For once in my life.
It was that kind of decision.
I was the generation brought up straddling the beginning of the Women’s Movement. For half my upbringing I was “encouraged” to be demure around men. While my mother continued to go beyond encouragement in this area (a woman asking a man out received the tersely-spoken title puttana), the media and culture changed rapidly, for the most part taking me with it.
However, as a single woman, while I wasn’t exactly waiting to be chased, I certainly believed that winning my hand should require some Herculean effort. In addition, the idea of that Sicilian lightening bolt that they demonstrate in The Godfather had been drummed into my head. Yet no one I met made me weak in the knees with just a glance and a smile, so rarely had anyone been encouraged to go further. In today’s terms, no one “had me at ‘hello’.”
Needless to say, by my late 20s, not only was I not in a significant relationship, I hadn’t yet been in one, in spite of being “engaged” – in name only – for a brief time when I was barely 20, an event I’d rather be among the forgotten moments of my early adulthood.
Now, here I was, 28 years old and this guy I knew only as a voice on the telephone had asked me out.
And stood me up.
I was working for a local newspaper, writing obituaries and social notices. He worked for a funeral home. One night he was required to call in nine obits, a phenomenal number for one funeral home in a rural area. Truly, they were all standard notices, no horrendous event had taken place. I accused him of going out and killing people just so he could talk to me.
We got to be friendly and not long after that he asked me out on a Friday evening. He’d call me to finalize and scribbled my home number.
Friday came and went. No phone call.
Well, Miss Iggy, that’s what you get for being so forward. So much for Mr. Dirtman and his swarmy voice.
Sunday I was back at work, arriving in the nick of time to a ringing phone.
“Oh good, it’s you.”
“Do you have an obit?” I asked coldly. Believe me, I know how to talk ice.
“Well, yeah, but it’s not ready...”
“Then who do you want to talk to?” Because you ain’t talkin’ to me, jadrool.
“I lost the paper I wrote your number on and they wouldn’t give me your number or call you on your day off,” he said. “But I thought surely you’d understand why I didn’t call after you heard about the murder.”
“I work for a newspaper, buddy,” I sneered with my best
I hung up. Behind me, the city desk editor was leaning against the doorjamb, coffee and donut in hand, waiting to say his usual “hello, anything new.”
“’Ja hear about the murder last Friday?” he asked around a mouthful of cruller. “Let me know when they call in the obit.”
The usual Sisiggy would have let the whole thing slide. It wasn’t meant to be. If he really felt bad, he would have driven the 40 miles to the newspaper and been waiting for me with a bouquet of flowers and an “I’m sorry” on his lips. (I know – this is Dirtman we’re talking about. That would have required 40 minutes of driving followed by a wait of indeterminate length, way more focus-time than he’s capable of committing to…but I didn’t know this at the time.) The usual Sisiggy would have told him to leave her alone. The usual Sisiggy would have gone into immediate hibernation, dragging several pints of coffee ice cream into the cave with her.
Fortunately, the usual Sisiggy had had enough of herself of late and decided to employ that philosophy of philosophies: It Couldn’t Hurt…
I met him at The Ground Round. I ordered scotch on the rocks so he wouldn’t think I was an inexperienced drinker he could get drunk and have his way with. I hate scotch.
The day before Valentine’s Day we were driving down to Virginia Tech for some dinner. He asked me to read him the newspaper while he drove. I started on page 1.
“No! Read me the obit page.”
“I read the obit page when I laid it out last night.”
“Okay,” I said begrudgingly, snapping the paper back. I scanned by work from the previous night. Same obits, same ads, only…
Instead of the car ad we’d placed at the bottom of the page:
“Sisiggy: We met on this page, we’ll end up on this page. Will you spend the rest of your life with me? Dirtman.”
A Herculean effort.
And a lightening bolt.
So, 20 years later, 19 years after the wedding, I guess the chance worked out.
The previous post was supposed to be a picture extravaganza but Blogger isn't cooperating. Envision lots of pictures of me and Dirtman, thinner and with less gray hair, smiling. I'd be the one in uncharacteristic white and Dirtman will look like a maitre 'd. I hate weddings.