Friday, June 21, 2013
I met my wife in a bar and no matter how bad that sounded to the people of our pre-marriage class, I am glad I went that night. I was supposed to be wingman to my friend and colleague, Roger, who liked another teacher at the K-8 school we both taught for. I had just gotten out of a bad relationship and was sick of the games.
Going to a club in the city with my friend and two girls whom I barely knew was not high on my priority list. Oh, did I mention that this breakup also happened close to the Christmas holidays? Yeah.
But, in the true Christmas spirit, I sucked it up and accompanied Roger and the two girls to this Club in Chicago called 720. Sadly, it is no longer there so you can't experience the five levels of different music, from salsa to merengue and club music in the basement.
I soon found out that my wingman blind date couldn't dance and while at 6'7" I am not the most graceful of dancers, most will tell you that I can bust a move with the best of them. My blind date danced like Elaine and at one point I almost lost my eye from a stray Stayin' Alive finger point to the sky, which ended up in my eye socket.
The great thing about five levels was that it was easy to get lost even if you are a head and shoulders above everyone else. I quickly made my escape and hid in the catacombs of the basement from Elaine. I let Roger work his magic on his own. Goose was ejecting.
If Elaine hadn't been so bad I might have never found my wife. Scoping the downstairs I saw a stunning brunette's head gliding above the masses. She had to be easily 6' a rarity for me to find such an Amazon among hundreds of people that night. I tried to follow her for a bit but kept losing her. The bad thing about five levels is that you can easily lose someone.
I eventually found her, on the dance floor among the dreaded inner circle, the old Oregon Trail. You know that thing, where girls create a group around their friends like circling the pioneer wagons creating a protective barrier? It basically signals "Back off! We're girls having fun and we don't want any jerks to ruin our time" Roger rejoined me, shot down by his advances and helped me assess the situation. "Are you going in? That's suicide" he said. "You're damn right I am. Kamaikazee style!" I attempted to wow her with my dance moves.
I established contact and she kept waving me away. Her friends, on the other hand, including the only guy in the group kept waving me over. I got the green light from her friends, now I just needed to break down the wall.
We danced for a bit and she started to walk away. I wasn't letting this girl off that easy. "Do you want to go somewhere and talk?" She was reluctant but came anyway. She told me she wasn't from here. That's OK I thought, no one who parties in Chicago is actually FROM here. "I am from the suburbs too." I said. She said "No, I am visiting from California".
This line slipped out before my beer addled brain could allow me to stop it "How come the most beautiful girl in the bar has to be from California?" She rolled her eyes. Welcome to Cheesy town. Despite this, I managed to keep her around me. She tried to give me the Business Card Brush Off. You know, that thing where corporate people say "Next time I am in town, we should get together"
I don't know what came over me but my brain launched into Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. I launched into a hour long tirade, telling her everything about my life. I don't remember if she even talked during this time. By the time I was done, Elaine had found me again. That's the problem with five levels. She wanted to go and I was her ride. I told Susie I would call her or email her next week.
Why did you ditch me? What is so great about that girl? she said. "What are you going to DO? MARRY her?" That's exactly what I am going to do. That's the kind of girl I would marry. I said with extreme confidence. I couldn't wait to email her.
Problem was, I didn't have a computer. I managed a senior housing development in addition to teaching. The office had a computer with dial up that was sketchy at best. The computer rarely could get online. No smartphone. I had to wait an entire weekend until Monday to send her an email from the school where I taught.
I sent the longest email known to man. Again channeling my inner Jimmy Stewart. I still have it. I ask every question in the book. Soon after trading emails, we started talking on the phone every night. You know you have something great with someone when you never run out of things to say. That is to say, it wasn't like she never fell asleep on the phone. She lived in LA and I was in Chicago, so managing time zones was an issue.
My the end of the month she asked if I would come out to LA for New Years Eve. I did and we knew that night that we had something special. Nine months later, I proposed to her and we married on June 21st, 2003. Today is our 10 year anniversary, and it still feels like yesterday. Happy Anniversary to my lovely wife. My inspiration. My soul mate. My love.