by Susan Lamos
I had just finished cleaning at my Lafayette apartment and answered a phone invite to Paulo’s for live rock and 10 cent beer and wine. I told her yes…but that I’d come just as I was — wearing old holey jeans, my well-worn CMU sweatshirt and Docksider shoes…popular in the late 80’s. The girlfriend did plead a good case of why I should join her, so I did. No extra shower. No extra make up and certainly, not one bit ready to meet “him.”
The club was busy, there was a long line out the side door to get in. The band really jamming with couples crowded on the dance floor and I had a pocketful of dimes. My pretty friend sat at the end of a long table with co-workers. She looked fabulous! Her long brown curls coifed just so. Dramatic eye makeup and shiny lips, she was a knock out! Her Calvin Klein jeans had perfectly pressed creases down the front by the drycleaner.
And me, I looked down at the end of the string in my hoodie which had disappeared into the neck seam, oh well! I took a seat at the other end of the table, stacked my dimes and put my sockless leather shoes up on a nearby chair.
There he was. “Him.” He said hello to all his buddies who flanked my girlfriend, she smiled and appeared to know this man who made his way directly to me and said, “looks like I belong here.” I’ll tell you now…he did. No socks, old tennis shoes, a hole in the material of his pants and a t-shirt. For the sake of time I’ll flash the story forward a bit, we danced a lot – my dimes disappeared and “he was hanging invisible mistletoe over my head by midnight”. It worked!
The next morning he remembered where I worked and called to ask me to lunch. There was a problem though, when his call was connected to a woman who had my same name! She declined his invitation to lunch telling him she was a married woman. His reply was, “you weren’t married when we were dancing last night!” She transferred the call downstairs to me, thank God! All the married women upstairs swarmed to ask what he looked like, where he worked and – and – and! I just knew his name, and that he was really fun and made me smile!
The women peeked through the blinds when he drove in the parking lot; now that I’m older I see how exciting that must have been for all of them. For the record, he drove a blue metallic convertible sports car and you should have seen the office ladies faces when they saw his smile, dark curls and sunglasses. “Bye girls!”
At lunch we discovered we both were left handed. That’s a great coincidence! We talked about our birthdays, I had just turned 21…we found we had the same birthday! After more talk we also discovered our favorite piece of chicken was the wing, which “back in the day” restaurants didn’t have on the menu. When he dropped me back off to work, I was in a wonderful daze the rest of the afternoon and not much was accomplished.
That night “he” asked me to go dancing…what a thrill! When he would arrive at my apartment he would have a clean shirt in his hand and ask to use my iron. My iron! I thought to myself? “Sure! Come on in” I couldn’t believe he would show up to the door and want to use my iron?
We’d go out, dance, laugh and get to know each other a little more each evening and when he would bring me home and walk me to the door he’d ask, “May I sleep on your chair?” “No!” I replied to him laughing a little as he walked away. Sheesh, I thought to myself, he wants to sleep on my couch…yea right!
Each night of the week patterned the same, shirt in hand to iron, great date with lots of fun and at the end of our time together he would ask to sleep on the couch, then the chair and everywhere but the bedroom! Each night when I refused, he happily kissed me good night and walked to his car. I had several conversations with my roommate about the oddity of the iron and how forward he was asking to sleep in our apartment the first week we met! And then, it was Friday.
Friday was very much like each night we went out. He asked for the iron at the beginning of the evening and pressed his dress shirt to take me out. We now had danced for five evenings straight and were up for even more. But this evening when he dropped me off he did not ask the “sleep over” question, but told me that he would be going to Cleveland and would call me when he returned.
This was great news to my tired dancing feet as Cleveland was 4 ½ hours from Grand Rapids! I slept for most of the day and accomplished some chores around the apartment. I was dumping trash in the parking lot when his metallic blue convertible zipped into the parking lot! It was “him!” Had he had driven to Cleveland and back so fast? There he was sitting in the driveway at 5:30pm with a TV bungee strapped to the back of the car! What was this all about?
I was twenty-one then, and didn’t really understand everything that was taking place through this initial week. I only found out later that the evening I met my husband to be, he was at Paulo’s to say good-bye to all his friends. Rich had quit his job of 10 years to take a new one in Cleveland and be closer to his girlfriend, anxious to have him move closer. He had sold his house and had one rented in Cleveland. He had moved his TV and furniture there. All those evenings that began with him at my door, wrinkled shirt in hand, and ended with him requesting to sleep over at the end of the date…he was living in that blue metallic convertible sports car – right there in my parking lot!
We married two years from that first date. It was “him and still is.” All along this was the man of my dreams and will celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary in August. This is our true-life love story!