When we last saw our heroine, she was neck deep in grieving the loss of a good friend to suicide, struggling against her own usual seasonal depression and of course a grande mal seizure of “Doing-too-much.” She finally succumbed to the pressure and “worked from home” on Thursday and Friday, planning also to give herself a breather for Saturday, since beginning with Sunday morning, her next day off wouldn’t be until March 14th. Wait, is that right? Yes. That’s correct. March 14th. That would be four weeks (28-days) without a day where she is not expected to be “working” for four hours or more. Many of those days, for 12-hours or more. Not counting Mom duty. Yeah. She’s real healthy like that.
Let’s see if I can do this justice, shall we? I only wish I’d brought a camera because the photo opportunities were without equal. (Sorry, Churlita!!!) (Next time. I promise!)
I got an email earlier in the week from a pastor friend who is going through a divorce. Seems that on Saturday she had to spend the day emptying out her former domicile because her ex-husband stopped making payments on it and the bank takes it on Tuesday. So, wisely she wondered if I wanted to join her for a cocktail and dinner when she was done.
Sounded like a great idea to me. I upped the ante and suggested margaritas at La Cucaracha, a local Mexican restaurant. We planned to meet at 5:30.
Now, another important piece of the story starts a week ago Friday.
Insert Wayne’s world-esque flashback:
You may remember that that was the day after I found out about Anna’s death and I had spent the morning over at the seminary talking with folks in the office such. I also spent a wee bit of time in the bookstore picking up a couple of sympathy cards and an ink-print for a small “Welcome aboard” present for our new associate pastor.
What I may not have mentioned is that while I was in the bookstore, I was picked up. There I said it. Someone from that part of my life that I have known for 6 years was there. We started talking as we usually do. Giving each other a little shit, talking business, the usual. He asked if I had a couple of minutes for a cup of coffee. I did. We went upstairs to the cafeteria and continued the conversation (me still completely oblivious that this was anything other than a friendly chat.) When the coffee was finished and the conversation was wrapping up he said “On a more personal note, would you consider going out for dinner sometime?”
Insert that “boing” sound effect here.
“That would be great.” was my smooth response. Yeah. I’m cool like that.
I believe the next thing he said was something like “Ok. Well, let me know what might be a good time.” I think that was what he said, because the next thing I hear coming out of my mouth is some rambling explanation of my “typical” week. [shutup shutup shutup! Give him your number and shutup!]
I don’t know quite how to explain the weirdness of that whole exchange. Add to that the fact that EVERYONE involved with my life in music, at the seminary and in the entire church also knows this man and you might begin to have a glimmer of part of the whirring that has begun in my head. This not only will be a date with someone I have known for years (something that I have never done before…date someone I already knew) but it will be with someone that most everyone I know ALREADY knows as well. AND if (when?) it all goes south, I will never be able to go back into the bookstore again. Actually, I may already be unable to go back in the bookstore. It all feels like it is going to play itself out on stage.
But wait. It gets weirder!
He actually called me to set a date!
It was on Tuesday evening that we talked. Actually, he called me on Monday but after I got home from the funeral on Monday, I had turned my phone off and didn’t see the call until the morning; and didn’t call him back until the evening.
He was on his way into an evening meeting. We chatted briefly and decided that the 21st would be a good time for dinner since as I pointed out “we really don’t want to go out this weekend, it will be like an ant hill everywhere.” He asked why and I had to remind him that it was Valentine’s Day on Saturday. “Oh yeah.” (*sigh* they really are all alike, aren’t they?)
But wait! There’s more! 90-minutes later he calls me back. I have again turned off my phone for the evening so I didn’t get the message until Wednesday. The message was something like “I’m done with my meeting. I know we set the 21st but I had a couple of ideas about this weekend, if you’re interested. No big deal and no rush to call me back. Hope you’re doing OK.” (in reference to my grief process. Huh?!!?)
So, Wednesdays just aren’t days I can deal with anything like this. Too full. And Thursday was the memorial service at the seminary. So the call back to him didn’t happen until I was done with that whole thing and done with having a beer and dinner with some friends after the service.
Thursday evenings conversation started out with how I was doing with grieving, turned into him sharing a little bit about the death of his wife (seven years ago. Very sad story.) and his recommendation to me “keep talking to people who understand and who knew her. It’s the best way to process this sort of thing.”
And then we get around to the reason for me calling him back. He says that he’s doing a couple of things this weekend and wanted to throw them out there and see if any were of interest to me. “I know we’re going out next weekend, but I just thought…”
One was a happy hour Friday evening with people from the publishing house. It was going to be at a good Irish pub downtown. And the other was on Saturday. Seems his grief group was getting together for dinner on Saturday night at one of the women’s houses. And after dinner, around 8:00 they were planning on heading over to the South St. Paul VFW because the “best Elvis impersonator in Minnesota” is playing there for Valentines Day.
