Note: Here is an abridged excerpt from my collection of love stories. For Valentine’s Day … share love through romantic tales.
After my divorce and a year of listlessness and whining, my friend Mary signed me up for an online matchmaking service…as a valentine’s day present.
At first, I didn’t want a faceless, heartless computer deciding who was right for me. But Mary finally wore me down and I agreed to look at the profiles and go on one date. How bad could that be?
After a few emails came in, Mary and I… and two bottles of wine, spent our Valentine’s Day trying to find me a date.
I admit I went into it with a bad attitude, and the choices didn’t prove me wrong. Man #1467 had this cheesy 70s mustache and stood in front of a flashy red car with a creepy grin that made me cringe.
“I think I saw this guy on a VHS cover in the back section of the video store,” I said, laughing.
“What were you doing at the back of the video store?” Mary joked.
Then there were the boring twins, #5981 and #3465. One was an accountant who was “obsessed with puzzles of all kinds” and the other was a tax lawyer who wanted to spend all day birdwatching. Delete and delete.
Some were just plain scary. #9636 said his hobbies were guns and taxidermy. He actually posed with a bunch of positioned stuffed dead animals and two AK-47s.
“Yikes. That says ‘killed in a horror movie’ all over it,” Mary said and quickly deleted his message.
And #2579 believed his mother was his best friend. He included that caption under his profile picture of him and his mother smiling cheek to cheek.
“Norman Bates much?” I said and laughed.
“Delete!” Mary agreed.
At this point, the second bottle of wine was emptying and as the silly laughter got louder; the picks got worse. Even Mary was losing faith. That’s when we opened the last invite, #3421.
“This says he’s widowed; that’s good. That means he’s not the problem,” Mary said.
“Sure, he probably killed his wife, chopped her up into little pieces and put her out with the garbage,” I said, discouraged, and plopped on the couch.
“No, it says he owns a vineyard,” Mary continued.
“A vineyard? In Illinois? I bet he owns the moon and the Golden Gate Bridge too,” I said, giggling sarcastically. The wine was definitely talking.
“Just come here and look at this one,” Mary insisted.
So I poured the last drops of wine and dragged my glass with me over to the computer and braced myself.
“Give me a break. How fake can you get? A widower who owns a vineyard? Even the picture looks phony. And it’s thirty miles away. Seriously? I’m done. Experiment failed,” I said and buried my head in the couch.
“No, really—look. Here’s the website. He’s not going to create a bogus website just for a date,” Mary said. “I’m emailing him. You promised me one date and this is it.”
“Even if he is for real, that’s almost an hour with traffic. Completely unrealistic,” I strongly objected, but she already sent the reply.
A few days went by and I completely forgot about it. Then I got a reply.
“I would be happy to meet you. You live about an hour away from me, so I’ll come to you. Please choose a restaurant you like and we can meet there,” the message read.
To be honest, I nearly deleted it, but I did promise Mary, so I agreed to meet him. I chose a restaurant near my house, so at least I’d get home fast.
It was raining cats and dogs, and I was ten minutes late. But when I got there, he wasn’t there. I sat at the bar so I could see the entrance and ordered a full glass of wine…for courage.
By the time I finished the glass, I realized I had been stood up. I was almost relieved I didn’t have to go through with the pretense of talking to someone and feigning interest until the check came. But I was upset that he didn’t want to meet me enough to just show up.
As I was getting my coat on, a man entered, soaking wet and covered in mud. He staggered over to the bar.
“Was there a woman here tonight looking for me?” he asked.
The bartender nodded and pointed in my direction.
He dripped over to me and apologized abundantly.
“I’m Jay and so sorry I’m late. You must think I’m a horrible guy, but my truck got a flat tire and I had to change it in the rain. Please stay,” he explained.
The rain soaked him to the skin and he still wanted to talk to me? How could I say no?
He told me his unfortunate tale of pulling over on a back road with no lights, swishing and sloshing through the mud and puddles, falling down a few times and then the jack slowly sinking into the mud.
Every word captured me, like a book I couldn’t put down. He told the story so well, it almost seemed made up. But as he sat in front of me with pieces of mud hardening on him like a ruined piece of pottery on a wheel, I knew it was real. And so was he.
When I got home, I reported back to Mary that the date was a success, but anything more was doomed to failure. He couldn’t move away from his vineyard, and I couldn’t move that far from work. It was impossible.
But Jay was persuasive. He agreed to come to my area for dates. And the more I saw him, the more I liked him—really liked him. If only the geographic gap wasn’t like the Continental Divide.
Then he asked me to come to the vineyard, so he could cook for me. Curiosity got the best of me about the vineyard…and his cooking…so I agreed.
A small meandering drive led me to a charming river rock stone and redwood two-story ranch home with a giant wrap-around veranda. The sign said Oak Valley Vineyard established 1921. It was real.
Jay smiled and greeted me with a glass of wine. We sat on the veranda in silence, gazing at the sunset. It was a beautiful painting of yellows, oranges and pink hues.
Just as the sun set, glittering twinkle lights illuminated the area and Jay served a wonderful meal.
After dinner, we walked hand in hand onto the flagstone path covered by a wooden pergola with flowered vines all over it. It was magical.
Then he leaned over and kissed me. The kiss tasted just like the wine, especially the sweetness. I even felt a little spark, almost like static electricity. He was a good kisser and I was captivated. Everything about the place, and Jay, enveloped me with a feeling of home all around me, and I wanted that to last forever. And it did. We were married a year later on Valentine’s Day in the vineyard. Turns out the computer did know more than I did.
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton 2023
2 thoughts on “Match Up”
Great story. It can and does happen. Happened to me
LikeLiked by 1 person
Glad you found each other.