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The Second Time Around

6 December 2011


Some of the most fun I have is every other week when the blogosphere comes alive with bloggers all writing on the same subject. Today’s #LetsBlogOff topic is “Taking a Second Look”

Love's More Comfortable 2


“Love’s More Comfortable.”


Love's More Comfortable 9 Well, OK, with me this tale of second looks involves two people–and two second looks. The first was mine and came quickly. The second was hers and came only after two years. I met her at the newspaper in Long Beach, but I’d actually met her before I met her formally. I worked in the National Advertising Department on the first floor, and she worked in Classified Advertising on the fourth floor. My duties required me to run a lot of errands, and I sometimes had occasion to be on the fourth floor. I would see her walking down the hall from time to time, and she’d smile, but it was never more than a smile from a naturally friendly person. Time moved on, and the Classified Department found it necessary to cut the staff a bit and decided to achieve that by laying off an assistant secretary, which as it turned out, was her. But not to worry. At the same time the National Advertising Department had a sudden vacancy for an assistant secretary, and because it was only economic woes, not her job performance, that had caused the layoff in Classified, they asked her to interview for the opening in National Advertising. And that was how we came to work in the same department.

When I’d first seen her walking down the halls on the fourth floor, I thought she seemed pleasant enough, but I’d not had a chance to talk to her. In fact when the Secretary told me that she was to be her new assistant, it took me some time to place her. A few days after she came into the departmLove's More Comfortable 1ent, I got a chance to talk to her on my own, just we two for a few minutes, one of those “welcome to the department, tell me a bit about yourself,” type conversations. I saw at once how honest she was. Later I was to learn how kind she was and how giving, and how truly funny she was, but all of that came later. At first it was just her searing honesty, the one virtue I value above every other. Within a few weeks, though, I had determined that I really, really, really liked this woman and would like to date her. And that began that long, long dance. I’m telling you the truth now. This woman was waaaaaaay out of my league, and I knew it.

It’s hard for me to describe how unobtainable she seemed to me, because she has never been one to take on airs in any way. How she dressed was surely part of it. She dressed to the nines, which was a rather sharp contrast to my own, um, couture. I lived a most Spartan existence, as mine was a clerk’s salary, and I lived in a little world all my own. There’s a quote from Erasmus that sums up my life in those days. “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

Love's More Comfortable 5 But it was as plain as anything could be that if I asked her out, she’d decline, politely of course, and I would forever be a dead man, because I couldn’t very well start pestering her. If there was to ever be a date, it would have to come at her volition, and how the hell was THAT ever going to happen?

We worked in that department together for over two years. Neither one of us, to be honest about it, had a particularly strenuous job. She was a junior secretary; I was a clerk; and we often had long conversations on any subject under the sun. I remember I used to make it a point to get there early in the mornings, just to be able to talk to her before the others arrived. What changed everything and caused her “first Look” was when she enrolled in a junior college writing class. She knew I was working on a novel of my own and asked if I might give her a writing lesson.

Love's More Comfortable 6 We set it up and she came to my apartment. I took her to my study, sat her down, and offered her a glass of wine. Later, she told me that her thought at that point was, “Oh great, first the glass of wine, then the hand on the knee.” She declined the wine, and we got into the lesson itself. She was surprised to see that I had actually prepared a lesson and relieved to know that I was not there to “put the moves on.” Half way through the lesson I’d prepared, she thought to herself, “Wow, this guy really is trying to show me how to do this.” But even so, it was still my apartment, my safe ground, not hers, so her guard was still up. The lesson ended, we shook hands, and I gave her the assignment for the next class. That was her first look.