I’ll wait for a minute for that to sink in.
Valentines Day at the VFW. With an Elvis impersonator. With a grief group. From the church.
What’s not to like?
Of course, I think the whole Elvis impersonator idea is a hoot!
I explain to him that I already have dinner plans with my pastor friend. “Oh, no. That’s Ok. I just wondered if you wanted to join us over at the VFW for the Elvis thing. It should be a pretty fun time. There’s a dance floor and we always do something goofy like this on holidays.” We left off the conversation with a “we’ll see” about Saturday.
Friday was a lost day. I gave it to myself to grieve. I worked in the morning and then went shopping at The Mall in the afternoon. AH went with me and I actually found a pair of jeans right away (the ones I bought over two years ago have been too big for a while and lately I’ve been afraid the seat was going to disintegrate every time I pulled them out of the wash.)
Saturday dawned sunny. I went back to bed after I fed the dog and was able to lounge about until about 9:00. At which point I had to get up and do a few errands. I also started a pot of soup so the boys had something to eat for dinner (and an easy Sunday lunch. I’m always thinking.)
I got home from the errands around 3:00. Ate a bowl of soup with the boys around 4:30 (because you don’t want to start drinking margaritas on a totally empty stomach) and was about to head out of the house when DS1 asked to use the car for a “quick errand.” Everyone knows that that means he returned the car around 5:23, just enough time for me to NOT make it on time to the restaurant. Thank goodness for cell phones.
By the time I pulled into the parking lot at La Cuc, I still hadn’t decided if I was going to spring this crazy idea on L and try to get her to go with me, or just let our evening end and head over there alone or what.
We had a great dinner, starting off with a couple of top-shelf margaritas (mmmm magically delicious) and some of the best mole I’ve ever had. (and yes, I’ve had mole other places than the Twin Cities!)
Eventually I got around to proposing that she join me for the big show. Of course, I left out the little detail of G having already asked me to dinner for next weekend. Or any of that part of the story really. Maybe should have done that.
Anyway, we drive the 8 miles to the VFW and walk through the doors into just about what you would expect to see in a long-time VFW bar on Valentines Day. We burst out laughing. The people watching was GRAND. Everything from our grand-parents age (and I’m talking 80-90’s) to kids in their 20’s all at lunch room type tables with red-and-white streamers and mylar balloons. And don’t forget the cheap booze.
G and his group walked in about 45 seconds behind us. He seemed genuinely pleased that we were there and then I saw him move into action, shepherding us around the room to get chairs off the stacks by the coats and finding a place for us all to set up (we didn’t have a table because they had eaten at someone’s house, if you remember.)
G bought L and me a drink (diet coke for me, now and a red whine for her.) and we sat down. Somehow it ended up that L was between G and me. Now remember, she doesn’t know that he has asked me out, or any of that. She does figure out that G is “the one who told” me about Elvis and the whole deal, but she now somehow has this look on her face. She leans over to me and in a stage whisper says “I’m not dancing with G! If he asks I have to leave!” I laughed at her and told her not to worry.
If we thought the people watching was good when we walked in, the character studies of the grief group upped the ante quite a bit. There are four women and three guys in the group… or at least that were there this night. One of the women is Sr.K’s mother. I had to explain how I knew SrK—that I was the one that spent the consecration weekend with her at her house. Her mom still didn’t recognize me, but we had a nice chat. In the meantime L is getting chatted up by one of the two women that has partnered up with two of the other men in the group.
So, now I’m keeping score: 4W, 3M, 2 couples, G is not a couple, I’ve been invited to come and “meet his people” at this casual type event. But I’m pretty sure that unless he told them my name during dinner, they think he’s aiming for L. And L is terrified of that.
The Elvis (who really was pretty good) takes a break but the band plays on. G asked me to dance and we danced for a bit and then returned to the group. It was fun. He’s not a terrific leader/dancer, but neither am I a great dancer mostly because X and I never danced because he hated it. G seems to enjoy it and being a gentleman offered to dance with L (and the other two single ladies in the group by the night’s end.)
L and I took our leave of the group around 10:00. A whimpy evening but we both had to be at work Sunday morning before 8 so not too much partying for us. We laughed all the way out to the car.
So there you have it. A weird Valentines night filled with fun and merriment, dancing and drinking and more Elvis and VFW than I’ve had in a really long time.
I spoke with Sr.K on Sunday. We were interrupted by a phone call from her mother. When I got back with her, it turns out that the group did indeed think that he had been talking about L and were very confused when he was out dancing with me. They also gave him sh*t about “robbing the cradle” because apparently they thought I was between 30-35 years old. Now THAT makes me laugh.