When Love & Happiness Converge – A Real, Live Romance

So this is a bit long but it’s my favorite story. No pictures for this one folks and this isn’t fiction!Not too long after my divorce, I met this guy. Not just any ordinary guy either. No. This one was a nice guy. You know, the kind you hear about in chick flicks and romance novels.We knew each other too. The island is small. But, I was married.Even after the divorce, I didn’t want to date. The thought made me so sad and I spent many evenings crying. Crying about being lonely sure but mostly just sad about the failure of my first marriage. It came as quite a stunner to me.Then, the organization I volunteered with, Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehab Center, asked me to find out if the owner of The Little Store, Bob Wingate, would contribute some refreshments to Wolf Hollow’s first ever Open House.I got a bit flustered when I went to ask and so said, “Bob, do you have a piece of paper and a pen?”“Yes.” He said as he grabbed the items I’d asked for.As I wrote, I spoke, “This is my name… and this is my phone number.”“Whoa.” His smile killed me. Then he said, “This sounds interesting.”However, my next words spoiled the entire thing when I said, “I’m a board member for Wolf Hollow. How does it sound now?”And, I didn’t need him to answer because his face went from ecstatic to hurt and then to anger within seconds.I went into my pitch, “We’re having our first ever Open House and we hoped you and The Little Store could donate a few refreshments.”I had no idea how to do a sales job. Obviously. But, before Bob could refuse (and he WAS going to refuse), I jumped back in and said, “If you say ‘yes’, I’ll buy you lunch!”Sandy, an employee jumped in and saved my life, “Bob, it’s the best offer you’ve had in years. Take it.”When I smiled and giggled, it broke down his stoic front. He looked at Sandy as if to say SHUT UP!After two months of me asking to pay him back for the donation, he finally acquiesced. And when I told him I would make reservations at Downrigger’s, he said that he liked it fine but wanted to go somewhere else. I’m glad we were chatting on the phone especially when he told me the place he wanted to go for our lunch date was Port Townsend! Across the Olympic Strait.My heart jumped and my face went red. The payback date was beginning to sound more like a date-date.“Well, how do we get there? Take the ferry to Anacortes and then to Whidbey?” I had only lived on the island a couple of years but that was the only route I knew of.“No. We’ll take my boat.”I freaked out (on the other side of the phone, of course) but my voice stayed steady. I said, “Oh.”“You like boats, don’t you?”Not expecting that question, I handled it this way… “Well, if someone has one.” [WHAT!?]I guess he didn’t know how to respond to that either and said, “I used to drive my truck there to distribute to grocers. So, I know it well.”“Okay. I’ll bring some champagne as a thank you.” I’d bought a bottle of $200 bubbly for my first birthday after the divorce and hadn’t touched it nearly two years later.“I’ll bring some too. But, you’re not a champagne snob, are you?”My face flushed behind the phone again.I squeaked out, “Um. No.” I rolled my eyes. This was a date!“Great. I’ll see you at 9 Saturday morning.” That was 10 years ago today.When I got to the pier, he warned me, “The water is big today. You know, sort of choppy.”“Okay.”“Is it?”“Sure. Why?”“Well, you won’t get sick will you?”“No!” Sheesh. What’s a little puke on a boat anyway, right?When we shoved off, he did everything. I lived in the sand before the island, was from Phoenix and never needed a boat. I laid out. By pools and hated going into the water. Still hated the water. So, Bob did everything. I think he knew. Pffft.We had traveled half way out into the strait when the motor bogged down. “Hear that?” He asked.“Yeah. Sounds different.”“Sucked in some driftwood. I need to see if I can get it out.”SEE if you can get it out?!“You’ll need to help me.” He says, “Hang onto my belt.” Weird sailor date ploy, I thought. But agreed <wink>.He fished around with a pole and finally dislodged a piece of wood about three feet long. “Got it!”“Cool.”“Let’s see if it runs.”He turned the motor and once again we were traveling toward Port Townsend. All the while the water, the big big water rocking us and me banging my head against the wall of the boat where I sat, next to him with his hands on the steering wheel and his strong sleek muscular arms attached to those hands. He wore sunglasses that set off his Romanesque cheek bones and white hair and I felt myself slip a tad.“Have you ever been to France?”He smiled. “Yes. A couple of years ago.”“I love France.”“A beautiful country. Took my daughter.”“Ahh. I had a cousin who was abroad for a year there.” I giggled after saying it which made him giggle too and then he did the funniest thing.He went into a Groucho Marx impersonation, acting like he was holding a cigar, bobbling his eyebrows and he said, “If you think that’s funny, you should see my sister.”It broke the ice.When we docked in Port Townsend, we broke open my spendy bottle of champagne and he broke open his—a bottle of Frexienet. Barf. We had a few sips and then headed off the boat. He showed me around the place and he knew everyone, a few people mistook us for being married which was TOTALLY uncomfortable and then we ended up in this little store called April Fool. The place had a bunch of gift items but what really made it perfect for me was that it had tons and tons of cards—funny cards. We strolled from one side reading to the other. I bought him a thank you card that I gave to him the next day. After our “date” to Port Townsend.We had an incredible time together talking, laughing, walking the streets and just enjoying being together. I even finally bought him the payback lunch.After we headed back home six hours later, we spotted an island.“What island is that one?” I asked. Being on the water feels a lot like flying, everything looks completely different.He laughed and said, “Why dear, that’s the island you live on.” And, he laughed again.“Shut UP.” I said, my face looking like the flag of China.“I’m thinking, maybe we could go to dinner.”“I have to get home. My dog and all.”At the port, he did everything again but did throw me the rope and said, “Hold onto this so the boat doesn’t drift.” I felt as though he’d thrown me the reins to a wild bucking bronco. But, nothing happened.He got the boat onto his trailer and turned, leaned against the trailer and said, “Thank you for lunch.” He looked yummy and I was all of the sudden hungry for lunch again.“Thank YOU for the boat ride. I had an amazing day.”His smile buckled me to the point I fell forward and gave him a smooch. “Thanks. I had fun.” And, I walked back to my car, looked back once and he hadn’t moved. A snapshot moment. His arms crossed over his chest. His legs casually crossed. His sunglasses on. A big smile on his face.I waved and he unlocked his arms to wave back.The next day I sent him that card with a dozen red roses. Red is Bob’s favorite color as it turns out. He called me to thank me and we made plans to go out again.The card? You ask? The cover bore a picture of nuns in bumper cars and the inside read: EVEN GOOD GIRLS DESERVE A WILD RIDE SOMETIMES!Happy Anniversary, baby. I love you forever. –Susi.