I loved HER. Romantic at heart, I only wanted to love her with all that I had. Show her that love could be real in her life. I just wanted to make her blush when I called on the phone. I wanted to surprise her with gifts that showed her how much I thought about and cared for her. I didn’t expect anything from her but loyalty, appreciation and trust. That’s all I needed. My fulfillment came from her happiness. I wanted to see love reflecting in her eyes, I wanted HER to be proud that she was with me. That’s what makes this whole thing so difficult.
Here I find myself perched on the edge of my bed in CK jockeys and black dress socks staring at a reprint of Picasso’s The Rest hanging on the wall. Not really examining the picture but it has become my focal point as I try to decide whether to wear my black Armani suit with the subtle pinstripes or to go with a dark gray suit for the evening. To the left of my feet that are firmly planted on the wooden floor are freshly buffered Kenneth Cole shoes that match either suit. I think I will go with the black suit. I have a date tonight. It’s really a double date with my best friend and his wife. I should be happy, maybe even excited, but I’m not. I’m not even sure why I continue to go out on dates. I have become so disillusioned with love and romance that I no longer see the point of trying. Ok, at least that is what my heart tells me but the logical part of me keeps saying that it can’t get much worse. And each time I think it can’t get worse, guess what? Can you spell catastrophe?
Hello, I am Eric Lawson and I am a romantic. No, I am not the sappy whiny type that says “you hang up first, no you hang up first, no you hang up first.” It gives me a headache just thinking about that. No, I am not a soft cream puff that gets injured when trying to catch a football. No, I am not the one-dimensional type that is great for shopping but can’t explain what “And One” means when watching a basketball game. To put it simply, I just enjoy, no let me correct that, I love bringing happiness to the object of my desire. I think of new ways to do it. I can imagine a million ways to make her smile everyday. My goal is simple. I want to overwhelm her emotions until butterflies and excitement cause her bones to shiver in disbelief. The kind of feeling you get when you are nervous and excited all at one time. The sensation that sits in your stomach right before something big happens. I want to create that sensation, everyday for eternity if I could.
But there’s a catch. I only want one woman to be the recipient of my everlasting attention. In my heart of hearts I truly believe that it is better to love one woman a thousand ways than to love a thousand women one way. A partner, that’s what I want. Well, I should say, what I wanted. At this point, I am not so sure anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I am one that is all for challenges. In fact, I welcome them. I could be deemed one of the overachiever types that are self driven. If it requires reading and a test, I can handle it with no problem. I breezed through undergrad at Georgetown University in three and a half years. I was third in my class. Next, I went on to Harvard to earn my MBA and finished within the top five percent of my graduating class. I did all of this by the tender age of twenty three, well twenty three and a half to be politically correct. Seven years later and I am at the top of my professional game and getting stronger everyday. Challenges of these types, I seem to face and win quite easily. They are almost like second nature to me. However, challenges in the romance and love department, ok, not so great at those. Let’s just say that if it was my career path, I’d still be in High School, unable to graduate.
Maybe it’s my way, my personality. I’m peculiar and full of opposites. I’ve also found out that I’m too genuine. Makes no sense right? Let me tell you what I mean. I don’t believe in “game” and if I tell you something, I really mean it. I don’t do blind flattery. That doesn’t mean I am a coarse person. I believe that I can always find something nice to say. But if I don’t have anything nice to say, then I would rather comment on something else that is nice. I won’t lie to you. However, evidently a guy with pure intentions that is truly interested in a woman and doesn’t have selfish ulterior motives just doesn’t exist. Life’s experiences have taught this to most women. They are always wondering what my angle is. They constantly wonder what every guy’s angle is; especially one that they think can get the girl. If I say “nice to meet you,” it doesn’t mean that I am trying to ask you out and get something from you. I probably won’t even ask for your phone number, I meant what I said – nice to meet you. If I say “You look very nice today,” that’s not code for – “I want to get with you later on tonight,” I just want to let you know that you look nice today. But a genuine man with no devious selfish angle doesn’t exist. So, here I am, existing, but not real – at least not in their minds. How great is that? It isn’t.
