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He Said, She Said

“Bed is the poor man’s opera.” (Italian proverb)

We went to my room.

He sat on my bed.

I didn’t know what to do, so I walked to the other side of the room and sat on the far edge of the bed, well away from him and prepared myself for the worst. Unexpectedly, he scooted to the middle of the bed and reached for my hand. (I love that about him, by the way. Even though he had broken up with me, and in the middle of an intense discussion, he chose not to be cold or distant!)

“Andrea, I don’t know what to tell you. I really don’t know what to say,” he said.

I solved that for him. I said, “I do. I’ll tell you what you did and what you said: you dumped me. You dumped me before you even married me. I can’t believe it!”

He looked at me in surprise and said, “Dumped you? I did not!”

“Yes, you did, ” I replied. “You dumped me. You said you couldn’t do it anymore, that the timing was bad, you were going to leave…”

He corrected, “Yes, I said that but I was talking about THAT discussion. I meant that I couldn’t do that fight, right then, in that moment; that the timing for that discussion was bad–my family was arriving for dinner any moment.”

I stopped. Stunned. ”Wait. You didn’t dump me?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t dump you! I would never ‘dump’ you! I love you, our marriage is a very good thing, I KNOW it,” he replied.

There was only one thing to say to that.

“Then you mean to tell me I’ve been up here in my bathroom, throwing up, all night…for NOTHING?” I asked.

It was his turn to be stunned. ”Is THAT where you were and what you were doing all night?”

Long story short, we worked it out. After a minute or two of “apologizing” he stopped and said, “Wait a second. If you were throwing up all night, what am I doing making up with you?”

I assured him it was fine to continue making up with me, that I’d brushed my teeth after my reaction to our break up and that he’d never have known what I’d been up to if I hadn’t told him. He didn’t argue with me about that, only about one thing:

He says he never dumped me.

I say he did.

But thankfully, whatever the case, we got it together again–and just in time! Because the next afternoon, Monday afternoon, I got a phone call that would have ended things for sure.

“Expect a phone call before lunch from the teacher informing you that your child has been launching hot dogs by compressing them inside a small Thermos and then removing the lid quickly.” (Erma Bombeck)

Or something like that.

Too Late

“At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom.” (George Carlin)

Or the person who got dumped. Just in case she needs to throw up.

While everyone dished food onto their plates and sat down to eat dinner, I discreetly went up to my bathroom and threw up! I did not want to go down to dinner, but I also didn’t want anyone to know anything was amiss. So I returned to the table, put a small amount of food on my plate, took one bite, tried to swallow and was quickly back upstairs for a second time.

As I lay on my bathroom floor, willing myself to feel better so I could rejoin the group and pretend everything was normal, I only had one thought: How am I going to live without him?

I couldn’t remember ever thinking that about a man before.

When I got engaged for the first time (in 1989) my aunt called to congratulate me and asked, “Tell me, can you live without him?” and my arrogant, youthful pride led me to respond, “Absolutely. I survived my dad dying. I can live without anyone.” And I thought I could. I married, and was happily married, for 20 years until Shawn Merriman revealed his Ponzi scheme, crimes and other betrayals which resulted in our divorce. But honestly, looking back at the time my life was collapsing in 2009, I remember being appalled at what my former husband had done, being terrified of government agents and prison for him and wondering how my children and I would live, but I don’t remember wondering how I would live without HIM. (Maybe His misdeeds, betrayals, and the selfishness, pride and greed that led to such overwhelming destruction took care of any feelings like that? Or maybe it’s because I feel differently about #5 than any other man I’ve ever known?)

Regardless, I lay on my bathroom floor crying, wondering how I was going to live without #5, knowing I’d come to the realization of how I truly felt about him WAY TOO LATE. He had dumped me. And I couldn’t even bear to think about what it was going to do to my kids, especially my youngest, who had just lost another “daddy” before he even started kindergarten.

“In kindergarten that used to be my job, to tell them fairytales. I liked Hans Christian Andersen, and the Grimm fairy tales, all the classic fairy tales.” (Francis Ford Coppola)

Who Are You?

