It was 6:30 in the evening when my father and mother met my beau for the first time.
The parents liked Andre exceedingly, enchanted by his romantic French name: enthralled with his good looks. The feeling was reciprocated at least at first read, but to the close observer, namely me, my boyfriend seemed unusually nervous, and quiet, and thoughtful.
Andre and I had trekked the seventy-some miles southeast; my parents had driven about the same distance northwest, to spend the evening getting acquainted over dinner at Michael’s Restaurant in Rochester, Minnesota, locally famous and storied, renown both for its steaks and for its reputation as a “celebration of life’s special moments” kind of place.
The evening began innocently enough with the usual pleasantries, like my dad asking the boyfriend “if he liked to fish” and my mom asking me “how I am”, but soon we got beyond and into the serious talk that happens when ordering food at a fancy restaurant, like my dad saying “he’s sure glad we picked a place that had real meat and potatoes, not one of those funny organic spots that serve fruit salad and sprouts,” and my mother saying, “Now, Lorence, let’s not bring that up,” when dad starts to talk about the particular trials of being a funeral director, like the fact that the Catholics always used incense during the service that made him dizzy.
Andre had only recently brought up this Meet the Parents idea. It made me happy. He was special from the first day we met washing windows at a University of Minnesota fraternity house and the more time I spent with him the more I began to think he might be The One.
In fact, we had recently emerged from one of those messy, uncertain fogs that occur just before a spectacular dawn.
Our dinner progressed nicely thru the expected stages with great food and pleasant exchanges, so when my mother suggested she and I should go powder our noses before dessert arrived, I thought it was a wonderful idea, in particular to see what she thought of my gorgeous friend.
When we returned to our table my father was all smiles. Obviously they got along famously, but was there more? That smile demanded explanation, and my father couldn’t wait to spill the beans. He turned to me and said, “Your friend here has something he wants to ask you.”
The room began to spin around me; voices subdued and ghost-like swirled nearby but not from our table. Our table was quiet. Father was clueless–still beaming. Mother was smiling at my father, too, as if to say, “Oh, Lorence, how good of you to give the boy a little nudge.” All three of us turned to Andre, who was wearing a stunned ‘I can’t believe you said that’ look.
The hot fudge melted more than the ice cream as dinner became a sloppy puddle of dessert. I don’t think my parents even noticed the awkward transition as Andre thanked Dorothy and Lorence for coming to meet us and stood to help me out of my chair, an obvious sign that ‘exit stage right’ couldn’t happen fast enough.
We said our hasty good-byes to The Parents and as our car doors slammed shut Andre finally exhaled but didn’t speak or look at me.
Lost in thoughts too deep for words both of us remained speechless as Rochester night-lights twinkled, flying by; a blurry multi-colored kaleidoscope; a romantic, silent, expectant peace.
When I was growing up if my dad said “it’s fish or cut bait time” we knew what he meant whether or not he was offshore with one of us kids in his ancient beloved aluminum fishing boat with the Johnson 10 HP Outboard motor or on dry land sans boat but speeding around a slow-moving tractor on a narrow Iowa highway in a brand new loaded V8 four hole Buick.
It was a time to make a significant move.
It was a time to decide Something Big.
All at once the dreamy panorama stilled as Andre put the right signal on and took the last exit before leaving town. He braked hard, maneuvering the car just off the ramp onto the shoulder, to stop and take my hands in his.
When he looked into my eyes and said those magic words, “Will you marry me?” I, without hesitation, said, ’Yes,’ and for me, for us, that moment, that night, changed all things forever.
January 2017 – B. LaTondresse
Lonely hours and night.
The minutes fade slowly, silently,
As he waits the appointed time.
And yet, my heart is glad.
One cannot measure happiness
by time spent without.
Within are the hidden treasures
Of secret places
Known only thru pain.
It will not be forever.
When that night
Fades into twilight.
The reds and yellows
Across the golden sky.
The Dayspring on High
Ordain our Morning Joy.
Will be forever
In His Time.
© B LaTondresse
8 February 1977