As told by Daniel Cargil
I’m on the verge of my thirtieth birthday and still haven’t found the love of my life, my soul mate, my squeeze if you will. I’m reasonably good looking, well educated, well read, even tempered, can converse intelligently on almost any subject, and I’m just a nice guy to be around. In spite of all that, not to mention the extraordinary efforts my mother has put into ‘the project’ as she calls it, I’m still alone and not liking it. Singles bars, online dating, and church socials – nothing seems to be working.
I’ve met a number of beautiful and very charming women and also a few who were not so charming, but none of them clicked. Mom threatened to engage the help of a matchmaker … even though we aren’t Jewish. I put my foot down on that one. I was waiting for her to ask me to make a donation to the local sperm bank which would have brought about a conversation she would not have appreciated. I found out later, she was seriously thinking of hiring a surrogate to accomplish her penchant for grandchildren. Then – the accident.
I’m a lawyer and was on my way to court when the accident happened at the corner of the municipal building. She fell down, I lost my balance and joined her on the tiled sidewalk.
“Why don’t you watch where the hell you’re going?”
I think she was being kind; I wasn’t sure. “Are you ok?”
“Yes, I’m ok. Look at my slacks!” She brushed frantically where she had landed.
“Here, let me help you.”
“Don’t . . . you dare . . . touch me.”
“Ok … how about giving me a hand . . . I’m injured.”
She stood up and glared at me. “No, you’re not, but nice try.”
I remained sitting and could not take my eyes off of her. She was angry at the mishap but was so beautiful. “Do you need a lawyer?”
“I may sue you.”
“Breaking my heart.”
“Oh, my God. I don’t believe you just said that. Does that line ever work?”
“I’ve never tried it before.” I smiled.
“Oh, God.” She picked up her shoulder bag, turned, and walked away so fast it created a breeze, brushing her derrière as she went. A very nice derrière I might add. I could hear Mother screaming at me, ‘Follow her, Daniel. For God’s sake and mine, follow her. This may be your last chance at giving me grandchildren. I didn’t follow her. I just sat there for a moment watching her. If she looks back, this may be the one. I had seen that in a movie. She didn’t look back. Instead, she turned the corner and disappeared.
I got up, brushed myself off and was about to walk away when I noticed it. Something had fallen from her shoulder bag. It looked like a wallet which would have her name and address. Hum, a chance to see her again when I returned it with a box of candy and a bouquet of roses – but it wasn’t her wallet. It was her cell phone inside a leather case which, after a thought, was even better. If she wants her phone back she will have to call her number and I will be answering. I grinned at the prospect of speaking to her; trapping her into seeing me again. More chocolates and roses. How delicious.
It was 4:30 that afternoon when the phone rang. I was prepared; “State home for the bewildered. How may I direct your call?”
There were seven seconds of silence before she began to laugh. She was also prepared, “Yes, may I speak to the maniac who knocked me down this morning?”
“One moment please.” Now, what was I going to say? Ok, how about this, “He wants to know if you’re still angry with him?”
“No, I’m not. I just want my phone back.”
“Ok, just a second.” I turned my head away from the phone, “She says she’s not angry.” I dropped my voice a little, “Tell her to wait a minute.” I raised my voice, “He wants to know if you’ll wait a minute?”
“Yes, tell the little weasel I’ll wait.”
“Little weasel! I resent that. I’m a very nice person. Ask my mother.”
“I’m certain she’s prejudiced. When am I going to get my phone back?”
“How about 7:30?”
“The Per Se.”
“Yeah. You’ve heard of it.”
“Of course I’ve heard of it. Do I have a choice?”
“Do you want your phone back?”
“Oh, God, why do these things happen to me?”
“Kismet. You know … fate.”
“Okay. I suppose this means I have to sit down and have a meal with you?”
“Well, yeah. That’s kind of the idea.”
“Will you stop bringing him into the conversation? I’m not asking for a lifelong commitment. Tell your husband it’s girl’s night out.”
“I don’t have a husband.”
She has no husband. That’s even better.
“Are you paying?”
“Yes, of course, I’m paying. What kind of weasel do you think I am?”
“That remains to be seen.”
“Is it a deal?”
“Ok, it’s a deal. 7:30.”
“Sharp. Wait a minute. What’s your name?”
“The Park Avenue Cargill’s?”
“No. Shirt-tail. Brooklyn . . . disappointed?”
“Hey, all I want from you is my phone. Not a lifelong commitment.”
“See you at 7:30 … sharp.”
“Bye.” She was mocking me but that was okay. Oh, boy. This is going to be great. I made reservations and arrived early to have a chat with Maurice, the Maître d.
I saw her enter exactly at 7:30 and pause. Maurice approached her, gave her something, and then escorted her to my table.
“Thank you for coming.” I had placed her phone next to her table setting. Maurice seated her and she laid the sprig of Lily of the Valley he had given her on top of her phone.
“The flowers . . . your idea?”
“It’s May Day. Lily of the Valley is a tradition in France. They signify love and good luck.”
“That’s right, it is the first of May. But you’re not French, are you?”
“My mother is, so, I guess I’m half and half.”
She gazed at the view. “This is very lovely. I’ve never seen the Park at night.”
“You’ve eaten here before?”
“Yes, quite often, but not of late.” There was a sadness about her when she said that.
Our waiter approached and took our orders.
“You know, I don’t know your name.”
“Megan, Megan Clovis.”
