I was married for 25 years to my children’s father. It was a horrible marriage. I know, you’ll say ‘Surely there were some good times!’….No. There were not. He succeeded in tearing down every ounce of self-esteem, trust, worth and joy I ever had. So after my divorce, when I thought about dating, I likened it to backing into a big ‘ol cactus.
We lived in a small town. Really small. I knew several single men, I’m using the term ‘men’ loosely. They all had a penis. So they WERE men. That’s where it began and ended.
I did know one man I had a sort of crush on. He was the father of one of Kade’s friends. He was handsome and had a job. He had never been in prison and his children loved him. Kade was best friends with his son and talked highly of him. So, when he asked me out, I said yes.
Our first date pretty much set the bar for the rest of our relationship. We went out to eat then stopped and got a 6 pack and hit the back roads in his truck. Yes, Yankee friends, that is actually dating protocol in the South. We had driven for about an hour, around and around, when he said, ‘I bet you don’t even know where we are’. Ha! Men think they are so clever! I told him I knew exactly where we were! My exact words were, ‘I do know where we are! If you go to the right at this split in the road, you go down a little way and you tee at the river. Bill and I used to come down here once in a while. It’s so pretty down here. There is this little house down here, more of a shack, really. I’ll bet there isn’t even running water or an inside bathroom. It’s so sad. There were these three little girls playing outside. None of them were completely dressed, they were all dirty. I felt so sorry for them, I can’t believe people live like that!’.
We turned the opposite direction of the poor river family and our conversation turned to other things. I do remember thinking that this was all so comfortable and going really well. About thirty minutes after the split in the road, we were both kind of quiet, just enjoying the ride. It was cool outside, but nice weather for February and the farmers had already started preparing their fields. I was relaxed and taking in how pretty ir was on this old gravel road. And then, without warning, my smug ass got handed to me on a cheap paper plate.
“I can make you feel better about that house with the little girls.” my date said. Confused I asked “Oh really, how?” With a chuckle he said, “That’s my brother’s house. I assure you, there is running water and an indoor bathroom.”
I wanted to die. No really, if Jesus would have picked that moment to come back to Earth, I wouldn’t have been happier or more relieved. I was mortified. I was so glad it was dark, my face, I’m sure, was hot and red. I wanted to throw up. I contemplated just opening the door on the truck and diving into the field that moments before, I had been admiring. I wanted to cry.
To his credit, my date thought this was hysterical. He explained that his brother had some issues and the house was a bit old. As I kept apologizing, he laughed harder and harder. I finally regained most of my composure and tried to act non-chalant, jokes on me!
I had regained most of my poise by the time we got back to his house, but the fun had just begun. As each of his children returned home for the evening, he gleefully told of my redneck faux pas. The only thing I had going for me at this point was I knew all of his children and they all liked me. They all had a big laugh at my expense and I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t ever let a man know that you are aware of your surroundings. Just play dumb.
This particular relationship lasted almost a year. I gained four almost children that I still deeply love and have continued a relationship with. Everything happens for a reason. They were the reason.
I went on several other dates before I finally met and married the man God made just for me. All of them were equally horrible. I had one man ask me if I liked pedicures. I told him, I did, on occasion enjoy a pedicure and he said with frightening enthusiasm,’I do too!! I just had one today!’. He then flipped off his shoe to reveal tiger-striped toe nails. This was a big, burly man who worked for the railroad. I had to think of dead kittens so that I didn’t erupt into fits of laughter. I also had a blind date with a nut job. We were fixed up by a friend of mine whose opinion I respected. Nope. We went out one time. He spent the next month texting me and calling me and driving me nuts. I got messages that ranged from ‘I miss you’ (we went out once, remember) to professions of love and finally the most vulgar, gross-me-out messages I had ever seen. I asked him repeatedly to PLEASE leave me alone. I blocked his number and he just texted from someone else’s phone.
I eventually confided in Kennedy that this crazy wouldn’t leave me alone and that I was beginning to become concerned. If you know Kennedy, you know how this went. She sent him a message, introduced herself and told him in no uncertain words that if you messed with a Soden, especially the Soden mom, bad things would happen to you. She ended the conversation by telling him that if he bothered me again, she would see to it that both his thumbs would be broken. I was lost, his thumbs?? ‘That’s what you text with, Mom.’ Oh!! Ok, that was pretty funny. The scariest part of this whole story? He never bothered me again. He was scared of my 17-year-old daughter.
I was very leery about dating after all of this. I was going to be single for the rest of my life. So God sent me a pebble. His name was Ken. I knew within minutes that this was the man for me. Sometimes you have to wade through the chicken shit to get to the pretty flowers. It wasn’t easy, I almost gave up. That just makes me appreciate Ken all the more. I finally know the kind of love and respect that God always wanted for me.
Shhhh…Don’t tell anyone, but I did ask Ken if he liked pedicures on our first date, he said ‘Not personally, but if you’d like a spa day, I’ll treat you to one!’ Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.