All right sports fans I have an email from last night that says, “Don’t disappoint Brillig and Jenny. Tell it all. My Dad can use the ego boost and if necessary the references. Besides I want all the credit, as this was my idea. I have been trying to get him to start dating again for the past two years. Don’t worry, with the alias no one will even think of him. If it helps I give you my word I will not read your blog for the next three days. Agreed?” So here we go…
As we sat having our coffee Hassan told me more about his days of climbing here. How he came to the sport (his father) and why he loved it (the challenge). I sat watching him over the rim of my china cup, once again thinking how unbelievable this all was. Not that I don’t get “offers”, I still do much to my own amazement being a woman of a certain age and all that; apparently no one has informed the men of the world that I am off the market due to aging (thank the gods). Q has been after me for years to “have a relationship”, but of late she has been saying “at least date!”.
Here is the problem – a rather wonderful problem when you think about it, I married the perfect man for me. He was every woman’s dream man really, handsome, smart, funny, wealthy, and committed to making the world a better place. I fell in love with him when I was twelve years old and spent the next nine years growing up as fast as possible and convincing him I was the only woman for him. When he died, I wanted to follow him. There is a much longer story there, but this is Hassan’s story. The point is I know, I have always known I will never feel that way about another man. For a long time it felt treasonous to his memory, then I did try a few times but nothing was close enough so I concentrated on being Q’s mom and that was enough and it was wondrous, but now she is grown and has her own life, as it should be. Still I hesitate.
All this passed through my mind as I listened to Hassan’s soft voice in the empty dining room recounting his exploits on the rock faces of the world. Physically there is a lot to like here. Standing at 5’10” myself, I judge him to be about 6’1” or so and maybe fifty more or less? I love his smile – white teeth, full lips, and a single dimple on the left side and he uses it often. He is proving to have a great sense of humour and thinks I am funny which is essential – the humour factor is a deal breaker for me. A relationship, any relationship without good humour and laughing is a sad thing I feel. His skin is that fabulous copper cream colour of the Moroccans that makes you want to touch their faces, the kind of complexion you feel you can sink your hand into like a pail of rose petals. Years of climbing and exercise have left him in obvious good shape – broad shoulders, narrow hips, flat abdomen, and that bum is solid gold I tell you. The fingers of his hands are long and the palm is broad, like a pianist or a swordsman. There has been no problem in his genetic line with hair loss I am thinking as his is thick and black, the kind that begs you to check him for any bumps and bruises! And he smells fabulous. I finally remembered where I knew that scent from, he’ wears Creed Green Irish Tweed, I would bet money on it. It’s like inhaling endorphins.
“Are you listening to me?” He cocks his head to the side and gives me that grin again, the one that makes him look like he knows something he shouldn’t.
“Yes, of course I’m listening. You said you climbed in the desert in New Mexico and you’d never climbed in India. Why? Don’t I look like I’m listening?”
“Truthfully? You have the calculating gaze I see on the sheikhs when they come to the horse shows in the desert and look the stock over for defects.”
I laughed. “I don’t think you have to worry over me pointing out any defects unless of course you feel the need to confess something? I’m just along for the scenery remember (no double entender there, oh no).”
“I’m finding the scenery quite amazing myself today,” he said giving me a long look with those almond brown eyes that made my toes curl. I was having goose pimples in the most embarrassing places and I was fairly certain it wasn’t the air conditioning.
After coffee Ali had still not appeared. As we came out of the dining room he was coming into the lobby with the bellboy carrying enough bags for three weeks in Siberia – during winter.
Once the car was loaded Ali plops himself in the front seat next to Hassan! “Ali you need to get in the back. Lady Macleod is sitting there,” Hassan said as he took my arm and gave Ali a stare not unlike that of a fisherman who guts his catch. Oh yes ladies!
The drive to the airport was notable for its silence and the palpable feel of Ali’s stare on the back of my neck.
Ali climbed out of the 4 X 4 and walked directly onto the plane leaving Hassan and the co-pilot to deal with the mountain of luggage. I was watching it go into the hold wondering if it would put us over weight. Actually I was envisioning tossing it out one piece at a time at 3000 feet.
In the airplane he sat down in a seat nearest the back, drink in hand and did not so much as acknowledge my presence for the rest of the flight. A handsome man whose looks were ruined by his scowl and obvious distain for anything but his own pleasures, I had a pretty clear idea of his views on women.
Once we were settled into the flight pattern Hassan came into the cabin. “I’ve turned over the rest of the flight to my co-pilot. I thought you could use some company back here.” We passed the flight with him telling me about his wife, the story of how they met and married when their parents had arranged it, had their son, and became the best of friends, and how she became ill and died four years ago. “We did come to love each other. It grew out of the friendship really, she was a great partner, a help not only at home but in my business dealings as well. She had a sharp mind that could see right through to the heart of any situation, and she was a fantastic mother. I credit much of my son’s independence and compassion to his mother’s influence. Of course at times that can be trying!” His eyes lit up when he spoke of his son, and were far away when he spoke of his wife.
The co-pilot called back to say we were coming into the landing pattern at Rabat. “This flight, this day has been too short. There is more I want to say to you, there is everything I want to know about you,” he said lifting my hand to his mouth for a soft kiss. He left for the cockpit and I was pretty much capable of flying without the airplane at that point. As I looked down at the ocean we crossed into the city and I realized he is leaving, today! Six months he had said, in Saudi Arabia. What did that mean, would he be back? When? Was he serious about what he was saying and what his eyes were telling me? I realized the bigger question was how did I feel about this? Was I actually considering getting involved with this man? Just how would that work? What would that mean…hang on I have known him for less than two days let’s get some perspective here. But I didn’t feel like getting perspective, I felt like I wanted to know what those lips would feel like somewhere other than the back of my hand.
We are wa-a-a-y over 1000 words here. Spank me Rosie (in the immortal words of Col. Jack O’Neill) but I think we have to have a Part V. Are you up for that?