Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Meeting the New Guy

on October 9, 2015
New Guy by imagerymajestic

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/

Don’t you love it when a new GWP (Guy With Potential) enters your social circle? It’s been a while for me, but I certainly remember what it feels like. That twinge of attraction when your eyes meet, the beat of hope the first time he makes you laugh, and all those little moments that whisper, Maybe … just maybe. . . .

I suppose those are just a few of the reasons this is one of my favorite scenes in Spinstered the Novel. Here, Uli meets the latest GWP to show up at her church. Enjoy!


Sunday morning dawns crisp and clear. It’s late September, and the aspens outside my bedroom window twinkle gold in the early sunlight. Hope filters through me. It’s like what Anne of Green Gables said: “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” I’m ready for something wonderful to happen.

I’m so ready.

Squeezing into my black jeans, I choose not to stress about the thirty pounds I need to lose. Maybe today I’ll take a walk instead of opening a bag of Hershey’s Kisses. The dark chocolate ones. Stop it, Uli. It’s a new day, and anything is possible. I pull eight sweaters and five shirts out of the closet and try them all on before finally knocking on Jolene’s bedroom door and getting her opinion on my final three options.

“This one, definitely,” she says, pointing to a white cardigan covered in big black and gray flowers. It’s lightweight, which is good because fall afternoons in Colorado can still simmer on the warm side. I wear a simple, white tank underneath and wrap a red scarf around my neck for color.

After spending thirty minutes trying to get my hair to do something even remotely cute, I finally pull it back with some black clips, leaving a few curly tendrils free to frame my face. Dangling, silver earrings; strappy, black sandals; a hint of Charlie Red, and I’m ready to go. Since Jolene has been yelling at me to hurry up for the last ten minutes, I grab my purse and chase her out to the car. She streaks ahead of me like a ray of sunshine in her bright, happy outfit. Or like a big, yellow chicken. Brian will definitely notice her. And I’ll make a nice, neutral backdrop.

I have a tough time paying attention to the service. It’s hard to listen to a sermon about the power of grace when you’re craning your neck for a glimpse of the new guy. Especially when you’re trying to look without looking like you’re looking.

Jolene elbows me and whispers, “Can’t you wait another thirty minutes?”

“No.” I grin at her and glance behind me … right into the clear, silver-fox eyes of Brian Kemper. Wow, he actually has an up-to-date Facebook photo, except his dark hair is shorter and there’s some gray at the temples. His eyes are a little close together, and he has a rather large, hooked nose, but it works for him. Especially when he smiles, which he does, and I realize I’m staring. Then he nods at me. One of those polite, “what’s up” nods. Like we work in the same building and, every once in a while, have to wait for the elevator together. What a disappointingly unromantic meeting! I can’t tell our kids that. “Our eyes met across a crowded room … and he nodded at me.” Blah.

I want a do-over.

Though it’s too late now, I look away, feeling the heat crawl up my face. Well, that’s that. Then I make the mistake of glancing at Jolene. She has a serene, perfect, speak-to-me-Lord expression on her face. Good grief, the woman knows exactly where Brian Kemper is sitting. She’s probably known since we walked into the sanctuary.

Jolene: one; Uli: zero.

Catie, however, seems completely oblivious. She’s sitting on the other side of Jolene, scribbling notes faster than Pastor Owens can get the words out. I shouldn’t say “scribbling” because her writing is neat, bulleted, and laid out in columns. It looks like an Excel spreadsheet. But her short, cropped, red-gold hair frames her perky but somewhat plain face just right and, though I’m not fond of business suits personally, her striking blue one makes her seem taller and, somehow, adds a few curves.

“What did he just say?” Tess, to my right, leans closer. Well, he didn’t say anything, he’s— Oh, wait. The sermon. She means the pastor, not Brian. Right. I shrug my shoulders. “Sorry. I missed it too.” She gives me a crooked, behave-yourself smile. Boy, do I wish my friends couldn’t read me like a book. Not all the time, anyway.

