August 23, 1992
He felt a peculiar little twinge somewhere in his chest, something between excitement and anxiety. He pressed "2" and played the message again.
"Hello Terry; my name's Eve1. I saw your ad, and I thought it was interesting. My last name is Anderson. I love all types of movies. I like going to social events; I love traveling, and I enjoy a good companion -- and that's what I'm really looking for -- just a real nice person; and I'm open. . .I'm very open minded, and I'd like to meet you. My phone number is 241-13591. I work usually from 6:00 in the morning to about 4:00 in the afternoon, and I would love hearing from you; and I should be home after that hour. So, looking forward to hearing from you. Thank You."
He felt it stronger now; it was caused by the message. He pressed the button again and played it through a third time, backing it up in several places to write down every detail. Her voice had a down to earth, no nonsense quality about it; yet it was soft and musical, creating in him a yearning he hadn't felt in his 35 years since adolescence.
"We'll see how open minded she is," he thought.
He dialed the number, and presently she answered.
"This is Terry. You called in response to my advertisement in the New Times?"
He was glad this conversation was by telephone because he could feel a flush coming over his face. Strange; it hadn't happened with the others.
She uttered a short, embarrassed half-giggle and began speaking. She was age 43, seven years younger, and like himself, had once been married. She grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and came to Arizona 23 years ago. She had five children, all grown, and two grandchildren. She said a number of other things that got covered up by the music in her voice. Recovering, he picked up on the last few words -- words similar to those she had used in her message, ". . .mainly interested in meeting a nice person."
That was it. No games; no protracted telephone tag or complicated conversations. No irrelevant questions as with other respondents, about income or the make of his car. And she apparently didn't like talking on the phone any better than he did. The whole thing took less than five minutes. They would meet at a fast-food restaurant at 6:00 pm the next evening, have a chicken sandwich, and evaluate each other eye to eye.
He felt a little lightheaded. It was that feeling again, like anxiety mixed with hormones. This was irrational, he thought. He sat there for several minutes, going over everything he could remember, which wasn't much.
He was a software developer rooted in the days of Fortran and assembly language, an old-schooler who preferred modern challenges but performed more efficiently in the old environments and knew it.
Usually when he got home from work he would spend the first forty minutes or so unwinding from the day's events -- classifying and reclassifying both essential and useless bits of information gained during a level of concentration that precluded conscious forms of evaluation. Today, however, was Sunday. He had spent much of the day in a catch-up mode at work rather than following customary weekend pursuits, and now that he was home he was driven. He started cleaning up way too early, spending an interminable amount of time trimming his beard, and combing and re-combing his hair -- a mop that normally received a 30 second toweling, a quick part, and was left to air dry -- and by the time he had completed his preparations it was time to go.
He swung out of evening traffic, pulled into the first available space, and stepped out of the car just in time to see a woman following him into the parking lot. He saw her clearly for the first time as she got out of her car two spaces down. She was a tall woman, a little shorter than himself. She was quite trim and wore red-rimmed glasses that accented perfectly her dark complexion. She was wearing levies and a pink embroidered sweat-top that somehow managed to obscure to exactly the right degree her womanly endowment. Overall, she appeared polished and perfectly accented.
"Eve?" He addressed her from where he was standing.
"Yes. . . , Terry?"
"Would you like to go to the ice cream shop instead? Mary Coyle's. It's at Thomas and 15th, not far from here. Sorry; I just thought of it on the way down here."
"Sure," she said; "Whatever you'd like to do. I'll follow you."
Back out in traffic, his mind returned to the parking lot.
"Idiot!" he chastised, "You didn't even introduce yourself; you got in too much of a rush. You should have at least stepped around the car and spoken to her face to face!"
Thus occupied, he managed the short distance to the ice cream shop with no recollection of the drive. This time they parked in adjoining stalls and he whisked around the car to meet her as she opened her door.
"I'm Terry", he said, extending his hand nervously.
She took his hand briefly, releasing that short embarrassed half-giggle. Her hand was warm, he noted, just the right temperature.
They walked around the front of the shop to the door. According to his interpretation of the customs of his childhood, he let her lead the way while he followed close behind, complicating his scramble to reach the door and open it for her -- a difficulty he had experienced all through dating as a young man. Still behind, he somehow managed to signal the ordering counter as their first stop, and once that was out of the way he followed her again to a booth of her choice. Finally they were face to face.
