Love Stories By The Dozen by Mario V. Farina

Any visitors from Mars, or even Jupiter, which is much farther away, could tell in an instant that Jim and Julie were very much in love. They had lived together for several months and everything had been going well. There were plans afoot for a wedding in June.
Love Stories By The Dozen
Love Stories By The Dozen by Mario V. Farina
Then there was a tiff. Neither Jim nor Julie could give a concise explanation as to what had been the cause and why it had escalated to the point where Jim had left the apartment and taken refuge at the YMCA. If the visitors from distant space would look in on Jim, they’d see a miserable person providing the perfect definition for moping around. Looking in on Julie, they would see a similar scene. Jim had heard that all problems have a solution and believed it. He had accrued some vacation time with his employer. He phoned requesting some time off and apologized for the late notice. This was granted. Jim undertook a period of meditation. Then, following a dictate from his heart, he texted Julie: “There was a time you held my hand and smiled at me so tenderly. Our love was young. ‘Twas meant to be.” A response from Julie was instantaneous, “You used to laugh, a happy laugh, and joke with me so heartily. It was then when cares were few. We shared our lives so easily.” Jim responded, “You laid you head upon my chest, and sighed with me, so sleepily. That was then when love was new. The future beamed for you and me.” She replied, “I used to fold within your arms, and flirt with you so teasingly. That was then, when hopes were high. We shared our dreams so happily.” He said, “There was a time you bared your heart and gave it to me so lovingly. That was when we had nourished our love again and again. Could we now resolve never again?" Her response was simple, “No, not never again. Let’s try again!” For Jim, a day of reflection had turned to a day of rebirth. On this day, if visitors from Mars and Jupiter had been observing, they would have witnessed a loving reunion on the same date that these messages had been exchanged. The story I’ve told has ended, but the author believes there is a great deal more to the loving story of Jim and Julie that is yet to unfold. A First Date On A Windy Day By Mario V. Farina Matthew Grimms studied his image in the mirror as he adjusted his hairpiece. He was only thirty-eight but had begun losing his hair fifteen years earlier. There was plenty of hair along the sides and back but very little on top. The piece had restored light brown hair to his head and ten years of youth to his appearance. And now, he was in love. He had met Glenda Robinson at Ridgewood College and had been smitten as never before. She was the new secretary in the Humanities Department. As Assistant Professor of English, Matthew had occasions to see and speak to Glenda several times during the week. "Ms. Robinson, I need this outline typed before the staff meeting this afternoon. Would you see if you can fit it into your busy schedule?" She turned her blue eyes toward him in a way that he found most disconcerting. "I'll try, Professor Grimms. Isn't this the same outline that you gave me yesterday – and the day before?" "Well, as a matter of fact, it is, but you'll note that I've made some changes. I know it's an imposition, but would you mind…?" "No problem at all, Professor. I'm sure I can get it done." Matthew walked back to his office. He wasn't making much progress in getting to know Glenda better. A more direct approach was needed. He knew where Glenda went for lunch. He thought that an accidental meeting at the Busy Bee Cafeteria would help break the ice. At lunchtime the following day, Matthew caught a glimpse of Glenda's trim figure as she put the cover on her typewriter and strode out the door. It was a beautiful sunny day in early September. Matthew decided that lunch at the Busy Bee today would be a good idea. "Oh, hello Glenda," Matthew ventured, as he carried his tray to the table where she was sitting. "Do you mind if I sit with you?" "Oh, no, Professor. I'd be glad to have company." Matthew gazed at Glenda's attractive face and his stomach began tumbling like a clothes dryer. He hoped that his emotions wouldn't betray him. People had frequently told him that he wore his heart on his sleeve – whatever that meant. They chatted as they dined. During the conversation, Matthew discovered that Glenda was thirty-one and a recent graduate of Smith Business College. She was trained in secretarial work, but hoped that some day she might go back to school to become a physical therapist. He also discovered two facts that were of great interest to him. Brenda was not married and had no boyfriend. Also exciting was the fact that she was interested in sports cars. "What a coincidence," exclaimed Matthew. "I've been a sports car fan since I was a kid. As a matter of fact, I was planning on picking one up this weekend. Maybe you'd like to take a ride with me after I do this." The truth wasn't quite that. Matthew was a sports car fan, true, and had been for many years, but he had trouble fitting his tall, lanky frame into one. Though he had admired them from afar, he had never actually yearned to own one. Living in an apartment very close to the college, he didn't feel the need for a car. But, here was his chance to form a closer relationship with the girl of his dreams. He needed to own a sports car now. Matthew couldn't afford a new car, so he decided to visit Mark's Used Cars on Saturday. There, he spotted a vintage Ford convertible that glistened in black. He walked closer to get a good look. Mark Baldwin, a heavy-set, middle-aged man with dark hair and mustache to match, exited from the sales office on the lot and approached the young man. "I see you're looking at this beautiful roadster," he declared. Matthew felt that this was the car for him, but he wasn't going to make it easy for the salesman. "Oh, I don't know," he muttered. "Looks a little dated to me, real old. What are you askin'?" "Twelve hundred," Mark responded. "Maybe it's a little much for an old car but people have begun noticing cars like this. This car may be worth something in a few years. But if you're serious, you can probably buy the car for less! I gotta make a sale today or fall behind for the month. I can knock off two hundred but that's only for today!" "How does she run?" "Like a charm! Here, take the keys. Take a spin around the block. See if you can keep the girls away!" Matthew accepted the offer and struggled to get into the car. It was a tight squeeze. He started the engine, but didn't bother with a test ride. "What are your finance terms, and how soon can I take possession?" he asked. "If you check out you can pick 'er up this afternoon. I'll finance the car for you personally. You'll have to rest of the year to pay." "Done!" For the first time in his life, Matthew was on the way to becoming the owner of a sports car. Well, it wasn't a Jaguar or an Austin Healey, but it was a convertible, and that qualified as being a sports car, he reasoned. The afternoon was sunny and warm, but a little windy. Matthew walked to Mark's lot from his apartment and rushed through the mandatory paper-signing formalities. The top was still down. He opened the door and, somehow, squeezed himself into the driver seat. There was barely adequate leg room inside. The trick was getting in! Matthew put the car into first gear and drove off the lot. Shifting into second and third, he turned down right on to Washington Boulevard. He planned on revving up the Ford to see how it accelerated. He mashed down on the foot pedal and the car leapt forward. Exhilarated, he watched as the speedometer hit twenty, then thirty miles per hour. Everything was going fine so far. Suddenly, Matthew's hairpiece gave an early warning that it was about to become dislodged. Frantically grasping at it, Matthew caught the hank of hair just as it was about to sail from his head. He kept his hand on it while he made a hasty stop at the side of the road. Then he spent several minutes evaluating the situation. Matthew had purchased his first hairpiece a long time ago. Over the years he had replaced them as they wore out or became outmoded. No one guessed that he wore artificial hair. The store-bought product had never given him a problem, that is, until today. "Maybe more tape is what I need," Matthew thought. The tape he used came in strips that were sticky on both sides. Several strips on the inside surface of the hairpiece allowed the hair to stick securely to his head. His hairpieces had never restricted him in anything he wanted to do. He had even swum with them. Today, the turbulence of the air surging through the car was more than the tapes could handle. Matthew drove home slowly and went into the bathroom. He removed his hairpiece and examined its inner surface. There simply wasn't room for more tape. Matthew had to find another way to keep his hair on. It simply wouldn't do to have the hairpiece fly off his head on his first date with Glenda. Piloting the sports car to the nearby Grebbs Department Store, Matthew purchased a black-and-red plaid sports cap. He placed it on his head over the hairpiece and turned his vehicle onto the nearest wide street. At twenty, then thirty miles per hour, there's was no difficulty, but when the car hit thirty-five, his cap flew off and the hairpiece kept it company. This time, there had been no warning. Screeching to a halt, Matthew exited from the car, and walked to where the two items were lying side-by-side not more than a few feet apart. Several children, who had been playing nearby, stared at him with a mixture of amazement and amusement. Matthew ignored them as he picked up both items and walked back to his car. Folding himself into the seat, he put the hairpiece and cap into the car's tiny glove compartment and drove off bare-headed. He went back to the