That was near the end of March in 1976. She knew my birthday was in early April, so to thank me for the lesson, she invited me over to her new apartment for a private birthday party, just we two. It was to be our second time utterly alone together, but also that rarest of things, my second chance to make a first impression. Because my work at the newspaper involved so much physical work, it suited the grubby work clothes I had come to wear. No one but me really knew that those “grubbies” were all I had! Now I do know that Thoreau once said, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes,” but I just knew that if I showed up at her place dressed like Fudd that it would be an early evening that ended in a warm handshake. Though I really couldn’t afford it, I bought all new clothes.

Love's More Comfortable 8 Her “second look” was when I entered her little apartment. I hadn’t been there fifteen minutes when she started asking me if we might not do such-and-such together later that summer, a number of things, really, and all of them honest-to-goodness DATES! Later she said that the moment I walked into her apartment, it just felt right to her. She suddenly saw me in a light she’d never seen me in before, and the evening grew from that.

It truly was the most enchanted evening either of us had ever had. I got there about six and didn’t leave until two in the morning. The moment I walked into that apartment, it was as though someone had flipped on a light switch, and our whole lives were suddenly ablaze with light. It was April 3, 1976; we got married on August 14, 1976, and I’m sure a lot of people thought it was because she was pregnant, but the truth was we knew absolutely that we’d found what we’d been looking for. We weren’t kids who couldn’t wait any longer; we were adults who wanted to begin making a life together. Thirty-five years later I am happy to say that those lights still blaze. All that has really changed is that we love each other all the more, which, with that first evening being the way it was, certainly did not seem possible at the time. So I’m oh so glad we met the second time around.


Technorati Tags: Let’s Blog Off,second looks,love

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views. To see how others handled this theme, please check out the postings below. We will add links as they publish.


    11 Responses to “The Second Time Around”

  1. Brinn Miracle  Says:

    Nice post. Reminds me of how I met my husband; He expressed interest me but I was dating someone. We both dated other people for the next several years and finally started dating after turning each other down a few times. Talk about second look (or third, fourth and fifth!). Thanks for sharing.

  2. L  Says:

    not dissimilar to mine either, though I could hardly be cast as the polite one.

    love how even though this a memory, you had me cheering for you from the start. 🙂

    thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Scott Sliver  Says:

    Loved your post! My wife and I met and married in a short period of time too. We’ve been married 25 years. (She got pregnant on the honeymoon thereby furthering suspicions as to why we married so fast… nine months and one week later our first of four was born!

    Here’s to second looks!

  4. Robin  Says:

    Thank you for sharing such a sweet story.

  5. Joe Freenor  Says:

    Brinn, I didn’t put it in this post, but my wife did date others during those two years I simply worked in the same department with her. With my nose pressed up against the window glass, I might add!

    Thanks for the cheering section, L. One of the songs that often went through my mind in those years was from Ray Charles. “To you I’m just a friend; that’s all I’ve ever been, but you don’t know me.”

    Scott, we ended up childless, but supremely happy. Congratulations on your long marriage. That’s such a rare thing these days.

    Thank you for the kind words, Robin. It is definitely our favorite story, that first night in her apartment, and we talk about it to this day.

  6. Raun Lauterbach  Says:

    Great story, Joe! My wife and I got married over 10 years after we started dating so our story is quite a bit different than yours. It’s fun to reminisce about good old days like these.

  7. JoAnn Locktov  Says:

    What a beautiful post Joseph. I’m so glad that you shared it with us, thank you.

  8. Irene Turner  Says:

    Lovely memories and story Joseph. I too got a second look…thank goodness! And here I am.
    I so enjoy all your genuine love and warmth when you write about your relationship and your wife. Here, but also every post you let us see on FB. I enjoy your utter honesty and open heartedness. I am truly enjoying getting to know you…and so, I would say the same about your wife.

  9. Joe Freenor  Says:

    Thank you all for your kind comments. I feel very blessed to have her in my life. I always have.

  10. Welshcakes Limoncello  Says:

    What a lovely story. Thank you for brightening my evening.

  11. maison21  Says:

    what a sweet story, joseph. congrats to the two of you for 35 years of happiness.

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