"Well, uh, here we are. . ."
She smiled awkwardly, and he felt himself blushing. Fortunately, she didn't seem to notice. Embarrassment played a major role for the first minute or so as they groped for a beginning. He explained recent events in his life that had brought him to this moment, and she reciprocated. He described his favorite pass-times and she listened intently, expanding on most of them with insight and interest. She grew up in Memphis but had been in Phoenix the last 23 years and Tucson for ten years before that; he hailed from South Dakota and Kansas, moving to Phoenix in 1960.
As they talked, he studied her intently in the incandescent lighting of the ice cream parlor. She had a very pleasant, empathetic face, free of imperfection even with very little makeup, which seemed to display a genuine interest in the things he talked about.
"She isn't Black, though", he noted to himself.
She seemed so genuinely interested in almost everything he brought up that he began to feel incredibly at ease. Continuing the visual analysis that is characteristic of males, he noted with some satisfaction that her hands were not over-pampered but indicated a realistic connection with the modern world. And her hands and arms were a beautiful ebony! Satisfied, he reabsorbed himself in the conversation.
They were now talking as freely as if they had known each other for years.
"Do you like mountains?"
"I love mountains."
"I like camping, too!" she responded, meaning that although she had never done it before, she had always wanted to.
She liked Mt. Lemon; he wanted to go there. She described Old Tucson, and he couldn't wait to see it. When he suggested a visit to the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, she was enthusiastic. Neither of them had been to the Phoenix Zoo in years but they both hoped to go soon. Over and over, they found mutual interest in just about every subject either of them brought up.
They talked for over two hours, but it seemed to him like only a moment. He saw her as a woman of strength, poise, and great empathy. In him, she saw a perfect nerd, complete with horn-rimmed glasses and a pocket protector with too many pens. Sometimes his attention returned to her maternal face, which he studied admiringly but not very objectively. It seemed light, almost Caucasian in shade, he thought; but no, her hands and arms were definitely Black. Maybe it was the lighting.
And then it was over. As they walked to their cars he again followed, dutifully, although it interfered heavily with his instincts and prematurely forced an end to their intense conversation. She thought it a little odd that he walked behind; most men would have led the way. Maybe he was looking at her posterior! She hoped not.
Anxious to avoid appearing over-anxious, he thanked her, told her how much he had enjoyed the conversation, quickly said goodbye and got into his car. But as he was pulling out of the parking space his subconscious mind made one last-ditch effort to prevent their parting. He quickly pulled back in and leaped out of the vehicle, afraid she might leave before he got his chance to speak.
"Wait! I haven't given you my phone number!"
There was a big deal made by both of them over writing materials. When she offered him her number, he was quite pleased to write it down, although he later realized that he already had it and in fact had used it in the initial telephone response.
This time he mustered the confidence to take her hand in his and squeeze it lightly as he said goodbye a second time. Once again he noticed the radiant warmth -- and it felt incredibly sexy. He held her hand only a couple of seconds, but long enough to cause a shiver of excitement in him from head to toe.
Back in the car, his heart was beating furiously. He wasn't ready to drive, but pulled out into traffic anyway, fearing she would wonder why he was waiting. His mind raced. He felt euphoric. He also felt almost sick that the meeting had been so short, and he had to get control of this teenage reaction.
"Ridiculous", he admonished himself, "life is not like this -- everybody knows that!"
On the way home, cold logic began to resurface and he became aware that things seemed to have gone very well. It occurred to him that she appeared to have more interests like his own than he could possibly have expected. And she seemed genuine and down to earth. In fact, and he didn't mind admitting it to himself, she appeared to be interested in him. Surely there would be a real date! But what if he was wrong?
He had to find out. As he thought his way through the events of the last few hours he began to get that strange and sickly feeling again, like anxiety mixed with hormones. He feared alarming her by moving too fast. It would be a long two days, but that's what he would wait before calling her again.
He opened his dairy and began writing.
"8/23/92 -- Today was the first day of my second life. . ."
August 23, 1992
1All names and telephone numbers mentioned in Change My Life articles are fictitious.
Copyright (c) 1992-2011
Larry K. Fox
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