So, I turn my attention completely to the pastor until the last amen is uttered. We stand for the closing song, and as the final strains of “Your Grace Is Enough” echo through the sanctuary, the music morphs into the chatter of several hundred voices.

I do not fight my way through the crowd or hurry to our class meeting room but wander around, greeting acquaintances and chatting with whomever I happen to run into. On occasion, I catch a glimpse of Brian. He’s surrounded by people. What could he have done to be such a favorite already? He’s definitely an extrovert. And he’s cute in an older-guy-with-laugh-lines-and-no-sense-of-style kind of way. The group around him seems completely captivated. They laugh at almost anything he says. Hope simmers through me like that first sip of hot chocolate.

Please, God. Please let something happen.

Eventually, I make my way to the classroom where our group leader, Scott, greets everyone with a Squiggy-like “hello” and hands out his weekly list of discussion questions. Thirty-one-year-old Scott Jones works at Home Depot and treats every girl like a sister. Which would be fine if he didn’t see himself as the annoying little brother who pulls your hair and drops ice cubes down the back of your shirt. Okay, he’s not that bad, but I’m pretty sure the thought has crossed his mind. To his credit, though, he does an adequate job keeping our small group on track.

I set my Bible and notebook on a chair before turning to dash back through the door, heading to the restroom for one last, quick check in the mirror. But I take the corner too fast and run smack-dab into Mr. GWP himself. I don’t just run into him; I practically bowl him over, stumbling like a drunken sailor, knocking a cup of coffee out of his hands and to the floor, where it splatters all over our shoes. Strong fingers grab my arms, helping me get my balance. With a deep breath, I look up into gray eyes that flicker startled, then amused.

“Steady there,” he says.

I laugh. What else can I do? This meet-cute might be more interesting than a nod but only if it leads to something. If he never asks me out, it will forever be merely an embarrassing memory. So, of course, my imagination jumps to a happier outcome. One where I tell our kids about how I ran into their father … literally.

Once I’m no longer tilting, he drops his hands away. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” I pick up the now empty Styrofoam cup and hand it to him. “How about you?”

He smiles. “I’ve survived worse. So,” he says, looking around, “are you running to something or away from it?”

To something. Definitely. But I say, “The restroom,” like a ditz. I’m always so much more clever in my mind.

We gaze into each other’s eyes for a suspended-in-air moment. Then he says, “Where can I get something to clean this up?”


“The coffee.”

Shake it off. “Right. Of course. I’ll take care of it. You go on. I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Where’s that?”

“Oh, um …” Good grief, Uli. You sound like a stalker. “Hello, stranger. I know we only met a minute ago, but I know exactly where you’re going.” Out loud I say,

“I meant … aren’t you …” I point pathetically toward the door I just lurched through.

He looks past me. “Is that where the single professional class meets?”

I nod and am, I’m sure, about to say something completely not brilliant, when Jolene sashays out into the hall.

“Well, hello there!” She flicks her head my direction and flashes a smile that actually outshines her dress. “Uli, are you gonna introduce me to your friend?”

Jolene: two.

Once again I stammer out something nonsensical as Brian steps forward, hand outstretched.

“Hi, I’m Brian. Your friend—Uli?—and I just … ran into each other.” He grins back at me and suddenly hope springs up again like a jack-in-the-box, shocking me with its sudden reappearance. Two minutes after meeting and the new guy and I already have a past, a history, an inside joke.

Uli: one.

My friend and roommate takes his hand. “Jolene. Nice to meet you.” Then, instead of letting go, she practically pulls him into the classroom. “Let me introduce you to the rest of the crew.”

I look down at the puddle of coffee soaking into the carpet, tempted to just leave it. It’s old carpet, anyway. That would be wrong, though, so I hurry to get some paper towels from the kitchen.

It would be unwise to leave Brian in Jolene’s grasp too long. If all’s fair in love and war, then I need to prepare for battle. My roommate, after all, is a seasoned campaigner.


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