I’m thinking that I will go with my dark blue Dolce button down shirt for the evening. The buttons are black and they add a nice flair to the black suit. Will you look at that? The shirt has wrinkles. Geez! Sorry to sigh so loudly but I absolutely hate ironing. It is a date though and I can’t go out looking wrinkled. Let me plug the iron in. Ok, so where was I? Oh yeah.
I can be a guy’s guy and drink beer, though I really hate beer, and belch out game scores, know all the stats, fuss at bad calls – basically, do the whole nine. But I can also sit and enjoy a good interior design show. I love fashion and shop a lot, so I appreciate men’s and women’s fashion. If I tell a woman that I like her shoes or purse, obviously I’m not gay and no it’s not “game”, it’s just my interest. I love movies, chick flicks and action. I love ballroom events but give me a good concert at Blues Alley and I’m front and center. I am very driven but I like sleeping in late. I’m very health conscience but I love eating fatty foods. I love extravagance but still adore simplicity. I have expensive taste but always shop for the best bargain. I’m 6’4,” 230lbs, played basketball and tennis in High School – I’m a jock but I’m a romantic. I am an oxymoron.
But my overall problem runs deeper. I give too quickly, too soon. I am very decisive and if I like someone, they don’t have to ask me to commit. I do it naturally. The one problem I don’t have is commitment issues. Well, at least not in my book. But my commitment is actually at the core of my problem. With me, it has always been all or nothing. I love deep, very deep. I give my all when I feel that it’s what I want deep in my soul. This level of commitment is all I know how to give. My love doesn’t work if I can’t let go of myself and trust her to take care of me. In retrospect, maybe that was the issue.
Maybe that has always been the issue. I let myself become controlled by someone else and if they aren’t careful then I get my feelings returned and damaged. They are never careful. It is as if my “handle with care” sign is being read by people who are illiterate and only know how to throw things around. You see, I have yet to find the happy ending though I have always longed for it deep within. Instead, I keep finding one disappointment after another. So, I gave up. Emotionally that is. I couldn’t stand anymore hurt, pain, letdowns. I knew that I wouldn’t let myself down and so I began to simply rely on me.
Of course, I hoped things would be different. And while hope springs eternal, enough pain to the heart creates a cold layer of ice, not out of want but out of necessity. I was always wishing for the best but receiving the worst. After a while, ice builds over your heart to such a degree that you don’t believe that it can be penetrated. And then, as soon as you believe it to be impossible, from nowhere someone comes along and melts all the ice and lowers all of the barriers you have placed around your emotions. They enter into your forbidden areas and you allow them full access to all that you are. You only pray that they don’t ruin the furniture or knock over expensive vases as they freely roam around in the house you call your heart. Oh, and you definitely hope they finished enough schooling to read your “handle with care” sign.
If ever there was a person with ice covering their heart, it was me. I had barricaded myself into an abyss that even I didn’t know how to find my way out of. No one joined me in this abyss. It was simply dark and cold. I would have loved warmth and lots of light but that would mean opening up and allowing someone to bring that light and warmth and of course, that was out of the question. Yet, with all of my barricading and walls and ice, I still remained the same at heart. I wanted someone that I could give my all to. I wanted someone that I could love with all of my soul. But no way could that happen. Hopeless romantic stuff is crazy, right? So, day after day I sat freezing in my dark cave. Each day birthed new cynicism and an additional layer of ice. A perfect cavity I built surrounded by impenetrable layers.
I was Fort Knox. Still, with all of the protection surrounding me, one afternoon I sat in my cave, just as I did every day and I saw a light. “Impossible!” I thought. So, I went to inspect. As I got closer, I heard a voice call out to me. Impossible! No one belonged in this cave but me. The voice got closer and closer and more light began entering the cave. The temperature was getting warmer and I was in full disbelief. Finally, I came face to face with the voice that had been calling my name.
