More than fifty years ago, my mother's father went to a dance. Back then that was how you met people.
The room was divided into two sides. The guys were standing near one wall, and the girls were at the other. In the middle were a few couples dancing, but more prominent was the wide open space that separated the two groups.
No man's land.
In my mind I imagine that it was brightly lit, lights illuminating the gym floor. I picture people hiding in the shadows on either side, huddled in groups.
That's probably not what it was really like, but that's what it felt like when my grandfather decided to make the trek over to the other side. He had a crush on a girl named Elaine and wanted to ask her to dance.
But she didn't want to dance with him. She wasn't particularly interested in him, but she was compassionate. She knew how embarrassing it was to walk to the side, and how much more it would be to walk back across alone.
After they danced, my grandfather told her something that he had probably rehearsed in his mirror a thousand times.
"You know, we used to live in the same tenement building. Do you remember?"
"I have a picture of us both sitting on the steps. Would you like to see it some time?"
She agreed. She visited his house, saw the picture, and he asked her on a date, which she accepted.
The timing was good for him. As a an accountant he had finally made enough money to save up for a car, which he would be getting before their date.
He drove his new car to pick her up, and parked a block away.
As they walked down the street he pointed out the new car.
"Wow. Look at that beautiful car."
It wasn't beautiful. In fact, it was an unusual pea green color. She wasn't impressed.
"It's nice, John."
He moved closer to the car, examining it carefully.
"Let's sit inside it. It looks so nice."
She thought he was weird and wasn't especially comfortable sitting in someone else's car. He laughed and told her that he had just bought it.
As they drove home he made a crucial mistake that no man should ever make.
"Would you like to drive it?"
She didn't have much experience driving, but after a bit of cajoling she took the wheel.
Then she backed it into a wall.
They got out and examined the damage to his brand new car.
"That's okay. It's no big deal."
He didn't say another word about it, and acted as if it hadn't even happened. She was impressed, and they continued dating and ended up getting married.
Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all of the others, including Love. One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all constructed boats and left. Except for Love.
Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to hold out until the last possible moment.
When the island had almost sunk, Love decided to ask for help.
Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said,
"Richness, can you take me with you?"
Richness answered, "No, I can't. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place here for you."
Love decided to ask Vanity who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel. "Vanity, please help me!"
"I can't help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered.
Sadness was close by so Love asked, "Sadness, let me go with you."
"Oh . . . Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!"
Happiness passed by Love, too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her.
Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come, Love, I will take you." It was an elder. So blessed and overjoyed, Love even forgot to ask the elder where they were going. When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Realizing how much was owed the elder,
Love asked Knowledge, another elder, "Who Helped me?"
"It was Time," Knowledge answered.
"Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?"
Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how valuable Love is."
Sweet story. I'm sappily fannish about hearing peoples' 'how we met' stories. This story reminds me of the tale of how my mom's parents met.
My granddad was a 17-year-old, freshly-minted soldier just as World War Two ended. One afternoon he and some of his buddies went to the movies. During the show my granddad got distracted by showers of popcorn coming from behind him. There was a group of girls there, one of whom was looking to get his attention.
Her trick worked. She's had his attention now for 63 years.
This is part of an ongoing series. If you haven't read them already, read :
I wrote out this entire post before, and then the computer crashed and I lost it all, so I haven't felt like working on it. Finally, I'm biting the bullet and starting over :
Rebecca was the one who'd derided his dancing. She'd make fun of the way he'd miscount steps, or lose time, the way he'd been unable to converse while waltzing. She was a loose cannon. Usually a cannon loosed and aimed at his heart. She used to berate him for a slight lacking in his intellect. Use your common sense. The sarcasm dripping from the words still stung, years later.
She had nagged him endlessly, about picking up his clothes, picking her up from work, about the way he acted without thought sometimes, always piercing his heart with the icy spear of sarcasm.
It still burned to remember how she'd fly into moods, or come home from wherever she was, stewing with anger that would boil over onto his skin, skin that eventually grew thick and hard.
Of course, ice cut deeper and hurt more than flames ever did.
His throat still clenched over the vague, unclear mess that had been her connection to Jake. He'd never known for sure, and never would. There would be no closure, no resolution, no smiles of happiness, no gasps of relief. There would not be tears of despair, nor short gasping breaths of betrayal, would not have averting of the eyes, nor resolution and closure for him.