By Sue, 68. Aberfoyle Park, SA
“This is delicious,” Marge mumbled between mouthfuls of double chocolate muffin.
Every Tuesday after she and her friend Fay had finished their hour-long exercise class, they treated themselves to a coffee and muffin of the week from the cafe’s specials board.
“So convenient,” said Fay, “that the retirement village put the cafe right next to the community hall.”
They both agreed an hour of stretching and lifting weights — with a touch of Zumba — entitled these two 60-plus ladies to a reward. Both still decked out in their Lorna Jane outfits, black with red flashes for Marge and blue for Fay, made them feel fit even without all the physical jerks.
Full of calories and caffeine, Marge leaned back in her chair and looked at her friend. Fay observed that Marge had a twinkle in her eye.
“Have you seen our new neighbour at No. 5?” Marge asked casually.
Fay knew who she meant — no female with good eyesight had missed the recent addition to their luxury estate for the over 50s.
“Unless you’re blind or half dead, you can’t miss him. He’s a dish, as we used to say back when I was young.”
Richard Hardy, the dish in question, had really made an impression on the female population, both those single and those not. He was maybe late 60s, good profile, amazing blue eyes, full head of expensively cut silver hair. Also, he had an air of class and wealth, shown in his clothes, which he wore with a certain style. Those who had got close enough to admire the blue eyes also felt the impact of his charm and easygoing manner. All in all, he was HOT, as the young would say.
George, Marge’s late husband, had been the opposite of Richard Hardy. Richard looked like he had the potential to be lots of fun. ‘Fun — that’s what I crave,’ thought Marge.
Fay, eyeing up her friend, said, “You’ve taken an interest in him, haven’t you? Wouldn’t have thought he was your type — he’s nothing like George.”
George, Marge’s late husband who died of a heart attack four years before, had been the opposite of Richard Hardy. George had been very overweight, bald, and a lover of charity shop clothes in spite of being a man of means. Also, he had stopped being fun many years before. Richard Hardy looked like he had the potential to be lots of fun. Fun — that’s what I crave, thought Marge.
The following Tuesday, while enjoying the carrot and walnut muffin, Fay ventured to admit she had googled Marge’s dreamboat. “Couldn’t find him at all,” declared Fay.
“Not surprising, really. Many oldies don’t or have never used Facebook or any social media,” replied Marge, who was not ready to have her fantasy brought down to earth yet.
“Anyway,” she continued — before she thought better of revealing information she had vowed to keep to herself — “he doesn’t have a laptop or computer.”
Fay jumped on this nugget of knowledge.
“How do you know?” Then realisation hit.
“You’ve been in his home!” She wasn’t sure if she was surprised or shocked. Marge, looking both secretive and coy, admitted Richard had invited her to his home for a couple of drinks the previous evening. Marge’s best friend had been kept in the dark.
The following weeks found Fay going to the exercise class on her own as Marge continued to be evasive and unavailable. Fay and many other residents saw Richard and Marge driving around in her impressive new Mercedes. They were also seen at local expensive restaurants. Weekends away at exclusive resorts followed. The gossip network was running hot.
As summer disappeared and autumn arrived, Richard became more and more absent. Marge did not appear to know any more about his fading presence than the others. One day, his house stood empty. Richard the dish was no longer a resident. Management confirmed that Mr Hardy had negotiated a short term lease to trial the retirement village in a view to maybe buy.
Just after Christmas, Fay saw Richard while visiting a friend at a similar village in the next town. Now, he was going under the name of William Jones — again, with a wealthy widow as his companion. When Marge was told this, Fay expected tears and resentment. Instead, Marge smiled wistfully and said, “Am I bothered? No. He gave me three months of fun for which I will be forever grateful. Far more fun than George could ever had imagined or managed. Thanks for the memory, Richard.”