She was standing there with a smile. “I thought I’d find you down here,” she said looking right into my eyes. “How did you get down here? I mean how did you find me? This is not supposed to happen.” I said while glaring at her in disbelief.
She had done it. She had gotten inside. How she got inside, I still don’t know. However, once inside, oh boy, what an experience it was. In fact, let me tell you about HER. Just a little back and forth as I get ready. You don’t mind, right? Of course not. She and I have an interesting history. Let me start by telling you how I was, Before HER.
“I only sleep so that I can dream of you.”
Before HER, my story was pretty much an ordinary one filled with the hope of love, the let downs of love and the hint of love. No one female ever stood out more than the other, mostly passing infatuations as I think back on it. The earliest disappointment from love that I remember dates back to Junior High School. This was my formal introduction to rejection and hurt. I thought it was love, of course it wasn’t. But you know how it goes, at the time, you couldn’t tell me otherwise.
So, this formal introduction had all the right ingredients: a best friend, a girl and me. Her name was Tiffany Stevenson and I had the biggest crush on this girl. I loved everything about her. She was beautiful, to me, and to top it off, she was also smart. It took me a whole semester to build up the courage to even speak to her. Then, finally, I spoke to her. Hearing her say my name was enough to make me believe that I could marry her. She was worth much more than a grape flavored lifesaver. I was ready to spend a quarter at the bubble gum machine for her ring. I already had it planned out. We never had a conversation; just a passing “hello” or “goodbye” but something about her simply entranced me. Even at a young age, I was already committing too early. So, I just had to take a chance. But I was too shy and nervous to tell her how I felt. That’s where Dillon came in. He was my best friend and could talk to anyone.
Dillon was the type of kid that you either hated or loved. He never processed his words. Most of us have a filtering system we utilize when speaking to others. We think of a thought, send it to the filter and the filter either rejects the thought or properly forms the thought before allowing it to be released to the ears of the listener. Dillon had his filter removed at birth. So, you never knew what he might say. Whatever seemed to come to his mind is what came out of his mouth. This may have caused him a lot more problems were it not for his size. He was big kid. Not fat, just husky. When he didn’t smile, he actually looked a bit menacing. My nickname for him was Terminator. The two of us had been in the same classes since second grade and by then were the best of friends. The good thing about Dillon not having a filter was that I always knew what he was thinking. Of course, this also made me nervous about him being my spokesperson. Couple his “say anything I think of” approach with his minacious looks and my chances of success were slimmer than those of Michael Richards becoming a spokesperson on race relations. But I didn’t have any other option. I wish I had the guts to tell her myself but I was young and way too nervous and Dillon was the only person I trusted with this type of information.
We reviewed what he was to say until I felt satisfied that I annoyed him enough to say the right thing. Then the day came. The day he would deliver my heart to Tiffany with carefully scripted words. My last words were, “Whatever you do, please remember to smile. Don’t scare her. And Terminator, PLEASE,” I emphasized this, “stick to the script. No ad-libbing.” He smiled a silly smile and in a sarcastic tone asked, “Is this good enough boss?” We laughed about my nervousness and then he was off to deliver the message. I almost bit my nails as I watched my vocal conduit approach Tiffany and with a smile – he remembered to smile – and delivered my message to her. I was slightly hiding as he did this, since I didn’t want her to know that I was watching. But Dillon did a great job and she even had a smile on her face as he told her. I thought all of this was a great sign of things to come. Guess that’s why I would make a bad foreteller of events; I was dismally incorrect.
