By: Barbara Matousek
We are sitting on the wooden deck on the east side of the aquatic center watching our four-year-old boys float on their backs and “do big scoops” and play a game called Mr. Fox What Time Is It, when an older father leads his daughter past us and back towards Sam’s pre-school swim class. Dad stops midstride and holds his foot up and shivers and pulls his belt and throws his head back and coughs like he has a hairball. Then he pauses a few seconds as if to swallow something and then moves on, pushing his wet daughter back to the pool.
“See? That’s what’s out there for me,” I say to Amy and she laughs.
Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t matter to me if he has no hair or his joints creak when he gets up from the poolside loungers. I’m sure he’s a really nice guy. He is, after all, taking his daughter to preschool swimming lessons every single day, and he is patiently leading her back to the water every time she loses focus and heads towards the giant mushroom in the shallow end or the sandbox on the west end. He’s just not my type. Though I’m not really sure what my type is. It’s been so long since I was even shopping.
A few days ago Amy and I watched as another older man chased his pre-schooler around the pool, the scowl on his face not for anything particular. He just looked like a grumpy old man. Amy speculated that he was Grandpa, and I told her no way. Grandpas don’t put themselves through this kind of humiliation over and over again every day. Chasing a preschooler around a pool is a dad’s job.
“He’s her dad,” I said. “I bet he’s not that much older than me.”
She bet me that he was Grandpa and after the little girl ran up to him and said “hi Dad,” Amy was genuinely surprised.
When Hairball guy has to chase his daughter again and chooses instead to head for the exit, Amy tells me about her 32-year-old friend who is frustrated with “what’s out there.” Amy told her friend to go older, to date the 40-year-olds.
“33,” I say. “If you don’t get them before 33—”
“They’re set in their ways and will never marry,” Amy says. “I know. I left that part out. She doesn’t need to know that.”
Amy is a relatively new mom friend, but I like her. She’s matter of fact and tells it like it is and really funny, and when I tell her I’m thinking about maybe starting to date again, she says “Find yourself a rich 60-year-old who is about to kick the bucket.”
I laugh and remind her that 60 is fewer than 15 years away for me. I tell her I don’t need someone else’s money.
“Mr. Fox! Mr. Fox! What time is it?” the kids all yell from the side of the pool.
I just need someone who is available for adult conversations during the half hour between the last diaper change of the evening and the time my exhausted body collapses on my bed, my queen-sized bed that occasionally accommodates a 4-1/2-year-old boy.