8-8-88 A Lapse in Sanity

(Continued from last week’s posting, 8-8-88 The Beginning)

Agreeing to a blind date is no different than buying a Mega Millions ticket and expecting to get rich. It’s more likely you’ll end up with a Ted Bundy clone than Prince Charming. For a short period of time, you’ll be captive to a person whose politics may be diametrically opposite yours, who talks like a big shot but is unemployed and flat broke, and who smells like a mix of wet dog and garlic. That’s if you are lucky and he isn’t a certified psychopath.

Under normal circumstances, I would never have accepted a blind date. Dates with people I knew were stressful enough. The last one had left me catatonic. I picked at remaining crumbs of tiramisu and struggled to awaken brain cells that could provide me an excuse to leave.

My social confidence or willingness to take a risk wasn’t emboldened by the mismatched marriage I’d survived. A marriage wherein we made each other miserable. My mother summed it up eloquently. “You have two beautiful children, a terrific job, a decent house, and great friends. You aren’t good at choosing men. Be happy with what you have. Don’t tempt fate.”

So how, then, could I have been sitting in my big corner office at 4:00 p.m. on 8-8-88 anticipating a blind date and trying to figure out how to escape the predicament I had created? It was Jan Pyle’s fault. I never meant to say yes.

In 1988, I worked for a company that sold workers compensation insurance. Two years earlier I had hired Jan. One lunch hour I sat with her in the cafeteria and she brought me up to date on her personal life. She was in the throes of wedding plans. I offered my congratulations.

She asked, “What about you? Any special man in your life?”

“No, I’m happy single.”

She continued sharing wedding details. Between “I have four bridesmaids” and “the wedding will be in Grand Rapids,” she said, “My fiancé, Jim Dolson, works with an older man, and for an older man he isn’t bad looking. Maybe you’d like to meet him.”

“That’s sweet, but I keep busy and I like my life the way it is.”

“He’s really nice.”

“I’m fine.”

“Well, how about meeting Jim and me for a drink after work and Jim can bring the guy along? His name is Bob Royce.”

I didn’t care if his name was George Clooney. I was becoming uncomfortable and wanted to end the conversation. Since it was a vague suggestion and not a commitment, I said, “Sure, we could do a drink after work.”

I didn’t think anymore about it. Weeks went by. Jan was caught up in the minutia of her marriage plans. The drink was forgotten and so was Bob Royce.

Then one Friday night, I invited my best friend over. Anne and I were stuffing our faces with Irish nachos and watching a movie when the phone rang. I excused myself and went into the kitchen to answer it.

“Hello, this is Bob Royce.”

My silence prompted him to add, “I work with Jim Dolson. He told me I had to call you.”

It was all coming back to me. This was the guy Jan wanted me to meet for a casual drink—but with her and Jim running interference. Recognition of the name didn’t loosen my tongue.

He went on. “I’m wondering if we could have dinner on Wednesday?”

“I can’t. My daughter has gymnastics on Wednesday night.”

“Thursday?”

“She has gymnastics Thursday nights too.”

“Friday?”

“I’m driving to my parents for the weekend?”

“The next Monday?”

By this time I was out of excuses and my common sense turned to mush. I felt sorry for the guy. He couldn’t take a hint, and I wanted off the phone. “Sure.”

“The Pour House at 6:30?”

“Okay.”

And with that, he hung up.

(Next week, 8-8-88 Pre-date Jitters)

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