“It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.” (Johann Schiller)

Returning to the singles scene following my divorce was an interesting experience, particularly when the subject of my four children arose. Each and every time a man asked me how many children I had, and especially when they found out all of them still lived at home, I witnessed a variety of reactions.

A blanch.



A swallow.

And then usually a change of subject!

I heard things like, “You’re 42 years old and you have a…THREE YEAR OLD? What were you thinking?” Certainly not that I’d be divorced and left alone to raise him and three other children just a couple of years after his birth.

Or, “That’s ok, I don’t have a problem with kids–as long as they’re provided for…BY SOMEONE ELSE.” No, ex-husbands in prison don’t make much money, and with large restitution orders hanging over their heads, probably never will. I am the source of support for my children.

There were many, many other comments and reactions. Too many to recount, actually. The few that didn’t fall apart at the mention of my four children, usually refrained from EVER mentioning them. In fact, they never brought them up. I guess they thought if they ignored the four elephants in the room, they might go away. NOT. (And I’d NEVER want them to!)

And then there were a very few, about four men, who asked me about my children, referred to my children by name, and offered kind comments occasionally.

Except #5. The first time I met him he asked me all about them. He didn’t blanch at the number of children, he simply said, “I have four kids too!” He took things a step further, and actually made an effort to get to know them: he took my children snowmobiling; he brought them gifts when he returned from an out-of-town trip; he had them over to his home for games and dessert; he took them to lunch once; and he always sat and chatted with them when he came to pick me up for our dates. He became their friend.

One afternoon shortly after our engagement, we pulled up in the driveway and my youngest and his neighbor friend came running to greet the car. When #5 rolled down his window to talk to the boys, the first thing out of either boy’s mouth was the neighbor boy’s question to #5 about his parental status. “Who are you? Are you his daddy?”

In that instant I wondered how #5 would handle that. It was the first time that conversation had confronted us. I sat back and watched to see what he’d say or do. But without missing a beat, #5 calmly replied, “I am!”

My youngest smiled, happy and content to know and to be able to show the neighbor boy he had a dad again. And the boys returned to playing. The question had been resolved. No big deal. But it was a momentous moment for me. One of the highlights of my engagement, in fact. One of the most tragic losses of my unexpected life was my children’s loss of their father. But thanks to #5, we all had everything we needed again.

And #5 became a father to a total of 8 children.

“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!” (Lydia M. Child, Philothea: A Romance, 1836)

I guess you could say #5 is EXTREMELY blessed now.

As are we.

I Want A Man

“I want a man who’s kind and understanding.  Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?” (Zsa Zsa Gabor)

As a teenager, I compiled a list of everything I wanted in a man. I found that list after my divorce…and laughed. In many ways, it was a bit, as #5 would call it, “Twilight-esque.” (In other words, unrealistic and total, imaginary romanticism that exists in the fictional world of vampires and werewolves, Edward and Bella. Ah, the emotional depth of teenage girls!) Here are a few important qualities from the early 1980s: tall, brown hair, tan skin, hard working, handsome, good at sports, funny, nice, good dancer, smart, good singer, polite, straight white teeth, opens doors for me, rich, writes romantic things to me, fun, spiritual, honest, hairless chest, sends me flowers, loves me more than anything, romantic, wears good cologne, stylish…let’s see, did I leave ANYTHING out?

When I grew up, I was self-aware enough to know looks and athletics alone might be fine for some women, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough to keep me “in love” for the rest of my life and into eternity so I decided long term (what I would most appreciate as a married woman in my 40s) was a smart man who treated me well. I married the first guy I felt was smarter than me. And boy, did he turn out to be smart! A lot smarter, more clever and cunning, than I’d ever imagined, in fact! I was happy and in love, until I found out our 20-year marriage had been built on 14+years of deception and lies. (Ironic, isn’t it, that I based my choice on what I’d want 40-something, and that’s when it all ended and I was alone and single anyway?)

