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On Love at First Sight

My evening started out fairly normally, which usually entails sitting at my desk at work, wondering what I'm going to do with the next several hours before I have to trudge back to my house/van/prison cell to sleep. I was wandering around Youtube, checking out various videos, with tonight's "theme" being music videos garnered from the game Sims 2. After a mind-numbing 15 minutes of that, I noticed a link labeled "Quarterlife", with the image of a moderately attractive young lady on it. Being the moderately over-sexed, testosterone influenced male that I am, I decided to check it out. I didn't really have any expectations, and I had no inkling of what was to play across my screen, and certainly didn't expect what I was to see. I'm usually not one to let something like a short video on the internet have a profound effect on me, but... Well, let me explain.

I guess the best way to describe me is that I'm a broken man. I've got not only a piece of my heart missing, but also a portion of my very soul has died, and it's left its mark on me in ways that I can't even fathom, let alone repair; as if one can pull out bailing wire and duct tape and fix one's ethereal spirit. Anyway, as a result of this affliction of the soul, I've let my body go, as well, so not only am I broken, I'm also worn out. I know, this sounds like I'm blaming my life's outcome on something other than myself, and perhaps, somewhere deep inside, I am. But this is to give you a glimpse into what lies on this side of the computer, not to assign blame.

You see, about 14 years ago, I met and fell in love with an angel. I wasn't a believer of "Love at First Sight", but was proven wrong one day when my sister and a friend of hers came into the auto repair shop I was working at, to have her friend's car fixed. I was discreetly told that she had just lost her husband, so I just chalked it up to my usual horrible luck with women, and I put her out of my mind. Or so I thought.

A few months later, my sister called me and asked me to go on a "Mercy Date" with a friend, who had an important function in town, and didn't want to be hit on by every other guy there. She never mentioned that it was the same girl who came with her that day at the shop, and it never dawned on me that it could be her, either. When I arrived at my sister's house to pick her up, I was shocked and blown away by the most stunningly beautiful women I had ever seen in my life. I can see her face now, in my mind, as it looked that night. Huge, pale blue-green eyes, full of wonder and innocence, a pert, petite little nose, with just the faintest hint of freckles across the bridge, creamy skin so smooth as to be that of a goddess, framed by this halo of soft, curly honey-blond hair with hints of strawberry red running throughout. Needless to say, I just knew that I was hopelessly out of my league, but I was also hopelessly smitten. In fact, I was so dumbfounded that my sister had to drag me inside, so as not to alert the neighborhood that she had a retarded, catatonic gorilla for a brother.

Now, I can be a reasonably charming individual when I try, and usually, I DO have to try. You see, women scare the hell out of me. I mean, I know that women have basically the same feelings, problems, challenges and such as males, but it seems that when a reasonably attractive woman comes near me, or even (god forbid) talks to me, my self-confidence high-tails it in the opposite direction, usually at mach 7 - leaving a complete moron where I used to be - and an inarticulate one, to boot!

Anyway, I have no clue how it happened, but I was actually able to TALK to this goddess in a more or less coherent fashion, but I had a huge problem here! After all, I was fairly certain that her not wanting any men hitting on her during this dinner also included me, and since I take great care with my promises, I was in no way going to blow it by making any untoward advances. This was looking to be a long night.

Well we headed out to this function, which happened to be an award dinner for members in the medical billing profession, in one of the local casinos. We had arrived early, so she, living in California at the time, wanted to gamble a bit. So she picked out a blackjack table, and spent a pleasant half hour chatting about her, and discussing the basics of playing twenty-one. from time to time, her hand would brush mine while we played, and she would grace me with a shy little smile that made my heart beat like a trip hammer, but I resolutely stuck to the plan of being the perfect gentleman. After all, she had just lost her husband, and I wasn't about to take advantage of the situation.

The evening went in more or less the same manner, and as we were walking back to the car, she took my arm and stopped. When I turned, I saw this look of utter frustration emblazoned on her face as she asked, "You're gay, aren't you?"

"Of course I'm not gay," I responded indignantly. "In fact, I've been in love with you since the first time I saw you." My answer came out before I knew it, and a hot rush of embarrassment shot like a rocket from my toes to the hairs on the top of my head. How could I have possibly let that blurt out?! It was the most mortified I had ever been in my whole life!

"You... Really? Oh my GOD! I thought I... Well, I... You're not just saying that?" she asked, while several emotions warred in those expressive eyes like neon lights on Broadway. Joy, embarrassment, dismay, and just a hint of longing flashed back and forth across her face.

"Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that to come out." I was trying for all I was worth to extract my foot from my mouth, but I had the sinking feeling that I wasn't doing a very good job of it. Suddenly, she smiled, and it lit up my heart like a lighthouse beacon.

