Burying my wife's been such a life-changing event!
I'd known Jackie, short for Jacquelyn, for two years, before we started dating ... then four years of dating, finally getting married on Catalina Island on the Fourth of July! Married fifteen glorious years together - until she was diagnosed with lymphoma!
Refusing treatment - because she didn't want to live messed up by it - it didn't take long for her to weaken into a person I didn't recognize anymore. I loved her to the very end, sobbing by her bedside as she took her last breath!
To this day, I visit her gravesite every weekend, sometimes just pulling up to it, and play her favorite song - Nadia's Theme, which I've kept in the car on CD, just for these visits.
For the first month after she was gone - I was in denial - waiting for her to walk in the door, or come out of the bathroom, or the kitchen. Slowly, I realized I was alone - just like I'd been ... before I met her!
Eventually, I packed up her clothes to give to Goodwill, but couldn't make the call to actually have them pick it up. I've a room full of her stuff I can't go in, or I instantly start to cry, like a little baby. I keep the door open and glance inside, but going in ... is such a chore.
She died a little over six months ago!
My name's William Manchester, but people call me Bill or Billie. I was 24 when Jackie and I got married ... I'm now approaching 40. I've been in something of a funk, because I'm alone again.
It's been 19 years since I've gone out on a date, just the thought of asking someone out on a date again actually makes me sick to the stomach. I like to look at pretty girls - don't all men of all ages - but nowadays, I feel inadequate to even start a conversation with a total stranger, other than 'good morning' or something like that!
There are four of us who were born to Matthew and Sylvia Manchester; Michael's 50, Shirley's 46; my other sister Mary's about to turn 43! I'm the baby of the family!
There's a knock on my door; I yell, "Come in" from the couch! Didn't even want to get up and answer the door - its Shirley!
"Hi, Sis ... you're looking good!" I at least stood up, Dad told me to always stand when a woman walks into the room — it's a respect thing!
She walked over and sat down on the couch and said, very matter-of-factly, "Bill, I know you miss Jackie, but she'd want you to move on, and find someone to love! Come sit by me."
"OK, Shirl - but I'm ... so out of practice! I haven't been on a date with anybody - except Jackie - for almost 20 years. I don't know where or how to pick up a girl. Jackie practically fell into my lap, I didn't have to be smooth, or a sweet talker. We'd been schoolmates, then friends - then lovers - and then 'boom' we're married; now I'm a widower, a widower turning 40 in two weeks."
Turning to me and looking me straight in the eyes she said, "You want me to set you up on a blind date, Bill?"
"Oh, Shirley — No, not a blind date - Anything but a blind date?" I rolled my eyes to help make my point.
"I actually ran into someone who knows about your situation, and she told me she'd love to out go on a date with you, but was afraid to ask you herself?"
"Why's that?" I questioned.
"You're damaged goods to most women, Bill!" she said putting her hand on mine.
Ouch - that hurt, but it's accurate.
"Jackie was the first girl you'd talked to in high school, wasn't she?" she said.
"Yeah, Shirley - I fell in love with that silly, crooked smile of hers. If there ever was a case of 'Love at First Sight, ' it was Jackie and I. We dated for four years, all through college. Then on our graduation day, right after she got her diploma, I dropped down on one knee and asked her to marry me."
"Yeah, Yeah Bill, and you were married two years later. I'd always wondered how my little brother snagged someone as nice as Jackie."
"Actually Sis, I was always on the lookout for someone who reminded me of my big sisters. You and Mary were, and still are, my 'Standard' when it comes to beautiful women, who're also smart as a whip!"
"Good to know, bro - and how long has it been since you've kissed a woman. I mean really kissed a woman, you know with a little bit of tongue and..."
"Shirley, don't be crude; I loved Jackie. It must've been about a month before Jackie died - yeah about a month. So, altogether it's been ... seven months since I've been in a relationship with a woman."
"Really? OK, Bill we need to get you back on the horse. This woman I've spoken with — she's got it bad for you, but she's just as scared as you sound."
"Really - who is she?"
"Then it wouldn't be a blind date, would it?" Now she rolled her eyes and slapped at me.
"You really know somebody ... is it someone I already know?"
"Ask away — I'll tell you nothing! Are you game?"
