How I Met Your Mother
I thought the evening would go as planned, but one phone call changed everything.
A rented tux was not my usual style, but I was the master of ceremonies. A pair of black and white checkered shoes and a Santa hat…now that was more like me. I carried them in a plastic grocery bag.
“Sorry to cancel at the last minute, but I’m afraid I just can’t go, I’m so sick,” came the call just minutes before leaving the house to pick up my date for the evening.
A week earlier I asked her, “You wanna go to my company Christmas party with me? I could use a date. The women I work with have never seen me with anyone.”
“Ooooh that sounds fun,” she said sarcastically, but then paused and added, “So is it formal or what? What should I wear?”
“I’m wearing a tux, but kind of as a joke. It’s at a nice club in Park Ridge.”
“Well, you want them to like me?” She hesitated. “Or hate me?” she said suggestively.
I ran through a mental inventory of the people I knew would be attending. It took me only a couple of seconds.
“I definitely want them to hate you.” I laughed. “A lot.”
So, on the night of the party, dateless, I was open to having a no-strings good time, a relaxing end of the year with no expectations.
I was early to the party. As part of the planning committee I needed to help check on last-minute items and serve as a point of contact at the club. I watched guests arrive from a vantage point at the far end of a festively decorated banquet hall. I had a drink in my hand, a smile on my face and a top-of-the-world attitude that was sure to get me in trouble by the end of the evening.
And then she walked in.
I’ll never forget the sight of my future wife entering the room with her friend and another guy. She wore a little black dress, heels that brought her close to my height, and I swear there was a golden aura around her, though my eyes may have just gone misty. Of course she had a date. How could it be otherwise?
When her roommate’s boyfriend headed to the bar, the two girls stood momentarily alone, and my mission for the evening became clear. Failure was not an option.
On the day after the party there was one more phone call that needed to be placed.
“How you feeling?” I asked my canceled date.
“Oh awful. I’m sorry, it just came on so fast. Did you go to the party?” she asked as if her absence would have been a game-changing disappointment.
“Yeah, I went. That’s why I’m calling. I just wanted to say thank you.”
She paused. “What?”
“Last night I met the woman I’m going to marry.”
“You bastard!” she yelled, but laughed to let me know it was okay. I’ll never know if she ever really planned on going, or if she cared that I went without her and had a life-altering great time.
Maybe I was being vindictive. Maybe it was just brutal honesty. Or maybe it was a truth that needed to be expressed with words that I needed to hear myself say. But most definitely, I was grateful, and this was goodbye.