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  • When I started dating Billy, I tried my best to frighten him off.

    It was our fourth date, I believe. I invited him to come to dinner, impressing him with my culinary powers. Hollandaise sauce for the asparagus is not to be tackled by beginner cooks. After dinner, Billy put music on the CD player. My second floor apartment had a bay window with a spectacular view. Looking out that window, it felt like we were sitting up in the trees.

    I lit some candles - I am all about mood lighting. However, for some reason, I couldn't get comfortable. I began to pace around the room, refusing to let myself sit on the couch next to him. He watched me as I paced. I picked up a stack of CD's pretending to look through music. Billy is patient, one of the qualities I love about him. Patience has never been my long suit. He poured me a glass of wine and motioned for me to sit next to him.

    I had to admit, with the candle light chasing shadows around the room, he looked very handsome and vulnerable sitting there on my couch. I felt myself becoming a bit annoyed. Billy is a big guy and here he was, wanting to take up space on my couch, in my toothbrush holder, and in my bed. I would have to make room in my life to accommodate him. I began thinking about the whole prospect of dating. I didn't know if I was up to it. Sharing space, compromising, making room for Billy. Making myself vulnerable.

    I picked up my wine glass, took a swallow to steel my nerve and then stepped back five paces, like people do in duels. Turning back to face him, I took aim and fired. "What are your relationship goals?" I said with deadly accuracy, hitting him right between the eyes. Billy looked startled, a bit bemused. "What do you mean," he rightly asked me.

    By this time, I was aware that my body had been taken over by a Pod Person. I was regulated to a mute observer, helpless to do anything but silently watch as the Pod Person did her best to sabotage this new relationship. "I mean, is marriage something you may be interested in? Because, I may want to get married again someday, so I need to know now if marriage is off the table." Inside, I was aghast. Marriage? I had no intention of getting married again. I tried to shut her up, but she was more powerful than I was.

    Bill was quiet, thoughtful. He had never been married. Billy is a writer who never settled down. My Aunt Fern would have called him a confirmed bachelor and warned me to stay away. This patient man reached for his wine glass. He needed a drink. His throat must have constricted and the saliva disappeared completely. "I never gave it much thought. I wouldn't say it was off the table." Then he disarmed me with his genuine smile and asked me if I was ready to watch the DVD we had picked up.

    The next date - yes readers, there was a next date - I apologized for my erratic behavior. I explained about the Pod Person, told Billy I wasn't planning on marrying again. I said that I had been having visions of myself turning into an eccentric old woman with cats - but that was ok by me. I like cats. I said I was trying to see if I could frighten him off.

    Billy gave me a long, sweet kiss and stroked my hair. I could hear his heart beating in his chest, regular, steady, patient. I felt myself becoming peaceful, calm.

    Then he said, "I don't scare so easily. I came back, didn't I?"

    That was five years ago and we are still happily unmarried.

    image source: Invasion of the Body Snatchers -1978
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