The first wink wins

Entering the dating scene after twenty-five years of marriage was sort of like going for a swim in the ocean ten minutes after watching Jaws. You know there are sharks in the water, but surely you can find a small space of water that is safe. After a short relationship and several dates, it’s more like, you’ve lost a leg, but giving up now would just be silly. Everyone said it was scary out there, but I kept thinking, it can’t be THAT bad. Holy crap.

After my divorce, I immediately got into a serious relationship. That’s not what this blog is about, it deserves it’s very own story. Needless to say, it didn’t work out. I was genuinely heartbroken. He was a man in the little town we lived in. I knew there wasn’t any other viable option for a date in our small town and I was trying to put a band-aid on my rejection. After some prodding from a good friend, I decided to join Match.com. This journey culminated in a marriage that is a gift from God. The adventure to get there is too bazaar not to share. And it’s all true. I couldn’t make this up.

Let me start by saying that Ken was the first man to ‘wink’ at me on Match. When you are interested in someone on this site, you send them a ‘wink’, an emoji doing just that. This is sort of the equivalent of the note you passed in 5th grade…

Do you like me?

Yes       No

Circle one

I received several winks. I got one from this handsome man in an orange shirt, standing up straight with his arms crossed and grinning. I read his bio and he talked a lot about riding his bike. I noticed he had this really cool watch on with all the bells and whistles. Your picture and bio are meant to portray as much about you as possible in as little space as possible. What Ken’s information said to me was that he was a health nut. His watch had a little stop watch on it. He was out riding his bike come rain, shine, snow or sleet. Nope. The last thing I wanted was to have Lance Armstrong riding along behind me noticing how big my butt was and feeling sorry for the bicycle seat on which I was sitting. Time to move on.

The first date I went on was with a man who actually lived in the next town over. He worked at the Steel Mill. I have a really good friend who also works at the Steel Mill, so I called him and ask him about ‘Rob’. He assured me he was a good guy with a good job. Rob’s children lived with him and he was all about family. Ok! This sounds promising. I winked back at Rob to get the ball rolling. We made a date and I anxiously awaited, feeling really good about this.

So, on Friday night I was ready and waiting on my date. We hadn’t made any definite plans, we were just going to play it by ear. Kennedy was home and we came up with a plan. If I wasn’t having a good time, I would send her a blank text and she would call with an emergency. That would have been awesome, except my phone died about fifteen minutes into the date. About fourteen minutes after I sent Kennedy my SOS.

This man was full of himself. He was also stuck in 1979. Dark blue wrangler jeans, shiny red button down (think black button down in Saturday Night Fever only blood red), pointed toe black cowboy boots, pinky rings (both pinkies), enough gold chains to melt down and make a gold-plated disco ball. The most attractive part? His bald head. Like Kojak bald. It was obvious by the spots he missed around his right ear and neck, that this was something he did to himself. Our conversation? How much money he made. How much his Harley cost, How much his Camero cost. How much his house cost. How much his daughter’s prom dress cost ($89.00…?). I didn’t say thirteen words all night. Eleven of those words were, “I have to work tomorrow, I’ve really got to get home.” I delivered said words at 8:15. I finally got him to take me home around 9:30. When I got home, the kids and some of their friends were there. I told him not to walk me to the door, I was so embarrassed. I walked in the house, said hello to the group of kids in my living room, went to my bedroom, laid down on my bed and bawled. Kennedy came in and talked to me. She made me feel better, as usual, and I quit feeling sorry for myself.  It was only one date. I didn’t ever have to see him again and the next date would be better.

No. The next one wasn’t better and I couldn’t get Rob to leave me alone. He called constantly. I just declined the calls. So he texted. With the ferocity of a fourteen year old love-sick boy. He missed  me. After one date? He really thought this was a good ‘love connection’. Holy crap. We had talked about my previous relationship and the heartbreaker’s best friend also worked at the Steel Mill. Rob actually sent a text to me telling me that he had talked to the best friend and the heartbreaker and I were never getting back together, so if that’s what I was waiting on, I could forget it. OMG. Then he quit being nice?, I guess nice is a good word. He began to get vulgar. After one particularly horrible text, I sat down at the kitchen table and cried. Kennedy came home and found me like this.  I showed her the text. She FLIPPED out. She decided she was going to take care of this. She sent him a text telling Rob that messing with a Soden was a mistake. If he didn’t believe her, he should ask around. She told him that if he sent me one more text, she was going to have someone break his thumbs. Thumbs, Kennedy? Of course, those are what you text with. Funny? Yes. Scary? Also yes. He left me alone. My sixteen year old daughter scared him. If only I’d known!

