Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The night that Harriet met Ken.

I love to hear this story and with her permission, I'm sharing.

Harriet is my best friend. She is nearly ten years younger than I am, ten inches taller than me and has legs that go on forever. She and I met when both of our daughters were in Montessori and she and I spent one crazy year volunteering to serve Toddler lunch. It was an insane idea but somehow we made it work, referring to ourselves as thing one and thing two.

Now, Harriet has her own three children, ages 9,7 and 1 and is also raising her dead sister's two children,ages 12 and 10. She used to live three blocks away from me. Now she has moved out to what I refer to as "snotty land"...the western part of our city and she is so crazily busy that we have to settle for sharing a dinner once a month. It's always fun, we always drink just a little too much and end up laughing like lunatics.

This is the story of how she met her husband, Ken.

It was over a decade ago. Harriet had just turned 30 and for some reason this upset all of her friends and family much more than it upset her. They started trying to fix her up. She had more blind dates in one month than most people have in ten years. One particular night she was to meet her date at a local bar and eatery. This guy, Len, taught fourth grade at the school where her sister taught kindergarten.

"Len is wonderful," the sister told her. "He's tall, taller even than you and he looks just like Ricky Martin."

This was during Ricky's Livin' La Vida Loca years, way before he even thought about coming out of any closets. Looking at a picture from a school party, Harriet admitted that he did bear a striking resemblance to Ricky and told her sister that he was either gay or a serial killer, that is just the way these things go. Her sister insisted that neither was true, that he was always going out on dates with women, but had just never found the one. She wanted Harriet to be the one so badly.

Harriet agreed to meet him. She showed up at the bar a few minutes early in her ballet slippers, just in case he was not taller than her 5'11 self. She had slathered hair shine all over her long brown hair and wore a soft blue sweater with a black skirt. Casual. Not too casual. She had tried to put in her contacts but they weren't cooperating, so she settled for taking off her horn rimmed glasses and putting them in her purse and had to resort of squinting to see anything. She walked into the bar and settled at a free table, furtively taking out her glasses and peeking around. She thought she saw him, but no...that couldn't be him. This guy was a Ricky lookalike, but he seemed engrossed in conversation with a girl who looked like she had just rolled out of bed.

"The girl looked like one of those sexy, slutty girls," Harriet told me. "Sort of like Madonna in "Desperately Seeking Susan."

Harriet ordered a gin and tonic and sat at her table. She looked up and there was this guy standing there.

"I don't suppose you're Trudy?" he asked her.

She said no, she wasn't. He sighed. Told her that he was meeting a blind date but messed up and said, "blonde date" instead and then had to correct himself.

"Well," he told her. "My brother did say that she was blonde and that she would be wearing a black skirt. I'm Ken, by the way." He looked around. Lots of black skirts in the room. He asked her if he could join her while he waited and she said okay, that she was meeting a blind date too.

So, you can figure it out. They soon realized that Harriet's date and Ken's date were the happy flirting couple at the table across the room.

"It was obvious," Harriet said. "And to be honest, they were like a few steps up and out of both of our leagues, that much was obvious. You know how you can tell just by looking at someone when they are in a class of better looking than you? Well, that much was clear. Ken reminded me of Dick Cavett. He was in my league. We decided to take the plunge and just go up to the good looking couple and ask them. So, Ken stands up and I stand up and I immediately want to sit down because...fuck it all to hell...he is like 5'7 and I was towering over him like Big Bird. But...he was already on his way to their table, so I followed him. And yeah...we were right. They both acted all innocent and surprised and to Ricky Martin's credit, he stood up and was prepared to go eat dinner with me.

And then, Ken did something that just got to me. He suggested that maybe they should eat together and we should too. He said that he'd already met me and if it was okay with me, he'd really, really enjoy having dinner with me. Was that okay with everyone? Well, Ricky and Madonna looked pleased as all get out and I found that I was too. So, that is what we did. They left the bar, probably went to her apartment to fuck their socks off, she looked like that was a typical date for her. And Ken and I had dinner."

So, I asked her..was it fun? Did stars fall on Alabama?

They did, she said. She said that they sat down and ended up talking for two hours. When she told him that her sister would be mad that she hadn't eaten with Ricky, Ken smiled at her and said, "Hey, he is WAY too good looking. He's either gay or a serial killer."