“Of the Park Avenue Clovis’?”
She laughed, “No, upper west side.”
Our meals were served which we consumed mostly in silence.
Finally . . . “Daniel, I appreciate the invitation and thank you for returning my phone. I just hope you don’t expect more.”
“Well, I was hoping. I’m not afraid to admit I’m looking for a wife and family.”
“I’m sure you’re a very good man…”
“He is a very good man.”
Megan turned and looked at the woman sitting at the next table. Then she looked at me.
“It’s my mother.”
“You brought your mother to dinner?”
“She wants to be a grandmother.”
“Daniel, this has been very interesting, and again, thank you for returning my phone. I’m going to leave now.”
She got up and began to move away but had to stop when Mother stepped in front of her, which was kind of comical in itself. Megan has to be over six feet tall, and Mom is something like five-one.
“You are making a very big mistake, my dear. My Daniel would make you a wonderful husband.”
“Mom, let her go. She’s not interested. Good night, Megan.”
“Good night, Daniel.” She turned and walked away, but she was smiling.
Mother stood there staring after Megan. “Mom, come sit with me. We’ll have coffee and dessert. Anything you want. To hell with your diet tonight.”
I love my mother. She’s a good person and a lot of fun to be with except when she gets these attacks of wanting to marry me off. We had our coffee and dessert and got up to leave. As we approached the front door, Maurice stepped forward, “The lady left this for you.” He slipped a folded piece of paper into my hand.
I opened it and began to laugh.
“What is it, Son?”
“Nothing, Mom. Nothing at all.”
“One of the waiters thinks you’re hot stuff and wants to know if you still date.”
“Oh, you silly thing.”
“Well, I think you’re hot stuff … Mother.”
“You’re not going to tell me what’s on the note, are you?”
“No, Mom. I’m not. Come on. Let’s get you home and into bed with your hot water bottle.”
“Smart-ass. I don’t need a hot water bottle.”
“Okay, okay … stop hitting me. People are watching.”
We laughed as I hailed a cab.
The note read: Meet me at the carousel in Central Park at 10 a.m. this Sunday. Megan.
And so, I did meet Megan that Sunday and rode the carousel several times. It was a wonderful experience. I recommend it to everyone. It puts life into perspective.
During our ride, I noticed two little girls with an elderly woman sitting on one of the benches provided for those who don’t appreciate the galloping horses. They kept looking at Megan and me until one of them broke loose from the woman and ran to us.
“Hi.” She looked up at me, grinning.
“Can I ride, please?”
“Well, sure. I suppose it’s ok.” I looked a Megan. She smiled and nodded. I lifted the girl onto one of the horses and stood next to her, holding her in place.
Then, the other little girl broke loose and ran to us. Megan picked her up and placed her on another horse.
The girls were giggling and laughing with the joy of riding these merry creatures.
I laughed. “They’re identical.”
“Yes, they certainly are.”
When I saw the expression on Megan’s face, I had to ask. “Do you know these kids?”
“Yes, Daniel, I do. They’re mine. This is Nichole and this is Olivia.”
“Hi, Nichole … Olivia. I’m Daniel.” Then I looked at Megan, “How do you tell them apart?”
She laughed, “It’s not easy. I have to be on guard for their tricks.”
I stopped smiling, “You mentioned you had no husband.”
“Oh, Megan, I’m so sorry, I…”
“It’s okay, Daniel. I wanted you to know.”
“And who is …” I looked at the elderly woman.
“That’s … my mother.”
I began to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“I should have brought my mother with me. She would have loved this.”
“Well, be sure to bring her next time.”
I stopped smiling and looked at Megan. “Next time?”
“If you like.”
“Yes, I would like. I would like very much. I’ll have Mom pack a lunch for all of us. We can do a picnic here if you like.”
“Yes, that would be nice. The girls will love it. But you better introduce your mother to mine first so they can work together on the food thing.”
“Okay, girls. I want you to stay with Nana. Daniel and I are going to take a walk. We’ll be back very soon.”
We did walk, staying close enough so the girls could see us. We didn’t say much to one another. It wasn’t necessary. Everything I ever wanted was walking next to me. The details would come later. We had many picnics in the park with Nichole, Olivia, Nana, and my mother who got along beautifully and watched the girls while Megan and I took many long walks.
We held hands during our second long walk and managed a kiss or two a few months later. I asked her to marry me in the autumn and we were married the following spring . . . in the park surrounded by family, friends and two little girls I had fallen in love with.
Nine months and fifteen minutes later, I sat on a stool and assisted in the delivery of our first child as a couple. There were no harsh lights at our insistence. I felt the pain of each contraction Megan was having, but when the head of our child began to appear I could have cried. But I didn’t. As its entire body slipped out into my hands, I fully understood what they were talking about when they mention the miracle of birth.
When the baby was fully born, I whispered, “It’s a boy, Megan, a beautiful boy.” Then, with the help of the midwife, we laid him on Megan’s stomach for a few minutes. We had already decided on the name, David, if it was a boy which made our welcome so easy and natural when he opened his eyes and looked at us. We whispered our hellos, checked to make sure all the fingers and toes were there, and then gave him over to the midwife.
When David was returned to us, he had his first meal at his mother’s warm breast. I was so proud and happy, I looked at Megan, “Did I ever tell you how glad I am we ran into one another?”
“Yes, dear. Many times … so am I.”
In spite of the stress of labor, Megan was beaming … and so was I.