“I always looked for a man to rescue me and bring me happiness. I bought into that myth, of course, and looked for my own Prince Charming.”
He was a man after my own heart.
“Your profile says you like to sing,” I had asked him in an email through the dating site. “What’s your favorite song?”
“Every time my choir sings “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” he typed, “I truly get blessed.”
“That’s a good song,” I answered. “A couple of my favorites are, “He Touched Me,” and, “Because He Lives.”
“Those are two great songs. Are you in the Choir?” he asked.
“I used to be, in school, but I can’t sing. I just make a joyful noise. I love to sit in church beside a man who loves to sing, though.”
“Oh, yes. I remember reading that in your profile. A joyful noise is certainly what the Lord loves to hear.”
“Well, I’m glad for that,” I typed. He wanted my email address.
“No,” I wrote, “we can correspond through the site. That’s why I pay them.”
“Then how about getting on instant message?”
I sighed with a halfhearted shrug. “Okay, I’ll give it a try just for you.” Frustration gripped me as I struggled to learn his way of communicating. He didn’t seem to mind waiting while I pecked at the keys.
“Tell me a little about yourself,” I asked, “any brothers or sisters?”
“I have two sisters, both older, and my brother passed away after a heart attack. He was the oldest. I have a thirty-three-year-old daughter and a twenty-six-year-old daughter. I say they’re my daughters, but they’re not mine. They belong to the Lord.”
What an appropriate thing to say. I was thrilled when he talked about the Lord.
“How about you?” he asked.
“I have three sisters and one brother still living. I’m sorry about your brother. I lost a brother in a car accident when he was hit head on by a drunk driver.” I sensed a closeness because of our heartaches.
As we corresponded, I discovered we both liked to travel. He even liked to drive. Hooray! That was fantastic since I hate to drive.
Maybe we do have hope, I thought.
I stretched back in my computer chair and glanced out the only window in my bedroom. Soon the back yard would host blooms of yellow forsythias, and purple lilacs. The deck would be surrounded by pots of purple petunias. Lynn’s redwood furniture faced the earthy view of the flowers, woods, and fire pit. I imagined taking in the surroundings with Lanny.
“How about children?” he asked. “Boys, girls, ages?”
“Two daughters, almost the same ages as your girls, and one son, my youngest.”
“Neat. I must say your pictures are quite pretty, and you’re fairly tall. Did I read five-feet-seven inches?”
“Thanks. Yes, that’s right. And your profile says you’re strong, stocky, and five-feet-ten inches tall?
Yippee! I’ll be able to wear heels without towering over him. The more I found out about Lanny, the more I liked him.
A knock on the door startled me. “Sorry, Lanny. Someone’s at the door. Gotta go.”
“Okay, Wanda, bye for now.”
Lynn pecked on the bedroom door a second time. “Are you okay in there? You didn’t come upstairs for coffee.”
“I’m fine.” I pushed myself away from the computer and opened the door.
“Wow, you’re not even dressed yet,” Lynn said. “Have you been talking to a guy?”
I nodded then followed her upstairs. We shared french vanilla coffee and hot cinnamon rolls while I filled her in on the details. “He’s a widower and he lost his wife only two months after I lost your dad. They were married for eleven years.”
Lynn looked me straight in the eye and rubbed the back of her neck. “But you and Dad were married for over thirty-two years. You need to take things slowly.”
“We will. I already told him I needed to go slow, and he said the same thing in his profile.”
Lynn glanced at the birds in the back yard. “The bird feeder is almost empty again. I better fill it up. I don’t want my birds having to search for a new home.”
While she went to the garage for bird seed, I rinsed our cups, put them in the dishwasher, and headed back downstairs for a shower. After getting ready for the day, I settled myself back at the computer. A card with bright red carnations popped up from Lanny. “Hey, you’re sure cute.”
No sooner had I read the card, when I received a beep, inviting me to instant message with Lanny. “So, how is your day going so far, Sweet Gal?”
