Wednesday, April 15, 2009

... And I Fell in the Lake

September 2001 the world experienced an American tragedy. It made us exam our own mortality and each response was extremely personal.

I responded by accepting a date I'd turned down multiple times. In my mind I had turned him down, but in reality, I had just given him excuses like, "I have a class," "I have family in town," "I'll be out of town," "There is some growing grass that needs close observation," that sort of thing. It left the door open for me to one day say yes.

We had never met but thanks to modern creepfest that is internet dating, we had e-mailed a few times, and even engaged in the "chat" which in the online dating world is similar to primitive phone conversation, but for people who are afraid of commitment; also known as Generation X.

So, I'd made the decision that I wanted to meet him. Not wanting to look easy, I logged in and hung around online waiting. Five hours later, his screen name appeared and approximately six seconds after that, he invited me to chat. I said "Hi," and like a response like Pavlov's dog, he asked what I was doing that weekend. I'm sure to his surprise, I told him that I was free Sunday for lunch. We exchanged digits (as they were still called in 2001) and signed off. Mission accomplished.

Sunday rolls around and he gave me a call about two hours before our date. We picked a place to meet - the park not too far from my house - for a picnic. He said that he would pick up some sandwiches and meet me in the gazebo on the lake at 12:00. He never told me what kind of sandwich, just that he was picking them up.

This park happened to be the same place where I'd be attending a 9/11 vigil later that evening, but I didn't share that with him - I needed an out in case of emergency.

I arrived to find him standing inside the gazebo holding a backpack cooler, slung over one shoulder looking longingly out at the lake and I wondered how fast I could run back to my car. Instead, I swallowed my nerves and opened my mind and forged ahead.

Introductions. Proverbial handshake. He'd already picked out a beautiful spot for our picnic... clear on the other side of the lake 1/2 mile away. I have no problem with walking, however, I'd recently torn a ligament in my ankle and picked fashion over comfort in my shoe choice. My fault. But when I shared the information about said injury he responded with, "Well, it's not that far."

We made it. I'm blinded by pain. He whipped out the blanked wine, food (turkey, mayo, lettuce, tomato), and chatter. At cleanup time, the garbage can was down by the lake maybe 10 yards. He grabbed garbage and took off. Being the nice girl I am, I, too, grabbed garbage and hobbled down to the lake.

Somewhere between tossing the garbage and turning, I lost my footing and I fell in the lake. It wasn't quite as dramatic as it sounds, it was my hands and knees - all fours - directly IN the lake. THUD!

I gingerly got up, hysterically laughing, brushed the muck off my knees, shook the wet off my hands and half-expected to see Mr. date man running over to me either laughing or concerned, but a least checking to see if I was OK - people 50 feet in every direction were looking. But no. I turned around and there he was, obliviously folding the blanket.

We hobbled back to the main part of the park, I excused myself to the restroom to wash my now mystery-bacteria covered hands and knees, activated the bat-phone and bailed out as soon as possible.

Since I was meeting my friends at that park just a few hours after splash down, when we said our awkward goodbye, I got in my car, drove around the block, waited five minutes, drove back, grabbed my book, and read in the park until the masses arrived.

I gave the guy an A for effort and even an A execution, but he also earned a great big A for self-absorption. I did see him one more time - on a date with another girl.

After that, my post-9/11 responses included a short-lived belly-button ring, reading the Harry Potter series, and impromptu vacations. Yes, I know, living life on the edge.


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