I’m not much of a housekeeper. I don’t see dirt till it bites my ankles, and then I ignore it until it barks so loud I can’t stand the noise. On that Saturday, December 7, my house was in bad shape—scuzzy dishes piled in the sink and wrinkled clothes strewn wherever I’d pitched them after I undressed. I spent most of the day making my house shine and all of it worrying and wondering what would happen that night.
Seven o’clock finally arrived, and my doorbell rang. I quit stirring the spaghetti sauce I’d let simmer for several hours and took a deep breath. Connie’s black Trans Sport sat parked in my white gravel driveway, but I hadn’t watched her and her girlfriend get out. Shoot. I wanted to at least see what she looked like before I met her. If we clashed, it could be a long, unpleasant evening.
After settling the lid on my heavy aluminum skillet, I hurried to the front door and flipped on the light in the small foyer. Connie held out a long-stemmed yellow rose to me and grasped two record albums in her other hand. But no girlfriend.
“She decided not to come. I told you I’m thinking about moving to Colorado.”
“I wasn’t kidding.”
I accepted the rose and the records and laid them on a nearby small table. And then we took the first step of the rest of our life together. Connie reached up and cradled my face between her hands, her steady eyes glowing like a bonfire. Slowly, she pulled me down to her and kissed me like I was the last person she would ever touch. After our days and weeks of staying apart, we melted into each other like two huge chocolate chips in a pan on a stove where the electricity had suddenly been turned on.
When I could finally see again, I noticed her freshly cut brown hair and recognized the clean smell of Dial soap. I let my hand run down the back of her smooth polyester shirt—red, black, and white—tempted to let it continue over the rougher texture of her tight black jeans, but I forced myself to stop.
“Come on in and make yourself at home. Let me go put this rose in water.” I headed to the kitchen to try to recover from our kiss and find a vase. Then I set the rose in the middle of my small dining-room table and clicked off the fire under the spaghetti sauce. We probably wouldn’t be eating for a while.
Connie stood in the living room, inspecting my record collection and stereo. “Love your home.” She pointed at the fireplace that separated the living room from the dining area.
“And the fire’s a good idea. It’s colder tonight than I’d expected.”
I didn’t feel the cold at all. In fact, I wished I hadn’t built a fire that night; my flowered gauze harem pants and purple, scoop-neck blouse were suffocating me.
“Evidently you like classical music and jazz,” she said, pointing to my small shelf of records. “What about Johnny Mathis and Barbra Streisand?” She held up the two albums she’d brought into the living room with her.
“Of course. What’s not to like about them? Do you want to put one on right now?”
The phone rang, shattering the magic between us. It had been strangely silent all week, and I’d practically held my breath, willing it to stay quiet so I could catch up on my sleep. “Let me get that,” I said, wanting to rip the cord out of the wall.
“What are you doing tonight,” the disgustingly familiar male voice asked.
“I have company. Leave me alone—”
Connie slipped the receiver from my hand, her hazel eyes shining like steel. Using a deep, rough voice, she said, “My wife has been complaining about you. I just got back into town, but if you ever call here again, I’m gonna track you down and beat you to a pulp. Understand?”
She hung up the phone, and I slumped onto the couch like she’d just pulled me from a cold, black swamp full of alligators. “Thank you for that.” Her tone had startled me, yet I suspected my Halloween nightmare had just ended.
We sat close together on my flowered sofa—talking, kissing, listening to music, and enjoying the fire. After throwing some more logs onto it, I spread a deep-purple satin comforter on the carpet in front of the fireplace, and we talked less and kissed more.
Then I finally showed her my bedroom. The fire burned itself out, the record player shut off automatically, and my phone didn’t ring again.
The next morning, we ate our spaghetti at last, for breakfast, and I’ve cooked it regularly during the past twenty-six years to remind us how we spent our first Pearl Harbor Day together.
BTW, that purple comforter lasted for years, though it eventually tattered and faded to blue. We cut off a square and preserved it in a Ziploc bag. Connie could still wear those black jeans just a few years ago, though she finally relinquished them and her distinctive black and red shirt to Good Will. We sold my flowered couch to a colleague, who still uses it, and my home to a couple who lost theirs in Hurricane Ike. We still drive by it when we’re in the area and notice how much the citrus trees we planted in the front yard have grown.
Like I said, that night was the beginning of the rest of our life together, and it plays in my memory like the smell of the yellow rose and the records and everything else Connie has brought into my life.
Oh, yeah. She still takes care of all our unpleasant phone calls.
COMMERCIAL BREAK: Here’s one of the many poems I wrote about our courtship.
I invited you
for spaghetti and Scrabble.
Love our game change.
You can find this poem and quite a few similar ones in my recently published book of poetry, In and Out of Love, available on Amazon and from me in person if we cross paths.
Thanks for reading about how we got together. It’s been fun to share my memories of those days.