How I Met My Wife
I was sick and tired of loneliness and I wasn't going to take it any more.
Yet I knew that I couldn't force anyone to love me. They would have to want to do it. How would I arrange it? How would it happen? How would I make it so that the other person would not want to leave as all the rest of them had done?
It came into my poor tortured post-adolescent brain that I would have to appear as if I was not desperate. Desperation scares women away. I must remain calm. So I calmed myself and waited for opportunity.
I was a road locksmith - a locksmith who travels to people's homes and businesses to provide service. I knew that since I had left college, herein lay my greatest opportunity. Yet this opportunity came with a big obstacle in my mind: professionalism. How does one maintain professionalism while inviting one's client out on a date? It was a problem.
But where there's a drill there's a way, so I began to ask customers out. Some of them just laughed, as if to say, "Moi, go out with a tradesman?" Some were offended, but luckily not offended enough to complain to my boss.
At the time I had been in a Latin band, Super Combo La Fuente, for about two years. We had started out playing cumbia and had progressed into salsa and meringue and a little pop here and there. As the trombone player I played very energetically and faked back up vocals passably, and at breaks audience members would often come up to the bandstand to praise me in rapid-fire Espanol until they found I was not remotely fluent.
During breaks the club would invariably play recorded Latin dance music to fill in. People would just keep dancing. Sometimes I would ask someone to dance, and we would, but in Latin dance club culture as I experienced it, dancing with someone was almost never the beginning of anything. Most of the time men would dance with women who had arrived - and would leave with - other men. After the dance, the women would all go back to their husbands or boyfriends and the men would often go back and stand against the wall and wait for the music to begin again.
Super Combo La Fuente rehearsed once a week and gigged two to three times a week - usually Friday and Saturday, but sometimes with a Thursday night or a Sunday afternoon thrown in. In other words, I was a pretty busy guy, especially on nights of the week popular for dating. So it was a no-brainer that I should invite a prospect to a gig.
My first successful attempt at inviting a female customer to a gig started out unbelievably well, especially considering my luck over the previous couple of years. I repaired a lock in her apartment and we started talking about this and that. She was friendly and relaxed, blond, a runner in excellent shape, and spoke fluent Spanish. I invited her to my upcoming gig the next weekend.
She danced expertly with everyone in the band, and they all told me what a great find she was. She blended right in. She didn't talk with me much, but I was okay with that. I didn't have much to say in those days anyway.
Unfortunately she already had a boyfriend. She had had a falling out with him - a circumstance that made her temporarily available to me - but in the end she returned to him and I was back to square one. I was not pleased, but she was completely honest and I don't fault her. She's a good person and I hope she's happy.
The next customer I asked out was a Jewish girl from New York. She was very security conscious and I had a lot of confidence as a locksmith, so I was able to explain all the dozens of questions she had about all matters security. She was animated and energetic. She bought a high security deadbolt and I sold her some accessories to make her flimsy wooden door stronger.
Although in those days I did not talk much, I knew I was going to have to talk if I was ever going to get anything started. So I made the effort. It was hard work for me, but I managed to hold her interest. We talked about our backgrounds and our jobs and probably some other stuff.
Her apartment had a fire escape that she was concerned about, so I measured the windows for grates and made an appointment with her to return. I went back to the shop and arranged with my boss to order the grates for her job. They would be in the following week.
Over the week I thought about her quite a bit.
When I returned to install the window grates I asked her to come to my next gig with Super Combo La Fuente. She agreed and brought a friend, another Jewish girl whose family originally came from Cuba. They danced together while I was playing, and my 'date' danced with me while I was not. She wore red pants and black pointy shoes. She was cool. We talked about music and more about our backgrounds. It was a night. She left with her friend.
A few days later I called her up. She had had some trouble at work and did not want to go out.
"Come on," I said. "Let's go out to a movie. It will help you forget about your troubles." I forget what movie we saw, but it was a good choice. We both had a nice time and afterwards I walked her home.
For the third date I took her to a Japanese restaurant. I went downtown and bought a new shirt and a blazer for the event. It was fun sitting on the low benches, shoeless, eating unfamiliar dishes in their beautiful exotic presentations. She was pensive and less animated. I was worried that she was getting ready to break it off. We were quiet as we took the subway back to our neighborhood and I walked her home.
The next time I called her she was her animated and lively self again. We got together, maybe it was at her place for cheese and crackers or at Romano's Cafe for coffee and chocolate pastry. Anyway, it came out that my mother is Jewish, making me technically Jewish, and so I became a real contender. Things progressed pretty quickly after that. Within a few months we were engaged and a bit over a year later we were married.
And yes, we lived happily ever after.
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