Strengthen Relationships – Part 2

The previous blog left off where I was stocking peanuts on the nut aisle. Where my future husband, who we’ll call “Jeff” walked over to chat with me. I don’t remember everything we talked about, but at one point he said to me, “You never know, I might marry you someday.” “Ha”, I said, “Marry you? I wouldn’t even go out with you. You’re just a player.”

We stayed friendly for several months. He’d come in alone or with his fiancé, and we’d chat a bit from time to time.

One night I was on a date with another man, and we ran into each other at a local bar, called Hogue Barmichael’s. I saw him, went up to him and said “Hello”. He looked at me with a blank face. He didn’t recognize me! We’ve been talking for months at Trader Joe’s. He sees me at a bar and doesn’t even know who I am.

This further confirms my suspicions about him being a “player.”

I remind him of how he knows me. “You know, Trader Joe’s? You shop there; that’s where I work; we chat sometimes?” “Oh”, he says, “I didn’t recognize you.” Ok, I can understand that. He usually sees me in shorts, tennis shoes and a Hawaiian shirt. At the bar, I am in a dress, heels, my hair is styled, and I’m wearing make-up.

Not too long after this incident, I get a phone call at the store while I’m working. It’s December 1987. It’s my future husband, I just don’t know it yet.

“Hello, Marlene speaking. May I help you?” “Hi, it’s Jeff. How are you?” “I’m fine, How are you? I haven’t seen you in a while” I say. “I had a motorcycle accident and broke my leg”, he says. “Oh my gosh! Are you ok?” I ask. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just laying around on the couch, recuperating. What are you doing for lunch? Want to come over and visit me?”, he asks. “Yes,” I say, and get the address. A few hours later, I take my lunch break and drive over to his house.

This is the house he shares with his fiancé.

She’s at work. I feel uncomfortable and feel I should leave. He explains why he called me. All this free time he’s had, spent laying on the couch recovering from a broken leg, gives him much time to evaluate his relationship with his fiancé. He’s not happy. They fight a lot. He wants to get to know me better. He asks me out, but there’s a problem. He can’t drive, so he wants to know if I would be willing to pick him up for our date?

Sure, why not. I’ve never picked up a man for a date before. They always come pick me up. I was raised to be old-fashioned in my thinking as far as dating is concerned. We set the date for the date; December 16. I need to get back to work. My lunch hour is nearly up.

Are you wondering why I agreed to go on a date with a man, who I believe to be a “player”?

Yeah, me too. I thought, what’s one date? We’ll go out, have a few laughs, we’ll have nothing in common, and I’ll never go out with him again.  That’s what I was thinking. My reality proved to be much different.

On the day of our date, I drove from my home in Mission Viejo to his in Costa Mesa. I picked him up and drove him back to my house. I was planning to cook lunch. I broiled orange roughy, steamed broccoli, and baked red potatoes. After we were done eating, we started watching a movie, and during the movie my roommate came home.

My roommate was a Marine fighter pilot. Before I continue the story, remember this is my impression of Jeff: An extremely good-looking man, with long blonde hair, killer bod, a big flirt, and someone who is probably all looks and no brains.

Well, was I in for a great big surprise!

After introducing my roommate to my date, I listen to their conversation. My roommate is telling Jeff about F-18 fighter planes and flying. I hear Jeff asking some very technical and detail-oriented questions. I am surprised.

Maybe I misjudged the man? Maybe he does have brains after all. The more I listen, the more I am impressed. I was wrong! Jeff is very intelligent. Uh, oh. I might be open to a second date with this man.

As the evening continues, we talk and talk and talk. At one point, after discovering we have much more in common than I ever thought possible, items such as morals, values, desires, goals, and family; we kiss.  I am melting inside. And after we kiss, I tell him this: “You are in trouble. I didn’t expect to like you this much. I really like you.”

A little later, I drive him home. I drop him off down the street so his fiancé does not see him getting out of my car.

He knew within the month of our first date, that he wanted to marry me.

I needed a bit more time; three months to make up my mind. This decision was further compounded by the fact I had been dating a man I met in Phoenix for nearly a year and things were getting serious.

I didn’t expect to like Jeff so much. I thought I would be marrying Ken soon. I had gone back to Ohio to meet Ken’s family. They were a nice family. Ken was a nice guy. We would see each other two weekends a month. We would alternate trips to see each other. One weekend I would fly to Phoenix and two weeks later, he would fly to southern California.

As the Christmas holiday came near, I knew I would have to make a decision. Ken was getting serious. I knew he was going to ask me to marry him. A week ago I would have said yes. But now things were different. I was falling in love with Jeff.

Marrying Jeff made no logical sense.

He wasn’t the type of guy I thought I would marry. My brain said to marry a professional man, a man with a degree, a doctor or lawyer. But I wasn’t thinking with my brain, I was thinking with my heart.

What I’m about to tell you is a true story. It is the reason, I choose Jeff and not Ken. It is an incredible story and you may not believe it to be true, but I assure you it really did happen. It was divine intervention.

One day, a few months earlier in October even before my first date with Jeff, I went with Ken to a wedding for a couple of his friends. At the reception, a lady came up to me and asked if I had heard about the tradition of the groom’s cake? I said, no. I hadn’t even heard of a groom’s cake. What is that? She went on to explain – A groom’s cake is similar to a fruit cake. Legend says, if you take a piece of the groom’s cake home and place it under your pillow, who ever you dream about that night will be the man you marry.

Groom’s Cake.

At the reception there were many, many small slices of groom’s cake wrapped in plastic wrap. So I took one home to Ken’s house. That night at bed time, I placed the cake under my pillow, in Ken’s bed. I was laying next to Ken and we fell asleep.

Seven or eight hours later I awoke. And then I remembered. Oh my gosh, I had a dream about Jeff. This was crazy  I thought. I didn’t know him well at this time. We hadn’t even gone on a date yet. I’m not marrying him, that’s crazy.

I kept the dream to myself and did not tell Ken. Once I arrived back to work in California and saw Jeff at my work, I told him about the dream. I thought it was funny and I laughed.

This was the second time I hurt his feelings and didn’t know it.

Fast forward two months to December. It’s the night before I’m supposed to get on a flight to go see Ken in Arizona for Christmas. I’m falling for Jeff. I’m losing my feelings for Ken. I don’t want to go see Ken. I know I’m going to break up with him. It’s going to be awkward and I don’t want to spend 2 days and 2 nights with someone I’m breaking up with.

I decide to call Ken and tell him over the phone. I hate doing it over the phone, but there is no better option. Jeff is with me, sitting right next to me as I make the call. Ken is devastated. I know he has the ring. He was going to propose to me this weekend and I call and break up with him. I’m sorry Ken. I never wanted to hurt you. You are a good guy. But I’ve fallen in love with Jeff.

14 months later in February, Jeff and I get married. It was the happiest day of my life! By the end of the day, my mouth and facial muscle hurt bad from smiling so much. It was a perfect day.

I found the story of the groom’s cake to be true. It was not a fairy-tale legend for me. It was my reality; a very happy reality.

Happily ever after, lasted about three years.

I’ll tell you about our first, nearly divorced, incident in the next upcoming blog.