Princes and toads. Kisses and Wishes. I've kissed toads and a couple of Dukes from minor municipalities, but I knew I'd found my Prince with that very first kiss. However, when I met this person, it was not love at first sight on either side.
To meet new people, I decided to attend a weekend retreat sponsored by one of the denominational student fellowship groups on campus. One of my friends went with me. Another new student rode with us in the back seat of our assigned car.
First, I must give credit before I give anymore description. This was a period of time when this person was known to resemble Burt Reynolds. Sally Field, with Burt at the wheel of their Firebird, were burning up the roads, driving in and out of convoys across the South (in movies). A lot of kids had CB radios in their cars and everyone seemed to have a handle to go with it. My handle was Chantilly Lace even though I had no car or CB radio. And yes, this person did bear a slight resemblance to Burt Reynolds or as we now say, Burt did bear a slight resemblance to this person. But I will never forget our very first meeting.
His CB handle could have been Goofy. I had no clue that my husband-to-be was sitting in the car with me. His friend was driving and together, they were a pair of goofballs, laughing and cutting up. My friend and I were just grateful to arrive at the retreat and be shed of those boys. He and his friend were wearing the same type of get up. This person was wearing navy track shorts trimmed in white; tall, white tube socks with navy and green bands; sneakers and the kicker, a tank shirt like the old undershirt my grandfather wore. But he was cute. However, I met a new friend that weekend, one of the Dukes, who never saw the forest for the trees.
After the retreat, a group of us, (including this person) started running around together, becoming good friends, but we didn't date each other. On the weekends, we would pile into a couple of cars and head out. Our favorite spot was A.'s house and her endless supply of homemade pizzas. (We visited her last year and she is still putting a feast on the table!) There were always 2-3 guitars and a banjo and me playing the spoons. A good old-fashioned hoedown. "Rocky Top" was a crowd favorite even though it was not our school song.
Duke and I also spent a lot of time together but we weren't dating. This person and I had become friends because he was fun and nice to everyone (and just as cute as Burt). Right before Valentine's Day, I received a card from him, which really shocked me, in a good way. (I later found out that he had sent cards to a few other girls he liked!) Several of us needed a ride to another town to sing for a High School Valentine banquet. This person volunteered his huge plum four door Pontiac Catalina. I obviously know how to pick 'em because Duke had an orange car. None of my boyfriends had boring vehicles.
Coming home the next day, we were all singing with the radio. This was the early spring of '81. My favorite, Dan Fogelberg, was all over the radio with numerous hits from his Double Platinum album, The Innocent Age.
Dan, my music man, was singing about meeting "my old lover in the grocery store, the snow was falling Christmas Eve." "Auld Lang Syne" is inspired by a true story when he ran into an old girlfriend in his hometown of Peoria, Illinois. In the song, the old girlfriend is talking about her life. "She said she married her an architect, who kept her warm and safe and dry. She would have liked to said she loved the man but she didn't like to lie." I perfectly remember at that moment, turning and looking at this person driving the car and wondering if I was going to marry that architect. Out of the blue.
I have loved that architect for over thirty-one years. He has been exceptional in the "warm and safe and dry" department. The road has had some potholes. One time, on a stretch of lonely road, the fog was so bad we couldn't see. We turned around to head for safety and when driving home the next morning, we discovered we had turned around in the middle of a curve. We could have perished. We have also traveled some magnificent highways with breathtaking vistas and side roads chocked full of laughter and the adventure of raising our daughter. Faith, family and love have held us together.
Breaker, breaker. Chantilly Lace and Goofy heading on down the highway, singing, "It all started with a kiss, like this..." Born To Sway. *
*With apologies to Aerosmith.