Welcome to Happy Hour at Reed My Writing. My name is J.R. and this is my place. Thursday is my day off and I’m bringing in some great guest post-tenders to run the place in my absence. Each month there is a new theme and I let the post-tender concoct something amazing to serve you, my wonderful guests.
I only have two rules here. Fun is to be had by all and please don’t urinate in the parking lot. I’m speaking to the ladies as well as the dudes.
Today’s guest post-tender is Leanne Shirtliffe, A.K.A. Ironic Mom, who reminds everyone, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, laugh at your kids.” She’s pretty rad and if you want to know more I suggest you check out her site when you’re done here. This is her interpretation on this month’s theme, May Flowers.
Roses in Bahrain
In the final stages of a six-year relationship (which had already included a cancelled engagement), I saw the writing on the wall of the college coffee shop. Literally. A newspaper hung on a spindled periodical rack, folded precisely to reveal the bottom of a full-page ad. I looked over my boyfriend’s shoulder and silently read the large font: “Maybe it’s time to start a new relationship.” I smiled and turned my attention back to the single lily on the table between us.
Ironically, I’d made the decision to end the relationship the previous week, after grieving the death of a relationship whose latter years eroded me, convincing me that I didn’t read enough history and that my breasts weren’t perky enough. Not what any woman needs to hear. Ever.
The sign was a reminder: I was better than that.
I spent two weeks in Kenya and ten days in Greece participating in social justice conferences. He – a new “he”, a temporary “he” in spite of his hasty marriage proposal – saw my intelligence, believed in it. I did too. We sat in a meadow of wildflowers discussing Margaret Atwood, the Western perception of beauty, and his unflinching belief that he’d be dead by 30. “People like me don’t live long in my country,” he said. I took his passion home with me. His poetry too.
A happily single woman, I moved to Bahrain, a speck of an island in the Persian Gulf, to begin my life anew. I had accepted a job with an international school teaching International Baccalaureate (IB) English Literature to eleventh and twelfth graders.
I met him, the man who would become my husband a few years later, at the opening staff luncheon. I sat in the empty chair beside him. I laughed when he joked with the waiter about the size of the pepper grinder. He was amused that farm-girl-me didn’t order the fish (like all 27 people at the luncheon), but the veal. The high school principal noticed our connection before we did. Come for dinner, the principal said.
Days later, he picked me up in his vintage 1984 Mercedes. He was trying to solicit a compliment about his car. At a dangerous uncontrolled intersection, he said, “Don’t worry, the Mercedes has one of the best safety records.”
“Kinda like a Volvo,” I remarked. He took mock offense at my sass.
The evening passed. We were becoming friends.
Then he asked me on a date.
This Canadian boy drove his Mercedes to my apartment and knocked on my door.
I opened it, and I saw what I didn’t want to. Flowers. Roses. Six of them. Three red and three white. This was going too fast. I wanted to shut the door, to flee. A serious relationship was not on my agenda. My plan was to complete my two-year contract, travel the region, and return home to do a Masters degree.
Instead I smiled, opened the door wider, and took the bouquet. “Thank you,” I said. “They’re beautiful.”
He exhaled audibly.
It was Monday. He later told me that he asked me out on a Monday because, if it went well, he knew he could ask me out again on the weekend.
It went well.
Thanks to Leanne for kicking off May with a touching tale of love and romance on a truly international scale, eh. Check out the good stuff at Ironic Mom and on Twitter. Please tip your bartender with a nice comment before you leave.