It was the personal loss that caused me the most pain. My childrens’ loss of their dad, their childhood, their innocence, their life, their family, everything as they knew it, was the worst; followed closely by my loss. I had lost the man I had loved, relied on and built a life with; the man who should have been loyal to me and my biggest protector. I just knew I was destined to be alone the rest of my life. I felt those losses powerfully.

I remember standing in my Colorado kitchen one day, my heart literally breaking over those losses. And mother that I am, this is why I cried that time: “Even if someday when I’m 80 years old and some man takes pity on me and marries me because his wife died and he needs a housekeeper, I’ll never have a whole and complete family. Even if a one-in-a-billion miracle happens and a man ever loves me again, no one will love my children. My kids will never again run into my room, jump on my bed, and wrestle with a dad.” (It may sound crazy, but out of everything I had lost that was a big one for me.)

I began dating less than 3 months after my divorce, and I realize now, I entered into it without a lot of thought. I was reeling from the shock of what had transpired in a matter of months; I didn’t know what I was doing because everything related to singles and socializing had changed so drastically since the 1980s (it was sort of like entering the playing field without a game plan.) I was lonely. However, after meeting my first single man, it didn’t take long to list the things I couldn’t live without: spiritual depth, integrity, emotional stability, family-oriented focus, employed, a good father to my kids, a man who loves ME. Oh, and good credit. (The crimes of my husband and his incarceration destroyed MY credit. I didn’t need a man with money because I’ve never needed money to be happy, but I had to have a man who could at least qualify for a rental lease, a home loan, or a car loan because I can’t–and I can’t ask friends and family to do that for me for the rest of my life! The Catch-22 is that what man with good credit would want me and my financial disaster? But that’s a blog for another day…)

Cut to the other night.

Mr. Awesome (aka. #5/Agent M) and I were sitting on my bed talking. The door was locked. (With a small house and many children around, it’s what we’ve occasionally had to resort to when we need to discuss something important.) In the middle of it, my youngest knocked on the door. I didn’t open it, but told him I’d be with him as soon as my discussion was over. He went away for awhile and then knocked again. I repeated my instruction, he went away for awhile and then knocked on the door again. The third time he knocked, #5 looked at me and asked, “Do you think we should open the door and let him in now? I like it when he runs in and jumps on the bed. I love his hugs. And it’s fun to wrestle him.”

He opened the door and their wrestling match began. Pillows were flying, tickles were traded (along with a few karate chops) and all I could do was remember that moment I stood in my Colorado kitchen, sure that my youngest would never know what it was to have a dad, much less wrestle with a dad.

Can you believe it? Dreams really can come true.

Every single one of them.

“I tell people I’m too stupid to know what’s impossible. I have ridiculously large dreams, and half the time they come true.” (Debi Thomas)

It’s Grand

“A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.” (Herb Caen)

Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew through choices we make and sometimes we’re thrust into overwhelming situations through no choice of our own that can leave our jaws flapping! That’s the unexpected life, regardless of how it comes. But I can’t emphasize this aspect enough: if we handle it right, we gain valuable life experience, we learn important lessons and we increase in wisdom. And we can do great things with what we’ve learned.

Like Walt Disney, who rose above his own setbacks to create a magical legacy and impact millions even after he was gone: “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” (Walt Disney)

Speaking of wisdom and teeth, my daughter had her’s removed a few days ago. Prior to her surgery, the oral surgeon walked into the room, looked at me and asked, “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?”

I replied, “No.”

He looked puzzled, stared at me and said, “Really? You look so familiar. I am trying to figure out where I’ve seen you. I’m just sure I have met you before.”

I joked that I have blonde hair, blue eyes and we live in the state of Utah where it seems like the majority of the state’s residents look like I do, so no surprise that I look familiar. He laughed and walked out of the room to get what he needed to begin the procedure on my daughter. When the door closed, I realized how far we’ve come…and yet how some things haven’t changed much.

When the door clicked shut, the first words out of my daughter’s mouth were, “Mom! You’ve GOT to be kidding me! Don’t tell me you dated HIM too?” (That’s the part that hasn’t changed!)