department store and parked. He retrieved the hairpiece from the glove compartment. Ducking as low as he could in the car's cockpit, he positioned the hair on his head and tamped it down. Then he straightened up and adjusted it using the car's small, dash mounted rearview mirror. He then gave it a final tamping. Inside the store, Matthew purchased a parka. He put it on, loosened the hood and placed it over his head. He eased the car onto the street. His hair stayed in place, but when Matthew began to perspire profusely he realized that this was not a practical solution to the problem. He tried several other ideas that day and the next but nothing worked. Having found no solution to the flying-hairpiece problem, Matthew dreaded the arrival of Monday. He felt that his romance with Glenda was, not only going to end, but do so ignominiously. "Did you get your new car over the weekend?" Glenda asked Monday when she saw Matthew. "Well y-yes, I guess so," he responded. "You sound a little dubious," she observed. "Don't you know?" "Well, I did get a nice black Ford roadster, but I didn't drive it much." "Oh, that's too bad. Why was that? Do you have it with you?" "Well, y-yes, I guess so." "You're sounding awfully unsure of yourself, Professor. I'd love to see the car – over lunch and have a ride in it!" "Are you sure you want to, Glenda. It's a convertible, and it's windy today." "I love convertibles. The wind won't bother me. Is it a date? My treat!" At noontime, Glenda and Matthew walked to the school's parking lot. When she caught sight of the shiny black vehicle, she squealed with delight. She ran to it and waited patiently for Matthew to catch up. "Oh, it's such a beautiful car, and it's such a lovely day," Glenda gushed. "Here, let me help you put the top down!" "Isn't it a bit chilly for you? Don't you think it might rain?" "Nonsense! It's warm. There isn't a cloud in the sky. And the wind isn't bad. Besides, what's a sports car for unless the top is down?" The top came down and was stowed neatly in the compartment behind the front seats. Then, Matthew opened the passenger's door and helped Glenda enter. "The way to get into a sports car is this, he proclaimed. You sit in the seat, then swing your legs in." "I know how to do it," she replied impatiently. "I'm a sports car fan, remember?" Matthew got behind the wheel, started the engine, and drove off. "Let's get on to Madison Avenue," Glenda urged. "The traffic is lighter there and we can go faster." "You know, you're not supposed to drive a new car very fast for the first few thousand miles." "Professor Grimms, this car has over 40,000 miles on it. It was broken in a long, long time ago." "Yes, but, the police…" "The speed limit on that road is forty-five. Hurry! I can hardly wait till I feel the wind blowing through my hair. Do you like wind blowing through your hair, Professor?" "Oh, yes, yes of course I do. Wait a minute." Matthew's stopped the car, exited and opened the trunk. He pulled out his parka and put it on. the hood covering his head. "Professor Grimms, what are you doing? It's so warm out. You can't get the sports car feel when you're all bundled up that way!" "I guess you're right, Glenda." Matthew put the coat back into the luggage compartment and reentered the vehicle. He reached into the glove compartment, pulled out the plaid hat and positioned it carefully on his head. "That's a beautiful cap, Professor," commented Glenda. "The black in it matches the car color perfectly." Keeping the speed of the car below thirty-five, Matthew made his way to Madison Avenue. There, he began to increase the speed gradually. He placed his hand on top of his cap, pressing it downward. Glenda laughed. "You look so funny, professor Grams. Are you afraid you're going to lose your cap?" "Well, it's expensive." Matthew protested. "Does it bother you if I hold onto it?" "No, not at all." She smiled "When we get back, if you let me have it, I'll see if I can make the headband a little more snug so that you won't have to hold it all the time." "That's a great idea. Why didn't I think of that?" "Downshift into second, Professor, I want to hear the sound of the engine as it revs up." "Downshift into second?" "Sure," she grinned. "You know, with the shift lever." "But, I would have to use my right hand. I'm holding onto the cap with that hand. Wait a minute, maybe I can hold it with my left hand, then let go of the steering wheel for a second, then do the shift." This complex set of actions required Matthew to remove his hand from his head for a second. That's all it took. The hat flew away and took the hairpiece with it. From the rearview mirror, Matthew could see both items landing on the road some hundred feet to the rear. He slammed on the brakes. Glenda gaped at him in amazement. After he had brought the car to a standstill, Matthew mumbled, "Wait here," and exited from the car. With hands deep in his pockets, he sundered to where the cap and hairpiece were lying. He was gone about five minutes. When he returned to the car, Glenda was staring at him enraptured. "Oh Professor Grimms," she observed. "You're not a kid! I thought you were like those young juveniles they have at the college posing as intellectuals. You look so distinguished! Why do you wear that silly thing? The way you look, I find you look very handsome!" "Y-you like me this way?" Matthew stammered incredulously. "Oh yes, I do! Would you do me a favor? Wear that thing in class if you want to, but when you're with me, would you keep it off your head? I like you so much better without it." She laughed. "Then, too, when you're driving the car, you won't have to worry about losing your hair any more." "It's not important to you that I don't have hair on my head?" "Oh, Professor, it's not what's on a man's head that's important,” she responded. "It's what's inside that counts!" What Was That About Eloping? By Mario V. Farina "Mom, Dad, I'd like to ask you about something involving marriage," she said. Rita Ryan was sitting with her parents in the living room of their comfortable middle-class home in Mount Ridgedale, New York. Robert and Wanda Ryan were on a couch absorbed in the evening news on TV. For a moment or two neither her mother nor father responded. Finally, Wanda did. "Certainly dear, what would you like to ask?" "Mom, I'm at an age where thoughts of marriage would be very normal for a person like me, wouldn't you agree?" Mr. Ryan, paying sudden attention to what his daughter had said, hit the Off Button on the remote, and tuned his brain to what his wife and daughter were saying to each other. "Of course, Rita," her mother responded. "I'm twenty now, and I was thinking that if I found a nice boy, I might consider becoming engaged." "That's an admiral idea," her father interjected. "I'm glad you're bringing the subject up. Your mother and I certainly have many ideas and suggestions we could share with you." Rita, at five-ten was tall for a girl, but her build was suited to her height. She had short blonde hair that was tied at the back in a ponytail. Her parents were middle-aged. They were of average height. Robert was balding, but this was not noticeable if he combed his hair just right. He was a little on the stocky side. Wanda had a matronly look. She was heavier than her husband, and most of her extra weight was at the front of her body. Her hair was slightly gray and she kept it that way at the beauty shop. "I'm glad you're beginning to think about serious dating," her father said. He obviously had not noticed that Rita had been dating this way for well over a year. "It's a coincidence, that my supervisor, Henry Ashley, has a son that has just come back from the Service. I've never seen him, but his father says that he is very good-looking. If I could arrange an introduction for you, you might find that you and he are well-suited to each other. And of course, it would be a good thing for me at work. Henry and I get along fairly well, but we're not chummy. Having you in his family would be a boon for my career. And this would be a good time for that. I am beginning to think about saving for retirement." "Robert, dear, didn't you say you know someone who knows the mayor," Wanda asked excitedly. "I read in the paper just a few days ago that his son has been seen around town frequently. He might be thinking of marriage. I think that would be good for you if Rita and he met and fell in love. This would give me an opportunity to get into the social whirl, and I would certainly enjoy that a great deal. Not only that, but the mayor might spring for the wedding. That could save us, oh, I don't know how many dollars!" "Marvelous idea, Wanda." Robert turned his attention to Rita and said, "your mother has a great idea. We need to wait a while before I try to get you introduced to my supervisor's son. The mayor's son might be a better catch." "Let's not be too hasty," his wife responded, "there are so many others we should consider. There is Will Gilman who is the owner of the hardware store. Maybe there could be a partnership in it for you, if his son took an interest in Rita. I hear he's a bachelor, and maybe a little too old for Rita, but think what a wonderful thing it would be if you were a part owner of the store!" "I don't think he's much older than thirty," said Robert. "Besides, I think a difference of ten years is not too many if the marriage is based on love and not convenience. You and I would of course insist that if Rita married him, it would definitely be for love." He turned his head to look at his daughter and said, "don't you agree, daughter." "Oh, definitely," she responded. "Definitely, the marriage should be based on love. I wouldn't have any trouble at all with a man, regardless of age, if the marriage was based on love and not convenience! I think most marriages, if not all, should be based on love, and not convenience." "Smart girl!" Exclaimed her father. "That leaves the