Social Distance Date

Barbara Rose Brooker
4 min readDec 5, 2020


I buckle the ankle straps on my three-inch Joan Crawford high heel shoes. I love these shoes. They represent glamour and romance and fun. I have a date. A social distance date. Walter Blumberg is a 79 year old tax lawyer I met on His e-mails were smart, well written, and his profile seemed intelligent. A thumbnail photo showed loopy hair, and an intelligent face. I use my usual photo a friend took on his phone but it’s recent. We agreed to meet at an outdoor café for a drink and dinner. This is the first time I’ve gone to a restaurant since the pandemic started. I decide to walk and meet him there.

I’m wearing a black mask shaped like wings on which I painted pink roses, and a black bowler felt hat with a silk flower pinned to the side, and my black cape. Twilight covers San Francisco in a pale gray mist. I love twilight, that transition into night and the day already in your past. As I walk along North Beach, careful to avoid the potholes, I feel the anticipation of an adventure. Still, even with my past relationships ending in heartbreak, my heart is racing and butterflies are in my stomach. Will my heart stop at the very sight of him? Will chemistry happen? It’s been decades.

I arrive at the outdoor Italian café. Tables are set a few feet apart and a saggy tarp covers the tables divided by plastic partitions. A spidery thin man stands. A black dusty beret sits on top of his small head. Harvard is printed on the front of his black mask. We exchange elbow touches, and muffled greetings.

So sitting somewhat far apart, we order drinks. I haven’t had a real drink for so long. I keep on my mask. When my martini arrives, I lift the bottom of my mask, and sip the drink. He removes his mask. He has a handsome intelligent professorial face — a Semitic long nose, bushy eyebrows and deep set quarrelsome faded negative blue eyes. “To a great year ahead,” I say, clicking the edge of his glass.

He sighs lugubriously. He drinks most of the wine, holds a thin hand up, and signals the waiter to bring another. “Take your mask off,” he demands.

“I don’t want to die from the Covid.”

He frowns. “Pandemic dating is a nightmare. All these ugly women are covered up by masks. Also, I can hardly hear you. Are you deaf?”

“And what if I’m ugly?”

He shrugs. “Well, I like your shoes,” he says in a tone as if he’s conceding something he’s not sure about. He has never dated a woman my age, he confides. He dates younger women. “Usually women your age wear those dopey ballerina flats because they have veins, swollen feet, hammer toes. And they fall. “Fall, a lot. The last older woman I dated caught her one inch heel in a pothole. “Complications. The rest is history.”

“What does age have to do with relationships?” I ask.

He laughs. “Everything.”

“So why did you want to meet me?”

He shrugs. “Your e-mails sounded sassy. I like your long hair. Most older women have that dreadful Nancy Reagan haircut. You wear men’s neckties. Are you a lesbo?”

“I feel like I’m on an audition.”

“You are.”

Lightheaded from my martini, I’m thinking this guy is angry and sad. “…So tell me about your law practice? Trump never paid taxes. I think we need to raise taxes to feed the poor, more money for education, mental health and….”

He holds his hand by his ear. “I can’t hear you! I don’t read lips! Take off the fucking mask.”

I move my chair to the other end of the table and remove my mask, “Only for a few minutes.”

He nods. “For your age you look damned good.”

“Please don’t say “For. Either I look good or not.”

He chants unpleasantly, “I know. I know. I read you’re an age activist.”

“Were you married? With someone?” I ask after his long sullen silence.

He confides that his fifteen year live-in relationship was with a much younger woman. “I loved Josie. She was a brilliant attorney, and beautiful,” he says, wistfully. But after I was diagnosed this year with stage four prostate cancer she left me. Now she wants money for the fifteen years and is filing a suit”

“I’m sorry,” I say. “Really, I am. Under your negativity I think you are an interesting man.”

He shrugs. “Either you die from covid or cancer or stroke. So what difference?”

“On my podcast I interviewed a woman who cured herself from stage four cancer by nutrition and ….”

“You believe in aliens, probably,” he says nastily. “I’m a realist. You’re the hippy dippy liberal type. A democrat.”

I nod.

“I googled you. Looked at your books on Amazon. You believe in love. In climate control, legalizing prostitution, prison reform, and all bug-a-boo.”

“Where there’s life there’s hope. I promise you.”

He looks at me, incredulously. “It doesn’t matter what you believe. Asteroids are about to wipe us out. It’s all fucked. We’re all going to die soon.”

“Well, I hope to see you again before you die,” I say, trying to keep my voice light. “Then again I might die before then.”

For the first time he smiles. “I hope not. We’ll google. It’s too hard going out with this pandemic. The chemo makes me ill.”

“Sure. We’ll do that.”

We talk some about the pandemic, a vaccination, the research they’re doing with cancer. But he’s checked out, and I can see his mind is somewhere else. He orders more wine. I put on my hat. My mask. Button my coat.

We elbow touch, say how great it was meeting each other.

I walk home. By now the moon is out. I follow the moonlight. God, it’s beautiful.

BarbaraRoseBrooker is an author. Her latest novel Love, Sometimes, and the audible, published by Post Hill Press/Simon Schuster are available. She is the founder of the first virtual agemarch in history.
She is at work on a book that takes place in the pandemic.
Www.barbararosebrooker ( Her TV appearances and podcasts are on website)



Barbara Rose Brooker

Barbara Rose Brooker, author/teacher/poet/MFA, published 13 novels. Her latest novel, Feb 2020, Love, Sometimes, published by Post Hill Press/Simon Schuster.