Yet I realized how far we’ve come when it dawned on me after the doctor had left the room (and after I had defended myself against my daughter’s accusation—and for the record, NO, I did not date that doctor!) that when he commented that I looked familiar, I didn’t cringe; I didn’t inwardly cower in fear that he might have seen me in the media, connected to a crime I had no part of (other than that I happened to be married to the man who perpetrated the crime.) Honestly, and surprisingly, for maybe the first time in my unexpected life, that hadn’t even crossed my mind—it was almost as if I’d forgotten about it and hadn’t even realized I’d forgotten, that’s how natural the process of forgetting, aka. healing, has become.  I was sure I seemed familiar to him because I live in a state where a large percentage of the population descends from Scandinavian immigrants!

Apparently, I’ve developed something. Unexpected amnesia, occasionally, regarding the trauma that led to my unexpected life. I anticipate as we move further and further from 2009, I’ll forget what led to my new opportunities more and more. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “I’ve a grand memory for forgetting.”

And isn’t THAT grand?

Looking to Make a Statement?

Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.  ~Marlene Dietrich
I got an email from my former husband last week. In it, he listed the many things he has said and done, all of the changes he is trying to make in his life (from prison), so that someday I’ll forgive him.

I was absolutely blown away by that.

I forgave him a long time ago. I’m not sure exactly when, all I know is that from the moment my unexpected life began, I sought to forgive Him. My children know I have forgiven their father. My friends and family know I have forgiven my former husband. I think the world knows it, too, but somehow He never got it.

I told him  I have already forgiven him; in fact, that I forgave him as quickly as I could.

He sent me another email, told me I have no idea how long he has waited to hear me say that, thanked me for forgiving him and again pointed out everything he had said and done to make my forgiveness possible.

I was blown away by that too.

I have always known to forgive. My parents taught me to say I was sorry when I did something wrong and to forgive others when they did something wrong and said they were sorry. As I grew older, they taught me to forgive others whether or not they said they were sorry, or even WERE sorry, for what they had done. I am so grateful for my parents and what they taught me. Because as an adult, I saw too many people who allowed the actions of others, or their life experiences, to literally ruin them. I saw too many people focused on the wrongs that had been committed against them, too many people with souls cankered by hatred for things others had done and not enough people focused on everything “right” in their lives.

I realized, not for the first time, that life may not be a lot of things–easy, breezy, calm or fair–but life is always a choice. To live or not to live. To be happy. To laugh. To have faith. To hope. To forgive.

Yes, forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness is a choice we must make, regardless of the choices made by anyone else.

I was stunned that I lived with someone for 20 years and he didn’t understand that. I was amazed that He had watched me teach and train our children, including to forgive others, and he never got it. So I had to clarify a few things with him. I told him that although I was glad he sought to do what was right, my forgiveness has absolutely nothing to do with him or anything he has said or done to demonstrate his sorrow. My forgiveness is all mine; and it doesn’t hinge on what he or anyone else does. I forgive because I believe the world is in great need of its sweet fragrance.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” (Mark Twain)

Forgiveness was a choice I made. And although I did it because it was the right thing to do, I also did it for me–so I wouldn’t destroy the rest of my life or poison my soul, harbor a grudge, or carry the burden of hatred and venom like an unproductive boulder-filled backpack weighing me down because of an unwillingness to forgive.

I don’t believe you earn forgiveness.

You earn money. You earn trust. If you’re wise with your money (and can keep it out of the hands of Ponzi schemers) you may even earn interest. But you can’t “earn” the forgiveness of another.

“I wasn’t satisfied just to earn a good living. I was looking to make a statement.” (Donald Trump)

One of the most important statements we can make in life, unexpected or otherwise, is this: I forgive.

Edward Eyes

“I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart.” (Pope John XXIII)

I don’t know how it is for all divorced, single women, but I can tell you how I felt and what I thought.

