For me, my wedding anniversary is the day before Valentine's Day, so I never forget either one. I would like to say how long I have been married but my wife cautioned emphatically, “Do not put that on Facebook, or anywhere else.” Our maid of honor tried to get me to slip up on Facebook, but I didn’t fall for it.
I spoke about our wedding theme, fourteen bridesmaids in red pant suits. Does that tell you anything about the era? Maureen came up with red pant suit patterns and equipped all of her bridesmaids with instructions, assuming that their sewing skills were as competent as hers. The night before the wedding, there were frantic calls for help. There was still last minute sewing going on like Project Runway.
Anyway, back up. The first time I saw Maureen was about five years earlier when we were both in high school. She came to my cousin’s restaurant to apply for a waitress job where I was already the grill chef. I was a skinny kid and trying to beef up.
I was in the middle of an eating challenge. I bet my cousin that I could eat all five of his special dinner options at one sitting. On the last plate of lasagna, in she walked still in her school uniform. I choked and with one look I exclaimed, “You have to hire that girl.”
He did. After that, I was more than eager to chat with her when she came by to pick up her orders. There was lots of competition. All of the guys, busboys and such wanted to ask her for a date. I clamped down on that and quickly asked her myself.
She was shy but agreeable. I wanted the date to be memorable and already I knew that she was a cultured girl. She enjoyed art, classical music, and surely the theater.
For good reason, I wanted to make a lasting impression. I took some of my savings and purchased seats to a play at the Hartman Theater. When I arrived at the ticket window to make my purchase they asked where I would like to sit? Having no idea, I asked for the best seats in the house.
“That will be $100.” said the agent.
Gulp. I forked it over. In those days that was a lot of money.
When it came time to pick her up, I was in the neighborhood a full hour in advance as to be prompt. I drove around and parked a while before it was finally time to go to the door.
I parked on the street as to not block the long drive. I didn’t want to be in the way of Mr. Radcliffe or Maureen’s brother. I walked to the front door and tapped nervously.
The door opened and I met the woman who would surely change my life. It was her mother who after many feuding years would eventually become my best friend. Ha! At that time, she scared me to pieces.
Anyway, my strategy to take Maureen to a play was working because the venue was impressive.
She came out and was beautiful as she always would be. Mrs. Radcliffe quizzed me about the details of when we would be back. I explained that we might stop of dessert and such.
We arrived at the Hartman and I gave my tickets to the usher who reacted, “Oooh, nice seats. Right this way.”
She walked us up to a platform on the edge of the stage as this was a box seat as close as one could get. It had special chairs and I felt like Abe Lincoln at the Ford, if you know what I mean.
Then people arrived and some of her neighbors walked by, you know doctors and lawyers, and they didn’t have seats nearly as good as ours. Impressive, yes it was and also a little embarrassing.
Then I began to worry. I had set such a high bar, would she expect this forever?
Well, her mother would. Maureen was more modest.
The next date, we went rowing on a pond. I had no idea about how to row a boat, but she did. After I made a terribly clumsy start, she took over and rowed us around the lake.
At that point she adopted a notion with which I have had to live eternally. “Jim moves forward with great confidence and corresponding incompetence. But, he’s fun.”