by Elaine Miller
It was still light out, a clear night. There were children costumed with sacks in their hands running up and down laughing and eating candy. Marie had gone out trick or treating with her friends earlier in the evening. We arrived at the school and the dance was in full swing. We were a little late, but it didnít matter. No one was dressed in costume; it was just a dance. It was a bring your own bottle. I had my diet seven up and a bottle of wine to make weak wine coolers. We went in and found an empty table. Everyone greeted us and my spirits started to improve a little. The fear about bringing Mary home was always at the back of my mind.
Some of the fellows I liked as friends came over and asked me to dance. I put on a happy, smiling face and tried to get into the spirit of things. The evening wore on and we sat talking and dancing. I sipped one wine cooler all evening. The band announced there would be a musical "chair" dance. Two circles were formed. The women stood inside in a circle and the men on the outside with a circle around the women. The women went one way inside the circle, while the music played, and the men went the opposite way. There were always more women than men at these functions. When the music stopped the men made a lunge towards the women grabbed one and that was your partner for that dance. I was out there in the whirl of things. It seemed I always had a partner. As I was dancing, I noticed a man enter the entranceway of the school. He casually took his money from his pocket and paid his fee. He walked through the doorway and into the gym. He stood and watched the commotion of the circles, then the dancing. Every time I was whirled around it seemed that he was looking at me. With one eye on him I flirted and laughed with my dance partner. Soon the man went over and sat down at my table, which was the third or fourth in line.
I felt his eyes on me, even when my back was to him. He appealed to me, even in the dimmed lights. He was nicely built, had dark hair and a beard. I thought I must have been imagining his perusal of me. I tried not to look at him. It was evident that he was not going to join the musical "chairs". We were in our circles again. The music stopped and a man that I didnít care for started running to catch me with his arms out and his mouth in a wide open grin. In a split second I turned and started to run off the dance floor through the other couples falling into each otherís arms. I had just broken free, when in a split second the stranger was on his feet running forward with outstretched arms.
He caught me. He had his arms around me a few minutes before he released me. He was smiling. He had clear blue eyes and they crinkled up at the corners when he smiled. He had straight, even white teeth. He had dark brown hair with graying sideburns and a little graying in his beard. It felt wonderful in his arms. We stood and looked at each other. He said, " I like the way you wiggle." I stared at him and laughed. I led him over to my table and we sat down. He had on a light blue leisure suit, which accentuated the color of his eyes. I could detect warmth about him. When he had said he liked the way I wiggled, however, my first thought was that he was another smart-ass. He told me his name was Don Miller and he was a mechanic. He was a service writer and managed the mechanics at a foreign car dealership. We got up and danced a couple dances. I shared a glass of wine cooler with him. We sat and talked. I put on a bubbly happy front.
Don had arrived at ten p.m. The dance was almost over. My friends and a couple men whom they sometimes dated were sitting with us at the table. They were talking about going to a restaurant for breakfast. It was almost midnight. We all stood up. I gathered up my sack of seven up and wine. Don took the sack and took hold of my hand. He looked me in the eye and asked if I wanted to go out. I told him I wasnít hungry. He said we could just have coffee. I told him I canít drink coffee after ten a.m. or I wonít sleep all night. We stood and looked at each other. He said, " You know, you need to talk to someone. Iíve watched you and you are really up tight about something. Shall we just go some place quiet and talk?"
I was stunned. I almost burst into tears. I couldnít believe that someone could cut through my faÁade in two hours time and know that I was troubled and upset. Could he really be a sensitive man? Could he really see beyond my pretense to be happy and gay? There was a moment of stunned silence. His eyes crinkled up into a waiting smile. I came out of my reverie and said, "Youíre right. Why donít you follow me home and we can sit in the living room and listen to music. Iíll make you some coffee and weíll talk." He agreed. We got into our cars and he followed me home.
I was driving ahead. It was several miles to the house. I felt kind of mixed up. I didnít know what to think. It was almost too good to be true. I had been divorced now for eight months. Heíd been divorced for three years and had a fourteen-year-old son living with him in an apartment in East Peoria, across the river from where I lived. I didnít have to pick up Marie, as she was spending the night at Normaís.
We went into the house and soon we were sitting on the floor on pillows or stretched out with one hand propping our head listening to music and talking. He asked me to tell him what was wrong. Soon I found myself pouring my heart out to him. He listened. He didnít act like he wanted to jump up and run from all my problems. He didnít act bored. We got onto other topics. We talked about him. We talked about music. I found out he was thirty-eight years old. His birthday was November 14. It was now November 1. We talked and talked. It was as if we had always known each other.
We got on the topic of astrology. I had just finished reading Linda Goodmanís "Sun Signs". I told him my birthday was June 22. I had turned 34 that year. He asked me what I knew about Scorpios. I told him things about his sun sign. They are the most compatible with Cancers, which I was. Suddenly without thinking I blurted out that they were supposed to be very good in bed. He started to rise from the floor, smiled, put out his hand to pull me up and said, "letís go see!"
Next morning I found myself fast asleep curled up to him. It was like we had always been together. It was two a.m. when we had gone to bed. He was a quiet peaceful sleeper. Brett had snored really loud and pummeled all night with arms and legs flinging every which way. Don awakened smiling and cheerful, saying "hi, honey." Brett used to get up nasty and with swinging fists. Once he put a hole in the wall behind the bed. Don was happy and ready to face the day.
Were there men like him? My father was quiet and like Don. He slept quietly and when he got up he was happy and joking around with everyone in the morning. I found myself comparing Don with the only other two men I had ever lived with. The more we were together, the more I could see similarities in personality with my father.
Next morning we went to breakfast. We picked up Marie on the way. We sat and ate and shortly Marie said she was done and we needed to go. I was still drinking my coffee and eating my toast. Don turned to her and quietly told her that her mother was not ready to go and we would not be leaving until I was. He had to tell her twice and then tell her to sit back down. I could tell Marie resented him. I told her to knock it off and quiet down.
When we got home we lay on the bed and read the paper. It was peaceful and nice. We went to see Mary. Don did not seem horrified or bothered in any way. He just talked to her normally and treated her like she was normal. I was impressed. We went back home and I fixed Sunday dinner. Towards evening Don told me good-bye and said he would be calling. I was really hoping he would.
I went to work the next day. When I got home I had a card in the mail. It was home made. It had words and a stove pasted on it. It said," I, a Scorpio, would like to take a Cancer out to dinner". R.S.V.P. and it gave a phone number. I was thrilled. He sat and did that after he left me. I called and told him he didnít have to entertain me all the time. I told him I basically was a homebody and that I had to cook anyway, so he could come to my house. He agreed. I found out be basically loved being home too.
From then on Don was always there. He came every night after work and left early the next morning. He would go home and check on his son. First he brought in one outfit a day. I told him to throw his underwear in the hamper. Slowly I found myself moving my clothes over in the closet and clearing out some drawers for him. He started bringing his son Jamie to the house. He and Marie were at war at all times. He and my son Seth didnít get along. There was rivalry. My two treated him as an outsider. Jamie was quiet and sullen. He didnít like me. Don and I didnít care. We wanted to be with each other. I had a desperate need for a "rock". It made my life less frightening and bearable. I could face the challenges better. I felt angry that my kids were resentful and felt threatened with Don. Seth wasnít there much of the time as he lived with his father. Don was cool and took it all in his stride. We had an agreement that we would try living together for "awhile" as it was a good arrangement. We werenít going to fall in love. I was drawn to him. I was high strung, quick and fast about everything. He was quiet and laid back. He tended to balance me. He liked my lively personality. Kids were not going to mess up our relationship.