Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

In the Beginning

NUMBER 8

A Love Story

By Tabatha Deans

Spring, 2012

He began as number eight.

The first one was old, fat, and declared he would never go hiking with me, but would gladly drive me up the mountain and watch me hike.

Number two was unmemorable, other than his comment halfway through the date that “a lot more alcohol was needed.”

Number three stormed out after 45 minutes, when I told him to stop trying to touch me and there was no chance he would ever have sex with me.

Number four was nice, but didn’t speak enough English to carry on a meaningful conversation.

Number five began by showing me photos of his recent oral surgery, and ended with throwing a napkin at the table next to us in a fit of rage.

Number six didn’t even pretend to be interested in anything I had to say, and had to cut our date short because he had a tee-time.

Number seven was already drunk before the date, and repeated the same thing over and over again.

AND THEN THERE WAS NUMBER EIGHT…

Number nine was a comedian who wasn’t at all funny, and regaled me with gory details of a recent blocked intestine surgery.

Number ten, well there was really no need to continue after number eight…

ROMANTIC DESPAIR

Twenty-two years had both flown by and dragged on. Jessica’s college graduation was a day I only vaguely remember thinking about, so many years ago. When she finally walked down the aisle in her long black gown, I realized her life was only beginning, and I had succeeded in raising a beautiful human being.

And I realized that my life was half over. And still my soul mate and I had not found each other. Always the romantic at heart, with the ability, nay, the need, to see the world through rose-colored glasses, I had spent the past twenty years being the strong, free-willed, really cool woman. It was tragically romantic, but also lonely.

Oh, I hadn’t been completely alone, it’s not like I didn’t have any relationships. In fact I had several. I knew every one of them would not truly suit me from the beginning. But I worked really hard at forcing each man to be my true love. The love I had carried in my heart from the time I was a young girl. Sadly, life has not been good to my past suitors. One is certifiably crazy, one is dead, the other is near-dead and I’m pretty sure the other one is in prison. They came in all shapes and sizes, tall, short, fat, thin, painfully handsome, ugly as a fence post, smart, and dumb as a box of rocks.

But none was the one who truly loved me.

Or whom I could love.

It wasn’t like I had a bad life. I was an established writer, I enjoyed plenty of adventures and diversity, I had the respect and admiration of my peers and friends. In fact, I would dare say many lived their lives vicariously through me. However, the accolades forced me to keep my deep, dark secret. The secret that I longed for the man who loved me to share it all with. I longed to climb into bed at night and share my stories with someone who cared. I longed to squelch the lonely thoughts that screamed I was wrong.

But I began to realize there was no such man. This was all I would ever have.

The love of my life was not coming.

DARE I DREAM?

But then, I met number eight.

In honor of my 44th birthday, Jessica gifted me with a three month subscription to Match.com. I promised her I would go on one date a week, for a total of 12 dates, and in exchange she would never harass me again about my social life. Although I had resigned myself to the fact that my soul mate was a myth, I thought I might at least make some new friends.

The first six dates were tedious, and I was honestly counting down the weeks until I had met my commitment of 12 dates and could be finished. Having postponed date number seven, I found myself in the tiresome position of having to go on dates seven and eight back to back. Date number eight and I had not officially scheduled anything, and after another brutal date with number seven, I must admit I was a bit disappointed when number eight called and firmed up plans for the next day.

I had mixed feelings about number eight from the beginning. He was the only one of all the men I’d corresponded with who actually proposed an activity for our first meeting. We were meeting at the park for a walk. He scored points for that, since I told all of them that I preferred physical activity to drinks, dinner and a movie. Number eight also asked for some talking points about myself, that he might be prepared for our first meeting. His thoughtfulness impressed me, but then I found out he was a doctor. Negative points. Since I was diagnosed with diabetes 12 years ago, I have not had any positive interactions with anyone in the medical community, and was not only expecting judgment from him, but was prepared with my own tirade to put him in his place before executing a dramatic exit from the date.

