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Kamloops News

THOMPSON: Never too old for romance



It’s funny - both humorous and peculiar - how circumstances can change your life. I came to the Okanagan seven years ago because two of my best friends - both Canadians - and I planned to build a championship golf course here.

It was quite the project…complete with a five-star resort hotel, a marina, riding stables and a casino. We had solid commitments from a leading hotel chain, a ready pool of Canadian and American investors…and the land owners were eager. But, after three years - and thousands of hours of work and meetings - it fell apart…largely a victim of greed.

Despite my disappointment…sometimes when one door closes another opens in life. And so it was with me. When I first came here, I leased a home on Okanagan Lake in Lake Country with one of my long-time Canadian friends…a professional golfer.

I soon found Vernon. Maybe you’ve been somewhere you’ve never been before…and still felt an overwhelming feeling that you knew it. I drove up and down Vernon’s streets…went into shops…talked with people…it simply felt right. I fell in love with the town.

And while busy with the soon-to-be ill-fated golf deal, my friend - quite the eligible bachelor - decided I needed some female companionship. However, he didn’t really discuss this need with me…before disclosing it to scores of women on Friends…can’t live with ‘em…can’t kill ‘em!

It seems my friend’s profile on the dating site closed with this oh-by-the-way comment: “If any of you ladies have an older girlfriend…my best buddy is quite the catch.” Now, I admit the fact that I was - and remain - nine years older than my friend. However, it stings some to see it in print…which I did eventually.

So, to summarize…my friend goes on a dating site and in his profile decides to troll for a woman…for me…without my knowledge or approval. A perfect plan that you never have to fess up to…as long as no women respond to your call for your “aging” friend. This is where my friend’s plan gets a little sketchy. Later, he said, he was so sure that I would find the girl of my dreams…he wasn’t worried that I might be angry. Really?

Fast forward…and near summer’s end while grilling on the deck overlooking the lake on a picture-perfect afternoon…all was revealed. Looking back, my friend was acting a little odd that afternoon…a little nervous. I asked, “What’s up, buddy?”  He opened his laptop computer and asked me to take a look.

“Check it out,” he started to explain, “about 30 women are interested in hearing from you, pal!”

I wasn’t nearly as excited about that fact as he was. Some context: A couple years earlier, my relationship with a woman I met in New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina ended…badly…and while not taking a monk’s vow…I was pretty happy with my own company.

Still, my irrepressible friend continued, advising me that one woman seemed to be, well, a perfect match. I was beyond dubious, but began reading her profile. She had just signed on, my friend explained, as he poured more wine into my glass that was not in need of filing.

I began reading her profile…not in silence but with my friend’s annoying play-by-play…before telling him to give it a rest. Begrudgingly, I admitted that we appeared to have much in common. My friend, with a too-soon smile, said, “See!”

Anxiously, I told him he could contact her. The woman - smartly - asked for more information about me and whether I had a photo. My friend responded, sent a photo or two and gave her my email address.

We started emailing in early September…and after maybe 50 - often lengthy - emails…I asked if I could call her. We talked several times…and continued to email. I told her she could ask me anything she liked…and in an email resembling a game of “20 Questions,” she asked about my likes, dislikes, favourite places, and a host of philosophical questions.

She asked, for example, “If you could dine with any U.S. president - alive or dead - who would it be and why?” I told her, “George Washington…because as the first president of the United States he had no roadmap…no one to emulate. He was a true pioneer.”

I suggested she answer her questions, as well, and we could share them simultaneously. Why not? It turned out our answers were surprisingly similar…often identical. Our favourite city in the entire world…Florence, Italy.

Soon after, during a regular phone call, I decided to ask her out on a date…dinner in Kelowna.

There was a long pause. I whispered aloud to myself, “Oh, no. Too early?” It wasn’t that at all. Seems she had been traveling for the better part of a month…and eating out once more simply wasn’t appealing.

She quickly asked me to come to her house…for a dinner she would prepare. I was impressed, because during the previous few weeks in an exchange of emails, she knew that food and wine were among my passions. I had been to three cooking schools. I admire boldness in men or women…especially when you can back it up. I said, “Yes.”

What happened next was straight out of a book or movie. We were both in our sixties…and had seen a lot. You pretty well know what you don’t want or need at that point in your lives…and that helps you focus on what you do want and need.

We hit it off from the very first moment we met face to face. An hour later…as she was starting to prepare dinner…we danced in her kitchen. It was magic…and we both knew it. That was  almost seven years ago…and neither of us has been happier. I found Bonnie - and she found me - later in life than most. But we’re making the most of it.

I love a good love story. I just hate owing my buddy a debt I can’t possibly repay.

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