"Why're you helping me, Shirley? What's in it for you?"
"Because I love my little brother, and I want to see him happy again!"
I pondered it all for a moment, and then said, "Well - all right! Set it up and text me the particulars ... this weekend?"
"Yes, I'm certain she's available for this weekend! I'll text message you where you'll meet, and what to wear?"
"What to wear ... Are you questioning my fashion sense, Sis?"
"The clothes make the man, Bill," Shirley said. "Don't you remember Dad always saying that!"
"Yeah, I do!" Dad always looked his best and expected us to as well.
Later that night, I got a text message from Shirley:
"Dinner at Fowler's Restaurant. Reservation for 6:45pm on Saturday, dress to impress! That means wear a tie, dummy! Love you, Shirley!"
Damn! She didn't tell me anything about this woman, what her name was, what she'd be wearing, the color of her hair, anything like that.
I texted her back: "How'll I know her?"
"She knows who you are ... she'll come and sit at your table, the rest is up to you, bro!"
Oh, shit! I'm already sweating.
All week, even at work, all I could think of was this blind date! What if I didn't like her? What if I disappointed her? What'll I talk about? What if she's somebody I know and dumped, because I met and fell in love with Jackie? All of these questions were swirling around in my head, making me nervous -- making me sweat!
Saturday came and I was laying out what I was going to wear tonight! Mom used to say 'always wear clean underwear!' So, boxers, plain white undershirt, dark blue dress shirt, dark blue beltless slacks, black socks, and a red power tie!
All I need now, is a wide brim hat and I'd look like a pimp from one of those 70s exploitation films. Or that guy from Soul Train — what was him name, Don Corleone — nah, that's Brando's character from Godfather.
I called Shirley, asking what my date would be wearing! She cryptically said, 'a little black dress!' It is a classic!
Fowler's restaurant, where we were meeting, was 15 minutes from my place, so I took a hot shower and changed into my outfit, remembering at the last minute to put on some underarm deodorant, along with a splash of Old Spice on the face. I combed my hair to look younger, yeah right!
I drove myself to the restaurant, changing my mind at least half a dozen times to not show up, thinking I'd just embarrass myself due to the fact that it'd been so long since I'd been on a date. I was ready with some chit-chat, 'nice weather' 'you look lovely' and 'beautiful dress' and 'you have lovely eyes' ... stuff like that!
I parked and went inside, and they'd set me up at a quiet table in the corner ... thank you Shirley!
Every girl who walked in, I looked at, to see if I knew her and if she could be my 'blind date!'
At 6:45 exactly, the bell on the door rang.
I saw the legs first, and then I saw a beautiful set of curves encased in the most delightfully sexy Little Black Dress, as I moved my way up to her face!
'My god, ' I said to myself. 'It's my sister, Mary!'
I stood up and managed to get out of my mouth the words, "Mary - what the hell are you doing here?"
"I'm here for a blind date, that our sister Shirley set me up on ... oh my god, our sister set you and me up on a blind date?"
"You didn't know that it was me who'd be here tonight at 6:45?" my beautiful sister said.
"No, Billie! She told me that she met a real cute guy at a party, who'd be perfect for me to date ... honestly, I never knew it could possibly be you?"
"Oh," I flirted leaning forward, "You ... don't think your little brother's cute? You look fabulous in that little black dress you barely have on! I had such a crush on you as a kid growing up; I peeked in your bedroom a time of two, but never got to see anything good!"
"So now - what do you think of how I turned out?" She said with a sparkling smile on her face.
Deciding to dodge her question, I asked, "What're you doing on a blind date, anyway Mary? What about Donny? I heard you two were engaged!"
"That blew up when I caught the dirty sonofabitch screwing my best friend two weeks ago - on our bed! So I'm back on the market - having survived the car accident that killed my husband and now, having lost my fiancé and my best friend, all in the same day!"
A waiter came up and asked, "What'll you and your lady friend be ordering tonight?"
I responded, looking directly into my sister's beautiful eyes, "Mary here ... will have a rib-eye steak, cooked medium-rare, with baked potato, extra butter, with green peas and a side order of onion rings!"
Mary looked at me and mouthed, "You remembered that?"
.... There is more of this story ...