The story begins on a Thursday night in January 1984. The PWP group activity was a discussion. Attendance was pretty good. Alice, the hostess, was doing her best to find seats in her home for everyone. Bill, the moderator for the discussion, spoke his introductory remarks about the subject, which had something to do with women’s ways.
About 15 minutes later, I perceived someone had just come in. I glanced around the room and saw a guy I had not seen before. He was standing by the fireplace wearing a three-piece suit. His attire got my attention because suits were just unheard of in that group. I wondered if he always dressed that way. Other than his garb, I saw a short, bald gentleman who had a bit of a receding chin and, I hate to admit it, but in my mind I labeled him as “wimpy.”
The stranger spoke. This wimpy looking man’s voice was vibrant, so rich and mellow, it almost took my breath away. The words he spoke were almost poetic in reference to women’s beauty, their inner beauty. His attitude toward women seemed both respectful and embracing of women as equals, different than the men I had known in the past.
We mingled after the discussion, at which time I learned that his name was Bob, he had recently moved to California from Ohio, and that he had just gotten off work before the meeting, thus the suit.
Next time we met was the following Sunday at a PWP drop-in (barbecue). We talked some more. He asked me questions and actually listened to what I said. He even responded in sentences, not “mm hmm” or “that’s nice.” I was impressed.
Later that evening, when the drop-in was winding down, he invited me to go out for coffee. I said “sure,” and we met at the coffee shop. We were probably there for over an hour getting acquainted. I felt quite comfortable talking with him.
Uh-oh, truth or dare time! He suggested coming over to my house. Oh dear, I want to say yes, but I’m scared. What if he’s a letch in disguise? I told him I had homework to do for a class I was taking. Later, still at the coffee shop I thought the homework could wait. I told him so, and we left the coffee shop. I thought he’d be right over. I had given him easy-to-follow directions. He got to my place about 45 minutes later. Since he was new in town he tended to get lost, and laughed at himself that he couldn’t find his way around the block sometimes.
He had told me he enjoyed playing games, but had never played backgammon, which I was really into at the time. So I taught him how to play backgammon that night. While we played and talked I discovered his quick wit and sense of humor. Most of all, I discovered that I really liked this guy. “Wimpy” no longer applied to Bob’s appearance.
He kissed me before he left that night. I’ll never forget that first kiss with Bob, so warm, so sensual, so wanting of more … but we stopped, and he went home.
That was the beginning of our six-year relationship. We never did get married. That first night we met at the coffee shop he told me he’d like to get married again. My immediate response was “I wouldn’t.” Little did I know then that I’d regret those hasty words.
Shortly into our relationship, Bob wrote me this poem:
Beauty is a lady who buys a record for
a lonely stranger 3000 miles from home.
Beauty is a lady who takes him into
her home, and into her heart.
Beauty is a lady that feeds him lemons
and Fig Newtons.
Beauty is a lady that takes him to laser
shows halfway across the state when
he gets lost just going to the corner store.
Beauty is a lady that fills him with
emotions that he has never felt before
and will never forget.
Beauty is a lady that fills him with so
much joy he screams with delight.
Beauty is you, Joyce
And love follows beauty, always.
I felt so special. This wonderful man loved me for who I was. It was a new experience for me. I had been married twice and had a few relationships. They all had an agenda and I could not live up to their expectations. Bob was non-judgmental and had no hoops for me to jump through.
I was a better woman because of Bob’s influence. He was so good to everyone with whom he interacted and, as a result, I started being a kinder, gentler person.
Bob became my best friend and lover. I didn’t need therapy anymore. My self-esteem was high and I wasn’t so concerned about what other people thought of me. I only cared what Bob thought of me .
A favorite memory is the afternoon Bob came over directly from work (still wearing his suit), took me by the hand and said, “Let’s go watch the sunset.” I grabbed my purse and off we went to the beach to watch the sunset. Hey, when Mr. Romantic is at the door, go!
One night when Bob and I were home playing backgammon, a song played on the radio, “I Want to Know What Love Is,” by Foreigner. Bob said, “I like that song.” I responded, “So do I.” He said, “Let’s make it our song.” So that was “our song.” One time we were going somewhere when our song came on the radio. He had me pull into a parking lot so we could listen to the song without the distraction of driving.
Our relationship only got better with the passage of time, if that’s possible. We went places, and did things I never would have done on my own. In 1986 we went to Hawaii and spent several days with his daughter and her husband, who was in the Army, stationed on Oahu. That was an especially enjoyable vacation.
Another memorable vacation was when we went to Shell Beach. Shell Beach was our home base from where we went to other destinations such as Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle was nice.
My favorite memory from the Hearst Castle trip was that we stopped at a “view” spot along the way, where there were a lot of ground squirrels. We didn’t have any peanuts with us at the time. Bob wanted us to come back with peanuts so we could feed the ground squirrels. We did that the day following our Hearst Castle adventure. The squirrels were so cute, getting the peanuts out of the shells with their dainty little paws.
Wherever we went we had fun and when we stayed home we enjoyed each other’s company. We didn’t fight. We would have if I had my own way, and our relationship wouldn’t have lasted six years. I was angry over some incident and when I told him why I was angry, he said, “You’re right.” I’m laughing as I write this, because I couldn’t stay angry with someone who tells me something like that.
We started living together after we had been together four years. One day I was ragging on him about his mess. He said, “Joyce, you knew I was a slob when I moved in.” Well, that sure turned my head around. I did know he was a slob. No further mention was made of it.
We used to go to Las Vegas a lot. One day at home he had eaten a sandwich on a paper plate, then threw the plate in the trash. I took the plate out of the trash, brushed off the crumbs and said, “This plate can be used again. It’s not dirty, just a few crumbs which can be brushed off.” In response he said, “Yet you think nothing of putting a quarter in a slot machine.” I had a good laugh at myself over that.
I laughed at Bob’s witticisms every time he said them, even though I’d heard them over and over. Sometimes I didn’t want to laugh anymore, but I couldn’t help myself. I guess that’s love.
Bob died in 1991 due to a massive heart attack. He had finally gone to the hospital the day before. He had been having heart problems for over a year. I urged him to go see a doctor, but his response was always to the effect that doctors practice, he wanted a professional. Funny ha-ha the first few times, not so funny at the end of the life of a beautiful man.
Bob was five-foot, four inches, an inch shorter than me at the time. In my eyes he was six feet tall. His character made him tall. Best of all, he made me laugh.