field wide open. Your mother and I can begin looking for a nice boy right away. Don't be concerned, we can make it work!" "If the family were wealthy," this might be the gala wedding of the year," observed Wanda. What a field day the newspapers would have with this wedding!" "Rita, my dear," said Robert, "why didn't you bring up this idea of getting married sooner? The possibilities are huge. We might even begin thinking of getting a better car and moving to a nicer area of the city!" "I really should have thought about this much earlier," agreed his daughter. "I have been derelict in not thinking before now how I could improve your living conditions. I'm so happy, that I brought up the subject tonight." "That's our daughter!" remarked Wanda. "Rita, you're a gem!" "Yes indeed," her father added, "at least two carats!" "Would you mind if I excuse myself now?" Rita asked. "I'd like to go to my room and phone a friend." "Not at all, daughter dear. Anything you want. You have made your father and me very happy tonight!" Upon entering her room, Rita picked up the phone and punched a number. "Dan, honey, it's still light. Would you like to go for a walk?" There were a few words on the other end, then Rita said, "See you in a little while." She put on a back pack and left her room. Her parents were deeply engrossed in a conversation with each other, as she bypassed the living room and exited the front door. In a few moments she met a young man at the end of the block. He was a little taller than she and was wearing jeans. Despite the sunglasses he was wearing, he had a studious-appearing countenance. Hand in hand they began walking toward the outskirts of the city. "I have a poem in my backpack that I wrote today and would like to read to you when we get to the park," she said. "I'll be very interested in it," he responded. "And there's a very serious question that I need to ask you!" She continued. "I hope I'll be able to answer it, Hon." "Remember yesterday when we were talking about different kinds of weddings that we could have?" "Yes I do." "Would you repeat an idea that you mentioned yesterday?" "Of course!" "What is that you were saying about eloping?" I Married A Ghost By Mario V. Farina They were sitting face-to-face in the pastor's quarters. "What brings you here Millie," asked Pastor Harold Cooper gently. He was well acquainted with Mildred Allen. She and her fiancé, Frank Baxter, had been talking to him about an upcoming marriage. All talk on this subject had disintegrated upon word that Frank had been killed by an IED in Iraq. His rank had been Sergeant when he died. In March, his body had been buried with military honors in Wellhaven Cemetery. "Frank has been coming to me, as a ghost, for several days, Pastor." Mildred spoke quietly and calmly, as if her words could be considered commonplace. The fact is the good pastor was instantly shaken. "Frank came to you as a ghost?" Pastor Cooper repeated, as if he had not correctly heard what she had said. "I know this is an unusual thing for you to hear, Pastor," she said. "But it's true . When Frank comes, I see him as clearly as I'm seeing you now. He is dressed in an ordinary soldier's uniform. He is clean and neat and well shaven. He smiles at me, and we talk." The pastor could not find any words with which to reply. "We talk about him and me, and the plans that we had been making for getting married. He tells me that he loves me dearly. The most astonishing thing he says is that he wants to marry me. I know people don't get married after they had died, but Frank keeps repeating what he says about marriage over and over. He really means it. And I want to marry him too. Pastor, is it possible that you can marry us?" Pastor Cooper, astonished at the request, was silent for several minutes. Mildred waited patiently knowing that what she had requested was probably an impossibility. Finally Pastor Cooper found his voice, and said, "I do understand what you are asking, but I don't see how your request can be granted. I don't know of any case where anything like this has ever been done. I know that people are being married under unusual circumstances these days; same-sex marriages are common. But a marriage between a dead person and a live one, I just can't imagine it happening!" "It would not have to be an elaborate marriage," she said. "If it were done in your chambers, I'm sure that Frank would be happy with that, and my objective at this time, is to make him happy. Can't it be arranged in some way?" "I could do a dedication ceremony without any trouble," said the pastor. "I would expect that Frank would be present, at least spiritually, if not literally. Would this be acceptable?" "A dedication ceremony is not a marriage." Mildred said firmly. "And he wouldn't appear invisibly. I would be able to see him though other wouldn't. I would expect that he would have on his best uniform and would be wearing his medals." "During this wedding, would people be able to see him?" "I don't think so. I see him very clearly. But when he came to the wedding, I think I would be able to see him but you would not." "Would you expect to, ah, I don't know how to say this, consummate the marriage?" "No, Frank is a spirit. He has no solid substance. But for me, this would not be an important consideration. I know that under certain circumstances, people get married without expecting the marriage to be, as you say, consummated. But for me and for Frank the marriage would be real. And I would become Mrs. Baxter!" "You would be happy under these circumstances?" "Yes, because I would know that one day I would a spirit just as he is now!" "I don't know of any mechanism by which I can legally grant your request," said the pastor. "Let me do some thinking, and some inquiring around, and I'll see what might be possible." "I couldn't ask for anything more!" said Mildred. After Mildred had left, pastor Cooper sat at his desk, writing down some possibilities. He wrote, same-sex marriage current laws special law Then he picked up the phone and dialed the number of Congressmen Wilkinson, whom he knew well. "Jim," he began, "I have the weirdest request that you may never have heard. One of the members of my congregation, wants to get married to a dead person, a fallen soldier in Iraq. She says that he is a ghost who is requesting the marriage and she wants to comply. I want to do whatever is possible, but I don't know what is possible! Is there any way that a marriage can be conducted legally under these circumstances?" The Congressman did not immediately ridicule the request or declare it to be impossible. He said, "Right off the top of my mind, the only thing I can think of is for Congress to pass a law allowing the marriage, on a one-time basis, with the two people that are involved. It would be a request unheard of in history, but for the sake of the serviceman, I think there a chance that it might be passed. Let me check it out." "Thank you Jim. Let me know as soon as you can. In the meantime I'll call the young woman and tell her that we're working on it and will get back to her." They hung up. The pastor sat motionless for a few minutes, then he dialed Mildred's number. "Millie, I've just talked to a Congressman that I know and he will see what can be done. I'll get back to you when I know more. Don't expect a lot. And don't expect my answer to come right away. But I will call!" There is much that happened within the next several months. There were the usual wrangles in Congress over the budget, taxes, health benefits, and others. Unbelievably, the House of Representatives actually took up consideration of the bill James Wilkinson had requested. It passed with no dissenting votes. The measure called for Pastor Cooper to conduct a wedding ceremony for a deceased soldier named Frank Baxter to a living person named Mildred Allen at a time and place convenient to both of them. No license would be needed. At the ceremony, the persons needed in attendance with the pastor, were the bride, groom and a witness. The ceremony could be as complex or as simple as the bride and groom wanted it. Pastor Cooper gave the good news to Mildred as soon as he could. She was overjoyed with the information, and said that Saturday, June 15 at two p.m. would be a good time for her and she would check with Frank to see if this date and time would also nr convenient for him. Pastor Cooper thought, inwardly, that he could not understand why any time at all would not be convenient for a ghost. On June 15, Mildred and Pastor Cooper were sitting in the same chairs that they had sat in at an earlier time. The pastor wife, Susan, was standing at the doorway. "Is Frank here?" Pastor Cooper asked Mildred. "I saw him last night," she responded. "And he said he would be here exactly on the dot." "How will I know if he's here?" asked the pastor. "I will tell you when he has arrived," she said. "I'll be able to see him. Even though you will not. He will respond to your questions, and you will hear his voice. I'll be looking forward to this myself since even though I have been seeing him for several weeks, I have never heard him speak." "I am happy to see you again, Pastor Cooper," came a disembodied voice. Pastor Cooper, greatly astonished, looked in every direction but saw no one. He had enough presence of mind, however, to stand and ask the bride and groom to place themselves facing him. Then, assuming that they were there, he began the ceremony. Although the pastor was not able to see Sergeant Baxter, Mildred could see he was there beside her. As she had expected, he was dressed in a handsome uniform and with medals on his chest. When the pastor asked if Frank would take Mildred as his lawful wife, the clear voice of Sergeant Baxter was heard robustly saying, "I do!" Mildred responded to the question in the same way. Pastor Cooper declared the couple to be man and wife. The new Mr. and Mrs. Baxter thanked Pastor