Tacos, Football & 99 cent Margaritas

When asked how we met Esposa and I generally answer “On a blind date” which is technically true. But it wasn’t completely blind and wasn’t a “real” date. Allow me to explain. In the fall of 1988 I was sharing a townhouse in Dallas with my old buddy Ralph. An Aggie through & through, Ralph was dating the inscrutable Helen. She was impossibly tall and one of the few who could deal with Ralph’s dalmatian Dot.

One day Ralph called Helen at work and the phone was answered by the “new girl” in the office. When I came home from work he told me “Coach, you need to meet this girl…” (Ralph called me coach for no apparent reason). Of course my superficial question was “what does she look like?” He responded that he didn’t know but that she knew her Aggie football. That was good enough for me, let’s do it. He had Helen set up a meeting between the four of us.

The meeting was set on a glorious fall afternoon not far from the townhouse, at the Taco Cabana on Northwest Highway. Home of the 99 cent margarita. Ralph and I got there first, then Helen. It seems that my “date” was running late. We sat outside in the receding sunshine. She had been on a business trip to the Texas Department of Corrections unit at Tennessee Colony in East Texas. I had to admit that I had never been on a date with someone who just left prison, which elicited laughs from Ralph and groans from Helen.

After a few minutes Helen saw her pull into the parking lot. She drove an immaculate 1984 Olds Cutlass Supreme, champagne in color with the obligatory maroon landau vinyl top.

I watched intently for her to walk around the corner. I had to admit to some curiosity about this football crazy girl. I wasn’t sure what to expect. And then…..

There she was.

She was walking toward us with a million watt smile. Walking into the setting sun. And. She. Was. Fabulous.

Beautifully big North Dallas hair in big loose curls surrounded her face, reflecting the sun back to us. Reflective aviators, khaki shorts, a stunning blue top that managed to be conservative and sexy at the same time. And her smile. We sat and chatted like old friends. All four of us. We went through over $20 worth of 99 cent margaritas, ordered some tacos & nachos. And then we dispersed. All too quickly.

I realized almost immediately that I had neglected to get her phone number. Which as I found out later, pissed her off. I figured no big deal, I would get it from Helen the next day (Friday). So I left a message on her recorder. No call back Friday. Or Saturday. Finally late Sunday afternoon I got the callback and the number.

Apparently my lack of interest (forgetting to ask for a phone number) inspired a trip to Fort Worth’s Pioneer Days in the Stockyards. A three day drinking & dancing binge. They had left after work on Friday and just got home on Sunday. So I decided to wait until Monday to call.

Monday night came and during the football game I decided to call. Not a big game. Just a random mid-season MNF game. Elway & the Broncos vs Raiders. While we were chatting one of the intermittent freight trains came by right outside my back door. I noticed at that point that even with the noise of the train, I could still hear the football game. I asked “are you watching Monday Night Football?” Without hesitation she answered “Always.” Turns out she was a Broncos fan because Gary Kubiak was their backup QB. It would become apparent to me over the years that she always rooted for Aggies in the NFL. Even if they were playing the Cowboys which was a minor irritant. At least until Jerry came along, at which point I quit caring so much. Coincidence? I think not.

So a beautiful woman. Who not only loves football, but likes to watch it on TV. We went out a few days later on our first real date. To see Eddie Raven at Borrowed Money. But that’s another story.

It was Tacos, Football & 99 cent Margaritas that brought us together to make the love that we believed we were destined all our lives to find, a reality.

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