The next few dates were awful. I went out with a man who had recently finished his treatment for cancer. He was very health conscious and spent most of the time we were out talking about ‘getting healthy’. I admire that. I think living a healthy lifestyle is commendable. However, when I ordered a pop to drink with our pizza, I got a lecture. He asked if I meant to order water. Maybe I was just so nervous that I needed a pop to calm me down. After berating me until I ordered a water, he ordered a beer. Seriously? I’ve got work in the morning. I’m going to need to go home early.

Then….there was the guy who Kade scared. Kade and Zach were dressed up for a stunt they were filming. This was nothing new to me. I was used to their insanity. They came busting through the front door, dressed in Daisy Duke shorts, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. They were dying to tell me about their latest exploit. They had talked the new policeman in town into letting them get on top of the police car, in their present get-ups, and dance on the top of the car. Pictures and video were taken. As I started this post, I went looking for the evidence on various Facebook pages but I couldn’t find it. My date sat there, eyes wide and clearly uncomfortable. He left shortly after. He made up some lamo excuse. Look, these kids are nuts, but they are my nuts. Seeya.

Then….the big burley guy who worked for the railroad. We spent a lot of time texting and calling before I agreed to go out with him. He was recently divorced and was as out of the dating loop as I was. He was actually pretty promising. Until we had the date. He talked incessantly about his ex-wife. She had helped him pick out the outfit he had on for our date. They had gone out for dinner and shopping together the night before. They belonged to a supper club that they still attended together. Ok, yes, this was peculiar. Maybe I was just being too touchy. Then the clincher. He asked me if I liked pedicures. Well sure! I think every woman likes to be pampered. What a way to relax! He exclaimed ‘I do too!’ Ok. I know guys do this, telling myself to quit being so judgmental! Then he flipped his shoe off and held his Fred Flinstone foot up for me to see his…zebra striped toenails. I swear on my blond hair, I snorted my drink out my nose. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Neither would be appropriate but at this point, did I even care? He told me how he loved to have his toenails done and then wear flip flops to show them off. He got on Pinterest and pinned different ideas because he liked to get something different each time. ‘I’m sorry. I have to work early tomorrow. I really should be going.’

I QUIT!! I will be single the rest of my life. No amount of encouragement from family and friends was EVER going to get me to go on another date. I knew this was going to be hard but holy cow!

During all of this dating hell, I had been texting back and forth with Ken some. We had exchanged numbers but I didn’t see this going anywhere. Another health nut. I like POP!! My Mother came for a visit and I was having a pity party about the dating insanity and how I was going to be alone forever. During her stay, Ken and I talked a lot. She wondered who I was on the phone with all the time. I told her some guy who rode a bicycle! Like I was going to go out with someone who rode a bike everywhere. That wasn’t ever going to work. She talked to me like Mothers do. I can’t give up…There is someone out there for me….God has a great blessing in store for me…blah blah blah

So I went out with Ken. I was so leery. I was totally prepared for nipple piercings or for him to ask to borrow my panties. You name it, I thought about it. He picked me up and we went out for pizza (Our restaurant situation is horribly lacking in Jackson County). I knew before the pizza got to the table that if it were up to me, this wouldn’t be our last date. In short order, he met my family, I met his and we were hooked.

Ken was a slow-cooker prayer. I had to go through all the other ‘dates’, to use the word loosely, to be able to appreciate him the way he deserved. I had to learn. I had to take all of the pop-quizzes so I could pass the final test. Ken is funny. He makes me laugh every day. He is kind to my children. He is empathetic and sympathetic. He is always cheering me on, no matter what hair-brained idea I come up with. He goes through the medical craziness and supports me fully. He loves me. He not only tells me, he shows me. He will do anything he can to make me happy. And the man let me have seven dogs. That in itself speaks volumes about his drive to make a happy woman out of me. When I got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, we had only been together about three years. I told him that I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t want to do this. This isn’t the life he signed on for. I felt like I was saddling him with something that would limit every part of his life. He wanted someone to actively spend the rest of his life with, not someone who will likely end up in a wheelchair. He got so mad. He has repeatedly told me these last two years, that we are in this together. He even found a wheel chair for me that is sort of like an all terrain vehicle. It looks like something out of Star Wars. I know that with all the uncertainty of this disease, Ken will be by my side to help me live the fullest life I can.

All those horrid dates were totally worth it. And there is no way this man will ever come home with zebra striped toenails. Oh, and the bicycle thing? It was a Harly Davidson Motorcycle. No bicycling for him. He isn’t a health nut! He tells everyone that if you see him running, you should run too, because something bad is coming. He does try to get me to eat healthier. That’s because he loves me and he knows the benefits would be huge. Then he will eat an oreo with me. I win.

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