My name is Roman Anthony McMasters. Yeah, Mom went a little over the top when she named me, but my brothers and sister all got it too. My oldest brother is Achilles, my younger brother is Octavius and my sister was actually given the name Cleopatra, but she goes by Cleo, wouldn't you?
Born with a name like that either makes you stronger, or gets you beat up as a kid. I grew out of the resentment, and I decided to focus on my studies. I'd often say, "You can call me Tony" right after introducing myself to someone.
As did all of us kids, I had red hair – some people who didn't know my name would often yell out, "Hey Red" to get my attention. So, Tony or Red, either way - it works!
I spend all my available time working on genealogy, looking for other people with interesting or strange names. With my last name, people would often assume I was Irish, or Scottish, and they were right, at least partially.
I primarily use the Internet for my genealogical pursuits, including Ancestry, Geni and Rootsweb to look around. Geni, actually, is where I found 'her.'
My grandfather's grandfather was Ronald Dalrymple McMasters. He had four sisters and 14 brothers - one of them was Donald Dalrymple McMasters. Parents can be cruel in all eras.
Well, Donald had a Donald, who had a Donald and so on, until there was a Don Masters who lived in the same city as where I currently live. I also found the name Caroline Masters as a teacher at the local community college. I found that she taught, you guessed it, Genealogical Studies as well as General Studies and History.
When I saw her picture online at the school website, I absolutely knew we must be related – she had the exact same shade of red hair that I did, except that hers was long and beautiful, while I could never get mine to do much of anything.
I went to the community college and found her office and knocked on the door. I heard the most lilting Irish voice say, "Come in."
I opened the door and before anything else, I said, "Hello, Cousin!"
I must've caught her unprepared, because she immediately started laughing, and I started laughing because her laugh was so contagious. Finally she settled down and said with a glint in her eye, "Does that line ever work, boyo?"
I asked if she had a moment to talk, and she said 'yes' and moved some stuff over so I could sit down. Well, here we go, "Was your GG grandfather named Donald Dalrymple McMasters?"
I must've shaken her up a little, because at the mention of this name, she'd looked up and saw the seriousness of my face.
Carefully, she said, "Yes - it was!"
"And did he have four sisters and 14 other brothers with one named Ronald Dalrymple McMasters?"
Now her interest was piqued, "Yes – and who are you?"
"Oh – I'm sorry, my name is Roman Anthony McMasters ... Ronald was my GG grandfather. I believe that makes us 3rd cousins."
"Or barely related," she said smiling.
"Well," I pursued going out on the proverbial limb. "Our children most certainly would have red hair and I hope your really beautiful blue eyes."
"Wow, You move pretty fast, Roman!"
Never has my name sounded so wonderful coming from her lips. I was emboldened.
"Are you seeing anyone, Caroline because I would really like to take you out to dinner?"
"Well," she said toying with me a little, "I had plans for tonight, but I can cancel them?" She leaned towards me, batted those eyelashes at me and asked, "Do you want me to cancel them, Roman?"
I was so entranced by her eyes, her smile, her brogue and just her overall beauty, I said, "Yes – Caroline, I'd like you to cancel your plans."
"Well, I've two more classes to teach today. Call me at this number, and we'll meet wherever you want." She hurriedly wrote her number on a piece of paper. "Call me anytime after 3:30 – I'll be home by then."
I was on my way to my apartment when I realized there were some things I had to get done first, get a haircut, clean the apartment, wash the car, clean the apartment, get some cash from an ATM, and clean the apartment.
Where would I take her? Any of the places I usually go, suddenly all seem inadequate for her. I know, that steak place ... what's it called? – Yeah, Steak 'n Shake. Not too fancy, not too casual.
OK, that's settled – get a haircut. I pulled into a Cost Cutters and told them I would like a clean up and take a wee bit off the top. A wee bit – I haven't used that expression in ages ... she's already rubbing off on me! The whole time I was getting the haircut, I was thinking about what to talk to her about.
I hadn't been on a date in a while, but she makes me nervous and excited at the same time. She called me Roman and for the first time in a really long time I didn't cringe at the sound of my given name.
