We forced ourselves to watch Must Love Dogs all the way through last night. If we’d paid for this two-paws-downer I would have felt cheated, but HBO brought this puppy into our television for nothing (extra).
The movie’s Internet dating scenes reminded me of how Laurel and I met, so this aspect of an otherwise forgettable flick kept my eyes open. Back in the ancient days of 1989, online personal ads didn’t exist like they do now. We hooked up the old-fashioned print way, as related in “Thank you, Willamette Week personals.”
Diane Lane and John Cusack first get together in a dog park. Laurel and I met in a Mexican restaurant. She brought her dog in the car, though.
After a pleasant dinner, at which I wore my carefully chosen wildest, coolest, most fashionable newly-single-guy shirt (which Laurel later told me looked disturbingly conservative), I walked her out to the Isuzu Trooper where Tasha, the German Shepherd, was ensconced.
Laurel’s person-to-person ad said that she was seeking a “tallish, slim, sensitive, spiritually aware, educated intelligent male who values nature, dogs, in depth communication, and who also seeks a mate to share the mysteries and pleasures of life.”
I felt good about meeting her criteria (she hadn’t mentioned “stylish dresser”), apart from the values dogs bit. I’d already told Laurel that while cats rather than dogs had been my chosen pet during adulthood, I’d grown up with standard poodles and Skye terriers.
I could sense, though, that being taken out to meet Tasha was a test of sorts. Indeed, there’s nothing like an attractive woman opening up the hatch of her SUV and revealing a scary-looking purebred German Shepherd, whom you’re expected to make instant friends with, to focus your male-mating-mind attention.
I’d enjoyed Laurel’s company. I wanted to see her again. So I figured improving my chances for a second date was worth risking a finger or two. I gingerly extended my hand into the automotive lair. Tasha licked it. I relaxed. I wasn’t home free on Laurel’s “values dogs” prospective mate check-off list, but at least I was in the ballpark.
Not batting very aggressively, however. Having been out of the dating game for eighteen years, I pretty much froze after the dog greeting was over. It was Laurel who said, “The Salem Art Fair is next weekend. Want to go?” “Sure,” I said, happy that I’d been asked out on a second date.
A ways down our relationship road, Laurel told me that she was surprised to hear herself bringing up the Art Fair. For that entailed a significant commitment of time with a guy she’d only known for an hour. Usually long-time single Laurel liked second (and first) dates to be easily escapable.
So she must have been wary when we walked across Bush Park, heading for the fair. We were talking about politics. I said something about being an independent now, after a stint as a registered Democrat. I also must have mentioned that I didn’t always vote a straight Democratic ticket.
Because what I do distinctly remember is Laurel stopping in her tracks, looking me in the eyes, and asking, “You didn’t vote for Reagan, did you? Tell me you didn’t.”
Oops. I couldn’t remember. But the fact that I possibly voted for Reagan, which I had to admit, was reason enough to bring the date to a screeching halt. We sat on top of a picnic table and hashed out my extremely disturbing revelation.
I wished that I’d changed the subject from politics and told Laurel something more acceptable from my past. Like, I’d killed a guy with a knife in a bar fight. Or been convicted of disseminating child pornography. Anything would have been more forgivable than voting for Ronald Reagan.
I can’t recall how I talked my out of this potential relationship-buster. I must have assured Laurel that my voting insanity was a one time thing, and now I was back on the right (meaning, left) side of the political street.
We got married a mere seven months later. I proved to Laurel’s satisfaction that I both loved dogs and hated Reagan. She forgave me for a brief flirtation with a Republican. Love isn’t blind, but sometimes its eyelids need to be lowered when an indiscretion is evident.