BY GLORIA HANSEN
Gloria Hansen is a nurse/bluegrass musician/published author from Northern Ontario. Copyright rests with the author.
THERE IS NO USE pretending any more. Men do not look at women over 50. Unless, of course, they look like a movie star, and they have a fat bank account. Time was, I would get out of my car and walk across a street and get at least one catcall from a construction worker, or a guy sitting on a park bench. Now? I am lucky if someone comes over to talk to me at a family barbeque. Advancing age has rendered me invisible.
A 50-something woman, working stiff, somewhat plump and well-padded in the derriere, does not rate a second glance from passersby. Not from anyone. I miss the hoots and the whistles that my younger body once elicited from men of overflowing testosterone. That is but a faded memory. At least on most days it is.
Strange what music does to the savage beast. I have learned that I could be 100 years old, and still get those same hoots I used to get by having a hot body. Now all I have to do is play a hot lick on a mandolin, or hit a particularly high harmony note with my band mates, and I will be swarmed as I leave the stage.
I notice lately I have a fan. He is headed toward me. Me? Wow! He must be blind. No, not blind. Not the way he picks a guitar.
“Way to go, nice set guys! Hey, Glo—what’s that song you just picked out? Southern Flavor? Man, that is one hot instrumental. Sounds good on the guitar, sounds good on the fiddle, but you make that mandolin sizzle when you do your break! Hey, you want to go for coffee after?”
Now wait just a cotton pickin’ minute, here, Joe. Yesterday, you pretended you didn’t know me from Adam. I rode in an elevator with you to the top of the bank building, and you didn’t say a word to me. You fiddled with your bolo tie, looked at the ceiling, anything to avoid talking to me. I knew who you were. Seen you on stage many times. And now you want to go for coffee ’cause I managed to saw off a great tune on the mandolin? And how do you know my name? Oh, hell. Quit analyzing it, Glo.
“Sure! I’d love to go for coffee. Your place or mine?”
His eyes blink in shock, but he quickly recovers and quips, “Yours. Mine’s a dump.”
Score five immediate points out of a possible 10 for honesty. Two more for a tight butt. One for a decent voice. I grab my jacket, and head for my truck.
“Whoa! That yer wheels?” He is all but drooling.
“Needed something to pull my bass boat around.” I glanced at my would-be suitor, who judging by certain anatomical signs, is now overcome with passion.
“You FISH?” he squeaks. Oh, this is priceless.
“I FISH,” I squeak back. “Alone. Always. I got sick and tired of playing everyone else’s game. I fish until the moon is coming up; last cast I can’t even see landing any more. But that’s the way I like it, and no one is chomping at the bit to get off the lake. I go when I am ready.” He is now putty.
“Meee tooooo!” he howls. “I always hate leaving the lake.”
“Got a boat?” I venture.
“Did. Wife got it when we split up. She can’t even drive a car, let alone a boat. But her new boyfriend is loving it. Figures.”
“We should go fishing sometime.” He is now openly slobbering on my mandolin case.
Maybe I put my makeup on right today. Maybe I don’t look my age.
“I told you I go fishing alone. Always. Maybe I’ll see you out on the lake some day. I’ll wave at you.” This was getting scary, rocking my boat, as it were.
“But ain’t we going for coffee? Hey, you did say your place. Listen, I’ll go get my guitar, and we can jam for a bit.”
Arrgghhhhhh! My Achilles’ Heel! Can’t resist a good music jam, especially on a back porch on a warm summer’s night. And I remember his guitar playing; he is a pro. It is the way to my heart, not to mention my bed on occasion. Many occasions. It feels like he knows that.
“Okay, I had changed my mind, but you seem like a regular guy. Sure. Let’s do it.”
He follows close behind in his beat-up jalopy, and I’m sure, getting hotter by the minute. I scatter gravel as I tear up my lane. I don’t think he expects the gorgeous Southern plantation-style house with the roses climbing up the sides, and the fields of corn as far as the eye could see in the moonlight. How could he have known about my inheritance? I live comfortably, but not lavishly.
He beats it up to the verandah, where I open my mandolin case and tune up. I offer him a seat, and head inside to arrange for coffee. The poor fellow acts like he died and went to heaven. Bet his life has been no picnic, newly divorced. Probably living in a dive, making whopping support payments.
“Did you want your coffee out here, Glo?” My mother winks as she parades in front of us with a tray of goodies.
“ Sure, Mom. Oh, that looks good. Meet my friend, Joe. We’re gonna jam for a bit.”
Joe’s chin is dragging on his guitar; I swear I see a tear well up in his smoky eyes. His ulterior plan is dead. Mama’s here.
How quickly the mood evaporates at that precise moment, the moment Mother brought out the goodies. I smell deflation, and I feel a little mean. But I really do want to jam, and jam we do, ’til the moon starts to dip behind the tree line. We go through a couple pots of coffee, and finally Mother heads to bed.
When I hear the morning birds start to twitter, I know this musical interlude must end. I am not sure to this day how we managed to come unglued on that porch, but in record time he is sitting across from me reading the paper as we grab a quick coffee. It is five in the morning, the boat is packed, the fog is lifting, and we’re going fishing. Together.