Late Romance

Herman was dead and Greta accepted there was nothing she could do about it. That’s what old men do. They die. Even after 58 wonderful years together, husbands just disappear.

After a few days of grieving to make it look good, she picked up a telephone and called Barry. He was her childhood love, the one that got away. Her heart pounded as he answered.

“Hello?” said a man with a gravelly version of Barry’s voice. Barry’s dad? No, impossible. It was Barry. It was Barry!

“Hello? Barry? It’s me. It’s Bebe…I mean, Greta.” She tried, unsuccessfully, to play it cool.

“Bebe? Bebe! You use your real name now? Of course. Greta. Yes, I remember. How are you?”

Greta froze with joy. He remembers me! And he still cares!

They talked about the past, then caught up. It’s amazing that 60 years can pass with so little happening. They agreed to meet for coffee.

Greta said she lived in a nearby town, but in fact she took a plane to get to the coffee shop and got there first. She freshened up and tried to look casual.

And there he was! Barry! He looked like he always did, handsome and tall. It was like time had stood still, except that now his body was bent and his face was jowly. Oh, and the hair was gone.

He still told those clever jokes, with that snippy cadence although he unfortunately could no longer remember punch lines. Greta was beyond excited until Barry mentioned, in passing, his lovely wife.

Greta excused herself because, she said, her nose was shiny and needed powdering. In the restroom, she cried quietly, regained her composure and then returned to Barry.

His unfailing gentlemanly manner, helping her with her coat, holding doors, only made it worse. They agreed to stay in touch, not let another 60 years go by, but he didn’t call. Neither did she.

Months passed. Just when despair set in, Greta got a call. It was Barry. His wife had died and he needed to talk. Perfect!

By the end of the call, they made a date. A dinner date. She hung up, changed into something beautiful, applied makeup abundantly and took a cab to the airport.

Three hours later she was at the restaurant, a lovely romantic restaurant! The lights were dim and a man approached her. He looked like Barry but something was different. In the dim lights, it was hard to tell.

The man was Harry, Barry’s eldest son. He had bad news. Harry couldn’t make dinner because he was dead.

That’s what old men do. They die.