Helen: “Mom, how did you and Dad meet and fall in love?”
Me: “Through Ms. Shelley.”
Helen: “Yes, Mom I know that is how you met. But how did you fall in love? And do not leave out any details.”
Me: “Alright.” I lie.
“So, Ms. Shelley had been telling me I needed to meet your Daddy forever.”
Helen: "Why Mom? Why had Ms. Shelley been telling you that? Did she think Daddy was handsome and that you would want to kiss him and be romantic?"
Lauren: “Helen that is embarrassing! Stop talking about kissing and romance.”
Helen: “Lauren!!! I am trying to find out all the details!”
Me: “Because Daddy and I are both strange. That is why Ms. Shelley wanted us to meet.”
Helen: “Mom, seriously.”
Me: “Helen, seriously Ms. Shelley had once told me that she had never met anyone who thought about things in an odd way like I did until she met your Dad. So maybe she did not foresee kissing but she did think we would be friends.
So, one day I went over to Mr. Mike and Ms. Shelley’s apartment and sitting on the couch was your Dad.”
Helen: “Was he the most handsome man you had ever seen? Was it love at first sight?”
Me: “Hmmm, it was kind of dark. He was being cool and aloof.”
Helen: “What is aloof?”
Me: “It is what guys do when they want you to feel like it doesn’t’ matter if you are there or not.”
Me: “After that, the four of us started doing things together. Mr. Mike and Ms. Shelley were married and John and I were just two friends doing things with them. Your Dad was very nice to me. I was looking for a job and I lived an hour away from Dallas, he traveled a lot and would let me stay in his apartment when he was traveling and I would interview for jobs.”
Helen: “That is not a good plan. How do you fall in love inviting someone to stay with you when you are not there?”
Me: “Remember the word Helen? Aloof.”
Helen: “I see.”
Me: “He was also very nice when he was in town. We would go to concerts and dinner. Daddy would pay for me because I didn’t have any money. I felt terrible. He would always tell me I could take him to Ruth Chris once I got a job. …John, we could go to Ruth Chris for our anniversary.”
Me: (I look at Helen) “Aloof.” (Helen nods her head up and down eyes closed. She gets the picture now)
Me: “This went on for awhile and all of a sudden Ms. Shelley had to travel for a few months. Our fabulous foursome would have to halt for several months. Suddenly I realized this was terrible. I would not see your Dad unless I took drastic measures.”
Helen: “Did you tell him you loved him and that he should stop being aloof?”
Me: “No. I called him. I was never good at taking the first step but I called with the revolutionary idea that he and I could go out just the two of us. To my surprise he seemed enthusiastic about the idea. Daddy liked Eastern art so I saw there was a Japanese art exhibit going on so we went to it. There were like 400 Japanese screens, after about the first 10 they all look alike. We had the audio tape and Daddy kept adding his own dialog which was so much more entertaining than anything the guy on the tape was saying. ‘It was during the Ming dynasty that silk screen printing was revolutionized by artists painting fat samurai hiding in the bushes taking a leak, you can tell this is what is going on because of these swooshy brush strokes that seem to be flying out of the bushes.’
Helen and Lauren: giggles “Did Daddy really say that?”
Me: “Oh that was almost twenty years ago. I don’t remember exactly, I just know he was being very witty and making what could have been a totally boring date into a really good time. After the museum, we had lunch at Café Express on McKinney Avenue. The weather was perfect big beautiful blue skies. It was September or October so warm, but not too warm. We ate outside, my favorite and Daddy told me a story he had written. It was at that moment I realized I was smitten; a funny, witty, smart tall guy with a great voice, my weakness. We were there for a long time, neither of us wanted the day to end. Daddy took me to a new apartment being built by a lake where he thought he might live. We stood in the living room that was only in the framing stage, so it was chili. The sun was starting to set…and then…..”
John: “Nothing happened. We went home.”
Helen: “Daddy!!!!! You kissed!”
Lauren: “Daddy kissed Mommy!”
Helen: “You kissed, fell in love and got married.”
We all look around at each other. Happy, satisfied…
Helen: So Mom, how did Daddy propose? I want all the details.