#32 – The Most Romantic Day of My Life – Hank Kimmel

The most romantic day of my life, and I almost missed it.

New York City, 1984.
Walking home
Minding my own business.
Thinking of the night ahead.
Laundry.
Stationery bike.
Mets on TV.

I was 24
And girls were on my mind.
But not tonight.
I just broke up with my girlfriend
Or she broke up with me.
Asking what I thought of marriage
Wonderful
I said
For people over 40

My long-term plans  defined
By what it said in that night’s fortune cookie.
Not that I wasn’t interested in girls.
Or women as I was supposed to call them.
But after dating the same girl-slash-woman for three years.
I was leery about the next phase..
Not really leery.
But the Mets were playing well
And needed attention.
As for romance
I tried to be systematic
And take The Keith Hernandez Approach to Dating.

Ketih Hernandez played first for the Mets.
A 300 hitter
About one hit every three at bats
Not great for getting to work on time.
But a path to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
If I took a Keith Hernandez Approach to Dating —
and tried to be a 300 hitter
It didn’t matter if seven out of 10 dates failed,
I was an all star

As part of my “system”
I kept index cards
With a girl’s name, address and phone number.
Of course, I allowed for spontaneity.
But only on days the Mets had off.

So on this gorgeous Spring evening
I reached the corner of 30th Street and 2nd
And then it happened.
My life-altering MOMENT ….

This girl came up from behind.
Grabbed my arm
And said with breathy desperation:
“This guy is following me, would you walk with me, thanks!”
Dumbfounded, I said sure.
And this girl and I – this woman and me – walked arm in arm
To 1st avenue.

I could tell she was frantic,
But as we walked, she became calm.
Turning back twice,
It appeared her pursuer halted chase.
I don’t know, I never saw.
But it didn’t matter now.
Her stride slowed and we walked.
Like Bride and Groom down a long aisle.

When we finally reached 1st Avenue, I had a choice:
I could release her forever,
Having served my role
Or I could ask for name and number.
Create a new index card.

Daunted
I released her.
She thanked me,
And though her presence
Began to fade,
I could still feel her touch

Then it dawned on me:
Was this more than chance?

I looked back and she was gone.
I could barely remember more than
Her soft sweater
Her Head & Shoulders smell
A voice both frantic and sweet in just the right way.

As I walked back to my building
I realized I did the right thing.
Any other action might be misconstrued
Compounding this woman’s ill will toward men.

And even if I was more daring,
Was this the kind of woman who always had to act in crisis mode.
Someone who saw the necessity of getting married before 40 —
Or 30?!

Then it hit me.
This might have been my life’s turning point
And I missed it
Of course, it could have amounted to nothing –
But I am left with the feeling decades later
That if I was more daring
Who knows?

That evening
I didn’t order Chinese food.
Or get on my stationery bike.
Or watch the Mets
Instead I organized my index cards,
Daring myself to make a call.
As it turned out,
I called the woman
Who ended up becoming my wife.

~ Hank Kimmel, Atlanta, Georgia

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