Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together . . . and I knew it.
~Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle
He pulled up to the curb in a red VW bug all smiles, obviously unaware that I was not dating. I clenched my jaw and knew instantly what was happening. A blind date (or as I now call it: a deaf, dumb, and blind date) set up by my well-meaning friends, without my permission.
“It’s just dinner, Lori,” my girlfriend whispered. “It will be fun and you could use some fun.” She continued out loud now: “Everyone, this is Bob.”
Well, I was not in the mood for any fun. Recently divorced, a single mom to a sick two-year-old and working two jobs left me little time or energy to go out with friends, much less date. I was tired and bitter. The last thing I wanted right now was to spend time with this happy stranger in the red VW.
Halfway through the evening Bob leaned over and asked, “Do you want me to give you a ride home? I know that you don’t really want to be here.”
“It’s not personal,” I replied. “I just don’t date right now. I live more than an hour from here and my girlfriend is supposed to take me home.”
“Grab your purse,” he smiled. “Let’s go.”
Bob and I talked and laughed all the way home. I shared my story so easily with him. The details came out so naturally it surprised me. I explained my failed marriage as well as my daughter Missy’s illness. At one point I choked up as I shared the pain that I felt and how scared I was to do this all on my own now. Bob was so easy to talk to. Before I knew it we pulled up to my curb.
As I got out of the red VW Bob said, “Hey, maybe I could take you and your daughter to SeaWorld sometime.” He laughed, “It doesn’t look right for a grown man to go without a kid or something. It wouldn’t be a date,” he reasoned. “Just SeaWorld.”
I hesitated. “Maybe. Can I think about it?”
The truth was there was no way that I could afford to take my daughter to SeaWorld. I was working as a dental assistant in the daytime and waited tables at night. The bills were piling up and I was barely making it.
“Yeah, maybe.” I nodded. “That might be fun and thank you so much for the ride.”
Over the next six months, Bob, Missy, and I went to every theme park imaginable. We shared meals that always included a toy. He would spend hours on my living room floor playing with Missy and the little neighborhood girls. The kids would giggle as they called Bob “Ken,” grabbed their Barbies, and dressed them for adventure.
One afternoon I pulled into my driveway and noticed the red VW at the curb. I walked around the house and there was Bob mowing my lawn with that that big wide smile.
“I hope you don’t mind but I noticed your grass could use a trim the last time that I was here.” He went on. “Maybe some water too. I hope it’s okay with you.”
“It’s okay, thanks,” I replied. My hardened heart was starting to soften.
One evening as I cleaned my kitchen I caught a glimpse of Bob and Missy in the living room. They were walking around with pillows on their heads. I laughed, “What in the world are you doing?”
The pillow fell off his head. Missy shouted, “Bob and I are models! We are practicing walking with pillows on our heads.” Bob’s face turned bright red.
That evening, before Bob went home, I asked him if he would like to go out for a real meal, one that didn’t come with a toy.
“What will Missy do?” he asked.
“I just thought maybe my mom could watch her sometime and we could go to dinner, maybe a movie too,” I replied. “You and me.”
“Wait a minute. I thought you didn’t date!” he teased. “That sounds like a date to me!”
The happy stranger in the red VW won my daughter’s heart, and then he won mine.
Happy 25th anniversary, Bob!