How They Met
They meet in bars, airports, hotels and at rodeos. They hear scraps of conversation. “You go to that church?” “You like Armenian food?” “You’ve read that book?” They text and learn smatterings of information. Favorite colors, travels, books and What Do you Want to Be When you Grow Up? They find out that neither one of them came from “normal” families. They fall in love.
Over the years I have collected stories of how people met. Here are some favorites:
At an Aggie dance. He swung down from the rafters, all 6′ 3″ and pronounced “I’m going to marry you.” She laughed. She was dating someone else. Someone rich and good looking and from the East coast. This straight off the ranch cowboy offered nothing but long cold winters and too much work. But his eyes were as blue as a mountain lake. One summer she didn’t head back East to work with her boyfriend’s sister. She stayed home to work on her degree. The cowboy swooped in. She ended up a ranch wife. Tough, beautiful and sage. He got drunk and rode his horse into the hotel lobby on his wedding night. He said it was his friends but I think it was him. They’ve been married 50 years.
She was waiting to hear about law school. She enjoyed working at the crisis clinic but couldn’t see living like that forever. When her sister took time off to make some money on a fishing boat, she decided to tag along. The work was backbreaking and the hours were long. When the Chief engineer saw the two college girls walking up the ramp he said “Oh look, they’ve confused this with Outward Bound.” In the galley the girls joked about expecting flowers in their staterooms. The ship was full up so they shared a stateroom with a skinny welder with a habit of parading around in his leopard print skivvies. She ended up stamping roe bags destined to be shipped to Japan in the galley. The Chief came by to help. They started talking and soon people noticed. No one commented. The Chief was strict and highly respected. Later, someone said that the Chief stamping roe bags was like the President making sandwiches. When his contract was over, she drove in the van with him to the Dutch Harbor airport. He leaned over and kissed her, missing her lips. “Call me when your contract is done.” She did and their first date was 2 weeks long. They’ve been married nearly 20 years.
She worked at a bar down the street from where he lived. It wasn’t a fancy bar, more retro than upscale. It attracted the newly famous and aspiring to be Someone Hollywood types. All the bartenders looked like they should be in the movies. He was a struggling writer, trying to squeak by on a weekend waiting shift at Musso and Franks where the tips were good and the contacts even better. The martinis were $8, which back then, was a fortune. He’d sip his water, staring at the cocktails until one day she slid one in front of him, icy and dripping. He shook his head. “No thanks.” “It’s on the house.” She winked and went down the bar. He took one sip and watched her. It was the most he’d said to her. She had dark hair that swooped over one eye, seemingly defying gravity. She wore heavy eyeliner and old fashioned dresses. When he’d slowly finished the drink, she came back, wiping the counter. “So, what’s it going to be?” He shrugged. “Sorry, I can’t afford to drink here.” “So why why come to a bar?” He turned beet red. The other bartender, an older man, came to his rescue. “Oh come on Olivia, put the guy out of his misery.” Her smile illuminated the room. “When are you going to ask me out?” He took a deep breath and asked her to a movie. She shook her head. “Nope, I am a fabulous cook and I am going to cook you dinner.” And she did. For the next 17 years.