Cooper for the service he had provided, then left. Susan, who had said nothing during the ceremony, declared, "I never felt so strange in all my life!" "It was strange for me, too," responded her husband. "Oh look," exclaimed Susan Cooper, "this wasn't here during the ceremony." She picked up an item from the table near the door, and handed it to the pastor. It was an envelope containing a thank you note that was signed by Sergeant Baxter. There were also several brand new bills of paper money in the envelope with strange symbols and writing on them. These turned out to be Iraqi dinars, which the pastor and his wife never exchanged for U.S. dollars. We're Too Much Alike By Mario V. Farina "We're too much alike," said Ellen! "I've heard that couples who are similar in too many ways usually fail at their marriages." "I believe I've heard that, too," responded Phil. "But it doesn't always have to be that way, I'm sure." Ellen Gray and Phil Martin had filled out some forms at Mix 'n Match, a dating firm. The objective of both of them was to find someone with whom they could relate and form a lifetime partnership in the form of a marriage. They were meeting at Grandma's Restaurant on State Street and were enjoying pie and ice cream while they talked during their first meeting. "Look at us," continued Ellen. "We are both vegans, both enjoy dancing for recreation, we like classical music, and movies." "Not only that, but we're both night owls!" "And to top it all, we're Gemini's. We were born in the same year and only six days apart. If it wasn't for those few days, we might actually have been born twins." "And there's another way that we're the same," agreed Phil. "We both want a conventional marriage, and would not consider simply living together!" "If we were married, I would like to live in Scotia." Said Ellen. "I love that little village." "I'd like it there very much myself," commented Phil. "You see, there is no difference. Even physically, we're alike; the color of our hair, our heights, and the color of our eyes." "But were getting along very well here," insisted Phil. "We've had a very enjoyable conversation, and were enjoying our pie." "Yes, but look, we both chose raspberry for the pie and vanilla for the ice cream." "Do you like reading?" "Yes I do." "What kind of books do you read?" His face had a hopeful look. "History, mostly. And you?" "Political stories. See that's a difference!" "Well, not really. It's political history that I like." "Let's try food. Do you like broccoli?" "Yes." "Olives?" "Yes." "Pickles?" "Of course!" "There is no hope," muttered Phil only partially in jest. They finished their meal. Phil took care of the check and Ellen contributed the tip. Ellen lived on Western Avenue. During the fifteen minute trip in Phil's car, he kept asking fishing for possible differences. He was disappointed in not having identifying any in that short period of time. Arriving at Ellen's home, the couple continued talking before exiting the car. "I know of a difference you may not have noticed," Ellen said timidly. "Have you looked at my face?" "You have a beautiful face." "My nose!" "It's lovely!" "I'm glad you think so, but haven't you noticed something?" "It may be a little larger than mine?" suggested Phil. "And…" Phil pondered for a moment, then his face brightened. "Oh! That's a difference!" he exclaimed. "I thought should never notice, but I'm glad you did," she said smiling. "Could this be the difference that you have been looking for?" Authors note: the rest of the story is obvious! A Hit Or Miss Match By Mario V. Farina I don't like to admit that I resorted to a dating club to find a mate, but I am a very busy person and I thought I'd let an expert help me locate someone to fulfill my life. I saw the people at Marry Match and told them what I was interested in. I wanted to find a girl close to my age with the same interests and ambitions that I had. I felt that in this way I could be with someone with whom I could relate, fall in love with, and marry. I'm not arrogant enough to believe that someone would marry me because of my wealth, looks, or prospects. I definitely expected that the woman I found and I loved would love me too. My name is William Riley, but everyone calls me Bill. I was thirty-two, a little above average height, and of normal weight. I was in good health. I worked for a solid company and earned a good salary. I had a position that was likely to lead to advancements if I worked hard. I had worked hard all my life and expected to continue this for the rest of my life. I didn't want my marriage to be any hit or miss affair. I wanted to find a woman that was exactly suited to me. I was excited when I received a brochure with several pictures and descriptions of women that might turn out to be the one I was looking for. I phoned and had a pleasant conversation with her. The woman's name was, Alma Flanagan. The phone conversation went well and we decided to meet at the Veranda Restaurant. This restaurant features a veranda facing State Street that has a dozen small round tables at which two people can sit. There they can either simply talk or have a light lunch while they are enjoying each other's company. Alma and I decided that this would be a good place for us to have our first meeting. At the date we had set, and at the appointed time, I arrived at the restaurant a little earlier than I had expected and was escorted to the veranda by the maître d'. I waited patiently but Alma did not show up at the expected time. Just as I was about to give up waiting, a lovely blond woman, even more attractive than the one I had seen in the pictures arrived. She had on jeans and a white blouse. Looking to the left and right she spotted me and scurried over. "Are you Will?" she asked? "Yes," I responded. "I'm Bill. If I'm not being too forward, I'd like to tell you that you are even more attractive than your picture in the brochure." "Thank you," she said. "Your picture was a little blurry but I'm not displeased with what I see." "You are a little late," I dared observe. "I have to admit that that is who I am. I'm late all the time. Whenever people give me a time to be somewhere, I will sometimes be as much as an hour late. I've lost a lot of dates because of this fault." One of the qualities I had expected was dependability. I did not like to think that our meeting had started poorly. However, I did not comment that I had been displeased with what she had admitted. "As I told you on the phone," she stated, "Not only am I always late, but I like to monopolize conversations." I had not heard her mention that, but I assumed that I had simply missed the point. "I'm a rather quiet person," I replied. "I guess I wouldn't mind that too much," she said. "I thought I had heard you say that you liked to talk a lot also." "I don't remember saying that," I muttered. "But you did tell me that you like scientific discussions, didn't you?" "No, not at all. I like talking about style and social matters more!" "You're beginning to sound different from the person I talked to on the phone," I said. "Are you a night owl, like I am and like to sleep late?" "Heavens, no, I usually go to bed early and get up early!" "Aren't you, Alma Flanagan?" I asked. "No, I'm Gloria Sanders. When I was on the phone, I was speaking to a person named Will. Aren't you Will?" "My name is Bill," I said. "Weren't we speaking on the phone just a few days ago? The person that I was talking to said her name was Alma." "The person that I was talking to said he was Will Morton," she insisted. "Are you with Marry Match?" I asked. "Yes," she replied. "By any chance, did you see another couple here at about the same time that I was supposed to arrive?" I remembered something that I had dismissed from my mind as not being important. "Yes, while I was waiting for you, a man and a woman did show up. They arrived at about the same time and sat together. It was only about two or three minutes later that they got into an argument. She left in a huff. The man seemed puzzled for a few minutes, then he left. "Don't you see what happened?" She asked smiling. "Because I was late the other two thought that they were meeting at the same place we are. The woman was probably Alma. For some reason, she become angry. The man must still wondering why. The end result is that you and I are a mismatch!" She began laughing. Her laugh was so infectious that I began laughing too. "I love a woman with a sense of humor!" I managed to say, while still laughing. "And I love a man with a sense of humor!" She gasped as she tried to control her own laughter. "Then this has been a hit or miss match!" I managed to utter. "It's all right with me if it's all right with you!" she finally said. "Let's continue our chat!" We were married a month later and have been with each other, happily, for five years! A Magic Moment By Mario V. Farina "There will be a magic moment," said Marcia Westcott, a well-known local psychic. Joyce Allen's interest in the reading that Ms. Westcott was giving her doubled. This was the first visit that she had made to the psychic's home. After the initial pleasantries had been dispensed with, the psychic began her reading. She gave Joyce the usual good news about the trips that she would be taking soon, the unexpected monies that would be coming her way, and the job promotions that she would be receiving. Joyce had been biding her time waiting for a chance to ask an important question. When that opportunity arose, she said, "Ms. Westcott, I'm thirty-eight. I've never been married because the right person never came along. I'm still looking for someone. Would you tell me what you see about my future in this regard." Ms. Westcott was seated at a plain office-type desk. Joyce sat facing her. Both women were about the same age, attractive, and well-dressed. Joyce was brunette while the psychic was blonde. Joyce was wearing a red polka-dot dress and a