Turns out my “accomplished, warm, kind and patient” mandolin teacher who “doesn’t usually work with beginners” (click HERE) accepted me as a student not so much for my zest for learning as for the fact that I am a single woman. So this might have turned out to be a love story.
Except it didn’t.
We went out for a drink after my first lesson and chatted on the phone a couple of times over the next few days. The following Saturday, he played a gig nearby and invited me to meet him afterwards for hot wings and a beer. We shared a little bit about our histories, our children and our experiences with music. After dinner, he walked me to my car and kissed me goodnight. It was a sweet but awkward moment. I explained I wasn’t sure I wanted to mix mandolin lessons and romance, especially considering how hard it had been to find a mandolin teacher. He seemed to understand and sent me on my way with instructions to drive safely. Crisis averted.
But when he greeted me at my second lesson with another passionate kiss and a bottle of pinot grigio, I was afraid I was in over my head. I did my best to manage the situation, reminding him again why I was there and insisting that we get to my lesson straightaway. I suggested that we go somewhere and have a conversation afterwards.
To his credit, he put his desires on hold long enough to answer all my questions and teach me a few new riffs on the mandolin. We worked hard for over an hour. At some point during my lesson, though, he asked me what I was doing the following night. Some friends of his would be in town giving a concert, he explained, and he invited me to go with him. When I declined, saying that I was at a writer’s conference for the weekend and already had a commitment that evening, he told me I should blow it off. “You would have more fun with me,” he said.
At that point, my jerk detector kicked in. But it was too late. As I packed my mandolin in its case, my teacher stretched himself out on the couch, fold his hands behind his head, looked at me and said, “What we both need is to get laid.”
I laughed, thinking he must be joking.
“What’s so funny?” he asked.
“You,” I said.
His face turned into a pout. “That hurts my feelings,” he said.
“You’re not serious, are you?” I asked, incredulous.
“Hell yeah, I’m serious,” he replied. “I’m a warm-blooded American man. You’re a warm-blooded American woman. This is what people do.”
“That’s not what I do,” I replied. “Besides, I hardly know you.”
“Aren’t we friends?” he asked.
“I thought so,” I said. “But I don’t kiss my friends on the lips.”
And I had really hoped we could be friends. He is an amazing musician with great connections and a good teacher. Who knows? Maybe something more could have developed, given time. After all, I’m not on the dating sites any more; people keep telling me that the best way to meet men is simply to live my life and pursue my passions. I had considered the possibility that this might be opportunity knocking. But apparently it wasn’t. Because when the little voice inside my head told me it was time to go, I went. I picked up my mandolin case and made a beeline for the front door.
Unfortunately, as I stepped outside onto the unlit porch, my hard soled high heeled shoes and I missed the step down into the parking lot. As a result, I fell flat on my back, twisting my ankle and scraping one end of my beautiful new mandolin case (expletive deleted). Worried that he might follow me, though, I quickly picked myself up, limped to my car and sped away.
As I headed back to my conference, I asked myself what I had done wrong. Back at the hotel in the company of some of my friends, I shared my questions out loud. “What did I exude,” I wondered, “that made this man think I would simply climb right up on top of him right then and there?” And the answer is nothing. If I had it to do over, I’m not sure I would do anything differently. I acted in good faith and expected him to do the same. And just because he took advantage of the situation doesn’t mean I have to become cynical and mistrustful. But hopefully I will recognize the wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing more quickly next time.
I’m going to keep living my life and pursuing my passions–which now include playing the mandolin. If I meet someone special in the process, so be it.
But that’s really beside the point.