I couldn’t believe it had happened to me. I was a in a bit of shock at the events that led to my divorce and the fact that I was divorced. My divorce hadn’t happened in what I imagined were the typical ways–we had never fallen out of love, become indifferent to one another, fought with each other or hated each other. It wasn’t a downward spiral leading to a break-up. The necessity for a divorce came in one day, out of the blue.

My feelings of self worth suffered. I walked around, sure that all eyes were on me, that everyone knew I was single, that everyone probably thought I’d done something wrong to end up that way and that people either pitied me or thought I was a loser.

I was filled with grief that a marriage had ended and an intact family unit had been destroyed.

I felt the marriage that ended had been my one marriage, my one chance at having a husband or being married, and that I was destined to be alone the rest of my life.

But at the same time, my divorce didn’t destroy my belief in the institution of marriage or in the purpose of families; I remained a fan of both. I remember sitting in church one day a month or two after my divorce became final and the Sunday School lesson was on marriage. I sat there, listening, as I always had when a woman sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, “I’m sorry. Is this hard for you?” No, I answered, and I meant it. It hadn’t dawned on me to sit there and feel bad for myself or mope about what I didn’t have.

However, as a single woman, there were certain things I noticed.

I noticed every wedding ring on every man’s finger. My husband had never worn a wedding ring, and although it had never bothered me or been an issue for us (due to my dad’s profession, he hadn’t worn one either, so I didn’t grow up with the expectation that married men should wear wedding rings) I began to appreciate them–after I was single.

I noticed young couples in love, particularly the way they looked at each other, specifically the way the young men looked at the young ladies. I couldn’t help but see it, probably because I’d been told my spouse hadn’t looked at me in years prior to our divorce. Somehow along the way, I decided I wanted that for myself someday.

Some people look for money. Some people choose a mate based solely on chemistry, intellect, physical appearance or personality. I decided, among other things, I was going to hold out for a man who looked at me with “the look.” I didn’t want a relationship where my husband spent year looking at the tip of my nose again.

Enter Bachelor #5.

He told me he’d marry me tomorrow if I were willing; I was slower than he was to come to that decision. I had a lot of observing and investigating to do before I committed myself. And one of the things I was checking out was “the look.” Did he look at me that way?

I wasn’t sure.

It was time to find out.

One night I sat nose to nose with Bachelor #5. I directed him to look at me. He laughed and told me he couldn’t, things were too blurry to see that close up! I explained he didn’t need to see me, I just needed to see the way he looked at me. He shook his head, teased me about trying to live a teenage fantasy in my 40s and holding out for something that doesn’t exist in real life, but he had the good grace to look me in the eyes anyway.

For a second or two, as I looked into his warm, brown eyes, I wasn’t sure what I saw. Then before I could decide, he opened his eyes as wide as he could, gazed intently into mine, raised his eyebrows (to the point he was looking a little like a zombie) and asked, “Can you see it? I’m looking at you with my best Edward eyes. Do you see my Edward eyes?”

I told you he gets me.

He’s not even a Twilight fan, but he somehow knew what I was thinking, what I was looking for, and at least jokingly, tried to be that for me.

Just one more reason I finally decided it was time. Why I said, “Yes.” And why we’re still…engaged.

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” (Author Unknown)

It’s all part of the unexpected life.


“Fortune knocks at every man’s door once in a life, but in a good many cases the man is in a neighboring saloon and does not hear her.” (Mark Twain)

Living an unexpected life, I can’t help but sometimes compare the “then” to the now.

Here’s one: fortune cookies.

When I was married, my former spouse had a hostility toward certain things. (And of course, criminal tendencies that have now been revealed or not, as with all people, it’s never what you expect.) Shawn Merriman felt anger toward fortune cookies. The sight of them on the tray at the end of an Asian meal upset him. To have someone read their fortune out loud from the scrap of paper they removed from the crisp cookie shell made him mad. I believe his venom toward the end-of-meal treat stemmed from his mother’s propensity to consult real fortune tellers for prophecies about her life, and that she made plans and lived according to the information they divined–something he completely disagreed with.

