73. The Moment It Happens

73. The Moment It Happens

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

The Moment It Happens

Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need.

~Margaret Mead

I know when it happened... the exact moment.

Houston Intercontinental Airport, 11:30 P.M.: My flight was three-and-a-half hours late. I sat in a phone station in the baggage area to check my business messages, and like a bolt of lightning, it hit me. If I fell over dead at that very moment, no one passing by to get a rental car, or to get their suitcases, or to greet loved ones would know who I was, where I was coming from or where I was going. No one would know I was missing for quite a while. It was an odd, lonely and very important moment in my life. I then decided to find someone significant who would miss me if I failed to arrive.

After making that decision, I had dinner with a longtime friend who listened to my complaints about trying to “find someone.” I said there were no decent men “out there” to find. Without hesitation, or even looking up from her salad, she asked what I had done about my search that very day. When I said, “Nothing because it’s been a busy day for me,” she said, “Either do something about it every day, or shut up.”

After that “put up or shut up” encounter, I decided okay, but how!? I talked to myself about where “they” (decent men) were. The old conventional ways that everyone talked about — bars, classes, meetings, friends, blind dates, etc. — seemed uncomfortable and not for me. After all, it seemed I was doing some of that anyway in my regular day-to-day life and “they” just weren’t there. So, my inner voice said, “Try something new.”

I picked up my newspaper and read one hundred personal ads of women searching for “them.”

The free five-line ads all seemed to say the same things. And I wanted to be different.

I called the newspaper and discovered the ads were free at that typical size but if I wanted a bigger one, it would be costly.

I have always believed if you want something, go all out. So I did.

A friend and her mother helped me write the ad that would end up changing my life. After seventeen drafts, I wrote the ad. It was twenty-three lines, expensive and really described me. I also recorded a voice-mail message that every one of “them” would hear.

The ad ended with “I miss being called ‘Honey’,” and it spoke the truth.

In the next two weeks, I had 104 replies. The messages they left for me told of delightful-sounding, accomplished men, in my area and in my age group, who were also tired of the tried and not-so-true methods of meeting potential mates. They had also grown weary of bars, groups, socials and the like. They were all intrigued with someone wanting to be called honey, and most of them, through nervous laughter, used that word somehow in their message. I made a long prioritized list on a legal pad. Three stood out. An FBI agent, a business owner and a firefighter. The firefighter turned out to be delightful on the phone, but reluctant to go any further. The FBI agent met me for lunch and was concerned about my motives in looking for him. I reminded him that he had answered my ad. I finished my lunch quickly and that name was crossed off the list.

In my recorded message, I had said the best movie I had ever seen was The Day the Earth Stood Still (still my favorite). The third man on my list, the business owner, left this reply: “Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlow, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray, call me!” He had listed the major cast members of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Because I was leaving town on a rush flight, time prevented me from answering his call immediately. Upon returning, I heard his second message. This time he listed all the cast plus the director, producer and key moviemakers. And he recited the key phrase in the movie (“Klaatu Barada Nikto”) and said, “Call me.” That was the phrase that Patricia Neal said to Gort, the robot, to get him to come to the aid of Michael Rennie, who was being destroyed by the frightened people on Earth.

Again fate stepped in and I couldn’t get back to him immediately, so when I returned home this time, there was a message on the voice mail from his entire office staff chanting in unison, “Please answer this man — he is driving us nuts.”

I learned later that upon hearing my voice message, this man had played it for his brother in California, who said, “If she ever answers you, you are going to marry her.”

Finally we did talk, scheduled lunch and chose to see a movie. When he approached the restaurant (I was there first so I could see him), I knew I would marry him. His look, his swagger and his élan told me this was “him.”

In the middle of lunch, he put down his fork and said, “I think we are going to be married.” I smiled.

Because I come from a self-sufficient generation, I told him at lunch that I would like to buy the movie tickets. He smiled and pulled them out of his pocket, saying the Italian side of him wouldn’t let me pay, and that he knew I was going to offer.

We dated for nine months, planned a wedding, had the ceremony under a huppa in a temple and took an Italian honeymoon.

Upon returning, he presented me with a gift. On the table at our home was a square of Lucite with our crushed wedding glass reconstructed. The inscription on the Lucite square was the date of our wedding and the words to Gort, “Klaatu Barada Nikto.”

He said, “They were true in the movie, and they are true for me.”

Loosely translated: “You saved my life.”

 

~Carol A. Price-Lopata
Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul

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