A Good Woman Is Hard To Find On His Mind-The Trials and Tribulations of Lance Lawrence
...yeah forever young
By Seth Garth
Sam Lowell had never seen anybody as skirt –crazy as his old friend Lance Lawrence, a guy that he had met in college, met at Boston University when by the luck the draw they became roommates freshman year and had remained in contact, sometimes with serious lapses of time, sometimes like now over forty years later almost daily. Day one freshman year they had hardly gotten their books from the bookstore when Lance had propositioned some young thing (his expression for the fair sex, for young women, okay, which he has used until this day even though who he is speaking or thinking of had lost the sweet bloom of youth long ago), Not only had propositioned her but had coaxed her (Sam’s gentile word for a lot more than some innocent coaxing) up into their dorm room on Bay State Road (leaving Sam, for the first but not the last hanging somewhere not in the dorm). That seduction, no, that coaxing a definite no-no in the hard-pressed later 1960s when freshman were supposed officially by the in locus parentis school authorities to be above such sexual desire and ways to relieve those desires. Nothing ever came of that indiscretion and like a million other Lance indiscretions for which he became something like campus famous never looked back, never thought such conduct was anything but the natural order. Lance’s natural order and if pressed today would probably wonder what the hell anybody was talking about, making a big deal about it as just the way he operated in his silver spoon world. And he had had since those fresh bloom days three, count them, three full-fledged divorces and a myriad of affairs to put paid to that sense of wonder like some Fitzgerald Dutchman looking for the first time at that fresh green breast of the Long Island of his deportee dreams.
No question Lance was a good-looking guy, a good-looking guy in that sly, wicked way that guys back in the day looked to the opposite sex and which no longer commands those longing loving looks from forlorn midnight sitting by the telephone young women who charted his life and theirs by their meaningful glances (nowadays by the way waiting almost anyplace by the cellphone). Tall, not too tall, lanky, a little wiry which meant don’t mess with him and which on occasion especially under drink was very good advice, a long tousle of dark black hair and bedroom eyes (that remark made Sam mad when girls, his date girls, would ask him who the guy with the bedroom blue eyes was with a slightly suggestive sexual emphasis that usually did rouse to his benefit later in the evening). So, yes, Lance was a piece of work. And although Lance had lost several steps in the aging process he still believed that he had what it took to get the now no longer young “mature” women who engaged his attention a quick tumble just like that first freshman day.
So yes skirt-crazy as ever. Skirt-crazy through those three marriages two which broke up due to that very chasing (the third, his first flighty one when he expected to be shipped out to Vietnam and had worried himself to perdition that he would die unsung, and unmarried, was due to her chasing some football player type while he was in Dear John Vietnam without a scratch on him except whatever heart bleed he secretly harbored against the “bitch”). Of late Lance had been momentarily down in the dumps due to the break-up of his latest affair, an affair with Minnie Murphy whom he had had an “affair” with, the gentile way that he put it to Sam one night over drinks at Sam’s favorite watering hole in Cambridge, Joey’s Grille, although they had been shacked up for at least a decade before she gave him his walking papers. The breakdown of the Lance crisis had not been that he had done his damnest to earn those walking papers by his ever-lasting philandering, which he had, or at least that went unspoken but you never knew with quiet Minnie, a habit of hers drilled in childhood by a drunken father who made it his business to shut his whole brood up. No, Lance was beside himself with the fact that he was lady-less, was without a companion after an almost endless string going back, well, going back to that first freshman wayward day. Had been alone almost a month at that point.