He called me Sweet Gal! I loved it. My fingers pecked at the keyboard. “Wonderful, and yours?”
“Much better,” he said, “now that I’m on here with you.”
“Well, aren’t you a southern charmer.”
“No, I’m a sweet talker.”
“Okay, sweet talker, do you like to read?”
“I don’t read as much as I should, but I do read the Bible every day.”
“The Bible is the best book to read, in my opinion.”
“Your profile says reading is a favorite indoor activity.”
“I noticed you put that in your profile. Super neat. I don’t do things like building.”
“When I look at pictures of my house, I feel a sense of accomplishment. But my husband and I were supposed to start living as soon as we finished building, only we never had the chance. He got cancer and died. I was left with a five bedroom house on forty acres to finish by myself. I couldn’t bear living there without him, so I put the place up for sale and moved in with my daughter and her husband. Lynn encouraged me to join a grief support group.”
“I went to five or six meetings with a support group too, through hospice. How long did you attend?” Lanny asked.
“I’ve been meeting with the group from hospice for over a year. I didn’t want to go, but I’m so glad I did, it was just what I needed. They helped me learn that I wasn’t crazy. They were going through the same things. We all bonded. Now we meet on our own every other week, just for fun. Did your group help you?”
“Yes, they helped quite a bit, but we haven’t stayed in touch. At our last session, each person presented a five minute talk about his or her spouse.”
I twirled my hair around a finger before answering. “I wouldn’t have liked that. I’m not good at speaking in front of a crowd—I hate to be in the spotlight. I’m better at one-on-one. How about you? Are you out-going or laid-back?”
“I’m about the same, Wanda. I’m quiet when around other people.”
“Have you read any of the interesting studies on temperaments? Two of my sisters are just the opposite of me. They both enter a room mouth first.”
“Good one. No, I haven’t read anything on temperaments.”
Our conversation continued, off and on, throughout the day. At night, when I could barely keep my eyes open, I climbed into bed but couldn’t fall asleep. Thoughts of a relationship with Lanny danced through my mind. We’d be able to do all the things we both loved. We could take long walks, hold hands, go to church, and sing together. Neither one of us would be alone.
The next morning, my feet hit the floor, and my hand reached for the computer beside my bed, eager for another day of exciting new discoveries. My bedroom served double-duty as my office, which didn’t leave much extra space, but I didn’t mind. Lanny’s compliments swept in through the dating site and rejuvenated my day. My computer booted up at a snail’s pace while I waited for my next dose of charm.
I showered and hurried upstairs for a cup of hot coffee and a few words with Lynn. She listened patiently while I talked about Lanny. “He seems like a well-mannered, family-oriented person,” I said, “and he keeps in close contact with his daughters and family.”
After our visit, I hurried back downstairs to my office, filled with anticipation of another day with Lanny. All that day, no matter when I got on the computer, he was either logged in, had been on the site searching for me, or sent me ecards. “Thank-You For Making Me Smile,” one said.
Another card had little hearts, “I’m liking you more every day.”
He also sent cards telling me I was smart and a remarkable woman. Other cards had smiley faces and said things like, “I’d love to see your smile in person. May I?”
I sent cards back with verses telling him we should wait upon the Lord. WAIT on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: WAIT, I say, on the Lord.
– Psalms 27:14
Nothing slowed him down, and even though I told him we needed to wait—I was excited, and secretly thrilled when he came on so strong. Every day, cards flooded my inbox. His words flowed like a chocolate fountain. Oh, what a charmer. He could charm a mother bird out of her nest.
My love tank had ridden on empty far too long. I was starved for affection and hadn’t heard that many compliments in what seemed like forever. Lanny kept my tank full and removed all the loneliness. This southern charmer gave me a new reason to get up in the morning. My heart stirred with new life.
But new and good aren’t necessarily the same thing.
Excerpt from the book, Lonely Heart Meets Charming Sociopath.
Click on the title to read more.