Whatever the reason for his hostility, and for the sake of peace and harmony in our relationship, home and family, I gave them up. I didn’t look at or read a fortune from a fortune cookie, for most of the 20 years I was married. Then I got divorced.

A year ago my sister came to town and took my daughter and me to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. When the meal was over, the fortune cookies came. My sister grabbed one, opened hers and read it. My daughter and I did the same. That small event was so huge to me, I recorded it in my journal–not as a defiance of my former spouse and the old life I had lived, as evidence of things from the life of Andrea Christensen I was embracing again–and the crazy single woman I had become. I hadn’t read a fortune cookie in decades.

My fortune cookie revealed, “Someone from your past will happily enter your life.”

So I saved it.

I even put it in my wallet!

I knew I was crazy, and my behavior toward the fortune cookie’s prediction proved it.

Things changed, again, with Bachelor #5. He gave me an entirely new perspective, even with fortune cookies. He not only reads cookie fortunes, he adds certain phrases to the end of them as he reads them out loud, and laughs! His fortunes have opened up whole new realms of possibilities for me. Lol.

Speaking of fortunes, here are some helpful ones for the unexpected, single life. Wisdom I offer to all from a knowledgeable and trusted source: the fortune cookie.

“Every man is a volume if you know how to read him.” (The problem is knowing the language they speak, as evidenced by the international set of bachelors AND by the love language every bachelor speaks–but that is another blog post in itself!)

“Your secret admirer will soon appear.” (Just watch out for stalkers!)

“You are surrounded by fortune hunters.” (That is true for women AND men. I’ll never forget the man who told me he didn’t mind that I had four kids, “As long as they’re provided for by someone else.”)

“Behind an able man, there are always other able men.” (Helpful to remember as you’re looking for your Mr. Awesome and haven’t found him yet. Don’t give up. If he was out there for me, he is out there for you!)

And last but not least: “Answer just what your heart prompts you.” (Useful for you-know-when; THE moment; THE PROPOSAL.)

In fairy tales and real life.

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale of all.” (Hans Christian Andersen)

Random Strangers

“What is it that makes a complete stranger dive into an icy river to save a solid gold baby? Maybe we’ll never know.” (Jack Handy)

Ok. I’m going to sound old here, but “back in the day” (one year ago) when I was operating in absolute shock mode, simply trying to get through each day, one at a time, as I adjusted to the unexpected life that was mine, and while I was waiting and worrying about a miracle for my son, I got a small one for myself.


A local grocery store, Macy’s, was having a case lot sale. I went and stocked up on some food items for my little family at a bargain price. It was Saturday night, I was newly divorced and couldn’t help but think what a loser I was to have a shopping trip as my only plan, the big thrill, for the evening. As I walked into the store, I was sure every other customer knew I was single, knew my shame (why I was single), and was staring at me.

When I finished, as I walked out the door pushing my grocery cart piled high with cases of canned food, a man driving by in his car called out a comment to me, ridiculing me for my purchases. I couldn’t believe it! In all the years I had grocery shopped in Denver, no one had ever commented on my purchases or made fun of me for the amount of items in my cart. It was only after I had moved to Utah, the land of family and food storage, that I was ridiculed.

I walked to my car feeling so dumb.

I was embarrassed.

And believe it or not, my emotional state hung in such a delicate balance one year ago, that my feelings were actually hurt by that stupid comment from a thoughtless stranger.

I wanted to cry out, “I’m just a single mother trying to feed her children!”

Or, “Believe me, buddy, I already know what a loser I am–I don’t need your help and encouragement!”

But I tried not to think about it as I fought back tears, opened the trunk of my car and began to unload my cart in the parking lot. I was grateful it was dark so no one would see me, the biggest loser among all women, married or single, crying like an idiot in the dark while she unloaded her shopping cart.

I felt more alone than anyone else in the parking lot.

I wondered how I was going to get through the rest of the weekend, the next week and the rest of my life feeling as I felt. Instead of feeling rejuvenated by the weekend and able to face the coming week, I was crushed.

