Thirty years ago today Mary and I were married. After all this time I would still choose her. I am a lucky fella. This is the story of how we began. Mary wrote her version of events and it is posted on her blog The Backdoor Artist. Read them both and enjoy.
Greg was a friend from high school and junior college. He called me up because he had a favor to ask. We met at my folk’s house for lunch and that is where he laid it on me. Greg asked if I had any plans for that night. I told him I didn’t and then he explained that a mutual friend of ours had broken up with his girlfriend. Kelly, the girlfriend, called Greg and asked him out on a date. Greg tried to beg off on it by telling her that he and I already had plans, the big liar. At that point she told him that she had a good friend at work that wanted to come along and that it would be a double date. Greg was powerless against her and agreed. Now, his next problem was to convince me to go with him. I don’t mind helping out a friend and I wasn’t seeing anyone at the time, but I had never been on a blind date or a double date for that matter. What could possible go wrong. A young college guy has standards you know, especially when he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Greg was a big strapping fella about 6’2” and after a good long while, the sight of him begging me to go was more than I could take, so I finally agreed.
Kelly and her friend worked at a camera store at the local mall. That was where Greg and I were to pick them up. I was dreading the walking into the store and meeting this strange girl that my Dad would probably describe as “pie faced”, not good. I have five older brothers and they were never going to let me hear the end of it. Greg and I sauntered on into the store where we were greeted by Kelly. She called her friend over and introduced us to Mary. It turned out she was pretty darn cute, but she had a deer in the headlights look about her. I was thinking that maybe it was going to turn out okay. We waited while the girls closed the store. Then it was off to the movies. We went to see a Charles Bronson movie called “Borderline.” On a scale of 1 to 10 as a date movie, it was a -2. Kelly jabbered the entire time and when the date was over I really had not gotten to know Mary. We dropped her off at her car, an old Triumph Spitfire, and with no kiss goodnight she was out of there. On a date scale of 1 to 10 it was about a 1, although the bright spot was that Mary seemed nice.
I went by the camera store pretty regularly, because my good buddy Terry worked there. I got to talk to Mary on occasion and decide maybe I should give it another try, but this time without Kelly. So a few weeks later I ask her out again, and she agreed. Oh yah, I was a fast worker…not. This time we were going to an Air Supply concert. This was a big deal since Redding rarely had major talent showing up in our podunk corner of California. Okay it wasn’t ELO or Arrowsmith, but hey this was Redding after all. I don’t know what happened next, but somehow Kelly horned her way in, but it didn’t become a double date. It became a date with Kelly’s best twenty-five friends. Not the intimate date I was hoping for. We all went for pizza afterward and it was so noisy that I still didn’t get to have conversation with Mary. On the date scale it was about a 3.
It did leave me intrigued with Mary. I figured the third time’s the charm. I would ask her out and there was no way in hell Kelly was going to be there. So about a week later I went by the store and asked her out one more time. I was going to make sure we would have a chance to get to know each other. I was on a roll. No more lolly gagging around. When I asked her she said “I’m going out with someone else.” Ouch, I was too late. She was dating some other guy. It just wasn’t meant to be. She had moved on. I still went by the camera store to meet up with Terry, and I would talk to Mary once and a while.
Fast forward six months. There was a birthday party for my friend Wayne at his parent’s house. They were gone and it was going to get loud. My brother Pete, friend Rick and I were driving over to Wayne’s house at about 9 pm. It was a long driveway to the house with rocks like boulders and potholes like moon craters. It was dark and there was a small car ahead of us. It was a Spitfire, Mary’s Spitfire. She was driving so slowly around the potholes and dragging her undercarriage over the rocks. That car had about 3½“of clearance. We laughed at the sight of her trying to negotiate that road. When we all reached the house she gravitated to me, since I was the only person she knew there. Terry had invited her to the party and he was late. She was mad a Terry for abandoning her with all these strange people. Good for me and bad for Terry. Mary and I finally got that chance to talk and dance. We were having a great time, to the point that the other girls there were getting a little catty about this female interloper. Not me, I was doing great. The guys started wrestling, you know show off their manliness. Rick and I were wrestling team alumni and there was alcohol involved so Rick toyed with his opponents and I just watched. When Terry did finally arrived about two hours later Mary started giving him a dressing down for showing up so late. After, a little more alcohol Terry challenged her to a wrestling match. He wasn’t prepared for what happened next. It was the drunk verses the angry woman, with swearing and pain. She served up some wup ass! When she was done with him, he announced that if we thought she was so easy to beat then we should wrestle her. Then he volunteered me. She was fired up and ready to wrestle. I figured well, why not! Did I mention there was alcohol involved. She didn’t know I was a wrestler, so I went easy on her. I didn’t want to humiliate her, but there was no way I was going to let her win. She was a good sport about it and we enjoyed the rest of the evening. When it was time for her to leave I walked her out to her car. She was sitting in her car and we were alone and in the dark. I leaned over and we kissed. I was long kiss, a nice kiss, and just the beginning of many more kisses.
Happy anniversary honey, I love you.