Have you ever listened to the Moth Radio Hour? I hear it on my NPR station and have an app on my phone so I can listen if I missed the radio broadcast. People usually tell stories that are funny or tragic. They either make me laugh or cry.
I asked Grace what story she would tell on the Moth Radio Hour. She thought maybe she'd tell about the parties her French friend threw while she visited Paris. I suggested she could tell the story about her sorority sister who sabotaged her romance then slept with the guy herself. No, she decided, she would tell the story about flying home from France in tears when American Airlines bumped her up to first class. I posted briefly about this story in December 2011.
I'm not really sure what story I would tell. I wonder if I've written a blog post that would make a good Moth Radio Hour story.
I'll try occasionally to tell a brief story on my blog that could expand into a Moth Radio Hour story.
I'm not sure why, but I've been thinking about the incident that made Earl get serious about dating me.
Earl and I both worked as reporters for the Tampa Tribune in Pinellas County, that's the little peninsula that stands between Tampa, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. St. Petersburg and Clearwater are in Pinellas County.
Earl covered the courts and I covered city government in Clearwater. Earl started working there about a year before I did. He was married at the time I met him, but it was a rocky marriage. (That's a story I'll let him tell.)
He and his wife, Elaine, decided to separate in January, and I had a two-bedroom apartment so I offered to let Elaine have the extra bedroom. I'd met her a few times when we all went out together. I was 26 and figured they'd be back together in a few weeks.
I saw Earl most days at work, but never told him that his wife didn't spend nights at my apartment. Some days I'd find evidence that she had been in the apartment while I was at work, but I rarely saw her.
One day I had an assignment to cover Gasparilla, that's a pirate day celebration around Mardi Gras, and I was going to ride a boat across Tampa Bay. I could take a friend, and I asked Elaine if she wanted to go with me.
"You should take a date," she said. I wasn't dating anyone.
"Take Earl," she suggested.
And I did.
Earl was picking me up early, at 8 or 9 a.m. The night before Earl's early arrival was the only night that Elaine spent in my apartment. She was there when Earl came to pick me up.
Eventually, Elaine moved in with the man she was spending time with, and Earl and I started dating. We went back and forth a hundred times. Earl would break up with me and go to marriage counseling with Elaine. Then he would come back and say he couldn't stop thinking about me. He'd show up on my doorstep with a 6-pack of Dos Equis, which was a new beer at the time. Finally, Earl decided to get a divorce.
We continued dating, but as someone just coming off a divorce, Earl wasn't too serious. We still went back and forth until I met Sergeant Randy.
I met Sergeant Randy through work. He was a cop, and I was working on a story about prostitutes -- a new program that punished the "johns" more than the women. I rode along with him one night as he staked out prostitutes, and they arrested the men who propositioned them.
I remember sitting in the front seat of the cruiser with Randy and we had an instant flirty rapport. He made me laugh. Now when I think of him, he reminds me of Ray Romano from Everybody Loves Raymond.
He asked me out, and I said, "yes."
The next day, I told Earl that I was going to start dating someone else.
I loved Earl, but the anguish of the back and forth was too gut wrenching for me. I figured it might take him years to get over his divorce, and I was ready to move on. His marriage counselor told him that I was only "a flash in the pan."
That day, after a goodbye lunch and lingering kisses, Earl decided he was ready to get serious. He wanted to be exclusive.
I'm not one of those conniving women who planned to force Earl to get serious. I truly found Sergeant Randy attractive and I'd had enough of waiting for Earl.
To this day, Earl remains a little jealous of Randy and refers to him as Katzenjammer, because he has a German sounding last name. We haven't stayed in touch, but he did come to our wedding party and give us a gift of margarita glasses.
And whether Earl admits it or not, now nearly 24 years after we married, Randy had a role in bringing us together.
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