“How did your parents meet?”
Yesterday, as I was taking a train in to Penn Station at some absurdly early hour of the morning, my friend Sarah asked this question, just to pass the time away. She knew the answer for her parents—Brighman’s Ice Cream, after a football game. Sarah’s dad was a wide receiver and her mom was a cheerleader. It was love at first pass.
David, our other fellow traveler, knew the answer for his parents, too. It was at a shop in San Francisco, and he had recently passed by it, on a trip to California.
Did I know where my parents met? HAH! Hardly, self-absorbed slob that I am. And I have to confess, it made me feel a little guilty, too. Stupid git, not to have asked my parents how and where they met. It made me wonder how many other questions I had overlooked or neglected, through the years.
As soon as I could that night, I called my mother (or as Corb likes to call her, Betty Barnacle the Frog Killer) up on the phone.
“Oh, we actually met on a blind date,” she answered, for some strange reason not even the least surprised that I was asking her this question, out of the blue. Then again, I think she’s used to me, by now. “I was in eleventh grade and in my third high school—grandpa always moved us around, from school to school, because he kept changing jobs. So I was at Tollman High School at the time. I was in gym class, and we used to have to exercise with our shoes off, and I was all upset, because my feet smelled terrible. I really had bad smelling feet back then.”
“And that was when you met dad?” I asked. “Was he attracted to the scent of your smelly feet?”
“No!” she laughed. “But this girl named Lorna sat down next to me and said, ‘I really don’t want to take off my shoes because my feet smell so bad.’ And I said to myself, ‘I want to be friends with that girl.’”
Now here’s something I didn’t know. Fun fact! Apparently, smelly feet were quite common in the sixties. Well, I guess it was before the invention of Odor Eaters.
“Anyway, Lorna’s brother Woody had this friend, Dennis, that Lorna liked. And Dennis’s best friend was your father, so Lorna said to me, would you like to go to go to the Tollman Thanksgiving dance with me, to meet these two guys? I said sure, even though your dad was in college and had graduated from St. Ray’s, which was Tollman’s rival. He kissed me on the lips that night, which was very bold, considering I was dating someone else at the time.”
Scandal! “You were dating someone else?”
“Well, yes, but it wasn’t really serious. I mean, I can’t even remember his name, now. I had been dating him since I lived in Barrington, and that had been two towns ago. Besides that, after I met your father, there never was anyone else. I knew he was the one. He asked me to go to the football game with him the next day and one month later, we were going steady.”
“What about that poor other guy? How about if he’s still waiting around for you, in Barrington?”
“Teddy, I hardly think he’s still waiting for me. All I know was, for months, I had been knitting him a sweater for Christmas, and by the time it was done, I ended up giving it to your father. And we’ve been together ever since—50 years, as of next week!”
What are the odds? Sarah should ask me a question about when my parents met, which prompts a phone call to them. Next thing I know, I’m learning about a pretty important anniversary, just days away.
I guess it just goes to show—you never know when love is going to grab you by the scruff of your neck and make you its slave. It occurs in the strangest of places, with the slightest provocation. It could happen at funeral, a nudist convention, or even a fondue party.
Still, I find it amazing to think that if not for my mother’s putrid foot odor problem, my parents never would have gotten together. This is a case where love was truly in the air...but that air didn't exactly smell like roses.