He said the EXACT same thing that I said to my sister! It was karma. I knew it right from the start.

After dinner, they walked to a nearby ice cream shoppe and split a banana split. Another something in common: they both adored banana splits.

"It kind of bothered me that I was four inches taller than he was," she said. "But, after a surprisingly short time, I barely noticed. And he WAS kind of scrawny, I figured that I probably had at least ten pounds on him, but by that time, it was too late. I was mad for him. He was mad for me. We got married within a year and our son was born exactly nine months later."

They are still together.

They have survived the loss of his cherished brother and her cherished sister. His brother from AIDS, her sister from cancer. They are now raising his brother's three cats: Billie Joe, Bobbie Joe and Betty Jo. They are also raising her sister's two children. He has lost two jobs due to downsizing in the past six years but luckily found new ones. They gave up their tiny little house in Dundee to move into a big ugly new house in West Omaha. They plan to move into another little bungalow once the kids are grown and gone.

Ken was with her for the births of their 2 sons and 1 daughter. He fainted during the birth of their first child and she never lets him forget it.

"Nobody prepared me for how freakin' GORY it would be," he protests.

Ken is the kind of father who doesn't say that he babysits when he takes care of his own children. He is allergic to dogs and still bought their kids a dog because he thinks every kid needs one. He knows how to work the dishwasher and the washer and dryer. He does all the Christmas baking and makes a big Sunday dinner every single week. He is a runner and isn't embarrassed to run with a stroller so that Harriet can have some down time in the evenings after dinner.

They aren't inclined to PDAs and for that, I am profoundly grateful.

But, they love each other. Harriet told me that a few months after she and Ken started dating and it looked like it was getting pretty serious, Ricky called her and asked her out on a date, said that he always regretted their missed dinner.

Harriet told him, sorry...she was taken.

When she got off the phone, she turned to Ken, who had been sitting on her sofa watching a movie with her when Ricky called.

"I just told Ricky that I was taken," she told him. "Am I? Taken?"

He smiled hugely at her.

"Oh, yeah. Definitely," he answered.

And so it went.

I like a good happily ever after. Don't you?


C said...

yes i do! that is such a heart warming story. thanks for sharing it. i am a true believer that when something is meant to be it will always find a way.

happy easter to you and yours.


Deb said...

Sigh. It's a beautiful story. Thank you, gives me hope.

Earth Muffin said...

What a lovely story!

Tell Harriet that I, too, am 4 inches taller than my husband and it doesn't bother me one bit. Viva la Short Guy!!!

Fusion said...

Yes I do! Nice story.

LL Cool Joe said...

Damn I wondered why I fancy Ricky Martin.

Kass said...

This is a fantastic story. Well told!

Karen said...

That is super sweet. As Deb said, it gives me hope too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much for that!

And by the way, I am living my own story nowadays... with someone I've had a crush on for ten years... and he had a crush on me... but you know hwo it goes... there were various things in the way... and who knows, yet, how it will fully go... but I'm enjoying the ride... and I think it might actually be a very, very long one.


heartinsanfrancisco said...

What a beautiful story! Harriet and Ken both sound like super-marvelous people and their relationship is clearly karmic. Thank you and your BFF for sharing this with us.

And Ricky probably comes out of his closet just long enough to kill people when the urge gets really strong.

sister AE said...

i love it!

tracer123 said...

I sure do, and I love that the cats are named after the sisters in Petticoat Junction.

Anonymous said...

Love your stories, commentary, etc. Always makes my day a little brighter!!

Wine and Words said...

That's so sweet. Awwww, I'm all warm and fuzzy now.

Eric said...

Great story, thanks for sharing it, M.

trinity2 said...

What's with the "stars fall on Alabama"? I've never heard that expression before. Great story, btw!

Saint Dolores said...

Now I have a toothache.

kristi said...

Wow, that is pretty sweet!

Gypsy said...

Wow a delightful story and a great ending too. Ricky Martins' and Madonnas' can only bring trouble to your life I suspect.

Miss Healthypants said...

I LOVE a good happily-ever-after story! :) Thanks for sharing! :)

the only daughter said...

Cooool Beans!!

Jill said...

What an awesome story!!! It's like something out of a movie!