Before I got married, like most of us, I dated men from varying professions: a paratrooper, stock broker, a musician. As a young person I had a voracious appetite for tennis. In fact a friend and I would, now I say this shamefully, but we’d play hooky from work just to spend time on the court. One day on the wall, as I practiced my serve, this extremely handsome young man walked over to offer his assistance. Of course, I allowed him to help. That is, I gave him the illusion I needed help, even though I truly did not. Also, if you’ve been reading along over these three years, you know me as a woman of discernment, and to have very little tolerance for pick-up lines. In any event, our morning at that wall turned into something that had to end sooner than not. Let me preface this story with a short admission. As a child, teenager, and young woman, I had a terrible – almost psychotic fear of the dead. So, when I say the relationship ended to soon – his profession as a funeral director certainly took care of that.
On one visit to my home, while on a break from work, he sat on the sofa in the living room, while I went to the kitchen to get him a beverage. When I reached the doorway of the next room, I stopped to answer a question he asked. As I turned, there he sat in his black suit, white shirt and black tie with his arms outstretched, appearing almost as some sort of dark character from a horror film. Personally, that particular gesture may have been the finger that set the brevity clock on this friendship. Not long after, is when it all fell apart. When this specific incident, of which I speak took place, I had been alone the entire week – my mother had taken time to visit her mother. I answered the door, and there he stood.
“I have to make a run to LaGuardia Airport. Would you like to go with me?” he asked.
“Sure, just let me get a jacket and my purse,” I responded.
Now, I never asked about a vehicle – I didn’t even lift my head to focus my view to the street where he parked. He waited on the porch as I gathered my things. I closed the door to the house, and took time to lock it.
Afterward, I made my way down the steps, while he walked a bit ahead of me. He then, opened the door to the vehicle. A low, dim light caught my attention, and made me suddenly aware. The light reminded me of a small, faint porch light. Once I focused, the entire picture came into view. There, parked right in front of my house; a station wagon – the one they use to transport bodies. The soft lighting adorned the side doors, the space under the dash and the back area of the car. Although the blinds were closed, Mr. Whomever flashed a corner of his covering, just enough to let me know he occupied that spot. What did I do? I didn’t have to think, my brain acted apart from my body. It involuntarily eased me backward. In my mind’s eye, the whole thing plays out as if it were yesterday.
“What’s the matter. I only have to take Mr. Smith to LaGuardia,” he said. “I was sure you’d want to take a ride with me.”
I could not speak. I guess because my brain had been to pre-occupied with getting out of harm’s way. Before I knew it, I had made it all the way back to the porch.
“So what, you’re not going?” he asked, sounding irritated.
“Uh, no I’m not,” I answered, finally able to form a sentence.
“Fine,” he snipped. He slammed the door closed, and marched around to the driver’s side without another word.
I stood there in complete disbelief, unable to comprehend what had just happened, as he drove off. Did our involvement change after that? You bet your sweet petuddy. When my mother returned home, I told her of the evening. As insightful as all mothers are, mine explained, that little production had been purposeful. He wanted to get a glimpse of my reaction. This way I guess he’d know if he wanted to move this whatever we were in, to the next level. But, I’m left asking – who’d he ask for advice, the Grim Reaper himself? And, it’s the same old question all over again. How many frogs do you have to kiss before you get to the Prince, right?
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