Looking at our wedding pictures always makes me giggle. I recall the young man that my brother brought home to dinner one night well over 47 years ago. It was not what one could call love at first sight. It was more like loathing at first sight. The first time I had met him was a few weeks earlier. It all began with a phone call to my high school principles office. I was a senior in High School at the time. I worked after schools at a local restaurant, as part of our school work credit program.
This particular day, I was not scheduled to work, but Mrs. K (the owner) had called and left a message with the office that I would have to take another waitress’s place. Mrs. K was not the nicest person in the world to work for to say the least. She never asked if I was available, she just said in her message to “be there at 4:00 PM.” Since not showing up would affect my grades for graduation, there was no way I could wiggle out of the unplanned shift. In those days, we had no cell phones, so in an emergency you had to use a payphone, if you could find one. My mother was quite the task master herself, and I found myself caught in a bit of a pickle. My mother expected me to be home immediately after school, to start dinner for our family. I tried to call my Mom at her work place, from the school office to tell her of the change in plans but was not able to reach her. Unfortunately there was no such technology as voice mail in those days. There was no way my Mom would just let it slide if she did not know of the change in my work schedule. I could count on being grounded no matter how good the excuse was, if I did not get my message through to her. All of these circumstances set up a meeting which would change the course of my life.
I had to stop for gas to make it to work and try to call her again from the gas station. Mrs. K never allowed employees to use the phone while on duty and I knew she would not budge on her rules, even though she was the one who had created the situation. Rushing out of school, I careened out of the parking lot as fast as my old “49” Ford would travel, praying the “E” for empty meant I had enough gas fumes to make it to the filling station. For emergencies, my Dad had an account at the local Shell station, where I could sign for gas, and Ed (the owner), would bill my Dad later.
Breathing a sigh of relieve, that I had made it to the Shell station without running out of gas on the roadside, I was surprised to see a total stranger running the gas station instead of Ed. The young man was quite a flirt, and took his time putting the gas in the tank, washing the windshield, checking the oil etc. I tried my best to get the young man to just put the gas in the tank and forget the other routine services, but he just kept on trying to impress me. I tried to be polite, but flirting with a strange guy was the last thing on my mind. He was seriously threatening my job and my big date for the Sweetheart dance the following day if I got grounded. After wasting several precious minutes filling the tank and trying to gain my interest, I finally told him: “Look sir, I am in a big hurry. I have to get to work. Now please put the gas on my Dads credit line in Ed’s book.” Naturally this lead to more delays as he insisted he had no idea where such a book would be or how to do it, so I had to go inside and find it behind the counter for him. I was beginning to think he wasn’t very bright. It was a red ledger, exactly where I told him he would find it, right beside the cash register.
My next big mistake was in asking him to give me a dime for the payphone, and put that on the ledger charge too. Good grief! He then began to lecture me about taking money from a stranger and other various nonsense. By that time I was furious and stomped out hurrying to get to work, and decided to try and talk Mrs. K into letting me use the phone at work. Naturally, with all the time wasted at the filling station, I was late to work and Mrs. K refused my request to use the phone. Not only that she also said I had to stay late and do clean up duty to boot. By the time I got home at mid-night my mom was fit to be tied and as I had feared I was “GROUNDED.” At this point I felt my whole world caved in all because of a rude stranger who had ruined my life. I hoped I never would lay eyes on him again.
As luck would have it, a few weeks later, my Mom called me at school and asked me to pick up an extra pound of hamburger as we were having a guest for dinner. Sounded normal to me, so I was totally un-prepared that evening when my brother walked in the door with his new friend named Gene that he had met at the gas station. I wanted to hide in the kitchen as I was still so angry at him, but manners precluded my doing so. My mother would not allow it.
By the time the meal was over, the young man apologized for all the trouble he had caused me and he became a regular visitor in our home. When time for the Prom came, my boyfriend and I had broken up, so Gene offered to be my date. From there a loathing at first sight became a love story which resulted in 41 very happy years of marriage and three beautiful children. Obviously, I decided he wasn’t so bad after all.Copyrighted 2005