Writer Wednesday: What Makes a Romantic Date?


My idea of a romantic date? What’s a date? Oh, yeah, I remember. Vaguely. It’s been a long time. But we’re talking about ideas here, right? So I’d vote for a good meal and a long conversation.

That’s not exactly how my first date with Jack went, several decades ago.

We’d met, at least enough to nod and say hello, in an 8 AM anthropology class at Florida State. It was a graduate level class. I was a senior and had the prerequisites to be there. Jack was a junior (although he was twenty years older than me, a returning student) and didn’t belong in the class. I have no idea how he managed to register, but he could talk his way into (or out of) just about anything.

I think the class was Ethnology 401, rather sleep-inducing at that hour, and I paid very little attention to the students around me. Jack noticed me, but when he decided to look me up, he ran into a problem. My name wasn’t spelled like it sounded, and he couldn’t find me through the registrar’s office. So one day he followed me home from school. Today that sounds like stalking, but back then it was funny, not strange or scary.

I’m sure we talked a bit, maybe had a coke or something, but our first date was a visit to the North Florida State Fair. That was fine with me—junk food, animals, carnival rides, the fair had it all.

We started out by getting in the wrong line. For everything. No matter where we were, the other lines moved faster. But what the heck, it was a lovely fall night, and we were in no hurry. We wandered around, admiring enormous hogs and baby lambs, and watching the other people, as many local folk as students. We ate junk food. We went on carnival rides.

I love carnival rides (well, I did back then—it’s been quite a while), the music, the feeling of flying through the air. I didn’t find out until much later than Jack hated them. While I was soaring through the heavens, he was frantically examining the structure, looking for loose bolts or tie bars about to fail.

We topped off the evening with a flat tire on the way home, on a country road with no artificial light and a moon that insisted on hiding behind passing clouds. Good thing Jack was driving a little two-seater Fiat at the time. I watched him change the tire while I held a cigarette lighter to illuminate the detail work.

Jack, circa 1992It probably says something about our marriage that in later years he watched me change a tire or two. That first date may not have been traditionally romantic, but it was the beginning of a relationship that lasted thirty-three years, until Jack died in 2002. We must have gotten something right, to share all those Valentine’s Days.

For more Wednesday Writers and their ideas of Romantic Dates, visit Tamra Baumann, Priscilla Oliveras, Shelly Alexander, Sharon Wray, Jean Willett, KD Fleming, and Wendy La Capra.

The Debut of Writer Wednesdays

A few weeks ago a group Firebirds (2012 Golden Heart finalists) decided to get together for a year-long blog party: one Wednesday a month we’ll all write on the same topic, a bit of show-and-tell about our lives. To start off this month, we’re writing about weddings, in honor of Firebird sister Kat Cantrell’s double release of wedding-themed stories. To visit the rest of my blogging sisters, see the Writer Wednesday Blogs list on the right, and check out Kat’s new books and the schedule of future posts below.


April’s theme is Tell us a highlight of your wedding day. The highlight of mine was probably that it came together at all, when and where it did.

When Jack and I decided to spend Christmas of 1969 in the suburbs of Miami with my parents, we weren’t planning (if you could even call our vague talk on the subject planning) to get married until the following summer, when Jack would graduate from Florida State and move to New Orleans, where I was attending grad school at Tulane. But as soon as my mother heard that idea, she decided we should get married right away, so she’d be sure to be there. (She wasn’t far off on that—some years later my brother was married by a justice of the peace in the Lafayette Parish Courthouse; my parents and I were not there.)

So we bowed to the inevitable, arriving shortly before Christmas and marrying on the evening of the 29th. My mother made me a dress (dark green and very short), Jack found a suit somewhere, and my parents’ back fence neighbors, who owned a small bakery, made us a cake. The church was still decorated for Christmas, all red and green. My best friend, Claudia, was home from Brooklyn for the holidays, as were several of my college buddies. Jack found an acquaintance to act as best man (I think his name was Paul, but I’d have to dig out the paperwork to be sure). My brother, who was about sixteen at the time, was the altar boy.

