Wednesday, February 18, 2015
The Five Dollar Happily Ever After
I was a five dollar bet. He was trying too hard.
The year I turned twenty-two, a friend of mine forgot my birthday. Because I was (and still am) a bit of a smarta**, I told him he could make it up to me by showing up at a local club that Friday night, buying me several drinks, and dancing the night away. This particular friend is not much of a dancer so I knew there was a very good chance he wouldn't show up. Bearing that in mind, I brought another friend, Margaret, to the club with me that Friday night.
Margaret was the dance fiend among friends. She hit the dance floor that night and never returned. Since I was the designated driver of the evening, I took a seat at the bar (another friend was the bartender--always helpful!) and ordered up a club soda. The first guy to approach me showed up with a posse of his friends backing him up. He proceeded to tell me his dad was a driving instructor and he could get me free lessons if I'd date him. (Wow! What a deal! What a catch!) Luckily, my bartender pal scared him and his posse away.
I was sipping my club soda, scanning the dance floor for Margaret, when a husky voice whispered in my ear, "You're not having a good time tonight, are you?"
I turned and came face-to-face with a pair of golden eyes that made my heart stutter. He offered to buy me a drink. I told him I was drinking club soda, which was free. He offered to buy me a free club soda. Okay, I thought, we've got great eyes and a sense of humor. Two checkmarks for him. I must have smiled, encouraging him. He pulled up the barstool next to mine and kept chatting. He told me he was a stockbroker and part-time ski instructor. He had a boat he'd love to take me out on. He routinely flew to Europe on business. The more he told me, the more I knew he was lying. And yet, as odd as it might seem, his lies charmed me. He was trying so hard to impress me, I felt flattered. Or maybe he had me hypnotized with those eyes.
We talked for hours. We danced. And at the end of the night, despite his insistence I leave with him, I gave him my phone number and went home with Margaret. She, of course, gushed about this guy who seemed so interested in me. "When you marry him," she said, "I better be invited to the wedding." I told her, "When I marry him, you get to be in the bridal party."
You can pretty much guess the rest. He called me. On our first date, he confessed he wasn't a stockbroker or a ski instructor. He didn't have a boat and had no plans to go to Europe. In fact, he'd only recently graduated college and was about to start his first "real job" a few weeks later. Why had he lied? Because I looked so perfect, so special, he thought he wasn't good enough. Yeah, I fell. Hard and fast. Lucky for me, so did he. We dated for two years and on the second anniversary of the day we met, we married.
Over time, he taught me to ski. He took me sailing. And we traveled to Europe. So maybe he was more prognosticator than prevaricator.
The five dollar bet? I found out about that after we were engaged. His friend, Mike, who was with him at the club the night we met, revealed all. "Didn't he tell you? He spotted you when you came in that night, said you were perfect for him, and bet me five bucks he'd leave the club with you."
He lost that bet.
But, in the end, we both won. Mike was the best man at our wedding; Margaret was a bridesmaid. It's been thirty+ years since that night in the club. His eyes still make my heart stutter. And every time he tells me, "I love you," I fall in love all over again.
Happy belated Valentine's Day!
Gina Ardito is the award-winning international author of more
than twenty romances, a legendary singer in confined spaces (her car, the
shower, her office cubicle), and a killer of houseplants. She
hosts fun, informative workshops for writers around the country. In 2012, Gina
was named a Woman of Outstanding Leadership by the International Women’s
Leadership Association, but to her friends, she’s still just a shenanigator. A
native of Long Island, New York, she lives with her husband, two children, a
bionic dog, and their two cat overlords. For more info on Gina and her books,
you can visit her website at ginaardito.com, follow Gina on Facebook