I once dated , fell in love actually, with a man, who spoke seven languages. All of them fluently. Except mine.
He knew more three syllable, four, even five syllable English words than I did. It was what we heard that made us stumble.
We met in the drive through teller lane. Me, twirling my hair, blasting rock in roll in the five o’clock lane, and him passing out doggie treats ,receipts, and lollipops through the vacuumed canister. He was working his way through school. I was doing the nine to five. On overtime.
We went out for dinner.
Followed each other.
Me with a diapered Haley in tow. Him, with his broody eyes, listen-to-me-lips, and that accent. Every word musty, ending with a curly que. I fell hard.
On the Tuesday before Valentine’s day he called and said we would probably go out on Friday. Probably go to the Club on the River, dine and dance. I told him I probably wouldn’t be there when he arrived.
I hired a babysitter and got dressed. Turned on the outside lights. Sat in the Gray Grand Am and put the car in reverse every time I saw a pair of headlights. He was five minutes late and just caught me backing over the little rock garden at the mail box.
He was beaming and I was fuming. We rode to the River in silence, me twirling my hair, and him humming to the crackly music on the radio. His knees fidgeting. Cold I guessed. I couldn’t have cared less.
A block from the restaurant he pulled over. Pulled a thorned wild rose out from his shirt. “Jesus, could you just smile so I can give this to you?” he whispered. “It’s Valentine’s Day…..”…..
“Well, I could smile” I started to blabber, "but hell, you were only probably coming to get me, and I might have probably had plans, and I really don’t know how you probably caught me in the drive-way, because I totally wasn’t going to only probably be your Valentine!”
And suddenly we knew, " probably” was “definitely” in his world, and “if you only knew” in mine and that if we were ever going to understand each other, we couldn’t assume we did. We had to ask….