large white shawl; the psychic, a gray business suit. The picture on the front cover of this book is of Joyce. Ms. Westcott folded her hands and closed her eyes. At least a minute elapsed before she spoke. "I have positive news," she said. "I see that for every person there is a companion. The only problem is that the one person that was meant for another is sometimes difficult to find. For you, I see a magic moment, the one moment that will make a difference in your life." She paused. Joyce leaned forward staring intently at Ms. Westcott. "Tell me how I can find the person that was meant for me." Ms. Westcott closed her eyes again and was silent for another minute. "For you, I see places that your special person frequents. Listen carefully and remember these places. I see a bank, a library, and an office. Your magic moment will occur in one of these places." "Do you see a time period," asked Joyce? "The images are very strong," Ms. Westcott said. "I believe the time period is within three to six months." "I thank you very much," said Joyce. "You're reading has, indeed, been very hopeful. What do I owe you?" "That will be one-hundred dollars. I must rest now. There is a table near the door. Please leave the money there, and let yourself out." The next several months were pleasurable ones for Joyce. At every opportunity she had, she would go into a bank even though she had no business there, or into a library, and into the waiting rooms of dentists, doctors, and lawyers. She would make sure that her visits were brief since she didn't want to make a nuisance of herself. The visits that she made to these places bore no results. She made another appointment with Ms. Westcott. "Ms. Westcott, I hate to trouble you with a minor matter. The last time that I saw visited you gave me great encouragement that I would soon meet the person that was meant for me. I do believe that there will be a magic moment when this happens. Are you able to tell me whether the one moment that you have described will occur soon?" "I think so, Ms. Allen. I will need to put more energy into my visioning. You can understand that I would request a little more money than I did for the last meeting. If I am able to tell you a date that is more exact than the one I gave you last time, would you agree to a two-hundred fifty dollar fee?" "Yes, of course. Any amount would be acceptable when that magic moment happens." The psychic folded her hands and closed her eyes as she had done before. To Joyce it seemed an hour before Ms. Westcott spoke again. It actually had been about five minutes. "It will happen within thirty days from today. There is another place that comes into my mind screen that appears to be a Super Market. The market's name is Price Shaver. They are running a program for singles. It is likely that your magic moment will occur there. I must warn you. Many unscrupulous persons are attending the program that Price Shaver is sponsoring. Be careful of whoever may confront you. As an example, if you see a man who is purchasing Pampers, that person is probably married. Another person may not have a shopping cart in front of him, but just seems to be looking around. You are probably not interested in what he has looking for! I don't want to be too graphic, but do you see what I mean?" "Yes, I do. And thanks for the help and advice. I know this is taken much from you. I will leave the money at the door and let myself out." Joyce spent a great deal of time during the following thirty days at Price Shaver. She bought groceries on some of those days but not all. She would come to the store as many as six times in one day. She had asked for and received a leave of absence from her place of employment so that she could conduct this exploration. Thirty days elapsed without any results. She continued her endeavor for another ten days with her hopes diminishing with each passing day. And, as each day ended, frustration grew in her mind. Finally, she decided that further visits to this place would accomplish nothing. She was very angry, and decided that she would see Ms. Westcott again and convey to her exactly how she felt. At the psychic's home, Joyce wasted no time in expressing anger at the results she had attained from the advice given by the psychic. "Ms. Westcott, you are a charlatan," she exclaimed. "You scammed me! You are no more a psychic, then I am the First Lady. I should report you to the police and to the Attorney General of this state!" Taken aback by Joyce's attack, the psychic's response was limited to sputtering. Joyce continued, "This business of finding someone at a bank, or a library, or a market was made up nonsense and garbage. What you are doing is taking money from unsuspecting people and you should be put in jail! At the very least, you should give me my money back!" Ms. Westcott found her voice, "Ms. Allen, I am a professional person. Your harassment here in my home is without merit! What I said to you was honest, and responsible. I cannot help it if you let your magic moment go by, as it probably did. Leave my house at once!" "My money back, or I'll sue in Small Claims Court!" "Sue then! You can't intimidate me with bluster!" Joyce stamped her foot so hard on the wooden floor that the heel of her shoe broke off. She did not bother to pick it up but opened the door and stormed out. Outside, one step down, was a small porch and three steps that led to a walkway. Her missing heel caused Joyce to lose her balance and she fell forward. She would have hit the wooden floor of the porch face first if it hadn't been for a gentleman who had been standing there and was about to ring the doorbell. "Hey there," said a kind-looking man, perhaps in his forties, who had prevented, what could have been a serious fall. "Be careful, be careful!" Joyce's rage evaporated like drops of water falling onto a hot iron. "Thank you," she managed to gasp. "Isn't Ms. Westcott a marvelous psychic," the man said. This is my second visit here. You wouldn't believe how she has helped me!" "Helped you?" "Yes, she told me on my first visit that there is a companion for every person in this world. All one has to do is find him or her. She gave me a lot of good information about how I could do this!" "What did she tell you?" "She told me that the one I was looking for was probably in a bank, or a library, or in an office. And even one more place, at the Price Shaver Super Market." "You believed all that?" "Oh, yes, she told me that, when I least expected it, there would be a magic moment when I would meet the someone that I was looking for." "You are looking for someone?" "Yes I am, and now that I see you better, I believe you were at the market about a week ago, weren't you?" "Y-yes, I was shopping for groceries but I didn't see you." "You seemed to be in a hurry. I wanted to talk to you but you disappeared before I had a chance to do this." "Well, it seems that we have met! For you, this may be the magic moment that Ms. Westcott told you about!" If You Were The Only Girl In The World By Mario V. Farina Bill and Betsy had been Mr. and Mrs. Russell for less than an hour. They were in the sitting room of the Hotel Milton waiting for the reception to begin. There was not a single other person to be seen. She had her head on his shoulder and they were holding hands. "While you were at that stag thing last night, I was listening to some old-time songs on Youtube," she said. "How did it go last night." "It was OK." "That was nice. You were the Guest Of Honor?" "Yes, I guess one could say so." "What do they do at a stag party?" "They sing songs, tell jokes, kid around, eat a lot." "Sounds like you had fun. I'm glad of that!" "Me too. What kind of music where you listening to?" "Romantic. I particularly enjoyed Perry Como." "Perry Como? I don't think I ever heard of him." "I hadn't either. I was just browsing when I discovered him. He sang a song that I particularly liked." "What was that?" "The song was 'If You Were The Only girl In the World.' I looked it up. It was written by Nat Ayar and the lyrics were by Clifford Grey. It was first published in 1916." "Wow, a whole century ago!" "I memorized a few lines. Would you like to hear?" "Of course, darling!" "'If you were the only girl in the world, and I was the only boy, nothing else would matter in the world today!' Of course, if the song was being sung by a girl, it would begin with 'the only boy in the world.'" "That is so meaningful, for us today. It seems as if the song had been written for you and me!" "That's the way I feel," said Betsy. "The way I love you today, nothing else matters. It would be all right with me if you and I were the only ones in the world." "I feel the same, dearest," he responded. "Did you memorize more?" "Yes sweetheart, the song also says, 'a garden of roses just made for two, with nothing to mar our joy.' Actually, the song says Eden, not roses, but I saw there is a garden of roses outside of the hotel. I hope Mr. Grey won't mind. " "That's very pretty," he said. "And in addition?" "'I would say such wonderful things to you. There would be such wonderful things to do.'" "I love those words," Bill said. "I wouldn't have any trouble saying wonderful things to you! But what if those wonderful things required people?" "We could still do them, silly!" "What if we went to a restaurant, and there was no server?" "We would go into the kitchen, and I would make a marvelous meal for you!" "And who would take care of the dishes?" "I'd wash and you'd dry!" "And what if we were driving on our honeymoon, and ran out of gas?" "We would walk!" "You're right, dear one, we would have no trouble being the only two people in the world." "Of course, and we wouldn't be the first only boy and girl in the world!" "Thanks for reminding me! What else does the song say?" "'There would be such wonderful things to do!'" "Like what?" "Like taking a walk through the rose garden! Would you like to do that