I’ve always had a good track record among my friends for dating losers. I spent all of my teens and 20’s perfecting this gift. Every guy I dated was potentially Mr. Right and I would try the idea of “forever” on to see how it fit, which it never did.
Finally, the day came when I turned 35. I’d broken up with the last Mr. Right and was moaning about the years that I’d wasted. Was I going to ever get married, ever have children, ever belong in a partnership with someone? The prospects were looking dim.
Obviously, with a Romance Record like mine, I have very patient girlfriends. When I bemoaned the wasteland of my love life and the biological clock that was hurtling me with G-force toward menopause, my three best and most patient girlfriends listened to my tale of woe.
Every one of them said the same thing to me: I needed a better system in my quest for Mr. Right. I needed to let someone who knew better (they all three mentioned that they were happily married) be pivotal in the decision making process. In short, I needed to date by committee.
My current plan was Speed Dating. Each agreed that I needed to continue with that plan. I got to meet maximum numbers of men (10-15 in an evening) with minimum effort (I just had to sit and talk to them each for 3-5 minutes).
The Dating Committee encouraged me to date as many of these prospects as possible with one single caveat: at least one person on the Committee had to meet them before 1) any significant physical contact, defined as anything past a good-night kiss outside the vehicle I was driving home or 2) by the third date—whichever came first.
I threw myself into Speed Dating, often having as many as four “first dates” in one week (completely exhausting, I don’t recommend it). I was excited that these men shared so many desirable characteristics in a first date, most had jobs, their real hair and wanted to meet women. However, not a single one of them tempted me to either get to the significant physical contact or go on the third date.
My friends began to suspect that Secret Dating was occurring. I assured them this wasn’t the case, just hadn’t found anyone worthy of putting before the Committee yet from Speed Dating. I began to look around at Rapid Dating and Pre-Dating, to beef up my pool of prospects.
Then my mother died suddenly and my 35 year-old world got a reality check. I did all the tasks that accompany death, and I grieved. I stopped dating completely, I’d decided that life was too short to spend on losers. My patient girlfriends dragged me back into life, ignoring my bitter protests, and one night one of them coerced me out on the town.
We went to a place in Newport Beach. I danced and danced with my girlfriend and her husband and had a lovely time. In the middle of this evening, I met a man. We danced. He bought me a drink. We were beginning to engage in the usual inconsequential dating chatter. I had forgotten completely about the pact to date only by Committee when my girlfriend, who’d downed enough Vodka Tonics to be entertaining, zoomed up to exercise her Committee Rights.
She stopped in front of the guy who came to be known as Newport Steve and held out her hand in introduction. “Hi, I’m her girlfriend Mary. How are you?” And she proceeded to pepper the man with questions.
What do you do? Oh, a Computer Guy! Uh-huh. Great! Jen works in computers!
Where do you live? Oh, Newport Beach, close by! Great!
How old are you? Forty-four? (She gave him a suspicious stare.)
Have you ever been married?
Really, did you have any kids? No? Well do you want to have kids?
(I tried to slink off right about this time but my girlfriend trains dogs for a living and she’s got a grip like a pit bull.)
How do you feel about pets? Oh, you’re afraid of dogs? Well, cause she has a dog, but Hoshi’s a really nice dog. She really likes men, Hoshi, not Jen. Well, I mean Jen likes men too. Anyway, you guys will do great!
What kind of dog? An Akita.
And on it went. Newport Steve stood up to the Inquisition, answering her questions without stammering or stuttering. He joined us and at the end of the evening we traded information on cocktail napkins. Less than a week later we went out.
Bit by bit we fell in love, though I kept struggling against the feeling, thinking about my other Mr. Rights. Steve was always relaxed and so certain that we were meant to be together and I couldn’t figure out how he “just knew.”
A few months after we met, I had my 36th birthday and he took me out to a wonderful dinner. He gave me beautiful jewelry and watched me blow out my candle. I made the wish to keep him always while he smiled at me from across the table.
“What did you wish for on your birthday?” I asked, referring to the birthday he had right before we met.
He looked in my eyes for a moment before he answered. “I wished for you,” he said. “I’m pretty sure your mom heard me from Heaven and pulled a few strings.”
I started crying, right there in the middle of the restaurant, and I felt my mother’s spirit. I could hear her voice in my head, telling me to quit worrying and relax. I realized in one of those stunning moments of clarity that my former boyfriends were all Mr. Maybe, practice trials to help me truly appreciate the man that my mom “picked out.” Evidently, she’d been on the Committee the whole time.
Newport Steve is now My Steve, and I can’t imagine my life without him.
Jen Crooks writes women’s fiction, chick lit and short stories as Jenny Hansen. She has been a member of OCC since 2001 and has served on OCC’s Board of Directors as Newsletter Editor, Membership Director and Program Director. She is currently the Contest Coordinator for the 2006 Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers.
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