Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How I Married the Next Door Neighbor

Did I mention that my husband's name is Fred?
Ten years ago I broke up with my ex and moved out. It was a rather hasty event. Imagine me, in a huff, packing up all of my belongings and cramming them into a Jeep Wrangler...including my infant son.

I don't think my friends really believed it was over, over. I'm sure they all thought we would get back together. But this time I was done, done. I'd moved in with a girlfriend (bless her heart) and despite the fact that no one else believed me, I knew it was finished for good this time.

"As god as my witness," I told my girlfriends, a glass of wine raised to the heavens, "I will go out on a date!"

None of them believed me. They rolled their eyes and waited for me to come up with the list of excuses of why I was going to go back to the ex. But I got serious. I went on Match.com and resisted the urge to rewrite my profile a dozen times. I browsed through all of the men available to me in my immediate area. I scrolled through photos of smiling faces like I'd scrolled through sale sweaters on J.Crew.

Finally, I found a cute one.

He was tall, he had dark hair and he was handsome. Plus he had an excellent vocabulary and used compound sentences. I clicked the "Wink" button and waited to see what would happen. Normally I would never initiate contact with a man. I like to be found. But I didn't have a profile picture and figured I'd have to throw myself out there if I was going to prove my girlfriends wrong.

Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome responded to my wink.

"You are a smartass," he wrote. "I myself am one of those."

My eyes widened. I'd written a smartassed profile and he'd not only read it, he called me out on it! In my profile I'd mentioned my likes and dislikes. Included in my list of dislikes: "Old ladies."

"I can't stand old people," he wrote. "As a matter of fact, I splayed an old blue hair out on the sidewalk just this afternoon and her cane clattered across the sidewalk."

What was this?

This was new!

This was different!

He was playing my game, singing my song. Soon the emails were firing back and forth, one barb exchanged for another. Each witticism deftly returned, sailing across the internet like a well-placed badminton birdie.

And so it was that FredFromFresno and SpinDoctor510 fell in a deep state of like. Eventually we took our email conversations to the phone, and once on the phone, he asked me out on a real-live date. We discussed the logistics of the date, of course. I lived in Troy, he lived in Birmingham. We decided to meet in Royal Oak. It was convenient for both of us.

"I used to live in Birmingham," I said.

"Oh really? Where?" he asked.


"Downtown where?"

I named the cross streets.

"Where exactly on those streets?"

I named the specific street.

"Where on that street?"

Well this was getting awfully specific.

"SW or NE corner?" he continued.

"I don't do directions! Why does it matter!?!" I laughed.

Finally, I simply told him the names of the neighbors on either side of my ex's house.

"Oh my god!" he said. "You're ___________'s ex!" and he named my ex.

"You know him?"

"I live two doors down!"

We both paused in stunned silence.

"How is it that I never met you?" I was confused.

"I rented out that house and bought a bigger house!"

"And you moved back?"

"Yes, I moved back in after my wife and I separated!"

"So you live two doors down my from my ex?"

"Yes. Yes I do."

More stunned silence between the two of us. This was new.

"Does this mean you don't want to go out with me?" I asked.

"No. I still want to go out with you."

"Well I still want to go out with you too."

"So I'll see you on Thursday?"


"See ya, neighbor."

"Very funny."

I married him five years later. Give or take a few hiccups and missteps. We made a cute baby girl along the way. And now I live two doors down from my son's father. Life is funny. Life is strange. But somehow, it all works out just the way it's supposed to.

And it all started out with a wink and a couple of smartasses.