Armed with Pop-Tarts and my tourist sun hat, I waited at City Park for Robert to arrive. Stuck in a traffic jam, he arrived a few minutes late, wearing a ball cap, khaki shorts and a blue Hawaiian print shirt. Not exactly what I’d expected from an evil doctor, and surprisingly I didn’t feel uncomfortable after shaking hands and beginning our walk. We began with small talk; the weather, the park, the children in the park, and advanced to talking about ourselves. What brought us to Denver? Where were we from? Siblings, parents, jobs. I was impressed that he actually responded to my questions and answers—we were actually engaging in a conversation, rather than just talking at each other. We continued to talk and before I knew it we had circled the entire park and more than an hour had passed. I was really enjoying his company, but could feel my blood sugar starting to drop, and knew the Pop-Tarts would be inevitable. We stopped to rest on a bench, look over the pond and watch the ducks and geese.

I nonchalantly opened my Pop-Tarts and started nibbling, deciding it was time to pop the Diabetes surprise on him, waiting for the judgment that would surely follow. I pre-empted my revelation with questions to him about his thoughts on personal accountability for our physical health, versus taking pills or relying on medications to keep us healthy. Surprisingly he agreed that we should take care of our own bodies, and revealed to me that doctors kind of got a bum rap for not being able to magically keep everyone healthy and happy. Hmmm. I hadn’t thought about that point of view.

Feeling more comfortable by the moment, I finally blurted out that I was diabetic. I looked directly at him and waited for the judgment.

“Type one or type two?” he asked. Here it came.

“Type one.” I waited for the judgment. Instead, he extended his hand toward me for a fist bump and smiled.

“Me too.” He bumped my fist and I was speechless. He wore no medic alert bracelet. Hmmm.

“But I’m a bad diabetic,” I said, trying to draw the criticism I had been waiting for out of him.

“So, your A1c is never seven?”

“Nope.”

“Mine isn’t either.”

What? I couldn’t believe it. He was not going to judge me. In fact, within the next few minutes of our conversation I realized he actually understood me. He was just like me. For the first time in my life someone truly understood what I was thinking, what I felt.

I ate my Pop-Tarts as we enjoyed this new level of intimacy in our conversation. It was then that I felt the first inkling of real joy, the first inkling that not only was I not all alone in this world, but that this funny, smart, handsome man might become a part of my world. I was almost giddy inside when he asked if I wanted to go get dinner, he remembered there being a nice Mexican restaurant near the park. We climbed into his Mini Cooper and headed to Las Margaritas, where I devoured the spinach and cheese quesadilla and the conversation continued to flow smoothly. After dinner he asked if I would mind taking another walk, since we had overindulged. I gladly walked him through my neighborhood, pointing out the historical highlights, having just written a story for KUSH Magazine about the Uptown neighborhood.

I think we shook hands when he dropped me at my doorstep, and I found myself smiling as I climbed the three flights of stairs to my humble abode.

That was genuinely pleasant,” I thought to myself. I went to bed with a heart lighter than I had experienced in years, and decided I wouldn’t mind it so much if Robert called me again.

I had already committed to a date with number nine, but my heart wasn’t really into it when I went to meet him at a bar downtown. I really tried to care, but within a few minutes of meeting it was obvious number nine was not even pretending to be engaged in a conversation. He didn’t listen to what I said, every statement came back to something he had done or thought, or said, and he certainly didn’t make funny comments or make me laugh. It was painful, but I lasted an hour out of courtesy. I politely refused his offer of a ride home, and instead walked the 1.5 miles up the mall, thinking about Robert and if he would call.

I worked the next day and having fulfilled my date quota for the week and then some, I was hiking uphill to my apartment when I realized I had two voice messages. The first was from number nine. He had assumed since we hit it off so well I would be coming to dinner that night, would I please call him and tell him what kind of wine I wanted. I called him and told him I would not be coming to dinner, and had he bothered to listen to me at all on our date he would have known that I had no plans to see him again.

But the second message was from Robert. The sound of his voice made my belly flip, and I’m sure I blushed as I giggled at the sensation while I was walking up the mall. He had a dinner to attend for one of his children, but it wouldn’t take long, and if I felt like a spontaneous Friday night out he would love to pick me up and take me to the local arcade 1Up. We had discussed our fond memories of video games, and he knew where we could play Ms. Pac Man, Frogger and Tapper. I hadn’t done anything spontaneous with another person for years, and was excited at the thought of going out. I wondered if our second date would produce the awkwardness that was lacking on the first date. I called and arranged to have him pick me up in a couple of hours. Embracing the spontaneity and feeling frivolous, I skipped my sensible shoes and donned some fancy footwear, and waited anxiously for Robert’s arrival.

