Monday, August 4, 2008

First Date

Continued from Friday...

Me: "What do you mean, 'never have a chance to date me?' What would your wife say?"

D: "Wife? I don't have a wife. I'm not married."

Me: "Yes you are! You're married!" (somehow along the line I had imagined that the woman who was leaning up against D was his college sweetheart who he then married and they were living quite happily ever after. I know, I know. My writer's imagination gets carried away--I often invent lives for total strangers.)
D: "No I'm not."

(Also note that we're fighting already about who is right.)

D: So where are you moving to?

Me: It's a small town on the west side of the state, Arcadia.

D: Arcadia? I live 40 miles north of there! I live in EauClaire!

Me: No, you live in Iowa. (see? Still arguing about what I perceive to be right.)

D: I'm from Iowa. I live in EauClaire.

Me: Ohhhhhh.

The conversation eventually moves towards an exchange of phone numbers and so forth and then I leave the bar and Tex and head for home. D heads to his buddy B's house and begins to shout from the rooftops that "I've found the woman I'm going to marry!" (Granted, there was alcohol involved, but he really did make this proclamation.)

A weekend or two later D and I have our first date--B's mom's wedding. Normally a wedding would be an awful first date, but everyone attending is local and D and I already know them all. D picks me up at my parents' house (all packed up and ready to move) and I meet him in the living room. I turn the corner and step down the stairs and freeze.

I've never seen D outside, I've only seen him in dimly lit bars and 95% of the time he's been wearing a baseball cap. D is grey. Wait, look closer here. He's grey and white and silver. He's also wearing a suit and he's a lot taller in my parents' living room than he seemed in the bar. How old is this guy?

His car is nice--black and sporty. I imagine his apartment is the same, minimalist and spartan like a bachelor pad ought to look, with black leather couch and possibly a decent print or two on the wall.

The wedding reception is nice. Everyone there talks about us being out together, the women are openly jealous and the men generally approve. We stand to the side of the crowd and talk about various things over Old Fashioned cocktails with pickled mushrooms. Then the dancing starts.

D begins to lip sync to "I'm Too Sexy," a song I've always hated. The crowd goes wild and his dancing is only slightly less exuberant than, say, Jack Black or Will Ferrell.


My jaw drops in shock.

I don't remember if we kissed goodnight after he brought me home. I don't remember much else after he gyrated and shook and shimmied in the center of a dance floor filled with women squealing and clapping for him. As I've said, a lot was happening. This was a turbulent time in my life.

I moved to a podunk town a few miles north of my teaching job. My apartment was above an empty store once called The Flower Pot (gift shop? coffee shop? I never knew). Wedged between 2 taverns and backed up against the train tracks, my rent for a one-bedroom pad without a shower cost $250 a month. It was the only option for over 20 miles. I had to carry my laundry across the street to a landromat where the dryers didn't work. Consequently I hauled soaking clothes back across the slushy highway to hang above the gas heater in my apartment. Nearly broke, knowing no one, my engine blew on my car and it was one of the coldest winters in Wisconsin history. My teaching position was 5 preps, 6 periods, and I'd been hired to replace a beloved and now dead teacher of over 30 years in a school so small that the entire building housed K-12 and the graduating class numbered 69 (my oldest student was 21--I turned 22 that February). The school librarian was my predecessor's best friend and she hated me, once even slamming the door in my face as I tried to enter to get resources. The administration ignored me, only a few other teachers acknowledged me, and my students were bracing themselves because they'd burned through over a dozen substitutes before I moved to town.

In the midst of my Winter From Hell, I remember these things:
* Mr. D took me to a lovely dinner the night of my first day on the job.
* Mr. D brought me chocolates and an enormous white teddy bear on Valentine's Day.
* I learned that D was 30, I was turning 22. We both got over it.
* Mr. D took me for Chinese food and to see movies--reflective of that miserable period, we saw Philadelphia and Schindler's List in the theater.
* We watched the Super Bowl together and I feigned interest in football.
* I made him vegetarian stir fry and he ate it, feigning delight (I later learned he was appalled because there was no meat and pineapple in the wok).
* We went on road trips and discovered a new supper club every Friday night-- we sampled the fish and cocktails from Whitehall to Trempeleau.
* D's apartment was NOT what I'd imagined, but that's another post.

D was the bright spot in a tough time and while I didn't have anyone else to go out with, I didn't feel stuck with him, either.

Then May arrived and:
1) D's dad died, unexpectedly.
2) The district decided to offer the full-time teaching position to a former student teacher. I had no job, no reason to stay put.

16 comments:

  1. Oooh, this is getting interesting...

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  2. Damn, I'm sitting on the edge of my seat!

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  3. There's more right? I mean, of course there's more - but please - we are counting on you to give us more.

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  4. I love history like this! Your first apartment sounds a lot like mine; but I was a newlywed, so at least I shared the misery.

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  5. It sounds like you needed a bright spot in that year . . .

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  6. And then what happened????

    Loooove this story!

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  7. Oooooooh, My bet is on staying put. ;-)

    I love these kinds of posts....

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  8. I'm so intrigued!
    Can't wait to hear more...

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  9. Hey - I know where Arcadia is! When my daughter went to state for golf, she golfed with the same girl from Arcadia for 3 of the 4 years.

    Great story - can't wait to hear the rest.

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  10. This story is great, I love how well matched you seem to be. I'm looking forward to more!

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Spill it, reader.