smitten at this point, my close friends and kids were happy I was dating and had found a really special guy. One friend remarked that she just “knew, as I had the ‘love glow!’”

Deciding what to wear for the unveiling to his friends was a problem. Should I look casual or a bit sexy? (Can women in their 60s look sexy?) Anyway, tight black jeans, and indeed a sexy top that showed just a hint of cleavage would certainly please Mark.  Applying more mascara than usual, I laughed, feeling more like a 16-year-old than someone in her 60s. I was looking forward to the evening, the music, the people and seeing Mark playing his guitar while leading his band.

It was all perfect! I could not keep the smile off my face! His group was totally amazing. The place was packed, the energy was electric, and Mark was as happy to show off his date as I was being his date. During one slower, romantic number, his eyes never left mine as the band played. He shocked me by introducing me to his two gorgeous daughters as his special new friend. I changed tables to sit with them for the second set and before the evening ended, Ella whispered in my ear, “I do hope that you and Dad connect.”

At intermission one of the Band members spent perhaps too long chatting with me. As Mark approached us, he slid his arm around my shoulders indicating to his friend that I was taken….I glowed! Mark and I planned to spend the next day together, all day getting to know each other even better.

I didn’t sleep much that night in my daughter’s guest room, still high on the afterglow of the evening and the anticipation of spending a whole day with Mark. Date Six would be perfect for our first intimate adventure. I was flushed with sexual tension.

Relating every tiny detail to my 30-year-old daughter over tea as she organized herself for work, she agreed it seemed early to have met Mark’s daughters but happy that the evening was such a success. Just as she was leaving, she handed me three condoms from her purse. “Mom it is all over your face what you will probably end up doing today with Mark! Times have changed and you need to be safe. You have no idea how many women he sleeps with….he is a musician, Mom. Take them and have fun!”

Oh My God! She is so right, so sensible. I remembered the large box of condoms placed on the bathroom counter when my kids were young teens, casually suggesting that the condoms were for anyone, friends alike, and to let me know when they were running low!

So, with my three condoms in my purse, radiant with anticipation, I rang Mark’s doorbell. Did I mention how attractive Mark was? How my heart always skips a beat looking into his eyes? But as he opened the door, it was not his eyes that held me.

His place was a mess, worse than a teenager’s room! I navigated through laundry, more laundry, newspapers, bags and bags of stuff and stepped over last year’s Christmas wrap that he could soon reuse. “Mark,” I blurted out, “This is how your apartment looks when you know I am coming over?”

“Well, I did kind of tidy the kitchen in case you wanted a coffee, and moved the papers off the antique milking chair for you.” I looked at the very old small chair and worried it would collapse if anyone dared to sit upon it.

“Where do you curl up to read? I can’t believe that you have no furniture!” I glanced around the room at the dozens of instruments, one desk and a computer chair. Looking down the cluttered hall there was a bedroom that certainly did not call out to me! The place was not just a mess but filthy. Mark obviously never cleaned or tidied. “What you see is what you get” ran through my brain and instantly my passion dissolved.

We talked over lunch at his local cafe. We talked and talked, probably about all the stuff that should have been shared on Date Two or Three. It was obvious that we were not a match. Mark was looking for a wife, someone that would look after him, i.e., cook and clean! He was tall, funny, articulate, handsome, a successful musician that lived in total chaos and to top it all off, was dirt poor! Then there’s me, outgoing, adventurous, passionate, funny, retired, super organized, and financially secure. It would never work…..

We shared a long gentle hug. His beautiful eyes lost their alluring sparkle as we said our good-byes. He knew he would never see me again. I knew I’d never forget my first fling in 37 years. My dating techniques needed refinement. My profile on the dating site needed tweaking—after all there are plenty of fish in the sea!


  1. Audrey Austin

    It rings true! You’ve gotta love a man who can vacuum, cook and do laundry 🙂 I love your delightful well-written story!

  2. marie smith

    Jo Anne, I loved it! I was soooooooooo into Mark and hoping he would turn out to be what you were hoping for! But there had to be a twist and I wondered where it would come… smart to visit his home! I’m sure you will have more stories to tell out of this new stage of life!

  3. Lee Watt

    Hey Wan!
    It’s your big sister! What a delightful synopsis of the current on line dating scene. Wolf and I wish you all the best and numerous magical moments with plenty of fish!

  4. Connie Cook

    Great story! One of the things about fishing I’ve learned over the years, “ya gotta know when to throw them back!”

  5. John White

    Joanne, I loved this! It threw up a mixture of feelings and anticipation and led me right into it. What is it they say? A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

  6. Gloria Jean Hansen

    Holy Smokes, I think Mark was in Elliot Lake for awhile. Holy Smokes, sometimes we get hooked don’t we? Thank goodness for catch-and-release…

  7. Marcus derwent

    Gloria your right he was. This is a small world. He stuffed my sister around he wanted her to do all of the work and he would provide the “culture, swing and beat to their lives”

    Some boys stay boys in mens bodies.

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