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 :
Last night I met a woman at the bus stop that sits on Wellington Street. She was loaded down with bags, to the point where I was unable to find a place to sit. It was raining, and the storm was only getting worse, making me wish I had stayed home. The woman was a terrible mess, and it was clear that she had left in a hurry, her bags being mismatched and without any sort of order. I asked her where she was headed, and she admitted she had no idea. She was unsure when the bus was supposed to arrive, though she seemed anxious to know.
I told her that it would be arriving soon, and it was clear to me that the delay made her nervous. When I asked her if everything was alright, she broke down crying, pointing at a house down the block. This is the story she shared with me.
Three weeks ago my husband and I began hearing noises in the night. At first we though it was just the rain. It had been raining a lot lately. But the night after that long stretch, the sound of pattering on the roof returned, and when we looked out the window we saw nothing but a clear sky.
My husband and I went outside. Our kids hadn't been woken up thankfully. I found myself breathing heavily, the hairs on the back of my neck rising. I tried hard to control the trembling that was going through my body, hoping my husband wouldn't notice. It didn't take very long to tell he was trying to hide his own fear, and that only made it worse. I turned around every couple of feet, but I saw nothing. Soon I was in the middle of the street, looking up at my roof. I could hear faintly the light noise, like a heavy rain, but nothing was there.
We figured it was just some squirrels. There are a lot of them in the neighborhood, and they are hard to see at night. But as we went to go inside, I could feel myself growing more anxious. By the time we reached the front door, I was shaking, my hands coated in sweat. Had my kids not been inside, and had I not convinced myself I was acting crazy, I may have just left the house then and not come back...I did go back inside though an soon after that the sound stopped.