While I was wandering the desert of relationships, I almost missed a chance at love.
We all go through periods of relationship drought, and at the time, I was stuck — parched and delirious — wandering the Sahara desert of relationships, in the middle of a sand storm with no oasis, real or mirage, in sight. Holding down a demanding job was taking its toll on my love life, yes, the one I did not have. Seeing myself as a man of potential and great expectations, I was not a happy camper about it.
Although a hopeless romantic and a realist, I firmly believe that success in life and love is in large measure about timing. True love — what we all long and hope for — is especially hard to find and sustain. Although it does exist, it is not nearly as common as one might believe. And as arbitrary as it sounds (and it is), when two people meet, has a lot to do not only with their chances of achieving satisfying passion, laughter and fun, but also a lasting and meaningful connection and relationship.
I have no idea why Hollywood and company insist on the romantic comedy format of: First they can’t stand each other, followed by they can’t live without each other, and always ending with the predictable but satisfying implication that they will ride together into the sunset, forever.
In real life we all think that we will meet our soul mate by chance, fall in love and then live happily ever after. In reality however, most of us grow up and find a mate we want and can live with, procreate with, build a life and family with and raise the kids with. And yes that is most definitely also love!
To make a very long story short and clear: I was not having any luck meeting my soul mate and was beginning to come to terms with the strong possibility that she simply did not exist, at least in this dimension. And that is when I got the call from Jeff (real name withheld to protect the guilty).
I had recently accepted a position as General Counsel, inclusive of the responsibility to handle several wrongful termination lawsuits (as it turns out, people don’t like it when they lose their jobs as a result of a corporate merger or acquisition, imagine that!). Jeff was the outside counsel labor-law attorney that was retained to help resolve these suits. Since I inherited him from the previous General Counsel, I was delighted to find out that he was not only someone I could work with, but also someone I could hang and be friends with.
“Any plans for Saturday?” he asked.
“Gym, take out, home and a movie,” I answered, being the hip and happening guy-about-town that I then was.
“Don’t be silly, you’re not going to sit at home alone. Meet us at Hal’s Bar and Grill at 8:00 PM sharp. The food is good and the music even better”. As Jeff — or more accurately his matchmaking wife — was not one to take no for an answer, I realized resistance was futile and promptly said yes.
‘By the way,” he added as if an afterthought, “are you seeing anyone?”
“Not at the moment,” I answered softly.
“Great, my wife will bring a friend, you’ll like her … ” And we were off to the races.
Saturday rolled around and I made myself as presentable as possible, which included on this special occasion: shower, shave, aftershave and deodorant, all in moderation (clean clothes were a given since I had already joined “modern civilization” many years before).
I made it to Hal’s at 8:00PM on the dot — punctuality being my middle name — and joined Jeff and his “better” half for cocktails and the promise of great food and music. By the second round of drinks it became abundantly clear that the mystery woman I was “sure to like”, was not coming to dinner. By the time we finished our food, great conversation, just the right amount of alcohol and dessert to boot, I can honestly say that the thought and promise of her, full of excited possibilities earlier in the day, was now completely gone and forgotten.
And that as they say was that, or so I thought.
Six months went by and as expected, Jeff called to invite me to dinner. It was December and that meant time for my end-of-year dinner tradition with Jeff, courtesy of his law firm as their way of saying thanks for the business and the memories. He pretty much followed the same script of earlier in the year and again included “my wife will bring a friend”. As luck would have it (luck being a critical element in all cases but specifically in matters of the heart), I had conveniently broken up with someone several weeks before. Although Jeff said nothing, and did a good job of maintaining a well-rehearsed, neutral and friendly tone, I knew that this was the very same woman who stood me/us up six months before.
Aha! I rejoiced silently (not very mature, I know, but very satisfying just the same). I would now have my well-deserved revenge. This will not be easy for her. She will have to answer for her actions and for her rude silent failure to appear all those months ago.
This time we were meeting at Ivy by the Shore for dinner, and I decided to arrive fashionably late. I arrived — as is unfortunately dictated by my genetic code — exactly on time. She arrived fashionably late and made an entrance, the sly vixen that she is. To my great surprise, I found her delightful in both form and substance. It helped that she apologized for the other time after I brilliantly weaved it seamlessly into the conversation, claiming she was seeing someone at the time. We had a lovely evening, which ended at her place for dessert (relax, it was chocolate cake and we were all there). Having found out that I was up for a new job at The Walt Disney Company, she served the cake on Mickey, Mini, Goofy and Donald Duck plates.
A year later we were married, and although the union did not end in “happily ever after,” it was very happy for a while and did produce and amazing human being. I’m not sure if we would have gotten together had me met six months before we actually did, but that is the point of the story isn’t it?
Just last weekend, on a refreshingly overcast and misty Sunday, I watched the 2011 flawed but satisfying film “A Little Bit of Heaven”. It is a story of an irreverent young woman, who only finds love after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Amazingly Kate Hudson, who plays the dying women, managed to concurrently light up the screen and convince us — good acting skills and a talented makeup artist — that she is both in love and dying. Making it even more poignant was my personal knowledge of an almost identical real life tragic story, which brought to mind the immortal words of Alfred Lord Tennyson “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” (In Memoriam: 27, 1850), words that are both corny and true at the same time.
And with that my friends, I rest my case. Anything is possible and timing is everything, even if it is just for short chunks of time.
Ironically, Jeff’s first union did not survive as well, but since he is now happily remarried, I am hopeful and confident that lightning will strike again and I will meet and fall for and with the right one soon. Carpe Diem.
Photo credit: Flickr/jurvetson