It was a Saturday in September, 1991. I was sitting in my somewhat reliable 1986 Mazda B2000 pickup in the U-district in Seattle. At the time, I was living two hundred miles away in Spokane and working as a graphic designer for a hotel and property management firm.
I was twenty-nine years old. I was a bachelor. I was unattached, and I loved my freedom, Baby!
One thing I didn’t love, however, was always being alone.
Now, to be clear, I am by nature a loner. I am quite satisfied being left alone with my thoughts, a jar of peanut butter, and some saltines. I’ve always been this way as long as I can remember. One of my fondest memories as a kid was sitting high up in an apple tree by the side of the road with a book, wasting the afternoon reading, eating apples and watching people pass by. I was known as “that creepy kid in the apple tree” and they me left alone because “creepy” and they knew I was harmless. I’m convinced that today if I were that same kid in the tree, I’d be hauled down, given drugs and sent to therapy until I was suitably pliant and smoothed over, just like the other kids. It would be like Pink Floyd, but without the pudding; just the meat.
I’ve grown accustomed to solitude. If I had my way, I’d be alone 90% of the time and be just fine with it.
Trouble is, that last ten percent alone is intolerable.
So, there I was in Seattle, having driven across the state the night before just so I could be at Tower Records early enough to purchase tickets to a Dire Straits concert seven months away. Now here’s the thing. I had no girlfriend at the time. In fact I knew of nobody I could take to the concert, friend or otherwise. And yet I bought two tickets. TWO. I don’t know why other than out of hopefulness that perhaps I would at least have a friend to share the experience.
As far as I knew I was the only person in Spokane that liked Dire Straits enough to drive to Seattle for tickets. Buying two tickets was nuts! What was I thinking? The concert sold out in a few days and I kept my extra ticket, thinking if I didn’t find anyone, at least I’d have extra leg room, and a spot for my emptiness and despair.
To this day, I still have no good answer why I bought that extra ticket.
A couple months later, in December…
She was a nice gal who worked for the company in an out of town branch office (a hotel, actually). I had met her previously in a brief introduction when she visited our offices. She was attractive, fit, and tan, which appealed to me, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.
We met again at the Christmas party. We danced, talked, laughed and I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point that night… well, let's just say I noticed she was pretty damn awesome.
We saw each other again before Christmas, and she introduced me to her daughter who was six. We hit it off, which I think sealed the deal in her mind because she later invited me to her parent’s house for Christmas.
That Christmas I was a stranger in a strange land with people I’d never met who were looking at me funny. It was awkward, but she was there so it didn’t matter.
Later that week, I was back at work when someone from another company-owned hotel came up and congratulated me.
“Congratulations?” I said, “For what?”
“I heard you were engaged.”
“I am? To who?”
As it happened, she had put in for a transfer to Spokane and when asked why, she had told her boss she had met the guy she was going to marry. There are no secrets in the hotel business apparently, and word spread like wildfire… except to the prospective husband.
Marriage proposals are one of the most nerve-wracking things a guy can face. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Frankly, I wouldn’t know.
A few months later, on April 4, 1992, I had someone to share my tickets to the Dire Straits concert in Seattle. We drove to Seattle early that day. She was tired, having worked the night shift, so I suppose it’s only natural she fell asleep during the concert. The Dire Straits concert. Dire. Straits. These were the days before smartphones, otherwise there would be a photo. There would be many photos.
I don’t know what the lesson is here. All I know is that because of Dire Straits, I found a lifelong companion. We’ve been together since. The Missus and I, not Dire Straits.
So I guess it’s more of a “give life a chance to surprise you” blog post.
We’re not the sort to go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. We’ll usually go out for lunch, and avoid the later, amateur night crowd. We much prefer spending a relaxing evening with a fire and the soft glow of the ID Channel on the tube (“Happily Never After” is our Valentine’s Day marathon of choice, followed by “Wives With Knives”), I in my easy chair, and her on the couch, taking notes.
Finally, and just because I thought it was amusing in a classic case of “letting life surprise you” sort of way, making Valentine’s Day reservations at The Waffle House is a hot item in certain quarters. Sadly, we don’t have a Waffle House in these parts, otherwise that would be the perfect place for me to give the Missus her Valentine’s Gift:
“Enjoy the vacuum, Babe! It’s a Shark®!”