I still remember you, short and cute, beautiful eyes, everything I wanted then
I had such a crush on you, thinking about you made my mind spin
When you walked by I would get butterflies so bad my stomach would begin to hurt
You looked good in everything you wore, pants, shorts or a skirt
I wanted so badly to tell you how I felt, charm you with my words, praise you again and again
But I was too shy to even say hi, so I talked to you through my friend
Through him I told you how beautiful you are, how I see heaven when I look into your eyes
How I wanted to be your special one, I’d be different from other guys
I was too afraid to watch him as he told you how I felt and all the things I had to say
But he told me you listened, and said you would talk to me the next day
Anticipation killed me, that night I couldn’t sleep and the next morning I couldn’t think
Wondering what you’d say, would you say yes, be my girl, kiss me on the cheek, walk away, then look back and wink?
Soon I saw you in school, my heartbeat out of control, palms sweaty, and knees weak, I was a mess
You were coming my way and I was praying your answer would be yes
But you looked at me with a sickening stare; disgust filled your face as you rapidly tapped your feet
And you told me there was no way you would ever, ever be my girl, using words I dare not repeat
My heart fell into my shoes, tears came into my eyes and instantly lost was my pride
I did not want you to see me cry, so I got up and ran outside
I leaned on a rail, tears flowing down my cheeks, as I stared at the trees
The pain inside became so great it pushed me to my knees
I began to wonder “what was wrong with me, why didn’t she like me too?”
I was so into her, but she thought nothing of me, I wish I had a clue
As time passed, though she was still beautiful, my crush began to fade
And thus ends the story of one of my many heartbreaks, this one was in seventh grade
Maybe I should have taken that as a harbinger of things to come. Rejected by a girl that I later found out had a crush on Nick Stampers, the class idiot. Let me correct that, the school idiot. He treated girls with disregard, was loud and annoying and the biggest disruption in any class he sat in. “She likes that?” I asked myself that question over and over. Maybe it was because he was three years older than all of us due to his evident love of the seventh grade and so he had that “developing man” look. The fuzzy mustache, semi deep voice and a chest more developed than those of us who were actually in the right grade. I don’t know what it was but it seems that his lack of desire to learn U.S. History and uncanny ability to sound off arm farts one after another was attractive. I wasn’t the only seventh grader that lost out to Nick. He decided to reside there for two more years after I left. Others lost too.
Thankfully, times soon changed. But the problem didn’t. I don’t have a problem meeting women. My problem has been meeting a woman that I can fall in love with. I have found that women like my conversation, the way I treat them and love spending time with me. Yes, I could be the proverbial “playboy” and go on an adventure of smooth conversation and the fleshly pursuit of women. But that’s not me. I have always been a one woman kind of man. I don’t need many women, just one good one. Finding Miss Right, now that’s the challenge.
There was a time that I thought I had met Miss Right. Muriel Adams. It was a nasty Saturday afternoon. The rain was attacking violently and had evidently worked out an arrangement with the wind that seemed to complement its viciousness. I was waiting at the Tenley Town Shuttle stop to visit my friend Billy at American University. Because of the weather, when the shuttle approached, the riders, including myself, converged on it like our lives depended on being aboard when it departed. Needless to say, the shuttle became packed to capacity. Muriel and I found ourselves forcibly smashed together. Her face was turned sideways as her ear was pressed against my heart. Under any other circumstances, this would have been a cute scene. However, due to my inability to move or breathe, the luster of the scene was greatly diminished. The shuttle made its first stop and released some of the riders. We now stood face to face as we had an inch more of breathing room.
“Now that you’ve heard my heart beat, I feel I need to at least know your name.” I said this as I looked down at her.
She looked up with a smile, “This is so crazy. I’m sorry, but they smashed me right in to you.”
“No problem, it’s better you than the hairy guy to your left.” She chuckled, I continued. “You still didn’t tell me your name.”
She tried to hide her smirk as she said, “I’m Muriel.”
“Eric, that’s my name and it is my pleasure to make your acquaintance madam.” I smiled as I attempted proper speech.
