They hoped for a little magic, maybe even a bolt of lightning. They’d seen pictures of each other online and were intrigued. Might this be ‘it’, both wondered?
Neither could know their first encounter would be far more challenging than either expected . . . twice over.
First, they endured endless questioning and profiling by the online dating service whose free trial weekend each had accepted. Eventually, they were allowed to communicate, but only through their ‘keepers’. Hey, what gives? These are mature adults, and both single. They’d been around. So, what’s with all the caution?
The days turned to weeks. The ‘keepers’ with their agonizing caution threw verbal hurdles alongside tantalizing peeks inside the other’s ‘personality kimono’, all the while offering a no-regrets escape route.
The two endured. In time, they learned to bypass the electronic barrier intended to screen communication . . . but both wondered later if all of that was in fact a deliberate ruse to heighten their anticipation of contact. Whatever, it worked. They connected, exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet face-to-face. For lunch. Their first encounter! A really big deal. Neutral location. That was good.
Along came the second challenge.
He suggested a ‘granola-type’ wholesome food eatery. The place was in a small shopping center he knew from hiking and cycling nearby. She had a different idea. Same shopping center but . . . a “really nice” luncheon place customers could access only through a store filled with “all sorts of interesting things”, she said. It was called, The Tea and Thyme Emporium.
Hold it! That should have been a hint: Tea and Thyme Emporium? Seriously? But he didn’t get it . . . just yet. Too distracted . . . okay, enamored.
She arrived at the store and went straight to the restaurant. She’d been there a few times. Good, healthy food. Organic, actually. The name above the door had changed. Now it said, ‘The Dove’s Nest’. New owners. She realized she’d given him the old name.
‘Oh, well,’ she thought. ‘I’m sure he’ll figure it out. It’s the only restaurant like this around here.’
The hostess showed her to a table for two . . . with a clear view of the door. She insisted. There she perched on a hard wooden chair turned slightly toward the door. She was feeling a touch apprehensive.
He arrived early at the small shopping center. Fourteen minutes, to be precise. Not like him. Punctuality was optional, most times. He paced up and down the sidewalk, unable to find a restaurant called The Tea and Thyme Emporium. The store and restaurant she’d described on the phone were unlike anything he’d ever visited . . . he had zero experience with such places. He wondered briefly if she’d got cold feet and aborted the mission, sending him on a wild goose chase. He crossed that off; he was certain she wasn’t the type. Perhaps he’d got it wrong . . . distracted by the lovely melodic sound of her voice . . . the likely option. Her voice had sent chills coursing through his spine, diverting his attention when he should have been writing things down.
Finally, not finding the agreed upon meeting place, he resorted to recalling her somewhat challenging geographic description. It had started with instructions delivered rapid fire, in excruciating detail and in a tone he just couldn’t get enough of, and then ending with: “You can’t miss it!”
‘Yeah, right!’ he almost smiled, kicking himself for being distracted . . . but now even more determined to find her.
‘Why not just a simple address?’ he thinks. But he knows from experience that’s not how women think. Addresses are just too darned simple . . . boring. He understood.
Back and forth, he strides. Soon, he realizes he’s passed the same store, time and again. It sells decorative knickknacks and bric-à-brac. It dawns on him . . . this place resembles the description. He walks in. All the employees are women. So are all the customers, except for a little old man trotting along, almost lost in the wake of his robust and enthusiastically shopping wife.
He looks around. No sign of the restaurant. He walks up an isle between two seven-foot-high rows of intimidating woman-esk merchandise. He spies a counter at the far end. A woman sales clerk looks up, surprised, and asks coldly, “May I help you, sir?”
“Is there a restaurant around here somewhere?” he asks.
“Well, there’s a tea room over there,” she replies, tilting her head slightly. She makes no effort to hide the imperious tone in her voice.
The clerk glowers at him as if to say, ‘And why would the likes of you . . . a man, for heaven’s sake! . . . have any business in a lovely, genteel, ever-so-feminine place like that?’
Instead, she points.
He follows her finger around the end of another set of tall shelves hawking . . . yeah . . . more girl stuff. He arrives at a doorway. He’s tempted to utter a big sigh of relief when he looks closely at the entrance. The doorframe’s encrusted with an abundance of lace and other female-like things . . . across the top and down both sides.
He glances up at the sign over the door. It reads: “The Dove’s Nest”.
Later, he describes in this way a thought that skipped through his mind: ‘I wonder what this is all about?’ The truth is, he really was thinking: ‘What the hell?’
He scans the room. Each table boasts distinctly feminine flourishes. Most are occupied by women. He’s on the verge of bolting for safety . . . but hesitates . . . for a moment, when he spots a couple of male customers. Everywhere, pairs of women lean intently across the tables toward each other, voices lowered in earnest secret conversations. A few female eyes note his presence. They make no effort to hide their curiosity . . . and hints of hostility . . . and their wonderings. By now he’s certainly wondering, all right.
Then a gorgeous face . . . breathtaking it was . . . at a table for two, looks up and smiles. Her beautifully expressive eyes are bright and full of light . . . and yes, those hazel eyes are smiling, too. There’s just a hint of uncertainty, vulnerability. Irresistible!
They’ve not even met. But . . . it’s all over for him! He’s struck helpless. Hit like a bolt of lightning!
Where’s the magic, you ask?
They were married a short while later.
“Where’s The Magic?” is copyright © 2013 By James Osborne All Rights Reserved
Photo Credits: All images are in the public domain