Magic 8 Ball

By Mary Ellington

Married, divorced and my father’s full-time caregiver, I missed the companionship of a man my age. Most nights I sat in the Lazy Boy next to Dad’s bed until he fell asleep. While he settled in, I pleaded with my fairy Godmother for a boyfriend. I want to go on a date, I told her. I want to linger over a meal I didn’t cook, served on a red-checked tablecloth, with candlelight from a Chianti bottle dripping with multi-colored wax. I want to talk about anything but joint pain, bowel movements and the N. R. A. I want to feel lips on lips and skin on skin.

Overwhelmed with longing, I headed for a cool shower and something chocolate. I passed my computer. I stopped for a moment. Considered. Shrugged. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? That was the night I joined thousands of other hopefuls on Match.com.

Meeting a man on the Internet felt like having Chinese food delivered to my home. I could look over the menu, and then make a selection from the column that looked the most appetizing. Spicy or bland, I wouldn’t have to put on make-up or get out of my pajamas. I soon discovered, however, that my choices were limited to Southern men who lacked the Rhett Butler appeal I hoped for. The widower with a bum knee and new Harley, or the plastic surgeon from Ponte Vedra who wanted a “real” woman, or Bubba from the Westside whose perfect partner didn’t mind long hours in a deer stand, covered in camouflage and musk. None of these potential suitors felt quite right.

Where have all the princes gone, I asked my computerized Magic 8 Ball?

“Reply hazy, try again,” it answered.

With my subscription about to run out with no sign of a successful partnering, I told myself it didn’t matter. Living with Dad was still better than a convent. Besides, with the money I saved, I could stock up on comfortable shoes, stretch pants and blue shampoo. I’d pretty much given up hope of romance, when my email dinged, “You’ve got mail.” At last there was a response to my query. It read:

Younger Princes hang out in forests waiting to be called into action to rescue damsels…slay dragons and…run down young ladies who lose their glass slippers. Older princes hang around the house, do errands and clean up after themselves.

Okay, so it wasn’t all that romantic. But I’ll be honest; it spoke to the heart of this damsel. A man who could clean up after himself held a certain appeal. In matchmaking lingo, I “winked” back. Prince Jack and I exchanged tentative emails and phone calls, and then the time came for us to meet in person. We settled on a well-populated spot for our first meeting – under the golden arches inside Super Wal-Mart. I can get through just about anything with a coke and bag of French fries. With our white hair and round bodies, Jack and I looked more like long lost siblings than prospective partners. We settled into a corner booth near the cleaning supplies. The smell of Pine Sol and grease swirled around us like an atomic mushroom cloud. I had trouble breathing. Or was that just nerves?

Both of us were divorced. Jack answered to an 18 pound cat. I took orders from my father. Neither of us drank, smoked or used drugs. Neither had outstanding warrants. We had children, grandchildren and Dodge Caravans in common. All pretty much “G” rated, but by the end of an hour, excitement sizzled between us like Las Vegas neon.

On our first official date, Jack introduced me to the unexpected thrills of a local flea market. Amazed, I watched Jack pan for gold among rusty tools, kitchen gadgets and out-of-date National Geographic magazines. Just beyond an Asian shop filled with jade Buddhas and Japanese lanterns stamped “MADE IN CHINA,” he took my hand.

I felt calm and anxious at the same time. Everything about the day thrilled me. Diversions around every corner drew my mind from the prospect of an impending first kiss. Who am I kidding? My inner Snow White yearned for a smooch that would awaken a long-dormant heart. Making out behind a stand of lucky bamboo had a prophetic feel to it.

It turned out my well-mannered prince was not a kiss-in-public kind of guy. We left the flea market and headed towards Fernandina for lunch. Half-way there my morning tea and extra large cola prompted a potty stop. Jack pulled into a gas station. I had opened my own car door for so many years, it never occurred to me to wait for gallantry. Half-way out, I toppled into Jack’s arms. While my feet dangled over the door jamb, I gazed into a pair of eyes that matched the blue Handicapped sign over Jack’s left shoulder. Oh Lordy, I felt the kiss coming. My stomach tightened. My hands trembled. My legs turned to mush. In a court of law I could have been judged temporarily insane. As I prepared to pucker a strange chorus of tiny voices filled my head.

“Do it!” whispered Flirty.

“You’ll be glad you did,” said Dreamy.

“Are you going to just sit there?” goaded Lusty.

Silly, Dopey and Naughty cheered. Chastity booed.

It sounds corny, but it happened. Time stopped. Jack’s eyes held mine. My endorphin-soaked brain felt sixteen again. I hesitated for another millisecond, then I threw my arms around Jack’s neck, leaned in and kissed him smack on the mouth. In that moment love began to bloom. Oh sure it could have been hormones. But I choose to believe in the 8 Ball’s magic…“ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES.”

About this writer

  • Mary Ellington Mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother Mary Ellington comes from a long line of porch-sitting, hooch-drinking, truth-stretching story tellers She has been published in the Dream of Things anthology, the FSCJ newspaper, The Campus Voice and www.care-givers.com. Mary’s blog, “Random Thoughts,” can be found at www.mellington.blogspot.com.

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6 Responses to “Magic 8 Ball”

  1. Weneki says:

    This story is sweet in every way. Made my heart smile.

  2. Akasa WolfSong says:

    Ahhh Mary Girl!
    This warms the cockles of me heart, girl! :) Such flirts you and Jack were, lol. Funny this, I have wondered how you two met, when you were caregiving your Da, and now I know. Thank goodness you believed in the Magic 8 Ball’s prophetic message…yours is a match made in heaven!
    Writer? I’ve said yes to this a million times….that you are my Sister/Friend, that you are!!!
    Awesome Sharing Mary….just awesome!!!

  3. Jody says:

    This is really fun to read! I love your use of metaphors, and I especially love the gang of tiny girl voices filling your head.

  4. Molly says:

    This is a wonderful Cinderella story for the here and now!

  5. What a fun story that’s engaging and leaves me with a good, hopeful feeling. Not that I’m in the market for a husband, mind you, mine is sitting in the next room. But hope and assurance that when you ask for what you want (and it’s okay that everything you ask for isn’t need-based) and keep your eyes open, you’ll receive it. In one form or another.

  6. Rose Ann Sinay says:

    I was right there with Flirty, Dreamy and Lusty rooting you on! Great story!

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