It was serendipity meeting Carol — a newly hired secretary — at work.
I was in the credit department for a company in downtown L.A., near the corner of 6th and Flower streets. She was in marketing, on a different floor. I did not waste time and asked the attractive, petite brunet to join me at lunch at nearby Casey’s Irish Pub. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Later, I requested her phone number and we agreed to have our first date that weekend.
We were both in our 20s, and my only claim to fame was being the owner of a brand new Datsun 240Z. Now you have to understand, this was the hottest car to hit any road in at least 10 years, in my opinion. It was a bit like the Tesla of its day. To order the car, I first had to agree to take any color given to me, pay top dollar — and then wait five months for its arrival.
All my previous dates became quite enamored with the car and impressed that I was actually able to get one.
I hit the local car wash on my way, and as I drove to her apartment, I fully expected that when she saw the car her eyes would widen, followed by a big “Wow!” reaction.
I confidently walked her to the car door — I’d ended up with the burnt orange — and opened it. She got in and sat down without any comment whatsoever.
As I began to drive to Anna’s in West Los Angeles for our dinner reservation, I waited a few minutes till I could stand it no longer.
I curtly asked, “Do you know what kind of car this is?”
She looked around and said, “No I don’t. I’m not really a car buff.”
(Could you hear my balloon go pop?)
I turned in my seat and stared at her.
After regaining my composure, I said, “It’s a 240Z, the hottest car on the road right now!”
“Oh, well it’s nice.”
After that inauspicious beginning, the remainder of the evening went surprisingly well.
She was easygoing and bright, and it turned out we both had a true love of the outdoors. That was enough to bring me back for more.
On our third date (I still hadn’t kissed her), she invited me for dinner at her apartment, which was within a few miles of DTLA. She had selected her apartment so she could take the bus to work and not have to pay for parking. It would be an understatement to describe her place as a “dump.” The building could have qualified as a historical monument, and the door had what I’d call a “grandma key” that was 5 inches long.
The view out the main window was of a brick wall with wires dangling from the roof to add to the “ambience.” I had brought over two steaks for dinner, which we cooked on a small outdoor hibachi. When she asked if I wanted wine with dinner, I said, “Perfect.” She then placed a drinking glass in front of me that read “Coca-Cola” and began pouring in the wine.
Again, I stared.
“Do you always serve wine in a Coca-Cola glass?”
“Oh, sorry, I don’t have any wine glasses,” she replied.
I sarcastically thought to myself, “Well, if you want to impress a first-time dinner date, this sure is the way to do it!”
As I drove home that night, I found myself reflecting on Carol and where the relationship would go next.
We had a great deal in common. She was smart and easy to talk to and spend time with. I found her very attractive. (I had finally kissed her.)
And I had done everything possible to impress her, all for naught.
On the other hand, she had done absolutely nothing to impress me and yet — she had.
And then I had an epiphany: This was the ideal girl to marry!
No airs with this gal. Totally practical and unpretentious, not at all concerned with what a date might think of where she lived or what glasses she used to serve wine. (And, I admit, I knew I could use some work in this area myself.)
In other words — a rare gem.
Over the ensuing months, we enjoyed many outings in my 240Z, from movies in Westwood to picnics on the beach in Santa Monica and dinners in Marina del Rey.
Nine months later, I asked for her hand in marriage, and 44 years after that, we are still happily married. We have two grown kids and actual wine glasses. Unfortunately, we never kept those Coca-Cola glasses.
Epilogue: I drove the Datsun 240Z for 15 years and often pride myself on my exquisite selection of a car and then a wife — though not necessarily in that order.
The author is a retiree and freelance writer in Orange County.
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