It's time, folks. Time to cross-blog your world. My post can be found at Miami Gringo, so go there now all you APD readers. It is the post wherein I explain what the hell the title of my blog means. I know you're dying to know. Marc from Hidden City is posting here. And James from MG is posting on his blog, thereby creating an intimate little blog-triangle. See all the participating blogs here.
Enjoy, unsuspecting reading public.
We met in a odd sort of social club. People came there to play games, anything from pinochle to Monopoly to D&D, maybe listen to some music and eat some bar food. It was a bottle club, so drunken rowdiness was rarely a problem.
Holly played cards; I just hung around a lot. Once I was drawn into a game, and started up a conversation with her. I liked her from the start: she liked games (but just as a diversion, not as a lifestyle), she was quite cute (curly black hair, gorgeous smile, fabulously zaftig), and quite bright (a biology teacher at Broward Community College). She also had a delightful sparkle in her deep brown eyes, and had am embarrassed way of telling a dirty joke that was utterly charming.
Most importantly to my twenty-something self, though, she said yes when I asked her out.
When I picked her up from her tiny one room house I brought her a gift: a goofy-looking fifteen foot long hot pink stuffed snake. It was an irrational choice, but she previously mentioned liking stuffed animals and snakes both, so I gave it a shot. She was taken aback, but amused, and -- as she later admitted -- a little touched by the naivete shown. The snake ended the night wrapped around her table, and we ended the night looking out her window at the moon. Holly believed in romance.
Two nights later she showed up at the little shop I managed, having called first to tell me she was picking up some Kentucky Fried Chicken for my dinner. She went into my office carrying a large wicker basket, and when I closed the store a short time later I found my office table cleared. In its place was a red and white checkered tablecloth, china plates and crystal glasses, silverware, white candles, linen napkins, a chilled bottle of wine, and a bucket of the Colonel's best with all the sides. Holly didn't believe in skimping on class, even for friend chicken.
Our relationship progressed swiftly past the first and second dates and into the "yes, we're dating" stage. She became accustomed to my eccentricities as I became enamored of hers. Granted, we didn't go out all that much, as our low-paying jobs didn't afford us many options; we enjoyed staying in more, anyway.
We started spending weekends together, and our conversations turned toward the future; we both liked what we saw. I would go back to school and work on completing my degree, while she would start work on her master's. In a few years we would both be in better places career-wise and financially, and then we'd take the world by storm.
Then I was fired from my job. I hadn't done anything wrong other than point out the things the owners needed to do to become competitive, but that was enough. I was devastated. I had never lost a job before, and I had bills to pay, and tuition to save toward. Holly was supportive, and tried to help me find another job, but my fear of bankruptcy was too great. I ended up taking the first job that would have me -- packing boxes in a warehouse. I didn't plan on staying there long, but I needed to get some money coming in.
Holly didn't approve of my job choice. I was rushing to get a job, she said. I was too desperate, she said. I didn't see the big picture, she said. I wasn't ambitious enough, she said.
We can't see each other any more, she said.
I ran into Holly at the Olive Garden ten years later. I recognized her immediately -- the eyes were a giveaway, as was the smile. I didn't know if she knew me, though, until she approached me by the hostess stand.
They were simple pleasantries, nothing extraordinary except her casual mention that she approached me while her husband was in the men's room. "He's a dentist," she said, "a nice man. My mother approves." "I'm happy for you," I told her, and meant it. Then she leaned forward, quickly kissed me, told me she still thought of me from time to time, and then rushed back to her table.
My date returned from the rest room and asked who the woman was. "Holly," I said. "I haven't seen her in years. I never expected to see her again."
Holly believed in romance, and raised it to an art. Like memory, though, romance is sadly fragile and impermanent.