THE SONIC BOOMER
Here’s a late-blooming Valentine’s Day story for all you late-blooming valentines. I am going to change the names to protect the innocent. We’ll say it’s about my friend “Betsy.”
I met Betsy in Wellington when we were co-workers. We had a lot in common. She was, in fact, the maid of honor at my wedding. She’s smart, honest and a good listener — qualities that are exceptionally hard to find all wrapped up in one individual.
After her retirement, Betsy moved back to her home state of Pennsylvania, where she is now enjoying her old stomping grounds and reveling in the prominence of the four seasons. Yet, in a recent phone call, she was bemoaning the fact that she has somehow ended up in her 70s despite all her best efforts. Like many, she misses her youthful looks. I told her that was because she had such a fantastic “look” in the first place. (Betsy resembles Marilyn Monroe, although she can’t see this. Her humility gets in the way.)
At any rate, I worried about Betsy. She has many years ahead of her, and I didn’t want her going into them regretting anything.
I needn’t have worried.
The other day, Betsy was sitting around in a greasy, smelly lobby waiting to have her car serviced, when the gentleman next to her struck up a conversation.
“Debbie, he was so interesting!” she said.
They started out talking about Pennsylvania and Florida and, somehow, the conversation turned to history.
“He really knew his history,” she said. “It was almost like he was a college professor or something. And he was so well-dressed!”
I, of course, had no interest in the historical or fashion segments of the conversation. I could put myself as a fly on the wall as the professor looked up from his newspaper when Betsy walked in, she of the charming ways and good looks. I am sure she lit up every corner of that depressing gray holding pen with her pleasant presence, even though she began only by exchanging vehicular information with the clerk. And I could almost see Mr. Professor casting about for ways to approach her, trapped as they were to be for an hour or more.
Betsy is very classy, so he had to be mindful of that, choose his words carefully, not scare her off. But, like I said, she’s also a good listener. He successfully started up a conversation, she responded. In short, they connected.
“Then, Debbie, I guess our cars were both ready at the same time (right), because he got up to leave when I got up to leave.”
“You don’t say.”
“And I told him, ‘Well, I sure enjoyed talking with you. I love to learn about history,’ and he said, ‘I’d love to teach you. Is your number in the book?’”
Ah, here was the part my fly-on-the-wall self was truly waiting for. “And?”
“I said, ‘No it isn’t.’”
“Then what happened?”
“What do you mean?”
“When you told him your number wasn’t in the book.”
“Well, that was it. My number isn’t in the book.”
Oh, Betsy, Betsy. Ever-so-honest Betsy. “Maybe he wanted you to give him your number.”
“Maybe he would’ve called you and you could’ve gone out for coffee.”
“You know, Debbie? I never thought of that. Darn.”
So there it is — the valentine story that never was — for all you late-bloomers out there.