Between January and July, Kim and I started spending more and more time together. We’d often go out for coffee or wander over to the art museum at lunch or just hang out in her office talking. I often got tickets through the radio station I was working for so she would come with me to concerts that I had to introduce or to shows I wanted to see.
There was a night that I had to introduce David Sanborn at an outdoor show. We headed down to the venue and stopped next door to meet up with Karen and Bernie for a drink or something. It was starting to sprinkle so I left the umbrella with Kim and headed over to the concert. I did the stage announcements and went out and sat with our listeners in the audience. It started to pour down rain. I got wetter and wetter – but Kim had our umbrella.
Meanwhile, Kim sat warm and inside next door with the umbrella tucked under her seat. She and Karen had decided it would be stupid to sit outside in this weather. After the rain stopped, they headed over to catch the last notes of the encore and to go backstage afterwards and chat briefly with the musicians. I was drenched. She was dry. But when percussionist Don Elias asked her what she had thought of the show, he didn’t seem to notice this difference in dampness and didn’t conclude that she couldn’t have been there.
“You were great”, she said.
As we moved out of earshot I said to her, “I’ll give you a dollar if you can tell me what instrument he plays.”
She was not phased. She said, “well, he was great, wasn’t he? He didn’t ask me if I saw the show tonight.”
I filed this story away to tell my girls some day. It’s one of those examples of the subtle things to listen for while you’re dating that tell you about the relationship you are building.
Another night, Kim and I were at her apartment eating dinner. We’d decided to order Chinese food. We didn’t need two full meals so we’d ordered one dinner plate that came with rice and an eggroll and a second entree to split. I was in the other room doing something and came back into the kitchen to see two plates neatly set out. Rice on both and half of each entree on both plates.
“Where’s the eggroll?” I asked. I’d expected to see it split on both plates.
Kim didn’t even have the shame to hide what she’d done. Her mouth full of food she looked dead at me and said, “What eggroll?”
This was another story to file away. There are many times in the past dozen or so years where I’ve said to her “I should have seen this coming. It’s just like the eggroll.”
We went through a period of about a month where Kim was busy on most weekend nights. We ended up not seeing each other much outside of work and school. And then she was going away on a cruise with three of her girl friends. We were up very late the night before she left on the cruise and took a long time saying goodbye to each other. It was clear to each of us that we should probably start dating each other but Kim was still sure she wanted to marry a Catholic and was positive that if we dated each other it would lead to marriage.
So she went away on her cruise and I wanted to send her something. Something that wasn’t too mushy but that let her know I was thinking about her. After all, this was the woman who had let me sit alone in the rain at a concert and who had shoved a whole eggroll in her mouth rather than share it. O.K., that makes her sound horrible – by now you know she has many many good qualities.
I called Sandy, my travel agent, and asked if we could send something to the cruise ship. She found out that you could send a bottle of wine to her table but the note could only say “Compliments of”. The ship wisely didn’t allow personalized messages. They couldn’t risk bumming out one of their customers. I asked about the airlines – they too had nothing they would do.
So I figured I’d try something myself. I went to a florist and bought a small arrangement. I added a card that said “this makes five Saturdays in a row that you’ve blown me off.” Flowers and a snotty card – the perfect gesture for Kim.
I then did something that would be impossible to do today. I drove the flowers and the card down to the Cleveland airport and asked at the ticket counter how I could have them delivered to a passenger flying back from Los Angeles to Cleveland the next day. They told me to head down to the gate where a flight was leaving for Los Angeles to Cleveland the next day.
This was the days before security. I wandered down to the gate and asked to talk to someone on the flight crew after they had loaded the plane. I told the woman who came out to meet me my story and gave her the flowers. She kept them in a refrigerator overnight and gave them to the flight crew from the flight that Kim would be on. Somewhere over the rockies, a steward on her flight delivered the flowers and the card.
Before any young readers get the wrong idea about romance and rush to perform a gesture like this. I want to point out that this didn’t work.
I know. You would have thought it would have. You’d think that would be the end of the story. You’d think that would be the point in the movie where the Meg Ryan character gives that look she gives Tom Hanks character and says “ohhhhhh”. You’d think I’d have gotten a thanks or a phone call.
So I decided Kim and I would continue to be friends but it was time to see other people. When she and I met up for coffee later in the week, I let her know that I was taking someone else out to a listener event at the Western Reserve Historical Society. The other woman already had plans that evening so I expected to be back around eight.
When I got back from my date with this other woman, Kim was waiting outside of my apartment. It hadn’t occurred to her that I would move on. Going out with someone else had been much more effective than the flowers at moving her to commit to our relationship. We’d gone out for the first time on January 25th and exactly six months later on July 25th Kim made a decision that we would be together forever.