I had been single for about half a year and was living deep in the Ganaraska as Valentine’s Day approached. The isolation was restorative, but with only my boys, coyotes and red squirrels for company, I had to admit I was lonely.
Then one day, my solitude was interrupted by a welcome knock at the door. As I went to answer, I could make out a tall, broad-shouldered silhouette through the glass. Someone had sent me a man!
I opened the door and was confronted with a man like a bronze statue, with short blonde hair and a ruggedly square jaw, dressed in a brown leather jacket and blue jeans.
“Are you Anita?” he asked huskily.
“Yes,” I gulped.
“I have something for you,” he murmured, leaning forward to thrust something into my hands. It was a large manila envelope. “Court papers,” he announced. “Consider yourself served.”
Well, now, that was a let-down.
As the days went by and I lamented my lack of romance to friends in the village, a task force was formed: a gaggle of Millbrook women decided to find me a man. Initially, they pledged to take me to Soho, New York, where the pickings would be ample and diverse. But the expedition had to be scaled back and our destination was downsized. In the end, they would take me to Port Hope. We were going on a PoHo weekend.
The task force was passionate about its cause. “We’ll make t-shirts!” one friend proclaimed.
“They’ll say, ‘Anita is going to get laid’,” blurted out another.
The date of our PoHo weekend arrived and the ladies convened for the trip. With an apprehensive eye, I surveyed our group. Thank goodness, no t-shirts.
We kicked off the mission with a sumptuous PoHo dinner, where I appeared to be the only single person in the restaurant, followed by drinking and dancing with each other at various bachelorless Port Hope establishments. Morale was low by the time we rolled into our last stop, the infamous Ganaraska Hotel.
We slumped defeatedly around a table at the Ganny, me on one bench and the other emissaries along the other. That’s when the game changed suddenly: a young man with a very fetching hat slid in next to me on my bench.
“Are you married?” he whispered.
“No,” I said back.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“How is that even possible?”
Living alone in the forest helps.
Nervously, I looked up at my crew on the opposite bench. They were grinning broadly. Their smiles said: mission accomplished.
What they didn’t know, above the din of the Ganny’s music, was that this guy was a bit of a creeper. He confessed to following us from bar to bar all night and as he began to make blatant references to various body parts, all of which he described as “fine,” I glowered at my teammates across the table, all of whom were inching off their bench as if to give us privacy. Don’t leave me with this stalker, I implored them with my eyes. They smiled back encouragingly. One of them gave me a thumbs-up.
Finally, this fellow’s manners became too much to bear, and like the Hulk busting out of his calm Bruce Banner persona, I could no longer control myself. I became my alter-ego: lawyer Anita.
“You have crossed a line,” I said, in a voice two octaves lower and three times slower than my norm. My suitor sat up straight and stopped talking. I continued, “You need to walk away from me NOW.”
To punctuate my sentence, the lights of the Ganny flew on and the young man squinted in panic, raising his hands defensively to shield his eyes. He looked like a fugitive caught in border patrol spotlights, albeit in a very dignified hat. But it was closing time for him and the Ganny, and without protest, he slunk away.
After our fruitless PoHo weekend, I saw a ring with an unusual purple gemstone for sale and bought it for myself, along with little silver bands for each of my sons. On the day that had been my wedding anniversary, I made us hot chocolates with whipped cream, we put on our rings and we drank a little toast to our family.
My mom was visiting at the time and I heard her cluck with disapproval. “People will think you’ve married yourself,” she said scornfully.
No, they won’t, I reflected, and besides, no one will know.
The boys tired of their rings almost immediately and I put them away for safekeeping. Over a year passed, and then unexpectedly, my youngest son asked if he could wear his ring to school. It was still on his finger at dinner that night and I asked whether any of his friends had noticed it.
“Oh, yes,” he said emphatically, “everyone did. I shared it for Show and Tell.”
“You did?” I asked, swallowing a mouthful of food, hard. “What did you tell people about it?”
“I said I got it the day my mom married herself.”
Bam! Something hard hit the table and I realized, a moment later, that it had been my forehead.
“Mom?” my son asked. “Are you okay?”
“Buddy,” interjected his brother, “That was kind of a personal thing to share.”
“I’m alright,” I said when I regained composure. “I think it’s very sweet that you wanted to share your ring with people. I don’t mind you doing that.” I stabbed a potato on my plate. “Well,” I said with an air of resignation, “I guess we know what twenty-three families in Millbrook are talking about tonight.”
On a fateful day in the Village of Millbrook, twenty-three school children were informed that marrying yourself is a viable option. The impact of that, we will not know for another twenty or thirty years.
By Anita Odessa