Or How I met my hubba, hubba honey:
I grew up in the quaint little burg of Worthington Ohio. Frequenting the Dairy Queen, The Library and the local park. I attended the local elementary, middle and high school.
I had a paper route, of 200 daily rags, which included delivery to the little white house on the end of Pingree Drive. Over the years, I met most of the kids in town, or so I thought.
One hot summer night, when I was nineteen, I attended a party. A dashingly handsome guy walked up on the porch and stood in the doorway. The yellow porchlight behind him created a halo effect around his head. As he stood there, all studly and cool, the church bells across the street began to chime.
I elbowed Leeann in the ribs, hard. "That's Him!"
"That's the man I'm going to marry!"
"You KNOW him?"
"That's Gretchen's big Brother. He's dating Debbie."
"Gretchen has a brother?"
"He's in love with Debbie. You can't go out with him."
"Gretchen's brother, Greg..."
"He's taken Kelley."
"I don't care. I'm gonna marry that boy someday. He's the ONE. Mark my words."
I begged Leeann to take a few pictures of him for me that night. "Please, Pleasepleasepleaseplease...It's just a picture!"
Here we are, that fateful night, in between many shots of tequila.
It turns out, he had just moved back home, and out of the apartment he shared with Deb. Now, I don't want to sound like a home wrecker, but circumstances as they were, we did suck face late that night, and dated briefly over the summer.
He gave me guitar lessons twice a week. We recorded a duet: "Love is a Rose." He sings the coolest Neil Young falsetto!
By the end of summer, things got sticky. Debs former boyfriend spied on us during a romanitic midnight swim. He stirred the pot, and to make a long story short, my upstanding man left me and returned to his former love.
It was complicated, as these things usually are. Deb was Gretchen's best friend from childhood, and considered a daughter by Greg's mother. His mother made it clear...Really clear, that I didn't stand a chance.
So, I backed off. I wanted him to be happy. I loved him that much. We were all friends for the next four years, and in the end, they married.
I donated blood the day of their wedding, gave them a painting of two love birds and wished them well, with sad sincerity.
At their wedding reception a friend who saw my pain, told me to "just f*ck him and get him out of my system."
"No. I'm not going to do that. It wouldn't be right. Deb is a good woman and I want him to be happy. I'll just go to Africa for a while, or Australia or something. I'll travel the globe in search of diamonds and gold. I'll have lot's of adventures while I wait. But I KNOW I'm going to marry him someday. Maybe I'll be 64, but It's gonna happen. It's fate."
With that, I went away.
I dated other people in those years, and even got a couple of proposals, but I compared them all to Greg, and turned them down.
Three years later, I ran into an old friend.
"Did you hear Greg and Debbie got divorced?"
I was on the phone in seconds!
I left a message. "I'll be at the Jazz and Blues fest on the riverfront tonight. Catch me if you can!"
We both went to the event, parked on opposite sides, and walked into the festival foray of 40,000. It was amazing. We walked straight to each other, as if Moses himself parted the crowd. We dated every night from then on, and married 6 months later.
Debbie was in a tragic car accident that fall, and suffered permanent brain injury. She lost all short term memory. Just like Drew Barrymore in the film "50 first dates."
Even though she has a husband and two children of her own, she sometimes gets confused, and thinks she is still married to Greg. It's so sad. I'm told that when this happens, she does not even recognize her own kids. My heart really goes out to her.
I always liked Debbie, and respected her claim on Greg, but I don't think she knows that. She remembers that we dated the summer they broke up, and she knows we got together after their divorce, so in her mind, the picture seems quite different than it actually was.
The truth is, that even though we had many opportunities to cheat with each other during those years, we never did. We were both tempted, but we held back.
It was as if we were both standing on opposite sides of a river, dying to jump in and quench our burning desires, but we knew, that the current was so strong, that even dipping in our toes, would be all it would take for the flood waters to rise and wash us away.
So, we called each other by our last names, made sarcastic jokes, to prove to others that we were just friends, and pretended to ignore each other, with overly deliberate intent.
Years later, after we married, there were those nights, where one or the other would be out. Those long lonely nights of waiting and wondering, when jealousy and insecurity creep in, and minutes seem like hours. But on those nights, we would think back to our past temptations, and remember our mutual resolve. I guess you could say we succeeded where Lancelot and Guinevere failed.
I think that is the reason our marriage is so strong. We can trust each other to be faithful. We were tested and we passed.
Aside from that, I find it so strange when I drive through the neighborhoods of my youth. Greg and I attended the same schools, played in the same parks, shared some of the same friends, and I even delivered his daily newspaper, but we never met.
I often wonder, if I could rewind my life, and look back, if I would find us, passing in the grocery, perusing the library, attending a school assembly, or standing in the same line at the Dairy Queen. Odds are, we did, but simply never knew.
We will celebrate our 16 year anniversary on September 29th, and I can tell you right now, that the look on my face and the song in my heart will be just as it was, that first fateful night, when the halo shined around his head, and the church bells rang in my heart.