The Wife & My Replacement

Every week on the Springfield Bloggers site they have a Take It & Blog subject that we’re invited to write about. Since my mind is currently more of a muddled mess than usual, I think this is a great opportunity to have someone else come up with the theme and I’ll just fill in the answers. The question this week was “how did you meet your significant other?” Sit back my friends, while I weave a tale of lust, deceit, scandal and the most heavily exercised triceps in three counties.

Back when I hired on the fire department, we were offered a membership at a brand new, city-owned fitness center as an incentive for keeping in decent shape. The year was 2001, I was emerging from a reasonably amicable divorce, lonely as hell and living in a place with no family, no roots and no money. Taco Bell on a Friday night was considered my extravagance.

Being as the membership to Chesterfield Fitness Center was free and thus fit into my budget, I began to devote a considerable amount of time to hanging out there. Having never lifted weights nor ever belonged to a gym, I had no idea under the sun what I was doing, so I just followed other firefighters and moseyed around the machines and flapped my jaws. Somehow in the process I lost 30 pounds, a mystery diet that seems heavily influenced by aforementioned divorce.

Then one day she came in. I’m too cynical to believe in such asinine concepts as “love at first sight”, but I remember well thinking, the very first time I saw her, “man, if I could date someone as beautiful as her…….”. Surrounded by a posse of her friends, she was intimidating, laughing all the time, looking confident and self-assured while I resembled slack-jawed hairy troll, getting all knotted up in the weight machines. I dated quite a bit after becoming single, but nothing of significance. I had to meet her, but I lack any sort of confidence in this arena; I realized that I’d need to plot out this meeting like a good soap opera, coincidentally meeting her, faking a pregnancy and then forcing her to fall in love with me.

I enlisted the help of Shane, a trainer there at the gym. He told me that yes, he knew her, that surprisingly enough she might be single, that yes, she’s very funny, I should just go up and introduce myself. Stupid Shane…you can’t just do such a thing. Clearly he didn’t watch enough soaps. I began trying to catch her eye from the machine closest to where she was working out – the triceps rack. I would work that machine like a man possessed, arching eyebrows, casting glares, anything to snag her attention. She blissfully ignored me, laughing with all the meat-heads who tried talking to her, the rat-bastards. Despite developing some freaky triceps strength, it didn’t take long before I realized I needed to engage Plan B…..actually talking to her. This was going to be painful.

Do you remember those old cartoons where the dumb crow would shake his head and mumble “oh, no,no,no,no, duhhhh, nope” while his mother-crow harangues him in a thick German accent? Do you? Because that is the closest approximation to my attempts to strike up any conversation. She laughed at me. My friends and co-workers laughed at me. And, when no one was looking I laughed at me. Utilizing such brilliant lines as “so……it’s almost tax time, right?”(my brilliant line in April) and “Vegas, huh? Yeah…..Vegas is cool. Yeah….I LOVE Sigfried and Roy, yeah” (another attempt at ironic humor), it was no wonder she regarded me as some sort of illiterate moron with an inability to converse with anything smarter than a concrete curb.

Never mind that she was recently divorced and vigorously ogled by men for miles. Never mind that she had a boyfriend. Never mind that I’m clearly incapable of anything in the neighborhood of “smooth”. Akin to the big cats of the African veldt or the protagonists of daytime television, once something is in my sights, it’s nearly impossible for me to let go of it. I shucked whatever sense of dignity and self-respect I might have been holding on to and jumped headfirst towards the pavement of rejection. Finally, after screwing up the courage to ask her if she’d like to get lunch with me one day, she answered in the affirmative, completely throwing me off my game. I was so taken aback I just said “Great!” and walked away, no number, no plans no nothing but an idiotic grin and probably a stumble over a weight plate and on to my ass. Smooth.

That was nine years and two kids ago. To this day she still tolerates me, much to everyone’s surprise. Mostly mine. I never let her forget that, when done right, you can stalk someone into loving you. Then they panic and marry you out of fear, bear you children and love flourishes. It’s the classic American love story.

And yes…..we got married in Vegas.