now?" "Yes, but first, one thing." "What would that be?" He put his arms around her and kissed her on the lips. "That!" he said. "Now let's take that walk!" A Promising New Start By Mario V. Farina After class, Lynne asked whether I could help her in getting a job at Trainer, Townsend, and Santora. She had been working in a local bank for several years and wasn't getting ahead. She felt that a new career in accounting at my company would be beneficial to her. My name is Glenn Carver. At the time of this story, I was thirty-eight and worked at the accounting firm of Trainer, Townsend and Santora, as an accountant. In the evening, I taught accounting courses at the local junior college. Lynne Markey was one of my students. She was tall, thin, and very attractive. What I liked most about her was her smile. Whenever I entered the classroom, her face would light up, and some of its warmth would seep into my psyche. I told Lynne that I didn't have much influence with those who hired, but that I would be happy to give her the names of some persons to contact. Also, I suggested that I might be able to help plan her resume. She brought in some facts about herself at the next class. I read these with great interest, not only because I had agreed to help with her resume, but also, because I was beginning to have an interest in her that went beyond a classroom relationship. She was thirty. I was disappointed in her age because I thought she might be too young for me. From the fact sheet that she handed me, I saw that she was divorced. To me, this meant that she was available. The thought that she might already have a boyfriend did not occur to me. I was available too. My wife and I had divorced some years before. We had had no children. In seeking a new lifetime companion, I had dated those who simply wanted to share expenses, some who yearned for a life of ease, others who wished to climb the social ladder. Currently I was seeing a young woman named Gloria. I had been infatuated with her early on, but found that she wanted our relationship to mature much faster than I did. Indeed, forward motion with our bonding had ceased, but our seeing each other had not. I knew that my association with Gloria might be an impediment to building a new relationship designed for a lifetime. At the next class, I gave Lynne some suggestions as to how she might prepare her resume. I also gave her a copy of mine. I said that my resume might be an example of how she could pattern hers. My motives weren't very honest. Having been in the business world a good many years, and having become successful in several endeavors, I thought my information might impress her. One day during the following week, Lynne waited until the class had ended, then came to my desk and said she had decided to leave Rexford and go back to her hometown of Owego. "I applied for a job at Trainer, Townsend, and Santora," she said "but there was no response. I'm still not getting anywhere at the bank. Things aren't going too well with my boyfriend. I decided to go home." "I'm sorry to hear that," I replied. I was unhappy to hear the news for more than one reason. Lynne had been in two of my accounting courses, and I had become fond of her. Whenever she came to class I would find myself speaking directly to her. When she didn't attend, I felt there was no one in the room worth addressing. Gloria would come to my classes once in a while just to sit in. We would go out to dinner afterward or to a show. However, I experienced much more pleasure in having Lynne in the classroom than Gloria. I had been surprised to hear that there was a boyfriend. "Won't your boyfriend miss you?" The idea that Lynne might be involved with someone had seemed only a remote possibility. I should have known better. She was an attractive woman. "I don't know. If he does, he can come to see me. We have been going together for some time, but the relationship has stalled. If I leave, maybe it will make him think about what he's missing, and motivate him to do something about it." "Do you have a job in Owego?" "Yes, my father owns a machine shop there. I'm going to go to work for him as Secretary and General-all-around-Clerk." "It's a shame that all of your accounting training can't be put to better use." "Maybe it will someday. The business is growing, and we'll probably have to increase our competence with accounting. My father is basically a farmer. He doesn't know anything about computers or accounting. I'm sure, I'll be an asset to the company." "A farmer running a machine shop" I asked, puzzled." "Yes, he was brought up on a farm. In fact, he owns one now in Bainbridge. He went into the machine shop business many years ago when he was struggling to make a living for the family. The business grew and he had to grow with it. But, in his heart, he's has always been with farming. He goes to the farm every weekend. Going there relaxes him greatly. When I visit, he's always on a tractor!" "Well, I wish you every success, Lynne! Would you mind giving me your address so that, later, I will be able to call and ask how things are going?" She said she didn't mind. On a slip of paper, she wrote an Owego address and telephone number. She also jotted down the name of the machine shop; the Precision Tool Company. "Do give me a call," were her parting words. I felt depressed as I drove to Gloria's home after work that evening. Some weeks later, I phoned Lynne and found her at home. I asked how she was doing and what she was doing. "I'm doing very well," she said. "I'm working for my father and enjoying the job very much. I live next door to the shop in an apartment that my father owns. It's actually a little house. It's the nicest place I've lived in since being on my own." "How are you and your boyfriend getting along?" "Not so well, Professor Carver. He has come down to see me several times, but we are not getting along well at all. I think we're about ready to break up." "I'm sorry to hear that." I wasn't at all! "Lynne, I'm going to be on vacation within the next month or two. I'll be passing through Owego. Do you suppose I could stop in and say hello?" "Of course Professor. As a matter of fact, I'll be coming to Rexford on the twenty-first of November. Possibly we can meet and chat a while then." "Yes, of course. Let's make it definite, Lynne. When you come, let's have dinner together. Will you be driving or coming by bus? I can meet you." She said she was traveling by bus. We agreed that I would meet her at the Rexford bus station. When we hung up I was overjoyed with the conversation and phoned a florist. I asked the shop to send Lynne an arrangement of flowers. The card said, "Thank you for the talk, Glenn." The twenty-first of November was a special day! I had been looking forward to picking up Lynne Markey at the bus station and having dinner with her. There was a minor problem to solve. How was I going to account for the time after work when I was supposed to visit with Gloria? I was not living with her, but she expected me to stop by after work every evening. For days, I thought about the problem, but no solution suggested itself. The twenty-first arrived, and I decided to solve the problem by ignoring it. Gloria and I were not engaged. I was certainly free to do as I wished after work on any day of the week! I had some trouble finding the bus station as it had been moved since the last time I had been there, so I arrived a little late. Lynne was sitting on a bench looking unconcerned. I walked to where she was sitting and greeted her. She looked up and smiled, "Hello, Professor Carver, it's nice seeing you." "It's nice to see you, too." I replied. She told me that the main purpose of her visit to Rexford was to visit her boyfriend. She wouldn't be able to stay with me too long after we had had dinner since he was expecting her. I told her that I didn't mind, that even a short time with her would be very pleasant. We walked to my car. I helped her into the seat, and we drove in the direction of the Mangez Très Bien, the finest restaurant in town. Traffic was light and we arrived at about six-thirty. Lynne ordered fish and I, steak. As we ate, we discussed Lynne's work, her apartment, my work, and several other topics. We joked about the server whose name was Patty. We kept referring to her as Patty Cake. The time passed quickly. At about 9:30, Lynne glanced at her watch and said that she must leave. She requested that I drop her off at her boyfriends house. "I told him that I would be a little late," she said, "so he won't be worried, but it is much later than I had expected." "Will he mind your being with me?" I asked "No," she responded. "I told him I was having dinner with a former professor. He won't mind." I wondered how Lynne and her boyfriend were getting along, but thought it inappropriate to ask at this time. We drove to her boyfriend's, and I parked in front of the house. As Lynne was exiting the car, I reached over and took her hand. Pulling her slightly toward me, I kissed her on the cheek. Unexpectedly, she threw her arms around me, and gave me a warm kiss on the lips, then she left. I watched as she hurried to the door of the house. Someone opened it and she went in. Then I drove off. The warmth of her kiss had been a very pleasant surprise. Some days later, I dialed Lynne's number and found her at home. "How's everything going?" I asked. "Not bad, Professor," she responded. "Oh? You're getting along better with your boyfriend?" "No, we've broken up for good. There were just too many differences between us. I'm taking it hard, I'm afraid." "I'm sorry to hear that, Lynne. I have an idea. Why don't I come down to see you this weekend, and we can talk about it." I was pleased to see that she had broken up with her boyfriend. I was hopeful that, with his competition out of the way, she and I would become friends; in fact, more than friends. "That would be fine," she responded. "Can