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On The Importance of Being “Real”

Rex and I connected on OKCupid. It was mid June. He had initially messaged me in May, and I had promised to call him but then it slipped my mind. I had to have an unexpected major abdonimal surgery in the middle of July. As I began to recover, I started getting antsy to get out of the house. I checked my OKCupid account, and noticed that I never called Rex. When I asked if he was still interested, it was a resounding “yes”. I called him and we made a date to meet at Starbucks. We met there on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the end of June. We sat outside on a lovely summer day and had coffee and conversation. We both seemed ready for a new relationship, and were sure we wanted to see each other again. We had a telling first kiss on this date that told me I would enjoy more close contact. This lead me to suggest the possibility of a weekend away at my lake house in the near future.

Rex wanted our second date to truly reflect who he was as a person. He isn’t rich so it wasn’t going to be a fancy meal at a restaurant. He suggested a picnic in the park and offered to bring the food. I suggested a park about midway between our homes.

We were treated to a sunny, warm day when we met at the park. He brought his guitar as he usually does. This was another indicator of who he really was. We sat in the shade and ate our sandwiches. He played guitar and sang for me.

This was one of my first outings post op and it felt great to be outside enjoying Rex’s company and the summer weather having missed so much of it.

On July 18th, I had an exploratory laparotomy to remove many cysts from my abdomen. My incision ran from my navel to the bottom of my torso. There was quite a bit of swelling and bruising, making my abdomen look like a scene from a horror movie. I had about 25 stainless steel staples in place to close the incision, adding to the gruesome look.

I have had a bit of a flabby pot belly since I had two children and a stroke in the 1990’s. Ensuing weight gain and loss of muscle tone gave me a protruding abdomen.

On the day of our picnic, my belly was so not pretty with the staples still in place. I was a bit uncomfortable still from the surgery. It felt like I had been sitting too long and the discomfort was intensifying. Rex and I got up from our seats on the picnic table benches and faced each other. We started kissing in the bright summer sunshine. I mentioned that I still felt sore from the surgery. I guess I felt super comfortable with him because I lifted my shirt and showed him my nasty looking abdomen. I remember feeling only the slightest twinge of embarrassment about my belly looking fat. I had a strong sense that this would not be the last time Rex would see my fat belly. The staples glistened. Without hesitation, he bent over and kissed my boo-boo.

It is seven months later and Rex and I are still together. We often laugh about how we both were completely ourselves with each other from the get go. We agreed that it never makes sense to withhold parts of ourselves in order to make a good impression. If my ugliness had scared him away, or I was turned off by his unwillingness to take me out on a “nice” date, that would have been the right way for things to work out. Rex later told me as we became more involved that I was the most “real” woman he had met online.

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