I met the Viking at the market the next morning. Together with the Merman and a slew of expats, we took a boat to a distant reef in an unspoiled tropical wilderness. There was lunch. Beer. It wasn’t quite a date. I tried to make sense of whom among the tanned and accented women might be his mystery girlfriend.
As we returned to town, the Viking was told to cast off the mooring line — which he did by untying it from the boat. Think about that: Rather than leave the buoy behind, he tried to leave the rope in the ocean. The boatmen roundly chided him.
Viking: D’oh! I guess that’s why I’m single.
Oh! So that’s why he swam to my island. His hometown honey hadn’t gone the distance.
The Viking invited me and the Merman back to his place for drinks. Now that he was single, we could go on a real date, chaperoned by my fake husband.
His house was spare. He had a kayak in his living room — that’s how he traveled to work. There was a dog, a scabby stray that desperately loved any expat who lived in the house.
Viking: If spitting, burning trash, and kicking dogs were an Olympic sport, the locals would be world champs.
We sat on his porch overlooking the water as the sun went down. He cooked us dinner. When the Merman stepped away, the Viking asked a simple and straightforward question.
Viking: Would you like to spend the night?
Yes. I can’t imagine anyone has ever said no to him. Yes.
After delivering the Merman to the island, we found a secluded beach in a mangrove forest.
Viking: Crocodiles are only a problem on a full moon, in a mangrove system.
I could never talk myself into marrying the Sailor now.
Me: Best one-night stand, ever.
Viking: That’s not a kind thing to say.
Me: Isn’t it? OK. Best spinster vision quest, ever.
My nightmarish insomnia cranked into gear: A clock was ticking on my newspaper story. Phones and Internet were down everywhere. I would catch a flight back to Thunderdome, the capitol, to close the piece. The Viking stayed up and kept me talking through the morning. He asked questions. I told him stories. He gave great pillow talk too.
It is the most damning thing I can say about dating in New York, but what struck me most about the Viking was not his beauty, though he was extremely beautiful; nor his Ph.D., though I can say with certainty doctorates seldom arrive in six-packs; not even the mind-blowing moonlight and crocodiles. I remain dumbfounded that he was sweet.
We met up with the Merman the next morning as he was nursing a hangover.
Merman: You took my job. You’re living in my house. You have my dog. And now you’re banging my wife.
Twenty-eight hours after an almost-but-not-quite-date began, the Viking drove me to the airport. I said the words every man longs to hear from his fling.
Me: I write a dating column.