you give me the name of a good motel near you?" I asked. "Oh, there's no need for that." I have an extra bedroom here. You can stay overnight. I couldn't believe the offer, but readily accepted it. After agreeing upon a time that I would arrive, and getting instructions on how to get there, we hung up. Reflecting upon the conversation, I felt a mixture of emotions. I knew I must break up with Gloria under my own power, not by having someone else substitute for her. But I also knew that I was weak, and would have extreme difficulties living through the next several days, weeks, or whatever it took to break up. Gloria had taken possession of me. Though my feelings for her had cooled, I found it very difficult to break loose. Breaking up with her was going to be as difficult as tearing two pieces of Velcro apart. I was reminded of the popular song, that declared there were fifty ways to leave your lover, but feared I was not capable of using any of them! On the day we had agreed on, I arrived at her house right on time. She was waiting for me at her doorway. She came to greet me as I exited the car. We hugged. Then she ushered me into her home. The house was very modest. Only the absolute necessities seemed to be available. I didn't mind since I had come to see her and not the accessories. After showing me around her home, we went to a nearby restaurant and had a light lunch. Then, while returning to her place, she guided me on a tour around the little village of Owego. At her home, we talked of many things. She was interested in my life and my ambitions, and I was interested in what she told me about herself. We did not talk about her boyfriend to any great degree, but she did state at one point that talking to me was helping her get over him. That night, she decided to have me sleep in her bed, while she used the spare bedroom. Falling asleep took a long while. There was much for me to think about. I was awed that she trusted me as much as she did. It rained, and I was pleased that the rain drops could be heard so loudly and pleasantly as they peppered the roof. In the morning, I dressed and went into the kitchen. Lynne was making blueberry pancakes. She had purchased real maple syrup to use with them because, she said, I was a special guest. The day passed quickly with talks and walks in the area. She invited me to stay a second night, and I happily agreed. The following day was to be a workday for me so I needed to leave before it began getting dark. She walked with me to the car. "It's been very pleasant having you here, Professor Carver," she said. "Please call me Glenn," I requested. "I was hoping you would say that," she smiled. As I drove home, I kept feeling that, during this weekend, there had been a promising new start in my life. Indeed, it had! We Need To Try Harder By Mario V. Farina We were on our way to dinner. Rita was at the wheel. The Chevy was new, and my wife had not driven it very much, so she wanted to drive. I was in the passenger seat enjoying the luxury of being driven for a change. Rita and I had been married a year. It had been all right for the first few weeks, but we had been having rocky times lately. We had talked about it, but hadn't decided what we should do to improve our relationship. "What shall we talk about?" I asked. We had not had very many interesting conversations on the way to dinner lately, so I thought I would ask for a topic. "Anything you want to." We were silent for several minutes, then I said, "if you were more interested in some of the things that I find interesting, we could have many interesting conversations together." There was no response again for several minutes. I said, "Is it because the topics that I'm interested in don't interest you?" "You might say that." "Can you tell me some of the topics that you would like to talk about." "I suppose I could do that, but you wouldn't think I was intelligent enough to talk about them." "I knew it was all my fault," I said harshly. "I didn't say that. But you're always putting me down and make me feel as if I don't know anything!" "We've had conversations like this before," I responded, "but we never decided what we should do about it. Do you feel that our marriage is going downhill?" "I suppose so." "Don't you care?" "No." I was taken aback by her last response. I didn't realized that things had gotten so bad. I had no wish to break up our marriage, but it was obvious, it didn't matter much to Rita whether it happened or not. She stopped at a traffic light. "It's a good thing we don't have a child." I commented. "Yes, that should make it easier." "What are some of the things that bother you about our marriage," I asked. I was not eager for a divorce. I knew how expensive they were, and how messy. The light turned green and Rita resumed driving. I need to admit that she was a better driver than I, slower by at least five miles per hour, and more cautious. Neither of us spoke for several minutes. "I feel as if you are interested in so many other things besides me, that you feel it's an imposition to have me around," she finally said. "All I can think about concerning what you've just said, must be my interest in sports." "Yes, it seems that whenever you want to talk, it has to be the Milwaukee Foxes or the California Jet Streams. I don't think those are the actual names of the teams, but I can't think of any that are for real." "Anything else?" "On TV, all you want to look at are the news and the miserable ballgames. If it isn't baseball, it's basketball, and if it isn't basketball it's football, and if it isn't football, it's golf. I swear, if it wasn't for the games where a ball is being kicked around or thrown through a hoop, you wouldn't have anything to be happy about!" "You forgot the politics," I responded sarcastically. "Yes, that too. And you're always lecturing me, on what this person said wrong, and what the other person said right, and how another person lied, and so on, and so on." I realized, that she was giving a pretty good summary of what was happening in our marriage. "Why didn't you mentioned these things sooner," I asked. "I didn't think it would do any good," she retorted sharply. "Everything has to always be your way! If ever I wanted to bring up a subject that was of interest to me, you would always say you didn't have time to listen and that I should bring it up later." "You seemed to be always interested in your little niece," I said, "or what you did while shopping, or that we never go anywhere, or that you have no friends, and a lot more like this." I was retaliating with as many of the irritating ways that she did, without thinking which were important and which were not. I was beginning to realize that many of the problems that we were having were caused by me. We arrived at the restaurant. It was three in the afternoon on a Saturday, and there was no waiting line. The host ushered us to our booth, and we sat. The server came and asked what we wanted to drink. Rita ordered a Coke and I, a light beer. She and I said nothing to each other while we were waiting for the drinks to arrive. The server brought them, and we placed our food order. She ordered pork chops and I, a steak. "We've had an interesting conversation after all," I ventured. "I don't know what good it did," she responded. "You wouldn't want the divorce after all, isn't that true?" I asked quietly. "That's up to you. We do everything your way. Whatever you decide is fine with me." This statement made me realize how far our relationship had deteriorated. She was ready to grant me something that I did not want. I understood that what I said now, could affect our lives for many years into the future. "Rita," I said, "a divorce at this time would be a disaster for both of us. We loved each other once; otherwise, we wouldn't have married. I know our love for each other has not diminished. It has simply gone into Limbo Land because of carelessness on both our parts, but especially mine. I have been selfish in not understanding you better, and in not trying harder to make you happy. I would like to propose that we start again. We need to try harder than we have been doing to make our marriage work. Are you willing to try?" "Of course, darling!" She responded. "Let's talk more about this when we get home. I see that our food is arriving. Let us enjoy it. And let us enjoy the rest of our lives together." An Ideal Date By Mario V. Farina An Ideal Date “Let’s do it!” Tom had said. “Yes, let’s!” Wilma had enthusiastically responded. Tom Drake and Wilma Cullie were co-workers at Apex Games Incorporated. Both were college graduates but the only jobs they had been able to obtain were at McDonald’s where Tom flipped burgers with the best of them; and with St. Gordon’s Hospital where Wilma was employed as a nurse’s aide. Their prospects for the future had suddenly improved when they were both hired on the same day as game developers at Apex. Orientation at Apex would require two weeks of training. There were a dozen new workers; Tom and Wilma found themselves sitting next to each other in the classroom. During breaks, they exchanged only pleasantries at first but, gradually, their conversations became more personal. An attraction developed between them similar to the magnetic fields generated by some of the games that this company manufactured. A picture showing Tom and Wilma is on the cover of this book. There were two break periods during each day of classes and a half hour for lunch. Meals were free in the cafeteria; for students. Tom and Wilma would sit across from each other at a small table while eating. During lunch, each gained more knowledge about the other. Tom was 23 and lived alone in a small apartment in Elmville. Wilma, 22, was living with her parents in the adjoining village of Ames. Both Tom and Wilma had dated casually in the past but, for each, there was nothing serious going on at present with another person. The