I have to remember to look for rings

Two weeks ago, I received an invitation from KQED to a talk. I recalled the last time I’d gone to one of KQED’s talks as another one of my crazy dating schemes. I’d hoped that maybe I could meet a philanthropist. Or at least a philanderer. So hard to tell the difference sometimes. It was a bust. Turns out, the audience is full of blue-haired old ladies. I did get hit on by a professor, but gently let him go since he was closer to retirement than my age.

I ignored the invitation. But then on Friday, I received an email about it. I looked again. Jason Beaubien. Kind of cute. Good smile. Nice eyes. An NPR foreign correspondent living in Mexico. Well travelled. My interest was piqued. If I couldn’t find someone in the crowd, I could at least hit on the speaker. It works sometimes.

I actually made some effort in dressing this morning. A cute outfit that wasn’t slutty. A little make up. I even ironed my pants. Really, it was just an excuse to act like a normal girl. Yes, I need excuses.

Before driving to the event, I searched for him on the web in hopes of finding something that I could ask him about. There at the bottom of his NPR bio was the key piece of information that I needed to start a conversation. Pure gold!

There was wine and cheese before the talk. I stood for a few minutes sipping a glass of pinot noir and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres while looking for a conversation to join. I gave up and sat down. That was when a younger couple stood at the table next to me. He left for a moment to grab some food. She was looking around aimlessly. An old woman walked by and the young woman made a face that she probably didn’t mean to make publicly, but I took it as a sign that she felt out of place. I called her out on it, and we started talking.

They were a cute couple. She’s a high school history teacher, he is a crime reporter for a local newspaper. I told them about my failed attempts at attending these talks as a dating scheme. We talked about teaching. I told him my idea for a crime novel and now he is wondering if I am secretly a serial killer. We all sat together, bonding as if we were the last humans in a sea of blue-haired zombies.

The talk was quiet entertaining, and gave me more points for a conversation. Jason has been living an interesting life and is a fantastic storyteller. The floor was opened for Q&A. The questions, for the most part, were fairly thought out and well spoken. My favorite questions from an audience are always those during the shareholder’s meeting at work. Buy some shares and I can tell you about them.

After the talk, I started my advance. I moved up to where the crowd had gathered, and sat down in a chair in the front row so that I could listen to everyone else’s questions and save mine for the end. People came and went, he would occasionally make eye contact with me as he was answering their questions and I could tell he was wondering what I was going to ask.

Finally, it came down to a couple and myself. We volleyed who should ask the next question, but I was adamant that they go first. As they left, I stood up and reached out my hand. “Hi, I’m K.”

“Jason. Nice to meet you.” A firm handshake and a quizzical look from him.

And then my question, “I have to ask, where are you from in Maine?”

He hadn’t expected that. It was a question from left field. But the bottom of his NPR bio said he had grown up in Maine.

As family and friends say about me—you can take the girl out of Maine, but you can’t take Maine out of the girl.

“Dexter,” he replied. Not from the TV show, Dexter, but the town that Dexter shoes originated in before moving out of the country like everyone else except for New Balance which is still made in Maine.

I offered some credibility, “Dover-Foxcroft.” The town next door.

“OK, Garland.”

Hah! An even smaller town next to where I grew up. I explained that it usually takes me three tries before I will tell someone where I am from in Maine. The first time they ask, I say, “Dead center of the state.” The second time they ask, I say, “Middle of nowhere.” Third time they ask, I say, “Dover-Foxcroft.” If they give me any sort of credibility, like the name of a town, then I will tell them immediately. Unless they say Kennebunkport. At that point, they were barely in Maine.

Jason said that one of the guys in the audience tonight was actually a teacher from Dexter. He hadn’t taken a class with the man, but his brother had. We talked about how he had escaped Maine, but first a year at UMO after he graduated high school in ’83. As soon as he stated a year, I determined he is nine years older than me. That isn’t too bad. I could do nine years either way. But then I remembered during cocktail hour, the young teacher I’d been chatting to pointed Jason out as he walked by from the dessert table. I half-jokingly asked if she’d happened to have seen a ring when he’d passed. She laughed and pointed to the big picture of him on the wall, his wedding ring prominently visible on his left hand. How had I missed that? It must have been selective blindness. He is cute in person, so I was temporarily distracted.

Thus is the roller coaster of my imaginary relationships that begin and end within seconds. Brief glimpses of hope and then catastrophic failure.

He left college after the first year to spend some cliché’d time in Europe. He eventually graduated the year after I started college.

I told him I too had spent time in a car with a blaring alarm. He was curious how I could possibly have a story related to the time this spring he was in Egypt taking a cab to Libya and every time the cab went over 55 mph, an alarm would sound, and the alarm got even louder when the cab reached 80 mph. But the taxi driver just ignored the sounds and kept driving faster.

So I regaled him with the tale about the time in college when I’d temporarily traded my car with my boyfriend’s computer. When the relationship ended, I wanted my car back, so I returned the computer. But he had moved to Rhode Island. My mom dropped me off. My ex-boyfriend had left the car with the keys in it and a bottle of wine on the passenger seat. I owed him some money, so I gave him all the cash in my pocket and his computer. He left to DJ a wedding and I headed back to upstate New York.

Ten minutes later, as I was gaining speed on the highway, I hit 55 mph and an alarm went off. I tried to cover it by turning up the radio, but it was piped through the speakers and as the music grew louder, so did the alarm. The alarm is triggered by the removal of a key for “The Governor.” Later my ex admitted he had meant to put the key in the car, but he’d forgotten.

Somewhere in the middle of the Mass Pike, I pulled into a rest stop when I realized that I had no money to get off the turnpike. But I did have a bottle of wine. So I considered opening it, passing out, and deciding what to do in the morning.

Luckily, I found a secret $20 in the car that I’d hidden for emergencies. This was definitely an emergency.

It was a long drive home at 54 mph.

I was enjoying the storytelling when a blue hair came out of nowhere. Foiled again! Jason wrapped up our conversation skillfully and I exited the room as he answered another question.

I drove back to reality. When I parked, I check the car to see if I’d hidden a secret boyfriend in there for emergencies. Alas, I had not.

One response to this post.

  1. I’m getting caught up (slowly) on your blog posts. This one has been my favorite so far. You’re a hell of a writer, K. Holy crap, you’re good.


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