"You didn't say that you didn't mean it, though. Is it the truth?"

"Well, yeah. But..."

"But nothing!" she replied, cutting me off. The next thing I knew, she was kissing me in the most tender, loving and romantic fashion I have ever or since experienced. I was so totally swept away that I jumped like a startled deer some unknown moments later, as a car blared it's horn at us. We were still in the middle of the parking lot, right in the way of an elderly couple who were on the way home. As we moved out of the way, we both laughed at the situation and we both turned at the same time to yell out "Sorry!" to the driver. He just smiled, rolled down his window and said, "You kids should probably find a safer place to do that", and drove off.

As we moved over to the side, I looked at Michelle and said, "You know, I don't believe in love at first sight", and she smiled at me with a humorous glint in her eye and said, "You don't, do you? Care to explain this?"

"Not really, to be honest", I said, as I leaned over to kiss her again. We kissed for a long time.

The next few weeks were sheer torture for both of us, since she lived in California, and we could only spend time together on the weekends. She also had 3 children to consider, and didn't want them to think that this was some sort of "grief rebound thing". That particular thought weighed heavily on me as well, but I was afraid to bring it up, because it may burst this bubble we shared, and could send us flying apart. I didn't want that, so I remained silent about my fears. Both our phone bills skyrocketed, since we would take turns waking each other up in the mornings, and talk all evening till well past midnight. Over time, we talked about the possibility of one or the other relocating, and she offered to move to Carson City, to be closer to me. Needless to say, this created problems for her family, but she wouldn't hear of me moving to California, since she knew I hadn't liked it there very much.

With both of us being brought up the way we were, and with my past experiences with relationships, we agreed to put off engaging in anything that was beyond R rated till later in the relationship, but I guess that proved to be too difficult for Michelle, because after about 3 weeks of dating, she asked me at dinner one night, "Would you be offended if I proposed?"

We were having a "family" dinner at her house, with not only the two of us, but also her 3 children and her Mom, who dropped her fork and placed her hand over her mouth as she gasped. These sorts of things weren't done in her day, and she almost fainted dead away. I didn't say a word, as I reached into my pocket and slowly pulled out a small, black velvet box, and set it gently in front of her, with a single tear rolling down my cheek.

As she gazed down at the box, her eyes grew large with shock, and she started to cry. When her youngest daughter saw this, she asked, "Mommy, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, baby," she replied, as she rushed to embrace me, nearly knocking us both over. "nothing at all." Then she whispered in my ear, "I love you, my darling."

A month later, we were walking down the aisle of a small wedding chapel, and while much of that day was, and still is, a blur to me, it was the happiest day of my life. My whole family was there, and we celebrated the occasion till well into the next morning. One thing I can remember clearly was that Celeste, the youngest of Michelle's children, came up to me and asked, "Does this mean I can call you Daddy now?" Michelle was standing nearby, and as I looked at her, I could see tears of joy well up in her eyes. Suddenly, I could feel the faint sting of tears beginning to form in my eyes, as well, and I hugged Celeste and said, "Honey, you can call me anything you want."

Apparently, several other people heard the exchange, because the entire room burst into applause. It was a very intense, emotional moment for me, and I broke down and cried, right there on the spot.

Months flew past, and we did what many newlyweds do. We shopped for a place where we all could live, since either of our places was too small, we shopped for new furnishings, bedding, and such, since we wanted to make our home our own, and we spent a lot of time "alone". I cherished every moment as if it was to be our last. If I had only known...

We had first met in December of 1992, went on our first "date" in February of 1993, and were married in April. On July 19th, we found our new home and signed the rental agreement. To celebrate, we went shopping for house warming gifts to present to each other, and came home around 10:00PM. Michelle said she was a bit tired, and she wanted to go to bed. One of her "little quirks", as she called it, was that she didn't want to be seen changing clothes. She was fine with nudity around me, but didn't want to "get all klutzy" around me while she changed, so she went into the bathroom to change. I heard a loud "Thump!", and then silence. Alarmed, I called her name, but got no answer. I opened the bathroom door to find her unconscious on the floor. I called 911, and the paramedics came. They took her to the hospital. She never woke up. She was pronounced dead at 2:00AM the next morning. My world collapsed around me.

Michelle has been in my thoughts every day since. Her mother, seeing that I was so shattered by my loss, offered to care for the children, and eventually moved back to California with them. I haven't heard from them since, and it saddens me.

Since then, my life has been just an existence, plodding from day to day, only going through the motions. I've recovered much of myself in the ensuing years, but not all. I can laugh now, and smile, but not often, and not easily. this has been my life.

For now, I'm more or less content with my current situation; or, at least, not disconteted enough to wish to upset my life with sufficient change to alter it's present course. Some day, I may meet someone who will allow me to wish to make a change, but for now...

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