By Susan Marie Davniero.
Blind dates really do work. Just ask my mother. Once upon a time my husband to be, Bob’s family shared a two-family house with my Aunt and Uncle’s family. Although our families were acquainted, Bob and I were not – until one fateful blind date when mother became my matchmaker. The early seeds of our destiny to meet were planted.
It all began at a luncheon during the Valentine month of February 1979 that both our mothers attended. The maternal bragging rights exchange of family photographs opened up the conversation. Catching my mother’s focus was one of the photos exposing a single son. My mother thought him picture perfect for me. Phone numbers exchanged hands as mother warned me to expect his call. Bob and I were destined to meet.
Bob phoned me two days after Valentine’s Day, February 16, 1979. I wasn’t thrilled given the infamous failure of legendary blind dates, I was reluctant to meet him and go on the date. However, remembering Mom’s advice to go on the date and her pushy persuasion, I surrendered. My plan was to go on one date to make Mom happy and it would end with the one date. I decided before the date, I wouldn’t try to impress him; I would just be myself as Mom always said she should be. I didn’t know at that time that I was on the threshold of marriage.
The rest they say is history. It was love at first sight! Even today I can look back and see Bob standing there as I felt an instant connection. They always said you will know when the right one comes along. That February night in 1979 I met my “Mr. Right.”
After a world-wind romance Bob suddenly pops the question and proposed on the third date! Before I knew it, my father’s dream of walking me down the aisle was coming true. Bob fit right in with the family like the missing piece of a puzzle. When we visited my parents he joined in with our family’s love of poker games – destiny was in the cards. My husband, Bob, was like the brother and son our family never had as he watched old movies with Dad, completed crossword puzzles with Mom, while visiting every Sunday. Who knew? Apparently, Mom did – my mother, my matchmaker.
After our marriage on July 1, 1979 Bob and I lived happily ever after. And it all started two days after Valentine’s Day. Sometimes Mothers do know best, after all.
It was an unusual Saturday night in December, 1954. The temperature was 60 degrees and mist floated on the warm air around Dupont Circle, in Washington, D.C. Yellow cabs were parked along the sidewalk waiting for fares and a three story tall Christmas tree was ablaze with colored lights on an island in the middle of the street.
I was in love, or at least considering the possibility. I was 19 years old, in the Navy, blond haired, good looking and not overly experienced when it came to women. Remember that was 1954, the world screwed at a slower pace back then. I’d had intercourse twice and couldn’t believe anything felt that good. Jerking off wasn’t even in the same ball park, but I wouldn’t exactly knock it.
Her name was Dorothy Daily, she was 18 years old and a beautician. Funny but I can’t even remember where I met her, so much for being in love. She was a red head, very pretty, looking somewhat like Arlene Dahl, the actress.
We had just seen a movie downtown at the Palace theater. It was around 9 PM and walking hand in hand we were looking for someplace inexpensive to eat dinner. We stopped on a corner for a street light change and Dottie pointed across the street. “Look,” she said, excitement in her voice. I followed her pointing finger to a second story window above a Peoples Drug Store. A red neon light glowed in the dirty window. I felt like laughing when I read “Fortune Teller,” but I held it in for some reason.
“Let’s have our fortunes read,” she almost squealed. I wasn’t for or against it, except for the fact that I only had 20 dollars left after the movie tickets and the sign said 5 dollars.
Dottie exclaimed, as if she’d read my mind, “We’ll go Dutch treat, I’ll pay for mine.” Maybe there was a possibility I was in love with her after all. We found a door in the building with a crystal ball painted on the glass and a sign that read open. A long narrow flight of stairs greeted us inside the door, with a naked light bulb glowing from the ceiling to show the way. I remember the walls were painted a mint green and worn black rubber stair treads covered the steps.
I looked at Dottie as if maybe we were making a mistake, but she charged up the stairs without hesitation. I personally would rather have spent my 5 dollars on a chicken in the ruff basket with French fries and honey-mustard dipping sauce. Little did I know I was going to wonder about and remember that night for the next fifty years.
At the top of the stairs was a long dingy hall with more naked light bulbs in the ceiling. It wasn’t hard to figure out where the fortune teller was. A large woman was sitting in front of us on a metal folding chair. She was smoking a cigarette and watched us with dark eyes completely surrounded by green eye-shadow and thick massacred eyelashes. When she finally smiled, after deciding we were harmless, her gold filled teeth nearly blinded me. I’d never seen so much gold in anyone’s mouth.
Dorothy spoke up, “We want our fortunes read, for 5 dollars.”
“Yeah, sure,” was the reply, “she’ll be done in a few minutes, sit over there.” Dottie and I looked at each other and then at the two folding chairs against the wall. For some reason I didn’t understand, I began to get excited as we sat there.”
“Are you afraid?” Dottie asked.
“No, “I replied, suddenly realizing I might be underneath.
“Suppose she tells you something bad?”
“Then I won’t give her my 5 dollars,” we both started laughing.
A few minutes later a curtain over the door was pulled open and a woman came out. She looked at us for an instant and then proceeded quickly down the hall. The whole thing felt awkward and strange, like we were doing something we shouldn’t.
“My mother is ready now,” the woman said motioning toward the door, “ladies first, ” she added, much to my relief. I was beginning to wish Dottie had never seen the sign in that window.
Fifteen minutes later the curtain was drawn open again and Dottie appeared. She was all in one piece, but not smiling. “Good luck,” she said softly to me as we passed. I took a deep breath and ducked under the curtain. The room was dim and the odor of incense almost overwhelming.
I made out the shape of a figure seated at a table, her hands around what appeared to be a glowing crystal ball. “This is going to be good,” I said to myself, feeling like a class-A sucker who was about to be five dollars poorer.
“Sit down, please,” a voice said, hardly above a whisper. Her eyes looked up at me as she removed her hands from the crystal ball, allowing its light to shine on her. The face was wrinkled and wisps of white hair floated around her head as she spoke. The most horrific thing were her eyes, a milky glaze covered them and they protruded from her eye sockets. I tried not to show my shock by lowering my head. Something told me the effort was wasted.
“You will have a long life,” she began, “and an interesting one.” She continued to correctly state several facts about me, my first initial, the fact that I had one brother, my mother and father were divorced and I had a strong interest in music. “In fact,” she said, “you may feel that music is your calling in this life, but it is not.”
This struck a nerve in me. I had a very good voice, even singing in some small clubs on weekends for fifty dollars. I leaned across the table and the words suddenly fell out, “What is my calling then?”
She raised her head and answered very slowly, “You will be remembered for your books.”
Her answer stunned and disappointed me.” What BOOKS!” I thought to myself, “I don’t even like to read.”
“I am tired now,” she said, “we are finished.” As I was about to leave, I hesitated, looking at her.
“Yes,” she said, “books.”
Dottie and I didn’t talk until we reached the street, then she spoke in a dejected tone. “Can you believe it, she said my fortune is in my feet!, what the hell is that supposed to mean?”
It occurred to me instantly, she was a hair dresser who made her living standing on her feet, thus her fortune was in her feet. I didn’t give her the benefit of my wisdom for two reasons. First I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and secondly we were going to her father’s empty apartment to have sex. The third time was the charm and I couldn’t afford to screw that up for anything.
I wrote my first short story 52 years later and I assumed by then Dottie was somewhere out there standing on her fortune.