Time for another dating story, but this one isn’t about me.
Way back in the summer of 1996, David, Stephen, and I were once again going to the local Christian music festival called AtlantaFest. The festival was held at Six Flags Over Georgia for four days and we spent the four days “camping” at the grounds. By “camping”, I mean we parked our car in a big open field, set up a tent, and then baked in the hot July sun for four days. We did this for many years and finally stopped when I realized that all we talked about while we were “camping” is how miserable we were sitting in the hot sun for four days.
Let’s stay on topic, though. At this particular year, we had set up camp and were sitting in our chairs under our tarp when we noticed a commotion at another campsite. Two girls were standing outside of a car and fussing loudly about something. Apparently they had locked themselves out of their car. One of the girls, a diminutive red-head looked at us and said, “well, are you going to sit there and watch or are you going to help us?” We sat there slack-jawed. I guess we had been caught. We walked over to their car to see if we could help. At some point, the car did get unlocked. (Either we slim-jimmed the lock or called a locksmith, or somebody smarter came along and figured out how to get in the car, I can’t remember) We ended up spending the entire festival with the two girls having all sorts of good, clean fun.
It turned out that they lived in West Palm Beach, Florida. A couple of months later, Stephen decided he wanted to fly down to Florida to spend a weekend with the girls (I think he liked one of the girls.) I agreed to go with him because after all, I was on a break with my girlfriend and the prospect of spending a weekend with two girls sounded just dandy to me, plus having lived in Florida only months earlier, this would give me a chance to reunite with old friends.
We had a great time that weekend and before we left to fly home I said, “let me call some of my friends from Delray Beach and Boca Raton and we can all do dinner together before I fly home.” Little did I know what trouble I had started. At the dinner, Michelle, the red-headed girl, and my friend Ryan spent the entire evening looking at each other doe-eyed and cracking jokes to make each other laugh. Only a couple weeks later, I got a call from Ryan and Michelle saying they were dating each other. Now that was totally unexpected! Had I never flown down to Florida and never called the two different groups to have dinner together, they might never have met.
Fast forward a couple years later to 1998, on another visit to south Florida (I loved going to south Florida to visit, it has been way too long since I’ve been down there, excluding the short time I was there before and after our most recent cruise), Ryan and Michelle told me they were getting married and wanted me to be in their wedding. I was thrilled. They also told me that they would be setting me up with one of the bridesmaids. Um, thanks. I guess they felt they owed me.
I drove down to Ocala, Florida for the wedding and had a fun weekend laughing about my days living in Boca Raton and working for IBM. I met the bridesmaid we talked for a while at the wedding, but while she was a nice girl, she was very quiet and frankly I wasn’t ready to take on another long distance relationship. Besides, I had some opportunities back home I wanted to explore further, including one rising sophmore who was spending her summer in Savannah, but I’ll never forget that hot, muggy weekend in Ocala.
Ryan and Michelle have been married for seven years now and have two (maybe three? I haven’t heard from them in a while.) beautiful children of their own now. I always smile when I think that I inadvertantly played a part in their family.