I went home and spent about 20 minutes cleaning the apartment. I must be in love – I never clean! We're going out to eat, so 'coming back to the apartment' is a possibility, but I told myself not to freak out about it.
I printed out a copy of my genealogy to show her – I even printed out one of hers, even though she probably has done that herself. I put on a shirt and jeans, and put a sweater and blanket in the car.
Oh, the car – I have to clean the car! I went through a car wash and parked and vacuumed out the junk. OK, Roman - ready as you'll ever be.
It was coming up on 3:30 and I programmed my phone with her phone number, and I assigned her number the ring music – 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart.' I was investing a lot into this, but there was something that told me she was worth every minute spent on preparation.
OK; I called her, "Hello Caroline – this is Roman!"
"Hi Roman – I'm just leaving my office at the school. Where do you want to meet?"
"Steak 'n Shake on Centennial Street – Is that all right with you?"
"Oh – I've always wanted to try that place. See you there in about 30 minutes. I want to get home and change first, OK?"
"Sure, I'll be there waiting for you! And don't change too much!"
"You're so sweet – See you in a bit, bye."
It was exactly 32 minutes later she pulled up. I went to her car and opened the door for her, and we walked up to the order counter. Caroline said, "What looks good to you?"
"You look amazing to me – Oh - Oh, you mean to order?"
That got a giggle from her, "Yes, silly – you're too much!"
"That's what my last girlfriend said," I chuckled to myself.
"I'll just ignore that, Roman," turning to the order counter, she ordered, "I'll have a Steakburger and a chocolate shake, please?"
"The same for me," I said, "I'll get it, Caroline – the gentlemen always pays for the first date!"
"Oh, feeling pretty confident about yourself are you – haircut looks good ... actually, you look very nice."
"Thank you Caroline, you look wonderful – that pale green dress brings out ... your beautiful blue eyes and your sparkling red hair."
"Pulling out all the stops, Roman, aren't you?" she said.
"When I saw your picture on the school website, something drew me to meet you, and to find out more about you. We may be third cousins, but I feel like I've met my ... soul-mate today."
"Soul-mate, Roman – now that sounds like a line?"
"I'm sorry – I just feel so comfortable around you, like we'd met before and are just meeting again."
"I feel a wee bit of that too," she said with a smile.
They brought our food out to us, and we ate in relative quiet, both of us trying to peek at the other one, every chance we could get.
"Excuse me Caroline – I know that a gentleman shouldn't ask this question of a lady ... but how old are you?"
"I'm 26, my birthday is June 29th, Roman. How about you?"
"I'm 27; my birthday is also June 29th. How is that for a great big coincidence? If we plan it just right, all of our kids could have the same birthday as us."
"And ... how many children do you want?"
"Oh – half a dozen of each." A stifling pause, "Gotcha!"
"Well, yes you did, but actually, I've a child, he's four years old. Will that scare you off?"
"Not even a wee bit. What's his name?"
"Richard Apollus Masters – and HIS birthday is June 29th – so we've started out right on plan."
"Would Richard like a brother or a sister – and a Daddy?"
"Yes – So would his Mommy!" She answered coyly.
After finishing our meal, I walked Caroline back to her car. She got in, took out her keys and her car made that sound that meant your battery was dead. Caroline poked her head out and said, "Can you jump me?"
I quickly responded, "On the first date?"
"I meant my car, you dummy. I don't have jumper cables, do you?"
"I'd absolutely like to jump you ... and your car, too!"
"You're so bad, Roman!"
"Except, when I'm real good, Caroline. I'll get my cables – stay in the car – I'll do everything to you ... for you – just lay back and enjoy it."
"Ohh, I will, Roman!"
In a little while her car had roared back to life. I told her to let it run for a minute or so. After putting my cables back in my trunk, I offered to follow her, and make sure she got home all right.
"You just want to know where I live, don't you, boyo?"
"Busted – but I'm concerned that your car may die on you before you get home, and some ... unseemly type may try to take advantage of you."
.... There is more of this story ...