On the holiday hit parade, Valentine’s Day is next up on the turntable. Florists will be madly cutting flowers, their delivery vans packed to capacity. Candy and greeting card manufacturers bank accounts will be solidly in the black and jewelers will be choosing colors for that new Mercedes on the dealership floor. A note here with regards to greeting cards. Gentlemen, women put a lot of weight on the sentiment. Trust me on this, the card with the enormous pink rose on the front that reads “This bud’s for you” on the inside, is not the right card. It will never be the right card, and would not be well received even if the woman owned a brewery.
Walking down the aisle more often than an usher in a movie theater, I have had some experience in the dating arena. I found myself unexpectedly widowed in my late twenties with two small children. In the beginning just moving forward with life seemed to require all my energy sometimes feeling as if I was pulling a water buffalo behind me through a puddle of quicksand. Eventually, my laughter returned, colors regained their vibrance, and I felt it was time to dip my toe in the dating pool and test the water. Having married my first husband before the ink was dry on my high school diploma, the rules and pitfalls of dating as a fully grown woman fell under the umbrella of unexplored territory for me.
It wasn’t long before I discovered the word “single” encompassed more than which box you checked on your tax return. To me there were “degrees” of being single. Many available men I met during that time seemed to be loosely grouped into four categories. Those actively searching for a mate, the casual daters who never lingered for brunch, Peter Pan’s, joyously embracing the single life drinking beer out of tubes in their hats, and the men so marriage phobic that when a woman responded to a question with “I do” they instinctively reached for their keys and broke for the door.
Dating recently divorced men I found packed with more hazards than skipping through a mine field blindfolded. You might get lucky and make it through unscathed, but then again it might just blow up in your face. I went to dinner with an engineer whose final divorce papers had just been delivered. Twice before we got out of the car he referred to me by his ex wife’s name. I knew this to be her name because she had been the main topic of conversation since he had picked me up at my door. Before the stuffed mushrooms arrived we had relived the golden years, during the entrée we dissected what went wrong in the bad, and by the time the bill was presented selected photos from the family album were scattered on the table and I’d viewed a brief slide show of their last vacation on Maui. Aloha. No, really, Aloha.
On another first date, the gentleman’s three children accompanied us. I would not have minded in the least, as I had two of my own, if he’d mentioned it ahead of time. He did not. Instead, he suggested I dress for a fun night in San Francisco. Looking fabulous in my new black dress and heels, I spent three hours at a children’s fun zone watching this man’s head bob up and down in a sea of colorful plastic balls. Afterwards, we went to an ice cream parlor where a grown man in a clown costume served us bowls of gumball ice cream slathered with thick chocolate syrup. After consuming three bowls of this obnoxious concoction, his youngest son, stomach rebelling, vomited in Technicolor in my lap. Check please.
I stepped away from the plate for a bit and regrouped. With my busy schedule there was something freeing about dating casually that worked for me. After a time, however, I met someone who I wanted to get to know on a deeper level. Not wanting to confuse my children, it was a long time before I arranged for them to meet. I should have waited until they were in college. My children, capable of the most creative fabrications when accused of a crime were suddenly imbued with more honesty than Lincoln himself. If I could have had them legally adopted that night all I would have needed was a pen to make it final. Normally well-behaved polite children, for that evening Chuckie would have fared better. Sitting on either end of the couch like two lions eying a gazelle they circled the poor guy before moving in for the kill. Words spewed out of their faces like quarters from a blazing hot slot machine. They ran the gambit from asking if he was going to adopt them after we got married to divulging my exact weight and tossing out the fact that I kept my partial in a container at night leaving a gaping hole on one side of my mouth. A picture I thought I’d destroyed was brought down and shared of me wearing my baby fat under my school uniform, suffering from a Richard Simmon’s perm and smiling through a mouth full of metal. By the time the night was put to bed it did much to cement that nagging feeling I’d had from time to time that the hospital had handed me the wrong babies on my way out the door. Sigh.
Love, true love, is always worth pursuing and if captured worth preserving. This is a nice light soup for a rainy day like today.
For the Peter Pan’s in the group. Too silly.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced and quartered
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup mushrooms,thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen cheese tortellini
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In large heavy pot heat oil. Add onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, and rosemary. Cook 3 mins. until vegetables are tender. Add broth and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add tortellini, zucchini, tomatoes, and seasonings.
Cook uncovered for 45 mins. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.