As Esposa and I started spending time together after meeting as described in my last post, we started talking about where we had been and what we had been doing all our lives prior to meeting. We started to notice a strange convergence of coincidentally being in the same place at the same time. Sometimes just in the same city, other times in the same room, without ever meeting.
The conclusion we drew was that God was keeping us apart until we were both ready. I had married while in college, had a couple of kids and was in the process of ending a 10 year marriage. She on the other hand had been living the single life, was a bit wild and unready to settle down. We both were off relationships and had no interest whatsoever in starting a new one. Until we met that is.
The earliest such occurrence was in 1962 during the World’s Fair in Seattle. She was around 3, me around 5 years old. Her family trekked to Seattle to see the sights, go up in the Space Needle and so forth. She recounted riding the ferry across the sound. Well guess where I was in 1962? We lived in Bremerton, just across the sound from Seattle. We rode the ferry frequently and indeed even attended the World’s Fair and went up in the Space Needle. Was it at the same time? Who knows. But it was the first of many odd coincidences that put us potentially in proximity to each other during our lives.
The next such possible crossing of paths was in 1970. As she was discussing her family vacations she described visits to many places that I had been, Yosemite, Yellowstone, etc. but not at the same time. The common thread in all of these vacations was a stop in Las Vegas. Now I had only been to Las Vegas one time. In 1970. Guess who else was there that year? It is doubtful that we were there at the same time. And my visit was cut short because I was sick with Mononucleosis and we couldn’t stay long. Probably saved my parents a ton of money that they didn’t have the opportunity to gamble away.
In 1971 I was in Austin, TX for an ROTC drill competition. I was downtown about two blocks from where her Dad & Grandfather worked. And we toured the Capitol where her mother worked. Years later my mother-in-law pointed to where her office was located. I had walked right past her in 1971. If she had looked up from her desk she might have seen her future son-in-law.
The first time we can actually verify that we were in the same place at the same time took place in October 1978. We both attended the Texas A&M vs. Rice game at Kyle Field. There are no attendance figures that I can find for that game, but this was pre-third deck with a capacity of 48,000. I remember sitting in the upper deck. She doesn’t remember this game specifically but she would likely have been on the first deck in proximity to the Corps of Cadets. A long shot that we would have seen each other or actually met, but we both walked up/down the same set of ramps. Anything is possible. But this is where the “not ready to meet” comes in. At the time, I was a married college drop out with a young son. She was an active college sophomore and an admitted “boot chaser”. At that point in time we were both on a journey in opposite directions. She would never have considered going out with me at that time, even without the inconvenient fact that I was not available.
For the next 10 years I lived in and around the Dallas area. My feet firmly planted on the ground looking up at an endless corporate ladder. She finished her degree at Texas A&M, moved to Houston, then Indiana, then Austin and finally Dallas. The Indiana story is particularly interesting. She was doing a much better job than I at the corporate ladder thing. She was a branch manager for the world’s largest temp service in downtown Houston. In order to move to the next level she had to transfer. She was given the choice of Terre Haut, IN or New London, CT. Given her boot chasing proclivities choosing Connecticut would have put her right in the middle of the US Coast Guard Academy, New London Submarine base and all manner of military types. But for some reason she chose Indiana, a place that she disliked and ended up leaving to come back to Texas. Dodged a bullet there.
Fast forward to 1988. I was a newly single almost divorced guy hitting the bar scene for the first time in over a decade. She was new to town and had gone through a series of go nowhere relationships, hitting the bar scene with her friends. We could have bumped into each other at any number of bars, but one in particular stands out. Near my townhouse was a big country disco/live music bar called Borrowed Money.
“Borrowed Money on a Thursday night almost resembles a country and Western nightclub. It’s a modern-day honky-tonk, the kind where Coors Light easily outsells Lone Star and white hats are replaced by black ones from Labor Day to Easter.
As Straight Tequila Night fades out, the club starts vibrating with enough bass and drums to move a shot glass across a table. I like big butts and I can’t deny, Sir Mix-A-Lot raps on Baby Got Back, and the club’s excitement level shoots up like a bull rider’s adrenaline during those fabled eight seconds. The sonic transition is as loud and jagged as a rock crashing through a plate glass window, but everyone seems at ease with the new groove. Some of the dancers who were just two-stepping are now embroiled in lurid weight shifts and it almost looks like Fire Island, circa, 1976, with all these muscular guys with mustaches and cowboy hats snapping their necks in time to the monster beat.”
Borrowed Money inhabited the entire upstairs of the east wing of Caruth Plaza. As you came out of the stairwell you were on a level with the dance floor to your left and an elevated platform to your right. Up on the platform there were pool tables, a large horseshoe bar and the restrooms. On the dance floor level there was another bar, a stage for live music and tables as far as you could see into the darkness.
I was a denizen of the former. We would come in for the drink specials, play a few games of pool and have a few beers, or shots, or both. The men’s room had an attendant as most “high dime” country disco clubs did back then. For a buck you could slather on as much Drakkar Noir as you could stand. Esposa was a denizen of the latter. She and her friends would grab a table, have as many drinks as they could get the cowboys to buy them and dance.
There must have been dozens of occasions when we were in the club at the same time. But I didn’t want to date someone I met in a bar. Neither did she. That hadn’t worked out well for her and she was still dealing with “Medallion Man” who had bought her a few drinks and showed up at odd times to mow her yard.
But Borrowed Money is where we went on our first real date. To see Eddie Raven play live. It was the date that never ended.
But that is another story…