Lance at least in Sam’s presence had never before been known to be reflective about his romantic downturns so Sam was rather surprised when Lance mentioned how his inattention, his distance, his indifference to Minnie’s feelings and he self-absorption had left Minnie no choice but to flee the scene, to go on her own quiet quest to “find herself” without the tensions of having to bear whatever mood Lance was in at any given time. Sam should have known that such self-analysis was a “cover,” a convenient way to introduce some latest scheme to grab some skirt rather than own up to his boorishness with Minnie. (Sam, a victim of his own two divorces and scads of college-weighted kids always had a soft spot in his heart for Minnie, especially after one meaningful night when he half-drunk brought up the subject and Minnie, gently as was her way always, told him that she had some feelings that way toward him too but Lance was her man and that was that, damn Lance.)
What had Lance down in the dumps was his latest “search” for some skirt. See, as he told Sam that bleary self-confession barroom drinking night he had recently joined a senior-oriented in-line dating service, Seniors Please, and had been hard-pressed to find his niche, his place in such an off-hand way of meeting women, “mature” women but Sam knew in his mind Lance was working the same game plan he had used to floor women since he was about six. Lance, as long as Sam had seen him operate under all weathers, always depended on those piecing bedroom eyes and a gift of blarney that would make any honest Irishmen weep for their inadequacies. That meant that he would meet some woman at a bar or at work (or at a bookstore when that was in style and there were bookstores, brick and mortar bookstores, where women would congregate to get their weekly reading materials and as it turned out when he found out later lingering around to see if there were any prospective men within fifty miles of the place the idea being that a guy who at least read a book was a likely prospect. Yeah, the bar at a certain age was pretty low.). Then work his magic based on some chemistry between them or some lust (on her part as likely as his also something Lance had found out from experience).
This on-line dating business was ass-backward. You filled out a “profile” of rather simpleton and non-responsive questions, some bullshit prompted lines about what you were looking for (sex of course, not only the province of the young), and a decent photo. The hook though was when you placed your profile on-line and got a few bites you couldn’t respond because you were not a member of the service and had to pay the entry fee which Lance begrudgingly did. Once he did that he got very few responses that he was interested in (what he would later find was that there were benighted trolls, a blight on all social media sites and something he had never expected “cougars,” older women “stalking” younger men, that could be an eighty year old hunting for sixty year old, Jesus). The photo and bullshit written profile did not play to his strong suit, did not play to that chemistry. The old days were long gone when you met somebody live say at a party, clicked, and exchanged phone numbers (or went out to parked car if it was that kind of night). So what was an “active” man to do when there were no other obvious ways to meet women when there were none at work or in his profession, the law profession, in general who were around his age and were interested in anything but making partner, where the “meat market” bars were way behind him and where his hi-jinks in the art museum he was advised to go to in order to meet women only gave him a headache.
Lance made Sam laugh with some of the stuff he mentioned he had run into (out loud laugh because some of the situations were funny and secretly laugh that finally the playboy of the western world had been taken down a peg or two). That cougar older woman hunting young man business but also the way Lance talked about what women, seemingly rational and intelligent women, put on-line. The expected bullshit “profile” stuff about finding a soul-mate and eternal love but also some impossible stuff like seriousness, good manners, and gentlemanly behavior. Jesus, Lance told Sam what the hell did they expect from guys who probably had at least a passing acquaintance with the 1960s and looser styles and mores. But the photographs were the tip-off that Lance was in deep trouble. He could not believe that these same women who were looking for eternal love unabashedly put photographs of themselves with their broods of grandchildren in the lead photographs (although Lance loved his own brood of grandkids he hardly would advertise himself as grandpa of the year). Could not believe that they put amply photographs of their pets (sometimes looking cuter than their owners) among their selections. Had flipped out when one woman had a photograph of her big bruiser of an adult son who looked like a professional football player all surly beside his mother looking for all the world like he would bust some guy’s nose if he looked cross-eyed at his dear mother.
Lance went on with his funny descriptions until he and Sam had had enough to drink and decided to head for their respective homes. As they parted after going out the door Lance said to Sam that he had to go home and boot up the computer to see if greeklady123 or coolocean47 (on-line monikers that everybody assumed on site) had responded to his messages. Yeah, Lance was a skirt-crazy guy, no question.