And then, out of the darkness, and without a word, a man was standing beside me, helping me unload my cart. He didn’t really say anything while he unloaded everything into my car, but as he handed me the last case, he paused for just an instant and smiled at me. It was dark, but I was struck by his beautiful, clear light eyes as he looked into mine and smiled. And then he got into his old, dark-colored SUV parked next to mine, that I hadn’t noticed until that moment, and drove away.

I stood there. I watched him drive away, my burden so much lighter from our encounter. I marveled at such kindness from a stranger, especially on the heels of exactly the opposite experience from another one.

He was probably just some nice man, a former Boy Scout, doing what he does for everyone, for me, that night. But to me, it was as if he was heaven sent, that moment, that night. He will never know what his small act of kindness meant to someone like me. In the parking lot of Macy’s grocery store.

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” (Tennessee Williams)

Especially while living an unexpected life.

Don’t we all?

The Night I Underdressed

“Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring.” (Mae West)

I remember, once, serving grilled salmon to a dinner guest. She was from a wealthy but down-to-earth family in Kansas City. I considered the dinner a casual affair, but I’ll never forget her comment. “Wow, I feel underdressed–if I’d known what you were serving, I wouldn’t have worn jeans.”

That’s sort of the way I felt the night Bachelor #5 invited me to go for a drive. I thought it was just a late night excuse to see each other for a few minutes, but as this blog has demonstrated, I’ve been wrong about a certain man’s intentions before (pretty much all of the time.)

It was dark, late, I’d already put my pajamas on, so I didn’t change and didn’t bring up how underdressed I was–I thought we were just going for a drive. (And due to the darkness of the night, I don’t think he had a clue. If he did, he didn’t mention it.) We drove, we stopped and talked, and then very unexpectedly he said something like, “Well, I guess you’d better have this.”

He handed me a tiny velvet box tied with a ribbon.

Another hint for the unexpected life? Don’t spend time with a performer. You forget they can apply those acting skills to their personal life, too. He’d had that little box the whole time and hadn’t mentioned it! He had acted completely normal, in fact, until the moment he surprised me with it.

I gasped. “Is this what I think it is?”

He said, “Open it and see.” But then he couldn’t help himself. As I removed the ribbon and opened the box he added, “You’ll have to tell me what you think, but I think it is absolutely gorgeous! I hope you like it. I think you’re going to love it. I do!”

I opened the box. Even in the dark I could see the sparkle. I held it up to the moonlight and was dazzled by the way the band looked, nestled in the satin cushion of the box.

“Wait for me by moonlight, watch for me by moonlight, I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.” (Alfred Noyes) I’d waited, I’d watched, and it had finally come! (In the moonlight even!)

The good news?

“All things come round to him who will but wait.” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)


Bachelor #5 put the band on the ring finger of my left hand. It was perfect. And now I had the whole package: the man, the engagement to the man, and the ring.

“An engagement ring is sort of a tourniquet worn on one’s finger to stop circulation.”

Despite the fact I was seriously underdressed for the occasion, it was official. If I’d known what Bachelor #5 was serving that night, maybe I would have AT LEAST worn jeans! Regardless, we were off the market. Officially. We were engaged AND there was a ring involved.

“When a poor man goes to the market, often he comes home with only tears” (African Proverb)

Thank goodness my “market” experience, the singles scene “meat market,” had a different outcome. I left my tears somewhere along the way and eventually came home, instead, with Bachelor #5! And I have to say, I don’t think any other man could handle (or want) my slightly more complicated and unusual situation. After all, it can’t be easy being the fiance of the Queen of The Unexpected Life, but he does it while remaining cheerful, happy, kind, patient and calm. He truly is…Mr. Awesome.

Good job, well done, #5.

“If I said to most of the people who auditioned, ‘Good job, awesome, well done,’ it would have made me actually look and feel ridiculous. It’s quite obvious most of the people who turned up for this audition were hopeless.” (Simon Cowell)

Except for Bachelor #5.