couple had found a strong attraction for the other early on and looked forward to their daily meetings. During lunchtime on the last day of classes, Tom asked Wilma, “How would you describe an ideal date?” She was surprised by the question but was able to formulate a response. “I’d like it to be on a Saturday afternoon,” she said. “Good start,” Tom cemented. “I’d like it if a man I admired picked me up where I live and, together, go to my sister’s home near Clifton where she and her husband run a horse farm. I love horses. My sister’s name is Jeannie and her husband is William. Everyone calls him Bill.” “Sounds like two people, I’d love to meet,” said Tom “And . . .?” “Then have dinner at the Granthouse Restaurant in the village. This is an old fashioned country place and their meatloaf is like nobody else’s in the world!” “Sounds wonderful.” “Finally, take a short walk through the village. There are some homes there that were built hundreds of years ago, some with huge columns at the front. I’d love to live in one of those!” “If that is a dream of yours, I’m sure it could be made to happen.” “Finally, I and my date would go to the Friendly Ice Cream restaurant in Ames for ice cream. I’d love one of their double-sized banana splits.” “And then?” “My date will take me home.” “Would there be an invitation for coffee.” “No, not on that date.” “A goodnight kiss?” “Maybe a peck on the cheek!” “Would your answer be yes if I offered to be your escort on a date like that?” “Yes, Tom. I can’t think of anyone else I would rather say yes too.” “Let’s do it!” Tom said. “Yes, let’s!” she enthusiastically responded. Though Saturday was the following day, for Tom, it required a year to arrive. Finally, when it did, he drove to Wilma’s home in his silver Smart Car. It was a mild, autumn day and he had opened the auto’s roof. She was waiting on the porch. When he parked she ran to the car, opened the passenger’s door and slipped into the passenger’s seat. In the meantime, Tom had exited from the vehicle and darted to the other side so that he could help buckle and adjust her seat belt. “Lovely car,” she exclaimed. I didn’t know you had a Smart Car. “Just right for two,” he replied. He drove off while Wilma waved to unseen personages in her home. They arrived at the horse farm a mile from Clifton about half an hour later. Jeannie and Bill were puttering in the stable not far from their home. Inside were six stalls, five of which were occupied with beautiful horses. The two greeted their guests and there were introductions all around. The horses were released to graze on the grounds while Bill proudly showed and described what he and Jeannie had built. At one point the hosts had gone to the house to obtain preserves to give their visitors. Wilma took this opportunity to throw her arms around Tom with a fervent hug. “I’m so happy to have met you!” she murmured. Surprised and awed by the sudden expression of affection, he stood as if frozen in time. At last, he was able to mutter, “And I, you!” Dinner at the Granthouse was as sumptuous as Wilma had predicted. They elected not to take dessert since they wanted to enjoy the banana splits later at Friendly’s in Ames. They walked to the village of Clifton and enjoyed a leisurely stroll on ancient pavements enjoying the architecture of years gone by. At one point a stately white home on Waterview Avenue, graced with four tall columns, caught Wilma’s attention. She stood viewing it for several minutes. Tom thought she might be searching for a For Sale sign. At last she broke off her fixation and the couple resumed their walk. It was nearing seven-thirty when the travelers made their way to Ames and enjoyed their ice cream. An hour later, they arrived back at Wilma’s home. Dusk was settling on the lawn and home. The couple walked to the porch and up the short flight of steps. “Is it peck time?” Tom asked reluctantly. She didn’t answer. “Wait!” she exclaimed, and ran into the house. She was gone for a few minutes. “No peck time now,” she declared when she returned. “That’s postponed until later! Come inside, my parents want to meet you!” The Shared Gift By Mario V. Farina Jeanie and Ken Wilson were married in June, 2002. The picture you see was taken in 2004 on their second wedding anniversary. A child, Mildred, was born to the couple in August of that year . She was their only child. At the time of this writing, she is 12, a student in junior high school. She is doing well and is a joy to her parents. Jeanie and Ken had met when they were both employed by the State Labor Department. Ken is still there; Jeanie quit her job when she became pregnant with Mildred. Soon after Millie was born, Jeanie made an appointment with a gynecologist who took a routine blood test. The test revealed there was a problem with creatinine in her blood. She was informed that she had been diagnosed as having fallen victim to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). She had not been feeling tiptop for some months, but had ascribed her malaise to being caused by the after effects of her pregnancy. “I’m sorry to give you this news,” Dr. Nadine Wendelkin had said when she gave Jeanie the disturbing information. “I’ll make an appointment for you with Dr. Rudolph Rumstead, a Nephrologist. You should see him as soon as you can.” “How did it go with the doctor,” Ken asked when Jeanie came home. “They think I may have a kidney problem,” she responded. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious but I do have to see a kidney doctor. My appointment is next Tuesday. Would you come with me?” “Of course,” he responded. He knew all too well what this news meant. His mother had died from kidney failure at too-young an age. The meeting with Dr. Rumstead was depressing. Jeanie’s illness was extremely serious. Her kidneys were close to failing. The couple was informed that when kidney failure takes place, a patient has only a few weeks to live. A process called dialysis could keep a person alive for a period of time that varied with the individual. The doctor told Jeanie and Ken that dialysis would not work well with Jeanie. The only real option that she had was for a kidney transplant. He told the couple that only one kidney would be needed to enable Jeanie to live a normal life. The bad news was that there is a long waiting list of persons needing a kidney transplant. There was also a compatibility problem that needed to be checked out. While still in the doctor’s office, Ken stated that he wanted to volunteer to donate one of his kidneys. Dr. Rumstead stated that simply volunteering was not enough. There were many factors to be considered in order to insure that the transplant had a chance of working. “Go home,” the doctor said. “Talk it over fully. Read the information I’m giving you. There would be no disgrace in your determining not to do it. But if you decide to go ahead, we’ll begin the process right away.” At home, there was an animated discussion. Jeanie did her best to convince Ken that she would be all right with dialysis. Or, Jeanie’s family could be looked at to see whether there was the possibility of a donation from there. Alice, Jeanie's younger sister might be a good candidate. In the end, the two decided for Ken to donate one of his kidneys. The decision was made after Ken had said, “When we were married , we both vowed that our marriage was for better or for worse. We’re facing a bit of worse at this time, but can make it better. I love you more than anyone else in the world. Giving you a kidney is a very small token of how I can validate my love. There cannot be any other option.” Tests indicated there was no compatibility problem. The operations were scheduled. Alice agreed to take over the care of Baby Millie during the recuperation period. They took place in January, 2005 at Mercy Hospital downtown. It was declared a success. During the years that followed, a more or less normal life was led by the three members of the Wilson family. Alice, and her husband William, were frequent visitors. Millie would become greatly excited when she heard that Aunt Alice and Uncle Billy would come visiting. Jeanie needed to take several forms of medicine every day during this period of time but, otherwise than the nuisance this caused, she was healthy and enjoyed caring for Ken and Millie. The donated kidney was doing its job admirably. Normalcy exploded to smithereens early this year, 2016, when Ken was diagnosed with kidney disease during a routine yearly exam. Giving Jeanie and Millie the news was one of the most difficult tasks that Ken had ever needed to do during his lifetime. A depressing pall fell over the home. His illness was ironically similar to that of his wife. Dr. Rumstead informed the family that Ken needed a kidney transplant; otherwise his remaining life span would be measured in months. Immediately, Jeanie offered to give back to Ken the kidney he had given her. She said she would take her chances with finding a donor for herself. The doctor said there was no reason why this action should not take place but also declared that it would be greatly unusual and perhaps a first in the medical field. Ken was adamant in refusing the suggestion. The onus of finding a donor was his, he insisted. Jeanie reminded Ken of his words so many years before. “I love you more than anyone else in the world. Giving you a kidney is a very small token of how I can validate my love. There cannot be any other option.” She had memorized this verbatim. An impasse loomed until Alice proposed a suggestion. It was accepted by all. Last week, Millie waited anxiously in the waiting room of Mercy Hospital. Three individuals had been wheeled into the operating room. Jeanie donated the kidney she had received back to Ken; Alice donated one of her kidneys to Jeanie. Millie was informed that the operations had been successful and all were doing well.

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