One of my favorite stories growing up was that of how my parents met: proof that love actually does exist, and that it visits us in unexpected ways. I may elaborate on it later, but for now it's just a little spit of prose.
That’s all Bill ever called my dad. Poor Ed.
In the early summer of ‘89, Bill was slapping steaks on a grill and telling my mom about Poor Ed, who she could have met at the Ship Inn bar that May had he not had a terrible day and gone home early. (Something about shredding his finger in an “industrial accident” and having to drive himself to the ER, then having to lope into the bar with a brand new speeding ticket in his pocket.) Now it was somewhere in June, and the weather was perfect, and Bill was holding a small barbeque affair in the backyard of his condo. And Poor Ed was coming.
“I invited Poor Ed, by the way,” he announced. “Poor Ed doesn’t go out partying much; just stays in his house and plays with his dog.” He made it all sound very tragic, Poor Ed this and Poor Ed that; but my mother, despite her efforts, was having trouble picturing Poor Ed, because how poor could Poor Ed be? Single men with houses, jobs and dogs were simply unheard of, and here Poor Ed seemed to have hit all his marks. Nonetheless, Mom nodded and said “Okay” and probably sipped some beer.
When Poor Ed arrived, Bill moved to meet him at the door, and while Mom was certainly curious to see what Poor Ed looked like, her view was blocked by the wall of the entryway. So she sat and listened to the men exchange greetings, then looked up again when their voices finally carried around the corner. “Now Bill went on and on about Poor Ed,” she tells me, “but what he failed to mention was that Poor Ed was gorgeous!”
I always laugh at this part, because I know what Dad looked like in his thirties, and the irony of the Ballad of Poor Ed is never lost on me. The man walked in with wavy black hair, lively brown eyes, and a jaw that you could pound meat with, and I can’t blame my mom for being impressed. “All I remember of Bill after that was that he occasionally refreshed our drinks,” Mom says, because she and Not-So-Poor Ed fell into a long conversation about Billy Joel and Sci-Fi. “He asked Bill for my phone number at work, but Bill wouldn’t give it to him. We weren’t dating, but Bill was the sort of guy to bury his kill.” A shadow slips over her eyes and her voice starts sounding from her diaphragm. “I said, ‘well give him my phone number’.”
Oh, but, I dunno if he’d want it…
“Then offer it to him,” she countered sharply. “I cut Bill off. The first time your dad called me, we talked for two and a half hours, and that was that.”
My parents were married on May 15th, 1991.