One Small Choice
A Choice is Made
So I’m was driving home from work on a Friday afternoon before the May long weekend. The driving was bad—inch forward, stop, inch forward stop. Gerald from work was in the car right ahead of me. He had his headphones on, and he was smoking one cigarette after another. I didn’t hang out with him any longer at breaks, as I had quit smoking – doctor’s strict orders. We still called and e-mailed each other regularly, however.
I had replaced cigarettes with ice cream, and had put on some weight because of that. Probably not very good for my health either, but I did feel better, and I became addicted to chocolate ice cream.
At one stage of my drive, I had a choice to make. I could keep going on straight ahead as Gerald was doing, or I could turn onto the road that met this one slightly to the right, and see whether that way was any quicker. You never know. I sure didn’t I’ve never taken that route before.
I had to decide quickly. I took the detour. I thought that it could not be any worse. I hoped it would be at least a little better
Driving on the Detour
I was not travelling any faster on the detour road. I should have known. Well, I could not turn back, so I wouldl just have to stick with my choice. I was in no hurry anyway. It was not like I had any plans for the night, or for any part of the long weekend. Gee, I’d have to wait an extra 20 minutes to see the latest very predictable ghost movie on Netflix.
‘Boy’, I thought, ‘I could really use a cigarette right now. If I had taken the other way, I might have been able to bum a smoke off of Gerald, when we would be stopped at one of the lights. I knew that he always had plenty of smokes. But no, I had to choose this route. Oh well.
Wait!, my mind shouted. ‘What’s that I see but a Dairy Queen’. I swung rapidly and a little wildly to the right so that I wouldn’t pass it by. There were two parking spots right in front of the D.Q so even with a sloppy turn, I could park rather easily. Then I was in the sacred store. I wondered was the line was from The Blues Brothers, Elwood Blues, played by Dan Akroyd, the movie I watched that weekend before weekend, twice, on television? Then it came to me, “I’m on a mission from God.” I didn’t realize right away that I spoke those words out loud, until I heard a woman’s laughter directly behind me, followed by the words “Me too, Elwood. Me too.”
I turned around and saw her for the first time. Earlier in my life I might have thought, “She’s not my type”, as she wasn’t skinny, and she certainly wasn’t a blond with a cigarette in her hand (a strange fantasy I had, but one that ran deep in my past). She was full-bodied, like me, probably because she, like me as well, thought that going to get ice cream was a mission from God. And she had dark hair, quite like my own.
We got into an easy conversation about what kind of blizzards we liked, and how bad the traffic was in the drive that led to the D.Q. Apparently her car was parked right beside mine. Once we received our large chocolate blizzards, we properly introduced ourselves as Brenda and Bob, and then we sat on a bench in front of the store, sitting close to teach other, but not touching. We began dedicated most of our focus on eating our blizzards, getting a few words in between scoops until our little red spoons had completed performing their plastic magic.
Following a short, slightly uncomfortable silence, she began the next part of our conversation with, ‘There is a bar two doors down. How would you like to have beer chaser or two to our shot of ice cream?” I couldn’t say ‘sure’ any faster than I did.
We did not drink very much, only two beers each. But talked a lot, getting to know the better part of our two life histories. There was a lot we had in common. Both of us almost got married once, and had been lifelong smokers from our early teens until fairly recently. And, obviously from our detailed knowledge of the Blues Brothers, we both loved movies of the late 1970s and early 1980s, which we both first saw when we were just little kids. And when we gave each other our phone numbers, the two of us both said at roughly the same time “Who ya gonna call?” We both responded by pointing at the other and then laughing.
We paid our bar bills separately. She had given me a hard stare when I started to offer to pay for both. I had only said the words, “Let me,…” Before either of us could say anything else she yawned, quickly covering her mouth, and blushing.
I at least partially rescued the situation with a joke, “That usually happens to me too when I follow ice cream with two beers.” She smiled and put her left hand on my right hand.
I then asked her what movies she had at home, and she replied with “you first”. Between us we had a good collection. We then did a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to determine whose place we would go on the coming Saturday night to watch a few of our movies. She won. I suspected that she cheated, but I really didn’t care.
Facing the Other Route
Not long after I arrived home, I got a call from Gerald asking me to do Face Time with him. I’d rather have just gone to bed, but he was insistent. When I saw his face, there was another face very close to his.
“This is Sheila. We met when I stopped to buy cigarettes on my drive home. We both hated the drive, so we took a smoke break from the traffic and got to know each other.” He moved his phone so that I could get a clearer view of Sheila. She was beautiful, thin like a model, and with blond hair, the look that before that day I would have called ‘my type’ (very much like the woman I almost married years before). She waved back and forth at me with a lit cigarette in her waving hand, smoke circling around her head like a halo.
My first thought was a strange one. If I had followed Gerald down the road he travelled and pulled over with him for smokes, I might have met Sheila instead of Brenda. I might have been smitten by her, and charmed her away from Gerald (an arrogant thought to be sure). That would have been so wrong. My small choice in turning off the main road, had what I felt then and know now had an unexpectedly positive impact on the day, and, as I would discover, many more days to follow.
So that is how I met your mother. Now get your shoes on. We are going on a family outing to DQ.
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