I lost Jack in 2002, but to this day I have a yellowed clipping on one of my bulletin boards: The success of a marriage is inversely proportional to the amount spent on the wedding. Worked for us, for thirty three years.


Bride: Cara, wedding dress designer
Marital Status: Jilted at the altar
Action Required: Revenge on the runaway groom
From Ex To EternityTwo years after waiting at the altar for Keith Mitchell, Cara isn’t ready to meet him again, much less work with him as the consultant on her bridal fashion show! For his part, a misunderstanding sent him running, but now that he knows the truth, and they’re spending long days working together, he wants her back in his bed. Will Cara use their passion to gain the ultimate revenge? Let the newlywed games begin.

Buy Links:  Amazon   B&N   |   Apple   |   Kobo  |   Google

Bride: Meredith, soon-to-be co-owner, wedding dress business
Marital Status: Victim, Vegas wedding mix-up
Action Required: Divorce, ASAP
From Fake to ForeverAfter one night of tequila and sex, their impromptu Vegas wedding shouldn’t be valid. But Meredith Chandler-Harris just discovered she’s still tied to irresistible businessman Jason Lynhurst. She needs out of their marriage, but to become his company’s new CEO, he needs her as a bride. Let the newlywed games begin.

Buy Links:  Amazon   |   B&N   |   Apple   |   Kobo  |   Google



Department of Domestic Mysteries

We’ve had a beautiful day today here near Galveston Bay, and I’ve spent much of it catching up on yard work. We rarely have snow here, maybe once every few years, but the drifts of fallen leaves never seem to go away, no matter how often we rake. This morning I went out and mowed my front lawn, more to knock down weeds and mulch leaves than to cut the grass, which really hasn’t grown much in the last few weeks. I stopped in mid-mow to cut the vegetation growing up around a big tree stump, and stuffed a fifty-five gallon leaf bag three quarters full. I left the bag in the rolling trash can on my driveway while I went inside to change from a sweatshirt to a tee shirt and get a drink of water.

When I came back out ten minutes later, the bag was empty. I looked around, scratched my head, and wondered if I was a candidate for the nearest memory care center. There was the bag, in the can, where I had left it in the middle of the driveway, without so much as a twig in it. Finally I realized—at least I hope this is the explanation—that today was trash day (I put mine out on Tuesday, but rarely on Friday). The trash guys must have emptied the bag into their truck while I was in the house, leaving the bag in the can.

Either that or the compost goblins carried my clippings off.

A couple of days ago, when I got home and looked through the usual list of “out of area” and “unavailable” calls on my Caller ID, I found one from Jack C. Hudson at my own phone number. (Shades of that old horror movie: get out! the call is coming from inside the house!) This struck me as particularly creepy, since Jack died in 2002, but I’ve never changed the name on the account. I’m sure I would have been more uneasy if the same thing hadn’t happened to a friend recently. Here’s an interesting article about why (but not how) telephone scammers do this: Why Is My Own Phone Number Calling Me?

This morning I answered the phone out of curiosity when the Caller ID showed an actual name and phone number (albeit in New York City) instead of the usual “out of area” or “unavailable.” After all, I do get an occasional phone call, and NYC is always tempting. Maybe some desperate editor or agent is searching for me. Not likely, but still . . .

Anyway, when I answered this one, a fellow with a distinct accent informed me he was from Windows Technical Department, and he wanted to help me with my computer problem. I, of course, don’t have a computer problem, at least not one I’m looking for help with, and how would he have known, anyway? Not to mention the fact that I’ve heard this guy’s voice before, when I answered the same call at work, where we pretty much have to answer the telephone. I’m no IT expert, but I didn’t fall off the turnip truck last week, either. Someone must fall for these calls, I guess, or they wouldn’t be so common. Here’s an entertaining piece by someone with enough techno-smarts to scam the scammers: Scamming Fake Microsoft Support Scammers. And by the way, I looked up the phone number that fooled me into answering: the number and name were that of a restaurant in New York City, but I very much doubt they had anything to do with the call. Just another example of phone number spoofing.

So be careful when you answer the phone, and watch out for those compost goblins.

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