From the time I hopped into Robert’s car, I felt an unexplained sense of calmness. He was so easy to talk to, and so easy to make jokes with. Even when we walked into the arcade and realized we were, by far, the oldest people in the joint, he took it in stride and we set about playing games. I was relieved to confirm that I still had mad skills at Tapper, and was thrilled to see that Robert was impressed with my skill and was enjoying the place as much as I was. Feeling pretty full of ourselves, we tried our hand at Q-Bert. I failed miserably. And Quickly. Robert however, seemed invincible as he hopped from square to square, top to bottom, eventually earning the respected top score and title of Supreme Noser.

A funny thing happened as I leaned over his shoulder and watched him dominate the game. Usually very careful to maintain my personal space, since physical contact with others, especially strangers, wasn’t pleasant for me, I accidentally bumped into Robert. And it wasn’t unpleasant. I did it again, under the guise of getting excited and trying to get a better look. I liked it. I felt a bit of electricity change between us, and when I drew back it felt like a part of me had been taken away. He must have started thinking I was drunk or crazy, because I found lots of reasons to bump into him, or lean against him, or brush up against him, but he was absorbed in the game and seemed oblivious to my antics, which oddly made me feel a little sad.

By the end of the evening, I was feeling very happy, even though I had received no indication that Robert was feeling anything more than friendship between us. Friendship would be okay, especially since I felt such a comfortable, genuine kinship with him. I don’t remember if we hugged in the car when he dropped me off, but I remember I was feeling really good, and hoped he would call for another date.

Indeed he did call, although we were not able to schedule another date until the following week, when we arranged to tour the Denver Botanic Gardens. I was disappointed that I would not see him again for a while, but we spoke nightly on the phone. Robert spoke with an enchanting cadence, and our conversations went on well into the night.

I never took the other three dates. Although Robert was number eight on my list, he was number one in my heart.

And now, 4.5 years later, the rest is history.

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October 20, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happily Ever After…

I thought Robert was taking me to the backyard to scold me. I had been a little snappy as we enjoyed a Saturday morning with Jess, Za and Petra, so when Robert took my hand as he led me toward the back of the yard my mind wasn’t on a marriage proposal.

He said he wanted me to enjoy the morning view with him, then wrapped his arms around me from behind and pointed out the beautiful trees in the neighbors’ yard. A dark green pine tree was surrounded by the brightest yellow tree I’ve ever seen. The morning light shone through the trees, making the fallen leaves that blanketed the ground seem to shimmer. It was beautiful and breathtaking, and I forgot for a moment that there was a scolding in my future.

Robert said some very wonderful things that made me blush, about how great I was and how great our life together was. He was so sweet I began to think there would be no scolding.

“I want to change everything right now.” Robert said.

Uh Oh. And then, before I had time to think about it, he was on bended knee, ring box in hand.

“I believe in Love, I believe in marriage, I believe in you, I believe in us. I want to grow old together. Will you be my wife.” Tears flowed from both of us as time stood still for that moment. I hugged his head since he was still kneeling, and the thought that he had chosen me to be his partner in life made my heart swell. I would take good care of this man, we would take care of each other, and that felt great.

There were other words of endearment on both of our parts, but I don’t remember them verbatim. Robert says now, that it would have been nice for me to tell him it was okay to stand up, rather than keep him kneeling. I remember thinking that I should not open the ring box until we were done with the hugging and kissing, for fear it would fall into the leaf-covered lawn and I might lose it. When I did open the box, the perfect ring winked back at me. Okay, it was more a sparkle than a wink, but the beautiful yellow diamond shimmered in the sun, and it really felt like it was saying to me “we’re going to be so happy together.”

Like many women, I have certainly thought about a proposal, a ring, a wedding, etc. But on this day, when it finally happened, I felt better than I ever imagined I would. Aside from my daughter I have never consciously made such a serious commitment to another person in my life. And for the rest of my life. I’m rather looking forward to this journey. This journey of life and growing old with Robert Stewart.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment