“‘Mark, this is a stupid idea. I’m going home. I’ll see you at the game tomorrow, okay?’ I started to stand from the table when he grabbed my hand.
‘No, Henry. Sit down. They’ll be here,’ he said it with such confidence. I wished that I could have that amount of anything.
I hated waiting, still do to this day. It seems like such a waste of time. Anyways, we’d been sitting there for a good ten minutes and the girls still weren’t there. Uncle Mark kept telling me that women are late for everything and all this other stuff that isn’t true, but made sense at the time because I was nineteen. Well, another five minutes went by and my nerves were just jumpin’ everywhere. I told him that I just couldn’t take it anymore. He sighed and nodded at me, then let me get up from the table. As soon as I turned around, she was standing at the door. A woman that I’d never seen the likes of before.
She had… She had these glasses that reflected the green of her eyes perfectly. Her cheeks were this red that were… They were just perfect. The color was natural too, because I knew she wasn’t wearing makeup. If she was, then she would’ve covered up the pimple on her nose. Or she just didn’t care enough to cover it up. Her dress was just… It was…”
My nine year old raises her eyebrow at me and says, “Perfect?”
I chuckle and ruffle her hair. “Yes. Perfect. Everything about her was amazing from just one glance. I looked to Uncle Mark and asked where her friend was. He said he had no idea who she was and she wasn’t the one I was supposed to be meeting. I told him to apologize to the girls but I was sure I’d found the one. He’d made fun of me for a minute before he realized I was serious. He gave his blessing and I walked over to her. My legs shook so bad. I walked over to her booth and tried to say hi. I couldn’t make myself do it so I sat at the booth across from hers and pretended to read the menu.
I kept looking up at her and well, I guess she noticed. She stood up and walked over. She sat across from me and folded her hands on her table. She looked at me and it sounded like angels when she said, ‘Are you interested or just a creep? That’ll decide whether or not I run screaming or I punch you.’ I blushed and tried to hide my face as I explained the situation. She nodded and said she understood. She said she was supposed to meet someone there that night but he stood her up. I couldn’t believe it. Who would stand up a woman like that?”
My daughter interrupts me again. “Obviously not a good man.”
I nod and smile, “Exactly, dear. Anyways, we sat and talked for a little while. I got her a banana split and she bought me a soda. She insisted on it. I thought it was sweet. We stayed and talked for a while. So long actually, that her ice cream melted. She just laughed and drank it after eating the bananas. She gave me one, though. As a tip for buying it for her. It made me smile so goofy.”
“Like the one you’re doing now, Daddy?”
I laugh and shake my head, “Yes. Now, hush or I’ll never finish.”
She sighs and slumps back, looking at me. “Okay, fine.”
“She talked about how she was majoring in something called Botany; it’s the science of plants and things. I listened to her talk about ferns for a good hour. We also talked about ourselves a little. She told me how she’s a revolutionary woman and how it scares away people a lot because they don’t really understand. I told her that I didn’t really mind because it was a part of her, it wasn’t her entirely. She asked about me. I told her I was a law major. She asked about my varsity jacket because smart boys usually don’t like sports. I bashfully told her that I wasn’t really on the team. I was just a water boy, a glorified water fountain. She told me that was the best position because I got the jacket but not the brain injury. Within a few hours, she’d become the most beautiful and funny woman I’d ever met. Soon, the place closed. I offered to walk her home.
She accepted and I walked her to her dorm. She grabbed my hand before I walked away and took a pen from her sweater pocket. She wrote down some numbers on my hand. She said it was hers and that I should call her sometime, so we could talk some more about plants and about me being a water fountain. Your Uncle Mark always told me to wait three days to call a girl. In my opinion, that’s why he’s still single and has been divorced 4 times. I didn’t wait any time, really. Maybe 30 minutes once I got home to call her. We stayed up until late in the night on the phone. We both fell asleep and when I woke up, the receiver was under my cheek.”
“Daddy, what’s a receiver?”
I laugh and say, “It’s the hand held part of an old phone.” I shake my head and continue. “When I woke up, I hung up the phone because I didn’t want to wake her up or bother her because the phone wasn’t make the dial tone sound-”
“Daddy, what’s a-”
“It doesn’t matter, Adelaide. Anyways. I hung up, then my phone rang about 5 seconds later. I picked up and it was her. She was mad at me for not saying goodbye before I hung up.” I chuckle and smile. “We ended up talking for another hour before she left to go take a test. A few weeks later, she dropped her major and decided to be a fashion designer. Then she decided she wanted to be an accountant. I, however, kept the law major and ended up becoming a lawyer. A few years after that, I got on one knee. I asked her to be my wife.” I pause.
“What’d she say, Daddy?”
“She said no, pumpkin. She said no because she was diagnosed with something called cancer. She didn’t want to drag me down or to hurt me if she died.”
I chuckle nervously and nod, “Yes, it is. However, I stuck by her every day. I kept asking every day. Every day she said, ‘With my bald head? No, sir!’ I still kept asking. Kept pulling out the ring. Until, one day. She said yes. I asked why she changed her mind. She said if I was able to deal with her at 18, then I’d be able to handle her at 34 with cancer. So, we got engaged then we got married at the courthouse. Your Uncle Mark was there and so was her sister. We didn’t know what would happen or anything. All we knew was that we loved each other, and that we still do.”
“Is that why Momma doesn’t have hair in some pictures?”
“Yes, it is.”
“When’s brother getting here?”
“I don’t know, honey. He’s probably just as stubborn as your mother and is taking his time.”
We sit and wait. My leg bobs up and down. I hate waiting. It’s a waste of time. Having Adelaide with me helps a little because she’s just a giant ball of energy but then she sits and does her own thing. I can’t tell which is worse at this point: my nerves or my impatience. I keep chewing on my nail and almost rip it off when my head jerks to look at the nurse next to me.
“Are you Henry Mason?” She asks.
“I am. Is everything okay? Is she okay? Is he okay?”
She takes my hand and leads me to the hospital room. My daughter holds my other hand. I look around the room and see both my wife and son asleep on the bed. My heart sinks in relief at them both being okay. I thank the nurse and turn to leave the room when I hear a faint voice.
“You’re hanging up without saying goodbye first? That’s rude. I thought you were better than that.”
I turned to see her. She’s exhausted, but looks just as perfect as she did those many years ago.