I don’t remember how we continued from that point but Muriel and I developed a great friendship after that. We eventually became closer than friends. She was two years my senior and preparing to graduate from AU. I was in the final semester of my sophomore year at Georgetown. Our slight age difference didn’t matter, we got along perfectly. By my junior year, she had found a job in the city and we continued to see each other. We both had busy schedules, so that prevented us from developing a deep romance, but we surely enjoyed each others time. Although it always felt as if something was holding Muriel back, I decided that our relationship was best for keeping us focused on work and school. She was busy acclimating herself with her new career and I was busy with eighteen credit semesters and summer classes, trying to graduate early. We truly cared for each other but didn’t have the heartache that comes with a relationship that has gotten too deep.
The summer after my junior year, I was downtown waiting my turn at a hot dog stand when I heard a voice approaching, “Eric Lawson? Is this ‘I’m so in love with Tiffany Stevenson’, Eric Lawson?” I turned with a confused look as my brows wrinkled and I couldn’t believe it. It was Dillon. He was dressed in black slacks with a button down white dress shirt neatly tucked into his slacks. There was another neatly dressed man with him. I exclaimed, “Oh my goodness, Dillon Scott! Terminator!” He was still a big guy, but more muscular now. Actually he looked like he was all muscle. But he still had the same face. As we closed the small distance still between us, I continued, “I can’t believe it Dillon, how in the world are you doing?”
“I’m doing great.” He reached out and roughly grabbed my right arm, “Man, Eric, you have been working out a bit huh? Not that same nervous little guy that was my best friend in school.”
“Yeah, I’ve been doing a little something but look at you, what are you eating, cinderblocks? You are LITERALLY like the Terminator now.” He looked like he could compete and win a Mr. Universe contest.
“Naaa, it’s just the military training. Well, that and I got into bodybuilding for the past five years.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I’ve been overseas for three years and I am here to see my fiancée. It’s been hard because we mostly write letters but I am back now.”
I had a wide smile, “Wow that is great. A fiancée - that is a big step for the Terminator. So are you paying her to marry you? What mail order system did you find her on? Has she seen you when you don’t smile and realize that you terrorize little kids and small women?” We picked up kidding with each other just like we used to do in school.
“Oh, Eric, you must have me confused with you and Tiffany. You were so desperate that you WOULD HAVE paid her to marry you.” He began to do a whiny voice in imitation of me, “Terminator I’m so heartbroken – boo hoo hoo – Tiffany likes Nick and not me. Boo hoo hoo.” The other neatly dressed man, silent to this point, began to laugh at Dillon. This large man making whiny voice sounds was actually a pretty funny sight.
“Ok, ok, truce but that was a long time ago and if you weren’t twice my size I’d take you out back for that statement.” We laughed.
“Oh, by the way,” Dillon motioned towards the other well dressed man, “this is James, my fiancée’s brother.” James and I shook hands. He looked so familiar to me but I couldn’t place his face. I felt as if I knew James. But he obviously had never seen me before. Dillon then hit me on the shoulder for an announcement, “Hey, we are all going to dinner tonight, why don’t you come? It will be great and we can catch up on old times. And you can meet Sarah my fiancée. What do you say?”
“That sounds wonderful. Then I can warn the poor girl to run for her life.” James let out a laugh and I proceeded to give Dillon my phone number. After making final meeting arrangements for the night, we departed from each other and I was off to call Muriel.
Muriel had been sick for the entire week. She said it was flu like and very contagious so she asked me not to come by because she didn’t want me to get sick also. I loved taking care of her when she didn’t feel good but this time I had to acquiesce to her wishes and let her best friend and roommate, Elisha, handle her care. We were relegated to phone conversations while she was sick. I was so excited to see Dillon and I wanted her to come to dinner with me. But I knew she couldn’t so I decided to call her and share my excitement. I sounded like a little boy that had just finished opening his dream toy. “Muriel, I just saw my best friend from Junior High School. Terminator. I couldn’t believe it, we were inseparable back then and I ran into him downtown. He invited me to dinner tonight. Oops, me sorry, I should have asked how you were feeling first.” I normally always wanted to know how she was feeling before we got to how I felt. The excitement overwhelmed me this time.
“No worries sweetie, you sound soooo excited. I still feel about the same but the medicine is helping.” She let out two coughs.
“I’m glad you are feeling better. And you’re right, I am very excited Muriel. We were close, like brothers, and it is so good to see him and he is doing well. I wish you could meet him.”
“Me too, but I am in for at least a few more days. I hope you and your Terminator friend have fun. I’m going to take some medicine so I’ll probably be sleep the rest of the night. Maybe you can call me tomorrow and tell me all about it - only after you sing my get well song for me. I love it and I think I want to hear it in the morning.” She giggled between coughs.
“You got it babe. Anything for you. Please feel better and I wish I could do more, like come and take care of you. You know I love taking care of you.”
“You are so sweet Eric. You are doing enough. You check on me everyday and besides, who sings a song just for me?” Cough. “Just don’t forget to call me and that is enough for me.”
“I won’t forget. Well, I have to get ready to leave. Talk with you in the morning.”
Dillon and I arranged to meet each other a little before dinner so we could have a drink and chat. I met him in the lobby of his hotel downtown. “Eric, we’ve got an hour before time to meet her for dinner. I didn’t get to tell her that you will be joining us, but I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
“I can’t wait either. So tell me about her, what is her name?”
“Her name is Sarah. She is from a small town in North Dakota. Eric, she is the perfect girl for me. She works here in the city but maybe when we get married she will be willing to live overseas for a year. Then my time will be up.”
“Wow, she should meet my girlfriend. My girlfriend is from a small town in North Dakota. Weird name and I can never remember it.”
Dillon laughed, “Funny, because I can never remember the name of Sarah’s town either.”
“Well since she works in the city, maybe next time you visit, my girlfriend will feel better and we can all do dinner together. But back to you – so tell me, how did you propose?”
Dillon paused and then a weird smile came across his face as he shook his head. “After all these years, you still have that little sensitive side in you. You are the first guy to ask me how I proposed.”
“Hey, what can I say?” We laughed again.
“I haven’t proposed yet. I guess I jumped the gun. I’ve been here all week and we’ve done something everyday together but I wanted the perfect time to do it. I think tonight will be that time. That’s why it was so good to see you today.” Dillon leaned over and put his hand on my shoulder, “You are like family, still, even though we haven’t seen each other for what? Seven years?”
“Something like that. I can’t wait to see this? Are you going to need help getting off that one knee old man?” Another laugh. We spent a lot of time laughing – just like we used to. He was so proud of Sarah and in love with her. I could hear it when he spoke about her.
He reached in his pocket and produced a little black box, “Check out the ring.” It was a beautiful ring. He actually picked it out himself. He had good taste. Terminator was a man and was going to be married. That was cool. Our hour over drinks passed swiftly as we talked mostly about Sarah, his time in the military and some of our differing views on war. Terminator revealed his military precision as he kept a close eye on the time, refusing to be even a minute late for dinner. It was evident that he had become regimented. We arrived at the restaurant five minutes ahead of schedule. The restaurant had large windows and steps that led up from the street to the entrance. The ambiance was alluring and a great pick for Dillon’s engagement announcement. At least I thought so. After entering, we approached the maitre d’. She greeted us with a pleasant smile and located Dillon’s name on a very neatly typed reservation form lying in front of her. “Mr. Scott, part of your party actually arrived a bit early and we have already seated them. I’ll take you to join them. Follow me please.” As she prepared to lead us to the rest of the party, Elisha walked in the door. She couldn’t see me because Dillon’s broad shoulders obscured clear view of me. Before I could reposition and open my mouth to call her name, Dillon called it.
“Elisha! I don’t believe it. You are actually on time for once.” Dillon knew Elisha and that she was always late; I thought that was a strange coincidence. I finally maneuvered my way around the big mass called Dillon and emerged into clear view, “Hey Elisha.”
Dillon looked at me with surprise, “You know Elisha?! What a small world. She is my girlfriend’s roomy. Well, soon to be my fiancée, right Eric?” He hunched me playfully as he said this since we had discussed his engagement plans.
