(In 1986, it was believed as fact that a single woman, unmarried by the age of 40 had a much better chance of being shot by a terrorist than she had of finding Mr. Right. This is a lighthearted version of how I found my Mr. Right despite the odds against it!)
I'll never forget that very special Christmas season. I was working as a communications operator in a large department store. The malls were bustling with happy holiday shoppers. Garish Christmas trees, draped in tacky tinsel, glared at me from every window display. Automated holiday tunes bombarded my senses, while maudlin, overstuffed Santa's bestowed holiday greeting to every passerby. Everyone had been bitten by the holiday bug, everyone that is, except me. That season I was immune to its bite and refused to catch the holiday fever.
The reason for my doldrums and lack of the holiday spirit had occurred the previous month when I heard a panel of experts on the subject of single women declare on a TV talk show: "Any woman, unmarried by the age of forty, had a better chance of being shot by a terrorist than she had of finding her "Mr. Right"!
I was forty-four years old and I had never married. Obviously, the experts' were talking about me. Their opinion hit me like a bolt of lightening, jolting me into the reality of my bleak future. A silent scream choked in my throat. I was living on borrowed time!
Like most single women, I harbored a secret dream of someday finding my Mr. Right. I'd pictured him a thousand times in my mind: tall, handsome, with wavy brown hair and sky-blue eyes. And now, in a matter of seconds, all my dreams were shattered. According to the experts, the only thing I had to look forward to now was lonely spinsterhood or the bullet from a terrorist's gun.
My imagination began to soar. Was a terrorist waiting out there in the shadows of the city, waiting for an unmarried woman, over forty, to cross his path? I triple bolted my door, secured my latches and pulled down my shades. I considered never leaving the sanctuary of my apartment again. I'd live like a hermit, with pizza and Chinese take-out delivered nightly.
That night I tossed and turned in my sleep. Visions of terrorists and lonely spinsterhood invaded my dreams. When I awoke, next morning, my nerves were jangled and frayed, but common sense prevailed and I bravely, but apprehensively walked to work, looking over my shoulder every step of the way.
At the office, my co-worker, Mable, noticed my depressed state of mind and quickly attributed it to my advanced age. She suggested that I was probably going through "the change" and advised me to drink a glass vinegar and water spiked with a clove of garlic, once a day, to set me right.
"Change?" I bristled to myself. What sort of change was Mable talking about? Was I suddenly going to sprout fangs and furry knuckles and commence baying at the full moon? Nothing less would induce me to indulge in a diet of garlic and vinegar.
Mable went on to compare my plight with that of her old Aunt Agatha who, at my age, had begun taking daily doses of the concoction. The potent mixture had sustained the old woman well into her nineties.
Mable's story made me feel worse. I pictured myself, 50 years down the road, gulping down my daily herbal cocktail, rocking in my rocking chair, reeking of garlic, a healthy but lonely old spinster lady of ninety.
The following day I launched a campaign to find my Mr. Right. Maybe, just maybe, I could beat the odds. I went to work soliciting advice from all the married women in my office. I knew time was running out and I had to work fast. All suggestions would be considered. One of the girls told me about her aunt and how she had found her fiancé through pen pals. Her aunt started writing this guy for years and now they will be getting married. I waited with baited breath to hear more...until she told me her aunt would be getting married just as soon as her "pen pal" got out of prison in the year 2010.
Another young office girl suggested I have my face lifted, thereby giving me more time to look around! Martha, who was closer to my age, told me to hang around single bars. "That's where I found my husband Benji," she bragged. "Besides, You're not getting any younger, sweetie, you can't afford to be choosey", she added with a sly grin. I'd met her precious "Benji" and the name suited him well, with his mangy long hair, canine teeth and bad breath. A flea collar would suit him better than a necktie. If he was a product of her single bar, she could have him!
The advice I received on "how to find a husband" filled my notebook, and yet none seemed to hold the answer. I was just about to give up the whole idea when my friend Linda came up with a practical suggestion. A friend of hers had found a husband by reading books on "How To Find A Man." There was a long list of these modern books available that guaranteed the reader a husband in one month's time: Where to go, how to look, walk and talk, all the important nuances for finding a husband. Of all the advice I'd received that day, this one seemed the best idea.
As I went about my work at the office, I couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching me. I chalked it up to my vivid imagination.
That night, I left the office under a moonless sky and set out to walk to the nearest bookstore. As I scurried down the darkened street a heavy winter rain began to fall. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard footsteps close behind me. I turned around to see someone pursuing me in the darkness; his collar turned up and a knit cap pulled down over his ears. Nervously, I picked up my pace. Still, his heavy footsteps followed me. Was this the terrorist the experts' had warned me about! I ran faster and faster until I heard a voice call out to me.
"Are you going to the office Christmas party, cookie?" The voice came from the shadowy figure that persued me. I turned and recognized him as someone from the office. Nothing to fear here. But it was getting late and I had no time to spare. I couldn't be bothered with trivial questions about holiday parties. I quickly brushed him off and rushed on my way.
One of the books I purchased suggested I hang around the frozen food counters of my local supermarkets where single men were sure to be buying their dinners. But all I found were housewives and couples shopping for their weekly groceries. I spent long hours loitering around sporting good shops; the books promised I'd find a treasure trove of bachelors buying sporting equipment. But the store's only shoppers turned out to be young athletic woman, soccer Moms and little boys in the peewee league. After weeks of lingering and loitering at these shops, the only thing I got for my time and effort were some strange looks from the store security.
