I'm a little behind after going camping for a few days, so I'm going to double up on Kentucky and West Virginia.
I hadn’t had much luck finding a date in Kentucky. Two days before leaving Virginia, I’d gotten an email from a guy who didn’t send a picture but said he would be honored to be my Mr. Kentucky. With no other options, I planned to head toward some little town called Prestonburg. He said he was recently divorced and liked NASCAR, fishing, and hunting. Probably not my dream man, but I was at the point where I couldn’t exactly be choosy. I shot back an email saying I’d be there Thursday night and would love to meet up for dinner or possibly breakfast on Friday.
I pitched my tent in a state park and noticed a guy a few spots down from me setting up his grill. I considered walking over there and chatting with him since I hadn’t heard from my supposed Mr. Kentucky yet. I could make Mr. RV Man my Mr. Kentucky if we chatted around the campfire for an hour. I wondered what kind of guy camps alone in an RV, though. That just seemed a little odd. Plus he had this fluffy white dog that was not at all manly. He was there, though, which was more than I could say for the divorced no-picture man who hadn’t emailed me back yet. I decided I’d say hi when I walked past his RV to go to the bathroom. Well, maybe I’d say hi. I’m really kind of a shy person, which makes this whole finding fifty dates process rather difficult at times.
As I got closer to his RV, I noticed a handicapped tag hanging from the rear-view mirror. He looked perfectly healthy to me. Balding, but upright. Then I noticed a woman inside the RV. Ohhhh . . . I looked closer at him. Ohhhh . . . yeah, probably near 70. I checked my email one last time, then went to bed early. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if this guy didn’t get back to me by morning. I didn’t have time to be sitting around a campground waiting for him to get in touch.
The next morning I checked my email again. Nothing. I walked around the campground area. I took a shower and got as date-ready as I could in a campground. I read a book. I checked the email again. Nothing. I gave myself a mini-pedi, minus the polish (it didn’t make the necessities list when packing). I packed up the car. I checked email again. Nothing. I was being stood up.
A lady walked by and asked if I’d seen anyone in the tent a couple of spots down from mine.
“No, I haven’t,” I said. It was kind of strange, really, that I hadn’t seen anyone go in or out the night before or that morning, but I hadn’t thought much of it. I’d once camped with a group of teenagers in a KOA campground next to a woman who slept in her car with the doors locked. I’d assumed the person here was maybe like her -- afraid of traveling alone as a woman. I figured maybe she just stayed in her tent so no one would know she was alone. Or maybe it was a man who just really needed a lot of sleep and had gotten up in the middle of the night to pee when I hadn’t seen him.
“Well, they never registered at the front entrance. They snuck in the night before last, pitched that tent, and haven’t been seen since. I think it’s odd,” the old lady said.
“Maybe they went hiking and they’re lost in the woods somewhere,” I offered. Then I thought, geez, how long would it take someone to find my car and send out a search party for me if I were sitting in the woods alone, hurt?
“I think I’ll call the ranger and make them come look in the tent. Who knows, maybe they’re dead in there,” she said. Ew. I didn’t want to think I’d slept fifty yards away from a dead guy.
Maybe that was my Mr. Kentucky in there.
I headed out for West Virginia. I had a few options when choosing my Mr. West Virginia. The one that made me laugh the most wasn’t the one I picked. I guess I wasn’t clear on my website when I told applicants to send a photo. This guy sent a photo, alright. Of his tractor. I thought maybe he was in it, so I enlarged it, but nope, it was just his tractor. I had to pass on that one.
The guy I chose texted me as I drove toward Charleston. He said I was going to want to stay in West Virginia after meeting him. I texted back that many had tried but none had succeeded. He fired back, “Amateurs.” He met me with a gift bag. “A little road-tripping package,” he said. Aw. Good start!
I read “The Five Love Languages” a while back and found out that one of my primary languages (the way I feel loved) is gifts. That makes me sound greedy, but it’s not like that. It just means that I like little reminders that a guy is thinking of me. Like a little love note. Or bringing me flowers. Or a phone call for no reason but to let me know he’s missing me. I mean, I wouldn’t turn away jewelry, but it’s the little things that count.
We walked to the minor league ball park nearby to cheer on the Power. I thought that was the most random mascot name ever, and couldn’t help singing that 90’s classic, “I’ve Got the Power!” We sat in the bleachers beyond center field until it started to rain. We moved to some seats just behind the left fielder, and Mr. West Virginia said it was the perfect spot for some trash talking.
“You stink, number 12!” I called. “You’re gonna miss it! You’re really bad."
“You’re horrible at trash talking,” he observed.
“I save my good stuff for things I can actually compete at. Like Scrabble.”
We walked around the stadium a few times but didn’t really see all that much of the game. It was windy and raining. We went into the bar & grill adjacent to the park to grab some food and chat.
Mr. West Virginia was a really nice guy. He seemed to be successful in his career and raised well in a smaller town not far from the capital. I asked what dating was like around there, and he told me a bit about his past relationships. He mentioned that some of his old girlfriends had children.
“Are you okay with that?” I asked.
“Well, most women around here have kids,” he said. “So if I said I wouldn’t date women with kids, I wouldn’t date at all.”
I’m not sure I want to marry someone who already has kids. I’m not sure I want to become a wife and a mom on the same day. I kind of like the idea of getting to know my husband for a while before kids come along. I used to want five years to get to know my husband before getting pregnant, but the older I get, the less time I know I’ll be able to wait. I have a feeling I’m going to go from saying “I do” to peeing on a stick within a week.
We walked home in the rain. Later on I thought about how that should have been romantic, but I wasn’t really thinking about that at the time. He was a really nice guy, but I just didn’t feel that spark that I had with Mr. Virginia. I know I shouldn’t compare, but it’s really hard not to. And really, what guy would want to be with someone who’s not crazy about him? Probably none. I’m pretty sure Mr. West Virginia will find a good woman someday . . . one who wants to stay with him. He's a good guy.