My mouth was stuck. Literally, I wanted to say something but couldn’t. Elisha’s mouth was stuck also. She finally opened it, “Ummm, hey guys, uh, has Sarah seen the two of you yet?”
My mouth was still stuck, so Dillon responded. “No, we are headed to the table now.”
“Oh boy,” Elisha sighed. Dillon didn’t hear her. The maitre d’ led us to the table which had three other bodies already seated. Dillon eagerly announced our presence. “Eric this is James, you met him earlier. This is James’ wife Mandy and this, my friend, is Sarah, the love of my life.” As he said this, my mouth reached a new level of being stuck. I couldn’t even swallow. Dillon’s Sarah was my Muriel. I looked at Elisha. She was looking at the floor, not making eye contact with anyone. Sarah’s eyes were wide and she swallowed several times.
I finally negotiated with my mouth so it would open. “Sarah? Sarah you say?” With a straight face I reached to shake her hand, “Nice to meet you Sarah.” I looked at her overall face as I did this, no eye contact.
She stuttered, “Er, Er, Eric. Nice to meet you also.” Her eyes fixed on me, she wanted eye contact. I wouldn’t grant her that wish. Instead I went right to talking with Dillon. “So, how long have you two been dating again?”
“Three years. I told you that already. We met when she was starting her junior year in college and I was getting ready to head off to my assignment overseas.” He turned to Sarah, my Muriel, “Guess what? Eric here was my best friend in Elementary and Junior High School. I ran into him today. His girlfriend is from North Dakota too.”
“Oh yes, she is. But I can never remember the town. She would have joined us tonight but she has been SICK all week. I’m sure she would have loved to meet everyone.” I smiled, a fake smile, as I said this, talking directly to Sarah. “We’ve been dating almost two years. She is such an HONEST and caring person. Sarah you would love her, I can tell.”
Muriel began choking on her water as she tried to sip it. After clearing her throat, she nervously rambled, “Sure, I ummm, I surely would love to meet her.”
Elisha looked as if she was wishing to be magically displaced to another location. She made eye contact with no one at the table and said not one word. Suddenly I realized why James’ face looked so familiar. I saw him in a family portrait Muriel had sitting in her living room. They were kids in the portrait but he still had the same basic face. Wow, I wished I had placed his face earlier. Then it happened.
“Well, I’m not one to hold off on things. So, I just want to do this with all of these people who are so special to us here at one table.” Dillon got down on one knee. Horrible timing, even if it weren’t for all the deceit floating in the air. However, Dillon wasn’t one for smoothness. He was pure brute strength but not much grace. “Sarah, I love you more than life itself and I have been waiting all week to ask you this. Will you marry me?” Elisha almost fell out of her chair due to the force of her gasp. Dillon thought it was from excitement.
Muriel looked at Dillon and then looked at Elisha who would not look at her. “I…., Dilly, I,” she gasped for air herself and then looked across the table at me. For the first time we made true eye contact. I looked at her and discreetly nodded my head. It was as if she was looking to me for approval. “I will. I will marry you.” Dillon put the ring on her finger and stood up. He yelled out to the restaurant, “She said yes. This is going to be my wife.” The patrons and staff gave him a roaring applause. Dillon was so proud. Elisha looked so ashamed and Muriel kept looking at me trying to find words. None were needed. I congratulated Dillon and made it for another thirty minutes at dinner before I told Dillon that I had to leave and check on my sick girlfriend. I looked at Muriel as I told him this. No smiles, just a straight face. Muriel looked like she wanted to cry. She tried again to make eye contact with me; I wouldn’t do it. I thanked everyone for the evening and congratulated Dillon again.
Muriel called me non stop for the next two weeks - almost twice an hour. Her voice messages kept appealing for me to call her so she could explain.
(to read more go to www.jodompublishing.com/conversations.html .... thank you for taking time to read this short story excerpt)