L.A. Affairs

When it comes to dating older men, she's a little wiser

L.A. Affairs: No matter how old your date is, making assumptions might prove embarrassing

L.A. Affairs is our weekly column about the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles -- and finding romance in a wired world. If you've got a story to tell, we want to hear it. We pay $300 per published column. Past columns and submission guidelines are at latimes.com/laaffairs

Ah, the perils and pitfalls of online dating. I am well versed on the subject, as I engaged in online dating for two years before meeting Mr. Right. Just kidding. I never met Mr. Right. I met several Mr. Right Nows and a lot of Mr. Wrongs.

One day I absently checked my OKCupid inbox for new messages. (Who are we kidding? I do that every day.) There was a message from a very handsome older gentleman. It was a lovely message as well, sans anything overtly flirtatious. It was complimentary without any sexual innuendoes, a first for me in the world of online dating messaging.

I decided to write him back, although I didn't know if I could get into dating an older man. And I mean a much older man. I generally date younger men, but that hasn't worked out so well.

We emailed each other back and forth. He wrote that he had just returned from visiting his grandkids (yikes) and had a wonderful time. He asked if I had children. Uh, no. And I'm way too young for grandchildren, thank you very much.

He's a retired professor and incredibly intelligent. He's very literate. He's a widower. Considering all of that, I decided to try to let our age difference go and accept a phone call with him. I gave him my number.

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He presented himself really well on the phone. We had a great conversation. He was imaginative, wise and thoughtful. He asked me out for breakfast the next day at Joe's Cafe on Main Street in Santa Monica. I was actually looking forward to this date.

However, I did not tell anyone that I was going to meet him. Although he appeared to have a bit of a Robert Wagner thing going for him, he's still a much older gentleman. (Thinking about this, I am reminded of that episode on "Sex and the City" in which Samantha dates an older man and it goes really well until he gets naked.)

He greeted me the next morning at Joe's, and I was pleased to see that he looked just like his profile photo. Quite dashing. We sat down and ordered, and then he immediately pulled pictures of his grandkids out of his wallet and showed them to me. We spent most of breakfast talking about his grandkids, their birthday parties, where they go to school, on and on. He was really sweet, but it was very clear that he should be dating someone his own age with a similar background. We didn't have any of the same interests. However, he was very kind, and I felt like I made a new friend, and that's great.

When breakfast was over, he told me he had to run a few errands and then take his dog, which was in his car, to the dog park. Would I like to join them?

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We went out to the parking lot together, and I petted the dog while we chatted and agreed to meet at Trader Joe's on Pico Boulevard.

When I got there, I found him in the frozen food aisle. We both selected chicken burritos, and I inquired about how his dog was doing in his car. He assured me everything was fine. "It's not hot today," he said. So I wandered off into the produce section.

I thought he might turn up there, but he didn't. Maybe he didn't need any produce? I checked for him when I picked up some bread, but I didn't see him in that aisle either.

I was done with my shopping, so I looked all through the store. Nothing. It was time to check out and get going. But I couldn't find him anywhere. Now I was mildly panicked. What if he'd had a heart attack or a stroke? I didn't hear ambulance sirens as I raced around the store. That was good. I whipped out my cellphone and called my mom and explained the situation. She told me to calm down and go out to the parking lot and look for him.

I did. His car and his dog were gone. He wasn't dead or dying. I was ditched.

Lesson learned: Getting blown off by a date is ageless. And I'm not the only person in the room who can figure out incompatibility.

Roslyn Fleischer is the author of "Really?!!?! One Woman's Adventures of Dating in the Digital Age." (Of course, she wrote it under a different name — Beulah Sanchez — and you'll have to read the book to find out why or come hear her speak at Book Soup at 7 p.m. Nov. 24.)

L.A. Affairs chronicles dating in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, write us at home@latimes.com.

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