I followed the book's advice and took night classes in carpentry and automotive repair, but these classes turned out to be filled with women. I vainly tried beauty treatments and a whole new wardrobe, but still no luck. After months of dedicated reading, the only bachelors I met were boys barely old enough to shave and toothless old men on social security.
Before I knew it, Christmas Eve had arrived. I chucked all my books into the office trashcan and bravely faced another holiday alone. I reluctantly agreed to attend our office Christmas party, knowing that I'd be the only one there without a date.
The party was held on the second floor of the department store. The lights were dimmed for romantic atmosphere, casting dark shadows in every corner of the room. About twenty minutes into the party, I began to get that same, strange, feeling again that I was being watched. I decided it was time to leave and scampered down the darkened corridor to the exit elevators. Suddenly, I was aware of someone in the shadows; a tall, silhouette of a man in a darkened corner of the hallway. The sinewy figure sprang toward me from the darkness. A glimmer of light reflected off a black shiny object he held in his hand.
Was it the barrel of a gun? Was this the deadly terrorist the experts had warned me about? Was I about to meet my fate? I wasn't going to wait around to find out. In panic, I bolted for the exit, running as fast as my trembling legs could carry me down the long dark corridor. The tall figure followed me in quick pursuit, catching up with me at the elevator.
"Hey, wait up," His voice shot through the darkness.
My body revolved. My back was pinned against the elevator door. With nowhere else to go, I faced him straight on: "Take one more step and I'll scream!" I heard my voice shriek out.
A complete look of perplexity crossed over my handsome pursuer's face.
"What did you say"? He asked quizzically, while holding in his hand a large, black umbrella.
Just then, the elevator doors pulled open, shedding some bright light on the subject. I soon realized that my overactive imagination had gotten the best of me again. This very attractive man was no more a terrorist than I was. Trying to cover-up my stupidity, I clumsily repeated, "I...I said, you're a...a lot taller then you seem."
"Oh, I thought you said....well, never mind", he murmured, accepting my weak explanation. Then he flashed his only weapon: a knock-out smile.
Hi, I'm Don Wright," he introduced himself. "I've been trying to meet you all month, but it seems you're always running away from me or you've got your head buried in a book!"
That was me all right, so preoccupied with my search for Mr. "Right" I'd excluded everyone else from my life and failed to notice the real Mr. Wright who'd been under my nose, all along.
And he truly was my Mr. "Right": tall, handsome, wavy brown hair, and sky-blue eyes with a friendly personality to match.
"So you're the Mr. "Right" I've been looking for all of my life"? I purred with a smile.
"I certainly hope so," he answered, in a romantic tone of voice that rang with sincerity. "I've been watching you all month, he confessed, as the two of us walked back to the party together.
I wasted no time in digging up some information on this handsome hunk. I learned from the girls in the office that Don had been working in the department store for the past month and best of all, he was single. Normally, I would have known all of these facts had I socialized with my office friends instead of spending my time alone all month with those darn books.
It was Don who had followed me from the office that rainy night, the night I gave him the brush off. And it was his dreamy blue eyes that I'd felt watching me all month.
It never dawned on me, while I was looking so hard for Mr. Right, that Mr. Wright was just across the hall trying equally as hard to meet me.
That Christmas Eve, I spent the holiday with Don. My belief in the magic of Christmas renewed. We opened brightly wrapped packages together, cuddled to the tune of "White Christmas", munched on sweet fruitcake, sipped on creamy eggnog and kissed under the mistletoe.
We were married the following year and marked the occasion with a grand wedding celebration. Finding Mr. Wright, and marrying for the very first time at age 45, was a dream come true, but more than that, it proved that even experts on the subject of finding true love can be wrong. And that we must hold on to our dreams, no matter how unrealistic they may seem, no matter how great the odds against them coming true. And here's a little advice, just between me and you, don't look so hard for something that you don't see what's been right in front of you all along.
I was born during WWII and most of the articles I write about are from in
and around that time frame. For 16 years I wrote a popular nostalgia column for
her community newspaper The Willow Glen Resident (The Silicon Valley Metro
Newspapers...San Jose California). My generational stories have appeared in
several nostalgia books and newspapers across the country. They include several
articles for the San Francisco Chronicle and "Chicken soup for the grandparent's
soul" as well as several other books.I currently writes a monthly column
for Chicago's largest Italian american newspaper, FRA NOI, ("Looking Back and
aslo a monthly column for La Voce ( Las Vegas,Itlaian american newspaer)
mycolumn for la Voce is titled:"Italain memories." I also write for websites:
ITALIANSRUS AND SENIOR YEARS. My column "Itlaian memories" also runs monthly in
the IAHF newspaper. Several of my stories have been published in the popular
"miracle" stories by jenifer bayse sanders. Her lastest holiday book, to be
relased this November,'Unfolding the gifts of Christmas" also feautures one of my
stories.Two of my stories have recently appeared in the latest Chicken soup
books, "Chicken soup for the Grandparent's soul." and ( CHICKEN SOUP TO
INSPIRE A WOMAN'S SOUL 2004) Another of my family remembrances will be included in
the lastest chicken soup book, " CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE GRANDMA'S SOUL" to be
released in August of this year.