Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Master Gardener-"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Tuesday, May 7

     I trained to be a master gardener (I’m perhaps the least masterful master gardener) and volunteer at the local office answering questions about trees, weeds, and lawns during growing season. Today, I worked with Dick, a man from my training class who habitually upstaged experts brought in to teach topics ranging from soil to fruit trees. I’d tried to switch volunteer days when I learned I was scheduled with Dick, but I was unsuccessful.
     “Just so you know,” the director said when I asked to switch, “Dick’s moving to Idaho. This will be the last time you’ll have to volunteer with him.”
     Dick was in the office when I got there.
     “I hear you’re moving in July,” I said. “Are you excited?”
     “Not as excited as my wife,” Dick said. “I’m happy here. I had no interest in moving. Jan wanted to move. She grew up there.”
     “I hope you grow to love it. It’s gorgeous.”
     “It is that,” Dick agreed. “We’re in the foothills. The house isn’t finished yet, but I’ve got pictures if you want to see them.”
     “Show me.”
     Dick clicked around on the computer and brought up pictures of his house taking shape. He showed me the architect’s drawings. He looked at me sideways and said, “You’ve lost some weight.”
     “Divorce will do that.”
     “Oh, yes it will,” he said, leaning back in his chair and rubbing his chin. “Happened to me when I got divorced. Should I say I’m sorry or congratulations?”
     “Thanks for asking. Congratulations. I’m tired of people saying they’re sorry.”
     “I spent a lot of time in therapy figuring out what I wanted, figuring out myself after my divorce,” Dick said. “I suggest you do the same. It was very helpful.”
     “I’ve been working on myself for ten years in a twelve-step program. Anyone told you about my book?”
     Dick shook his head.
     “I’m an alcoholic and I wrote about it. I think I know myself pretty well.”
     “I was single ten years before I married Jan,” Dick said. “Therapy helped me figure out what I wanted. You might want to use it for that. I dated a lot of women. I’d call certain ones to hike, certain ones to rock climb, certain ones to travel with. They liked me. And they knew the deal. I figured out what I wanted. You need to figure out what you want. Have you thought about it?”
     “Yes,” I said. “I want someone who’ll expand me, love me, someone who’s smart, honest, loyal. Someone who makes me laugh.”
     “Someone who makes you laugh, or you laugh with? There’s a difference. You need to get specific.”
     “Ah. I see. That’s good.”
     “Have you dated yet?”
     “No.  Well, there’s a golf pro who gave me a couple of golf lessons and seems interested. He’s attractive.”
     Dick slammed back in his office chair and threw his head back and laughed. “A golf pro? A golf pro? Yeah, I’m sure he’s interested. Did he put his arms around you and work on that swing? I bet he did.”
     I laughed hard.
     “You’re beautiful. You’re intelligent. You are interesting. You’re prime real estate. Don’t you forget that for a minute. Don’t give yourself away to the first person who wants you. There are going to be many who want you so be picky. A lot of rich men would like you for a trophy wife. I know you don’t want to be that. You wouldn’t be happy. Just don’t give it away to the first guy. A golf pro? Come on.” He belly laughed.
     “Thank you," I said, feeling choked up. "I really appreciate that.”
     “And don’t dismiss therapy. I worked out a lot, including dealing with the fact that I never felt loved by my parents.”
     “Hmm. Could be helpful on many fronts. I don’t know. I keep thinking maybe I could have seen what my ex was up to if I’d been able to look at him. I hadn’t been able to look at him for years.”
     “I don’t think you should tell guys you date that information,” Dick chuckled. He scrutinized me. “I’ll bet you can be a real bitch.”
     “Yeah, I can.”
     The phones started ringing. A woman wanted to know if she should stake a pine tree that was leaning over. Dick’s caller wanted to know if she should prune her roses now.
     “We’re having a garage sale this weekend,” Dick said when the calls stopped. “I have pictures of some of the nicer things, if you’re interested.”
     “My son is moving into an apartment with a friend this fall,” I said. “He needs furniture.”
     Dick pulled up pictures and I told him I was interested in his teak table and desk and I’d come by Saturday to look. I felt like hugging Dick, but I didn’t. I’d misjudged him. I don’t trust my judgment anymore.
     Dick emailed me photos of the things he was selling later and I told him I definitely wanted the teak desk and table.

     “How was your day?” Golf Guy texted.

     “Really good. Taught yoga and put in some master gardener hours. How was your day? Busy?”

     “My day was good,” he texted. “Was really nice out and had a lot of students . . . although my favorite was last night at 6.”

     I texted a smiley face.

     “You should come out to Deerfield tomorrow to practice if you have time,” he texted.

     “I’ll see how the day goes. I might.”

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