This post was originally published in January of 2008 when Mrs. G. had 11 readers.
When Mrs. G. was 21, she answered her first and only personal ad in the Willamette Weekly, a local reader covering all the happenings in the Portland city and escort scene. The ad simply read:
Funny, cynical guy looking for friend to hang out with. I like crossword puzzles, velvet Elvis paintings and live theatre.
What she did was just sit there, stunned, and have dinner with him. Mrs. G. wishes she could tell you that after a few margaritas and some nachos, they laughed and got to know each other and went on to become lifelong friends, but she can't, because that would be a fat ass lie. She lacked the substance and maturity that now, 24 years later, lead her to shuck the norm and generally embrace what's right in front of her face. Mrs. G. and this fellow did have drinks and food and discuss their jobs and politics and just about every subject other than the fact that he was wheel chair bound and needed help positioning his drinking straw and eating his food. They were both too terrified to mention it. The evening was an agonizing tutorial on how to spend an evening frozen in fear. And truthfully, disabled or not, he was not Mrs. G's type. He disliked cats and dogs. He was a Republican. When dinner was over, they discussed the weather until the busboy cleared the table and the waitress brought the check. They split the bill fifty-fifty and said their goodbye's. He gave Mrs. G. his phone number, but didn't ask for hers. She didn't say she would call, and he knew she probably wouldn't.
Walking home, Mrs. G. felt anger that this guy hadn't given her any kind of heads up. She told him he could recognize her by her blonde hair and glasses. He told her he would be the guy wearing the black shirt. She felt ambushed and manipulated. She went home, climbed into bed, and never shared the reality of this evening with anyone except for Mr. G, ten years after they were married. Because along with the anger, she felt so much shame and regret. Shame that she could not face her fear and simply ask the guy so why are you in a wheel chair? This straightfoward question might have allowed them to muscle through the discomfort and make their way towards a genuine conversation. She still regrets she couldn't grant him the grace of an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, blind date, one evening where the most he had to worry about was whether he had food in his teeth or enough cash in his pocket to cover the tip.
Looking back, Mrs. G. understands the courage this guy had to muster to roll himself into that Mexican restaurant, introduce himself to an unknown young woman, and, nervously, apprehensively, let the chips fall where they may. He was testing Mrs. G. And she failed.