I’ve written about how Doug and I met previously, but not on my blog. So what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with that story?
I fell in love with Douglas McKercher’s face as soon as my Chardonnay-soaked eyes locked onto it.
Irene’s Pub, Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Friday night, June 24, St- Jean-Baptiste Day, 1994, 25 years ago this year. It was getting latish, maybe 10 or 11 p.m.?
When we get asked, “How did you meet?” I settle in comfortably to tell our tale: “Well,” I begin with delight, while Doug’s eyes put on that sneaky crinkle. “I picked him up in a bar, “ I explain. “And I had to work at it, too.”
Eyebrows rise and interest is piqued. They look at us, from one to the other. (Is it disbelief that that’s the way it happened? Or that I’m willing to admit I had to work at picking him up? No matter. Doug’s lips curl into a smile at the thought, though. Or is that a smirk?)
“I saw his face across the room,” I continue. “And my mind was jolted. Who is that man?” I had to know.
Doug was standing beside John, an Irene’s regular; I’ll say “too regular” if you know what I mean. He was short, skin and bones (had to weigh fewer than 100 lbs.) and had dirty blond, stringy hair down to his waist. He always wore a wide smile that highlighted several gaps in his assorted yellowed teeth when he saw me. Not quite “Deliverance,” but in the adjacent county.
He’s since died and his obit listed cause of death as “alcohol related.” God bless him.
I had had a few drinks by then. I tend to be friendly when under the influence. I rose from my chair as if pulled by some magical force, and slid over to where John was standing, right next to Doug. Of course I gave John a big hug hello and after a few minutes chatting, he grabbed my shoulders and planted me on his other side, next to Doug. “You couldn’t take your eyes off the guy, so I figured you might as well stand next to him,” he told me later.
And stand I did. And talk. We talked. Doug was a publications officer with the federal government, and I a communications officer for a national farmers’ association. Words! We both loved words! And publishing! And design!
But then it got late and I had to leave. “So,” I said, in my usual shy manner and trying hard not to slur my words. “I have to leave soon. Would you like my phone number?”
He ignored my question but kept talking. I listened quietly, thoughts flitting through my mind like trapped butterflies: He didn’t say “No, thanks,” or “Sorry, I’m married.” I so hate it when people don’t answer a direct question. Maybe he didn’t hear me. Should I just say goodbye, then?
“I have to go now. I really enjoyed talking with you. And, so…you don’t want my phone number. Is that right?” He paused, looked at me, then at John, and then back to me. “Why would I want your phone number?” I didn’t miss a beat. “Well, I just thought it might be nice to grab a coffee together sometime, that’s all.”
“But what about your friend over there? Don’t you think he’d mind?”
I looked quizzically at John. “No, I don’t think so. Why would he mind?” I asked, still pronoucing my words carefully. (It really was time to go. I didn’t want him to think I was a lush and one more would have pushed me over the edge!)
“Oh. I’m not with him, he’s just a friend,” I said (clearly a bit slow off the mark). Doug later admitted he had indeed found me attractive, but was unsure about taking the phone number of someone he thought was with another man. Did he really want to take a little tart’s number? (At least he thought about it!)
But once I said I was single, he came to his senses, took my number and called me the next day.
“Would you like to meet for coffee?”
Two weeks later, I ‘jokingly’ asked when he wanted to get married. His response: “I’m so glad you brought it up first, I was afraid to.” I was startled, of course. He sounded serious. Was I?
One year and two weeks later, we were indeed married.
Thanks Chardonnay! Couldn’t have done it without ya!