These were my theories: he was dead, another woman had lured him, he is a Trump supporter and saw my opposition rants, or he read my blogs and feared he might become a subject.
Fellow detectives, gather round as we explore each hypothesis. We'll use the board to post photos, examine maps, and then try to learn why a potential date initially went silent, and then ditched me.
Now, let's tack a picture of my dear pal who queried if he could give my information to a colleague. "He's 84 and a widower," he wrote in an email. "He's in great shape, loves theater and travel, and is seeking a lady friend. I showed him your photo, and although he lives in Lincolnshire, he's willing to drive to you."
Now, pin up a photo of me upon receiving this query. My cute face has broadened to a smile. Although you can't see my mind; be assured it was not only getting ahead of itself, but had moved from my downtown pad to his country house. "Sure," I sped back. "My phone and email are below."
We have an actual snapshot of him, so let's add that to the board and give him a name: Bob. After getting my okay, Bob sent me an email; it was light-hearted, included his phone number, and the photo. I found the image sweet, reminiscent of Tommy.
Anxious to speed things along, I called him. We talked for at least 30 minutes. He has a great sense of humor, I told myself. He's close to his children. This is important to me, for on previous blind dates, estrangement from kids was a warning sign.
During our conversation, Bob revealed he was going to Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier that very night.
"Navy Pier is a few blocks from me," I said, giddy about a guy who not only drives when dark, but also that downtown appeared to be easy-peasy.
"Just going with a friend," he said. "Nothing romantic, a neighboring widow who occasionally joins me for theater."
A day or two later, I received an email from Bob. "Downloaded your book," he said. "Your chapter titled 'Abstinence?' Do you really mean that?"
"No, just trying to be funny," I said. But was that true? That was the essay where I doubted the need for a man in my life.
We exchanged a few more cheery emails. Bob told me he'd soon be going to Arizona for a marathon, so we made a lunch date for two weeks hence. In the meantime, I was to select a place. When I learned he was a Steppenwolf Theatre fan, I suggested a restaurant in that neighborhood. And that's where we left it, with me wishing him success and welcoming contest photos.
Fellow detectives, here was our first clue: zilch, zip, nada from our once chatty prospective date. Something was afoot. But optimistic me thought, maybe he's waiting for me to pinpoint our lunch spot?
Instead of Clybourn/Halsted/North Avenue, as we had first discussed, I preferred Bob come to my neighborhood, for if I were to take CTA, I'd likely have to wear a hat. Thus, I'd arrive with smashed hair, runny nose, and a need to hit the bathroom before our first hug. So, I sent this:
Hope you were triumphant. If we're still on for the 22nd, how about coming to my 'hood? We can lunch at the restaurant adjacent to my building; I get a discount. Let me know if this works for you. Best, Elaine
Several days went by without a response. Then, I received a text proposing a train stop in Evanston. He made no mention of my email, and downtown suggestion, so I repeated my preference.
He sent back this: "I really do not want to drive all the way to the loop or near north. Traffic south of Dempster, both inbound and outbound can be horrendous."
Somehow, not only had my neighborhood been nixed, but near north was also out of bounds. I read between the lines and responded, "Sorry, Bob, a CTA trip to Dempster and beyond takes an hour. Perhaps we're just geographically incompatible. I understand your reluctance; hope you understand mine."
"I do, good luck," were his last words.
So fellow sleuthers, what's your take? What had happened during Bob's trip? We can rule out dead, but a new woman -- perhaps that harmless widow -- is still on the table. Is he a Trump supporter and had peeked at my posts? Or, did he fear he could become a subject in a future blog?